X-Files Flashback: ‘Anasazi’

Season 2, Episode 25
Director: R.W. Goodwin
Writer: Chris Carter

For The X-Files‘s second season finale, “Anasazi” is thisshort of being a near-total dud. Even if it were a standard midseason entry, it would still be near the bottom of the pile. It lacks any sense of intrigue, urgency, thrill, or audience engagement. For a season ender, that’s inexcusable.

“Anasazi” starts promisingly enough: after an Earth tremor, a Navajo teenage boy finds an object buried beneath some rubble on a Navajo Indian reservation. The boy returns home with a mysterious object in tow – the shriveled corpse of what appears to be an alien. It’s all downhill from there. The remainder of the episode deals with Mulder receiving some encoded information from a source who hacked into a government computer. Mysteriously, Mulder is exceedingly agitated, even going so far as to punch Skinner in the face at one point. Scully tries to help by taking the encoded data to a Navajo translator, but she is referred to a Navajo code breaker – the young boy from the prologue’s grandfather who used to work with the government in World War II.

Mulder’s journey through the episode involves his father who was visited by the Smoking Man, informing him that Mulder has the secret data. Mulder’s father tells Mulder to come home with the intention of revealing the “whole truth,” but he is shot and killed by Alex Krycek before he can share any information with Mulder. Scully takes Mulder’s gun to prove Mulder didn’t kill his father, and Krycek tries to assassinate Mulder but is stopped by Scully who ends up purposefully shooting Mulder in the shoulder. Literally none of that made sense. Scully then drives two days with an unconscious Mulder (his aggression was caused by a chemical placed in his water supply by an unknown source) to the Navajo reservation while the boy’s grandfather decodes the material. The close of the episode shows Mulder investigating the submerged object – surprisingly, a railroad tanker – and discovering a large pile of burned out alien corpses. The Smoking Man calls Mulder and is able to track the signal. He arrives on the scene as Mulder sits inside the tanker and instructs a subordinate to blow up the tanker.

The problem with this particular season finale is that it stuffed way too much fan service into the proceedings. Lone Gunmen? Check. Smoking Man? Check. Aliens? Check. Mulder’s father? Check. It’s the overall mythology that begins to suffocate the material here. Mulder and Scully’s actions are all guided by plot mechanics rather than organic character growth – the biggest evidence of this being Scully’s shooting of Mulder in the shoulder to avoid killing Krycek but losing Krycek in the end anyway. Plus, the entire midsection is dedicated to the unravelling of the Navajo code that encodes the top secret data, and the progress is slow and maddening.

At the end, the revelation of the alien cargo is hardly a revelation at all. Clearly, there are aliens on Earth, and clearly the government has been using their genes and technology to advance the human race as much as humanly possible. So, none of this is particularly surprising or shocking. Perhaps the episode will be rescued by the Season Three premiere, but it has a lot of ground to cover as “Anasazi” now hold the title as the least memorable episode of the series through the end of Season Two.

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