Mulder and Scully encounter a real life genie is this late season seven episode.
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 pilot episode and then carried on throughout the series, covering the best and most significant episodes of the show including the first movie The X Files: Fight The Future. This time The X Files tackles a genie as Mulder is given the chance to wish for world peace…
Je Souhaite is a special episode; the last case of the week for Mulder and Scully before the mythology finale Requiem – at least until the revival. And it could have been the last ever non-mythology episode if The X Files had not continued past season seven. In both respects, it really does feel like the last hurrah, an episode that provides a couple of great shocks, some brilliant comic touches and a global-reaching story with a strong moral narrative. Along with X-Cops it is my favourite story of the seventh season, perhaps not an all time classic but certainly worthy of being Mulder and Scully’s last full case.
It begins with the always entertaining Kevin Weisman playing lazy Anson Stokes, a man with no work ethic ‘forced’ by his boss to clean out a storage locker at the facility he works in. When he uncovers a genie in an old rug he exacts his revenge on his boss by wishing for him to stop talking. The poor, unfortunate Jay Gilmore finds his mouth fused shut and after some nasty looking operations to cut a new mouth he turns to Mulder and Scully for help.
When an eager Mulder – and less than enthusiastic Scully – try to question Anson Stokes, they find an expensive looking yacht parked next to his trailer, a mysterious woman and his wheelchair bound brother Leslie (Will Sasso). The first two thirds of the episode follow Mulder and Scully’s investigation, while Anson ponders his third wish to a bored, frustrated ‘Jenn’ (Paula Sorge), who is eager to get back to her rug. His wish for invisibility is hilarious, leading to a naked Anson walking the streets and getting hit by a truck (which obviously can’t see him).
Scully’s glee as she studies the invisible body of Anson Stokes in the morgue is a joy to watch. Gillian Anderson perfectly captures a scientist presented with something so bizarre and yet so exciting; watching her ‘paint’ Anson by brushing yellow power on his body with a huge grin on her face, you can’t help but have a grin on your own face. And you can feel her crushing disappointment as she proudly presents the invisible body to some Harvard scientists, only to discover he has vanished.
As it turns out, Anson’s brother has wheeled his way back to the storage facility, fobbing off Mulder with a tin box after the agent correctly guesses who the woman really is. Yet again, the wishes don’t go according to plan; Anson returns to his trailer as a half-zombie, covered in yellow dust, smelling of decay and buzzing with flies. His second wish backfires just as spectacularly as he demands Jenn give his brother back his voice. And then desperate to end his undead life, Anson turns the gas on the cooker, lights a match and blows him and his brother to kingdom come just as Leslie makes his final wish. These scenes show just how stupid these two brothers are; in one scene Jenn tries to hint that Leslie might wish to walk again to which he misunderstands and nearly asks for a golden wheelchair.
When Mulder ‘accidentally’ unwraps the genie, things get really interesting. Despite Scully’s instance that she can’t actually be a genie, “it must be hypnotism or mesmerism or… something.“, Mulder takes Jenn back with him to DC. There is a great debate between them as Jenn questions Mulder’s belief that there can be a truly altruistic wish – one that has no personal benefit. His first wish leads to world peace – with a twist – as the entire world’s population vanishes for an hour. The image of Mulder wandering the abandoned streets feels straight out of a post-apocalyptic movie and proves that even the best intentions can have dire consequences. Jenn’s assumptions that he did it to make himself feel good is an intriguing idea, though you have question how noble she can be if wiping out humanity serves her point?
Paula Sorge is brilliant as Jenn – sarcastic, bitter and yet demonstrating a sense of what is right or wrong under the twisted nature of her granted wishes. Her interplay with David Duchovny’s Mulder is the highlight of the episode, his attempts to outwit her with a foolproof wish and her tragic story – tricked into becoming a genie in 15th Century France – is rather tragic. But there is a golden lining; her wish from a normal human life, enjoying a cup of coffee without the pressure of granting other people’s wishes becomes Mulder’s and it was nice to see her normal again. The final scene with Mulder and Scully, kicking back with a beer in his apartment was a nice touch too; a final farewell to these characters before the dramatic events of the finale.
Je Souhaite is an episode that puts a grin on your face from beginning to end. With some great comic twists, fantastic guest performances and a premise that could have fallen so flat, it is a strong final case for Mulder and Scully before everything changes. And with the upcoming season finale, The X Files would never be the same again…
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