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Redux (The X-Files)

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"Redux"
The X-Files episode
ScottBlevinsRedux.jpg
The so-called "fake" aliens
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 1 & 2
Directed by R. W. Goodwin ("Redux")
Kim Manners ("Redux II")
Written by Chris Carter
Production code 5X02
5X03
Original air date November 2, 1997
November 9, 1997
Running time 44 minutes (Per episode)
Guest actors
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Gethsemane"
Next →
"Unusual Suspects"
List of season 5 episodes
List of The X-Files episodes

"Redux" is the collective name for the two-part fifth season premiere of the science fiction television series The X-Files. "Redux I" first aired on November 2, 1997 on Fox in the United States, with "Redux II" airing on November 9. Both episodes subsequently aired in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Both episodes were written by series creator Chris Carter, with "Redux" directed by R. W. Goodwin and "Redux II" helmed by Kim Manners. "Redux" became the second-most-watched episode ever broadcast, earning more than 27 million viewers in the United States alone. The first part of the episode received mixed to negative reviews, whereas the second part received mixed to positive reviews from critics.

The show centers on FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. The episodes' story continues on from the fourth season finale "Gethsemane". "Redux I" follows Scully, who helps Mulder to fake his own death in an effort to discover which members of the FBI they can trust before the agents individually search for an answer to Scully's cancer. "Redux II" continues immediately afterwards with Scully hospitalized, and Mulder is offered a deal to ally with The Smoking Man (William B. Davis).

"Redux", being a part of a three-part episode arc, became a storyline milestone for the series. It marked the first episode in which Fox Mulder loses his belief in extraterrestrial life and the revelation that someone inside the FBI has tried to discredit Mulder and Scully's work on the X-Files. When writing the episode, Carter wanted to tie up loose ends from the previous seasons. Despite being the first two episodes of the season aired, they were the second and third episodes produced, the first being "Unusual Suspects", which explained the origins of The Lone Gunmen.

Plot[edit]

Background[edit]

In Canada's St. Elias Mountains, a frozen extraterrestrial body is discovered by an expedition team. Professor Arlinsky, the team's leader, sends ice core samples containing presumably alien DNA to Fox Mulder. Both Mulder and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) eventually meet Michael Kritschgau (John Finn), a Defense Department employee who claims that everything Mulder thinks he knows about aliens is a lie. Kritschgau tells Mulder that his sister Samantha Mulder's abduction was fabricated, that all evidence of alien biology are merely scientific anomalies, and that the alien body discovered in Canada was fake. Kritschgau claims that the entire alien mythos is a hoax perpetrated by the U.S. government as a cover for the military–industrial complex. Distraught by Kritschgau's claims, Mulder loses his faith. Later, the FBI investigates Mulder's apparent suicide. Scully confirms the unseen body's identity.[3]

Redux[edit]

As a distraught Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) sits in his apartment, he receives a phone call from Kritschgau, who tells him that "they" may be listening. Mulder, spotting a small hole in his ceiling, rushes upstairs and bursts into the apartment above his and kills government employee Scott Ostelhoff. He tells Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) about the incident, telling her that Ostelhoff had made numerous calls to the FBI.

The FBI looks into the situation and finds Ostelhoff's body; however, they believe it is the body of a suicidal Mulder. The next day Scully identifies Ostelhoff's body as Mulder and is met by assistant director Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) who tells her that Section Chief Scott Blevins (Charles Cioffi) is looking for her. She meets with them, and tells them about the previous incidents leading to Mulder's apparent suicide. Meanwhile Mulder has broken into the Department of Defense.

While Mulder is gone, The Smoking Man (William B. Davis) searches Mulder's apartment, believing he is not dead. Scully does some research into the phone records, coming to the conclusion that Ostelhoff was calling Skinner. Mulder meanwhile continues through the Department of Defense Headquarters finding more fake alien bodies inside. He heads through a tunnel to The Pentagon, where he finds an elaborate filing system and warehouse of evidence, the same warehouse that The Smoking Man was seen leaving at the very end of "Pilot". Mulder ultimately tracks down a small metal vial that he believes may contain Scully's cure.

Scully debriefs the FBI panel and explains that Mulder was a victim of an elaborate conspiracy and that she was given a fatal disease by someone in the room. As she is about to present her evidence, her nose bleeds and she collapses. Mulder brings the vial he found to the Lone Gunmen, who tells him it is not a cure, only deionized water.[1]

Redux II[edit]

After hearing of Scully collapsing, Mulder arrives at the hospital where Scully is being treated. Before he is able to make contact with her, he is detained by Skinner and two FBI agents. Mulder is then brought to Blevins and a senior agent who demands information on why Scully lied about Mulder's death. After the meeting, Mulder tells Skinner that a traitor in the FBI gave Scully her cancer. In the meantime, The Smoking Man has a meeting with the First Elder (Don S. Williams), trying to convince him that Mulder will join their side if he is given a good reason to do so.

Mulder later tells Scully that he wants to reveal the conspiracy to the public. As he is leaving, he meets with The Smoking Man who tells him that he can cure Scully's cancer by using a chip included in the vial Mulder took from the Pentagon. Meanwhile, Kritschgau goes before the FBI panel, denying any knowledge of Ostelhoff's murderer, also revealing that his son died that morning. Kritschgau claims to work for not only the Department of Defense but also a congressional lobbying firm known as Roush. Mulder sees Scully and her doctor about the chip. Scully's family is skeptical, particularly her brother Bill, who is quite upset with Mulder. Scully decides to go ahead and have the chip inserted in her neck.

The Smoking Man contacts Mulder, arranging a meeting at a nearby diner. There Mulder meets his sister Samantha, who calls The Smoking Man her father. Samantha claims to not remember anything about her abduction and is reluctant to stay or tell Mulder where he can find her. The next day, The Smoking Man offers Mulder the truth if he quits the FBI and comes work for him; Mulder refuses. Mulder later meets with Blevins, who now has evidence Skinner was withholding information concerning Ostelhoff's death. Blevins tells Mulder he can help him if he names Skinner as the traitor in the FBI. Later, Mulder meets with Scully, telling her he was going to make the deal with The Smoking Man but now will not after his meeting with Blevins. Despite Scully's pleas, he refuses to name Skinner as the traitor in the FBI.

Mulder meets with the FBI panel while "Quiet Willy" follows The Smoking Man with a long barrel revolver, equipped with silencer, telescopic sight and targeting laser. Mulder tells the panel of the conspiracy against him and Scully. Questioned by Blevins and the senior agent about whether he killed Ostelhoff, Mulder instead names Blevins as the traitor in the FBI. The Smoking Man, looking at a picture of a young Mulder and Samantha, is shot by "Quiet Willy". Blevins is killed by the senior agent in his office, who makes it appear like a suicide. At the hospital, Skinner meets with Mulder, telling him that The Smoking Man is dead, although his body was not found. Mulder admits that he guessed when he named Blevins, who Skinner reveals was on the payroll for Roush. Mulder tells Skinner that Scully's cancer has gone into remission.[2]

Production[edit]

Chris Carter (right), the writer of both parts of the episode, pictured in 2008

Chris Carter, when talking about "Redux" and "Redux II", noted that he "wanted to tie up a lot of loose ends from the past season, and play the idea that the conspiracy is a hoax and that it had been done to hide various terrestrial and temporal misdeeds".[4] Despite being the season premiere, "Redux" was the second episode produced of the season due to David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson being needed for filming on The X-Files movie.[4] In "Redux II", the role of "Quiet Willy" was originally intended for the character the "Gray-Haired Man", but was re-written for a new character when actor Morris Panych was unavailable. The role went to Willy Ross, whose real name is Steve Allen.[5] The tagline for "Redux" is changed to "All Lies Lead to the Truth".[6] Director R. W. Goodwin has said that the crew filming "Redux" were so impressed by actor John Finn's monologue detailing the supposed military hoax that he received a round of applause after finishing his takes. The script for this speech was particularly long, with Goodwin comparing it to "the Yellow Pages".[7]

"Redux II" had four different storylines: Mulder's quest, the medical treatment, Scully's religious faith, and The Smoking Man's cure for Dana Scully's cancer. Although it was normal for the writers to add one or two different storylines for the different episodes, to create different interpretations, but Carter felt it took "the idea of the show" and spun it "in the most interesting way".[8] The episode also started what would become Fox Mulder's loss of belief in extraterrestrials until the episode, "The Red and the Black". While the writers kept "playing" with the idea of Mulder's loss of faith, fans and viewers could not grow to accept his loss of faith, which left The Smoking Man victorious.[8]

"Redux II" was highly praised by Carter, saying that "I think that Redux II is one of the best episodes we've ever done". Frank Spotnitz said "Redux II is one of my favorite episodes. I think the story has a crystal purity and clarity, and it just comes to a perfect point for me". Anderson said "I thought it was a terrific episode, especially the scenes in the hearing room, and the whole progression of Scully praying. How it was written and shot and how it was edited. Fabulous".[9]

Reception[edit]

"The aliens don't really matter, just as it doesn't matter if Scully's god is God, or just her faith in the essential meaning of her own suffering. What matters is that true belief, the best sort of belief, is the belief that takes us closer to who we want to be, to our best selves."

—Zack Handlen, on the episode's theme of faith.[10]

Ratings[edit]

"Redux" first aired on November 2, 1997 on Fox in the United States, with "Redux II" airing on November 9.[11] "Redux I" earned a Nielsen rating of 16.1, with a 22 share. It was viewed by 27.34 million people. It was the highest rated episode of the season, and the second highest watched episode, in terms of viewers, after "Leonard Betts", which aired after Super Bowl XXXI.[12] "Redux II" earned a Nielsen rating of 15.0, with a 21 share. It was viewed by 24.84 million people.[12] Part of the reason "Redux I" was so widely viewed was because the show's previous episode, "Gethsemane", had created speculation about whether or not Mulder was actually dead. An article in the Wall Street Journal discussed fan theories behind Mulder's madness while a cartoon ran in The New Yorker a few weeks later surrounding Mulder's "death".[13]

Reviews[edit]

"Redux" received mixed to negative reviews from critics. Todd VanDerWerff, writing for The A.V. Club, awarded the first episode a C+ rating and wrote that "'Redux [Part 1]' was a pretty good episode back in 1997. It’s not a very good episode now".[14] VanDerWerff noted that the idea that Mulder had killed himself was not effective because the show's audience knew that a movie had been scheduled for release in the summer of 1998.[14] Finally, he called the episode's ending "one of the show’s weaker cliffhangers".[14] Paula Vitaris from Cinefantastique gave the first part of the episode a negative review and awarded it one star out of four.[15] She heavily criticized the story's pacing, noting that the episode "is all plot, plot, plot. [And] much of the plot is unbelievable."[15] Furthermore Vitaris criticized several plot holes in the episode, including Mulder's easy entrance into the Department of Defense and the characters antics, such as his attack of Ostelhoff. However, despite the overall negative review, Vitaris did mention that, "There's only one truly galvanizing scene, as that's the confrontation between Scully and Skinner after he follows her to the lab where she is performing her DNA test."[15] Robert Shearman and Lars Pearson, in their book Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen, rated the episode one star out of five. The two heavily criticized the "Skinner-as-traitor" plot, noting sardonically that "the production team aren't going to do [reveal he is the antagonist], and the shock 'villain in the room' reveal will be Section Chief Blevens–a character so important in the framework of the series that, barring his appearance in the Season Four finale, we haven't seen him in ninety-four episodes."[16] Not all reviews were so negative. Tom Kessenich, in his book Examination: An Unauthorized Look at Seasons 6–9 of the X-Files named "Redux" and "Redux II", together, as the tenth best "Episode of All Time". In his critique of "Redux", he noted "While many people don't care for 'Redux', I think it does a good job of preparing us for the second hour (although, it invalidates Gillian's emotional context from the S4 finale)."[17] In the 1999 FX Thanksgiving Marathon, containing fan-selected episodes, "Redux" (along with "Gethsemane" and "Redux II") was presented as the "Best Mythology Episode".[18]

"Redux II" received mixed to positive reviews from critics. Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club awarded the episode an A rating and noted that "whatever reservations I may have over a three-episode story arc, this final entry does a good job of re-investing us in the show's basic ideals, returning us to a rough form of the status quo in a way that's exciting, emotionally powerful, and satisfying despite only incremental forward momentum".[10] In addition, Handlen praised David Duchovny's performance, stating that he "was on fire the whole episode".[10] Tom Kessenich praised the second part of the episode and wrote "'Redux II' is the standout hour of the two without question. With Scully on her deathbed, Mulder meets his sister only to lose her again and is put in a position where he may deal with the devil. The finale moments [...] are quite simply perfect and as good as any the show ever produced."[17] Shearman and Pearson rated the episode two-and-a-half stars out of five. The two noted "['Redux II'] is a likable enough little romp, but it's too leisurely to be exciting, too predictable to be revealing, and–most crucially, not really funny enough to be comedy.[16] Vitaris gave the second part of the episode a slightly less negative review than the first, but only awarded it one-and-a-half stars out of four.[15] She criticized the ending, noting that "it's all wrapped up neatly yet ambiguously."[15] However, Vitaris did note that "what makes 'Redux II' tolerable is Duchovny, who always hits the right notes of anger, despair, grief, relief, or emotional numbness."[15] In the 1999 FX Thanksgiving Marathon, containing fan-selected episodes, "Redux II" (along with "Gethsemane" and "Redux") was presented as the "Best Mythology Episode".[18]

References[edit]

Footnotes
  1. ^ a b Meisler (1999), pp. 27–34
  2. ^ a b Meisler (1999), pp. 37–46
  3. ^ Meisler (1998), pp. 259–270
  4. ^ a b Meisler (1999), p. 24
  5. ^ Meisler (1999), pp. 46–47
  6. ^ "Redux". The X-Files. Season 5. Episode 1 & 2. November 2 & 9, 1997. Fox.  Check date values in: |date= (help);
  7. ^ John Finn, R. W. Goodwin and Gillian Anderson. Behind the Truth: Michael Kritschgau (DVD). The X-Files: The Complete Fifth Season: FOX Home Entertainment. 
  8. ^ a b John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz and Chris Carter (2004). Threads of the Mythology: October 1997 – Redux (DVD). The X-Files Mythology, Volume 2 – Black Oil: FOX Home Entertainment. 
  9. ^ Meisler (1999), p. 35
  10. ^ a b c Handlen, Zack. ""Redux 2"/"Beware of the Dog"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  11. ^ The X-Files: The Complete Fifth Season (booklet). R. W. Goodwin, et al. Fox. 
  12. ^ a b Meisler (1999), p. 284
  13. ^ Meisler (1998), p. 271
  14. ^ a b c VanDerWerff, Todd. ""Redux"/"The Beginning and The End"". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 22 February 2012. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f Vitaris, Paula (October 1998). "Fifth Season Episode Guide". Cinefantastique 30 (7/8): 29–50. 
  16. ^ a b Shearman and Pearson (2009), p. 125
  17. ^ a b Kessenich (2002), p. 218
  18. ^ a b The X-Files Thanksgiving Marathon (November 25, 1999) (TV). FX. 
Bibliography
  • Meisler, Andy (1999). Resist or Serve: The Official Guide to The X-Files, Vol. 4. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-00-257133-1. OCLC 42005360 
  • Meisler, Andy (1998). I Want to Believe: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 3. Harper Prism. ISBN 0-06-105386-4. 
  • Kessenich, Tom (2002). Examination: An Unauthorized Look at Seasons 6–9 of the X-Files. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 1-55369-812-6. 
  • Shearman, Robert; Pearson, Lars (2009). Wanting to Believe: A Critical Guide to The X-Files, Millennium & The Lone Gunmen. Mad Norwegian Press. ISBN 0-9759446-9-X. 

External links[edit]