How does one begin to describe the perfection that is this second season of “The X-Files?” Speaking from the perspective of having watched these shows as they aired, anxiety and anticipation doesn’t begin to describe the four month wait between seasons one and two. In season one’s finale “The Erlenmeyer Flask,” we see a mere glimpse of how this television series can go from greatness and kick it up even higher to absolutely stunning. The X-Files are closed and we also lose “Deep Throat” in this episode, played by Jerry Harden who is an excellent actor.
Season two picks up with “Little Green Men” and the introduction to “X,” “Deep Throat’s” protégé and his replacement and Special Agent Fox Mulder’s inside source. We also get to start seeing the “Mythology” of the series start to take some real form. To hide the fact that the ever beautiful Gillian Anderson is pregnant, the producers come up with some wonderful filming techniques. Then to top it off they come up with the plot line for “Duane Berry.”
Every episode of this season qualifies as amazing, enthralling, stunning and any number of ways to describe that which is great. Some notables: “The Host,” because it’s just creepy and kind of like an accident, you don’t want to look at it but you have to. “Sleepless” because it has Tony Todd who, when he chooses the right parts, is such a wonderful actor. “Duane Berry,” “Ascension,” “3,” and “One Breath” for the masterful way the writers and producers skillfully scripted out Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy in Dana Scully’s abduction. Not to mention the wonderful job that Steve Railsback did in the role of Duane Berry. “Firewalker” because of its simplicity and the scientific curiosity it created. “Aubrey” because of its ability to surprise and scare you. “Die Hand Die Verletzt” because it makes you wonder what your neighbors are up to. “Colony” and “Endgame” for their X-Files mythology aspect, plus the scenes with the submarine were stunning. “Humbug” was their first attempt at humor and they carried it off with perfection. “The Calusari,” shades of “The Exorcist.” “Soft Light” in which Tony Shaloub gives an excellent performance playing a scientist that found a little more than he was looking for. “Our Town” just gives you the idea you don’t want to stop in the wrong town. “Anasazi,” what a wonderful season ending cliffhanger with the mythology in full stride. The only bad thing about “Anasazi” is that it was prelude to a four month wait to find out what happen next. “Colony” is also David Duchovny’s debut as a writer for the show.
The seventh disk also contains some wonderful and enlightening special features. The only true minor complaint that I can think to register about this DVD set is the case in which it comes. The outside cover has interior flaps that seem to incessantly get caught on the case that holds the disks. Thanks for sticking it out and reading through this.
Little Green MenThe HostBloodSleeplessDuane BerryAscension3One BreathFirewalkerRed MuseumExcelsis DeiAubreyIrresistibleDie Hand Die VerletztFresh BonesColonyEnd GameFearful SymmetryD0D KalmHumbugThe CalusariF. EmasculataSoft LightOur TownAnasazi
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It’s difficult to say why The X-Files continues to capture the awe of the viewer. The first season introduced us to Agents Mulder and Scully, who connected with each other movingly in the first season, and we see how that effects them in the second as they continue to work together.
The second season stretches the mythology angle somewhat, but some of the stand-alones rank among the best.
Here’s just a rundown on the best episodes (though all of them are definitely worth seeing).
—Duane Barry/Ascension/One Breath: The X-Files trilogy that abducted Scully! Now, we all know that Scully comes back, but these three shows held for me an intense fascination with the fate/free will ideas, and certainly engaged it’s viewers in passionate discussions.—Firewalker: I don’t know why I love this episode. I think that the seemless mesh of science, fiction, and suspense is what enthralled me throughout.—Irresistable: In introducing us to Donnie Pfaster, Chris Carter introduced us to one of the most evil villains in the show’s history (not the coolest, mind you). I’d thought that the second season had peaked with this episode, but along came—Colony/End Game: The episode that showed us Mulder’s abducted sister! (or a clone, or an alien-human hybrid). Scully gets taken by the bionic killer people (my friends claim this is why that I’m not an X-phile, having no clue what they’re called. Oh well). Not as good as many other mythology episodes, but still notable for Mulder’s attachment to his partner.—Dod Kalm: My favourite of season 2. No way to truly describe it, but it was enchanting and magical, thrilling and inspiring, a combination of technical brilliance and artistic majesty. Gillian Anderson deserved an Emmy for this and Irresistable.—Anasazi: Ending with what was the best Mythology episode to date, I’d be a fool to tell you what happened.
I’ve blasted Twentieth Century Fox over and over the past few years for not making THE X-FILES available in an affordable edition. I was especially miffed this past year as they brought out the inexpensive but incomplete Mythology editions. Finally they have given us an edition that recollects the original DVD releases but in a new format and a dramatically lower price. For anyone with even the slightest doubt, this is the edition of THE X-FILES to get. Although I like to collect my favorite shows on DVD, and I consider THE X-FILES to be one of my two or three favorite shows ever, I have not bought any season, opting instead to rent and rerent the discs from Netflix. Partly this was because I am on a budget and partly because I revolt at paying over $40 for any television season. Once we consumers start paying those kinds of rates, the producers will provide us with nothing priced lower. I was determined either to wait the folks at Twentieth Century Fox out or give Netflix a lot of X-FILES rentals. To complicate matters, buying the seasons used is complicated by the fact that so many sellers on Amazon and elsewhere are actually selling cheap Hong Kong rip offs, not a very good option. Now, however, we not only can pay a reasonable price, but a better format, with the slim line cases that are both longer-lasting than the original fold out cases and more aesthetically pleasing.
There are two major differences between Season One and Season Two of THE X-FILES. First, there is an overall increase in the quality of individual episodes. The writing and production in Season One was very sharp, but the writing was even more finely honed in the second season. Even in the episodes that dealt with the “phenomena of the week,” there is a persistent increase in the quality of the new characters introduced and the complexity of the situations. In other words, there is no sophomore slump for these guys. The second major difference is a slight increase in the complexity of the back story. Partially this is done by a couple of multi-episode stories and partially by developing the longer arc of a complex and nefarious conspiracy of silence on the part of a shadowy federal agency that seems to be connected with the Department of Defense. There is a great deal of character development, especially of secondary characters. The Deep Throat of Season One has been replaced by a new Deep Throat, a highly placed African-American played convincingly by Steven Williams who is far more ruthless than the original Deep Throat. Assistant Deputy Director Skinner becomes a far more important character, one whose loyalties are hard to place, but one who clearly is capable of at times being Mulder and Scully’s most loyal friend, though more frequently their taskmaster and disciplinarian. The Smoking Man continues to lurk in the shadows, radiating patronizing tyranny and an aura of conspiratorial intrigue. He was a presence in the first season, but he becomes a full fledged character in the second, moving from a non-talking character to one who talks a fair amount. Even Mulder and Scully, who were magnificently conceived characters from the very first episode, learn new things that show their lives to be more complex than they had suspected (and in the two shows that begin Season Three that complete the story that begins in the final episode of Season Two show that there is much, much more to learn than they even remotely suspect).
The start of the season finds Scully in a coma, the X-Files unit disbanded, and Mulder assigned to outrageously trivial surveillance work. Of course, all works out in a series of spectacular episodes. Those fans of Gillian Anderson’s crystal blue-eyed, porcelain beauty might notice that she doesn’t look quite as lovely early in the season, a function partly of a terrible hairstyling mistake (her bob with bangs instead of her usual part, which utterly alters the balance of her face) and partly of her being extremely pregnant. I applaud the makers of the show for not trying to work her pregnancy into the story line, instead hiding it use of the billowing trench coats that help constitute Scully and Mulder’s uniforms. The pregnancy is easy to see in her face, it getting rounder and fuller as she got further into the pregnancy. In fact, if you do a screenshot of her in her last episodes before having her daughter, and compare it to one from an episode either early in Season One or from Season Three, the difference in her face is dramatic. Pregnancies are always hard to work around, but this is one of the more interesting attempts in TV history for their refusal to work it into the plot. Amazingly, she filmed the extraordinary pair of episodes “Duane Barry” and “Ascension” while very close to term. There is absolutely no more terrifying image in all of THE X-FILES than that of the glimpse of Scully’s gagged face in the trunk of Duane Barry’s stolen car from the video camera of a…