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X-Files Episode Guide: Born Again

That's the best they could do
That's the best they could do

X-Files, Season 1, Episode 22


Written by Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa
Directed by Jerrold Freeman

Well, just like Morgan & Wong did last week, Gordon and Gansa revisit an old episode with their final entry for season 1. Unfortunately, the episode they choose to revisit--- sort of--- is Lazarus, or frankly, a lot of Gordon's other scripts for the series involving supernatural revenge. And just as an added bonus, the instrument of that revenge is a pre-adolescent girl, which means we're looking back at Eve as well. What would it take for Gordon to come up with an original idea.

Admittedly, this is a far creepier episode than some of Gordon's scripts, mainly because the idea of an eight-year girl projecting a cop out of a window, or using that power to tie a man's scarf to a pole in a bus, and then watch as that bus accelerates away, is a lot scarier than some of the things that the girls in Eve did. And unlike some of the previous episodes, the writers don't try anything as hackneyed as trying to tie Michelle Bishop to any of the corrupt cops that start dying one by one---- that would probably be one too many coincidences even for The X-Files. It helps matters that for most of the episode, Michelle barely speaks --- if she tried to say something at the climax of the episode, any plausibility the script might have would be cast out the window. Not that there's a huge amount that this episode has to begin with.

The episode does have a few things working for it. For one thing, we have the rare sympathetic police figure, Detective Lazard (a surprisingly good dramatic turn by Maggie Wheeler), who knows that something is going on early on, knows enough about Mulder and Scully from what happened involving Eugene Tooms, and doesn't laugh them out of the room when the case officially goes paranormal. Her character is a very interesting one, and its a shame the series decides to leave her out near the final act. There are also a couple of interesting techs who seem willing to help the agents; maybe Mulder and Scully have more popularity among the rank and file then the higher-ups. The guest acting is in general very good, and it is encourages that the series has finally reached a point, where their actually seems to be characters to play off rather than just to react to Mulder and Scully.

The main problem is the plot, mainly because it makes Scully in particular look rather thick. Whenever the viewers seem more ahead of the game than our protagonists, it doesn't bode well for the story, and it's clear from the end of Act One that we know that the death of these cops has to do with the one who was murdered nine years ago. It's worth noting that, for the first time on screen, Mulder seems to be getting a little impatient with his partner, but it now seems clear that Scully is starting to worry about the repercussions of having to manage the X-Files like a Bureau case. And she is justified in the end result, as after the climax, the investigation once again remains unexplained, even though all the evidence is here for once. (One has to wonder how the police wouldn't have been more pissed about this, considering that two of their own end up dead.)

There are some creepy flourishes in Born Again; the use of the origami to link Michelle and the late Charlie Morris is a good one, and the scene where we finally find out what the image that Michelle was projecting and it's final link to Detective Fiore is revealed. And there are a good number of scares in the climax of the episode. But the fact is after all the carnage we've gone through for all of the death and carnage to just stop, because Morris' spirit decides to listen to his wife, seems a little hard to believe, considering how hellbent for vengeance it was just seconds ago. Combined with the elements that seem like the borrowed from other, and often better scripts so far, one can't give this episode the ranks of being very good. And considering that by this point, the series should have a better grip on its identity, we're really not seeing much of future, which is very discouraging. As it turned out, the fault was not in the stars, but in this writing team. Gordon would develop a better voice for the series when he struck out on his own, even if a lot of his future scripts would be basically similar to this one.
Rating: 2.25 Stars