[Contains bioluminescent shark guts and SPOILERS!!!]
Sigh… what can I say about the ninth season of The X Files? Scully was side-lined into a teaching job, and spent most of her screen time fretting over her miracle-baby, before deciding to give it up for adoption after its potentially world-saving/dooming super-powers had been deactivated by a simple iron supplement. So what was the point of that whole plotline then? NOTHING!!! IT WAS A TOTAL WASTE OF TIME!!! GODAMMIT!!! So, no Scully highlights for me… although Gillian Anderson’s hair did look particularly gorgeous this season. Meanwhile, Annabeth Gish was promoted to a regular role on the series, and I found myself reacting to Reyes the way Michael reacts to Toby in The Office… every time she appeared on screen I’d just grimace and gasp in pain. I don’t know what it is about her, but I felt a wave of intense irritation every time she opened her damn mouth. I think her lowest point came in ep #9.7 (“John Doe”), when she finally caught up with an amnesiac Doggett in Mexico, and chose to remind him about his murdered son in the middle of a tense stand-off with local drug-runners… because honesty is the best policy, even when that honesty reduces your partner to a sobbing mess, just before you both have to fight your way out of a garage surrounded by heavily armed gangsters! GAH!!! No wonder the snarks at Television Without Pity dubbed her “Moronica”!
I remember watching this season when it was first broadcast on TV, and feeling incredibly insulted by the finale… it’s hard to explain, but after years of people yammering on about opening their minds to “extreme possibilities”, it bugged me that the series chose to end on a scene of a white, heterosexual couple cosying up to a Christian cross… which is about as vanilla and conformist a conclusion as you could ever hope to conjure. I had a false memory of their baby being there too, which would have completed the picture perfectly… maybe an apple-pie cooling on the windowsill, a game of baseball playing on the TV, and Old Glory waving in the background. Meh.
But enough of this kvetching… and on with the listing! Lucy Lawless appeared in ep #9.1/2 (“Nothing Important Happened Today”) as super-sexy Super Soldier ‘Shannon C. McMahon’, who liked to swim around nekked, and drag men down into the watery depths to drown and/or “save” them. I’d forgotten what a lovely voice Lawless has until I watched these episodes again, and it’s fun to see her play a villainous vixen for a change…. more of that, please! These episodes also featured a ‘News Anchor’ played by real-life reporter Jane Yamamoto, who’s racked up credits that many full-time actresses would kill for, from music videos for Eminem and Dr. Dre, to roles in the first season of 24, Prison Break and (more importantly) The Sarah Silverman Program. Ep #9.5 (“Lord of the Flies”) was an attempt at an old-school “comedy” episode, and… well, I didn’t find it very funny, but it have two great guest stars: Jane Lynch appeared as ‘Mrs. Anne T. Lokensgard’, the head teacher of a school plagued by strange fly-based murders, and mother of the main suspect… while Samaire Armstrong appeared as ‘Natalie Gordon’, the pretty, popular girl that her awkward “outsider” son is secretly in love with. They both get some decent scenes to sink their teeth into, and play the material very seriously, so no complaints from me on that score!
The late Kathryn Joosten appeared in ep #9.6 (“Trust No 1”) as ‘Agent Edie Boal’, an overworked FBI bod working down in the forensics lab. Joosten is probably best known for her recurring roles as ‘Karen McCluskey’ in Desperate Housewives (which won her two Emmy Awards), and as ‘Dolores Landingham’ in The West Wing… but she also appeared as the mother of Frasier’s conniving agent, ‘Bebe Glazer’, played by first season X-Files guest-star Harriet Harris (who also ended up in Housewives). Vernée Watson-Johnson appeared in ep #9.11 (“Audrey Pauley”) as ‘Nurse Whitney’, a well-meaning medical worker who makes the mistake of telling a murderous doctor that she saw him administrator an undocumented injection, and gets a syringe in the neck as a reward for her diligence! Watson-Johnson had the honour of playing Will Smith’s mother in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (the one who got scared, and said “You’re movin’ with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air”!), besides making several cameo appearances in The Big Bang Theory, as another nurse, named ‘Althea’. Ellen Greene appeared in ep #9.13 (“Improbable”) as ‘Vicki Louise Burdick’, a numerologist Reyes contacts to help solve a series of numeric murders… and who only discovers her own predestined connection to the case moments before her own death! Frankly, I thought this episode was god-awful (aside from Greene’s cameo, of course)… and further proof, if proof be need be, that Chris Carter has absolutely no game as a “comedy” writer.
Jolie Jenkins returned as the totes adorable ‘Agent Leyla Harrison’ in ep #9.14 (“Scary Monsters”), to sweet-talk the protags into helping out a young boy being menaced by monsters hiding under his bed! Bless her. Zuleikha Robinson appeared in ep #9.15 (“Jump the Shark”) as ‘Yves Adele Harlow’ (aka “Lois Runtz”), a foxy femme-fatale imported in from the The Lone Gunmen spin-off series… which I’ve never seen, but am now mighty curious to check out. I’ve always had a bit of a soft-spot for the Gunmen, and find it a little galling that they were killed off in this episode… though the fact that we never see their bodies drop gives me hope that they all survived somehow. Since making her screen debut in Gunmen, Robinson has gone on to prominent recurring roles in Rome, Lost (as incognito Jacob acolyte ‘Ilana Verdansky’) and Homeland (as incognito al-Qaeda operative ‘Roya Hammad’). Robert Patrick’s real-life wife Barbara Patrick appeared as Doggett’s estranged ex-wife (also named “Barbara”), in ep #9.17 (“Release”)… and I thought she did a fine job of conveying the character’s weary grief and exasperation, but sadly she hasn’t done any acting since! Finally, Danielle Savre appeared in ep #9.18 (“Sunshine Days”) as the legendary ‘Marcia Brady’, in a telekinetic loner’s comforting fantasy of the perfect family. The bogus Brady Bunch didn’t get any dialogue, and could only be seen as a fleeting figment of his imagination, so it’s not a great showcase for any of the actors involved… but Savre has since gone on to recurring roles in Grounded for Life, Heroes and Hollywood Heights, as well as launching a solo career as a dance-pop singer.*
On the more manly side of things: Cary Elwes made his debut as ‘Assistant Director Brad Follmer in ep #9.1. Unfortunately, I associate Elwes with broad comedies, so it was hard for me to take his character (or the conspiracy he may or may not have been in league with) seriously here… and his romantic history with Reyes made a lot of his early scenes a total drag. Terry O’Quinn reincarnated again in ep #9.6, this time as a shadowy NSA Super Soldier who leads Scully a merry dance before dying in the most ludicrous way possible (sucked into some exposed quarry rocks). Rent-a-villain Alan Dale made his debut as a Super Soldier conspirator dubbed ‘The Toothpick Man’ in ep #9.8 (“Provenance”)… Burt Reynolds appeared in ep #9.13 as the smarmiest incarnation of God I’ve ever seen… and the reliably awesome Michael Emerson appeared in ep #9.18 as a lonely man with the power to turn his home into an ad hoc holo-suite. I thought this episode was the best of the season by far, and one of my favourites of the series overall… just the right mix of crazy, creepy and heart-warming. Of course, it helps having an actor like Emerson at the heart of it… but writer/director Vince Gilligan is clearly a talent to watch too. Mark my words, that kid’s going places!
* Her NSFW single “Who Taught You How To F*ck?” is pretty hilarious… unfortunately I get the feeling Savre was deadly serious when she sang it. :o