Written by Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz
Directed by Kim Manners
In a deleted scene from a Halloween episode of The Simpsons, there occurred a small subplot whereby Lionel Hutz Attorney At Law promised the famous yellow family that if he lost their court case against Devil Ned Flanders, he would refund them with a pizza. It turned out the pizza box was empty. In some ways The X Files:Fight the Future was the pizza. Oh, sure, it was a great movie (did you check out my review, it was full of superlatives), but in some respects it was like Lionel Hutz's promise of a pizza. We were promised answers and we didn't get any, but hey, it was all great fun and delivered a massive dose of emotional, blockbuster, thrilling entertainment. Eleven episodes into season six, The X Files finally delivers the pizza. Two Fathers and the second part, One Son, are about to deliver something very special. High end cheese, the best tomato sauce, gorgeous pepperoni, tasty onions and nicely thin slice ham. Or, in other words, answers. Lots and lots of answers.
The first thing to do is to applaud the chef, or chefs in this case and so one should give a big round of applause to Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz who are juggling a lot of ingredients here (okay, I'll stop with the pizza preparation metaphors). The mythology has become very packed over the last two seasons and moved beyond being simply Mulder and Scully's story, with characters like The CSM being given his own complicated family history and the conspiracy itself moving beyond being simply an "us versus them" plot line taking in sixty years of American history and intergalactic plot to take over the world. It's all very far fetched. It's also damn fine television.
Everyone, and I do mean everyone, gets their moment to shine here. With the series not focusing as much on the mythology as in previous years and the show's tone becoming more whimsical and quirky, it's become apparent that Carter and Spotnitz are putting the eggs into one basket here, and throwing all the mythology elements they have planned for the season into these two episodes. Cassandra is back, Spender gets his biggest role in the show to date, the CSM shows layers we've never seen before and before things get too muddled, Carter and Spotnitz, bravely, write Mulder and Scully aside, have them suspended from the FBI and proceed to focus on Jeffrey and his father, the Smoking Man, now given the moniker CGB Spender.
This has all the potential to be a mess and instead it's one of the crowning achievements of season six, best of all it's an example of The X Files wonderful ability to never be the one type of show. In a season full of light and humour, this could stick out like a sore thumb and yet in some ways I think the show has blindsided us brilliantly in season six, having fun for the most part and then having us bite our nails in suspense as Mulder and Scully are unceremoniously dumped from the FBI at the hands of Spender, The Syndicate is infiltrated by the Alien Rebels and Spenders Jr and Sr have a Godfather moment as Spender Jr is asked by daddy dearest to kill an Alien Rebel whilst all of this is narrated by the Smoking Man himself to an off screen confessor who is only revealed in the episode's final moments.
It is superb stuff and the ace in the hole is William B Davis and Chris Owens. Mulder and Scully are sidelined, as I've said, but truthfully, when they aren't on screen, I don't think you miss David and Gillian. As Spender, Chris Owens has been a little bit of a weasel all season, but here he displays wonderful facets to Spender such as the joy on his face when he sees his mother return to him, his shock at being slapped in the face by his father and then told that he pales to the man he just had fired from the FBI (strangely satisfying moment it has to be said) and then fear as he is forced to kill an Alien Rebel and then discover not only the extent of the conspiracy he is involved in, but that his father himself is responsible for his mother's situation. His performance is a joy and his best all season and hints at even better things to come in One Son, but then there's William B Davis...
Like Owens, it'll be One Son where the true slice of genius will lie, but until then, there's greatness to be had here. Just look at the pain on the CSM's face as he realises he has to kill his friend Dr Oppenshaw in his hospital bed, the emotional fury at his son when he's called and old man and the quiet pride he displays when he asks Jeffrey to kill the Alien Rebel mascarading as one of the Syndicate's Elders. It's undoubtedly one of Davis' best performances on the show and in an a non genre show probably would have earned him an Emmy nomination, as such this is The X Files, it's sci-fi and he didn't, but this is not just a villain working within the fabric of his universe, for the first time since Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man, and only previously hinted at in the dying moments of Redux II, we're presented with a complex individual who is not just some 'big bad' for our heroes to defeat, but a genuine, character with layers and emotions.
It's a great success, and is a must for all fans of the show who follow the intricacies and the the inns and outs of the show's mythology. As the series has went on it's become more intricate and complicated and as good as it's been, seasons four and five have lacked the fun factor of seasons two and three when the scripts being churned out by Chris and Frank had joy with playing with the larger cast and plot lines. Two Fathers marks the first time in a while that we've had a script that has revelled in the epic joy of the show, as if there is a rediscovery of finding your favourite toy and remembering what you can do with it that was wonderfully fun the first time.
It's much better than The Beginning at the start of the season, which I think now may have been a little lacklustre due to exhaustion at coming of the back at the movie. Here everything slots in beautifully, it's stirring, engaging, gripping and suspenseful and boast a wonderful little twist that whilst of the side of predictable, once again hints at great drama to come.