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The X-Files – Firewalker (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

Firewalker is a perfectly solid episode of The X-Files.

The problem is that Firewalker needs to be so much more than “solid.” It’s the first show of the season that has Mulder and Scully working together on an X-file. Nine episodes into the season, the show has finally put the two characters together and dropped them into a regular episodic adventure plot. Scully is back. There is no Cigarette-Smoking Man, no Skinner, no Krycek. The show had waited more than two months to get back to the familiar formula, so there was a palpable sense of anticipation.

Burn, baby, burn...

Burn, baby, burn…

To be fair to Firewalker, there’s a lot to like here. It’s a nice paranoia thriller, one that could easily serve as a text book example of a stand-alone X-Files episode. As you might expect from a script by Howard Gordon, Firewalker is also a nice character study for Mulder. It has a phenomenal guest cast – featuring actors like Bradley Whitford, Leland Orser and Shawnee Smith. On paper, Firewalker is a great episode of The X-Files. Divorced from context, it holds up rather well.

Unfortunately, Firewalker can’t be divorced from context. The episode has quite a few glaring problems. It seems a little disappointing that the first episode after Gillian Anderson’s return to full-time work on the show is a character study of Mulder. The plot is just a little too archetypal, feeling like a retread of Ice from the first season. The episode tries to get back to business as usual without bother to unpack everything that has happened since The Erlenmeyer Flask.

Into darkness...

Into darkness…

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