XFilesUniverse.com: X-Files News, X-Files 3, X-Files Forum, and XFiles Season 10 IDW!

XFU: for X-Files, X-Files Forums, X-Files Fanfiction, & X-Files 3!

Babylon: Favorite/Least Favorite Moments

Moderators: ItsOutThere, Quest, TruthIsOutThere

Babylon: Favorite/Least Favorite Moments

Postby Andrew80 » February 16th, 2016, 11:05 am

My first X-Files episode in the US…I watched it, then I started reading reviews (I don’t begin with my new job until March 1st and my wife took care of the house so…plenty of free time) and I found out most of the reviewers hated the episode, calling it boring or mindless or…whatever. Well, they all don’t have a fuckin’ clue, as this is a BRILLIANT episode, and I have to apologize to Chris Carter for losing my faith in him after “My Struggle”. I honestly didn’t believe he could pull something as intelligent, heart-rending and simply positive as this episode out of the hat, but he did. Congrats Chris, you still are a force to be reckoned with.

Why’s this episode so brilliant? Because it does exactly what good art does-tells us a lot of complicated things in a simple way. The plot, of course is probably the simplest one ever to feature in an X-Files episode: there was a bombing; one bomber survived; he has to tell the FBI where the rest of the terrorists are so that the good guys can prevent another attack. Of course, there has to be a paranormal twist, so the bomber is actually comatose and they have to find some (supernatural or not) way to communicate. That’s pretty much everything about the plot.

But that’s not what the episode is about. Firstly, Miller and Einstein are refreshingly good. Mind you, NOT as leads in a spin-off. It’s definitely not about that. It’s about something else-did anyone notice how similar they are to how we can perceive Mulder’s and Scully’s children? Einstein the redhead skeptic, but armed with Mulder’s cynicism and deadpan humor (hhhmmmm let me think…eeeeeeverything) and Miller the believer with Scully’s calm, collected demeanor. That’s exactly the reason why both Mulder and Scully instantly like them, even though them, like all children, are rebellious and don’t give their “parents” the respect they deserve. For a one-off appearance, it was a brilliant touch.

Secondly, the episode looks like it’s engulfed in total chaos, but that’s not due to writing mistakes and “over-ambitiousness” as the reviewers think. That’s totally intentional. That’s the metaphor for the world and for the life in general and a big, powerful call to embrace that chaos and that life, to embrace its chaotic, confusing but nevertheless breathtaking, enchanting beauty. We all, indeed, live in Babylon. Not the Biblical Babylon of deceit, immorality and debauchery but Babylon as it really was-the oldest big city on Earth, place of entanglements of races, cultures, ethnicities, religions…Place where good and evil, cruelty and compassion, beauty and ugliness, right and wrong …join together to create this beautiful thing we call “life” and “the real world”. That’s the beauty of X-Files-it doesn’t just explore “extreme possibilities”, it makes them look real. They do not constitute “parallel reality” but they enrich this one. And that’s not the thing to be feared, but to be embraced. That message of positivism, of unbridled, almost childish optimism and awe of all things, be it a terrorist attack or a melting pot of races or sharing a walk with (wo)man we love or simply the Earth itself, is what makes this episode great.

Then the excess is intentional too, as it illustrates the perceptions. Young Muslim extremists perceive everyone else to be shallow, condescending and brainwashed by “consumerism”, young rural Texans perceive every Muslim as “brownie”, Einstein perceives Mulder as wacko while Mulder, confronted by her slashing cynicism, perceives her as a dominatrix and so on…This is also an excellent touch, since it shows how people cope with “Babylon” (aka the chaos) that’s around them. Religion is also one way to find order in chaos-that’s why Scully is susceptible to it, even though she’s scientist, while Mulder isn’t, even-though he’s open to “extreme possibilities”. But Scully has learned to be open too, long ago, while Mulder’s learned, from her, that paranormal is a part of real, not something separate. He learned that, while the truth is "out there", it has to be brought "here" to make it work. But it’s Scully the Skeptic in the end who is offered to “take a walk” and accepted it-another proof that CC can be subtle when he wants to. Literally the whole episode is filled with such strong points-that’s why it’s so good.

Mulder and Scully are also brilliant here. Exactly this is what they are and their last, closing dialogue defines their relationship-two intelligent, educated, fiercely loyal people deeply loving (in whichever way you like them to: shippers will have them go back to the house after the closing sequence and have a roll in the hay in Mulder’s barn together, noromos will have them maintain respectable distance and go to their separate houses but honestly, who cares at this point) each other, discussing and solving the “beautiful mysteries” in front of them. And even the whole world is sometimes against them, they don’t lose their sense of wonder (be it as a “believer” or as a “scientist”) or their hope that somehow at the end it will all be all right. The closing banter is also the place where they discuss issues pertaining to their son and for the first time without cheesiness that ruined such discussions in earlier episodes. He’s never mentioned, but finally they’re on the same wavelength about him. That’s how William should have been handled from the start-implicitly and subtle, not forced down our throats. And that’s how Mulder and Scully should banter, not that dreary, depressing, forced tone we heard in “My Struggle”.

Of course, the episode has its flaws: Lone-Gunmen return felt well…obligatory, agents forewent all “conventional” detective work about the terrorist cell and jumped into communicating with comatose bomber immediately (not your usual way of conducting an investigation, paranormal or else), Skinner was underused (again), Achy Breaky Heart was a really, really unfortunate song-choice…but all this pales with comparison with the positives. The imperfectness of it makes it even more beautiful, because it makes it human. Flaws, after all, are part of us-we’re not machines to make everything perfect. Near-perfect is always more beautiful, as it is more real.

The closing M-S talk and scene are definitely the best part, closely followed by the terrorist attack itself, as it was extremely well filmed. The worst moment-well, Skinner scene (in this exceptional episode, we expected more of him than just giving Mulder his usual dressing-down :) ) but it’s not a big deal. If somebody had told me Chris can outperform Darin Morgan in a MotW episode I’d have laughed at him, but he did. Or at least he reached equal heights, so the grade is obviously 5 out of 5. Someone may claim there’s no monster here, but there is-all these “coping mechanisms” we generate to deal with the world-they’re the monster, the monster that devours our minds, hearts and souls and leads us all up the garden path. This is, again, the most powerful message of the episode: the world and people we care about should be embraced as they are. We shouldn’t try to artificially make them better, as they (both world and people) can never, ever be more beautiful than they already are. No intervention is necessary-just take that walk like Mulder and Scully did.

Of course, I still don’t have huge expectations from “My Struggle 2”, because I believe mytharc is soo beyond repair nothing can save it and I hated “My Struggle”, but after watching 5 episodes I can freely say this revival not only exceeded expectations, it was a thing of beauty. And to the critics I say the following: “Babylon the Great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit and a cage for every unclean and hated bird”. :) Don’t dwell in that place; put your refined cynicism aside this time, since it’s been destroyed this time, just like Babylon in the Bible. Sit down and enjoy the ride.
Last edited by Andrew80 on February 17th, 2016, 2:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
Andrew80
Rob Roberts, Food Service
 
Posts: 179
Joined: June 26th, 2015, 1:38 pm

Re: Babylon: Favorite/Least Favorite Moments

Postby TruthIsOutThere » February 16th, 2016, 6:21 pm

Wow, what a great review, Andrew!

I very much agree with you! About the only thing I'd quibble with is that I didn't think both younger agents didn't respect their "parents" (Miller seemed extremely respectful, only Einstein was not IMV).

I've only read one review so far, and it was on Blastr (SyFy's website); for the most part they were positive as well. I could totally see how critics could get so much wrong, though (and I fully expect many fans will as well, being as CC is the AntiChrist and all) ;)

Andrew, do you mind if I quote your review elsewhere? I just think it's brilliantly written, so it would be a shame that it doesn't get seen more.
Image
User avatar
TruthIsOutThere
Melissa Scully, Mystic
 
Posts: 2576
Joined: December 7th, 2011, 11:45 pm
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Babylon: Favorite/Least Favorite Moments

Postby Andrew80 » February 16th, 2016, 6:29 pm

TruthIsOutThere wrote:Wow, what a great review, Andrew!

I very much agree with you! About the only thing I'd quibble with is that I didn't think both younger agents didn't respect their "parents" (Miller seemed extremely respectful, only Einstein was not IMV).

I've only read one review so far, and it was on Blastr (SyFy's website); for the most part they were positive as well. I could totally see how critics could get so much wrong, though (and I fully expect many fans will as well, being as CC is the AntiChrist and all) ;)

Andrew, do you mind if I quote your review elsewhere? I just think it's brilliantly written, so it would be a shame that it doesn't get seen more.


Wow, thank you very much! Of course I don't mind, just go ahead :)

Miller seemed totally respectful to Mulder, granted, but with Scully he was a bit of a condescending show-off, with his Arabic and "I was in Iraq with the Bureau" swagger. My impression, of course.

I think AV Club gave a pretty positive review too...apart from that it was all either lukewarm or negative as far as I have seen. Of course, I didn't read all of them. :)
Andrew80
Rob Roberts, Food Service
 
Posts: 179
Joined: June 26th, 2015, 1:38 pm

Re: Babylon: Favorite/Least Favorite Moments

Postby orodromeus » February 19th, 2016, 9:19 am

I agree, these are some heartfelt comments Andrew! I think you liked the episode more than I do, but my feelings were definitely positive.

My own review is here: http://www.eatthecorn.com/2016/02/17/10x5-babylon/

There are so many things that are easy to miss: the doubles everywhere, the Mother Love references, the Theosophy comparison of Mulder & Sculy's journey... On the depth of the references alone this is good X-Files!
Image
EatTheCorn.com: XF mythology - analysis - 1013 interviews - S10 news
User avatar
orodromeus
Duane Barry, Chauffeur
 
Posts: 229
Joined: June 21st, 2010, 10:38 am

Re: Babylon: Favorite/Least Favorite Moments

Postby lostinlove » February 19th, 2016, 12:02 pm

Haven't seen this one over here yet but boy, I wish I could write like you Andrew, really enjoyed reading that!
I owe you everything, you owe me nothing
User avatar
lostinlove
Alfred Fellig, Official Photographer
 
Posts: 466
Joined: June 27th, 2011, 12:36 pm

Re: Babylon: Favorite/Least Favorite Moments

Postby TruthIsOutThere » February 20th, 2016, 1:04 am

I posted it on the other forum (I would link to it here, but it's a closed forum), and though one of the main posters there (a moderator) totally disagrees with a number of points, they at least acknowledged that it was "an enjoyable read". I think most would agree that it is well-written and thought-provoking, even if they disagree with the conclusions.
Image
User avatar
TruthIsOutThere
Melissa Scully, Mystic
 
Posts: 2576
Joined: December 7th, 2011, 11:45 pm
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Babylon: Favorite/Least Favorite Moments

Postby Andrew80 » February 20th, 2016, 3:33 am

Great review, Orodromeus! I already thought about some of the things you mentioned but didn't have patience to include everything in my post as you did, and some of them I missed completely.

@TruthIsOutThere, you know I never ever had a problem with people disagreeing with me. For me it is even desirable, I don't like uniformity. Therefore, thanks for sharing my post elsewhere :)

I think we can all agree with one thing though: this episode provoked us to think and told us much with little starting material. On that count alone it's is a good piece of art, as well as the proof that even in a TV-show (which is the most commercial and consumer-oriented setting you'll ever find) you can create art. X-Files proved that many times and this was the last case in point.
Andrew80
Rob Roberts, Food Service
 
Posts: 179
Joined: June 26th, 2015, 1:38 pm

Re: Babylon: Favorite/Least Favorite Moments

Postby lostinlove » March 9th, 2016, 8:37 am

With greatest respect to CC and those who enjoyed it, I'm afraid the episode didn't work for me. I loved the line dancing and the end scene between M/S, but felt uncomfortable watching comedy in the middle of an episode about terrorists, sorry if I've missed the point!
I owe you everything, you owe me nothing
User avatar
lostinlove
Alfred Fellig, Official Photographer
 
Posts: 466
Joined: June 27th, 2011, 12:36 pm

Re: Babylon: Favorite/Least Favorite Moments

Postby lostinlove » March 9th, 2016, 8:50 am

Can't find the rating thingy for this, so I'll rate it here, 5.
I owe you everything, you owe me nothing
User avatar
lostinlove
Alfred Fellig, Official Photographer
 
Posts: 466
Joined: June 27th, 2011, 12:36 pm

Re: Babylon: Favorite/Least Favorite Moments

Postby Agent Spooky » April 5th, 2016, 12:29 pm

I didn't mind the interactions between M & S and Miller and Einstein. But that was about it in regards to what I liked about the episode.

The ending felt fake to me some how. :jikes The song took it over and it made me cringe. Sorry. I didn't mind the porch scene itself, but the rest just felt rather saccharine. First time that it ever felt that way between M & S. Rather forced. I was really disappointed by it :(.
Credit goes out to RLFicons for this avatar.

We want the X-Files in 2012
User avatar
Agent Spooky
Alfred Fellig, Official Photographer
 
Posts: 428
Joined: September 28th, 2010, 5:30 pm

Re: Babylon: Favorite/Least Favorite Moments

Postby FunkyFiles » May 18th, 2017, 9:02 pm

Great review Andrew. Love it!
I really liked this episode same as you.
In fact I thought a lot about the beauty of chaos and entropy when I first saw it.
Cheers
FunkyFiles
Luis Cardinale, Exterminator
 
Posts: 28
Joined: November 9th, 2015, 11:25 pm


Return to X-Files General Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Majestic-12 [Bot] and 8 guests

cron