My name is Matt Benson. Since my childhood, I have been captivated by an hour long science fiction crime drama on the Fox network. Since the show went off the air when I was 11, in what I believe was a disappointing final season. My obsession has taken me to the Agents of GUARD where I review episodes of this TV show known as, The X-Files.
This is a bad episode of The X-Files. There’s no other way to put it. Remember on All in the Family when Archie Bunker said a bunch of racist stuff about George Jefferson and then was proved right by the end of the episode? No? Oh yeah, that’s because it didn’t happen because Norman Lear knew how to make television and Chris Carter, evidently, does not.
“Babylon” has an ugly habit of making Muslim hating rednecks the butt of jokes while also exclusively portraying Muslims as terrorists. The result is an episode that is broadly insulting to both Muslims and people from Texas. It begins with a man praying to Allah. He goes about a completely normal day, makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, ignores those rednecks I mentioned earlier, and then *record scratch* blows up an art gallery! It’s the kind of opening that might have been shocking in 2002 when every terrible crime procedural show in America had an episode like this, but in 2016 it’s painfully lazy stereotyping at best.
What follows is about 40 minutes without a single redeeming second. Mulder and Scully meet Agents Einstein and Miller, essentially younger versions of themselves, played by Lauren Ambrose and Robbie Amell. Mulder pairs up with Scully Lite and Scully works with Pup Mulder recreating the same dynamic that already exists, but without the chemistry. It brings to mind the days of season 7 when every other episode had to figure out some justification for why Mulder and Scully are never in the same room.
Their goal is to communicate with the comatose terrorist from the cold open. Scully wants to science an answer from an EKG machine and Mulder wants to use mushrooms to psychically invade his brain. Both spend most of the episode not making progress. Scully has an impassioned single line about how not all Muslims are terrorists (despite the fact that in the universe of this episode, literally every Muslim is either a terrorist or the mother of a terrorist). Einstein meets a crazy woman who believes that refugee groups in the city are nothing more than trojan horses to sneak terrorists into America (again, in the universe of this episode, she’s totally correct).
David Duchovny plays Mulder like he’s making fun of him here. And not in a fun, Darin Morgan way. In a mean way, like someone who genuinely despises the character. In fact, the whole episode plays out like that. It’s as if Chris Carter had a bully older brother who mockingly did an impression of an entire episode and Chris thought he was doing a pitch.
“Babylon” also features perhaps the most disappointing cameo in the history of the X-Files. During Mulder’s psychedelic freak out, after hilariously(?) line dancing to Achy Breaky Heart, Mulder plays cards with the Lone Gunmen in cowboy hats. It’s the worst kind of fan service. They don’t say anything. They don’t do anything Lone Gunmen-y. Mulder doesn’t get to say goodbye to them, which he never had a chance to do when they were alive. And because it’s a drug fantasy sequence, they’re still dead. We saw the Cigarette Smoking Man get obliterated on screen and he’s still alive, but the Lone Gunmen’s offscreen death is still canon?? And the consolation is that we get to see the hilarious(?) image of them in cowboy hats?? That’s not anything, Chris Carter!
Mercifully the episode ends shortly after this, but not before introducing five different elements to make the audience needless question what they had just seen, as if it didn’t feel like a big enough waste of time already. The best thing I can say about “Babylon” is that it came late enough in the season that we all might as well finish now. Next week Chris Carter wraps up season 10 with “My Struggle II.”