Following last week’s brilliant episode we settled down to watch the next installment of X-Files with high hopes.
Were we left wanting or did this week’s episode deliver? Let’s find out.
From here on in expect major spoilers.
Episode three is entitled The Hangman’s Curse and works very much as a standalone with little link to the overarching story arc of the series. In the episode, Mulder & Scully are investigating the case of a young man hospitalised in a traffic accident which doesn’t seem entirely normal.
In fact, we know it isn’t entirely normal as we see the young man, named Arkie, at a concert at the start of the episode when he’s suddenly chased by himself, or at least his doppelganger who then appears in his car and forces it off the road.
This leads Mulder to discover a number of cases where people have killed themselves or died mysteriously after claiming to have seen themselves. Scully, of course, doesn’t believe Arkie, adopting her traditional logical stance whilst Mulder thinks there’s more to it.
This is a classic X-files set-up and the rest of the episode continued in a classic manner.
Mulder & Scully next went to speak to a woman in a special ward with a split personality disorder named Judy Poundstone. Long-term fans of the show might notice that the actress playing Judy, Karin Konoval, has appeared in another two X-Files episodes before, Namely the controversial “Home” and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Response”.
Mulder notices that Judy has several games of Hangman on her walls which she claims to play telepathically with her twin brother Chucky, also played by Karin Konoval. This becomes even more interesting when one of the games spells out Arkie. Could the twins be using their psychic powers to kill people? The nurses tell them that their parents hung themselves when they were still children, Mulder also notices that another two games of Hangman say Mom and Dad.
The rest of the episode sees Mulder and Scully questioning the twins, Sculls takes Judy and Mulder takes Chucky. There are some fantastic moments between Scully and Judy as our favourite Investigator tries to negotiate the volatile mind of Judy, a role that is played perfectly. Mulder has less luck with Chucky who’s a paranoid hoarder that likes to play mind games and takes an instant dislike to him.
We see the attorney of Arkie suddenly start to see himself after an altercation with the twins. The amazingly named Dean Cavalier is warned by Scully not to believe the visions and stay calm but he eventually flips out and cuts of his own head with a Samurai sword. Impressive stuff.
By the end of the episode, the twins realise that Mulder and Scully are getting too close and decide to play hangman with them as well, causing both Mulder and Scully to see their doppelgangers and start to worry. Eventually, this all comes to a head a Mulder is trying to arrest Chucky who is now arguing telepathically with his sister as they don’t agree on who to kill, mainly as Judy fancies Mulder which is why she wants Scully to die. In the end, Judy has enough and writes Chucky’s name instead, and vice versa. Killing the two antagonists.
As an aside from the main plot, this episode has some of the best interactions between Mulder and Scully of the latest series’ as they wrestle with their relationship, something which is still at sexual tension stage after all these years.
There’s a really touching moment after Judy gets into Scully’s head where she asks Mulder if she’s getting too old, a vulnerable side to her that we rarely see. Mulder responds in his own classic and awkward way saying she “Still has some Scoot in the boot”, showing the closeness of their friendship whilst strengthening their obvious love for each other.
In fact, this episode sees them share a bed, for comfort you understand and even ends with them going to sleep in separate rooms but then Scully goes to join Mulder, who’s waiting stood behind the door for her. True romance right there.
This is a modern classic of an episode which really does have everything that you could want from the X-Files. It’s tense, creepy, bizarre, tender and funny in equal measure, feeling very much like an episode from the early days.
Mulder & Scully, you are still top of our list and you’re far from too old and we love you more than ever!