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The X-Files – Redux II (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

Redux II would be a lot better if the audience believed anything that the episode was saying.

In fact, Redux II would be a lot better if it seemed like the show itself believed anything that the episode was saying.

"Hm. That resolution is unsatisfying. Deeply unsatisfying."

“Hm. That resolution is unsatisfying. Deeply unsatisfying.”

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The X-Files – Redux I (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

Redux I hits on the same problem that haunted The Blessing Way. It is very hard to structure a three-parter that bridges two seasons of television. The biggest problem is the second episode, which has the unfortunate position of having to serve as a season premiere while carrying the baggage from the last season finalé and remaining unable to resolve anything. So the episode inevitably becomes an exercise in spinning wheels as the show saves all of its potential resolutions for the third episode.

A particular cynical commentator might suggest that Redux I plays as Chris Carter’s twisted take on Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin is famous for his sequences of characters walking through corridors while trading witty banter – a very nice way of keeping physical movement in the midst of largely dialogue-driven plots. This would become a defining feature of The West Wing, the show that Sorkin would launch in September 1999. Redux I seems to prefigure the style, albeit with a twist. There is lots of walking through corridors as characters talk to themselves in monologue.

"Wow, and I though my filing system was bad..."

“Wow, and I thought my filing system was bad…”

Redux I plays as a collection of voice-over monologues transposed over sequences of Mulder wandering through corridors in the Pentagon. One immediately wonders how the Department of Defence could have staged such a complex and convincing hoax against the American people when they cannot find one lost FBI agent inside the Pentagon. The drab setting makes for a shockingly dull episode; the majesty of the Yukon Mountains is lost, replaced by long sequences of grey walls and red doors.

Redux I has more than a few interesting ideas, but its structure is a mess. Sitting between Gethsemane and Redux II, the episode has no clear sense of purpose or momentum; no drive or ambition or excitement.

Don't worry, it could still make sense...

Don’t worry, it could still make sense…

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Millennium – The Beginning and the End (Review)

This May and June, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fifth season of The X-Files and the second season of Millennium.

The Beginning and the End manages the impressive and paradoxical feat of both rebooting Millennium and resolving the cliffhanger at the end of Paper Dove. These two contradictory impulses become part of the thematic fabric of The Beginning and the End, an episode fascinated by duality and opposition. Can the polaroid stalker be both a serial killer of the week and the herald of something so much greater? Can Catherine and Frank Black be both united and separated? Can Millennium be the same show it was last year and something completely new?

The Beginning and the End is the start of the show’s polarising and divisive second season. To critics, the second season completely branches off from the first season of the show, replacing a framework that had grown and developed over the course of the year with a bizarre and unwieldy approach that was gonzo and surreal. To fans, the second season was an ambitious and exciting piece of television utterly unlike anything that had been broadcast before or has been broadcast since.

Up in the sky...

Up in the sky…

With Chris Carter back focusing on the development of The X-Files and the looming release of The X-Files: Fight the Future, Fox drafted in Glen Morgan and James Wong to steer the second season of Millennium. The duo had helped to define the identity of The X-Files in its first year, and had produced the failed (but ambitious and prescient) series Space: Above and Beyond for the network. After working on the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium, Fox allowed the pair to produce their own pilot – The Notorious Seven.

When Fox opted not to take The Notorious Seven to series, they asked Glen Morgan and James Wong to take charge of Millennium in its sophomore season. As The Beginning and the End demonstrates, Morgan and Wong promptly made the show their own.

Looking up and wondering...

Looking up and wondering…

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