Written by: Paul Brown
Directed by: Michael Lange
Deny Everything. This episode marks the first time on The X-Files that we’ve had a two part episode. And the results are somewhat mixed.
Following on from the episode ‘Duane Barry’, ‘Ascension’ deals with the abduction of Dana Scully and the aftermath. Mulder tracks down the claimed alien abductee up a mountain where Dana Scully is supposedly disposed of. Upon finding Barry at the top of the mountain, Mulder is told that “they” have taken the auburn-haired FBI agent. The rest of the episode has Mulder facing an investigation into the death in custody of Duane Barry, his informant “Mr X” offering little information in a stairwell (really, why does that guy bother to leave the house….he never shares any real information of note. Just cryptic statements), and finally questions the role of his partner Alex Krycek in the death of Duane Barry.
There is one outstanding scene in the episode in which Mulder lays out his claims regarding Krycek to Asst. Director Walter Skinner. Both David Duchovny and Mitch Pilleggi shine in the scene as they run through the actions of Krycek over the past few episodes and his possible connection to the conspiracy they both know to exist. While the scene is exposition heavy, it is the first time that Mulder is taking charge and addressing the source of his frustration. It’s a cathartic moment in the episode and it plays nicely. Unfortunately, the rest of the episode feels stiff and lacks any real energy.
The dialogue between Mulder and Skinner always bothered me with neither ever addressing in the show the conspiracy at large – they always manage to talk around it, as is the situation in this episode. Watching this scene, however, the reason for this is now clear to me: in a professional capacity, it just sounds ludicrous to say such things aloud. And to cite it directly is a discredit to one another as intelligent FBI agents.
While this is an important episode in the mythos of The X-Files, I’m not sure that it holds up as well as it should. I suspect that as I get heavier into the conspiracy episodes of the show, this is going to be a continued experience.
Ascension is filled with a complete lack of hope and a general mood of dispair. Unfortunately, much of that sensation comes from noting the running time of the episode and realising just how much longer one has to go on it.