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Mason Howard
Mason Howard

Episode 11: Two Fathers (1) ((LINK))

"Two Fathers" is the eleventh episode of the sixth season and the 128th episode overall of the science fiction television series The X-Files. The episode first aired in the United States and Canada on February 7, 1999, on the Fox Network and subsequently aired in the United Kingdom on Sky1. It was written by executive producers Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz and directed by Kim Manners. The episode earned a Nielsen rating of 11.5, a total of 18.81 million viewers. The episode received mostly positive reviews.

Episode 11: Two Fathers (1)

"Two Fathers" was written in order to eliminate the Syndicate and relaunch the series' mythology. With the series being shot in Los Angeles, many members of The X-Files crew had to adjust scenes and filming techniques in order to achieve the "dark and gray feel" that had been a result of filming in Vancouver, British Columbia. The episode is the first of a two-part episode and continues with the episode "One Son".

The scene in which Jeffrey Spender visited his mother, Cassandra Spender, was shot in Los Angeles. Those members of The X-Files crew who had moved with the show from Vancouver to Los Angeles still had problems adjusting to the changes when filming an episode. They were forced to adjust to changes in the sunlight, since Vancouver had this "dark and gray feel" compared to California's sunny atmosphere. Kim Manners felt it was difficult to "get[ting] used to" the new filming area. This episode marks the first time new stock footage was used for the J. Edgar Hoover Building in over five years.[4]

"Two Fathers" is the eleventh episode of the sixth season of The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on February 7, 1999. The episode was written by Frank Spotnitz and series' creator Chris Carter, and was directed by Kim Manners.

Two Fathers marked the end of the Syndicate story line, in order to relaunch the series' mythology arc. The episode is the first of a two-part story, with the plot concluding in the next episode, One Son.

  • The reappearance of Cassandra Spender marks a turning point in the fortunes of the alien conspiracy.Tropes: The Bus Came Back: Cassandra Spender, who can walk now. It is because she is the first successful alien-human hybrid.

  • Cliffhanger: The episode ends with Mulder seemingly about to pull a Mercy Kill on Cassandra at his home, while someone is knocking loudly on his door.

  • Eating the Eye Candy: A rare one for Mulder, eyeing Scully up and down as she walks up to him at the basketball court.

  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Zigzagged. CSM couldn't bring himself to kill Cassandra, but he claims that this isn't because he loved her, but because she's the mother of his son. His treatment of said son isn't exactly beaming, but he clearly feels something for the poor guy.

  • Even Evil Has Standards: Played with. Much like Mulder's father and the Well-Manicured Man, one of the Syndicate elders again suggests joining the alien rebels and opposing colonization. Problem is, the elder making this case is the one who's been killed and replaced by an alien rebel, and this opinion runs contrary to the dead man's previous beliefs. CSM picks up on this contradiction and uses it to identify the traitor.

  • Just Between You and Me: The framing device for the episode is the Cigarette-Smoking Man outlining for the audience The Conspiracy's grand plan and how the rebels have derailed it. It's revealed at the end of the episode that he's talking directly to his new agent on the inside, Diana Fowley.

  • Kill It with Fire: The rebel aliens' way of killing the Syndicate members and anyone associated with them.

  • Manipulative Bastard: Krycek gives Spender the Awful Truth at just the right time to put him against the Syndicate.

  • Mercy Kill: The Cigarette-Smoking Man kills off a horrifically wounded accomplice who worked on Cassandra. Most unlike his usual ruthless self, CSM is clearly uncomfortable doing so and apologises beforehand; his victim even seems to accept its necessity, knowing that he will be questioned if left alive.

  • The Mole: An alien rebel kills and replaces one of the Syndicate elders.

  • Myth Arc

  • No Name Given: Mulder and Scully learn that Cassandra is the Cigarette-Smoking Man's ex-wife, but she never gives them his name. Even after exhausting the FBI's database, they find nothing conclusive and believe that CSM has used hundreds of aliases in the past.

  • This Cannot Be!: CSM's reaction to learning Cassandra has become a perfect human-alien hybrid.

  • Villainous Rescue: Just when it looks like Spender will die against the hands of the alien rebel, Krycek kills the facechanger from behind.

"If you don't kill me, it all starts. There won't be any stopping it. I am the one. You have to shoot me... Please!"

The result is an episode caught between two extremes. It is at once a bold ending for a story thread that had come to define discussions of The X-Files in popular culture and the rubber band snapping the show back into a familiar shape after a radical and experimental ten-episode stretch of the season. The two-parter is as messy and as awkward as that description would suggest, vacillating between dramatic extremes in the blink of an eye. The script bounces around without anything to truly tether it, with the two-parter struggling to identify even its focal characters.

By this point in the run of The X-Files, it was clear that the mythology had largely run its course. Carter had originally plotted the mythology for roughly five seasons, hoping to transition the franchise to the big screen after the show had produced enough episodes that Ten Thirteen and Fox could sell it into syndication. However, the show had become such a success that this was no longer a possibility. Fox wanted the best of both worlds from the franchise; they wanted films in theatres and a show on television.

As a result, Carter had to tweak and adjust a plan that was already quite hazy. The show had been stalling its central mythology since the start of the fourth season. Talitha Cumi had revealed that the aliens were plotting to colonise Earth with the assistance of the conspirators, explicitly spelling out something that had been implicit for quite some time. However, episodes like Herrenvolk, Tunguska and Terma felt like attempts to distract the audience with narrative sleight of hand and storytelling cul de sacs.

To be fair, the show could still produce an entertaining mythology episode. Episodes like Tempus Fugit, Max and Zero Sum are very exciting television; there is a lot to love about Gethsemane. At the same time, it seemed like the show had lost a lot of the momentum that had made the mythology so exciting. Redux I was essentially forty-five minutes of Mulder monologuing as he walked through grey corridors. Christmas Carol and Emily felt like ill-judged attempts to re-capture the popularity and success of Memento Mori.

The effort paid off. Two Fathers and One Son were considered to be one of the success stories of the February Sweeps. Two Fathers earned an 11.5 Nielsen rating, a 16 share. It is estimated that over eleven million households (over eighteen million people) watched the episode. That makes Two Fathers the second-highest rated episode of the sixth season, just behind The Rain King. It is worth noting that no episode after this point would earn a higher viewing figure than Two Fathers. In a way, it really was the beginning of the end.

This paradox plays itself out in Two Fathers and One Son. As much as the episode is structured as an ending to a massive on-going story, it is located in the middle of the season for a show that already has at least another full season assured. As much as the two-parter is about clearing the board, it also puts Mulder and Scully right back to their default positions. As Spotnitz readily conceded, Two Fathers and One Son is not a real ending in any substantive sense. The First and Second Elder might be dead, but the Cigarette-Smoking Man and Krycek live on.

Two Fathers and One Son never commits to anything decisively. The episode seems to imply that this is the end of the conspiracy as an organisation and of colonisation as an objective, but it never quite confirms this. As a result, the same characters and themes only fade into the background until the season-ending cliffhanger requires the reemergence of the conspirators. The Cigarette-Smoking Man returns in Biogenesis, while Mulder is haunted by visions of colonisation in The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati.

There is a sense that Two Fathers and One Son are reluctant to commit to their big scary ideas. Carter and Spotnitz keep their hand hovering over the big red button as the two-parter barrels along, but they refuse to push it. The show creates a sense of impending and building doom as the episodes continue, but it never seems to go anywhere. As One Son builds towards its climax, it becomes more and more likely that the conspirators are ready to summon the apocalypse and begin colonisation. It really seems like the show is racing desperately against time.

In theory, the scale of Two Fathers and One Son should be similar. Both episodes are about the arrival of armageddon, watching the final seconds count down on the doomsday clock. A number of superficial similarities only reinforce the comparison. At the start of The Fourth Horseman, Frank Black and Peter Watts are put into quarantine as the Marberg Virus is identified. At the start of One Son, Mulder and Scully are taken into custody by the CDC as a smokescreen to separate them from Cassandra Spender.

Why were there so many comedy episodes in Six and Seven? Why did the Mythology- which had been increasingly focused on Scully (much to its benefit, I would say)- suddenly become so Muldercentric, as did a notable amount of Season Six episodes (so much that Scully seemed like a supporting character and not a co-lead)? What was the idea behind pairing Scully with a new agent in Tithonus in the middle of that season? Why was the Biogenesis storyline not only redirected (or hijacked if you like) in Amor Fati but then rather brutally satirized in Hollywood AD? We might glean an answer to that by the fact that the Biogenesis storyline only reappeared in Season Nine. 041b061a72


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