The X Files Revisited: 5.08 Kitsunegari

The X Files ran for nine seasons and two movies, charting the efforts of Agents Mulder and Scully in their search for the unexplained. And then in 2016, it returned for six new episodes, a mix of mythology and case of the week stories that brought Mulder and Scully back the FBI. From the brilliant Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster to the frantic mythology cliff-hanger in My Struggle II, it was largely viewed as a success and there are hopes that season 10 is just the first of more. In the lead up to the revival, The Digital Fix reviewed the best and most significant episodes of the first 100 episodes in the season's run, from the pilot episode all the way through to the 100th episode Unusual Suspects. Now we're going to continue that run, picking key episodes from the second half of the show - and two movies – and next up is Kitsunegari, one of the rare instances of a sequel to an earlier story as season three's Robert Modell returns...

One of the highlights of season three was Pusher, which introduced Robert Modell (Robert Wisden), a man with the abilities to 'push' people into believing something that wasn't there and the final Russian Roulette scene - which ended with Mulder shooting Modell - was a thrilling showdown and of the most tense moments in the show's history. So it's no surprise that the writers brought back for round two in the fifth season.

Kitsunegari is by no means as good as Pusher though it does redeem itself with another tense final showdown, even if it fails to match the original. Modell it seems, survived the gunshot and the tumour that gave him his uncanny abilities and is soon able to manipulate his way out of prison. Given the danger that Modell poses, Skinner drafts Mulder and Scully in to lead the manhunt. The first half of the episode is standard fugitive formula, with Modell using his abilities to steal clothes from an unsuspecting shop assistant and trick cops into turning on each other to make his escape. Wisden is still great in the role, though we get little new and there is soon the feeling that something is 'off' with him. He doesn't kill anyone and even the discovery that the judge who sentenced himhas been killed raises suspicions from Mulder.

Yes, in true Mulder fashion, he realises what is really going on ahead of even Skinner and Scully. Despite the judge being forced to kill himself by drinking cerulean blue paint (Modell's colour of choice) and the message Kitsunegari calling for a fox hunt, he quickly deduces that it is the wife Linda Bowman that did it. And why? Because she discovered she was Modell's long lost twin with the same abilities (and tumour) to make her Pusher mark II. Yes, it feels like a bit of a stretch but it does elevate the episode which, despite bringing back a great villain, feels a little like it is going through the motions. In fact Wisden fades into obscurity by the episode's end and is shot by Skinner to protect his sister's identity (and then mercy killed by Linda posing as a nurse).

The final showdown where Linda tricks Mulder into believing that Scully has just shot and killed herself - and then makes him try to shoot Scully by making him believe his agent is Linda - is a great conclusion to a somewhat muddled episode. Diana Scarwid just doesn't have the same charisma an energy as Robert Wisden; while there is an attempt to make her the unassuming potential victim of a vengeful Modell to start with, she never breaks out of that shell when she is revealed as the killer.

Kitsunegari is not a bad episode of The X Files at all; it just doesn't serve up anything new in the story of Robert Modell. The episode picks up with the twist that Linda is his twin sister with the same abilities and it delivers a thrilling ending, but in the end you have to ask; was a sequel to the brilliant Pusher necessary? Not really and that is why - as enjoyable as it is - it is probably the weakest of the season five episodes so far.

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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