In Search Of Answers To Old Questions, Mulder And Scully Find Babylon Instead
Finally, an episode of The X-Files not only for fans who’ve missed Mulder and Scully, but Six Feet Under, line dancing, and the Billy Ray Cyrus crossover hit “Achy Breaky Heart” too.
What’s that? You only missed one out of three of those things? Thankfully the dancing and the Billy Ray didn’t get too much screen time. Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under, Torchwood) figured more prominently as FBI agent Einstein (yes, they’re related) and will be back next week for the finale of this short six-episode season.
“Babylon” opens on a young Muslim American man in prayer. Finished, he makes himself a quintessentially American PB&J sandwich, hops in his car and drives to pick up a friend at a nearby motel. On his drive he’s mocked by some stereotypical Texas rednecks who hurl racist taunts at him. Then he and his radicalized Muslim pal suit up in suicide vests and bomb an art gallery exhibiting a painting of the prophet Mohammed sitting on the john. As a comment on the current state of Muslim/Christian relations in America, it’s a bit of a clunker. As an X-Files episode: same.
The appearance of two young FBI agents in the doorway of Mulder and Scully’s basement office does something to redeem the direction the story’s taken up to this point. Carbon copies of the X-Files agents, Miller (him) and Einstein (her) are on their way to investigate the Texas bombing, hoping that they can prevent a second attack. Miller thinks he’ll be able to talk to the braindead bomber who survived the attack. Einstein, of course, is skeptical. Why they’ve come to see Mulder and Scully… uh, we’re not really sure.
After the four part ways, an unplanned partner-swap takes place in which Scully and Miller head to Texas with an idea about communicating with the bomber using an EEG machine while Mulder and a very reluctant Einstein hope to reach him via a generous dose psilocybin (taken by Mulder). While one plan leads to a small breakthrough, the other, at least initially, leads to this:
(Also: exposure to a song titled “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” that we’re still trying to unhear.)
All that adversity (ours and Mulders) seems at first to be for nothing, but as Scully and Miller do their best to protect the bomber from the Department of Homeland Security and a homicidal nurse who’ll likely be voting for Trump in the next election, Mulder’s trip (be it fueled by magic mushrooms or a niacin placebo) leads to a breakthrough. The bomber does talk to him. In Arabic.
It’s only after the bomber’s mother shows up that Mulder recognizes her from his psychedelic (or not) visions that he puts some effort into remembering the phrase he heard. Something about Babylon, plus the Arabic word for hotel: ding! ding! ding! The terrorist cell is headquartered at the Babylon motel. Busted.
Their work done, the Mulder and Scully doubles head back to D.C. while the real Mulder and Scully rendezvous chez his place for a hot and steamy theology sesh worthy of Tolstoy. We blame an angry god for the fact that they do not make out even a little bit.
Best Line of the Whole Episode
“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious, the source of all art and science.” — Einstein (and Einstein).
“Babylon” by the Numbers
4: FBI agents (2 red-headed medical doctors and 2 who just want to believe)
2: Upsetting country songs danced to by a magic mushroom and/or placebo-fueled Mulder
9: Texas-sized cliches (minimum)
2: Too many line dancing scenes
3: Cameos from X-Files episodes past
1: More episode to go