THE BLAIR WATCH PROJECT #2 – ‘Requiem’

Sarah Blair continues her ‘Blair Watch Project, by starting with The X-Files S7 finale, ‘Requiem’…

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If you’ve been keeping up-to-date on the blog or my Twitter feed, or basically anywhere, you know ‘Requiem’ was an episode I was not looking forward to watching. Honestly, in my head all I could remember was Skinner screaming for Mulder in the woods. It was traumatizing. I didn’t want to live through that again.

That being said, HOLEY BUCKETS THIS EPISODE. I don’t even know where to begin, so maybe I’ll just start with the beginning? It was exciting to get back to Bellefleur, the town where The X-Files kicked off its run. So much of the ‘Pilot’ episode came flashing back. It was like having coffee with an old pal I hadn’t had a chance to hang out with in awhile. Billy was up and about, walking and talking. And Theresa got a fabulous new haircut and had a baby. The X was still on the road!

It was a reunion of sorts, and I mean that as a compliment. Everything that was great about the ‘Pilot’ was great about ‘Requiem,’ with the bonus of the best parts of the mythology tossed in for good measure; we got the toxic alien blood, the shape-shifting bounty hunter alien clone dude, and the creeptastic quintessential X-Files moment where we see the dead sheriff in the trunk and realize what’s REALLY going on.

We also got to revisit the scene where Scully came into Mulder’s hotel room. And every Shipper unabashedly REJOICED as she climbed into bed and they snuggled up together, exactly the way we’d been hoping for all those years. (Non-shippers, go grab some iced tea and relax. This is our moment, mkay?)

Then, in proper X-Files form, just as everything was coming together… it all fell apart. Lucky for all of us, X-Caster Carl who is endlessly more profound than I am pointed out that Mulder finally gets what he’s always wanted—a prolonged alien encounter. Scully gets the baby she was hoping for. But it comes at the price of them being separated.

ANGST GALORE!!!

This episode truly encapsulates all of the things that make The X-Files, THE X-FILES. It pains me to know that kids these days won’t know the agony of waiting an ENTIRE SUMMER to find out what happens next. How will they build any character?!

Ah, well, hope to see you again on Friday, 9 p.m. EST for the next installment of the Blair Watch Project: The Season 8 premiere, ‘Within.’

You can follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahlblair.

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THE BLAIR WATCH PROJECT #1 – ‘Je Souhaite’

Sarah Blair begins her ‘Blair Watch Project, by starting with The X-Files S7 comedy, ‘Je Souhaite’…

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As part of my Blair Watch Project, I knew I couldn’t skip the Season 7 finale, ‘Requiem,’ because it sets up the entirety of Season 8. Since I knew it was going to be a tough episode to watch, I figured I’d kick things off with something fun. The last standalone episode of Season 7 ‘Je Souhaite’ was just the ticket.

This was an episode I never thought much about since it originally aired back in 2000. Most of my go-to X-Files come from the first 4 seasons, with a sprinkling from Seasons 5-6, plus ‘Hollywood A.D.’ and once in awhile, ‘X-Cops.’

I’m really sad that I missed out on all those years of watching ‘Je Souhaite’ because in the past year since I did my big watch leading up to the Season 10 premiere it’s definitely made my list of what I like to call Comfort Episodes—the X-File equivalent of a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate, a big tasty plate of spaghetti, or a slice of apple pie fresh from the oven. Those episodes that you can turn on when you’re having a lousy day and end up with a smile on your face.

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And that’s exactly what happened this time around. Watching Mulder and Scully at their best, in one of Vince Gilligan’s best, quite simply put a big ‘ole grin on my face. It did everything I needed and expected it to do because I know what’s coming up next week. . . .

‘Requiem’ almost makes some of the best moments in ‘Je Souhaite’ a little bittersweet, if not downright painful. Seeing Mulder search the empty city, knowing the only person on the entire planet he wants to find is Scully, feels like a dagger to the heart because in the next episode she’s going to be doing the same thing for real. Seeing them together in the last scene, so happy and content with everything exactly as it should be, is like getting that dagger twisted and then having a Mack truck dropped on my head.

We recently did a Roundtable discussion about how we think Mulder and Scully’s story should end. I might have been partially glib in my answer, but really, I think ‘Je Souhaite’ would have been the perfect episode to end the series.

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As a writer, I can’t deny I enjoy putting my characters through all kinds of painful scenarios. Drama—especially the angsty kind—is what makes writing, reading, and watching so much more fun. But somewhere in there, it’s important to leave the audience with a glimmer of hope and happiness. That’s what ‘Je Souhaite’ does that Chris Carter doesn’t seem to give us in the actual finales, except for maybe the boat scene tacked on to the end of I Want to BelieveMaybe it’s just the optimist in me, maybe it’s my shipper side showing, but whatever ending Mulder and Scully get, I want it to be a happy one.

That being said, I hope you’ll join me in watching ‘Requiem’ on Friday, 9 p.m. EST because I’m really going to need all the support I can get. As much as I’ve been assured by the rest of The X-Cast crew that Season 8 is worth it. . .  there’s a solid chance come 10:13 p.m. I’ll be covered in snot and rocking in the corner.

You can follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahlblair.

NEW FEATURE: The Blair Watch Project

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It’s been around 16 years since Season 7 of The X-Files ended. As a huge fan of the show, I was well aware of the rumor mills circulating that David Duchovny wanted to leave at the time. But I hoped beyond hope that maybe it wouldn’t amount to anything more than rumors, or at the very least maybe he’d leave for a couple episodes and come back?

Mostly, I kept asking myself, “How can The X-Files still exist without Mulder?!”

In the Season 7 finale, I got my answer and it wasn’t the one I wanted.

Of course, I remained optimistic. I kept holding out hope. I stuck with Season 8 up until about halfway through. After that, I allowed myself to be carried away with college life in New York City, choosing to focus on my classes and making new friends instead of obsessing over my favorite show. Occasionally, one of the people in my dorm would be watching and I’d join in, but it honestly just wasn’t that exciting anymore.

I felt betrayed and abandoned.

But I never once thought that David Duchovny or Chris Carter owed me anything. I did, however, wish that the network and producers would have ended the show on a high note with the original cast intact, and allowed everyone to move on simultaneously instead of having to beat a dead alien into a bloody pulp, metaphorically speaking. Out of curiosity and maybe a sense of duty, I tuned in for the Season 9 finale—mostly because at the time I thought it would be the last episode I’d ever get. Thank the good Lord Kinbote that it wasn’t!

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16 years later and quite honestly I still can’t help but get a bitter taste in my mouth when I think about it. I was so bummed out after watching ‘The Truth’ that I took a solemn vow to never ever, EVER, watch it again. A vow which I absolutely intend to uphold.

But time and time again, since I joined up with The X-Cast crew, they’ve all enthusiastically agreed that Season 8 is strong and worth giving a watch. Season 9 hasn’t gotten much praise, but I also simply don’t feel like I can call myself a true fan at this point and discuss the show critically as a whole with those episodes missing from my viewing experience.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to go ahead and watch Season 8 for the first time since it aired, and view almost all of Season 9 for the first time ever. I’ve kicked things off with ‘Je Souhaite’ in Season 7 because it’s a fantastically strong episode. A light and funny Vince Gilligan masterpiece, and one of my favorite episodes of the series. I needed to start on a high note. And before you ask, I absolutely intend to maintain my solemn vow and will not be watching ‘The Truth’. Not gonna happen. Don’t even ask. (I’m looking at you, Carl.)

I hope you’ll join me on Friday nights at 9 p.m. EST where I’ll be live-tweeting from @TheX_Cast handle and come back here for my overall thoughts on each episode. See you soon, X-Philes!

You can follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahlblair.

THE X-FILES RANKED: 209 – Miracle Man (0 votes)

Sarah Blair begins the ultimate X-Files countdown of all 209 episodes, starting from the very bottom to the top as voted by you, with Season 1 Episode 18, ‘Miracle Man’…

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Here we have it, the one and only episode of The X-Files to come through with zero votes. To be quite honest, I thought there would have been more episodes to surface empty-handed. I most definitely never would have guessed the one to obtain this dubious honor would be ‘Miracle Man.’

Certainly, there are many endeavors over the course of the show that didn’t quite pan out the way Chris Carter and crew might have liked. Not all of them can be winners. With a breakneck production schedule, as well as monetary and network challenges, honestly, it’s a wonder The X-Files was able to pull off as many spectacular episodes that it did. But out of all of them, I feel like ‘Miracle Man’ is deserving of at least one vote.

As episode 18 of the first season, this marks the first ever writing collaboration between the show’s creator Chris Carter and producer Howard Gordon. In this standalone, agents Mulder and Scully travel to a small town in Tennessee to investigate a death in a popular tent ministry. The son of the minister is said to have the power to heal the sick, but his gift of life seems to have turned into the touch of death. Upon a re-watch, it seems there are a lot of ideas trying to be dealt with in a short amount of time. And isn’t that somewhat typical for the episodes penned by Carter? A great man with big ideas and not enough time and space to flesh them out properly. There’s the overarching theme of faith, along with Samuel’s struggle with his gift, and Mulder’s search and longing for his sister thrown in for good measure. All topics which could have been singled out and honed in on to craft a more memorable viewing experience.

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One of only four episodes in the series directed by Michael Lange, it’s relatively straightforward, focusing mostly on the story rather than any spectacular visual effects. Not to mention, there was the giant hurdle of trying to make-over several Vancouver locations meant to represent Tennessee, and the fact that the Canadian actors all had a different idea of what a Southern American accent sounds like. (Side note: As a girl born and raised in Tennessee, I can tell you not one of them came close to sounding like a true Tennessean, but I applaud the effort.)

The moments where Mulder clings to the idea of discovering more about what might have become of his sister, and Scully rushing in to prevent him from having the wool pulled over his eyes are strong in establishing the foundation of each character and the relationship between them as partners and friends. Overall, this is where I believe the episode obtains most of its value.

Is ‘Miracle Man’ an outstanding or memorable episode? Not particularly. But it doesn’t entirely lack merit, and it deserves at least one point—if only for participation.

Memorable Quotes:

Sheriff Daniels: “99% of the people in this world are fools, and the rest of us are in danger of contagion.”

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Mulder: “I think I saw some of these same people at Woodstock.”

Scully: “Mulder, you weren’t at Woodstock.”

Mulder: “I saw the movie.”

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Scully: “You’ve got that look on your face, Mulder.”

Mulder: “What look is that?”

Scully: “The kind when you’ve forgotten your keys and you’re trying to figure out how to get back in the house.”

Our blog team also decided to rank the show based on their own lists, so here’s what they picked in 209th place:

Tony: “BABYLON. For years it would probably have been ‘Fearful Symmetry’, but this was just absolute indefensible guff. Rampantly pretentious, borderline offensive in its approach to racial politics, and nonsensical while trying to be profound – Mulder’s acid trip is just about the worst idea the show ever did, and this show did invisible elephants and space ghosts. This episode can fuck the fuck off until the end of time.”

Andrew: “BABYLON. Shallow, terrible, terrible dialogue, terrible characterization, just terrible on absolutely every single front. No mystery here. Just Chris Carter at his absolute worst. This episode makes ‘Fight Club’ look like a Marx brothers’ masterpiece. Warning: The Mulder dance sequence may induce vomiting.”

Paige: “3. It’s an easy target — an early ep without Scully. But there’s just nothing remotely likeable about this one. It utilizes dozens of standard vampire conventions with the added hubris of casting David Duchovny’s then-girlfriend so Mulder can get some.”

Carl: “FIGHT CLUB. Mulder gets sucked into a storm drain and misses part of the action during this episode, and to be honest I was somewhat envious. It’s a screechingly unfunny, tonally incoherent mishmash of an X-File with nothing to recommend about it. Doppelgängers are clearly something that interest Carter, but he found much better ways to incorporate them into other episodes.”

Sarah: “THE TRUTH 1 &2. A ridiculous and unfulfilling finale as far as series finales go. It’s the one and only episode on the show I’ve taken a solemn vow to never watch again. I’d like to live in my little bubble and pretend it doesn’t even exist. It was a great relief when we got the second film and a much more satisfying ending.”

Do you agree with this episode ranking? Let us know what you would put in this spot on Facebook, Twitter or via comments below!