Written by Vince Gilligan
Directed by Cliff Bole
Forgive me for this, but I'm going to begin this review with a similar line that I used when I wrote about The Post Modern Prometheus; it's hard to know what to say about Bad Blood. This is generally considered to be the highpoint of The X Files nine seasons on the air, the series' single greatest episode, critically acclaimed, popular with fans and comes top of any "best ever" list. It might be a bit of a daunting episode to watch for anybody viewing the series for the first time nowadays, the expectations, acclaim and hype could prove a turn off for many, but having first watched it back in 1998, this has remained a permanent favourite of mine ever since.
Is this the best ever episode of The X Files? Well truthfully I've never been able to decide on a favourite, instead copping out on settling on a list of about thirty episodes that I would regard as my all time favourites, although I imagine Bad Blood would sit very prettily at the top, and why not? It's expertly scripted, is wonderfully high concept, has David and Gillian both acting silly, a guest appearance from none other than Luke Wilson, is structurally wonderful and boasts quite possibly the funniest last line of dialogue to ever appear in an episode of the show.
Inspired by a classic episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Vince Gilligan shows us that the comic chops he displayed with Small Potatoes was not a fluke and that the man has comedic talent to burn because if anything this is even better than Small Potatoes. Like that tale, this takes what could have been a one joke episode and turns it into comedy gold with funny line following funny line, sight gags, even jokes involving the use of the show's trademark location legends are involved, not to mention the single most genius use of big buck teeth to ever appear on television.
Best of all, this isn't just a gag fest, but being Gilligan there's something a little deeper going on here. Bad Blood presents quite possibly the purest representation of how our heroes view each other and the results are very surprising. Basically repeating the same events twice but from different perspectives, we are finally given a chance to see how Mulder views Scully and how Scully views Mulder and it's this which leads to some of the funniest moments to ever appear in the show, but also allows us, the audience, to view one of our heroes from the other's point of view. Mulder's over exuberance, his constantly taking advantage of Scully and her coroner status compared with Scully's world weariness and her inability to concentrate on anything other than Sheriff Hartwell, who may or may not have big buck teeth depending on whose point of view the story is being told from is delightful, wonderful and very insightful.
I loved Darin Morgan's X Files episodes, they were genuinely deserving of their praise, but I think Gilligan has the comedic X File down to a tee even more because of one vital ingredient. Heart. Morgan's were funny, but they were almost written and told from a more dispassionate point of view, almost passing judgement on the show, its rules and characters, Gilligan may be poking holes at Mulder and Scully's view of each other, but it's done with heart and warmth, with little nastiness and why would it be any other way? It's all too much fun and you know it's having a wonderful time of it when Skinner even gets a comic beat. His attempts at describing Ronnie Strickland "gnawing" on a coroner plus his confused look in the final scene are equally wonderful.
In fact everything about this is wonderful. I might be banging on the same drum as everybody else and apologies to anybody who thinks Bad Blood is the most overrated episode of the show, but I love it, I seriously, seriously, love it to bits. I just want to clutch it to my chest and never let it go. I love Mulder singing Shaft, I love the running joke involving the sunflower seeds and the shoe laces, Mulder's laughing as he steals Scully's bed, Sheriff Hartwell's big buck teeth (Luke Wilson is all kinds of brilliant by the way), Ronnie's realisation the he has no fangs, Scully's reaction to Hartwell the first time she sees him in Mulder's version of events followed by Mulder's reaction to the the good Sheriff's teeth, I could go on, and I've just realised that I have done exactly that. So, long story short, Bad Blood is brilliant. That is essentially, exactly the way it happened.