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11x06 - Kitten

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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 4:24

‘The X-Files’ Review: ‘Kitten’ Plays With ‘Full Metal Jacket’ Tropes But Fails to Shock or Scare

Haley Joel Osment guest stars in Season 11 Episode 6, which puts the focus on Skinner.

Liz Shannon Miller
Feb 7, 2018 9:00 pm
@lizlet


Shane Harvey/FOX

[Editor’s Note: The following review contains spoilers for “The X-Files,” Season 11, Episode 6, “Kitten.”]

Previously, on “The X-Files”…


When FBI agents Mulder and Scully investigate weird crimes for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, they report to their boss Assistant Director Walter Skinner — who’s been yelling at them since 1994. Sometimes they trust Skinner, sometimes they don’t — right now, in 2018, they’re feeling pretty skittish towards him because he’s been acting weird. (In fairness, that might be because Cigarette-Smoking Man unloaded the father of all secrets on Skinner during the season premiere.) And really, in the long run, they just don’t know all that much about the guy.

This Week’s Dossier


We start in Vietnam 1969, a scene that does what Steven Spielberg couldn’t and resists the temptation to sample Creedence Clearwater Revival. There, a young Skinner and his terrified war buddy Kitten (Haley Joel Osment) are tasked with taking care of a mysterious crate. But when gunfire punctures the crate, Kitten gets a heavy dose of noxious green gas, and he starts to think that he sees monsters.

Back in the present, Skinner’s gone AWOL with no explanation, and Mulder and Scully are asked by their old boss Kersh to track him down. Breaking into his apartment leads them to discover that Skinner had been sent a severed human ear from a small Kentucky town called Mud Lake. When they arrive, Mulder and Scully find a whole lot of former Vietnam vets. Also, people are getting killed in the woods by Vietnam-style traps, which leads them to believe a former vet is behind the attacks — which might mean Skinner, who’s caught on camera by a deer cam.

Of course, that’s not the case: The ultimate culprit is Kitten’s son Davey (also played by Osment), who confronts Skinner over his testimony during Kitten’s court martial. Davey blames Skinner for ruining Kitten’s life, reveals that Kitten has committed suicide in the woods, and then shoves Skinner into a hole with Kitten’s corpse.

Fortunately, Mulder and Scully swing by Davey’s place, and Mulder quickly figures out that something weird is going on (beyond Davey’s rantings about the government continuing to experiment on people with the same crazy-making gas from the Vietnam flashback). He and Scully manage to rescue Skinner, and Davey is killed by one of his own traps in the process. In the end the three of them seem to be back on the same page…though Skinner may also be suffering from the effects of the gas, if that lost tooth at the end of the episode is any indication.



Wait, Explain It to Me Like I’m Five


It sucked to go to Vietnam. The government is definitely experimenting on people with crazy-making gas. And Skinner says he’s loyal to Mulder and Scully (though how true that is remains to be seen).

Makeout Watch


We got a little casual flirting in Skinner’s apartment (though, Scully, please don’t feel the need to elaborate on what exactly you mean by “Mulder’s juices”), which was nice, but otherwise there were no indications of residency in Pound Town. One more week of this, and we’re going to start thinking we were hallucinating during “Plus One.”

Some Deep and Relevant Thoughts About Hair


Mitch Pileggi has been rocking this beard for some time, but given this episode’s focus on him, we had the chance to spend some real time thinking about it — and you know what? It’s a look that’s working for him. Pileggi has always been a founding member of the Attractive Bald Men on Sci-Fi Shows Club (other members including Patrick Stewart, Lance Reddick and Terry O’Quinn, of course) but the beard is taking it to the next level.

Nostalgia Alert!


Up until now, Seasons 10 and 11 have been so focused on Mulder and Scully and their crime investigating that we almost forgot how much of a big part the show’s supporting characters used to play. Thus, it’s nice to see Pileggi get a chance in the spotlight — even if the episode ends without much clarification of what his deal is.

Ultra-Nerd Facts


“The X-Files,” like many shows with a dense mythology and hundreds of hours of storytelling behind it, has its share of issues with maintaining continuity. But “Kitten” doesn’t contradict Skinner’s previously established backstory; rather, it actually complements it. A flashback takes us to the day Skinner shot a 10-year-old Vietnamese boy in the head and subsequently lost his faith, an event that was previously described by Skinner during the second season episode “One Breath.”



“I’m not going to ask you if you just said what I think you just said, because I know it’s what you just said.” (Most Awkward Quote)

The entire confrontation between Kersh and Mulder and Scully was an exercise in frustrating dialogue-writing, as it felt like neither side of the conversation was listening to each other. Direct questions like “Has anyone checked Skinner’s apartment?” went completely unanswered in lieu of Kersh ranting about Skinner’s relationship with his pet agents — honestly, were those three actors even in the same room together?

“Dear Diary: Today my heart lept when Agent Scully suggested ‘spontaneous human combustion.'” (Best Quote)

“Then you two came along, and you taught me not to hide from it, but to have the guts to shine a light directly into the darkest corners. And if given the choice between advancing my career by being blindly loyal to some faceless puppeteers pulling strings from the shadows, or to throw in with you two, make no mistake I’d make the same decision every damn time.”
— Skinner

This was actually a really sweet and touching moment, the kind that felt truly earned thanks to 20-plus years of backstory. Unfortunately, whether he’s truly recommitted to his friends or just paying lip service to the idea isn’t at all clear. The fact that he’s still keeping some massive secrets from them doesn’t speak well to his intentions.

Final Report


Congratulations are in order for Carol Banker, who this week became the third woman to direct an episode of “The X-Files.” For the record, that’s three episodes, total, directed by women — out of 214 produced hours of television. Not a great ratio. Also, it’s too bad she didn’t get a better script.

The best thing to be said about “Kitten” on a storytelling level is that it’s nice to see Chris Carter and his staff approach Season 11 as a more interconnected affair than Season 10; for the second week in a row, an episode that might have seemed like a stand-alone ended up being instrumental to the season’s ongoing narrative.

Osment was pretty chilling during his second Vietnam flashback, delivering almost Vincent D’Onofrio levels of giggly insanity, but in the present day, his role as Davey didn’t push enough into the realm of creepiness, simply because there wasn’t material to warrant it. In general, there simply wasn’t enough plot in “Kitten” to sustain much in the way of interest (which is probably why nearly every scene felt twice as long as necessary) and as a result, it feels like there was a lot of opportunity here that was ultimately wasted. And given how we’re only getting closer and closer to what could be the series finale (at least for a while), it’s a major disappointment.

Grade: C



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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 4:29

The X-Files Season 11 Episode 6 Review: Kitten

The X-Files focuses on Walter Skinner's past in an episode that does great work for both his character and the show.



Daniel Kurland
Feb 7, 2018

This X-Files review contains spoilers.

“Have you ever wondered why, after thirty-five years in the Bureau, Walter Skinner isn’t sitting on this side of the desk?”

During the height of The X-Files’ popularity, a number of spin-off ideas were put into consideration. When the series began to wind down, a new vehicle that focused on fan favorite characters the Lone Gunmen went into—and then quickly out of—production. The Lone Gunmen have a bunch of quirky appeal, but there’s a fundamental character from The X-Files that has been in the picture for as long as Mulder and Scully have, yet he continually gets skirted over. Assistant Director Walter Skinner may not carry the same appeal as Mulder and Scully, but he’s a necessary component of the FBI that makes their jobs possible.

Over the course of The X-Files’ eleven seasons and upwards of two hundred episodes, there has somehow only been one installment that’s focused on Skinner. That’s insanity. Season three’s “Avatar” shines a light on Skinner’s romantic life and tells a story about his failing marriage and his horrible attempt at a one-night stand, but it’s a fairly forgettable episode. The fact that “Avatar” isn’t the strongest X-Files entry means that nobody has really rushed out to deliver another Skinner-centric episode. It’s truly a shame because Skinner is a deeply interesting character who’s witnessed even more than Mulder and Scully.

While it’s too bad that the series has never dug into Skinner’s early years with the Bureau or his X-Files days pre-Mulder and Scully, season eleven’s “Kitten” finally begins to right these wrongs and explore the character’s past. “Kitten” might not have a high bar to pass when it comes to Skinner episodes, but it does the character justice and it’s long overdue.

Skinner’s behavior has been questionable this season, as he’s almost turned into an antagonist of sorts. He has some kind of alliance with the Cigarette Smoking Man, plus this year Mulder seems all too ready to throw him under the bus whenever possible. Skinner’s atypical actions come to an apex in this installment, with the supernatural business of the week dating all the way back to Skinner’s time in Vietnam.

There are some welcome flashbacks to Skinner’s tenure in the army when he first comes in contact with X-Files-like behavior, but unfortunately the majority of the episode is spent in the present. An X-Files episode that’s set entirely in 1969 and done as a “man on a mission” war movie with a young Skinner would be absolutely wonderful, but it’s not meant to be (although this is no doubt how Vince Gilligan would have done the episode). That being said, “Kitten” does deliver a satisfying installment that explores PTSD to strong effect.

All of a sudden Skinner winds up AWOL and Deputy Director Alvin Kersh (who hasn’t been seen since season nine’s “The Truth, II”) naturally assumes that Mulder and Scully either have something to do with it or that they know where he is. Kersh is all sorts of awful here and he not only dresses down Mulder and Scully, but he tells them that the reason that Skinner has never gotten anywhere in the Bureau is because he continues to help them out. Furthermore, Kersh tells them that if Skinner doesn’t show up to work, then he’s officially done at the FBI and that it’s Mulder and Scully’s responsibility to bring him in. Kersh’s asinine comments sting, but they at least make Mulder and Scully aware of Skinner’s disappearance.

The fear within “Kitten” is largely of a psychological nature, but there’s also an efficiently eerie creature at the center of it all. While Skinner’s company was in Vietnam, the government exposed them to a weaponized fear gas (they’re fans of Batman’s Scarecrow, no doubt) that makes people see this cattle skull beast. It’s a freaky visual, especially when it runs right at you, and “Kitten” succeeds on that front. Skinner is seen wherever this cattle skull creature shows up, and even though many people begin to vilify Skinner, Mulder and Scully continue to believe the contrary. If anything, the two of them are worried about Skinner’s state of mind. They’re concerned that he’s suffering from some PTSD-based trauma and the episode’s focus is more on exploring the psychological consequences of war than it is about hunting a monster.

As Mulder and Scully dig deeper into the government’s dealings in Vietnam, it starts to look like someone has an ax to grind with Skinner on the matter. Haley Joel Osment’s character, Davey, reveals that he still holds a grudge against Skinner because, when his fellow men were put on trial for their fear gas-influenced crimes, Skinner didn’t stand by them or help clear their names. Davey has good reason to be angry with Skinner, but Skinner defends his actions and comes up with satisfying reasons for why he did what he did. “Kitten” actually does a commendable job to clear Skinner’s moral ambiguity and return him to the “tough love boy scout” demeanor that defines his character.

The most interesting scenes from the episode all take place within Davey’s trailer, and they largely build off of the uncomfortable energy that Osment gives off. He does a really good job in this role and is careful to not overdo it, but also comfortably plays into the character’s more uneasy qualities. On top of that, Davey’s trailer is a cramped little space and the claustrophobia definitely sets in, especially when it feels like Davey could go off at any second.

Another strong moment features a rock and roll record that loudly scores a tense escape attempt from Mulder. All of the moments where Davey runs his mouth about the government really work well, but it’s a little discouraging that they boil down to mind control conspiracy theories, which are pretty overdone at this point.

The reason that “Kitten” works is because it explores the first time that Skinner becomes disillusioned with the government and learns that they can do wrong. This is an idea that plays parallel to what goes on in the present timeline with Davey, and it’s obviously something that Mulder and Scully push throughout every episode of the series. This makes sense as a device to help bring Skinner back to Mulder and Scully’s good graces, and it will hopefully reframe his character for the back half of the season.

“Kitten” does a lot of things right and it manages to be one of the better X-Files episodes from this season, but there are still plenty of rough patches in this installment. All of the material in Mud Lick falls pretty flat and Mulder and Scully’s interactions with their police department leave plenty to be desired. It’s also hard not to cringe at Trigger Davis, the “magical homeless man,” who warns the FBI about “Kitten” right from the jump. His appearance is completely unnecessary and really just muddles what’s going on. “Kitten” might not be the perfect Walter Skinner episode, but it marks a strong start and at least makes the case for why the character deserves more chances to star.

Hopefully, he’ll still have most of his teeth left when he next gets the opportunity.

3.5/5


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 4:36



Exclusive: The X-Files' Mitch Pileggi and writer Gabe Rotter spill the secrets of Skinner's past in 'Kitten'

Tara Bennett
@TaraDBennett
Feb 7, 2018

Over the span of The X-Files' 24-years of existence, actor Mitch Pileggi has embodied the role of Agent Mulder and Agent Scully's gruff, emotionally reserved boss, FBI Assistant Director Walter Sergei Skinner. Aside from the knowledge that he was in Vietnam and almost died, that he was married once, and that his relationship with his X-Files agents can at best be described as "complicated," Skinner remains largely a mystery. Even Pileggi was admittedly mock grousing in Season 10 that it would be nice to know more about his character.

Luckily, Chris Carter's assistant and X-Files writer's assistant, Gabe Rotter was listening, and agreed. Based on that informal challenge, Rotter actually pitched a Skinner episode to Carter where we get an expansion of context in regards to his tour in Vietnam. "Kitten" is essentially a love letter to the character and the fantastic Pileggi, that, once and for all, provides an answer as to why Skinner has stuck by FBI pariahs Mulder and Scully for so long.

We were thrilled to join the #WeLoveSkinner dog pile this week, talking to both Pileggi and Rotter about how "Kitten" came about, what it says about the character, and just where the hell Sharon Skinner is?

Mitch, knowing you helped spur this episode into being, when were you actually told it was coming in earnest?

Mitch Pileggi: I can't remember exactly when it was that I found out. I think it was at some point at the beginning of the season. But I was very excited about it. Gabe Rotter, who wrote it, I talked to him about it.

Did he consult with you pre-writing, or did you just get to see the finished script?

MP: He had mentioned that Skinner's past experience in Vietnam would be touched on, but no, he didn't really consult me at all. He just wrote what he wrote. Then when I read it, I said, "This is perfect." I was very happy with what he brought to me.

Before we get into Skinner specifics, I have to ask, did you get a chance to see Jim Pickens, who was such a welcome surprise to see in this episode, as he's played Skinner's hard ass boss, Deputy Director Alvin Kersh on and off since 1998?

MP: I did! His chair was next to mine, and we got to chat quite a bit. I got to work with Jim on Grey's Anatomy, where I played his boss, which was kind of ironic. Jim Pickens is one of the finest people that I've ever met in this business. I told him time and time again that if anybody deserves the good fortune, nobody deserves it more than him. It was great to be able to get to see him, and for him to be back, yeah.

Bringing it back to Skinner, what revelation most impacted you personally when you read this script?

MP: The fact that he's got Metamucil as one of the few things that he has in his spartan apartment. (Laughs)

I loved that!

MP: I thought that was so funny because I've always described Skinner as being perpetually constipated. When I read it, I thought, "Oh my god." But I was actually really happy with the conversation that Skinner had with Mulder and Scully, and telling them his truth and who he was, and just trying to reinforce in their minds that he was the man that they think he is. Whether they buy it or not is another thing.

It felt very sincere as this was really the first time we've learned what really motivates Skinner in his own words.

MP: Yeah, I thought it was important for that character to express a lot of the feelings that he expressed, so people can understand him. He's always been described as humorless and perpetually constipated, so this really explains a lot of why he is the way he is, and what has carried him through life. The fact that he spent years searching for John James speaks a lot about him. Then to find out what happened to him and his heartbreak, seeing not only what happened to him in Vietnam, but what happened to him at the end of his life. I think it just turns him.

Do you think Skinner, who lost faith post-Vietnam, sees himself in Davey (Haley Joel Osment)?

MP: Yeah, just driving to the location where they live and it's obviously off the grid, and seeing the environment that he had placed himself in. Then when he sees Davey, he thinks it's John. And when he realizes it's not him, he's like, "Oh my god." Yeah, there was a lot of stuff going on in my mind throughout that scene. I have relations that are off the grid that were Vietnam vets, so I have some experience with that. I tried to use that as much as I could allow myself to be in that moment.



Something that has been really interesting about this season is that it has explored the cost of this job on Mulder and Scully's lives, and now on Skinner's life in this episode. There's a sadness to that, but did you frame it that way?

MP: They are at odds within the organization out there that they're working for, constantly. They're almost constantly in jeopardy from their own people that they work for and work with. I think that you find that out in this episode, that it has had an impact on Skinner's career, certainly, and his relationship with the two of them. I've always claimed that that wasn't the situation. People would always say, "Well, why isn't Skinner assistant director?" I said, "Well, because I've been hanging out with Mulder." That relationship's done him no good, but he doesn't care because of his moral compass. He is the man that he is.

I want to ask, did you and Chris, or even Gabe in this process, ever discuss Sharon Skinner again? "Avatar" had a very ambiguous ending. You put on the wedding ring, and some people think that she's dead or some people thought that that was maybe a moment where you guys reconciled. Did it come up at any point?

MP: I haven't the faintest idea. (Laughs) Nobody's ever said anything. That episode happened, then it was like, "Nah, that didn't happen." In the Season 10 episodes, I forgot to take my wedding ring off, so I just wore it throughout the whole six episodes. Then I started wearing it this season. Chris noticed and goes, "We had to CGI your wedding ring off your finger." I said, "Dude, I've been wearing it for last season and I've been wearing it all this season!" I said, "I figured I married my secretary." Or, he's got wives all over the place. Who knows? I don't know. She's obviously not living with him in that apartment. (Laughs)

There's a world-weariness and a fatigue that you feel in this season that Chris and the other writers have head-on addressed. What has it been like for you, who has been on this whole ride, and to see history sort of supersede what the show has explored?

MP: Originally people were going, "Oh man, that stuff's so far out there." Then to present day, where the publicist and I were just talking, and after he saw the episode, he read an article about people talking about the airplane jet chemtrails in the sky, what's in them and how it could possibly be affecting us. That was the gist of the end of the episode, you know? So how pertinent is that? How relevant is the show to what's going on in the world? It's right there. It really is.

The very last shot where Skinner pulls his tooth out is absolutely flooring for us as fans. But for you as an actor, I'm sure you were like, "All right guys, what does this mean?"

MP: Well, he's not eating his steak toothless, so he's not gumming his steak at the end of the show. That is that moment, whatever happens after that, it doesn't affect him any more than it does at that moment. So I'm sure he went to the dentist, got an implant, and is just fine. (Laughs)

What was your favorite moment in this episode?

MP: It was being able to tell a story, and talk about his connection to Vietnam and to this man, John James, and what was done to him by our government, and the fact that he said, "I don't care what happens, I'm gonna find out what they did to him, whether it costs me my life or what." It really shows that he's driven to find answers to this huge question in his life. It drives him forward, past all the other storylines that we have in The X-Files.



Gabe, you've had a long history with the show. You were on The Lone Gunmen as a producer's assistant, and then you were a writer's assistant on The X-Files, and Chris Carter's assistant. What were some of the big takeaways for you?

Gabe Rotter: I learned how to tell an X-File from watching Chris. I learned how to run a show from watching Chris, and I was just lucky to be by his side for so many episodes, and I definitely consider him my mentor.
How did it happen that you got your own episode?

GR: I was actually a writer last season. I didn't get an episode last season, but I was on the writing staff and we talked for a minute about potentially doing a seventh episode, and so Chris had me write it with Brad Follmer, another guy who's worked with us for a long time. The guys liked it, and it seemed like it was literally about to happen and then scheduling stuff got in the way. We ended up not being able to do it. So I came up with the idea for this episode sitting on set with Mitch last season.

Was it because of your love of Mitch, or Skinner?

GR: Both. I thought it would be really fun to do an episode with Mitch just cause I adore him so much. Plus, here's this character who I think is one of the most beloved TV characters of all time, but we know precious little about him even after all this time. I thought this character deserves a little bit of a deep dive because I just know how much fans love him, and I know how much I love him, so I pitched the idea to Chris and he said it was a great idea and told me to run with it.

Was there a scene that you built the episode around?

GR: For me the crux of the episode is: Here's this very comfortable guy who obeys his acute moral compass, who for some reason has never risen above the rank of assistant director in the FBI, even though he should be running the place by now. I thought: Wouldn't it be interesting if we literally said that the reason he's not running the place is because of his loyalty to Mulder and Scully? More importantly, I always imagined ending the episode with Skinner telling them, "Look, yes I realize it's probably true that the reason my career hasn't advanced is because of you guys, but I would make that decision 100% of the time, every time." So, I thought that was a really lovely idea and also a good way to really make sure the episode was about Mulder and Scully, as much as about Skinner.

I wanted to ask about getting Jim Pickens as Kersh. Was that cameo return ever in jeopardy of not happening?

GR: It was in jeopardy, for sure. I wrote it always imagining we would be able to get him. But he's a busy guy! It's hard to find the time in his schedule from Grey's Anatomy but he was such a trooper. He flew to Vancouver after working on Grey's Anatomy earlier that day and we shot his scenes at night. He was so wiped out, but he fought through it and delivered it. We were really lucky that he's willing to do that for us.

Former X-Files script supervisor and now director, Carol Banker, helmed this episode for you. What was it like collaborating with her on the episode?

GR: I knew her before, obviously, but we have just become the best of friends throughout this process. I think she's a brilliant director. We were lucky because Chris trusted us to take this and run with it, and make it our baby. He wasn't really there when we did this episode, he was doing another episode, so we really took it seriously. Carol was so overly prepared. She's just such a pro. We did stuff like a tone meeting where we sat down and went through every single word in the script. I mean every single word. She wanted to know what I was thinking about the tone of every conversation, the tone of every look between characters, what are they thinking in this moment, what should the audience be thinking about at this moment? It was really fun for me as writer to just be so collaborative, and she's also the kind of director who wants the writer standing next to her the whole time she's shooting. So that's what we did and it was just tremendously rewarding for me.



Was Haley Joel Osment a guest star with a The X-Files obsession like others who have appeared in episodes?

GR: Haley's performance, I just thought he nailed it. But no, Haley's a young guy, so I think he was just a kid when the show was on originally. He told me he totally remembered watching and being scared shitless as a little kid. (Laughs) Haley is such a cool dude. I just love that guy. He's so thoughtful and smart and funny and prepared. He had good ideas, and he did a lot with the work. I'll tell you something else about casting him, which I give credit to him, is that when you're casting a guy at his level, they don't audition. They're offer only. I thought he would be so creepy in the role, but Chris and Carol both thought, "I'm not sure he's quite right." To Haley's credit, he put himself on tape, which nobody even asked him to do. He just did it and it won him the job. As soon as Chris and Carol both saw it they said, "You're right he is awesome." He just nailed it.

What's next for you as a TV writer?

GR: My dream is to have my own show and so I'm out pitching my own work now. You know my favorite episodes will always be Vince Gilligan episodes, so that kind of tells you everything you need to know about my sensibility. (Laughs)


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 4:42



The X-Files' Skinner-centric episode examines the horrors of war

Alyse Wax
@alysewax
Feb 7, 2018

Spoiler Alert: This recap gives explicit spoilers about The X-Files episode 11.6, "Kitten." If you haven't seen it yet, you may want to check out some of the other recaps first. Then watch the episode. Then come back and read this.

Tonight's episode was solid. Not the best of this season, but certainly not the worst. My biggest complaint was that the "monster" storyline felt jammed in. The story would have worked just as well without Davy dressing as a monster. I guess he was doing it to help prove his father right? But it just felt messy, and made me wonder how long John had really been dead. Was it actually John who sent the letter to Skinner, or did Davy pick up his crazy mantle?

Let's start when Director Kersh calls Mulder and Scully into his office, and he is fuming. Skinner is AWOL, and Kersh thinks the agents have something to do with it. He proceeds to tell them -- apropos of virtually nothing -- that the reason Skinner has not been promoted past his current position is because of his "blind loyalty" to Mulder and Scully. He suggests the agents find Skinner while he still has a future to return to.

Scully is concerned that what Kersh said is true, and this worry follows her and Mulder throughout the episode. Mulder picks the lock to Skinner's apartment and the two are in, looking for signs of their boss amid a barren apartment. Scully finds a package addressed to Skinner's Marine title. Inside, wrapped in a piece of newspaper from a local paper in Mud Lick, Kentucky, is a desiccated human. Maybe it is surprise, but Mulder seems particularly grossed out by this, which is weird because it is possibly the least disgusting thing he has ever seen. Scully finds a note: "The monsters are here." Shipper alert: Scully asks Mulder if that gets his juices flowing. "As much as I appreciate any reference to my juices, Scully," his worry is for Skinner.


Shane Harvey/FOX

So the agents head out to Mud Lick. Scully had requested some information about Skinner's time in the military, and it all came back as classified, top secret. Mulder had called ahead, and the morgue is currently home to an earless corpse. Upon arriving at the morgue, a vagrant named Trigger warns, "You ain't gonna find no kitten."

The corpse belongs to the town's only doctor. In addition to missing his ear, he was also short a few teeth. The sheriff and his wife were just talking about how a couple of their teeth had fallen out recently. Maybe this is my "liberal coastal" sensibility, but I would get to the dentist if my teeth were falling out. The doctor was found in a crude hunter's trap, the kind that was used in the Vietnam war. The doctor was not in the military, but the Glazebrook Institute, a government sanitarium just outside town, was home to many Vietnam vets who settled in Mud Lick after their release. The sheriff also mentions that there have been reports of a monster creeping around in the woods.

That afternoon, a man, a veteran who goes by the name Banjo, falls into another trap, a pit lined with wooden spikes. It is later that night when someone peeks in to check their prey. Skinner.

The body is found the next morning, when Banjo's friend (also missing teeth) discovered him. Scully notices "deer cameras" on the trees, motion sensitive cameras that were not Banjo's, even though they were on his property. Checking the video back at the police station, the agents see Skinner standing at the foot of the pit. They are hesitant to reveal to the sheriff that they know him, but they finally do, and when the sheriff goes to put out an APB for Walter Skinner, Mulder checks the rest of the video. He finds the "monster" facing the camera. The two leave the station quickly, and Mulder dismisses the monster outright -- it is clearly a man in a mask. "We find that monster, we find Skinner." Scully suggests Skinner may have a delayed form of PTSD, and Mulder, realizing that Kitten might be a military nickname, checks back in with Trigger. "I told Eagle where to find Kitten's kid," he says. Eagle is Skinner.

Skinner is out in the woods, visiting an old trailer home in the middle of nowhere. No one answers his knock, so he goes in and starts looking around. A family photo on the wall reveals this is John's trailer and Skinner starts looking through an old photo album from Nam.



Throughout this episode, we get a series of flashbacks to Skinner's time in 'Nam. In 1969, a young Walter Skinner and his best friend, John "Kitten" James are part of a group tasked with transferring a super-secret, super-important crate labeled MK Naomi. When their helicopter starts taking fire, they run with the crate and hide out in a village hut populated by scared locals. Skinner runs out to help a fallen soldier, leaving a scared John inside, guarding the crate. The hut comes under fire, the crate is shot, and out spews neon green gas. By the time Skinner gets back into the hut, John has gone crazy and killed all the civilians. Skinner sees John as a monster.

Another flashback that takes place after the gas incident is one X-Philes will recognize from "One Breath," when Skinner relates the tale of killing a child carrying grenades during the war. The whole story is that John, changed from his exposure to the gas, has become a ruthless murderer, collecting ears from every Vietnamese victim he kills. He wears them on a necklace and is quite proud of them. But one boy that he attacked got away after he cut off his ear. That kid, still bleeding from his ear being removed, is the one who comes into their camp, ready to blow them all up. Skinner takes him out with a single shot.

Back in the present, John comes into the trailer -- and he doesn't look a day older than he did in the war. Turns out it's because this is Davy, John's son. He recognizes Skinner, his dad talked about him a lot. Despite his even, friendly tone, Davy's words are anything but friendly. He blames Skinner for everything that happened to him. After the war, Skinner testified against John, which sent him to Glazebrook for 38 years. Skinner defends himself by saying that, after his exposure to the gas, John was a danger to himself and others. He also pulls out the Nazi defense, saying that he was forbidden from speaking about the gas, that he was "just following orders." Skinner thought John was dead until he received a letter from him last week. After the trial, the Marines vanished him. Skinner insists that he wants to make things right and begs Davy take him to his father.

The pair tromp through the woods, until Davy reveals his father, in full uniform, hanging dead from a tree. Skinner rushes to him -- and falls into another pit trap. He is impaled, though not fatally, and Davy drops his father's corpse on top of him before pulling the lid of the trap closed.

Mulder and Scully show up at the trailer and they meet Davy, who says he has never heard the name Skinner before. He puts on some music, presumably to drown out Skinner's screams. He is very forthcoming with answers to all of the agents' questions, except the one asking how his mother died. His father, released last month from Glazebrook, had been a test subject at the institution. Since he had been poisoned by the gas in 'Nam, the military kept testing it on him. The goal was to control human behavior, harness fears to manipulate people into violence. They haven't perfected it, but are getting close. Davy starts to sound a little nutty, and Mulder has found the Vietnam photo album, so he shuts down the conversation and pushes Scully out the door. He hands her the car keys quietly and tells her drive. As they get in the car, we see that Davy had a K-bar hidden behind his back.


Shane Harvey/FOX

Spooked, Scully asks Mulder what is going on. Mulder knows that Davy is lying about knowing Skinner, and judging by the shiny SUV parked out front, he thinks Skinner is back there, somewhere. He tells Scully to go find cell reception and call the sheriff, while he goes back to find Skinner.

Davy is no longer in the trailer, so Mulder goes in and starts poking around. The record ends, and Mulder can hear Skinner's screams. He opens the trap and finds Skinner inside. Mulder tries to free him but Davy shows up in his monster costume, and pushes Mulder into the hole. Then he starts pouring gasoline on them. Suddenly a bullet takes him down. Unable to find cell reception, Scully had come back, just in time to save the guys. She helps Mulder out, but realizes that Davy has escaped. Skinner tells them to go ahead.

Things get a little unclear at this point. Davy is hiding, waiting for Mulder and Scully to snag a tripwire, but somehow, Skinner has made it out of the hole and finds Davy before the uninjured agents do. The two men fight, and Skinner cuts the tripwire, sending a barrage of spikes down on Davy.


Shane Harvey/FOX

Scully patches up Skinner in the trailer as Mulder calls for an ambulance. Scully finally asks if they are responsible for Skinner's lack of upward mobility at the bureau. Skinner explains briefly how he enlisted in the military when he turned 18, full of blind faith in the government. (Basically a retread of what he says in "One Breath.") His experience in Vietnam dented his blind faith in the government, but Mulder and Scully "taught me not to hide, but have the guts to shine a light into the darkest corners." He assures them he would choose them each and every time. He will go back to the bureau, "kiss the ring," but devote his time to doing right by John. And yet, he still throws in with CSM. I hope that in the next episode, he finally "breaks up" with CSM; otherwise this episode will be for nothing.

On the porch, as Skinner heads to the waiting ambulance, he pulls a loose tooth from his mouth. In a kind of "after credit" scene that comes before the credits, we see crates, just like those Skinner and John were transporting in the war, being brought into Mud Lick, and the widespread dissemination of neon green gas into farms and other public places.


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 4:48

The X-Files 11.6 Review – ‘Kitten’

February 7, 2018 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday



8 The 411 Rating

Was anybody else as surprised as I was to see Haley Joel Osment in tonight’s episode? I don’t think I’ve seen him in anything since Tusk or maybe Comedy Bang Bang. As expected, he no longer looks like a kid who sees dead people—or does he? In “Kitten,” he definitely struck me as someone who sees things that weren’t exactly on the level. As always, expect spoilers for S11E6 of X-Files, “Kitten.”

This week’s story begins in Vietnam. We ran out of enlisted soldiers and therefore forced terrified young men into battles they were not emotionally or physically equipped for. If this ep (or the movie Jacob’s Ladder) are to be believed, the government sprayed experimental gasses on our own soldiers, and/or on civilians just to see what would happen. Remember, the first right you sign away when you join the military is the right to sue if the government is totally negligent. We see a secret mission, a mysterious gas, and a frightened young man transform into a brutal killer who delights in carnage. We also see a young Walter Skinner, and that he was a total badass. That figures.



Kersh calls Mulder and Scully to his office, demanding that they reveal where Skinner has gone. When they deny knowledge, Kersh tells them that Skinner never really advanced at the FBI because of his loyalty to them. Sure, that makes sense. But was Kersh telling the actual truth, or does he just like to needle Mulder and (to a lesser extent) Scully because he doesn’t like their failure to capitulate? At any rate, Skinner is missing and Kersh wants him back with all speed. And who knew Skinner’s middle name was Sergei? Note that when the team searches Skinner’s home, it looks like it might be a front. Like maybe he doesn’t actually live there. Doesn’t everyone have at least a few personal mementos in their home? Like…maybe a desiccated human ear? Eeeeew.



The case takes Scully and Mulder to “Mud Lick,” which is a hilarious name for a town. A note at Skinner’s declared that “the monsters are” in Mud Lick. It’s intimated that it’s related to Skinner’s enlisted time—and surprise, surprise, all of his records are sealed. Does anything good ever come from sealed records? It’s at this point in the episode that I felt misled. The sheriff that they speak to is a dead ringer for the fat guy in the Skinner flashback. I was sure he’d end up being the fraidy-cat turned murderer—not that he seems like the bloodthirsty type. He wasn’t though. The sheriff of Mud Lick was on the level, which might have been an intentional mislead because having him be evil would have been super obvious. People in town are dying, concerned about monsters, and have random teeth falling out for non-periodontitis-related reason. Ears are also being cut off, and a local doc died in a makeshift trap that was popular during the Vietnam war. Oh, and there’s a shady mental institution nearby.



Later, we see a hunter with a dog. The dog’s name is Pippet. Because the X-Files can’t get enough of classic references, Pippet is the name of the dog that gets eaten in Jaws. This time though, Pippet lives and his owner is the one who dies badly. Deduction plus a trail-camera reveal that someone set traps in the woods, and that Skinner was also nearby when the doctor was killed. But why though? Mulder and Scully are at odds with the Sheriff, who is sure Skinner is the murderer.

We come to understand that in the flashback, the airborne chemical turned John into a bloodthirsty killer. He murdered random villagers. What’s worse though, is that it fundamentally changed him, a change that remained long after his lungs would have been clear. After exposure, John thirsted for violence. He was court-martialed, and Skinner testified against him. Shockingly, he didn’t mention the gas—at all. There’s no way to leave the gas out of that story and leave John looking like anything but a monster. Of course Skinner wasn’t allowed to tell the truth, and his omission had clearly haunted him for decades.



Anybody else haunted by Skinner’s actions? Yes, in fact. Davy (Haley Joel Osment), John’s son has never gotten over it. Why would he. His dad was kept hostage in a “mental institution” and treated like a lab rat. He hasn’t even enlisted, he was drafted into the military. It’s a tragic story, and it’s easy to see why Davy grew up angry and only got worse after his dad’s suicide. Wait though—do we accept that it was suicide? Is that what drove Davy to murder? Or is Davy also kinda nuts and killed his Dad? We can’t know for sure, and one is easily as likely as the other. I was so focused on the Sheriff being bad that I may have missed a vital clue.

Skinner ends up in a trap of Davy’s making, impaled and of course, without cell service. We then see how conniving and hateful Davy actually is. Kinda makes you worry for those caged ferrets, doesn’t it? You can’t expect someone as bitter as Davy to be moved by Skinner’s “I was just following orders” excuse for selling his dad out—even if Skinner did save Davy’s life from that suicide bomber whose ear he took. Note too that John (nickname Kitten) in the flashbacks is also Haley Joel Osment, which is a nifty stroke of casting genius on their part. Mulder and Scully arrive to ask Davy questions. This is when the episode makes fantastic use of the song “Fear is Man’s Best Friend.”



When we see Skinner on a spike, we had to wonder a little if this would be the episode where he dies. He’s another character that it almost seems unrealistic that he’s still alive and still working for the FBI after all this time. But no, he totally lives. What’s more—he’s determined to make up for his—maybe cowardice is too strong a word. But he lost his moral compass for a time, and Skinner wants to make up for it now. I imagine this won’t be the last we hear of this.

Lest we feel tempted to have pity for Davy, he takes steps to burn Mulder and Skinner alive when they’re helpless in the trap. Yikes! He’s also been putting on a monster costume and murdering people on purpose. Can we presume from this that the damage caused by the chemical is hereditary? Or is it as Davy supposes—that they’re spraying chemicals all over the town? Is that why people are losing teeth? Of course, we can feel bad for Davy and John without condoning their killy actions. Davy’s demise by one of his own traps was as poetically justifiable as it gets. Talk about being hoisted by one’s own petard! A crop duster seen spraying the town’s food supply (and breathable air) sheds light on what’s really going on, but in a way no one can prove.



What we’re left with in the end is Walter Skinner, and how his experiences in Vietnam changed him. He enlisted because he had a youthful, blind faith in the goodness and rightness of government. After “MK Naomi” he realized that this blind faith was misplaced. But he obviously believed he could do good in the bureau, and that he could continue to be guided by his own moral compass. That’s why he believed in the X-Files, and in Mulder and Scully’s capacity to find answers. How anyone could ever meet the Smoking Man in person and not be suspicious of the government is beyond me. That guy is terrifying. What else is terrifying? Skinner losing a tooth as the episode ends.

I loved getting this extra special glimpse into Skinner’s past. I also enjoyed seeing Scully and Mulder contemplate how their work impacts people like Skinner. Not everyone stays moral once they get near the big conspiracies, after all. Just look at Reyes. Or don’t. Because screw her, she’s awful now. In the end it’s always good when a monster-of-the-week episode rises above like this one did. No new episodes for two weeks—so X-Files will be back on the 28th.

See you’s then!

8
The final score: review Very Good
The 411

It's always a delight when a character from the distant past shows up and hasn't changed at all. That's why vintage X-Files fans were no doubt delighted to check in with Kersh. He's still suspicious, perpetually annoyed, and doesn't have any time for any crap from Mulder or Scully. That's too bad, because they're about to understand what it cost Skinner to stand by them. Or are we the ones who learn why Skinner supported the X-Files in the first place?


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 8:25

The X-Files Dives into Skinner’s Past for a Conspiracy on Autopilot

By Nick Mangione 02.08.2018 :: 10:00AM EST


Mitch Pileggi (Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX)

Overall, I’m loving this season of The X-Files. Every Wednesday night, I can’t wait to dive into a massive government or corporate conspiracy, or hunt cryptids with my two favorite federal agents. They can’t all be bangers though. The season started out on a rocky note with a mythology episode that wanted to believe the truth was up its own ass. After that, we took a much needed break from the mythology for some exceptionally strong Monster of the Week episodes. Then last week, the show combined the two for a surprisingly thrilling installment that gave us a scary creature and moved the overall plot forward. Last night, it was back to the standard Monster of the Week format, and I do mean standard. Despite the promised dive into Skinner’s past, nothing about this episode felt new or even all that interesting. It was the same conspiracy tropes we’ve heard before. To its credit, at least they were put together in a decently fun way. The episode moved along at a decent clip, and it gave us a pretty great villain. That at least makes up a little for the fact that it didn’t really do anything new.

“Kitten,” like any good conspiracy, begins in Vietnam. A squad of American soldiers in a helicopter are delivering a box  containing… something. All we know about it is that they should never look inside. Their helicopter starts to take fire, and two of the soldiers escape with the crate to a nearby village. One of the soldiers runs out to grab their wounded buddy when a stray bullet hits the crate and a green gas pours out. Everyone inside starts screaming and the one soldier left inside starts seeing an antlered monster. He starts attacking his fellow soldier, who is revealed to be the young Agent Skinner.


David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson (Cr: Eric Millner/FOX)

In the present day, Skinner has gone missing. The director of the FBI assigns Mulder and Scully to find out what happened to him. At first, Mulder suspects that it may have something to do with the alien virus, their son William and the Smoking man. Inside his apartment though, they find no cigarette butts. Only a package, addressed using his military rank. Inside is a severed ear, wrapped in stationary from Mud Lick, Kentucky. Well, they’ve started from worse leads in the past. And hey, a body turned up in Mud Lick missing an ear. Mulder guesses that the body is one of Skinner’s old squadmates. From a document so classified even they don’t have access to it. What was Skinner up to? On the way into the morgue, a man warns them that they won’t find a kitten. Mulder and Scully shrug it off, but we all know that’s going to be of vital importance. That’s just how this show does things.

Once inside the morgue, they learn about a “craziness” going around town. People swear they see a monster in the woods. Obviously Mulder’s interest is piqued. It looks like there’s something to those rumors too. Hunters are seeing strange things out in the woods and falling into hunters’ traps. Traps very similar to those used in the Vietnam War. Mulder and Scully investigate the latest victim who, like pretty much everyone else in town, is losing his teeth. They investigate footage from a nearby deer cam, and they find Skinner. He was recorded standing over the body, which immediately makes the local law enforcement suspicious. Mulder and Scully scrub through more of the footage, and they find something else: The monster.


Mitch Pileggi (Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX)

Thankfully, the show doesn’t waste too much time before Mulder remembers the man who told them about “kitten.” Kitten is a nickname. Everyone in this town has one. Interestingly, Kitten has a kitten. The man also mentions that he told Eagle where to find Kitten. Eagle, Mulder figures out instantly, is bald. So now they know where to look for Skinner. Skinner is on a person-finding mission of his own though. That ear he got in the mail? It turns out one of his fellow soldiers, John James, back in the war had a habit of collecting men’s ears and wearing them as a necklace. Skinner searches the man’s house and runs into his son, Davey. (Both men are played by Haley Joel Osment, and he’s the creepiest part of this whole episode.) It’s there we get the whole story. That crate from the beginning was full of weaponized gas that manifested people’s fears in front of them. It turned John into a monster who killed innocent people. Skinner knew it was the gas that did that, but it didn’t change what John did. Davey isn’t so convinced.

Still, at Skinner’s request, Davey leads him to John. John, it seems, hung himself after being called a crazy murderer for so long. It also did a number on Davey. He’s led Skinner into a trap. As Skinner rushes towards John’s body, he falls into a pit, right onto a spike. Osment is loving playing the villain in this episode and he’s so very good at it. Maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that the kid whose first role was The Sixth Sense knows his way around a horror story, but he’s terrifying here. Easily my favorite X-Files guest star in a long time. Mulder and Scully pull up right afterwards, and Davey tries to act nonchalant. He plays the helpful witness and tells them all about the gas. He pretends to know nothing about Agent Skinner, but Mulder finds a photo album filled with photos of the Skinner and John James in the war. He knows Davey isn’t being entirely truthful. He tricks Davey into thinking they’re driving away, only to run back on foot to rescue Skinner. If you’re ever impaled by a spike trap set up by an old friend’s psychotic son, Mulder’s the guy you want on your side.


Haley Joel Osment (Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX)

Overall, most of the episode feels pretty flat. The conspiracy is interesting, and it’s cool that we get a look into Skinner’s past. It moves along at a decent pace, but it doesn’t feel like a ton is going on. The story isn’t as complex as recent episodes have been, and the whole seeing things that aren’t there thing was explored much better in last week’s stealth mythology episode. What really saves it from being boring is, again, Haley Joel Osment. In this final scene, he provides the tension and terror the rest of the episode needed. When Mulder searches the house, you’re sure he’s going to jump out at any moment. Mulder finds the antlered monster costume seemingly hung up in the closet, and leaves the house to follow Skinner’s screams. Then the costume movies. Davey was under it the whole time. Even when The X-Files delivers an episode that’s just OK, it’s nice to see it’s still good for at least one good chill.

Mulder and Scully rescue Skinner, and in trying to attack them, Davey falls into his own trap. A spiked panel falls from a tree and kills him. Skinner gives a heartfelt speech about how Mulder and Scully inspired him to seek the truth rather than blindly move up the bureaucratic ladder. He vows to find out what happened to his old war buddy, and well, you know how this show loves leaving loose ends open. As Skinner walks out of the house to an ambulance, he realizes he’s losing his teeth. The chemical is in the air. As unhinged as Davey was, he was right about one thing. The government is experimenting with the drug on unsuspecting citizens. How? Why, chemtrails of course. It’s a nice paranoid note to go out on, but I wish the whole episode had more of that tone. As it was, it’s kind of a flat note to go out on before the short hiatus. We won’t get new X-Files for another three weeks, and it’s always a shame to go into that kind of break on a low note. Fortunately, the next episode is already looking much better. Haley Joel Osment may have been the best part of this episode, but I’m real excited to watch Mulder and Scully fight the spy drones.


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 11:16



The X-Files season 11 episode 6 recap and review: Kitten

by Sarah Crocker
3 hours ago
Follow @superduperspock

Skinner tangles with his traumatic past, skeletal monsters and hallucinogenic gas in “Kitten,” this week’s episode of The X-Files.

This week’s episode of The X-Files opens with oddly grainy footage, at least until you realize that we are to understand this is the past. Specifically, this is the Vietnam War. We follow a group of Marines in a helicopter. Their officer helpfully explains that they are to deliver a mysterious crate. Their helicopter goes down, but a few manage to survive and grab the cargo.

A young man in glasses, accompanied by Haley Joel Osment, carries the crate into a shelter. Said shelter also contains some terrified Vietnamese people trying to stay away from the conflict. The bespectacled Marine — who is obviously a young Walter Skinner — sees that a fellow soldier is wounded and runs to help.

In quick order, bullets fly, the crate is pierced, and a sickly yellow mist begins to fill the structure. From outside, Skinner and the wounded soldier see the gas leak out and hear screams. Unbelievably, they go towards the escalating horror. Through the smoke, we see “John” (Osment), hacking at the defenseless people in a rage. He then turns into a shaggy monster with a horse skull.

“Monsters,” John whispers as he advances upon Skinner with a hunting knife.



Skinner’s unapproved vacation

We then see Mulder and Scully walking into the office of FBI Deputy Director Kirsh. “Where is he?” Kirsh asks. Mulder acts confused, and rightfully so, but Kirsh doesn’t buy it.

“Cut the crap, agents,” Kirsh says. He’s looking for Skinner, who has gone AWOL. Kirsh also guilt trips Mulder and Scully, saying that their X-Files program has stalled Skinner’s career. In between all of the sourpuss muttering, Kirsh gives the pair their marching orders. They had better find Skinner, and fast.

First stop: Skinner’s apartment. Mulder picks the lock and promptly goes through Skinner’s pantry. Scully muses that they know so little about their superior, then helps Mulder go through their boss’ mail. They find an envelope addressed to “Lance Corporal Walter Skinner” containing — eesh — a human ear. At least Mulder has the good sense to get grossed out.

The ear is wrapped in a paper from Mud Lick, Kentucky, giving the agents their next clue. They head south, where they hope to find the owner of the ear. “You ain’t gonna find no kitten,” says a homeless man on a bench outside the morgue. Okey-doke, says Mulder.

Inside, the local sheriff clues them in. The ear belongs to the now-deceased Doc Wegweiser, the town’s cherished doctor. He went hiking and got caught in a trap utilizing punji sticks.

Wegweiser was also missing several teeth, despite good dental health. Weird, says the sheriff, because he and his wife have recently lost their teeth, too. The sheriff also mentions a strange monster that everyone’s been seeing in the woods.



The monster in the woods

Next, we see an unnamed hunter with his dog in the local woods, who seemingly encounters the shadowy monster. He falls into a bed of punji sticks. Skinner later comes along and shines a flashlight on the body.

In the daytimes, Mulder, Scully, the sheriff, and another hunter stand at the edge of the pit. The unfortunate victim is Mr. Krager, nicknamed “Banjo”. The hunter says that Banjo also spoke of seeing a strange monster. And, yes, he was losing teeth, too — just like his hunter friend.

Scully helpfully spots a nearby deer cam. When they review the footage, it clearly shows Skinner standing at the edge of the trap. Though it doesn’t show any actual murdering, the sheriff pretty reasonably wants to look for him. Scully and Mulder decide that they need to find Skinner first.

With nicknames like “Banjo” in mind, Mulder decides to return to “Trigger”, the veteran sitting outside. Still no explanation about “Kitten”, but he does mention “Eagle.” A bald Eagle, perhaps?

Meanwhile, Skinner arrives at a trailer in the woods. He spends some time looking around the ominous site, full of trash and a half-processed deer carcass. He gets into the trailer, which is surprisingly nice inside, considering the backwoods squalor stereotype outside. Just like Mulder, Skinner starts to paw through the possessions inside, including a photo album with pictures of John and himself.



Davey

Then, John appears. Well, no — it’s actually John’s son, Davey, also played by Haley Joel Osment. “Father says it’s your fault the way our life turned out,” he says. Osment deserves kudos for his dual role here, exemplifying the tragic, unhinged weirdness of father and son.

Skinner apparently testified against John, condemning him to nearly 40 years in a mental hospital. Davey monologues about his dad’s exposure to the weird, hallucinogenic yellow gas. “It was the gas using his own fear against him,” claims Skinner.

But why didn’t he say anything about that at the trial? Skinner says he was forbidden to speak about the gas. “I was following orders,” he claims. “I think about him every day. But you’ve got to understand, your dad murdered innocent people.”

Davey agrees to take Skinner to see John. Surprise — John is now a corpse in Marine dress blues, hanging from a tree. It’s thankfully brief, but still shocking.

Skinner steps forward and promptly falls into another punji stick trap. He’s wounded, but not mortally. He’s screaming for help when a car pulls up, carrying none other than Mulder and Scully. Davey hides the trap, with Skinner inside, and plays the world’s most awkward host to the two FBI agents.

Davey, apparently an aficionado of vinyl, plays a record of John Cale’s “Fear Is A Man’s Best Friend.” It’s entirely appropriate and a good selection in general. Plus, it covers up all of the yelling coming from the pit in the yard.




Government testing

“Father had secrets,” Davey tells them. He says that John and other soldiers were subjected to weapons testing with the yellow gas. “Imagine the power of a government that could literally control minds of millions and millions of its citizens.”

To his credit, Mulder recognizes dangerous crazy when it’s right in front of him. Also, the photo album with pictures of John and Skinner was a dead giveaway. He hustles Scully out the door.

Back on the road, the two quickly deduce that Davey’s got Skinner. Mulder then squanders all of his intelligence points by getting out of the car and stomping through the woods back to Davey’s creepy trailer. He miraculously survives when he breaks into the trailer, though he has a close brush with the creepy horse skull costume right before he hears Skinner’s cries and breaks away.

Mulder finds Skinner in the pit and gets in, intending to save Skinner. Davey appears and sprinkles gas on them. He’s about to light it all up when Scully appears and shoots him. Good thing she got frustrated waiting around (though Gillian Anderson has precious little else to do this episode).

This is followed by a short sequence wherein Davey gets away, Mulder and Scully nearly encounter another punji stick trap, and Skinner rescues them. Davey falls victim to his own trap, in gruesome fashion.

Back in the trailer, Scully is patching up Skinner while he reminisces about his time in Vietnam. He feels particular guilt over John, who was drafted. “His whole life was upended by a war that he really, truly didn’t understand… I felt like I had to protect him. But I didn’t. I couldn’t.”



Mulder and Scully do good

That fear and shame infected his previously all-American sense of righteousness. However, Skinner says Mulder and Scully taught him to have the guts to shine a light on the awfulness. He says it was better than advancing his career.

Moreover, he says he’s now emboldened to continue the good fight for John’s sake. “I intend to do right by this man.” He wants to find the truth of what happened “no matter the cost. I owe him that. I owe myself that.”

Skinner then walks out towards a waiting ambulance. He pauses at the front steps and removes a bloody tooth from his mouth.

This isn’t the first time that The X-Files has grappled with issues like PTSD or maltreatment of veterans. Second season episode “Sleepless” follows soldiers who were subject to medical experiments (and features the always excellent Tony Todd in a feature role). “Avatar,” from late in season 3, even focuses on Skinner’s service in the Vietnam War. Both were decent enough episodes, though neither shows up in regular rewatching.



What’s the verdict?

How does “Kitten” measure up? Like last week’s “Ghouli,” it wasn’t excessively bad, but neither was it hugely exciting. It manages to gain points, however, thanks in part to good performances from Haley Joel Osment and Mitch Pileggi as Skinner. Hey, I’ve got a soft spot for our Sam the Eagle stand-in, I’ll admit.

Unfortunately, performances weren’t quite enough to make up for the lack of action. It’s not that every episode of The X-Files needs to run at full speed, but the height of the action this week was … Skinner falling in a hole. A good monster chase could have spiced things up a bit.

“Kitten” is hardly a spooky episode, beyond a few nighttime sequences and the briefest glimpses of the “monster.” It might have been more satisfying to see the monster featured a bit more, even if it was only to show off the psychedelic morphing effect seen early on in the episode.

After this, we’ll be taking a break until the next episode airs on Feb. 28. The episode is currently unnamed, so its contents are a bit of a mystery. Previews show plenty of menacing drones and robots, however. Will we get another one-off episode, in the vein of “Plus One” or “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”?

Perhaps we’ll jump right back into the conspiracy drama established in “My Struggle III.” However, showrunners have mercifully promised that there will be fewer mythology-focused episodes this season. We’ll see soon enough.


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 12:43

The X-Files: Kitten (or, the secret life of Walter Skinner)

by Susan Leighton
30 minutes ago
Follow @SusanontheLedge

Do we really know the people we are closest too? Last night’s episode of the X-Files explores this concept as it gives the audience a chance to delve into the secret life of Assistant Director Walter Skinner.

If given the choice between advancing my career by being blindly loyal to some faceless puppeteers pulling strings from the shadows, or to throw in with you two, make no mistake I’d make the same decision every damn time.” – Walter Skinner

**SPOILERS AHEAD**


The Monster in the Shadows



Some of us have certain tragic life events that shape who we are and who we become. For Walter Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) that was his tour of duty in Vietnam. He lost his friend John James (Haley Joel Osment) to a special weaponized gas.

Although “Kitten” as James was called didn’t die, he was never quite the same after his experience in the jungle. So much so, that Skinner had to testify against him at his court martial. Since he was sworn to secrecy by the Department of Defense, he couldn’t say that a government experiment caused his friend to see “monsters.”

Instead, he helped institutionalize John. Until the one day that he escaped. A worried Skinner takes off to Mud Lick to try and see if he can find his old Platoon buddy and maybe try to right that wrong from the past.

Choices



Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are summoned to Director Alvin Kersh’s (James Pickens Jr) office. The agents are told their boss has gone AWOL. Kersh explains that Skinner thwarted his own career progression by championing the cause of the X-Files.

Disdain practically drips from his voice when he has to even address Mulder and Scully. They are told to find Skinner before he doesn’t have a job. The fact that Walter sacrificed himself for their cause saddens the pair.

Armed with information that they had taken from Skinner’s apartment, they set off for the town of Mud Lick. While working with the local sheriff, they discover that their boss may be implicated in a murder. Setting out to prove Skinner’s innocence seems daunting.

They also hear talk of a monster in the woods. Described as a man-like creature with antlers, the townspeople seem to think that this supernatural being is alive and running amok.

Within the Woods



Their investigation leads them to a remote trailer in the woods. They meet up with John’s son, Davey (also Haley Joel Osment). During the course of interrogating him in his abode, Mulder discovers a photo album with Skinner’s picture in it along with Davey’s father.

Davey tells the duo that he doesn’t know Skinner and he doesn’t know where his father is. Then he starts to tell Mulder and Scully that his father was experimented on and that he tried to get out of the program but couldn’t.

He also tells them that the government is working on mind control and that they are infusing drugs into our water system and dispensing the gas via crop dusters and contrails. While this sounds like the rantings of a mad man, Mulder concedes that we were doing experimentation in that area up until the early 80s. Hearing enough, Mulder convinces Scully to leave.

Skinner on a Stick



Prior to Mulder and Scully showing up, Skinner is walking in the woods at night trying to see if he can spot John. Instead, he gets thrust into the spear pit by Davey and impaled on a sharp bamboo stick. While he is dealing with the severe pain, Davey closes the pit with a cover so no one will hear Skinner.

On the road, the two agents are mulling over things when Mulder tells Scully to look for cell service while he attempts to do what Skinner would do for them. Going back to the trailer, he looks inside a closet and finds the “monster” costume that Davey has been using all along.

Heading into the woods, the costume “comes alive” in the closet. While Mulder notices a pattern of uneven dirt on the forest floor, he pulls back the cover of the fit to discover Skinner. He too gets pushed into the pit.

Davey appears and douses gasoline onto them. Before he can light the match, Skinner pulls his gun while Scully does the same thing. Shots ring out and Davey falls on the ground dead.

Heal Thyself

While Scully patches up Skinner. Mulder asks him again why didn’t he just give up on their cause. Walter opens up about how he was a gung-ho kid who enlisted and fought in the Vietnam War but he couldn’t protect his platoon members.

He couldn’t save Kitten. This caused him to mistrust his government. When the X-Files came along, Mulder and Scully gave him the chance to shine the light into dark corners and he would choose them all over again even if it meant the same outcome, no advancement in the bureau.

We see a truck leaving Mud Lick. Then some men are carrying a sealed container onto a plane. Crop dusting begins of the green weaponized gas onto our food supply and then we see contrails in the sky.

The Verdict

This episode was a chance for long time X-Files fans to know more about Skinner. Although this character has been a part of the series since 1993, little was known about him. Yes, we all knew he served in Vietnam but we never heard or saw any details.

For Pileggi to get his turn in the spotlight was a blessing for his fans. He was up to the task. His delivery was on point as was his performance. A shout out to his nephew, Cory Rempel who played him as a young man! Rempel wore Skinner’s character like a second suit.

However, while interesting and laden with familiar X-File conventions like conspiracy theories, this effort fell short. Haley Joel Osment has done some of his finest acting in years on this show but overall there was nothing spectacular about this particular show.



This may be the weakest effort thus far in Season 11 even Pileggi’s stellar acting and Carol Banker’s capable direction couldn’t save this outing.


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 12:46

Let’s Talk About The X-Files Season 11, Episode 6, ‘Kitten’

Posted by Mary Anne Butler February 8, 2018

Fox did something… inspired, I guess, when they decided the current climate of politics and intrigue was perfect to bring back fan favorite series The X-Files last year for a six-episode miniseries season 10, and the general positive reception *cough* ratings *cough* meant that another was likely.

Season 11 has had some misfires, lets not kid ourselves, that first episode was NOT COOL MAN, but the other five episodes have been for the most part, enjoyable for this particular Xphile. Episode 4, ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ was absolutely amazing, and goes right up there with any number of classic series stories.

Tonight’s season 11, episode 6, ‘Kitten’, is a Walter Skinner-centric episode, as made apparent by this interview with Mitch Pileggi about it. There was also this image posted by the official X-Files Twitter account. Yes, normally we would have had a live tweet going tonight, but that didn’t happen.



On to the episode, which was directed by Carol Banker and written by Gabe Rotter:

  • opening with a longstanding X-Files trope (military helicopter), and I knew KNEW
    right away tall dude in Marines fatigues with glasses was LANCE Corporal Walter
    Sergei Skinner in Viet Nam.
  • “The War Is Never Over”
  • Mulder and scully are called into the Director’s office to talk about their
    former boss, Assistant Director Skinner
  • Apparently, his dalliance with CSM is becoming a problem
  • Mulder and Scully go looking through Skinner’s townhouse (a nice place, all
    things considered)
  • An envelope addressed to Skinner, that Scully opens (shhh), contains an ear.
  • The note inside reads “the monster is here”
  • “Does that get your juices flowing, Mulder?” Scully asks.
  • Let it be known that from this episode, it’s safe to assume mulder is bad at
    parking.  He’s about 5-6 inches from the curb!
  • Mulder and Scully follow the note to Mudlick, and there is a dead body.
  • Sure looks like Skinner is huntin’ folks out in the forest, with his pit o’
    stakes
  • “This murder is sloppy. He’d never get himself caught on camera.”
  • Skinner is on the hunt for…something, obviously
  • Haley Joel Osment looks weird with a wig on
  • Apparently Skinner is called “baby killer” by one of his former Marine buddies
  • “There were monsters in that jungle. Because of his exposer to experimental gas-“
  • Skinner says the the monsters weren’t real, that they were a result of the gas the Marines were exposed to
  • Scully very much feels like it’s her and Mulder’s responsibility to go after Skinner, “after everything he’s done for us.”
  • Skinner gets pushed into a pit with spikes, takes a gut shot from one of the spears
  • Of COURSE there’s no cell reception in this pit, Skinner!
  • Mention of government hiding things in chemtrails, take a drink!
  • Not sure if ‘monster’ or just a tribal shaman who got lost on the FOX backlot
  • Leave it to Mulder to go find his boss at the bottom of a pit
  • ….and to Scully to save their dumbasses by incapacitating the bad guy, who SHOCKINGLY disapeared
  • Also, did Davey learn his forest traps from the Ewoks? Kinda looks like it
  • Skinner and Davey have a wrestling match under a precariously hanging spikey thing, which ultimately falls on Davey because Skinner rolled out of the way
  • Skinner does his best to say thank you to the pair of agents, in his way, for saving his bacon as often as they have (even though by now he’s kind of ahead of them in the count, whataboss, huh?)
  • Skinner says he’d side with Mulder and Scully every single time, given the choice between the pair and the ‘shadowy’ bosses
  • “Skinner, we’re with you,” Mulder tells Walter as he leaves the cabin

All in all, not a bad episode, definitely a good story filler for our favorite FBI Assistant Director. We’re looking forward to episode 7 when the series returns in 3 weeks.

(Last Updated February 8, 2018 11:30 am )


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 12:52

The Monsters Are Here: 'The X-Files' Tackles the Story of Skinner

Thursday, February 08, 2018

TylerVendetti
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV



I see monster people. In Season 11, Episode 6 of The X-Files, cutely titled "Kitten," Mulder and Scully must track down their favorite frenemy Skinner, who has gone missing. The episode, which delves into Skinner's never-before-seen background, peels back the layers of his character, exposing the root of his sometimes confusing support for his alien-hunting FBI proteges and how he transformed into the thick-skinned "bald eagle" we've all come to know and love.

The episode opens on a much-older-than-we're-used-to shot of Hayley Joel Osment as John, a panicky Vietnam soldier about to be dropped into a battle zone. His sergeant is instructing him and his fellow platoon members to deliver "the package" -- in this case, a case labeled MK Naomi -- to a nearby drop off point. Dodging immediate gunfire, the group rushes into the brush and stumbles upon a Vietnamese village where they hide. It's not until a gunshot penetrates the canister, releasing a yellow gas into the air, that we learn the soldier accompanying John is none other than a young Walter Skinner.

After investigating Skinner's house and finding a package with a severed ear in it, Mulder and Scully begin piecing together the story of their friend's background and decide to investigate further by tracking him down to Mud Lick, Kentucky: a town known for housing Vietnam vets. They learn of a citizen who was caught in a booby trap and killed, potentially by a mysterious creature that townsfolk had been whispering about. Further investigation leads to the discovery of video footage depicting Skinner standing above another victim.

At this point, the episode switches to Skinner's journey: he's attempting to track down his army buddy John to make amends for not testifying on his behalf in court and admitting to the existence of the mysterious gas. Instead, he runs into Davey, John's son, who, in a bitter rage, tricks Skinner into a forested booby trap with John's corpse. A long game of cat and mouse later, Mulder and Scully rescue Skinner from his predicament, killing John's son in the process.

All of this culminates in Skinner's heartfelt confession to Mulder and Scully that he did not forgo upward mobility in the FBI as previously suggested just so he could remain loyal to Mulder and Scully. Skinner enlisted in the army when he was young and innocent. In watching his friend John get drafted and lose everything, including his sanity, Skinner lost faith in the FBI and became weary of its secrets.

After all these years, Skinner's contradictory character -- his willingness to cooperate with the Smoking Man versus his friendship with Mulder and Scully, for example -- finally starts to make sense. Over the course of The X-Files, Skinner has had a complicated relationship with the Bureau. One minute, he's barking orders at Mulder and Scully and asking them to cooperate with the slimy higher-ups, and the next he's slipping them classified information and defending their honor to his associates. This flip-flopping quality has always made me question Skinner's role in the series; Mulder and Scully's personalities are predictable to a T, but I never knew what Skinner was up to, or whether or not I was supposed to view him as a hero or a villain.

But his involvement in the FBI and his ambiguous loyalties now seem to make a little more sense. Part of Skinner, the part that enlisted in the military because he wanted to protect his country and it was "the right thing," wants to believe in the government: it's the reason he testified against his friend without mentioning the tear gas, and maybe even the reason he joined the FBI at all. But the other part of Skinner, the one that saw his friend go from "innocent boy" to "destructive soldier" due to untested government experiments, is hesitant to trust a country and the officials that would conduct such immoral tests on young men.

It is this internal conflict that causes Skinner to be such a complex X-Files character, and, significantly, to be close to Mulder and Scully. Because while he may not always get along with the crime-fighting duo, he can't help but feel connected to them on a deeper level: while they, too, want to trust the government, everything they've seen tells them not to, and they're willing to expose that secret and risk their livelihoods in a way that Skinner is not (as evidenced by his refusal to testify about the "alien" gas.) For that, he respects them and helps them on their search for the truth.

What did you learn about Skinner in this episode? Did it help you better understand him as a character? Do you like him more or less? Let us know in the comments down below!

The X-Files airs on Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX. Like this article? Follow BuddyTV on Facebook for more!

(Image courtesy of FOX)


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 12:55

‘X-Files’ Recap: Follow The Chemtrails And Gassed Kittens, Find A Conspiracy

February 8, 2018
Corrina



Something’s rotten in the town of Mud Lick, Kentucky, and we don’t just mean it’s denizen’s gums. True, teeth are falling out of mouths all over town (even the recently deceased doctor was missing a few, plus an ear). Is it the chemtrails? The crop dusters? Is the government controlling minds and rotting teeth by poisoning the tap water? It smells like a conspiracy and Mulder and Scully are uncontrollably drawn to it’s sweet, sweet aroma.

Skinner’s questionable behaviour has finally been noticed by the higher-ups at the Bureau and they’ve pulled Mulder and Scully in to find out what they know. They really don’t know anything—about Skinner’s disappearance or about the guy Skinner is outside of the FBI. Their search for him leads them to Mud Lick and the town’s Vietnam veterans: Banjo, Trigger, Kitten, Eagle (that’s Skinner, btw), etc.



Eagle is on the lookout for Kitten, his war buddy who underwent a scary and dangerous transformation back in ‘Nam—thanks to his exposure to an experimental mind control gas. It turned him from a sweet and scared kid into a killer who wore necklaces decorated with the enemy’s ears. Kitten (aka John) spent decades in a mental hospital. His son, a dead ringer for him (both are played by Haley Joel Osment), says he was experimented on (more gas, more killing) while he was in there. He’s been a free men for a month now and since then, bodies have begun turning up in the woods, the victims of crude, Vietnamese-style hunting traps. Coincidence? Yeah right.



The monster is definitely here, but is it human or has what the government done to John turned him into something else? We never find out. John remains out of view while his lookalike son, Davey, tries to dispose of Skinner (who got John Locked up after testifying about what he did in Vietnam), Mulder, and Scully. But the agents’ instincts trump Davey’s and after questioning him in his trailer, the two double back to find Skinner in a spike-filled hole (Mulder soon joins him and both of them have to be pulled out by Scully.



There’s a chase, a scuffle, and Davey ends up impaled by one of the traps he (or his father, or both he and his father?) set in the woods. John, who we can only assume is the man behind the badly made monster mask, disappears. We never learn why people (including Skinner now) are losing their teeth. We never find out why John was allowed to leave the psychiatric hospital. We never get to see what he’s like now. Skinner, however, is committed to getting answers to all these questions. Will we wind up back in Mud Lick before this season ends? More importantly, will we find out who’s side Skinner is really on?

Missed it on CTV? Watch the new season of The X-Files Fridays at 9e 6p right here on Space.


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 12:58

THE X-FILES Review: “Kitten”

February 8, 2018



You know what? “Kitten” is not awful. In fact, for this eleventh season of X-Files, it’s downright decent. The episode actually has a cohesive plot with a proper narrative structure and there’s interesting character development which is basically nonexistent in this series at this point. More importantly, I watched this entire episode without it making me feel disgusting once which is an enormous achievement given the rest of these episodes.

This, to me, felt like an old school Monster of the Week. The plot was dark enough and the situation dangerous enough that it had the right overall atmosphere and, in the end, there was enough uncertainty as to whether the poison gas conspiracy was real or not that you could believe if you wanted to. Ambiguity is always key in these stories. I’m slightly annoyed by the screaming about chemtrails because that feels like the usual tone deaf parroting of right-wing conspiracy theories, but the episode didn’t hinge on that so it wasn’t as blatant as in previous installments. I noticed while Haley Joel Osment was doing his monotone rant about the government that the long exposition speeches are one of the things that’s so out of place about this revival. Yes, Mulder used to expound at length about weird supernatural things, but he never would specifically explain the crux of the plot device for all the dummies who might be watching. Part of the charm is figuring out the weirdness, not having it shoved down your throat. Even the setting and tone felt very 1994-ish, with the old school X-Files woods (I don’t know if they shot this season in Vancouver but if they didn’t they found some good Vancouver-looking woods) and the constant harsh lighting. Everything about it felt right and that’s a comfort.



Now, I adore Walter Skinner, so this was either going to go very well or very poorly for them. They already tarnished the good name of Monica Reyes but trying to portray her as the bogeyman fandom had built her into rather than staying true to her actual characterization. This revival has seen Mulder, in particular, so suspicious of Skinner that I just want to knock Mulder upside the head. Skinner has done so much for these two over the past like thirty years, and it’s absurd to me that Mulder would be so distrustful of him at this point. I liked that Scully addressed the absurdity of Mulder’s distrust and that all three of them regained their trust in each other. The moment at the end in particular where Skinner got to tell Mulder and Scully what their ridiculous crusades meant to him and why he went along with them for so many years was well-written and allowed Skinner some space to grow. I think it helped that they took the focus off of Mulder and Scully for an episode as well. Frankly, those two are tired and done to death and at this point they’re more fun when they’re either solving a mystery completely unrelated to them or are the supporting players in someone else’s story.

The only thing that I could really get riled about with this episode is that the “monster” is just someone with a mental illness again. In this case it’s nowhere near as egregious as the rest of this season’s episodes because the guy was driven crazy by an experimental gas and then locked up. The real monster is his son who could definitely do with some mental health services but his violent behavior isn’t blamed on any specific mental illness. He’s just kind of an awful person with understandable reasons to be awful. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to figure out the X-Files reveals before the story actually revealed them. I’m not sure if it’s just that I literally formed my brain on X-Files or if this plot was really basic but the second Haley Joel Osment said that he was Skinner’s friend’s kid rather than Skinner’s friend I was like “so you’re dressing up like a monster and killing people to prove your father wasn’t crazy and to seek revenge. Cool.” I’d certainly be impressed if they managed to pull a twist I didn’t see coming at this point but I’m not upset that the plot was pretty standard because they used it effectively as a platform for Skinner’s growth. That’s all you need, really, especially in an episode as character-focused as this one.



Overall, this was pretty good. It felt the way X-Files is supposed to feel and didn’t make me want to actively crawl out of my skin or throw up. Were this a 24-episode proper season like olden times this would be a solid one-off somewhere in the first half. Mulder, Scully, and Skinner are all sympathetic to the mental health issues that the story brings up and they all renew their devotion to fighting against the shady bureaucratic powerhouses in defense of the common people. That’s what X-Files is all about, so it’s continually mystifying that it doesn’t understand that “the Man” it should be fighting now isn’t just whatever the conspiracy nuts are into these days. This show does all right when it can return to a world order all the bitter old men working on it understand, like the Vietnam War. That’s why this episode works so well. Otherwise, though? Ugh.


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by Sabine on Thu 8 Feb - 14:28

Loved the episode since we learned about Skinner's past and his motifs to be a federal employee for over 30 years. And thank God, he's the good guy and secret supporter of Mulder and Scully I always hoped he is. I love the Skinman. LoL Now even more.
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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 15:16



Kitten / 7 Feb 2018

The X-Files: "Kitten" Review

The Secret Life of Walter Kitty.

By Matt Fowler

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

Guest star Haley Joel Osment (who's making headlines these days thanks to bizarre airport meltdowns in Las Vegas) added a sprinkle of spice to an otherwise humdrum outing in "Kitten" - a chapter centered on Skinner's experience with experimental fear gas in Vietnam.

I don't think anyone is outwardly opposed to a Skinner-centric episode - and "Kitten" wasn't even a full solo adventure since half the story featured Mulder and Scully looking for him - but how invested are we really in the question "How did Skinner first come to mistrust shadowy government agencies?" Were any of us actively losing sleep over Walter's "stalled career," or wondering why a company man of three plus decades hadn't been promoted? It's TV. I feel like most of us might not be wholly interested in supporting characters' career paths.

Plus, the last time we notably saw Skinner (sure, he aided and abetted our heroes in "This") he'd learned who William's real father was and was now purposefully associating with Smoking Man. Mulder even made a little snide remark about who Skinner might be spending his time with at the top of this one. So did we get any follow-up on this front, especially considering the big William reveal in last week's "Ghouli?" No, "Kitten" was about the son of one of Skinner's old war buddies wiping out vets with hunting traps while dressed like some sort of creeping forest creature.

What we wound up with was fine, but it also felt like a momentum-killer. A chance to dig into Walter Skinner's past feels like it should bear more fruit than this. The emotional stakes here, for real, were Mulder and Scully feeling guilty about possibly holding Skinner back from getting a larger desk in a better-positioned office. Meanwhile, the fact that Skinner's both still alive and employed is all we, as viewers, care about. Even Skinner had to remind the two of them of that (during that oddly lengthy speech about how they inspired him to question authority).

The nuts and bolts of "Kitten" were solid. Flashbacks to Skinner's time in Vietnam and how exposure to green gas changed one of his best friends into a sadistic madman. Osment pulling double duty, as both father and son, while spouting off about covert CIA plots like MKUltra. Some decent action beats involving people (including Skinner) getting impaled with wooden stakes. Mulder and Scully delivering a few chuckles while tracking down Skinner. In the end though, it didn't add up to much other than to tell us that Skinner's been in the conspiracy game for a while now and - well - he didn't want a promotion.

Will Walter losing his tooth right at the end feed into anything on the horizon, or was it just a sort of an "It was all a dream/Or was it?!" style close out? If it was the latter, it wouldn't be the first time an episode this season ended on that type of note as many of these chapters are being treated like meta-mythos. Not only do they serve the larger story (which is this season's weakest element) but they're also filled with broader statements about how this show, in general, fits into the political climate of 2018. On top of that, a few of them are infused with a disposable anthological vibe that seems to suggest that none of this really matters, overall, and that everyone's just trying to have some fun here at the finish line.

The Verdict

On paper, there's a lot of fun to be had with a Skinner-centric story, but "Kitten" was sort of a sullen by-the-numbers case with curious emotional stakes. It had a fun guest star and a few nasty bits of action but overall this wasn't a payload worth protecting.


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 15:25

The X-Files S11E06 Review: Kitten – A war is never over!

Posted on February 8, 2018 by Salome G

As Scully notes in this episode, for all the time we’ve spent with Skinner, we really don’t know that much about him. Well, hang on, because we’re about to learn something.

One thing we have known (since season 2) is that Skinner is a Vietnam vet. In this episode we get our first look at what that was like. Diagnosis? Murder.



Thanks to MKNaomi–yes, like MKUltra and yes, it was real–some of the guys Skinner was with were exposed to an experimental gas. Particularly affected was a young man named John (Haley Joel Osment), from whose nickname we get the title of this episode. John is in a hut with  several Vietnamese women and babies. Also in the hut is a crate the Marines are escorting. Errant gunfire hit the crate, allowing an ominous chartreuse gas to escape. Unfortunately, John gets a big ol’ whiff of it. When the smoke clears and Skinner makes it to the hut, John’s stabbed every other living being in the hut.

As the war drags on, John doesn’t get any better. In fact, the Marine his friends called Kitten is now wearing a necklace made from ears he’s taken from people. That’s always a bad sign. And if you’re wondering how and why John was allowed to stay in Vietnam, well, see also: My Lai. And see this quote from Eugene Sledge, who was also a Marine, but in real life and in WWII:

Slowly the reality of it all formed in my mind: we were expendable!

It was difficult to accept. We come from a nation and a culture that values life and the individual. To find oneself in a situation where your life seems of little value is the ultimate in loneliness. It is a humbling experience.*

In the present day, Mulder and Scully are called in by FBI Director Alvin Kersh (James Pickens, Jr.), who wants to know where Skinner is, because it seems he’s gone missing. He also wants them to think about why Skinner’s career never progressed beyond where he’s been for decades now. Specifically, he wants them to know that it’s because of Skinner’s ties to them. Well, that’s not very nice.

So Mulder and Scully go to Skinner’s apartment, which is almost so devoid of personal touches that I wonder if it’s a front. They do find some mail, though. Skinner received an ear from Mud Lick, Kentucky, along with a note reading, “THE MONSTERS ARE HERE.” I guess we’re going to Kentucky.



At Mud Lick PD, they don’t find Skinner, but they do find a mystery. Some people are losing their teeth, going missing, and casually mentioning monsters in the woods. A game camera records a conspicuous bald man standing over a hunting trap that felled a local hunter. Like Mulder and Scully, I don’t believe that Skinner has suddenly taken up elaborate serial murder, so clearly, something else is up.

They learn from a man who’d seemed to be speaking gibberish outside the police station that someone called Eagle had been asking around about Kitten. As for Eagle’s identity, what’s the most American eagle? And who do we know that fits that description?

As for the bald Eagle himself, he is in Mud Lick, as we see him poking around a trailer in the woods. It’s the home of Davey, John’s son, who’s also played by Haley Joel Osment. He recognizes Skinner’s name, because he’s been furious at the specter of him for years. It seems that after the war, Skinner testified about the atrocities John committed, but neglected to mention the gas that turned a Kitten into a killer. Skinner had his reasons–he didn’t want John on the street–but he did regret having to do it, especially when the government disappeared John. As we learn from Davey, that was so they could keep experimenting on him.



As for where John is now, Davey leads Skinner to the woods, where John’s body, clad in his dress blues, hangs from a tree. Then just as Davey was planning, Skinner falls into another hunter’s trap, where he’s impaled in the gut with a sharp stick. Meanwhile, Mulder and Scully pay Davey a visit.

He claims never to have heard of Skinner, but does give them a rant on government experimentation and mind control. It’s all very Mulder catnip, which is why it’s strange when he suddenly rushes Scully out of there. It turns out that he’d seen the “Walter and John, BFFS 4 eva” pics in the family photo album, so he knew something wasn’t right. So he and Scully drive the down the road a bit, so she can get cell service and he can go back for Skinner. He finds Skinner and is immediately pushed into the hole. Davey, now wearing a spooky animal skull monster suit, douses them in gas. But before he can light them up, he’s shot by Scully.

Like a horror movie villain, Davey’s body is missing when Scully gets both men out of the pit. But not for long, because the trapper becomes the trappee and Davey is fatally impaled by another trap.

Later, Skinner explains to Mulder and Scully how his war experience led him to mistrust the government, which is why looking over the X-Files program is the perfect place for him. His career hasn’t stalled. It’s what he wants.

And that’s a sweet moment and all, but then he loses a tooth. As this week’s tagline warned us, “A WAR IS NEVER OVER.”

7.5/10 – The experience of the war in Vietnam has become so much a part of our culture in the United States that depictions of it have almost reached parody. Still, as with any war, there always seems some new horror to uncover. The horror the show shares this week is nothing that will come as a shock to anyone who’s done any reading about government experiments (the Tuskegee Study, radioactive milk, MKUltra, etc.), even with the reveal that the government is still testing the fear gas that tore up John’s mind. But still, it was nice to get a closer look at Skinner, whom viewers, just as Scully and Mulder, might have been taking for granted. 

* The quote is from Sledge’s book about his wartime experiences, With the Old Breed, which I highly recommend. Parts of the HBO miniseries The Pacific were based on the book.


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Thu 8 Feb - 19:37

The X-Files 11×06 Review: Kitten

Posted by Tara Lynne On February 08, 2018



Well, we were promised more background on Skinner this season, and while “Kitten” was a generally good episode, it also wasn’t really what I expected in regards to learning more about Skinner.

Weirdly enough, even though I hoped for more about Skinner’s recent history and what’s going through his head with this whole Smoking Man thing, I find it hard to voice any actual complaints about “Kitten” lacking this information. While it also wasn’t on par with some of this season’s earlier episodes, the long and the short of it is that I did like “Kitten”.

I mean, I also liked whoever that actor was who played young Skinner. He was cute and I’m not afraid to admit that.



But I digress. There wasn’t much mystery to this episode; of course the gas from the Vietnam flashbacks was weaponized and experimental, and of course the monsters that Skinner’s friend John saw – and that people from the town of Mud Lick were claiming to see in the present day – weren’t actually real. The two biggest surprises were the fact that John – a.k.a. Kitten – was likely dead before Skinner or Mulder and Scully arrived in Mud Lick, and how much his son Davey looked like him. (I definitely had a brief “whoa, huh?!” moment when Davey showed up; he was, after all, played by Haley Joel Osment, who also played John in the flashbacks, so at first I thought “Kitten” himself somehow hadn’t aged.)



All that said, the episode’s story wasn’t so much about Mud Lick and its supposed monster(s) as it was about why Skinner has stuck by Mulder and Scully’s sides for so long. Shoot, “Kitten” began with the FBI director chastising Mulder and Scully for holding Skinner back, claiming that Skinner’s career was stalled because of his loyalty to Mulder and Scully, and that Skinner hasn’t been the same since they returned to the bureau. So even as Mulder and Scully went looking for the missing Skinner, they were questioning whether it really was their fault that he’d been ‘stuck’ in the same job for 30 years. Which is a hard thing to think about, but also, did how they feel about it really need to matter? (The answer is that no, it really didn’t.)

Now, while I agree with Scully that them having to break into Skinner’s apartment kind of sucked, I have to admit that I’m still curious about how bland and pristine it was. Not having family pictures is one thing, but it really didn’t look lived in at all (I mean, apart from the envelope containing the desiccated ear and the note about monsters). Unfortunately it seems like that’s another little mystery for another time…or probably for never. Ah well.



So what *did* “Kitten” give us in terms of information about Skinner? Well, apart from the flashbacks of his past as a Marine in the Vietnam War, he gave a great explanation for why he’s stuck by Mulder and Scully all these years. Too bad Mulder had to ask Skinner about that while Scully was patching him up from having fallen onto a bamboo stake, but perhaps Skinner’s answer was worth the awkward ‘confrontation’…

That experience I had in Vietnam with John – it put a dent in my blind faith in my government. It planted seeds of mistrust. I tried for years to suppress that mistrust, but it gnawed at me. Then you two came along and taught me not to hide from it, but to shine a light into the darkest corners…and if given the choice between advancing my career by being blindly loyal to some faceless puppeteers pulling strings from the shadows or to throw in with you two, make no mistake about it, I’d make the same decision every damn time.

In the end, the physical monster of Mud Lick – that being Davey in a monster costume of sorts – was killed, but even if we hadn’t gotten the shot of them ‘crop dusting’ nearby fields with what was clearly something akin to (if not the same as) the weaponized gas John was exposed to, we can’t forget that people in the town were also randomly losing teeth…which was also happening to John after he was exposed to the gas in Vietnam. The Davey voice over, though, might have been a bit much:

Imagine the power of a government that could literally control the minds of millions and millions of its citizens, simply by exposing them to this poison. It’s happening. It’s happening RIGHT NOW.

I don’t know about you, but lines like that are a bit hard to stomach with everything going on nowadays. I guess even an overall good X-Files episode can go a little bit too far…but in a way that just makes me wish it was twenty years ago.

How did you feel about “Kitten”? Do you think we learned enough about Skinner, or were you hoping for more? Let us know in the comments!


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Fri 9 Feb - 10:33



Posted by Josh Zyber - February 9, 2018

‘The X Files’ 11.06 Recap: “I Think Cats Are Creepy”

‘The Sixth Sense’ star Haley Joel Osment does a guest spot on ‘The X Files’ this week. All grown up now, he’s traded seeing ghosts for seeing monsters.

I’m sure that Osment is probably sick of people always talking about him in relation to ‘The Sixth Sense’. As an adult, he’s actually had a pretty successful career as a character actor on shows like ‘Alpha House’ and ‘Silicon Valley’. Nonetheless, even with some extra height and a lot more pounds, it’s hard to see him in anything outside of his most iconic role.

Osment is introduced in episode ‘Kitten’ during a flashback to the Vietnam War, where he plays timid Marine draftee John James, nicknamed “Kitten.” When Kitten is exposed to an experimental gas toxin, his personality drastically changes and he becomes a psycho who takes human ears as trophies. This sudden transformation bothers his close friend, who we learn is a young Walter Skinner.

In the present day, Skinner has gone AWOL from the FBI and his boss, Deputy Director Kersh (James Pickens, Jr. from ‘Grey’s Anatomy’), assumes that Mulder and Scully know where he is. He also blames them for holding Skinner back from career advancement. Skinner’s loyalty to them over the years has gotten him into endless hot water. What Kersh doesn’t know is that Skinner is actually on the outs with Mulder and Scully lately (especially Mulder) over his involvement with the Cigarette Smoking Man. They don’t have a clue what happened to him, but agree to look into it.

Searching Skinner’s apartment, they find a mail package with a desiccated human ear inside. This leads them to travel to the town of Mud Lick, Kentucky, where they discover that the local doctor was recently found dead in the woods, the corpse missing an ear. The sheriff blames his death on falling into a hunting trap, but can’t explain the ear. Nor does he know why the body is missing some teeth. For that matter, he lost a few teeth recently himself, and so have a lot of other people in town. Hmm, ain’t that peculiar?

Mulder notices that a lot of people in town happen to be military veterans, and suspects that shady things may be going down at a nearby VA mental hospital called Glazebrook. A bunch of people in town also claim to have seen a monster in the woods.

When another hunter falls into a trap lined with punji sticks (just as the Viet-Cong used to lay for American soldiers), a deer-cam on a tree captures an image of Skinner walking up and peering down at the victim. Even though Mulder and Scully assure him that Skinner isn’t a murderer, the sheriff puts out an APB.

Looking for his old friend who sent him the package, Skinner makes his way to a trailer in the woods. There, he finds a man (Osment) who looks exactly like Kitten, not having aged a day. It turns out to be his son, Davey. He seems a little nutty. Davey says that his father never forgave Skinner for testifying against him when he was charged with war crimes. Skinner explains that the gas he was exposed to caused Kitten to see monsters and go crazy. He just wanted his friend to get the help he needed.

Davey leads Skinner outside to see the elder Kitten hung from a tree, then pushes him into another pit, where Skinner is impaled on a punji stick. Davey covers up the pit when a car arrives. It’s Mulder and Scully, who followed a trail of clues to Kitten’s trailer.

Davey claims that the government performed mind control experiments on Glazebrook patients and blathers some nonsense about gassing the population through airplane chemtrails. This feeds right into Mulder’s love of conspiracy theories, but Mulder finds this guy a little too kooky and makes excuses to leave with Scully. They drive down the road a bit, then Mulder gets out of the car and tells Scully to go get help while he sneaks back toward the trailer.

Davey is gone by the time he gets there, so Mulder snoops around and finds a monster costume in the closet. He’s interrupted by the sound of Skinner yelling for help. Had he looked a little closer, he’d find Davey wearing the costume. Mulder goes outside and finds his boss, only for Davey to sneak up behind and push him into the pit as well. Fortunately, Mulder avoids being impaled. Davey douses the two of them with gasoline and plans to set them on fire, but Scully returns just in time to shoot him. While she’s distracted pulling Mulder and Skinner out of the pit, Davey vanishes. They search for him and Davey attacks again. This time, Skinner kills him in one of his own traps.

Having gone through this experience together, Mulder, Scully and Skinner are all friends again. Skinner says that he doesn’t blame them for his faltering career and would do it all again. He just wants to find the truth. (Strangely, Mulder doesn’t ask him about working with the Cigarette Smoking Man. I guess that’s water under the bridge now.)

As the episode ends, Skinner pulls out a loose tooth. An epilogue shows a cropduster plane spraying the nerve toxin over a farm, and suggests that Davey was right about the chemtrails too.

Episode Verdict

Although Mitch Pileggi came back for both of the recent ‘X Files’ revival seasons at the same time David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson did, the Skinner character has had very little to do in them until now. I’m pretty sure he went a few episodes without even saying a line of dialogue. To that end, it’s nice to see Skinner made the focus of an entire episode. I just wish it were better.

This episode is pretty mediocre all around. It’s not very compelling as a Mystery/Monster of Week and the BS about chemtrails is tiresome. I was reminded of the amusing scene in Episode 4 where Mulder said that conspiracy theories aren’t as much fun as they used to be. The writers of this episode don’t appear to have gotten that memo.

Weren’t we told last season that chemtrails were a government conspiracy to infect the American population with an alien virus? Now they’re about mind control? Which is it, already? You know what, don’t even tell me. I don’t care.


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Sun 11 Feb - 4:02

The X-Files Season 11 Episode 6 Review – ‘Kitten’

February 11, 2018 by Matt Rodgers

Matt Rodgers reviews the sixth episode of The X-Files season 11…



If this really is to be the final run of The X-Files, then ‘Kitten’ is either breadcrumb dropping for a Walter Skinner spin-off series (highly unlikely) or giving Mitch Pileggi’s long suffering, shadow-dwelling AD the send-off he deserves.

Only ever afforded a single episode, way back in season 3 (episode 21 – ‘Avatar’), which attempted to peer into the loneliness of his personal life, with Mulder and Scully investigating the fall-out of Skinner’s one-night-stand.

‘Kitten’ similarly focuses on what maketh the man, delving into Skinner’s past on the Vietnam battlefield. Through a series of flashbacks we see him putting a protective arm around Haley Joel Osment’s frightened soldier, only for an outbreak of toxic gas to turn him from the boy who saw dead people, into a psychopathic military man who creates them.

In the present, AD Kersh (James Pickens Jr.) summons Mulder and Scully because Skinner has gone AWOL, assuming that they had something to do with it, and also stating that the reason Skinner hadn’t progressed within the FBI was because of his involvement with the torchlight-wielding duo.



It’s this that provides the main thrust of the episode. “Have you ever wondered why, after thirty-five years in the Bureau, Walter Skinner isn’t sitting on this side of the desk?”

Season 11 has positioned Skinner as a potential villain, making repeated use of his action figure stock phrase “drop it, Mulder”, and showing glimpses of him with CSM. Mulder makes a point of telling Scully to look out for cigarette butts when the two investigate his depressingly impersonal apartment, his distrust of Skinner at an all time high.

So once the monster-of-the-week thread is out of the way, which a successfully creepy Haley Joel Osment anchors, we finally get a sit down with Skinner, Mulder, and Scully, in which cards are laid on the table and the notoriously impenetrable AD is given a moment of catharsis.



Skinner’s revelations feel completely in-sync with both the episode, contrasting wonderfully with the character we’ve been presented with in the 1969 flashbacks, and with the man who’s been in this world of underground car parks and conspiracy for eleven seasons. It’s dramatic beats like this one where this latest run of The X-Files is making up for the lacklustre way in which the show originally ended.

The episode coda leaves a few unresolved threads, which might be too much for the final four episodes to successfully tie up. As we move towards the end there’s a worry that like season 9, we’ll have another overload of exposition in place of the emotional pay-off that ‘Kitten’ proves The X-Files can do so well.

Matt Rodgers


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Sun 11 Feb - 12:08

The X-Files season 11, episode 6 review: Kitten

by Nick Chandler
1 hour ago
Follow @NickSChandler

After 11 seasons and 2 movies, we have only had all but a handful of episodes based around Walter Skinner (pretty sure you can count them on one hand). We dive into the past of Walter Skinner, recalling his time in Vietnam and we watch Mulder and Scully try to uncover what is going on.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

At the start of the episode Assistant Director Kirsch implies to Mulder and Scully that Skinner’s indulgences to their behaviour is the main reason Skinner himself hasn’t progressed in the FBI. Whilst not wholly inaccurate, it does lend some weight to the fact that Mulder and Scully really are thorns in the side of those above them, Skinner being the ultimate recipient of such.

We don’t really know much about Skinner. There was a season 3 episode where we learn he has gone through a divorce, and there have been little hints as to some form of combat history. Off the top of my head I’m somewhat sure that this is the first time we see his experiences in Vietnam. Correct me if I am wrong though. We have had episodes where he recalls various events of his time in combat, but this seems to be the first “flashback” to his time in the Army.

Having a story revolve around him is a nice surprise. It breaks up the focus on Mulder and Scully and their weekly installments of the monster-of-the-week/mythology. Aside from that it gives a chance for Mitch Pileggi to shine as a character he has played since the very first season of the show, back in 1993 (believe it or not Skinner didn’t appear on the show until episode 21 of season 1).  He has hinted on Twitter recently that he had a backstory written up for Skinner as a way for him to get inside the head of the character.

What does that mean now that we know Skinner has been involved in Vietnam? It could explain the characters need to follow orders from less reputable sources, and yet still harbour care for those that he deems worthy. Lets not forget the amount of times the he has stood up for Mulder and Scully, much to the annoyance of his superiors.

This leads on to Mulder and Scully, and their mistrust of Skinner. These “seeds of mistrust” had been sown during the past two seasons, and we as an audience are still unsure as to where he stands in the overarching mythology. However when it comes down to it we get dialogue like this:

Scully [reading note]: The monsters are here.
Mulder: The monsters are here.
Scully: Does that get your juices flowing?
Mulder: As much as I appreciate any reference to my juices, my only concern here is Skinner.

Just want to put a quick word in for guest star Haley Joel Osmet. The former child star of The Sixth Sense and A.I. Artificial Intelligence is doing some really creepy things here once he gets going. He looks to be on a resurgence of late, it is good to see him play a sort of against-type character. I say “sort of” because he leans into the weirdness of his aforementioned roles, as the son of Skinner’s Army friend, Kitten.

His description of the tests that have gone on in his town that has led to Skinner coming to visit go back to the idea of a “conspiracy.” And like most conspiracies the tests continue on, the cries of a madman echo on and on, but no-one is willing to listen.

To go back to that implication that Kirsch implants into the mind of Fox and Dana, Walter is quick to counter that if it weren’t for them, he wouldn’t even be alive. Despite the mistrust that is clearly on the surface due to recent events on the show, there is clearly something underneath their relationship. I sincerely hope that Skinner is redeemed, and that Mulder and Scully can trust their long-suffering superior.


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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by Duchovny on Mon 12 Feb - 6:04

I absolutely liked this epi, great epi
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Re: 11x06 - Kitten

Post by jade1013 on Wed 14 Feb - 11:54



‘X-Files’: Skinner Finally Gets His Shine, But Can We Trust Him?

'The X-Files' 11X06 "Kitten"

By Mel Perez - February 14, 2018

So much of The X-Files has been focused on Mulder and Scully. It’s their quest to find the truth, and we’ve watched that journey, with it’s high and it’s lows, for ten and a half seasons. However, there’s a third member of this team that doesn’t get enough shine. Walter Skinner was there before them and will probably still be there after they’ve gone. Since season one, he’s been with Mulder and Scully, as their supporter and the one that tries to get them to toe the line (at least a little). He’s supervised their baffling cases and low solve rates. He’s dealt with their insubordination, their propensity to disappear with no explanation or show up in his office making demands. He’s stayed by their sides through some of their darkest moments and as we find out in this episode, against his best interests professionally. The show has not focused on him as much, giving us only a few Skinner-centric episodes and only the barest hints at his past. This week’s episode, “Kitten” seeks to remedy that by giving us a case centered on Skinner’s time in Vietnam.

Deputy Director Kersh sends Mulder and Scully on a mission to find Skinner who has disappeared on an unsanctioned investigation. Kersh clearly thinks little of Mulder and Scully and doesn’t bother to hide it. He believes they, and Skinner’s loyalty to them, are responsible for Skinner’s lack of promotion after thirty-five years in the bureau. Mulder and Scully’s investigation takes them to the small town of Mud Lick, where men are mysteriously dying from traps in the woods. While trying to locate Skinner, they have to grapple with their recent distrust of him with this new information that his loyalty may have negatively affected his career trajectory.

Meanwhile Skinner is conducting his own investigation. In the cold open, we saw him as a young man in Vietnam. He and a fellow soldier, John James, were exposed to experimental gas. The gas caused James to murder innocent villagers thinking they were monsters. Skinner learns from James’ son, Davey (played by Haley Joel Osment), that his testimony against James caused him to be committed to the mental institution just outside of Mud Lick. Davey blames Skinner for his father spending the majority of his life locked up. Skinner blames himself because he knew that the gas caused James to change and said nothing. He followed orders and hated himself for it ever since. Now he wants to try to make things right by helping James. Under the guise of taking him to his father, Davey strands Skinner in a trap in the woods.


Fox

Skinner’s military records are classified top secret, leaving Mulder and Scully little to go with. They figure out that Skinner came to Mud Lick looking for a man nicknamed Kitten a.k.a John James. That leads them to Davey. In the car on the way to Davey’s place, they discuss Skinner.

“He’s a man ruled by his moral compass above all else,” Scully says about him. Mulder believed that once but in light of recent events, not anymore. Even at the beginning of this case, Mulder believed the Cigarette Smoking Man probably had something to do with Skinner’s disappearance. Scully wants to give Skinner the benefit of the doubt based on their shared history.


Fox

They question Davey who claims not to know Skinner. Davey tells them how his father was experimented on by the government while he was in the mental facility. They continued to try to improve the gas James was exposed to in Vietnam. They sought to use the fear it inspired to control people. Mulder quickly figures out that Davey is lying about Skinner and has Scully drive them out of there. He tells her to call the sheriff while he doubles back and tries to save Skinner. Mulder gets himself stranded in the same trap. Of course Scully saves him. They both go after Davey but it’s ultimately Skinner who saves them both. Skinner has been on their side more often than not despite what they believe.

Mulder and Scully later question Skinner about what Kersh said. Skinner was once a kid who joined the marines out a sense of idealism, a belief that he was doing the right thing. His experience in Vietnam, trying and ultimately failing to save James, tarnished his faith in the government. He tried to bury that deep inside himself. Then Mulder and Scully came along and showed him that he could bring those doubts into the light and embrace them.

“Given the chance to advance my career by being blindly loyal to faceless puppeteers pulling strings from the shadows or to throw in with you two, make no mistake about it, I’d make the same decision every single damn time,” he tells them. After a season spent doubting him, this was the speech Mulder and Scully needed to hear. They both are now on Skinner’s side.


Fox

This isn’t the first time The X-Files has dealt with cases that involved returning soldiers. This isn’t even the first time Skinner has referenced his time in Vietnam. This is a showcase of Skinner, the kind of man his is and what he stands for. What does this mean with Skinner clearly having some kind of relationship with the Cigarette Smoking Man this season? He’s gained back Mulder and Scully’s trust, but for how long? I hope things aren’t as they seem, and he really is on Mulder and Scully’s side.


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