The X-Files “Babylon” Review (2016 Mini-Series Episode 5)

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On the latest episode of “The X-Files,” and the penultimate one before the finale, sadly, we got another reasonably fun one, albeit one that dealt with some surprisingly serious issues within the silliness, in “Babylon.” Once again, for those keeping score at home, this was actually the fourth episode, which was switched into the fifth episode slot, as detailed here.

In this case, the switch basically worked, as it directly referenced the death of Scully’s mother, which technically happened last week, even though it was originally intended to happen in the second episode. I suppose the biggest complaint I could make about the switch was that it seemed like Scully had dealt with the death a little swifter than she would have, had the episodes aired in the original order, but what are you gonna do?

On the plus side, it’s not as if we can’t go back and watch the episode in their intended order later, so I’ll get over it. The important thing was that this was a pretty solid episode, and the placement did have the effect of spacing out the more fun episodes from the more serious ones, although, as ever, every episode has had their moments, thankfully.

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If anything, my biggest complaint overall would be that it’s almost over already. Given the above-average ratings, I’m guessing FOX wished they had made more in retrospect, not just the fans. Oh well. Maybe next time they will. Nothing ventured, nothing gained as they say. I’d rather have a truncated “season” than nothing, that’s for sure, and even those concerned said they were never going to do a full one, so there you go.

The highlights in this one were golden though, and as with some of the best moments of “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” in particular, they rank amongst the series’ best. I don’t know about you, but I won’t soon forget the sight of Mulder getting his line dance on in a Texas nightclub- which we later discover was actually a senior center, if I understood correctly! (There was a quick aside in which someone mentions that Mulder “scared” the senior citizens, lol.)

But yeah, that “magic mushroom” sequence was one for the vaults, for sure, between Mulder’s oddly proud, big-man-on-campus strut down the hospital halls, to his blissfully unaware walking-in-traffic, to his getting down to “Achy-Breaky Heart” and “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” in the club, as Skinner and The Lone Gunmen (!) looked on, clad in cowboy-style outfits, that sequence was just pure win.

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To top it off, we had several surreal bits within already trippy sequences in which Mulder was repeatedly beaten, first by Agent Einstein (Lauren Ambrose, late of “Six Feet Under”- pun definitely intended- and looking pretty darned attractive, if I might say so myself), as he begged her off with a safe word of “woo woo”- as in Mulder’s patented “woo woo” paranormal shenanigans, despite his earlier claims that he “Doesn’t do woo woo” anymore; then by the Cigarette Smoking Man himself, at the helm of a ship fueled by robe-clad monk types, as a Virgin Mother-type holding her dead son in a Jesus Christ pose mourned him. Can’t wait to see what people make of that last sequence!

For me, it, and the episode surrounding it, was clearly the show’s attempt to address both the pain inflicted and the sorrow revolving around various people’s given faith. It was all over the episode, after all, from the opening scene, in which supposedly God-loving conservatives taunted and sneered at a Muslim, followed by said Muslim and a friend walking into an art gallery that was showing an allegedly offensive depiction of Muhammad and blowing it to smithereens in the name of their faith; to the closing one, in which Mulder and Scully discussed finding a like-minded “language” for all religions that would allow for peace on Earth in earnest.

I suppose all of this is going to rub some people the wrong way, despite the show’s more light-hearted moments, but it’s almost impossible to discuss religion without ticking someone off. That much hasn’t changed since there was a religion, I suppose. Besides, I don’t know that any side of the equation came off better or worse than the other one, which I think was the real point- nobody’s perfect, and no one person has all the answers, so don’t slam another person just because their viewpoint differs from your own.

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Naturally, some will disagree with this, as we’ve probably all met our fair share of people who think “their” way is the “right” way and that everyone who differs from it is just plain “wrong,” which seems to be the curse of a thing that was ostensibly meant to bring people together in love and harmony, but in actuality has often driven them apart, thanks to the sometimes small, sometimes huge differences in approach and opinion about one’s given religion.

I don’t doubt as well that many will take umbrage with writer/director Chris Carter’s occasionally simplistic view of a decidedly complex subject matter, which seems to boil down to the Rodney King-style sentiment of “Can’t we all just get along?” Is anyone surprised that a native-born Californian with a penchant for surfing would take such a stance? I can’t say I am, anymore than I can say he’s wrong. It would be nice if we all could get along, but it’s not particularly realistic, either, and that naivety probably isn’t going to help matters, despite his best intentions.

But I digress. We neither have the time nor space to get into a religious debate, much less “solve” the many issues that surround organized religion in general, so let’s get back to the episode at hand. Surrounding all of this weighty subject matter was a fairly straight-forward, if admittedly simplistic case revolving around Mulder and Scully’s varied attempts to try and communicate with the surviving bomber, who lay in a coma after his attack on the art gallery.

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The idea was to somehow communicate with him in order to find out who gave him his orders, thus potentially stopping another impending attack in the process. Naturally, Scully took the scientific approach, while Mulder approached the matter from less conventional means- hence the “magic mushrooms,” which, if Agent Einstein were to be believed, were placebos anyway.

Amusingly, Mulder and Scully were each paired with their younger amalgams, with Einstein falling squarely into the category of science-based reason, while fellow Agent Miller (Robbie Amell, “The Flash”) favored a more open-minded approach. This latter system of beliefs led Miller to seek out Mulder in order to try and communicate with said bomber, while Einstein rolled her eyes at the sight of what amounted to two of her worst nightmares colliding.

Though it might have been more interesting had Carter chosen to gender swap the two, making Miller the Scully and Einstein the Mulder of the pair, it was cool that he opted to pair each character with their opposite, as Miller and Scully collaborated behind Einstein’s back, while she begrudgingly went along with Mulder’s typically wacky approach to the matter at hand. Watching the latter two together was just like old times, to be sure, though, as noted by Einstein later on, Mulder had clearly rubbed off a little too much on Scully, which she attributed rationally to her being in love with him- all the while ignoring the fact that she and Miller had some solid chemistry of their own.

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Maybe it’s just me, but I did get the feeling that, had the season gone on a bit longer, we might have gotten more of these two, and even had them tackle some cases of their own, not unlike the somewhat maligned Agents Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Reyes (Annabeth Gish, who reportedly will be back for the finale). I wouldn’t be surprised if they come back in the by-now seemingly inevitable next season, and are perhaps even groomed for a spin-off, but we’ll see.

For the record, though, I don’t mind Amell at all, having previously watched the short-lived “The Tomorrow People,” as well as “The Flash,” and it was genuinely nice seeing an all-grown-up Ambrose, after being a big fan of hers when I was younger, not just from “Six Feet Under,” but the likes of “Can’t Hardly Wait” and the underrated cult favorite “Psycho Beach Party” as well.

So, while I’d prefer the original team, naturally, I could deal with these two resurfacing on down the line, though a spin-off might be pushing it- unless, of course, it was the only way to keep Duchovny and Anderson in the loop, that is, in which case, I’ll take it over nothing. But for this episode, I enjoyed it just fine, and it was undeniably amusing seeing the now-commonly associated with Mulder traits in Miller and the now-commonly associated with Scully traits in Einstein, albeit more the OG Scully in this case.

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Was it a perfect episode? Hardly. You can’t tackle such a massively overwhelming topic as religious differences in a forty-five minutes-or-so show on top of various other plot points and not slight some of the material, after all. But for what it was, it was a great conversation starter, at the very least, and undeniably redeemed by some choice Mulder and Scully moments for the ages. Hell, it was worth it for that “Magical Mystery Tour” sequence alone, really! (Not to mention hearing Mulder say, somewhat longingly, “badonkadonk.”)

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What did you think of the latest episode of “The X-Files”? Are you sad it’s coming to a close already? What did you think of the junior league Mulder and Scully? Would you like to see more of them? How about that “magic mushroom” sequence? Did you ever think in your wildest dreams you’d get to see Mulder getting his hoedown on? Did you enjoy seeing the Lone Gunmen? (I was actually relived they didn’t pull the whole “cheating death” thing they did with the CSM, personally, as much as I liked the characters back then.) Sound off on this and more down below, and see you for the big finale next week!