Season 9, Episode 15
Director: Cliff Bole
Writer: Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz
“Jump the Shark” serves as a coda to The X-Files‘ spin-off series The Lone Gunmen. That series, naturally, focused on the fan-favorite trio The Lone Gunmen who assisted with various X-files through many of the series’s nine seasons. As someone who’d never seen The Lone Gunmen, I was familiar with neither the crossover characters nor the supposed in-jokes that pepper “Jump the Shark.” As a result, the episode feels like an dissertation of a novel you never read. It’s entertaining enough, but it doesn’t extend itself beyond the confines of the characters to fully engage a casual audience.
The episode begins with an overview of the aborted The Lone Gunmen series, which appears to greatly resemble a cross between MacGuyver and maybe something like The A-Team. At any rate, the episode proper re-introduces Morris Fletcher (Michael McKean) as a former Area 51 employee. He dangles supposed super soldier evidence in front of Reyes and Doggett to engage them. The agents go to the Gunmen for assistance, and Fletcher’s suspect is someone they know. Fletcher’s super soldier suspect, Yves Adele Harlow, is seen murdering a biology professor. She cuts something out of his body just before being discovered. She later burns the organ.
After revealing the professor was the result of a biological experiment, Harlow works with the Gunmen to find another subject. If the subject is not captured, then he effectively becomes a biological weapon. The group eventually tracks down their subject but arrive too late to stop the release of the toxin. They trap themselves in a sealed room with the bio-terrorist, cutting off the Gunmen from the rest of humanity. The toxin is released, and the Gunmen die. A.D. Skinner arranges for their burial at Arlington, and the episode ends with Scully attending their funeral.
“Jump the Shark” is strictly constructed for fans of the Lone Gunmen, both the characters and the series itself. I am neither, so, naturally, I wasn’t a huge fan. There are clever touches here and there that made me chuckle once or twice. Yet, I do wish that the writers had done more with the concept of “jumping the shark,” particularly since this is one of the last X-Files episodes. I thought they were heading in this direction by opening the story proper with a closeup on a bikini-clad woman’s rear and breasts. It was not to be as the proceedings eventually turn incredibly serious. The episode completely lacks any of the comic touches usually associated with the group. In the end, it’s not that the Lone Gunmen are dead that’s problematic. It’s the fact that they died in such a bland and unremarkable manner, far removed from their usual modus operandi. Even I know the Lone Gunmen deserved a better farewell that this one.