X-Files Flashback: ‘Two Fathers’

Two Fathers

Season 6, Episode 11
Director: Kim Manners
Writer: Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz

If you’re into The X-Files series mythology, then “Two Fathers” is canon for you. After a series of episodes largely unconnected to the overall mythology, writers Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz return with gun a-blazin’, offering explanations, backstory, and “answers” galore. I use “answers” sparingly because how certain can anyone ever really be that The X-Files is really giving it to you 100 percent? Still, “Two Fathers” is, ironically for me, one of the better episodes of the series because it gives us a handful of classic scenes and uses series MVP’s to anchor the wackier story elements.

The episode opens with an operation, surgeons make incisions on a stomach as green blood oozes from the cuts which heal themselves. The experiment has proven successful – the specimen on the table is the first successful human-alien hybrid. Shortly after the brief surgery, the alien rebels (the ones with the sewed up eyes, nose, and mouth) burn the doctors where they stand, leaving the patient – the previously missing Cassandra Spender (Veronica Cartwright) – on the table. The rest of the episode is told by the Smoking Man in flashback, recounting the major events to an unseen party. After finding Cassandra, AD Skinner brings her son, Jeffrey (Chris Owens), to the scene and urges him to respect her wishes to speak with Mulder. Cassandra eventually meets with Mulder and reveals details around the intended alien invasion (many of these are also revealed by the Smoking Man earlier): an alien race is attempting to take over the universe and is infecting humans with the Black Oil or “Essence.” There is another race of rebels who are trying to stop the invading aliens and have mutilated their faces to protect them from the Black Oil.

The Syndicate meets, and the Smoking Man continues to pull the strings. Mulder and Scully eventually discover that he is Jeffrey Spender’s father, who approaches his father and demands to know the truth. The Smoking Man entrusts him with killing a rebel (using the infamous ice pick) who has already killed one of the Syndicate elders and impersonated him. Spender botches the job, but Alex Krycek (Nicholas Lea) is able to finish it. Krycek tells Jeffrey that his father is orchestrating Cassandra’s abductions and is the puppet master behind everything. In the end, it is revealed that the Smoking Man, having immediately lost faith in his son, has recruited Diana Fowley (Mimi Rogers) and is telling her everything. In the final sequence, Cassandra, having escaped her hospital room, shows up at Mulder’s apartment, begging him to kill her to end the work of the Syndicate as there are loud bangs on his apartment door. Mulder pulls a gun much to Scully’s horror. To be continued…

I was completely on board with this episode. The mythology may never go anywhere, but “Two Fathers” finally gave us enough detail to chew on and seems to be setting up events that could potentially pay off in big ways. No way to know that now, of course, and Carter has certainly botched promising leads before. Still, the episode gives us some excellent Mulder/Scully comedy (I had to watch Mulder’s basketball game twice) in addition to a classic scene in which the Smoking Man smacks Jeffrey twice, telling him he pales in comparison to Fox Mulder in the process. The performances, including the completely inspired lunacy of Veronica Cartwright (Emmy nominated here), are all excellent and committed to the material. Even the cinematography feels especially lush and vivid. I have no idea what possessed the creative team when they embarked upon the “Two Fathers” journey, but this one completely knocked me on my feet in a most unexpected way.

That’s the absolute best thing to happen when you’ve been watching The X-Files for over 125 days straight.

To be continued…

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