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X-Files Episode Guide: Aubrey

A stark Look at dreams
Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

X-Files: Season 2, Episode 12

Rating:
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Written by Sara B. Charno
Directed by Rob Bowman

In tone and principal this story is not that far removed from several stories from Season One, most obviously Born Again. In that story, a nine year girl turned out to be the genetic reincarnation of a murdered cop, whereas in this episode, the central series of murders are being committed by the granddaughter of the killer. What makes Aubrey work far better than that one is more stylistic matters than anything out of the plot. However, the changes are mostly for the better.
This time, the woman at the center of the X-File is Missouri Detective B.J. Morrow. Like the girl at the center of the murders in Born Again, Morrow. has no idea what's happening. What the writer does far more ably is give Morrow a far more interest plot and female makeup. As one of the few episodes of the series that would be composed by a female writer, this script has a rare female perspective that so many of the stories lack. It does so by, perhaps not coincidentally, giving Scully a more upfront approach to the case. Mulder comes up with the major insights---- that the killer is the child of the original murder, and figures out who the potential victim is. But it's Scully who comes up with the equally advanced leaps that B.J. is having an affair with a boss, and that B.J. is pregnant as a result. It's a bit of feminine intuition that Scully will begin to develop and will become more pronounced as the series progresses.
It also helps matter that the crime itself is more intriguing than we've had for awhile. Linking an X-File back to an old FBI case is a trick the series has tried before, but it works a lot better because of the imagery. We 'see' the murders of the FBI agents in the 40's, we see the crime scenes as they emerge both past and present, and let's be honest--- having the word 'sister' carved into your chest is a far better visual than having 'He is One' written on your back in magic marker. Some of the story's revelations would seem cliché if they'd been done in another episode, but seeing them done here is painful because Morrow is such a sympathetic character, we don't want her to be a victim of the story. As frightening as it when Morrow goes after Mrs. Thibedaux and Cokely with the same kind of weapon her father used, its frightening, but we're a little resentful of the story emphasizing plot over character.
The guest cast is far more able than they've been in awhile. Deborah Strang's performance as Morrow is one of the high points of Season 2, as she undergoes a complete and utter breakdown from an untenable position at work that quickly unfolds into a literally nightmarish insanity. Also extremely good is Morgan Woodward as the man who committed the series of murders half a century earlier, and who still seems to be a threat even chained to an oxygen tank. Future Emmy winner Terry O'Quinn demonstrates his talent by giving his most understated performance for Ten-Thirteen (and the simplest)
This isn't a perfect episode by any means. The genetic predisposition that Morrow has is supposedly turned on by her pregnancy never explains how she started committing this new set of murders without anybody noticing them, and the two women who've been killed get particularly short shrift by the murders half a century earlier. And Tilman seems a lot less of a character and something of a plot device--- something that Morrow can react off. (It gives him a little more dimension than most of the cops Mulder and Scully end up dealing with, but not much more. But it has an eerie, hazy quality that make it far more engaging than the last few episodes we've seen. It's a shame that Charno would only write one more script for the series--- she seemed to have a better grasp of what X-Files then some of the other writers would.