Written by Kenneth Biller & Chris Brancato
Directed by Frank Gerber
Even if it weren't important for outside reasons---- the first X-Files one shot----, Eve is one of the more significant standalones of the first season. Mainly because, like the unexpected villains of the piece, there are major alterations in the patterns that have been established, even this early in the series run.
Part of it is in layout. Mulder comes up with a theory, Scully dismisses it, they investigate and Mulder is proven correct. This time, that doesn't happen. In fact, when Mulder comes up with his second theory as to what has happened at both murder site, he is completely wrong, and Scully, though she never takes credit for it, is a lot closer to the truth of what happens--- it is two killers, acting in unison, even if the link between them is in their DNA and not any organized plan. And when they do come close to the suspect, they dismiss the idea, perhaps because the truth of the answer is, well, pretty horrible to contemplate.
The fundamental story is unsettling enough --- the idea of a child being responsible for such bloody mayhem isn't a pleasant one, and this is only the first time the X-Files will explore the idea, rarely as effectively as they do here. It's frightening enough to think of these sweet eight year-old girls as being guilty of murder; the fact that that this is being done by genetic breeding is even more unnerving. The twins may not be the greatest actors under the sun, but because this is a creepy subject, we let ourselves be led away from the truth until it's forced upon us. Mulder and Scully allow themselves to be fooled, but, fortunately, not before it's too late.
The idea of the Litchfield project and genetic engineering to create a superior soldier is an idea that the show will eventually explore in the final seasons, but nowhere near as effectively--- or subtly--- as it's done here. Maybe it's because rather than enhancing their strength, the government has focused on enhance their brains --- then again, if the Eves were the end result, one can see why they would've gone back to the drawing board.
Harriet Sansom Harris is an actress who is known for her comic abilities, which will best be fully explored on Frasier and Desperate Housewives. Here, however, she demonstrate just how great her acting range is playing the adult version of the Eves. It's very unsettling when we see Eve 6, chained and strait-jacketed, babbling in near stream of consciousness, and casually mentioning biting into a guards eyeball. But her Eve 7 is just as unnerving, mainly because her motivations are the opposite of what we expect--- she hasn't come to kill the girls, she wants to save them--- even if that means drugging them out on anti-psychotics. One shudders to think what kind of person Sally Kendrick was when she carried out her work--- and the final scene of the episode, a family reunion, so to speak --- may be the most frightening part of the episode.
Eve certainly isn't perfect. While these first time writers for the X-Files to a superb job when it comes to the basic storyline, as will become the case with so many one-shot writers of the show, they don't have Mulder and Scully down as well. Mulder seems more boorish and insensitive to Cindy Reardon, and seems particularly hasty to abandon his job. Scully doesn't come off much better, seemly ignorant of such basic medical information as the function of the heart and how in vitro fertilization works---- she may have majored in forensics, but she is a doctor, damn it. However, because at this point, the staff writers are still trying to figure out what our heroes are, I'm inclined to be a little more forgiving. This is also probably the best non-mythology use of Deep Throat as well.
Biller and Brancato do such a good job in their only script for the series that one wonders why neither would ever be asked back. (Both would have fairly successful careers in TV; Biller would eventually become a staff writer for Smallville, Brancato would end up on the remake of The Outer Limits and Boomtown.). This is certainly better stuff almost all the others one shots for the first season, and a bit better than a lot of the writing than Gordon would do this season. In many ways, it's a lot closer to the quintessential X-Files than many of the other writers would get to--- there are some surprises and shocks along the way, but what fills the air for much of the hour is a sense of suspenseful dread. Essentially, when Mulder and Scully get into their car with Cindy and Teena (no doubt fulfilling many a shippers fantasy), only the audience seems to know they've gotten in a car with a bomb that's already gone off, and is more than willing to explode again. And when it's done, our heroes almost may the price. The writers seems to know how the series can work, even if they never get another chance.
My score:4.25 stars.