TV REVIEW: X-Files Season 10, Episode 5 – Babylon | FanboysInc

TV REVIEW: X-Files Season 10, Episode 5 – Babylon

By Jeff Ayers

TV REVIEW: X-Files Season 10, Episode 5 - Babylon

Let’s set the scene here. I am a big fan of the original series of The X-Files, and I have been excited for Season 10 for some time now. The idea to make it only six episodes, and to not do a “mini-series” long-form story arc was a bold move, and one that intrigued me going into this season. The episodes have had their ups and downs, and then “Babylon” premiered. I sat through the entire episode, desperately trying to catch what they were throwing at me, but I seemingly failed.

The episode starts out with a look at a Texas-based Muslim man, who we later learn is named Shiraz. We see him calmly go through his morning prayer, and then make a sandwich before he heads out for the day. Side note, that was possibly the worst peanut butter and jelly sandwich I have ever seen, so haphazard with the peanut butter, and such a small amount of jelly – but I digress. We witness Shiraz driving through Southern Texas, and encountering a small window of prejudice that he must have to wade through on a daily basis. He picks up his buddy, and the two drive to the Ziggurat Art Gallery, where they say a short prayer and walk into the building together. Then the building blows up, people run screaming on fire from the debris, and the show begins.

This is not a normal X-Files opening, and director Chris Carter is definitely trying to send a message to the viewers. We see the calming sense of prayer and tradition. The poignancy of music permeates the scene, and much of this episode. We also see the horribleness of racism, and the senseless tragedy of terrorism. All of this was written plainly on the metaphoric walk of the opening sequence, but again, was not an X-Files type opening. No paranormal activity; nothing that expressed a mystery, or something that couldn’t be immediately explained. One part that was probably lost on the casual view was the name “Ziggurat”, which connotes a terraced pyramid-like structure. The Biblical Tower of Babel was thought to be one, and this is the thru-line for the show.

TV REVIEW: X-Files Season 10, Episode 5 - Babylon

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“Babylon” then takes a lighthearted turn, as we are introduced to new FBI agents, Miller (Robbie Amell) and Einstein (Lauren Ambrose). Mulder had been talking to Scully about a mysterious sound from the sky, that people believe are the trumpets of God, and Mulder and Scully debate the existence of God. (This theme had been done very well in the original series between these two characters.) Agent Einstein is very much the “updated” version of the Agent Scully character, while Agent Miller is more the Mulder type. Miller wants to enlist Mulder and Scully’s help in trying to communicate with Shiraz, who is balancing precariously between life and death. Miller believes there might be a way to reach him, and thus find out a name of someone who might have talked him into becoming a human bomb, and try to stop them and save more lives in the process. Einstein, as well as Scully, believe this to be nonsense, and the two pairs separate rather awkwardly.

As the episode continues, we see through a very unbelievable sequence that Mulder requests the help of Agent Einstein, and conversely Scully wants to work with Agent Miller on this case. Both Mulder and Scully believe that they can possibly communicate with Shiraz through different methods. Scully believes they might be able to interpret electoral impulses from his brain, if Shiraz is prompted by outside stimuli. Mulder on the other hand, believes that if Agent Einstein can administer magic mushrooms to him, through his trip he might be able to communicate with Shiraz on his own. This is where the show goes off the rails, and I’m not sure it ever recovers from it. Between scenes of other government agencies, and the nurse herself, trying to shut down Shiraz’s life support, to the crazy drug trip Mulder goes on, there is a lot of substance, but not a lot of true plot. We see the fan favorite Lone Gunmen again, briefly during Mulder’s trip, and it is so baffling that you have to wonder why they reached out to those actors at all. Also, the payoff scene is Mulder, seemingly on the boat going across the River Styx, as the Smoking Man appears and tells him that if he is looking for truth, he has come to the right place, all while whipping him to the soundtrack of Tom Waits.

TV REVIEW: X-Files Season 10, Episode 5 - Babylon

Music played a large part in this episode, detailing the thoughts and feelings of the characters on screen, and it actually helped to explain some of the more outlandish sequences. But the complete departure from the shows aesthetic, along with the downright confusing plot, made for a very poor episode in X-Files canon. Even the new additions of Miller and Einstein (who, in my opinion, has a name that is way too on the nose, especially if the rumors of a spinoff with those characters prove true) – the two agents seem to fade into the background of the episode, when it seemed they were the focus point during the beginning. The episode ends with Mulder and Scully having a tender moment, and the pair beautifully act out their beliefs and reservations about where they sit in the universe. Maybe I got it all wrong though, and as Scully says at the end, “Maybe we should do like the prophets and open our hearts and truly listen.”

FBI Score: 6 out of 10. The lack of the tried and true X-Files themes, and overall aesthetic of the show, really made this episode hard to swallow. The musical cues were a welcome nuance, but couldn’t really help the confusing tone and downright madcap way “Babylon” limped along from beginning to end. Also, with only one show left in this six-episode series, I once again believe that Chris Carter and company might have squandered a chance to tell a compelling arc throughout Season 10 of The X-Files.

Jeff Ayers

Both my parents instilled in me at an early age the awesome power and incredible wonder of the written word. My father sat with me when I was four years old and taught me to enjoy reading with classic comic strips like SPIDERMAN, PEANUTS, B.C. and, later, CALVIN AND HOBBES. My mother exposed me to such classics of literature as Poe, Tolkien, Stoker and Doyle, and I started my own comic collection with allowance money from mowing lawns. I liked Wolverine before it was cool, I watched as Superman died and returned, and huddled under the covers as I turned the pages of SANDMAN. Reading is like oxygen to me, and all genres and formats are welcome and devoured equally. I am the co-host of The DW and Incredible Jeff Show, CEO of Permian Productions, and a reviewer at Graphic Novel Reporter. I am 34 and live in scenic Saratoga Springs New York, where I haunt coffee shops and dive bars and the best comic shop anywhere, The Comic Depot.

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