The X-Files Season 1 Episode 6 Review: “Shadows”

The X-Files

After the last episode being a bit of a letdown, I was a little wary of watching this next one. Don’t get me wrong, because by and large I am loving the show, but I was worried it would be an extended slump before they get back up and running. I wasn’t totally wrong, but this episode was an enormous improvement from its predecessor. The X-Files is a strong show, not without its issues, but it does tend to realize what it does and doesn’t do well.

On this episode of The X-Files: Mulder and Scully are called in by another department, who ask them to take a look at two men who died mysteriously. When they can’t provide immediate answers, they are removed from the room without further explanation. Mulder is aware of some similar happenings, and he and Scully investigate what could be telekinesis, or a poltergeist. The chilling deaths lead Scully and Mulder to a corporate conspiracy.

For the most part, I enjoyed this episode, so I will start with what I didn’t like. The acting in this episode, outside of our main heroes, was atrocious. It was over the top, and didn’t jive well with the show’s tone. However, if the goal was to pay homage to a several different horror films, I could be convinced to change my stance on that. From my perspective, though, it was a half-hearted attempt at best.

That actually brings me into what I liked about the episode. The case of the week format didn’t go so well in the previous episode. It had good material, but it was clunky and uneven, and way too obsessed with Mulder and Scully romantically. This episode was leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessor in that respect. There was quite a bit more meat to the story. I didn’t feel like I got enough information, and it left me wanting a whole lot more, whereas the previous installment had good material that seemed stretched in some places and rushed in others. The best part, for me, was in the resolution. This was both an “X-File” in its truest form, and a case with real world implications that Scully, a non-believer, can get behind. It didn’t force either character to admit they were wrong about something. Most “case of the week” episodes don’t tie up in such a neat little bow at the end, but I enjoyed this one quite a bit.

I’m assuming that the implication is that Howard became a spirit, and he was protecting Lauren. My years of watching Supernatural have me confused, though. Was he tied to that desk decoration with the Benjamin Franklin quote? Is there only so far the spirit can move away from its item? Or was he just watching over Lauren? The scene at the end seemed to suggest that he was tied to the object, but I wasn’t sure what to make of it. Of course, the best part about all of this is that this episode aired over 20 years ago, and we can still debate about it. I love how well The X-Files holds up. While not its best episode, this episode still would’ve had people talking at the water cooler today.

I’m a big fan of the slightly ambiguous endings that the episodes provide. “Shadows” offered what was probably my favorite so far. They solved the case, and definitively uncovered non-paranormal criminal activity, but the tag at the end proved that the paranomal happenings will continue. It separates itself from a show like Supernatural because the paranormal activity does not cease and desist when the case is closed. Scenes like that create a larger spectrum that the show operates within, and puts little limitation on where the writers could take it next. Ambiguity is a wonderfully used tool for The X-Files. 

On top of all that, Anderson and Duchovny still stay atop their game. Anderson’s Scully still reeks of skepticism, but the first time anyone says she’s not a believer is when Mulder suggests it. Anderson still manages to keep Scully in the open-minded territory by her reaction. The way she continually conveys emotions without words is nothing short of incredible. The same can be said of Duchovny, but he’s a very different type of character. I knew right away (before Scully revealed it) that Mulder had seen X-Files similar to the mysterious case, despite having lied to the other agents. Mulder has a true mystery about him that Duchovny peels back layers to little by little. I also truly appreciate the humor that Mulder brings into the show. Even though he has a dark past and his job can be very serious, he jokes. He knows how to laugh. Characters (and real, breathing people, to be honest) who take themselves too seriously just don’t sit well with me. Thanks in large part to Anderson and Duchovny, I’ve quickly fallen in love with these characters. I’m looking forward to all the places the show will continue to take them.

This episode was a certain step up from its predecessor, and hopefully, the show will only continue to improve.

What do you guys think? Did you enjoy the sixth X-Files episode? Let us know in the comments!

The X-Files Seasons 1-9 are currently streaming on Netflix.

[Photo via FOX]

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