1005 - "Babylon"

Written and directed by Chris Carter.


  • What a steaming pile of crap. And I say this as one of the biggest X Files fans around. Maybe not worst 5, but one of the worst 15 episodes on the entire series for sure. If Darin Morgan's episode was fan service done right, this was fan service done wrong.

    It's like someone took Darin Morgan's brain and replaced the part where he does subtlety and replaced it with a "dad jokes" module, and then took the part where he thinks about the human condition and replaced it with a very special episode of "CNN's Crossfire featuring Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson."

    First, the young versions of Mulder and Scully. Ok idea in principle. But remove all subtlety and fun and this is what you get. Not only do they have to have similar roles, they have to have similar looks, similar ways of talking to each other, and the "scientist" one has to be named Einstein. This was a bad laugh track away from being a Chuck Lorre comedy special (with all the dad jokes included, including 50 shades references and badonkadonk? )

    Second, the parallels to the second movie are pretty strong here, all the way down to the "hot takes" Hannity and Colmes school of political debates. The second movie was pretty much "conservative" paranoia come to life:  gay married immigrant scientists abduct women to use their bodies to become transgender. This episode does another issue pretty close to current "conservative" paranoia: Muslim refugee terrorism. Then some magic here or there happens, a vision out of nowhere reveals the location where things are going on, and Mulder saves the day. This is so much like the second movie that even the ending is the same (Mulder and Scully together as the camera that is shooting them from above pans out to reveal the planet). Now, before anyone takes issue with my use of conservative here, I don't mean conservative in the real world sense of the world. But in the sense of the caricature that appears in cable news "debate" shows like Hannitty and Colmes or Crossfire, with about as much actual insight as you get from those (though you can clearly tell that Carter thinks he is doing something smart.) No wonder they bumped this from 2nd episode to 5th.
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    The "written and directed" part that A.Ron posted scared me...and it looks like I have reason to be after reading @joepinetree 's post.
  • manhattnikmanhattnik the big apple
    Dear God, that was painful. This season can’t end quickly enough. I’m glad there’s only one more episode. 

    I was embarrassed for the actors, and for their characters. I could wonder what those marks on Mulder’s chest mean, but that means I’d have to think about this again. And I don’t want to. 

    Mulder’s trippy cowboy dream-scene just made me cringe. Did they think that was clever? Cute? Visionary? Not even worth a WTF. And they used Tom Waits because of course they did. 
  • edited February 2016
    I guess this is going to be another spectrum episode, because I thought it was glorious.  The last two episodes have had real bacon gauntlety endings, but what a fun ride.  Everything about Mulder's trip was perfect.  I also really liked Einstein/Miller and their pairings with Mulder/Scully.  Every redheaded scientist and brown haired believer should end up together.

    Ultimately the nostalgia and emotions landed for me in ways I wasn't expecting.  When Einstein let her hair down and gave Miller that look at the end of the day, it was the most tropey romantic comedy thing in the world, but it worked.  Einstein and Miller are Mulder/Scully by proxy, so watching them bond kind of brought back the original joy of watching Mulder/Scully in the 90s.  I don't know, it's a weird amalgam of emotions and worked for me.  I'm also an unabashed Lauren Ambrose fan from 6 Feet Under, so that helps.
    [Deleted User]
  • Honestly, i've read most reactions at the somethingawful forums and on reddit and it is almost universally negative, so i dont think its a spectrum thing. Not to seem like im jumping on you, but you are the first positive review i've read so far.
  • I just kept getting madder and madder as the episode went on. That was horrible. I felt like I was watching Chris Carter have a conversation with himself in that last scene. And I'm a huge fan, just watched all 9 seasons this past year. They really fucked this up, and I'm left with the worst statement anyone could make: "It could have been so much better".

    This season is 1 for 5, and I fully expect it to go 1 for 6. Just horrible. I feel like I'm going through the 7 stages of grief here. I was in denial and now I'm just angry. 
  • ElisaElisa Los Angeles
    Carter has ruined the X-Files for me. Uggh.
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    Worst episode ever, honestly. Jesus, I can't believe he though mixing suicide bombing and achy breaky heart was a good idea. Depressingly bad.
  • edited February 2016
    My only defense is enjoying the comedy and banter.  Notice I didn't defend the political aspect of the episode.

    Duchovny has never donned a cowboy hat in history until now.  The Lone Gunmen back together after 15 years.  The Smoking Man as a slave driver in a musical scene.  That vaguely Jackson Browne song playing while Einstein/Miller connected at the end of the day.

    I still enjoyed it on the re-watch.  I guess I'll return my 4:3 ratio badge over here...
    manhattnikA_Ron_Hubbard[Deleted User]
  • manhattnikmanhattnik the big apple
    At that pullback showing all of the Earth, I so wanted to see The SImpson’s slobbering aliens.  
  • Holy hell, even screaming in caps lock can't fully express how awful that episode was. I'm calling it as worst episode ever--not only because the plot was sloppy, the dialogue cringe-worthy, and the controversial subject matter handled without any subtly or insight, but because you only have six episodes this season and it's looking like we're going to end on a cliffhanger next episode, so any resolution to this freaking thing relies on every episode being top-rate so that FOX will give the go-ahead on another season or a movie. An episode like this, written by the show-runner no less, makes a future to the show much more doubtful in my mind, making me fear we're never going to get a satisfying ending.

    Bullet-pointing random horribleness:
    -This episode seemed to be reverse-engineered so that Carter could a) introduce Mulder and Scully The Next Generation, which is a brilliant idea because we all know how great it turned out with Doggett and Reyes, b) bring back the Lone Gunmen for a two-second cameo (I know, mushroom trip!), and c) hold forth about God and religion through the purplest of purple prose (I really can't stand Carter's mystic period).
    -Carter has always seemed to be under the impression that the stories matter more to the magic of The X-Files than the characters (which is misguided, since I think a lot of people are more drawn to the characters, myself included), which would explain why he thought it would be no big deal to split Mulder and Scully up for almost an entire episode. No, going for a walk and holding hands at the end did not make up for it.
    -It's bad enough Carter felt compelled to write an offensive and hackneyed islamic terrorism story (this is how you bring The X-Files into 2016?), but he can't even get a simple thing like the language right? Shiraz is a Persian name and the mother spoke in a Persian accent, and yet the language Shiraz speaks is Arabic. Come on, Carter, Google is a thing that exists now.
    - Mulder hallucinating about dominatrix Einstein and then calling her fifty shades of bad just skeeved me out. Duchovny is technically old enough to be Lauren Ambrose's father.
    -So many threads of this episode seemed to go absolutely nowhere. What was the point of the Homeland Security agents? What about the evil nurse? So much filler.
    -I was going to complain about how unrealistic it is for the FBI to conduct a raid based on information gleaned from a non-mushroom trip, but on second thought, the Feds have probably green-lit raids based on shadier intelligence than that.

    Despite the fact that the next episode is also Carter-penned, the trailer looks promising and I'm optimistic that it could be a great episode. But if it does end in a cliff-hanger, there had better be some pretty serious plans to continue the series. Otherwise, this entire mini-series has been one long jerk-off session.
  • JuneBug said:

    -It's bad enough Carter felt compelled to write an offensive and hackneyed islamic terrorism story

    What was offensive about the islamic terrorism story?

    I wasn't crazy about this episode, but the islamic terrorism plotline was not the issue.

  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    It's offensive on many fronts. The fact that you put a heavy, real life, traumatic story line and package it with a farce that's played for laughs.  The fact that it takes an issue with a lot of complex, nuanced points about politics, culture and religion and boil it down to a simplistic "they hate our way of life" / "#notallmuslims" viewpoint.  I mean, I guess you can tell a story about devout Muslims graphically blowing up an art gallery, but I hope it would say something more than, "huh, that religion is a crazy trip, huh?" and not be the b-plot to a Mulder mushroom trip. 

    I'd say the same thing about a fundamentalist christian plot to bomb abortion clinics, too.  If you're going there, do your research, have a point of view that's worth something, and bring your "A" game.  That's how I'd like my entertainment to approach controversial or sensitive topics, anyway.
  • manhattnikmanhattnik the big apple
    If I want to see some guy tripping balls around middle-aged country-western folk, I’ll rent Fear and Loathing. Again.
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    edited February 2016
    Holy fuck...This is a train wreck if I've ever seen one. It reminds me of the feelings I had when I jumped ship on XF the first time. I just can't handle watching my once favorite show putting out episodes like this...I have no words at this point. How the hell did they get Tom Waits to approve his song for that Mulder trip-scene?!

    Carter has a really bad history of doing this. He uses very bright, floral language while not really saying anything and hoping that it will sneak through everyone's bullshit meter. Back in the 90s that may have been enough. but when dealing with such a serious subject that touches buttons with just about everyone it simply is moronic and unprofessional.
  • Little known fact: Chris Carter and George Lucas are second cousins. 
    This explains a lot. Replace Steven Speilberg with Chris Carter in the following clip.

  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    The other thing I forgot to mention before because there were so many other problems, but holy shit fake Mulder was terrible in the acting department. Fake Scully wasn't much better, but she wasn't as bad, but thats yet another problem with the Next Generation pilot. These guys are pale imitations. Really pale.
  • I guess you can tell a story about devout Muslims graphically blowing up an art gallery...


    Agreed, there were many problems with this episode.
  • LukeLuke Central Illinois
    You know the beginning of this episode had me thinking, Hollywood has a really stupid view of how racism works on the rural US.

    Now I'm not saying that racist hillbilly wannabe's don't exist because they do.

    But by and large, people don't drive around calling people "brownies". 

    They save that kind of talk for when you are alone in their living room and they have a really quite conversation that makes you really uncomfortable.  

    And yeah, fake Moulder was bad.  Like so bad I can't believe they didn't either try to replace him or edit him out entirely.  I for one will not be watching another season if they try to replace the main cast again, at this point the husk of nostalgia is the only thing keeping this show going.  

    So far I can confirm the two monster of the week episodes have been the highlight.  Maybe fox should just do a paranormal anthology show and just call it X-files the next generation and get a whole new cast.  And not let Chris Carter anywhere near it. 

  • @GredalBee I enjoyed this episode as well. I was hoping for more Lone Gunmen but it was nice to see them. Great to see CSM back in a weird unburnt way.

    I didn't mind the Alt-Agents. Alt-Fox seemed a little rushed but seeing Scully smile and chuckle was fun. They both could see how they were when they were younger.

    I don't see how this finale will appease the already bitter people but I've had fun the last 4 weeks. Looking forward to next week. I am hoping before the end that Mulder & Scully find out CSM is alive but I guess we'll see
  • Here's Kumail's reaction to the episode:

    As for the finale, I wish I could say I was optimistic. But Carter has only made his bad tendencies worst during the years we didn't hear from him. I guess that explains why pretty much every other writer on the show has gone on to bigger and better things, except him. My predictions for the finale are that there will be an ambiguous romantic reunion for Mulder and Scully, they will see or learn something about WIlliam, and they will once again buy into the conspiracy, only to have the episode end on a cliffhanger and the can to be kicked further down the road. Because that is pretty much his MO for the first 9 seasons.
  • Here's Kumail's reaction to the episode:

    I thought that was the direction they were going to go to be honest. They have made some decent social commentary in the previous episodes this season and I thought this was going to be another, but it wasn't.
  • LukeLuke Central Illinois
    Well it's odd they did seem to want to preach the "not all muslims are like this" message, but then the episode was nothing but stereotypes.

    Either this episode needed more work in the writers room to tie the theme together, or they added the faith and "not all muslims" stuff later in production after they realized they made an episode that would probably offend people.
  • I could be wrong, but I thought the nextgen team was meant to be a farce, not a set up for the next cast. As such, I was ok with them.

    I liked the end scene and the pull-back, even if it was a call-back? 

    Wow, just realized I never got around to watching the second X-Files movie. I wasn't crazy about the first one.

  • I don't have a lot of hope for this reaching interpretation, because I too was completely put off by the Muslim/Texan angle, but is it possible that this episode is a consideration of stereotyping taken to an extreme sociopolitical endpoint?  Considering the title of the episode, is it possible that we are supposed to see all these factions locked in their own Babylons?  The Muslim man eating his sandwich thoughtlessly like an animal at the beginning was over the top as were the Texans in their big hats judging him at every turn, for example.  The agents however, put aside their preconceptions, and are able to stop the next terrorist attack.  Sidenote: I personally thought it would have been cool if the last shot we saw of the male agent was at Muslim prayer. 
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    momzom said:

    I don't have a lot of hope for this reaching interpretation, because I too was completely put off by the Muslim/Texan angle, but is it possible that this episode is a consideration of stereotyping taken to an extreme sociopolitical endpoint?  Considering the title of the episode, is it possible that we are supposed to see all these factions locked in their own Babylons?  

    I think that might well have been Chris Carter's intention, and that might well have been a pretty edgy take 15 years ago.  It's just that's been a pretty well mined vein of commentary, from Homeland to Team America, that I keep coming back to the fact that you need to have something more interesting to say to bother speaking at this point.  Indeed, Kumail's pitch would be the "edgy" one in today's climate. 
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    Luke said:

    You know the beginning of this episode had me thinking, Hollywood has a really stupid view of how racism works on the rural US.

    Now I'm not saying that racist hillbilly wannabe's don't exist because they do.

    But by and large, people don't drive around calling people "brownies". 

    Indeed.  You tend to have that problem when liberal types write conservative dialog.  From Sorkin to Carter.  It must be hard to write what you don't live with and know.  Justified did a pretty good job of portraying yokel/bumpkin types with nuance.  
  • I don't think it is even a matter of being too late to the party or
    trying to be a liberal writing conservative dialog. He's just not a very
    good writer. Even when not dealing with sensitive/edgy topics he
    generally fails at nuance or attention to detail. I mean, there is a
    reason why every other major writer for the X Files has gone on to have
    amazing careers, while Carter's only post X Files work was a pilot for a
    cancelled Amazon series that was completely derivative.

    Here's the list of the main x files writers (10 writing credits or more):

    Chris Carter             

    Frank Spotnitz         

    Vince Gilligan  

    John Shiban      

    Howard Gordon       

    Glen Morgan    

    James Wong    

    Every single one of them have gone on to great things and multiple new shows and movies. Except Carter, and not for a lack of trying, since he's tried to pitch at least two different series to networks after the end of the x files. I think it's safe to say that he's not a good writer when he's doing his own thing and not surrounded by one of the best writing rooms of all time.

  • DeeDee Adelaide
    Oh god, that was so bad. This reboot is just a disaster. And how many bloody songs can they pointlessly squeeze into one episode?
  • Garthgou81Garthgou81 Placerville, CA
    Its sad that the hugest X-Files fans (of which I consider myself) are just waiting for this "event" to end. My hopes were pretty tempered to begin with, because the show was such a train wreck in the last few seasons, but this is worse than even I'd thought it could be. Outside of a select few moments, and a good portion of the Weremonster episode, this return has been nothing more than insanely disappointing.
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