Possibly the most tonally schizophrenic episode of The X-Files ever, this starts with a respectful portrayal of a young Muslim at prayer, eating breakfast, meeting a friend… and then the pair blowing themselves and everyone in an art gallery up. Two-thirds of the way through it includes a sequence in which Mulder is being whipped by a key character from the past as he travels across the River Styx, after line-dancing in a country and western club where some other familiar faces from the show’s rich history appear. The final scenes are of Mulder and Scully debating love and hate. And throughout, there’s a pair of mini-me agents – one who wants to believe, the other who’s a doctor and scientist (with red hair) who’s ultra-sceptical…
As with the opener, I’m afraid that Babylon proves that the last person who should be let loose on The X-Files is its creator. Chris Carter writes and directs this one, and can’t make his mind up if it’s “24 meets The Twilight Zone”, a Saturday Night Live skit on Mulder’s paranoid fantasies, or a serious talk show about the roots of hatred. Or is it an attempt to reboot the series with a fresh pair of agents? Robbie Arnell and Lauren Ambrose make Miller and Einstein considerably more interesting to watch than their dialogue would suggest they are, but they do feel like little more than Mulder/Scully clones. (And yes, there are some neat parallels to the pilot episode, but it would have been so much better had that then spun off in a different direction.)
The opener was annoying because it tried to undercut everything that we knew so far about the series’ mythology. This one is more annoying, because, as episodes two to four have proved, there is obviously plenty of life in The X-Files left, and one-sixth of what we’ve been given was wasted.
Verdict: Any of the different tones in here could have worked separately as the backbone for an episode; together, they’re a mess. 4/10