TV - The X-Files Season 3, The Blessing Way/Paper Clip

The X-Files

Our celebration of The X-Files moves onto a two part story from Season 3. Steve Taylor-Bryant investigates...

As I said in my previous Season 3 piece where I tried my hardest to put them into a Top 5, it is really difficult to pick a stand out episode due to how strong the whole season was. There were some superb Monster episodes, some fascinating looks at aliens and how they fit into the mythology but, as with Season 2, it is the episodes of introduction that I deem the most important. The season kicked off with a two-parter that was visually stunning, incredibly well written and let us see for the first time the inner sanctum and members of the strange Consortium that has such an effect on Mulder and his pursuit for the truth on all things. So without further ado here are my thoughts on The Blessing Way and Paper Clip.

With Mulder missing the Men in Black beat the Navajo Indians for information on his, and a missing digital tape’s, whereabouts, chasing down Scully as he searches for her partner in the process. The Cigarette Smoking Man leads to Assistant Director Skinner and the higher ups in the F.B.I suspending Scully for insubordination. Mulder is found buried under rocks in the New Mexico desert by the Navajo tribe and they use an ancestral ritual to bring him back from the brink of death, which leaves Mulder having some very strange visions. Back in New York The Cigarette Smoking Man appears before the Syndicate to explain about Mulder and the missing tape, lying his way through the meeting. When Scully returns to the F.B.I building to talk to Skinner, the metal detector keeps going off which leads to Scully having a microchip removed from her neck. Scully's sister Melissa is worried for her sister's sanity and talks Scully into hypnotherapy to bring out details of her abduction. After walking out of the session, Scully discovers Skinner leaving her apartment. Scully attends the funeral of Mulder's father and, after her own vision, explains to Mulder's mother that she believes Mulder will return alive and well. A member of the Syndicate, The Well Manicured Man approaches Scully at the funeral and warns her that either someone she knows or a pair of assassins are coming to kill her. Melissa enters Scully's apartment where she is mistaken for Scully and gunned down by Krycek and his accomplice. Skinner needs to talk to Scully privately and Scully takes them to Mulder's apartment where she holds him at gunpoint, enter Mulder for the cliffhanger.

The X-Files

Paper Clip picks up with the three agents still with guns drawn. Skinner convinces Mulder and Scully that he can be trusted and that he has the tape to use as leverage over the Syndicate. Mulder and Scully visit with The Lone Gunmen and have a photograph of Mulder's father and some colleagues explained to him. One of the men is Nazi scientist Victor Klemper who was brought to the US to participate in Operation Paper Clip after the war had finished. Klemper gives Mulder and Scully the whereabouts of an old mine and the formula to work out entry through the electronic keypads that secure what’s inside. The Cigarette Smoking Man is being furiously dressed down by the Syndicate for not killing Scully and bringing attention to their cause and the Syndicate demands to see the tape that he has told them he has in his possession. Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully open the vaults in the mine to discover miles of filing cabinets with medical records of small pox vaccinations in them. Mulder's folder was disguised as his sister Samantha's and Scully's had up to date records in it. A small government army come to kill the agents who escape out of the back, but not before Mulder witnesses an Alien Spacecraft flee the scene. Skinner, at the hospital to see if there is any hope for Mellissa, confronts a strange blue suited man in the stairwell before being beaten by Krycek, who in turn is double crossed by his colleagues and narrowly escapes a bomb blast. The Cigarette Smoking Man tells the Syndicate that the tape has been destroyed in the blast, but Skinner informs him later that all 20 of the Navajo's have heard the contents and memorised them, so he is to back off. Mulder confronts his mother who finally admits that his father was responsible for Samantha being taken. Mulder wants to dive back into The X-Files for the truth and Scully tells him that she is ready to believe.

These were two episodes of The X-Files at its conspirital best. Heavy on The Cigarette Smoking Man and his nefarious ways of getting things done but a first on-screen appearance of the Syndicate showed that even he had bosses to answer to. The relationship between Mulder, Scully and Skinner becomes cemented across the two episodes which is important to the future of the show. Krycek is always pleasing to see and the double cross on him was a great twist. Visually the two episodes were stunning and are in real need of a High Definition clean up for The New Mexico desert and alien craft scenes in particular. The writing of conspiracy by Chris Carter was at its peak, and the visions that Mulder had during his recovery were reminiscent of Twin Peaks style weirdness which I, for one, appreciated. Seeing both the Mulder and Scully family being involved, albeit by tragedy, was a great way of showing how close Scully and Mulder have become and a different take on their relationship, burying the will they wont they of previous shows.

Incredible storytelling, fantastic cinematography, important character development. All the things you want in a television show... and more!

Image - XFiles Wiki.