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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Fight the Future Minute #55 (“The Syndicate III”)

So The X-Cast reached the end of the show’s fifth season, and approached The X-Files: Fight the Future. This naturally meant it was time for another breathtakingly ambitious project, so the podcast is going literally minute-by-minute through the first X-Files feature film. I’m joining the wonderful Kurt North for two brief stretches featuring the Well-Manicured Man.

This episode wraps up my first stretch of episodes discussing Fight the Future, taking a look at the end of the conversation between the Well-Manicured Man and the rest of the Syndicate around him. It’s a fun discussion that finally gets to the heart of Fight the Future, bringing Mulder and Scully back into the story and communicating the stakes clearly to the audience munching on their popcorn.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

New Podcast! The X-Cast – Fight the Future Minute #54 (“The Syndicate II”)

So The X-Cast reached the end of the show’s fifth season, and approached The X-Files: Fight the Future. This naturally meant it was time for another breathtakingly ambitious project, so the podcast is going literally minute-by-minute through the first X-Files feature film. I’m joining the wonderful Kurt North for two brief stretches featuring the Well-Manicured Man.

The delineation between my second and third minutes on the project is a bit looser than the clear demarcation between the first and second, in that it is a continuation of the same scene. Still, Kurt and I take a little bit of a closer look at the character of Strughold, the special celebrity guest star “big bad” who is drafted in to provide suitable amounts of menace to Fight the Future and then never appears again – probably because Armin Mueller-Stahl was a bit above the show’s paygrade, even after it moved to Los Angeles.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

 

New Podcast! The X-Cast – Fight the Future Minute #53 (“The Syndicate”)

So The X-Cast reached the end of the show’s fifth season, and approached The X-Files: Fight the Future. This naturally meant it was time for another breathtakingly ambitious project, so the podcast is going literally minute-by-minute through the first X-Files feature film. I’m joining the wonderful Kurt North for two brief stretches featuring the Well-Manicured Man.

In some ways, this section of the film is an illustration of how tightly structured Fight the Future is, in terms of communicating exposition and character dynamics to an audience that may not be entirely up to date with the grand mechanics of the X-Files universe. So Fight the Future spends almost exactly a minute with the Well-Manicured Man before throwing him into conflict with the Syndicate. In doing so, it draws a contrast between the two that serves to very clearly define what distinguishes the Well-Manicured Man from his colleagues and partners.

Again, it would be too much to describe the storytelling here as elegant, but it does communicate things like character motivation quite clearly without distracting too heavily from the emotional crux of Fight the Future. Carter and Bowman both understand that the key is to communicate all of this as clearly and as quickly as possible, in order to get back to what is the movie’s real attraction, the movie-star tension between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. However, even with that in mind, the storytelling here is commendably efficient.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

New Podcast! The X-Cast – Fight the Future Minute #52 (“A Well-Manicured Man (Again!)”)

So The X-Cast reached the end of the show’s fifth season, and approached The X-Files: Fight the Future. This naturally meant it was time for another breathtakingly ambitious project, so the podcast is going literally minute-by-minute through the first X-Files feature film. I’m joining the wonderful Kurt North for two brief stretches featuring the Well-Manicured Man.

The Well-Manicured Man is – not so secretly – one of my favourite characters in the larger X-Files pantheon. This is partly because he’s played by the wonderful character actor John Neville, but also because he serves as an excellent analogy for the corrupting influence of the sort of power that runs through The X-Files. While the Cigarette-Smoking Man is transparently evil, and while the Elders are vaguely defined at best, the Well-Manicured Man is interesting in large part because he seems actually conflicted about what he has committed to.

In the first of this stretch of minutes, Fight the Future reintroduces the Well-Manicured Man in what is effectively a microcosm of the movie’s approach to storytelling. The audience is immediately given some understanding of who this character is, what he represents and what his motivations might be. It is more economical and effective than elegant, and a prime example of how Fight the Future was trying to position itself as a blockbuster rather than a cult film.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

 

New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 5, Episode 20 (“The End”)

It’s season finale time on The X-Cast, so it was a privilege to be invited back on to talk about the fifth season finale The End. And it was a delight to join Tony Black for that discussion.

The end of the fifth season was the end of an era for The X-Files. The series would light up the multiplex over the summer with The X-Files: Fight the Future, and would return to the airwaves later that year as a changed show, with the production team having moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles. It was a transition that fundamentally altered the core dynamics of the show, and remains highly contested to this day. The End would be the last episode of The X-Files to be produced in Vancouver until My Struggle I, and a large part of the episode is about bidding a fond farewell to the show’s extended family in that area.

Appropriately enough, it seems like this episode marks a similar turning point for The X-Cast. I was caught completely off-guard by it, so I’ll let you listen and year for yourself. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 5, Episode 14 (“The Red and the Black”)

Continuing on from our discussion of Patient X last week, I was thrilled to join the sensational Kurt North on The X-Cast to discuss the second half of my second favourite mythology two-parter, The Red and the Black.

This was a fun and wide-ranging discussion of the two-parter, which really leaned into the sort of goofy epic stuff that I loved about The X-Files at its peak, the sort of free-wheeling “all ideas at the wall” approach to plotting that managed to fold in concepts like an existential “war in heaven” while recycling ideas from Millennium for a blockbuster adventure that seemed to be as interested in setting up Two Fathers and One Son as it was in lining up with the pending release of The X-Files: Fight the Future. There’s an enjoyable ambition to the two-parter, which has largely been missing from the mythology since Talitha Cumi.

As ever, I hope you enjoy. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 5, Episode 13 (“Patient X”)

Anybody who has heard me talk about The X-Files knows that Patient X and The Red and the Black are comfortably my second-favourite mythology episodes, behind Nisei and 731. So it was a huge pleasure to be invited on The X-Cast to discuss them with the sensational Kurt North.

I get into it a lot on the podcast itself, but I think a large part of what I love about Patient X and The Red and the Black is that there is so much to it. As a two-parter, it’s the rare X-Files mythology episodes that manages to blend the propulsive blockbuster aesthetic of stories like Colony and End Game with the more existential musings of episodes like Biogenesis, The Sixth Extinction and The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati. It has both big ideas and an epic scope, offering one of the strongest overlaps between The X-Files and Star Wars, which has always been bubbling away in the background as a key influence.

As ever, I hope you enjoy. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below. Kurt and I will be teaming up again next week to discuss The Red and the Black.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 5, Episode 8 (“Kitsunegari”)

Last year, I was extremely privileged to get to discuss the wonderful Pusher with the sensational Tony Black on The X-Cast. For those who don’t know, Pusher is Tony’s favourite episode ever – and comfortably sits around the edge of my top ten. So no pressure.

As such, it was a delight to get to join Tony for Kitsunegari, the fifth season sequel to Pusher. Outside of the mythology, it was relatively rare for The X-Files to do direct sequels to earlier episodes – even popular ones. Kitsunegari is an entry in a very select club that includes Tooms and Orison. However, it is also an episode with which I’ve had a very complicated relationship. It often feels like a parody of a sequel to Pusher rather than an entirely earnest follow-up, and as such as always felt like it belongs to the fifth season’s broader preoccupations with monstrous progeny as a metaphor for the show’s unexpected evolution and direction. Of course, I’ve always worried that I read too much into it.

As ever, you can make up your own mind. You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 5, Episode 3 (“Unusual Suspects”)

Think of it as a prequel podcast for a prequel episode. Before I recorded the podcasts for Redux I and Redux II, I actually joined Sarah Blair on The X-Cast to discuss Unusual Suspects. Appropriately enough, given the episode’s production history, it was the first fifth season podcast that I recorded.

Unusual Suspects is one of my low-key favourite episodes of The X-Files. Gun to my head, whether pressed by a lone gunman or not, it is one of the most underrated episodes in the show’s entire eleven-season run. Notably, it is the only time (barring collaborations on Memento Mori or Emily) that Vince Gilligan takes a proper shot at writing a conspiracy or mythology episode. As such, he gets a chance to put his mark on some of the most coveted toys in The X-Files toy chest. The results are suitably Gilliganian, a story about little men and uncontrollable chaos stemming from the law of unintended consequence.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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New Podcast! The X-Cast – Season 5, Episode 2 (“Redux II”)

It’s a bit of a change up on The X-Cast this week. Last week, I joined Tony Black to discuss the first part of the fifth season premiere Redux I. This week, Tony swapped out with Russell Hugo, whom I joined to discuss Redux II.

Redux II is an interesting beast. I am actually appreciably fonder of Redux II than I am of Redux I. I think the second part of the premiere does a lot of the stuff that the first half attempts, but in a much more interesting and compelling manner. It’s not quite as good as Gethsemane at the end of the fourth season, but it’s still a surprisingly ambitious and adventurous story for The X-Files to tell at this point in its run – the moment at which the series is at the peak of its popularity and The X-Files: Fight the Future is looming large in the horizon. I hope this was a fun and interesting discussion.

You can listen to the episode here, or click the link below.

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