The X-Files

Nothing Important Happened Today, part one
air date: 11-11-01

Though we do catch a glimpse of someone showering in Scully's apartment, David Duchovny has left the building. With him may go legions of fans of The X-Files, so producers/writers Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz have to work hard in order to keep everyone's interest. From the evidence so far, they're not working hard enough.

After an excessively confusing finale last season, Carter and Spotnitz take us only 48 hours later. Scully is on leave from the FBI to care for her miracle child, "sweet little William." The ever more credulous Doggett has begun investigating his own office, aided by Special Agent/Voodoo Queen Monica Reyes. After seven seasons, Skinner has become a regular. And Mulder? Mulder is gone…just gone…

In other words, when faced with a tight plotting problem, it's business as usual for the creative team. Get past it quickly and hope nobody asks any questions. Then dazzle everybody with some mysterious new characters.

Filling the mysterious new character bill comes Lucy Lawless. We meet her up top as she seduces an EPA official into driving off a bridge then holding him down until he drowns. Later she distracts a guy by walking around naked, then holds him down until he drowns, as well. Apparently this has something to do with an additive in our drinking water, but how this ties into the greater conspiracy has not yet become clear. Maybe by the time the next movie rolls around Carter and company will figure it out.

To further add to the mix, it turns out that Reyes occasionally dates an Assistant Director, played by Cary Elwes. Though he ends up being intimately connected to the conspiracy (or not…), this entanglement never came up last season. Mysterious, no?

Yes, it's all being made up as they go along, and has been for a while. For this episode we can forgive, since originally Carter had no intention of coming back to do this season until Fox offered him insane amounts of money. But this show has to find a new footing, and fast.

Even though Lawless and Elwes are both capable and intriguing actors, their characters feel like retreads of old situations. Though there are hints that neither will turn out to be what they seem, well, even then, we've seen that before. Can we just have one recurring character that can be taken at face value?

With the awkward departure of Mulder, it may also be time to shuttle Scully off to the side, too. After having the aliens declare her baby to be perfectly normal (right? Anyone argue with that?), it turns out that William has telekinesis. Maybe he and the spawn of Angel and Darla can grow up to be freaky friends. But in the meantime, maybe mother and son should follow daddy wherever he went, and let the new agents take up a few cases of their own.

And in order to do that, we have to stop digging up new conspiracies to replace the old ones, and just face down a few old-fashioned monsters. Is that too much to ask?

Derek McCaw




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