X-Files Flashback: ‘Je Souhaite’

Season 7, Episode 21
Director: Vince Gilligan
Writer: Vince Gilligan

In my opinion, Breaking Bad‘s Vince Gilligan is without a doubt The X-Files series M.V.P. Those of you who have followed my 201 Days of The X-Files journey know that, by and large, my favorite episodes of the series largely belong to him. His ear for amusing dialogue and intriguing story lines provide the series with some of its finest moments, so it’s fitting that he gives us “Je Souhaite,” the episode largely considered as the last great X-Files outing, as his writer/director debut. It’s a great episode, one that recalls the best the series had to offer with the perfect mixture of supernatural elements intelligently handled, good special effects, and great dialogue between Mulder and Scully.

We begin with Anson Stokes (Alias‘s Kevin Weisman) who basically takes up space at a self storage facility. After his manager threatens to fire him, Stokes opens a storage unit with the intent of cleaning it out only to discover a rolled-up carpet that contains a woman. Later, Mulder and Scully are approached by Anson’s former manager whose mouth was erased from his face and recut by surgery. Anson’s discovered woman was a genie who, Mulder and Scully later discover, has lived for 500 years and served at the side of Mussolini and Richard Nixon. She agrees to give Anson the power of invisibility only to see him struck dead by a transfer truck while he was attempting to cross a street to sexually harass two attractive women. Scully performs the autopsy on the invisible man who then disappears when his brother, Leslie (Will Sasso), wishes his brother back to life. Cold and angry, Anson tries to light a stove fire and causes their trailer to erupt into flames. Mulder takes possession of the genie and, after a mistaken attempt at world peace where all humankind is removed from the planet, wishes the genie freedom from her abilities. Mulder and Scully finish the episode watching Caddyshack over beer and popcorn.

“Je Souhaite” (French for “I wish”) represents The X-Files‘ entry in the popular “be careful what you wish for” genre of entertainment ranging from Aladdin to Into the Woods among many others. Gilligan is able to make this story line feel fresh despite its tendency to feel overdone. The script is well considered and well executed by a game cast. Kevin Weisman, in particular, makes the bumbling loaf Anson Stokes and amusingly moronic individual, particularly in the sequence in which he achieves invisibility. The episode’s special effects are key here as well, and they’re carried off with more gusto than we’re accustomed with a television show. The real star of the episode, though, is Paula Sorge as the genie. The creative team originally sought out Janeane Garofalo for the role, but, due to scheduling conflicts, she was unavailable. Sorge achieves the next best thing by approximating Garofalo’s patent brand of cynicism and sarcasm to create a world-weary sense within the centuries-old genie. The episode closes with a nicely rendered scene of the genie enjoying the freedom of a good cup of coffee in a quiet cafe.

And what of Gilligan’s take on Mulder and Scully? Mulder is the one granted the three wishes, but Scully has the greatest comic moments in the episode as she expresses incredible glee over the discovery of a true invisible man only to have him disappear just as she’s about to share her discovery with renown scientists. When they close “Je Souhaite” with a quiet moment, the unexpressed sentiment is that these are indeed a couple – even as the question of their intimacy is side-stepped frequently within the series. Their ease around each other and the intimate moment shared over popcorn and beer provide an effective close to this confection. It would have made for a great close to the series, in fact – something many have wished considering what comes later.

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