Previously on The X-Files, “This”
It took the promise of an alien-inspired pandemic and the confirmation of a new global conspiracy involving the virtual enslavement of emulated geniuses, but Scully and Mulder are back with renewed purpose to take the X-Files on once more! In this week’s installment, Fox is intrigued by the inordinate number of suicides and accidental deaths in a small Virginia town. Each victim preceded to witness their ‘evil twin’ who always attempted to cause them harm. After interviewing repeat offender Arkie Seavers (Jared Ager-Foster), the only survivor of the latest attack, Fox and Dana are acquainted with a brother and sister that share a strong telepathic bond and a killer instinct to boot.
It’s been a long time since we X-Philes have experienced a creepy menace and few in the show’s history was able to exude an air of ‘’ like Karin Konoval. A veteran X-Files guest star featured prominently in “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” and the truly gruesome “Home”, Konoval brought a much-desired touch of the old school, assuming dual roles as psychic siblings Judy and Chucky Poundstone. The psychotic twosome, despite their enmity for each other, engage in a life-long game of Hangman from the comfort of their respective prisons. Though Judy is hospitalized in an mental health facility, Chucky keeps their impassioned game alive with the names of persons circulated in the county jail.
Unfortunately for Arkie, his doppelgänger eventually returned and completed its task, causing his lawyer Dean Cavalier (Ben Wilkinson) to overreact and prepare for the worst. Of course, Mulder is deep in his element during such a kooky case, though his continued harassment of Chucky places him on the siblings’ radar. While Fox’s inflexible belief in the unexplainable leaves him unnerved, the bizarre nature of the “mass suicides” is easily resolved by Dana. The same cannot be said about Scully’s unsteadiness after her encounter with Judy.
Sibling eeriness aside, Konoval guided the narrative of “Plus One” by successfully planting seeds of doubt in Dana, who in most cases is confident in her skills as an agent and doctor, and seemingly unconcerned about her overall appeal as a long-term partner. In this case Judy, whilst exhibiting her “demon” personality, coldly remarked how no man, especially Mulder, could ever find Scully attractive or worthy as a partner because “she’s all dried up”. It’s an odd play because one wouldn’t expect Dana to fall for such hollow drivel meant to provoke an equal response. Yet Poundstone’s harsh words stuck in Scully’s brain like the Dookie brand pudding Judy splattered across her room.
While Fox became increasingly concerned about the Poundstones’ careless display of psychic power, and their malice inevitably turning towards the agents, the damage was already done with Dana. It’s an odd pivot of sorts due to Scully’s aforementioned certainty – next to nothing had unsettled her personal/spiritual/scientific beliefs in 10 seasons. However a woman, diagnosed with dissociative personality disorder, managed to find her softest spot in mere minutes. I wouldn’t call it sloppy characterization or malapropos for the case at hand. In fact, it creates another facet to Scully’s personality that I presume most persons of an uh, advanced age may ponder. What threw me off about this ‘B’ plot is Dana and Fox’s stilted dynamic; in “My Struggle III” and “This”, they never appeared more intimate and devoted to one another. Perhaps returning to their old haunts in the basement of the Hoover building made their regress emotionally? Before she admitting how Judy got to her earlier in the day, Mulder and Scully’s rapport reminded me of early seasons X-Files, as Fox’s insistence in the paranormal and otherworldly was enough to deflect any hint of attraction Dana felt for otherwise astute partner.
Ultimately, “Plus One” was held together admirably by Karin Konoval’s distinct takes on truly offbeat characters with vicious streaks. As it was slowly revealed Judy and Chucky’s frantic compulsion was responsible for the deaths of hundreds (including their parents during their very first game), the ordeal forced Fox and Dana to assess their worldview, particularly their fluctuating relationship. Unlike the shifty Poundstone twins who finally had enough of each other’s nonsense, Scully and Mulder renewed their connection in the hope theirs isn’t a bond formed by the pain and strife from seeking the truth the last twenty five years.
The X-Files S11E3 Review Score
The X-Files – S11E3 – Plus One | David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi | Writer: Chris Carter | Director: Kevin Hooks