[Contains icky inbred SPOILERS!!!]
It looked like Scully was going to get a relatively easy ride in the fourth season of The X-Files… right up until she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, that is. Most normal people would hear this devastating news from a sympathetic medical professional… but Scully ain’t “normal people”, so instead she’s tipped off by a tumour-eating mutant who’s looking to nosh on her noggin’! To be fair, her fate was foreshadowed in the previous season, when she encountered a support group who were suffering from the same fatal side-effects of their abductions. And it does give Gillian Anderson a lot more to work with on the performance-front, picking up an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for ep #4.14 (“Memento Mori”), in which she and Mulder investigate the truth behind her condition. I was surprised to discover that the episode in which she goes on a boozy, rebellious bender (ep #4.13, “Never Again”) was originally scheduled to come before the episode in which she first learns of her tumour (ep #4.12, “Leonard Betts”), which would have lent far less weight and meaning to her distracted demeanour and angsty “acting out”… so thank goodness they swapped the running order to suit the Super Bowl! Despite the traumatic impetus behind it, I loved seeing Scully’s inner “bad girl” come out to play… and particularly enjoyed the (surprisingly sexy) scene where she gets a psychotropic tattoo of an Ouroboros on her back. Shame we didn’t get to hear what the tat had to say for itself, though…
Noteworthy supporting players (of either gender) were even thinner on the ground this season… although the opening episode (“Herrenvolk”) did introduce Mulder’s shiny-new-and-secretly-evil informant ‘Marita Covarrubias’, played by Laurie Holden. Aside from her turn as ‘Cybil Bennett’, the cute motorcycle cop in the Silent Hill movie, Holden is probably best known to genre fans as ‘Andrea’ (aka “The Stupidest Woman Alive”), from The Walking Dead. Kristen Cloke appeared in ep #4.5 (“The Field Where I Died”) as ‘Melissa Riedal-Ephesian’, a suicide-cult member with multiple personalities, who may also be the reincarnation of a woman Mulder was in love with during the American Civil War! Apparently Cloke is the wife of the episode’s co-writer, Glen Morgan, and the part was tailored specifically to showcase her talents as a mimic… and I have to say, I did enjoy seeing her switch from persona-to-persona, even when it started getting a little silly (the deleted scene featuring another two personalities would really have been pushing the viewer’s tolerance, although it’s a fun sequence in itself). I also loved the idea that souls not only reincarnate, but also end up being drawn to the other souls they’ve grown fond of in previous incarnations, taking on different roles and dynamics, like partners in an endless, cosmic dance! Shame the actual story around all of this philosophising was a bit of a clunker.
O-Lan Jones appeared in ep #4.6 (“Sanguinarium”) as ‘Rebecca Waite’, a nurse at a cosmetic surgery clinic who tries to use the power of Wicca to protect her patients from an evil, face-stealing surgeon. Aside from cameos in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands and Mars Attacks! (where she looked much cuter than she does here), Jones also cropped up in Natural Born Killers, and boasts an early credit as ‘Pretty Girl’ in The Right Stuff. Carly McKillip appeared in ep #4.10 (“Paper Hearts”), as ‘Caitlin Ross’, a little girl who’s kidnapped by a serial-child-killer who’s been released from prison into Mulder’s (rather lax) custody, in the hope that he can lead the agent to the remains of his sister. I thought it was an interesting idea to suggest that Samantha may have actually been kidnapped/killed by a human criminal, and that Mulder had simply dreamt up all the alien stuff as a coping mechanism… but he’s already seen so much proof of extra-terrestrial life by this point (not to mention all the clones of Samantha he’d met only a few weeks earlier!), that it doesn’t make a lot of sense that Mulder would be so easily derailed by this creep’s mind-games. I loved all the stuff with the laser-light though… that was a great effect! Apparently McKillip played the title role in a Canadian sitcom called Alice, I Think, as well as the daughter of Jeff Fahey’s character in a 90s action-drama called The Marshal. She’s also the co-founder of country music duo One More Girl, with her sister Britt McKillip (of Dead Like Me fame), and the gals will be appearing at various festivals across Canadia this summer, so check ‘em out, y’all!
Simi Mehta appeared in ep #4.11 (“El Mundo Gira”) as ‘Gabrielle Buente’, the conflicted cousin of a suspected murderer who is slowly turning into a “Chupacabra”-like monster. I was quite enjoying this episode up until the closing scene which claimed that because illegal immigrants are (metaphorically) invisible to most everyday Americans, they somehow remain (literally?) invisible to passers-by, even when they’ve turned into freaky supernatural creatures with bumpy grey heads, stood by a busy road trying to thumb a lift! Yeah… um, no. I thought Mehta was damn pretty, and put in a very lively and passionate performance… but she hasn’t done any acting since the 90s, and the only other big credit on her resume is a two episode cameo on Get Real, a short-lived comedy-drama which marked the screen debut of Anne Hathaway (two years before The Princess Diaries). Bona fide film-star Jodie Foster lent her voice to a psychotic talking tattoo named ‘Betty’, in ep #4.13… but never actually showed her famous face onscreen. As noted in my first post, Foster’s character in Silence of the Lambs was the original inspiration for Scully, so it’s a shame we didn’t get to see these two women sharing a scene together. According to legend, Quentin Tarantino was offered the chance to direct this episode, but was prevented from doing so by the Director’s Guild of America. Spoilsports!
Ironically (?), while Foster was holed up in a recording studio, esteemed voice-over artist Christine Cavanaugh made a rare on-screen appearance in ep #4.20 (“Small Potatoes”) as ‘Amanda Nelligan’, the adorably addled mother of a newborn baby with a wagging tail, who claims the father was a Jedi Knight named “Luke Skywalker”. Cavanaugh is best known for lending her ear-candy voice to such beloved children’s characters as ‘Babe’ the eponymous sheep-pig, ‘Chuckie Finster’ in Rugrats, and ‘Dexter’ in Dexter’s Laboratory. Sadly she retired from the business in 2001, for unspecified personal reasons, but left a hefty legacy of laughter behind her, for future generations of children (and adults) to enjoy. And finally, Vanessa Morley made her last credited appearance as ‘Young Samantha Mulder’ in ep #4.23 (“Demons”), via a series of trippy, drug-induced flashbacks . She may not have been the first (or last) actress to play the role, but she was the longest serving Samantha of any age, and she played some of the most memorable scenes with the grown-up Mulder, both in the past and the present day. Apparently she also got stung during the scene in ep #4.1 with the killer bees, inspiring Anderson to present her with an award for “bravery beyond the call of duty” made by the props department! Bless.
On the manly side of things: Tucker Smallwood appeared in ep #4.2 (“Home”), as ‘Sheriff Andy Taylor’… and true to its reputation, that episode really is all kinds of f*cked up! Rubén Blades appeared in ep #4.11 as an INS agent who helps M&S track down a suspected murderer/Chupacabra played by Raymond Cruz. Paul McCrane appeared in ep #4.12 (“Leonard Betts”) as an EMT with the ability to regrow any damaged body-part… except the hair on his balding head, apparently! And finally, former series writer Darin Morgan appeared in ep #4.20 as a shape-shifting custodian, who impregnates a group of local women by impersonating their (infertile) husbands. It’s probably one of my favourite eps of the season… partly for Cavanaugh’s cameo, and partly for the way Morgan’s character comes to pity Mulder after taking a walk in his shoes (and handsome face) for a couple of days!
Note: The final episode ends with Scully declaring that a distraught Mulder committed suicide off-screen. I suspect she may be fibbing.