X-Files Revival Recap: Save a Horse, Ride a Mulder

When the X-Files revival was first announced, I assumed we’d see our favorite FBI agents on the hunt for the unknown. I figured we’d witness an alien or two. I hoped we’d get a banter-filled car ride or a truly disturbing monster of the week.

But never in my most far-flung, John Lee Roche-influenced dreams did I expect to watch Mulder lose his tie, don a cowboy hat and pelvic-thrust his way through “Achy Breaky Heart.”

And yet, here we are.

What’s next? Skinner in a tutu? Scully ditching it all to become a long-haul trucker? After that bizarre (yet highly enjoyable) second-to-last episode, I feel like the finale could go anywhere and do anything — and I’m incredibly intrigued to see how this whole shebang turns out.

Even the addition of Agents Miller and Einstein — a development I was primed to hate, because nobody puts Mulder and Scully in a corner! — felt believable and worked well within the confines of the hour. (Note to Fox: This does not mean I endorse a spinoff.)

Let’s review what happens in “Babylon.”

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK | In Southwest Texas, two Muslim men pray in a car, then walk into an art gallery. Moments later, the place blows up.

Back in D.C., Mulder and Scully watch video of people allegedly hearing trumpet sounds from out of nowhere. (Think angel choruses, not polka.) This leads to a discussion of the Bible’s Book of Revelations and the end of days, a friendly back-and-forth that ends when someone knocks at the basement office’s door.

“Nobody here but the FBI’s most unwanted,” Scully says, making Mulder smirk. “I’ve been waiting 23 years to say that.” (Heh.) “How’d it feel?” he asks. “Pretty good,” she answers.

Special Agents Miller and Einstein come in and introduce themselves; they’re there because they’re working the Texas terrorist bombing. One of the attackers survived — barely — and is on life support; Miller, who like Mulder is both slap-your-mama handsome and inclined to believe in ridiculous things, wants help communicating with the unconscious bomber in an attempt to locate his terrorist cell and prevent another attack. Einstein, who like Scully is a redheaded medical doctor who thinks all of this is nonsense, thinks the whole thing is a waste of time.

SEEING DOUBLE | It’s apparent from the get-go that Miller and Einstein are Mulder and Scully 2.0, not only in their identities but in the way they interact with each other. Let me amend that. They’re Season 1-era Mulder and Scully: Mostly respectful and collegial, sometimes prickly with each other’s tendencies, earnestly (naively?) searching for the truth.

Like I said, I expected to despise the new pair… but then I didn’t. Maybe it’s because the episode is still very much about the X-Files OGs, with the newbies used more as a way to highlight how far M&S have come rather than a cloned unit designed to replace them.

Anyway, both partnerships subtly observe the other — Scully notes that Einstein calls Miller by his last name, too; Einstein posits that Dana is “clearly in love with” Fox, because “nothing else would explain” her sticking with him for so long (heh). Einstein also says she pities Scully, a sentiment Miller can’t understand: “It’s like my dream assignment.” Talk to me after your sister levitates out her bedroom window, kid.

STRAIGHT TRIPPIN’ | Mulder and Scully both eventually volunteer to help with the investigation: Scully because she’s interested in communicating with the dead/near-dead (in light of her mom’s recent passing) via brain imaging, and Mulder because he wants Dr. Einstein to get him a hallucinogenic that will help him commune with the comatose bomber.

Scully and Miller get to Texas first, where a pair of Homeland Security agents order them out of the room — but Red and the new kid refuse to leave. Einstein and Mulder show up later, with Einstein eventually acquiescing and giving Mulder the ‘shroom-esque drug he wants just as a bomb threat evacuates the hospital.

There are a lot of menacing men in suits and a ‘Murica-loving nurse who tries to kill the bomber by shutting off his life support, but Mulder still manages to pop the pill into his mouth while standing by the patient’s bedside… and then he disappears.

lone-gunmenCut to Mulder strutting down the hospital hallway, and then out into traffic and a honkytonk bar, all finger-guns and high-fives and white man’s overbite while Miranda Lambert’s “Somethin’ Bad” rocks out in the background.

Warning: This sequence may not be your cup of sweet tea, but I found it so bizarre and yet so immediately awesome that I replayed it several times while watching this screener. Mulder dances. Mulder gyrates. Mulder wears blinged-out knuckle rings that proclaim “MUSHROOM” and bros out with Skinner and the Lone Gunmen (!) to “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.” And eventually, after a brief interlude in which a dominatrix’d Einstein hits him with a riding crop, Mulder winds up riding near the bomber — laid out in a pieta — in a Viking-style rowboat captained by Cigarette Smoking Man.

Mulder leans near to hear what the dying man is saying… then wakes up in a hospital bed, his boss by his side. Aww, it’s like “Triangle” all over again, and for a moment I fervently wish Mulder’s going to confess his love for Skinner this time. (Alas, no dice.)

CHECKOUT TIME | The bad news: Einstein ratted Mulder out. The good/weird news? The pills she gave him were simply niacin, aka “a placebo,” the younger agent informs him. Still, Mulder insists that the dying terrorist said something important to him in Arabic during the trip.

And that is born out when the bomber’s mother shows up at the hospital and Mulder recognizes her as the woman cradling the man’s body in the Viking boat. With her (and Miller’s) help, Mulder remembers the Arabic he heard in the dream-or-whatever-it-was; the words translate to “Babylon Hotel.” The FBI raids the place, finding several men preparing for another attack, and all is well.

Miller and Einstein have a little wrap-up, but it feels too much like the lead-in for a spinoff, so I’m going to pretend it doesn’t happen. And Mulder listens to The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” on his porch and looks happy when Scully shows up for a little discussion about love, hate, children (oh, William better be a part of this finale) and… I’m sorry, they’re holding hands and looking cozily couple-y and what were we talking about again?

And thank you, Fox and Dana, for illustrating my point: While Einstein and Miller’s closing scene felt like the million ­X-Files-lite series that have popped up since the iconic sci-fi drama began, this bit on the porch is the real deal. And as our pair walk and talk about religion and OH MY GOD WHY WON’T THEY JUST KISS THEY SO CLEARLY MISS AND LOVE EACH OTHER, he — but not she — hears trumpets in the sky, just like those people in the videos at the beginning of the episode.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the episode? What would you like to see in the finale? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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53 Comments
  1. Two very interesting things to look forward to when I watch that episode.

  2. Jon says:

    This seemed like it would have been a pretty good classic xfiles episode if it wasn’t so preachy. The final scene between mulder and scully would have been really cool but between the music fading in and out, the weird talk about religion that was super preachy and the zoom out image of the terrible cgi earth really bogged it down. The new guys didn’t bother me but I wouldn’t watch a spinoff of them yet– and are the trumpets really supposed to be significant or what? I don’t get it. I mean I went to Christian school so
    I’m definitely aware of the trumpets and I know that it tied back in to earlier in the episode but is that supposed to be a lead in to next week or was it just a random element of this episode? Maybe I just need to rewatch this episode but i wasn’t feeling it. Also please don’t get me started on Mulders hallucination ok thank you

    • Connor says:

      Just shows you can’t make everyone happy. It wasn’t a preachy episode but people see what they want to see which was kind of the point of the episode. Mulder tripping out was a classic and if you can’t see that I feel sorry for you.

  3. Billy Bob Johnson says:

    I wanted more Lone Gunmen! I guess they’re really dead.
    NO to a Miller-Einstein spin-off.

  4. David4 says:

    That was awful, god awful, horribly unwatchable awful. So awful I wish I could get back the hour I wasted on it.

    The best part was the ending song, but like Jon said the zoom out to Earth was just weird. I was looking for a UFO or something to explain it.

  5. AngieW says:

    I liked it . I liked it alot. It was weird. I like weird. The bad thing is trying to watch this online with a bunch of PC millennials ruining the show for you. I’m so glad XFiles aired in the 90s.

    • David4 says:

      A lot is two words. Maybe instead of going online and having a TV wrecked by ‘PC millennials’ you can study up a little more.

      • tvjunkie says:

        or perhaps it was a typo and Angie isn’t as anal as you as to make another post to point it out. posts here can’t be edited

  6. We all agree that there has to be something psychologically wrong with Fox Mulder, right? The guy hallucinates other people, like X, Deep Throat, Alex, the LG in the last episode of the original series, etc, etc, etc, etc. Where does these hallucinations come from?

    • DL says:

      See, I think in this case he did actually have a psilocybin trip. Einstein claimed it was a placebo in front of Skinner, but later on when Miller references Einstein giving Mulder “magic mushrooms,” she doesn’t deny it — and I’d think she would if she actually had just given him a placebo. And while in the last scene Scully mentions his trip being self-suggestion, to me it just implies that Einstein decided to keep her deception to herself (probably to mess with Mulder a little, in my opinion).

    • tyranthraxus says:

      Where do most Hallucinations come from? They come from your life experiences and generally people who were important to you.

      Remember Scully saw her father sitting in a chair.

  7. I can’t believe that was what they wasted the Gunmen on. Not surprised that this was the worst of the episodes. The case was really weak and the 2.0 agents were not ready for primetime.

    Although the MSR ending was pretty sweet.

  8. I don’t think there was much else to do at this point and that’s why it worked. This was awesome in how different it was. I was expecting a sub-par episode but was delighted by the jump in its step. It felt fresh and inspired. Myopic a little but the myopia was at least reflective; the perfect penultimate ep.

    I’m not expecting a spin-off but if there is one, I wouldn’t dislike it if it is instinctive and stands on ots own (i.e. NOT X-Files 2.0).

  9. bjdombey says:

    Einstein is the worst. I’m truly upset that so many precious minutes of the revival were wasted on her condescending and bitching — when we’ve all tuned in to watch Scully investigate X-Files with Mulder.

    The last scene was great, but mired in the Chris Carter exposition that is trying to be so deep and insightful I feel like I need Cliff’s notes to understand what’s happening. At the end of the day, who cares — is Scully moving back home again!?! Does the sound of trumpets mean that God’s telling them to get back together? WHY WAS THERE NO KISSING?!?!?

    P.S. 20 years have come and gone, and David Duchovny is still smoking HOT.

    • Brandi says:

      I think that ending with Mulder and Scully had a double meaning. I think combined with that song they were talking about themselves. I was waiting for a kiss there too and was sadly disappointed. :(
      I would go home from a bar with David Duchovny in a heartbeat. Don’t judge. He’s WAAAAY hot!

    • vickieworld says:

      YES! Einstein was HORRIBLE! I wouldn’t watch a spinoff with her as a lead. Also, there was absolutely no chemistry between her and Miller. The MSR scene was great though and showcased the great acting skills Duchovny and Anderson have together.

      P.S. Mulder dancing sequence was hilarious!

  10. Sean sullivan says:

    The x-files has been totally ruined. What a waste of 6 episodes of a formerly great show! Do not bother with the last episode.

  11. DL says:

    I really wish they’d gone with a different angle than suicide bombers. I actually felt bad for the young Middle Eastern actors who needed the work badly enough to play such horrid stereotypes (and I am not a Muslim, btw). It stuck out to me all the more because it was otherwise such a wonderfully enjoyable episode. But this could have just as easily been a terrorist attack from a violent white homegrown militia, or even some kind of cult without ANY strict ethnic lines. And they still could’ve worked in the religious philosophizing.
    .
    Now, don’t get me wrong, I still loved the ep. overall. It was just to me a matter of very questionable taste. The people on fire at the beginning was just nauseating. It’d be one thing if it were a show like Homeland, but for The X-Files it felt inappropriate and tacky (compounded further by the lousy digital effects).

    • BarryFlash says:

      It’s usually Muslims who do that kind of thing. Before liberals get all mad at me, not all Muslims.

    • SoBeit says:

      I thought ultimately, the story was actually pretty sympathetic in the end. If you listened to the mother’s words, to Scully’s, the moral of the story was about finding ways to talk to each other, to step back from the irrational beliefs we are taught. The young man in the hospital bed saved lives, by communicating to his mother and Mulder. However he got into the situation, he tried to right the wrong. Rabid Christians, White Militias, Black Gangs, Hispanic Cartels, Muslim Terrorists, there’s plenty of terrible groups to go around and they all show up regularly depending on which show or movie you’re watching. The extremist members of all these races and religions are in the minority and are not representative of the whole and it’s the rational members of any group that help keep the extremists in check.

  12. Jules says:

    Seriously, I was bored after the first 10min…not even Mulder’s line dancing or the last scene between Mulder’s & Scully could save this episode..thanks for giving us 4 crappy episodes (only episode 3 was worth it)
    Obviously the last episode will be the one we (suppose) will give us all the answers or leave us on a cliffhanger…. I’m very disappointed…

  13. Amy says:

    This has been great!! Its been quirky and fun and sweet. The only problem is that when it’s over next week, I’m going to want MORE.

  14. Pam says:

    I think Chris Carter took the mushrooms! I always loved this series, but haven’t enjoyed any of the new ones!

  15. Joyce Smith says:

    I did not watch one episode of this series when it aired. Now I’ve gone and fallen in love with this show. I wish it could go on forever. How can Tia NOT want her man back!

    • KatsMom says:

      Pretty sure Tea’s decision has a little something to do with the fact that he cheated on her…repeatedly…and often. She’s too good to waste her life on a whore like Duchovny.

  16. Ann says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing a spinoff of Miller but with another partner. I liked his character. He was youthful enough to be wide-eyed. I didn’t like Einstein. She felt over the top irritating…I think it’s the way the actress portrayed that character, perhaps they just need another actress to portray her. Overall, it was a decent episode.

  17. AnnieM says:

    Was not into this episode. New agents not as annoying as I feared they’d be, but please, no spin-off. I’d much rather have 6 (or more) new X-Files episodes again next year.

  18. Evan says:

    That was not Fox Mulder under the drugs, that was a Hank Moody cameo.

  19. Shiraz muhammad says:

    As a native Texan, I found this episode offensive and inaccurate. None would call a man a “brownie” in sw Texas. Mexicans, many who are brown, are omnipresent.

    And not everyone is a loudmouth racist. And not everyone opposed to immigration is a jerk. And so on.

    As a muslim, I also found this episode offensive, for other reasons.

    Could this be the worst episode ever?

  20. HardyEnough says:

    I liked the episode, among the humor it spoke to a lot of really interesting topics, especially how in this day and age, and with all we know, that people actually still believe there is god and that he must be pleased at all costs, and how words and beliefs can overcome common sense. Mulder believed he would get high, so he did. Didn’t mind the new agents, it can’t come as a surprise to anyone that Fox would love to get another series going, but frankly, nothing makes me want to tune into a Mulder & Scullyless version of the X-Files — After all, they already tried that, it was called seasons 8/9. (yeah, Anderson was technically there, but really, she wasn’t)

    • BarryFlash says:

      Wow! I believe in God and so do millions & millions of people. It’s hard to believe that you don’t in this day and age.

      • NotHardly says:

        Hey, I’m happy to let you believe in your God. The problem is that there are MANY gods and MANY groups, each of whom firmly believes their God is the onlyest, bestest, and truest God. Are they all right? Are none of them right? And of course, there are folks that believe that in order to attain favor from their God and please their God, others must be assimilated into the belief — or failing that, annihilated in more extreme cases, (much like the Borg!) Thanks but no Thanks….

  21. Sheldon W. says:

    Einstein & Miller spin-off? I’d be okay with that.

    Loved that the ep was about communication – of all sorts.

  22. Castlefan says:

    I’ve really enjoyed this XF revival, although this wasn’t my favourite episode. Some nice, fun moments and I thought the introduction of the new agents was great at first – but I wasn’t sufficiently interested in them to have kept them around for the whole episode. In particular it meant Scully and Mulder were separated for most of the show, and for me that dragged it down a little.

    I’m glad X-Files is still ready to try something different and hope they plan some more episodes after next week’s finale – but with the real characters rather than clones or wannabes. The Scully/Mulder scenes are just in a different class and if they could manage even 6 episodes each year for a while it would really improve the winter schedule.

  23. kenl says:

    In some ways, this hour was the best of the revival series. It was engaging, funny, mysterious and gripping. Not the best of the X Files hours when the series is taking as a whole, but certainly one of the best of the new episodes. Honestly, the weakest hour was the premier of the revival.

  24. Jared says:

    I’m really loving the new X Files and I even really liked Miller and Einstein but my biggest gripe is that I wish their was more of a serialized storyline threaded within these 6 episodes. So far it’s just been 6 random episodes. Curious to see what Fox plans to do with the series.

  25. Christine says:

    I actually liked this episode, and dare I say it, liked Miller and Einstein. I was a little disappointed that this was how they incorporated the Lone Gunman, but was excited to see that next week was referenced as a season finale and not another series finale.

  26. I absolutely love how “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” this season has been. They’ve appeased my desire for nostalgia while adding in a little more humor. I’m so sad it is almost over!!!!

  27. Brandi says:

    I just watched this episode again, and was curious about the conversation that Mulder and Scully had at the end. It sure seemed like a “get back together” talk to me. Which makes me very happy. I really enjoyed this episode too, as I have enjoyed all of these in the reboot. Although, I could watch those two paint a fence, so I might not be the best person to ask. . .

  28. DanielleZ says:

    I really enjoyed this episode. I can’t believe there’s only one more episode of the X-Files left. I want more! I kind of liked Miller and Einstein. A spin off with them might be interesting.

  29. Loved Mulders trip. It was so far out. And that weird cookie monster type singing in the backround. I watched it and knew I was listening to it before it dawned on me how weird it was. I’m glad its on Hulu I have to go back and re-watch and listen to it again.

  30. Phaka2 says:

    The revival is great and this episode was over the top cool. Loved every bit of it. Loved Einstein’s acerbic personality, Mulder tripping, Skinner – all great.