Written by Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz
Directed by Kim Manners
Now that we're past the halfway mark of this shortened season of The X Files, it's about time we return to the mythology and since we're also heading ever closer to the event that is Fight the Future, now is the best time to edge the narrative ever closer to the events of the forthcoming film. Fight the Future is an epic and it makes sense to make the mythology of the show ever more epic, making it more clearer that the Syndicate is involved in collaborating with alien invaders and by adding an element of extra terrestrial civil war to the story involving a rebel force against the colonisers. As well as this we get the introduction of two new characters, Jeffrey Spender and his mother Cassandra and best of all the episode gives Mulder and Scully a chance to swap places as believer and sceptic. On paper this sounds like an extraordinary hour of television.
So why is this all so dull? Maybe dull is too strong a word, but for all that's going on in Patient X, and there is a lot going on here, Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz's script to this episode seems sluggish, and strangely uneventful, which is weird because it packs a lot of incident into one forty five minutes and there's a lot of pieces being moved into place, giving the mythology greater clarity and forward direction.
Yet, I hate to say this, but Patient X at times comes across as a little...boring. It's strange because the set pieces are well delivered by director Kim Manners, David Duchovny's performance as a sceptical, jaded, bitter and unsympathetic Mulder is powerful, even more powerful is Scully who finds herself somewhat confused by her new found believer status, Chris Owens makes a great 'debut' as Spender (even though this is the third character he has played on the show) and the cliffhanger packs a great punch. There's also the return of Krycek which is welcome, and the revelation that both he and Marita Covarrubius are lovers is a great shock, but watching the episode, with it's twists, turns, Hollywood style special effects and great acting makes for a surprisingly unengaging experience.
I think the major problem here is that for all its attempts to take the mythology forward and laying down groundwork for not only the movie but for season six as well, Patient X is for the most part all set up. The Syndicate's plans come to the fore more, we are left in no doubt that they are collaborating with alien colonists, yet the story never takes this plot anywhere this hour, Spender shows up and we're told that he is Cassandra's son, yet he does nothing but tell Mulder and Scully to stay away from her. Alien abductees are being burned alive by alien rebels, but we're not sure why and what for at the moment, although the journey back to Skyland Mountain is a nice touch.
The episode does score major points with Mulder and Scully's role in all this. Interestingly the mythology is really starting to take on a more ensemble feel at this point, yet it's the role reversal of Mulder and Scully were Patient X truly excels. Mulder's scepticism in other episodes were the roles are reversed (Revelations for example) have made him look disrespectful and ignorant, but here he looks downright selfish and unheroic, his new found inability to believe taking away his noble qualities and this is all the more disturbing because it's coming not in an episode where everything will go back to normal by the end of the episode, but in a larger part of the story arc which has been brewing since Gethsemane at the end of last season. All one has to do is look at the scenes set in Skyland Mountain where Scully tries to posit the theory that an attempted alien abduction might have been taking place. His counter argument to Scully is more forceful and less considerate than Scully has ever been.
In the opposite corner, Scully's new found beliefs make her seem softer and more considerate than ever before, her beautifully played scenes with Cassandra are heartfelt and wonderful and play nicely in direct contrast with scenes that will play out between Mulder and Spender in the following episode The Red and the Black (which is much better by the way). Overall this is equal parts important and yet strangely irrelevant too. Patient X is an episode The X Files needs for sure, but truthfully if you did miss it you mightn't be missing much.