TV - The X-Files Season 2, Sleepless

The X-Files

Continuing his journey through the vaults of The X-Files Steve Taylor-Bryant delivers his verdict on the most important episode of Season 2: Sleepless...

As I said earlier during my top five article, Season 2 of The X-Files is difficult to list. From Little Green Men to launch the season, heavy on the UFO subject matter, through the more Monsters of the Week orientated stories, it's really hard to find a weak episode. Whilst Duane Barry/Ascension will always top my lists when Season 2 is involved it is an early episode that, whilst not as great visually as Duane Barry/Ascension, is probably the most important episode of the season as it sets up the next seven or eight years of government conspiracy, allows you to see more of the reach of The Cigarette Smoking and introduces the character that would become Mulder and Scully's nemesis. That episode is Sleepless and the new enemy for Mulder and his scientific partner is Alex Krycek.

Mulder (David Duchovny) is called to investigate the death of a research doctor who had called the emergency services to say his apartment was on fire, only to discover that there was no fire and, whilst the victim has no burns on his skin, his internal injuries are all consistent with a man who thinks he’s burned alive. Mulder begs for Assistant Director Skinner to let him open a federal case and Skinner says he will think about it. A short while later, Mulder is approached in the bullpen and handed the file for the investigation, with one alteration from what he requested - Special Agent Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) is also on the case. Mulder, typically, tries to shrug off Krycek and do his own thing but Krycek gets in his good graces by admitting he, like Mulder, wants to believe.

Mulder is called to a secret rendezvous where he meets Mr X (Steven Williams) who is adamant that the X-Files must be reopened. He is the replacement to Deep Throat and, whilst Mulder doesn’t have the trust yet, he does listen.

The X-Files

Other strange deaths occur that lead Mulder and Krycek to an old battalion in the Vietnam war that underwent sleep experiments, conducted by the doctor who died at the start of the story. It turns out that these soldiers gave up on their orders and pretty much did their own thing, killing and pillaging their way through the conflict. With the anniversary of a particularly nasty event where the unit killed schoolchildren nearly upon them, the surviving members of the experiment are all being visited by The Preacher (Tony Todd) who himself hasn’t slept for 24 whole years and has developed the ability to psychically transfer dreams and illusions into the minds of his victims.

Eventually Mulder and Krycek track down The Preacher and during a final stand-off Krycek shoots the soldier. Then we see the shadowy Cigarette Smoking Man and his comrades in a room listening to a man talk about investigating Mulder. That man? Alex Krycek.

We knew from the very beginning that Mulder was going to ruffle some feathers high up in the chain of command and finally seeing how those people are going to spy on him shouldn't have come as a shock but the underhand way in which it was done still did. You didn’t realise at the time that Skinner wants to help Mulder but is in too deep, or too scared, to give him the free rein he wants so goes along with the conspiracy from above. Seeing Deep Throat replaced so early in the season was great. We had heard Mr X speak via phone and seen some tips handed over in different ways but to see the man in the flesh rather than dragging out the introduction was very welcome, as was the persona of Mr X, more ‘doing it because I feel I have to’ rather than the more passionate’ it’s my calling’ of his predecessor.

Nicholas Lea as Krycek was on form. It would have been very easy to go in and play the character as deceptive, or even evil, from the start but Lea puts an almost idiotic trainee spin on the character that, if you didn’t know what he would become, you could be fooled by him. The story itself was great. A nice dose of ex-military experiment conspiracy and supernatural actions led us a merry dance through science and the possibilities that sleep pattern experiments actually have, whilst playing out a convincing X-File scenario.

Certainly not the best episode of Season 2, but definitely the most important, and a very good watch indeed.

Image - XFiles Wiki.

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