The X Files Revisited: 2.04 Sleepless

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The X Files ran for nine seasons and two movies, charting the efforts of Agents Mulder and Scully in their search for the unexplained. Now eight years after the second movie The X Files: I Want To Believe, the show is returning for six new episodes in 2016. Here at The Digital Fix, we are going to work our way through each season, reviewing some of the big episodes – and both movies – across the years in the build up to season ten. With 202 episodes, there is simply too much to cover every episode; instead we'll pick the story highlights of each year. This time, Alex Krycek makes his debut in a precursor to the abduction storyline which features a chilling performance from Candyman himself Tony Todd...

Jumping forward a couple of episodes, we arrive at the somewhat underrated Sleepless, an episode that gets forgotten between the repulsive Flukeman episode The Host and the big abduction story arc. It progresses the story arc while delivering a chilling psychological thriller and a great mystery, starting with the doctor who dies of internal exposure to heat after imagining a apartment fire that never exists.

It is another example of Mulder engaging in a case that is an X File in all but name, after receiving a newspaper article about the doctor's death from what is later revealed to be Mr X. After telling Mulder in The Host that reinstatement of the X Files must be undeniable, here he sets the intrepid agent on another supernatural case and make his first face to face debut. Steven Williams is a formidable presence, a lot more gruff and dangerous than Deep Throat, but just as passionate in his motivations. He perfectly suits the more unbalanced world the show has found itself becoming and will become a significant character in Mulder's on-going search for the truth, even if he is more elusive than his predecessor.

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"You still don't get it, do you? Closing the X-Files, separating you and Scully was only the beginning. The truth is still out there, but it's more dangerous. The man we both knew paid for that information with his life, a sacrifice I'm not willing to make."

Enter a boyish, naive looking Alex Krycek, assigned to Mulder as his new partner by Skinner. He is eager to get on the case and seemingly oblivious to Mulder's attempts to steal it away from him at first; a far cry from the villain he would become. I would have liked to have seen him for another episode before the episode's big reveal at the end that he was working for the Cigarette Smoking Man - it would have given the twist an even bigger impact - but it still works within the confines of the episode. At the time, no one saw it coming.

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The biggest presence in this episode is Tony Todd. As chilling as his Candyman persona, he is out to kill his doctors and comrades from the Vietnam War. His motivation, the harrowing effects of an experimentation into sleep deprivation unlocked a psychopathy that led him into a brutal killer and a man who had not slept for 24 years. His ability to project visions on his victims before their death is vivid and nasty, particularly the Vietnamese victims of his unit from the war appearing as ghosts to his fellow soldier Willy before they gunned him down.

Through Mr X we unlock the full horrors of those military experimentations - Tony Todd's Cole had a kill ratio of over four thousand kills, murdering men, women and children. It is an interesting exploration of the madness that comes from no sleep - amplified to the extreme.

Krycek naturally questions how Mulder uncovers the truth so easily - at this point there is no reason to suspect he may have ulterior motivations - and he proves to be an awkward third wheel in the Mulder / Scully dynamic. The separation of the two agents continues to impact the show, while still finding ways to have them connect with each other - another autopsy in this case.

Krycek's presence is as interesting one. "Must be nice not having someone question your every move, poking holes in all your theories." Scully jokes abouts Mulder's new partner, to which he scoffs "Oh yeah, it's---it's great. I'm surprised I put up with you so long." It is the banter between two old friends and colleagues that keeps their relationship strong and one that Kyreck is all too aware of.

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And after a dramatic showdown at a train station where Cole leads Mulder on a hallucinogenic goose chase that almost puts innocent people at risk, Krycek begins to open up to Mulder, suggesting that he wants to believe Mulder's theories about Cole's psychic abilities. It suggests that Mulder and Scully have a new ally. He even kills Cole to save Mulder's life

But it is all an act. Mulder finds his evidence into the military experimentation stolen, preventing him from convincing Skinner into opening an investigation. Krycek is evil and he works for the shadowy organisation that shut the X Files down. But the worst twist of the knife is his discussion with the Cigarette Smoking Man over Scully.

"Reassigning them to other areas seems to have only strengthened their determination. Scully's a problem. A much larger problem than you described." Kyreck reports, having observed first hand the closeness between the two agents forced to work apart.

"Every problem has a solution." the Cigarette Smoking Man responds coldly. And with statement, The X Files would never be the same again...

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Last updated: 06/08/2018 16:08:16

The X Files

Chris Carter's The X Files was the cultural zeitgeist of the 1990s, turning Mulder and Scully into television heroes. With its mix of aliens, conspiracies, monsters and serial killers, it revolutionised cult television and returned for new six-part revival in 2016 and another 10 episodes in 2018. Check out our 'The X Files Revisited', reviewing key episodes from across all seasons and both movies and our weekly reviews of season 11.

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