Friday, October 16, 2015

The X-Files - S5:E8 "Kitsunegari"

[ S5:E7 "Emily" <<< Season 5 >>> S5:E9 "Schizogeny" ]

Spoiler Warning: This freak-of-the-week episode sees the return of one of the show's most popular freaks. If you'd prefer to be surprised by this episode's twists and turns, then you may want to avoid this review, as it may contain considerable spoilers.

Out of all of this show's many freaks, so far only Eugene Victor Tooms from the season 1 episode Squeeze has been graced with a second appearance. And, like Tooms, this episode features the return of another fan-favorite freak-of-the-week - Robert Patrick Modell, a.k.a. Pusher. Modell escapes from prison, and the FBI teams up with the U.S. Marshalls (like they did in F. Emasculata, although this time they're running the show, on account of Mulder's expertise, and his role in capturing Modell the first time). Bringing Modell back feels a little pushed, if you'll pardon the pun - like bending over backwards to get this guy back on the show. Maybe he wasn't exactly dead at the end of Pusher (to be honest, I don't even remember - although when so many of these antagonists end their episodes with a bullet to the head, can we be blamed for not knowing which ones survive and which ones don't?), but he was close enough. I echo Scully's opinion - "I'm amazed he's even alive" - but, he was a good villain from a good episode, so you can't blame the writers (or the fans?) for wanting to bring him back.

Initially, we're led to believe that the newly-liberated Modell is going to pick up right where he left off. And this is a truly formidable opponent - how will Mulder possibly be able to beat him a second time? When Mulder is about to pick up the phone to talk to Modell, you can't help thinking about the detective who did likewise in Pusher, and ended up dying of an imagined heart attack. But to its credit, this episode switches up the game, instead of just repeating what's been done before. We get to see Mulder as the genius investigator he is, thinking three steps ahead of everyone else, although his allies (Scully and Skinner included) fear that he's been influenced by Modell when he starts suspecting another pusher (following an excellently subtle conversation). I wanted the episode to build to a true battle of wills - pusher vs. pusher (the pusher's ultimate adversary!) - but instead Modell ends up trying to protect what turns out to be his twin sister (true, it's a bit hackneyed, but it provides some welcome misdirection). It's a little less exciting than what I was hoping for, but it still builds up to a real mind trip of an ending in which, once again, Mulder and Scully's lives are on the line, and only their trust in each other can save them. Overall, I don't think the episode is quite as good as Pusher was, but I think it's good enough to justify its own existence.

Memorable quotes:

Young Orderly: So, what's this guy's story?
Old Orderly: Cop killer. Regular people killer. General all-around waste of skin.

Mulder: Either you come back here on your own, or I drag your sorry ass back on the bumper of my car.
Modell: When did you turn into Clint Eastwood?

Translator: The hand it's in is pretty sloppy, but I think it's supposed to be kitsunegari - "foxhunt".
Scully: Fox Mulder.
Mulder: Well, that's a little on the nose, don't you think?

Scully: Where's Modell?
Mulder: He had to go.

Scully: That's your opinion?
Mulder: Yeah. That's my opinion.
Scully: How can you be sure it's your own?

Scully: That's one hell of a plan, Mulder. The serial killer makes us believe that he's guilty, in turn diverting the suspicion away from the real estate lady? Well, he had me going.

Mulder: I almost killed my partner.
Skinner: Mulder, despite that, you prevailed. You won her game.
Mulder: How come I feel like I lost?

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