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Review: ‘The X-Files’ Season 10 Episode 5 ‘Babylon’: The Weirdest Double Date Ever

Review: 'The X-Files' Season 10 Episode 5 'Babylon': The Weirdest Double Date Ever


Previously, on "The X-Files"…

Once upon a time, a young FBI agent named Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) was assigned to work with Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) on strange cases known as the X-Files. Here is how they first met:

Twenty-three years later, much has changed. But one thing is as it should be: Mulder and Scully are currently back in the basement, investigating the strange.

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: Review: ‘The X-Files’ Season 10 Episode 4, ‘Home Again,’ Stirred Up Secrets and Sadness

This Week’s Dossier

After two Muslim suicide bombers blow up an art gallery in Southwest Texas, the FBI is on the case… but the agents assigned are not Mulder and Scully. Instead, it’s plucky young believer Agent Miller (Robbie Amell) and skeptical young scientist Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) who are heading to Texas. First, though, they stop by the basement to ask Mulder if he has any advice on how to maybe speak with one of the terrorists, who came out of the bombing badly mutilated but technically alive in a coma. It’s a notion Einstein laughs off entirely, but Scully — thanks to her experience last week with her mother — decides to offer her help to Miller, while Mulder suggests to Einstein that if she gives him magic mushrooms he might be able to communicate with the terrorist directly.

While Miller and Scully work to keep the terrorist alive, Mulder takes the drugs Einstein procures for him — and goes on a crazy trip that includes some line-dancing, cameos by Mulder’s old (and tragically dead) friends the Lone Gunmen, Einstein done up dominatrix-style, Cancer Man with a whip and a vision of the terrorist cradled in a woman’s arms. After returning to sanity, he finds out two things: One, Einstein gave him a placebo so that whole trip of his was completely drug-free, and two, the woman he saw in his vision was the terrorist’s mother, who shows up at the hospital and is the key to Mulder remembering the word that leads them to tracking down the rest of the terrorist’s cell: "Babylon." The day is saved, even Einstein is intrigued by the mysteries she experienced while working on this case and Mulder and Scully bond over the question of how to reconcile "deep and unconditional love" with "unqualified hate."


Wait, Explain It to Me Like I’m Five?

Mulder and Scully met Mulder and Scully: The Next Generation. Terrorists are bad, and because Mulder got fake-high, the FBI was able to stop a major terrorist cell. Love is the opposite of hate. And maybe God is real.

Makeout Watch

As Mulder and Scully gazed into each other’s eyes at the end of "Babylon," talking intimately about love and the mysteries of the universe, beautiful horns could be heard in the distance as they… held hands.

"She’s clearly in love with him," the clearly brilliant Agent Einstein might have observed this week, but we were maybe foolish to include "Makeout Watch" as a regular section of these reviews. After all, we’ve seen all nine seasons of the original series and both films. In theory, we know better than to anticipate seeing any intense physical intimacy between these characters on television. It’s just not Chris Carter’s style.

But yet we persist in believing. In something. For somebody. Sometime. Maybe this hope is futile. Maybe everything is futile. Maybe we’ve wasted so much time waiting for something beyond increasingly implausible chastity for these two characters; minutes of our fleeting lives that could have been spent in so many different ways. Maybe our belief in something more ever happening is a vortex of madness from which there will be no escape, ultimately, just a forever nightmare spent endlessly screaming into the void about fictional FBI agents on a broadcast television show.

See you guys back here next week!

Some Deep and Relevant Thoughts About Hair

As big fans of Lauren Ambrose, going all the way back to "Can’t Hardly Wait," we’ve seen her hair a number of different shades of red. But in order to ensure that we got the point, somebody involved in this operation made sure that her hair was nearly the exact same color as Scully’s wig.

Wig status: Not bad. It really has grown on us over the last few weeks. Though, again, it looks way better down than pulled back.

Nostalgia Alert!

First off, in case you didn’t watch the clip above (though you should! it’s great!), know that Mulder and Scully’s first meeting with Miller and Einstein was loaded with references to the "X-Files" pilot.

Also, in Mulder’s vision, we get yet another cameo by William B. Davis as Cancer Man, who’s technically presumed dead, as far as Mulder knows, though the ending of "My Struggle I" proved otherwise. More exciting, however, is the appearance of Frohike (Tom Braidwood), Byers (Bruce Harwood) and Langley (Dean Haglund), the trio of nerds who were Mulder’s best non-Scully friends during the show’s original run. (They tragically sacrificed themselves for the greater good in Season 9, but this cameo made good on Carter’s promise at New York Comic-Con that they would make an appearance.) Lovely to see their faces again.


But It’s Not 1993 Anymore

Byers has gone grey, for one thing! (Langley and Frohike look relatively the same.) Also, Mulder’s got an iPod, listens to the Lumineers and his slideshows have gotten a digital upgrade (though we do miss the slide projector). This is maybe otherwise an episode that largely could have happened during the series’ original run, barring the political element. Though, of course, if Mulder and Scully were investigating a case with their younger dopplegangers 20 years ago, it would have meant the debut of "X-Files Babies." (A spin-off, for the record, that we would totally watch.)

Fun Ultra-Nerd Facts

Some more Canadian sci-fi casting: Beyond Robbie Amell — familiar to CW fans as the original Firestorm on "Arrow" (and also Stephen Amell’s cousin) — in a major role, we’re pretty sure that one of the "dark-suited men" who confronted Miller and Scully in the hospital was Stephen Lobo, the second "Continuum" cast member to appear on this series. The other "dark-suited man" was Erik Breker, who actually appeared a few times during "The X-Files" original run (albeit as other characters). And if that crazy nurse looked familiar to you, that’s because she was played by Janet Kidder, who not only has made many TV appearances, but is Margot "Maybe the Best Lois Lane Ever" Kidder’s niece.

Oh, also, if we’re gonna get really nerdy here, "Einstein’s Twin Paradox: A New Interpretation" was Scully’s senior thesis, not her dissertation. Pretty sure those are different things.


"I’m not going to ask you if you just said what I think you just said because I know it’s what you just said." (Most Awkward Quote)

"Sounds like torture to me."
– Scully


As this episode was written by Chris Carter, there are no shortage of speeches (and sections of dialogue that feel like speeches) dense with terminology, theories and references to pre-established facts. But this random aside muttered by Scully still stuck out as… maybe not the most awkward bit of dialogue, but certainly the weirdest. Is Scully’s attitude towards the Muslim concept of paradise, spent with 72 virgins, Islamophobic? Is it actually a kinda dirty joke? Is it something that Carter actually wrote, or an ad-lib by Gillian Anderson? We have no answers here. We just know that it was weird.

"Dear Diary: Today my heart lept when Agent Scully suggested ‘spontaneous human combustion.’" (Best Quote)

"Nobody down here but the FBI’s most unwanted! [beat] I’ve been waiting 23 years to say that."
"How’d it feel?"
"Pretty good."
– Scully and Mulder


Between Mulder and Scully, Miller and Einstein, Mulder and Einstein and Miller and Scully, this episode actually featured a lot of genuinely enjoyable banter between the four different pairings of agents. (Truth: Most of our notes on this episode might just consist of transcribing key moments of dialogue.) But this exchange stuck out not just because it was such a charming callback to the pilot, but because Anderson and Duchovny performed it so naturally and casually. It might not have been an immediate thing, but in moments like that their chemistry is maybe the best it’s ever been.

Final Report

There are a few major components of this episode that warrant discussion. First, the case of the week, which was almost shocking in how basic it was. If you were looking for any sort of twist on this tale of terrorism, you were out of luck. While there was some effort made to explore the humanity of these terrorists, the story ultimately had the subtlety of an episode of "24." This isn’t to say that Islamic terrorism isn’t a real and present thing in our current world, but the only thing that really made this case an X-File was Mulder’s drug trip and brief moment of communication with the terrorist.

And about that… Man, we have a lot of questions there. Like, what was that? Did that really need to be that many minutes long? Was it strictly necessary (pun not intended) to dress up Lauren Ambrose like a dominatrix? Where was Scully? Did David Duchovny already know how to line-dance or did he need to take lessons? Seriously, where was Scully? While it was a confused moment, to be sure, attempting to balance some ridiculous spectacle with surreality, at least it represented Chris Carter trying to stretch himself a little.

Meanwhile, the presence of a new generation of agents was more than blunt in the comparisons being drawn. Some rumors surfaced awhile back that Miller and Einstein were being set up to actually take over the X-Files (with Amell and Ambrose thus inheriting the series from Duchovny and Anderson). If that’s truly the case, this introduction did them no favors in establishing them as unique individuals. But Amell and Ambrose did some solid work in making Miller and Einstein feel like their own characters with their own dynamic.

That being said, there’s nothing like Mulder and Scully united in partnership. It’s not so much that we’d refuse to watch "The X-Files" without them, as that it wouldn’t be "The X-Files" without them. The sweetness of the final scene is undeniable, and sets an intriguing tone for next week’s season finale, which will wrap up the conspiracy storyline begun with "My Struggle." Who knows where the pieces will land at the end? The answer is Chris Carter, because he always knows more than he’s willing to say. 

Grade: B

READ MORE: 5 Badass Female TV Characters In STEM (And An Instance They Have MacGyvered)

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Comments

andrea wood

Totally loved all episodes even mulders dryg trip it was hilarious too much seriousness on tv these days a nice change great to see The X files back big fan xxx

Matthew

I think the "sounds like torture" line was referring to the other FBI guy wanting to "punish" the bomber by keeping him alive.

Matthew

Stephen Lobo’s character in this episode is listed on the IMDB as "Kellogg", the same name as the character he plays on Continuum.

Fox Mulder

I liked this episode as it showed me that you don’t need magic mushrooms to get high. The nature of reality is such that anything is possible and your reality is based on what you belive in and this might not realy be real. Reality as we know it is just a figment of our combined consiusness which we see in different shades tonned by the way we see things. And yes I know that people would say its not true and reality set up by science is what is and 1+1 = two but who knows if whenever we do a 1+1 it incites something else to do the same then 1+1 would be 4 just that we don’t know it is. That’s why I liked the episode. the new cast was ok but not a Mulder and sully for sure a x-files without them is something else.

Nope

They are grooming us for a new Agent and Cunty! So obviouse. I loved this show up to this episode. No way

lala

@BB, no the third episode of this revival was the worst episode ever.

Joe

I thought it was a great episode! There are REAL terrorists out there people! In case you didnt know!

scott

You have misunderstood Scully’s ‘sounds like torture’ quote – she was having a dig at the racist cop who didn’t want the guy to die – Scully was saying she thought keeping him alive was torture.
Not that hard folks.

CCM

I’ve never seen such epically bad acting as those Miller and Einstein caricature actors. Horrible is an understatement. I hope to god and all the aliens that if the X files ever gets a spinoff, those two cardboard actors don´t come even near it. I need soap for my brain after watching them.

GG

Where are these episodes going? It’s clear that Mulder no longer has the drive; skeptic. Looks like he is just reading his lines. Last three episode don’t explain the strange conclusion. I’m I missing something?

Slicey

Extremely generous giving this episode a "B." It was the worst of this season, by far. So much wrong with this episode. It is definitely closer to "D" territory.

Stephen King

Fuckinballs

boulderfreeradio

I actually applauded at the end. This like going back in time when the X files first started and being truly startled, and delighted, by the uniqueness of this show. For you haters out there: Try opening your minds, and your hearts, just a little.

John

I wonder how it feels to be of Middle Eastern ethnicity, or of the Muslim faith, and watch this episode. As an x-files fan from the beginning, I am very disappointed with this portray of Muslims/Middle Easterners. While the episode is not entirely Islamaphobic, and they do touch on the radicalization of the suicide bombers, this was still the result of lazy and unfortunately predictable writing. With such a topic as this, in 2016, what you say and insinuate really matters. And this episode deeply offended me. This episode should have been above this. If this kept with the taste and creativity of the original series, it would have played on our Islamophobic fears and then shown more dimensionality in its characters. Lazy/offensive writing.

cowboysdude

This was probably one of the best episodes EVER! Just because it didn’t end with Fox chasing some theory he can’t prove… people want suspense but then they want answers… this one wasn’t a hangin off the edge thriller but it was thought provoking and introspective and deep. Too bad viewers have no clue how to be either.

LNC

Here’s my theory on Chris Carter. In the show’s early season, Carter was too busy establishing himself and the show, so his concentration was laser-beam sharp and focused. He didn’t have time for other hobbies. After the first X-Files movie became a relative box-office success and the show could call itself an established, bona-fide hit, Chris Carter had time to discover new “hobbies.” He started reading a lot of books and news articles. He developed interest in reading about theology, religion, and faith. Hence, the mythology (i.e., Amor Fati trilogy, Closure/Sein und Zeit) in the later (“non-glory”) seasons of the show and “I Want To Believe” had increasing religious overtones. Basically, “The X-Files” became a vehicle for Chris Carter to plug his new-found hobbies and interests and he strayed farther away from the true core of the show. Sorry, I don’t buy into Chris Carter’s spiel that the show was initially conceived of as a “religious” show. “Babylon” yet again proves why Chris Carter must stay away from writing about religion and faith. As I said on Twitter last night, “CC, hobbies are not good for you.”

On a side note, Chris Carter reminds me of a professor I had in law school. This professor got stuck teaching “Professional Responsibility,” a class for which he had absolutely no desire. Therefore, he found a way to tangentially connect his actual research interests to “Professional Responsibility,” but at the end of the semester, our class was screwed because we didn’t learn the core purpose of the class, namely “Professional Responsibility.”

David

I didn’t like it except for maybe a few of the comical elements to it. The problem was that it was two separate genres: funny and serious with the serious tone only there in small spurts. Are we supposed to be concerned about the terrorist threat or not? This episode was all over the place.

glu

Islam is not a race you moron

zigzag syzygy

I’ve seen both a lot of love and a lot of hate for this ep. How ironic. I liked it a lot. There needs to be more Mulder drug ise in this show, seriously. It was fecking hilarious.

"It never got weird enough gor me." ~Hunter S. Thompson

Zizzy

I didn’t care for it. It was unbalanced, the "trip" scene was waaaaaaay too long, and the story was very non-supernatural. Also- the author is correct in saying that the X-Files without Mulder and Scully is not the X-Files. There is enough quality programming out there these days to NOT watch X-Files: The Next Generation.

JJ

1. Since there are real Islamic suicide bombers, and give that Islamic radicals tried to shoot up an ‘art’ exhibit in Texas which had pictures of Mohammed, the initial premise is not far-fetched. 2. Islam is a religion, not a race. Not liking a religion does not make one racist.

BB

Probably the worst ep of the entire show. And what’s going on with the Islamaphobia?! Can address the fact the CC is apparently racist?

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PJ in TV land

Miller returns the series to the dressed up Wasp pretty boy from the rather more interesting look that Duchovny had. Miller harkens to the many dull, stilted and boring characters on most of TV. At least Einstein was not a bomb shell. I guess that is not politically correct these days

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