The X-Files

Nothing Important Happened Today, part two
air date: 11-18-01

Nobody believed that Xena/Shannon McMahon (Lucy Lawless) would actually drown Doggett. Perhaps her underwater kiss startled no one, either. But that it would spark another round of whose side is she on anyway? It's troublesome that the Carter and Spotnitz would ask us to accept that tired plot device again.

Yes, it's The X-Files. The show has an unspoken motto of "Trust no one." However, that motto should not extend to Chris Carter himself. We trust that he will deliver twists, turns, and surprises to make our jaws drop. What we have so far this season is a parody of The X-Files, from a man apparently just going through the motions.

And it's not because, as so many critics have suggested, the show's time has passed. If you look past the headlines, you'll notice that yes, our government is still going about its business of getting us to look the other way.

Can we believe that an additive like Chloramine would be added to the water supply? Yes, just as we bought that in this (hopefully) fictional world the smallpox vaccination would be used as a means of tagging the population for reasons still unclear to the average viewer, but it had something to do with alien colonization.

Of course, up until this season premiere two-parter, everything had something to do with alien colonization, including Scully's baby. And now it doesn't, because Chris Carter says so.

Doggett, Reyes, and Scully all had first-hand experience with aliens with little growths on the back of their necks. All recognized that as part of an alien replacement scheme. When we saw it on Noel Rohr's neck, we knew Doggett had been duped by the aliens.

Hey, so sorry, it's actually a sign of being part of a government super-soldier scheme.

Maybe this still ties into the alien colonization plot. Maybe these super-soldiers are meant to combat aliens. But as far as we know, the very characters who should be asking these questions have not. Because Doggett and Reyes seem so willing to believe, Scully has had to go back to looking for "the hard science," which, as we all know, never leaves a concrete trail for her to follow. (It also helps that our intrepid agents, old and new, can never discover the proof with more than two minutes to go before it all explodes.)

As for the introduction of Shannon McMahon, let us all just be grateful that she cannot change shape. She can, however, change sides at the drop of a hat, leaving ambiguous evidence behind. And she takes a hand through the mid-riff with the best of them. Again, she gets written off for dead even after Doggett has seen Rohr explode and still return to bedevil him. For all of Scully's hard science, it seems odd that nobody can seem to apply lessons learned to similar situations.

Frustratingly, it really doesn't matter which side Shannon was really playing. What matters more is that we have to ask that question of too many characters.

Assistant Director Follmer has spent two hours alternately attempting to seduce and repel Reyes, with a last minute remark that could only be accepted by someone watching while on cold medication. Actually, I was on cold medication and am still perplexed. But we can hope that Follmer legitimately thinks he's doing the right thing without having a sense of the bigger picture. That kind of character has not really been a thorn in the X-Files side before.

And Deputy Director Kersh' alliances? That strange, low whooshing sound you heard during his last scene was that of hundreds of thousands of fans simultaneously extending their middle finger towards the screen.

Take heart that we did get a slightly better explanation for Mulder's disappearance. But it only underscores another crucial problem this season.

Even in the bleakest of episodes, Duchovny managed a few comments that could make us smile. Though Robert Patrick can be a funny actor, his character has not really shown that potential. Annabeth Gish just looks sensitive a lot. Maybe the show will rely on Cary Elwes' twinkle to carry us through.

Here's a tip for Carter and company: you need us to laugh with the show, not at it.

Derek McCaw



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