Season 7, Episode 15
Director: Rob Bowman
Writer: William B. Davis
OK. Before you write in, I know that “En Ami” is French and roughly translates to “as a friend.” It was a joke. Anyway, The X-Files‘s “En Ami” was conceived and penned by William B. Davis, the Cigarette Smoking Man himself, after he complained that he didn’t have enough scenes with Gillian Anderson’s Scully over the course of the series. So, the creators bended to his wishes and allowed him to construct this episode in which the Smoking Man is reimagined as a lonely romantic lead. Having little-to-no involvement with the overall series, “En Ami” is a well acted but ultimately pointless excursion – all teases and red herrings without significance.
The meandering plot begins when a young cancer patient is miraculously cured after being controversially whisked home from the hospital by religious parents. Scully investigates and finds the Smoking Man claims responsibility for curing the boy thanks to the implant on the back of his neck – identical to the one Scully has. The Smoking Man also tells Scully that he’s dying and needs her help to retrieve the cure. Call it seduction by medicine. Meanwhile, Scully wears a wire so that she can surreptitiously tape their conversations and send them back to Mulder. Their adventures continue with various stops until Scully receives instructions to meet someone called Cobra on a nearby lake at dawn. There, Cobra gives Scully a disc but is quickly shot by an assassin who is then shot by the Smoking Man before he can harm Scully. Scully takes the disc (reportedly containing the cure to all diseases) for analysis, but the Smoking Man swapped it out for a blank one. The real one is thrown into a lake by the Smoking Man, clearly using this elaborate ruse to befriend or seduce Scully as he is lonely.
It is said William B. Davis based this episode on Richard III where the anti-hero Richard tries to seduce Lady Anne. Whatever the inspiration, somewhere along the way, the excitement and purpose was lost. Instead, we’re left with a deadly dull episode that meanders along, providing neither real threat nor particular interest. Nothing is at stake here. And the Smoking Man has been so watered down after the close of the first series mythology that he’s hardly a villain here. He’s just a sad old man looking for love in all the wrong places.
It’s great that Davis wanted to share scenes with the best actor in the series (Anderson), but it would have helped “En Ami” if those interactions actually made thematic sense. Instead, we’re left with the Smoking Man doing threatening things like undressing Scully while she sleeps and buying her black dresses to wear to expensive dinners, proving that, at this point, the series has nearly gone overboard in its fetishism of Dana Scully. “En Ami” isn’t a bad episode because it’s unbelievable or outlandish. It’s a bad episode because it tries too hard to mimic real human emotions.