You've outdone yourself this time Chris.
In the original run of the series, it was a given that you were going to get bad episodes. When there are 20-24 episodes a season, you’re bound to hit bumps in the road. Whether it’s killer cats (‘Teso Dos Bichos’), someone literally sucking the colour out of people (‘Teliko’) or a soap opera involving El Chupacabra (‘El Mundo Gira’). But this episode, entitled ‘Babylon’, is far from the realm of bad. It’s distasteful and offensive at points. So much so, that reviewers and fans alike wish to remove it from their collective memories. It may seem a little harsh to give this episode two stars, but we’re talking about one of the most anticipated revivals of a television show in recent history, and with only six episodes, you just can’t chance producing an episode like this.
Much like the majority of Carter’s episodes this season, ‘Babylon’ is pretty uneven and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. And specifically for this one, it has a tone that is all over the place. It’s extremely jarring in aspects, Mulder’s mushroom ‘trip’ being the main example; a sequence that is apparently meant to be hilarious but ends up being extremely hard to watch from the woes of second-hand embarrassment. The X-Files is known for being able to pull off an expert blend of comedy and tragedy, but Carter does not do it well here at all. Especially since this episode is focused on terrorism – a subject that is extremely prevalent as of late in today’s society.
I don’t understand where Carter thought he was going here. The cold open looked promising for the first minute, showing a representation of Muslim culture…until you realise that the bad guys of this episode are of course suicide bombers. We’re then shown pretty graphic images of said terrorists detonating bombs inside an art gallery, with members of the public running out of the building on fire. This somehow shifts to one of the terrorists being on the brink of death in a comatose state, and Mulder coming up with the bright idea of believing he’ll be able to communicate with him via getting high off mushrooms.
This episode could have easily fixed itself if it didn’t attempt to attach a ‘comedic’ plot line to a seemingly harrowing narrative. ‘Babylon’ had the opportunity to focus more on what it did focus on in the last five minutes – i.e. Mulder and Scully’s conversation about faith and its differing meanings to different religions (Christianity vs. Muslim), and the role of motherhood. Or it could have gotten rid of the terrorist plot completely and focused on Mulder and Scully working a case with the younger versions of themselves that were presented in the beginning of the episode, through the characters of Agents Einstein (Lauren Ambrose) and Miller (Robbie Amell).
Obviously there were good points in this episode, but they were few and far between. Mulder and Scully meeting doppelganger versions of themselves worked in some level, mainly through their reactions to seeing Einstein and Miller interact with one another, reminding them of themselves back when they first started on the X-Files together. I’m not a fan of Einstein and Miller at all, mainly since it feels similar to whom Carter introduced in the last two seasons of the original run, Agents Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Reyes (Annabeth Gish). I know in this instance he isn’t trying to replace Mulder and Scully like he attempted back then, but it still felt similar and just doesn’t work on any level. You can only have one Mulder and Scully, and Duchovny and Anderson are the only ones that fit the roles.
‘Babylon’ redeemed itself somewhat in the closing five minutes, with Mulder and Scully walking hand in hand outside their previously shared home; shining a light on their relationship, which thus far hasn’t been discussed much. Carter said the two were ‘estranged’, but there hasn’t been a point so far in the revival that fully discloses this – other than the two of them living separately and a few jabs in the first episode. The hand holding was like a kiss for crying out loud. The Lumineer’s song was a bit much, considering the dark alternative genre the show usually shoots for.
But at least we got some semblance of a reward by seeing Mulder and Scully holding hands whilst at peace together, something that we deserved after having to sit through ‘Babylon’.
The X-Files airs on Mondays at 9pm on Channel 5.