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The X-Files – Syzygy (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

On original broadcast, Syzygy and War of the Coprophages were separated by three weeks, airing either end of January.

That probably helps to make Syzygy seem like less of a disappointing retread on initial broadcast, but it doesn’t help on modern binge re-watches. Even allowing for the three weeks between the episodes, Syzygy was always going to suffer in comparison its direct predecessor. If War of the Coprophages was Darin Morgan affectionately mimicking Chris Carter’s style, then Syzygy feels like Carter’s attempt to write a script in a voice quite close to that of Darin Morgan.

The horny beast...

The horny beast…

Structurally, the third season is constructed quite cleverly – and Syzygy is a massive part of that. The third season seems to fold in on itself, which means it makes sense for Syzygy to serve as a fun house mirror War of the Coprophages from a purely structural perspective. The problem is that this decision adds a lot to the third season of the whole while undermining Syzygy itself. It feels like an unsatisfactory decision.

However, even divorced from context, Syzygy is still a mess of an episode. Carter would go on to provide some of the show’s most comedic hours in later seasons, and Syzygy marks a starting point of that trend. It is not an auspicious beginning.

Reading the signs...

Reading the signs…

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