Monday, December 7, 2015

The X-Files - Season 7 (1999-2000)

[ Season 6 <<< The X-Files >>> Season 8 ]

Coming on the heels of the unprecedentedly lighthearted and experimental sixth season, the seventh season of The X-Files is a welcome return to form. There are more dark and serious episodes, with less focus on romantic comedy. But it's also a very hit-or-miss affair, frequently jumping between good and bad from one week to the next, and featuring the most number of skippable episodes since the first couple of seasons, before the show had hit its stride. This may not have been the case had it elected to stick strictly to the more serious episodes, but I don't think the show ever recovered from its turn toward comedy and self-parody going at least as far back as the fifth season.

Furthermore, the worst of this season betrays a certain ennui in its stars and creators, indicating that the show was indeed beginning to grow long in the tooth. There are multiple points one could credibly cite as moments where the show had jumped the shark (the most likely choice being either First Person Shooter, or else Fight Club). Even at its best, it couldn't compete with earlier seasons, as, like season 5, there aren't really any truly standout episodes. The crossover episode Millennium, as well as Signs & Wonders, and Theef, are among the season's best freak-of-the-week episodes, beating out even Vince Gilligan's usually good entries.

But, unlike season 5, the mythology feels mediocre here, too. The Sixth Extinction/Amor Fati, which continues from last season's finale, comes the closest to feeling like classic mythology, but still doesn't stand up to direct comparison. Sein und Zeit/Closure finally resolves the mystery of Samantha's disappearance, but does so in a largely unsatisfying manner. En Ami, written by William B. Davis, is the surprise gem of the season's mythology, but works best largely as a standalone episode with conspiracy overtones. Finally, Requiem closes out what was tentatively considered to be the last season of the series on a nostalgic note, but opens the door for a new X-Files without Mulder as the leading man. There's no turning back now.

For your convenience, here is a list of links to my reviews of each of the episodes in the seventh season (names in parentheses are the episodes' writers):

S7:E1 "The Sixth Extinction" (Chris Carter)
S7:E2 "The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati" (David Duchovny & Chris Carter)
S7:E3 "Hungry" (Vince Gilligan)
S7:E4 "Millenium" (Vince Gilligan & Frank Spotnitz)
S7:E5 "Rush" (David Amann)
S7:E6 "The Goldberg Variation" (Jeffrey Bell)
S7:E7 "Orison" (Chip Johannessen)
S7:E8 "The Amazing Maleeni" (Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz)
S7:E9 "Signs & Wonders" (Jeffrey Bell)
S7:E10 "Sein und Zeit" (Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz)
S7:E11 "Closure" (Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz)
S7:E12 "X-COPS" (Vince Gilligan)
S7:E13 "First Person Shooter" (William Gibson & Tom Maddox)
S7:E14 "Theef" (Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz)
S7:E15 "En Ami" (William B. Davis)
S7:E16 "Chimera" (David Amann)
S7:E17 "all things" (Gillian Anderson)
S7:E18 "Brand X" (Steven Maeda & Greg Walker)
S7:E19 "Hollywood A.D." (David Duchovny)
S7:E20 "Fight Club" (Chris Carter)
S7:E21 "Je Souhaite" (Vince Gilligan)
S7:E22 "Requiem" (Chris Carter)

Standalone Episode of the Season: En Ami (maybe not strictly a monster-of-the-week episode, but it deserves this award better than any others)
Mythology Arc of the Season: Biogenesis/The Sixth Extinction/Amor Fati
Clunker of the Season: There are a lot of episodes in this season that could easily take this position, but none of them deserves it more than Fight Club.

Heavy Mythology Content (These are the essential mythology episodes).
Light Mythology Content (These episodes feature light or incidental mythology-related content).
Must watch! (If you're short on time, or just want to revisit the highlights of the series, these are the best episodes the show has to offer).
Recommended. (While not being the best of the best, these are quality episodes; I recommend viewing them if you have the time).
Good for a viewing. (These are not essential episodes, but if you want to dig deeper into the series, they're worth sitting through).
Skippable. (Unless you are, like me, dedicated to absorbing the series in its entirety, these are the episodes that you can afford to skip).

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