Friday, July 31, 2015

The X-Files - S2:E4 "Sleepless"

[ S2:E3 "Blood" <<< Season 2 >>> S2:E5 "Duane Barry" ]

Following an anonymous tip, Mulder opens an investigation into the mysterious death of a sleep disorder specialist who had been involved in wartime experiments with "sleep eradication". He ends up chasing down a traumatized war vet (Tony Todd) who is looking for retribution for the crimes committed by his squadron. To his frustration, Mulder is also assigned a new partner, which makes Scully a little jealous. This episode contains shades of A Nightmare on Elm Street, but without being too derivative.

Spoiler Warning: the rest of this review may contain spoilers related to important developments in the mythology of this show.

Season 2 is really starting off on a strong note. Sleepless is a perfect example of what I mean by the mythology being more interesting than monsters-of-the-week - even monster-of-the-week episodes are greatly improved when they include mythology elements! Contrasting this episode with the last one, it's clear how much of a difference it makes when the episode includes bureau activity (notably Skinner's involvement), and features development between recurring characters, as opposed to just diving into the case of the week without linking it much to any of the show's overarching plot elements.

This episode also features Nicholas Lea in his first appearance as the character Alex Krycek. I couldn't remember at what point in the series this character appeared, but I can tell you that when he marched over to Mulder's desk and introduced himself, I squealed like a fangirl! Krycek is such a fun character; he's the first television character I've ever described as being someone I "loved to hate". He was certainly a more effective villain on the show than the later appearance of the spindly Agent Spender. We also get our first face-to-face meeting in this episode with Mulder's new informant, the unnamed X (Steven Williams).

The final scene is also quite remarkable, not only in its startling reveal of Krycek's true loyalties (which had been in question all episode-long), but also in foreshadowing what's about to befall in the next few episodes, and preemptively demonstrating that the Smoking Man carries some (if not all) responsibility for the ordeal that Scully is about to be put through. In season 1, the Smoking Man was little more than an archetype - the shadowy authority figure standing in the background to represent a conspiratorial government. Here we're finally beginning to (slowly) get some development of the character, as he becomes a more active villain with more concrete goals, which is a lot more fun to watch.

Memorable quotes:

Krycek: I don't appreciate being ditched like someone's bad date.

X: You still don't get it, do you? Closing the X-Files, separating you and Scully, was only the beginning. The truth is still out there; it's never been more dangerous. The man we both knew paid for that information with his life - a sacrifice I'm not willing to make.

Scully: It must be nice not having someone questioning your every move, poking holes in all your theories.
Mulder (deadpan): Oh, oh yeah, it's great. I'm surprised I put up with you for so long.

Smoking Man: Every problem has a solution.

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