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The X-Files – S10E5 – Babylon

Previously on The X-Files, ‘Home Again’

Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, Lauren Ambrose, Robbie Amell, Artin John, Nina Nayebi, William B. Davis | Writer & Director: Chris Carter

SKIMMING THE CASE REPORT

FBI Agents Miller and Einstein are assigned to Texas to hastily discover any leads from a surviving suicide bomber about any future attacks. Before departing, Miller requests assistance from Mulder on communicating with his invalid suspect. Before long, Scully and Mulder are heavily involved… along with a potent dose of psilocybin mushrooms. Party hard!

Images: FOX

Images: FOX

OLD SCHOOL MEETS NEW BLOOD

“Babylon” introduces a pair of new agents, Miller and Einstein, who are supposedly the best and brightest among the latest generation of the FBI. Seeing as no one else in the bureau save for AD Skinner has been seen this season, it’s good to know the Hoover Building isn’t completely empty. Anyway, the new kids on the block are virtual mirror images of their older counterparts, short of a few nuances in their personalities.

There’s nothing especially discerning about Miller (Robbie Amell); he’s essentially a younger, fitter, more assertive Mulder. He and Fox definitely share a mutual appreciation for the unexplainable and exploration of all options to acquire any understanding to its nature. While Fox’s passions have driven him literally to the ends of the earth, Miller appears to be more reserved. His inquisitiveness likely remains untested compared to Mulder’s prolific exposure with the unknown.

xfiles s10e5 mulder einstein

Einstein (Lauren Ambrose), on the other hand, is quite the firecracker. From the feel of things, the agent has no life outside of her work and accomplishments. A diehard empiricist and by-the-book federal employee, Einstein’s austere attitude most definitely makes her the life of the office party during the holidays. Quick to dismiss anything that’s unable to be quantified or viewed by our senses, Einstein has the tendency to leer at anyone who mentions anything supernatural with an intensity so weighty, it’s like she’s smacking them on the back of their head with her mind.

In short, she’s a grade-A jerk.

While Scully has been an ardent skeptic despite her contrarian religious background, she at least has the tact and sympathy to respect her partner’s opinion, no matter how farfetched and feverish his theories become. Dana has realized they are two sides of the same coin. They’ve different views and skills, yet they’re competent nonetheless. Together, their combined talents make them a formidable team.

Einstein, on the other hand, is brusque, patronizing and simply mean. It was difficult to accept her when she had to mention the bevy of graduate degrees she earned and openly mocked the X-Files as a bullshit assignment for the bureau’s undesirables. The gall of Ambrose’s character to assert that Scully squandered her promising career because she’s in love with a boy is when Einstein went a bit too far.

There have been rumors flying before “Babylon” aired that Einstein and Miller may be groomed to become Mulder and Scully’s successors. After viewing this episode, those two have a loooooooooong way to go before they can carry their own spin-off, let alone the series itself. Granted, it’s difficult to develop a fully-formed character with less than 20 minutes of screentime during a limited series event. In what short time viewers had to assess the initial chemistry between the new agents, it was a sobering disappointment.

Until we learn otherwise, I’ll do what Miller did and stare into oblivion while slipping in my earbuds to ignore Einstein’s caustic ire and scowling.

TURN ON, TUNE IN, DROP OUT, COWBOY UP

…and then there was this sequence of events.

It’s always a good time when either Anderson or Duchovny play their respective characters in a goofy, divergent fashion. Yet Mulder’s jaunt through the psychedelic (which didn’t seem that trippy at all) felt like a disjointed affair compared to the seriousness unfolding in reality. There are military folk impersonating federal agents, an imbalanced nurse ready to murder their suspect any time they leave the room, bomb threats at the hospital, then BAM… Comedy for comedy’s sake.

xfiles s10e5 drugs

It was nice to see The Lone Gunmen again but it felt like such a waste of a cameo. Ten seconds of screen time tops? C’mon now. At least have one or all of them drop a nugget of wisdom in Fox’s ear before fading into the æther once more.

ONLY GOD KNOWS (ABOUT THIS EPISODE)

Can anyone explain what in the hell was the entire point of “Babylon”?

The plot itself was very straightforward: an impressionable Muslim male deep in the heart of Texas survives a suicide bombing, and Miller and Einstein are charged to investigate. Thanks to Mulder’s trip – launched by a placebo no less – he’s able to communicate with the bomber in Arabic then Miller translates in time to stop the other attackers from committing jihad. OK, that’s clear. The rest of it though?

xfiles s10e5 happy times

Whatever Uncle Chris is smoking, we all need some of it because that episode was the biggest mugwomp of all. The intent – recognizing that current relations between Christians and Muslims are terrible in America, and how blind faith can lead us down a dangerous path – was present. The execution was left in want. Near episode’s end, Mulder and Scully contemplate the nature of God, comparing the seemingly intolerant messages in all holy books and remark on the power of suggestion. Heavy stuff, right? Try as they did to provide an afterschool special ending about how the hate will eventually be overcome by unconditional love, their aureate discourse is so convoluted that it comes off as pure blunderbuss.

This isn’t the first time Carter has dealt with such a big time concept such as God in The X-Files. Many fans are quite aware of Scully’s unyielding Roman Catholicism featured in numerous episodes, but the one time God was manifested in human form during the original run was the Carter-written and directed episode “Improbable”. Played by Burt Reynolds of all people, he portrayed an enigmatic figure that rolled around town in a convertible and had a penchant for playing checkers in parking garages. Like “Babylon”, there was no real X-File, the case pretty much solved itself and all the agents involved questioned their true purpose in life just before a musical number and massive zoom out to reveal an all-encompassing image.

For all the hoopla, “Babylon” was unable to effectively convey a distinct theme among the myriad of subjects Chris Carter was attempting to cover. With the last episode of the event series over the horizon, The X-Files appears primed to finalize its season with a whopper of a world-altering crisis.

The X-Files S10E5
  • 6/10
    Plot - 6/10
  • 7/10
    Dialogue - 7/10
  • 7/10
    Performances - 7/10
  • 7/10
    ‘Spooky’ Mulder Meter - 7/10
6.8/10

Summary

I don’t know. It was weird and occasionally incoherent whilst reaching in some key scenes to be relevant. There were also smatterings of preachiness that was familiar to many Carter-written episodes, like this season’s premiere “My Struggle”.

It was fun for those five minutes to see Fox getting all loosey goosey on the ‘shrooms but I believe that was a backfire on the overall concept of “Babylon”. I believe I understand where Chris Carter was intending to go with Mulder’s trip but the sudden levity of the moment didn’t align well with the starkness of the subject matter.

Perhaps after multiple viewings, I can better appreciate what Carter was conveying in “Babylon”. For the time being, it’s a difficult episode for me to process.

I will admit this: my new safe word is “Woo Woo”. Thanks, David!

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1 Comment on The X-Files – S10E5 – Babylon

  1. Yeah, I felt the same. I watched it twice, and I could tell we were SUPPOSED to enjoy it, but their final talk about God and love in the world was just trite philosophical soup that needed harder editing and more refinement. Mulder’s bit about Mother Love made me gag a little with its heavy-handedness. Disappointing. I was also not a fan of the “look, we both listen to music” parallel, and the sound was far too loud.

    But, I did really tear up when Miller’s gamble paid off, and wondered how a win this huge in his early service years would have shaped Mulder’s career and personality.

    ETA: My interpretation of Einstein’s placebo speech was that she was CYA in front of Skinner and had actually given him real drugs before.

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