The X-Files #70: Avatar

"Business must be booming." You mean 'banging'."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Skinner's divorce is interrupted by his apparent murder of a prostitute.

REVIEW: One of the leads reminds us that we don't know very much about Assistant-Director Skinner, so this is definitely an attempt to flesh him out by giving him a marriage in trouble, a chance for others to talk about him and him about himself, and a Vietnam background he seems to have discussed with Mulder off-screen (cheating!). It's a human interest story wrapped in a murder mystery, with an odd X-File to act as reddish herring, hiding the fact this was a Conspiracy story all along. But still a human interest story, and not a particularly interesting one. At its best, we're told by his almost absurdly supportive wife Sharon (Jennifer Hetrick who seems to have been typecast as a lover of bald men) his motto is silence as strength, and when he finally opens up to her, she's in a comatose state and can't hear him. At its worst, it's melodrama with twinkly piano music.

After a hooker (oh my, that's Amanda Tapping, insert your own pun here, I'm classier than that!) dies in his bed, we're led to believe it was either Skinner's sleeping disorder (Scully's theory) or a ghostly succubus intent on killing the women he loves (Mulder's). But no, it was the Conspiracy all along, framing Skinner for a murder he didn't commit. The Cigarette Smoking Man gets a blink-and-you'll-miss it cameo (see The Truth for his deleted scene), which is much more sinister for being so fleeting. His new contract killers are much more adept than Krycek and the other guy, and the plan this time is far less blunt. Discrediting Skinner, Mulder and Scully in one fell swoop seems a much more "conspiratorial" idea than an assassination that would draw attention.

So who WAS the old woman in Skinner's dreams and haunting hallucinations? Would you believe it was the ghost of Sharon Skinner's future? It certainly seems to play that way. She appears in Sharon's little red riding hood raincoat (and this is a TORRENTIAL episode, even when sunlight streams through the windows). In addition to his dreams, she appears where Sharon actually is. Who says spirits can't travel through time? While there's an ongoing separation (though no divorce, if we read the final scene correctly), their bond seems quite strong, and if we jump to Muldery conclusions, we might say that bond allows her ghost to go back through time (and she'll live to a ripe old age) to protect him, latching on when he has his near-death experience in the Vietnam War. It's a bit of a head scratcher, frankly, one that requires a continuity implant, seems a little contrived, and doesn't have much of a resolution. The title doesn't help much either.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: I prefer the ambiguity of the Cigarette Smoking Man's unexplained presence, but a deleted scene has him confront and threaten Skinner, essentially using the situation to blackmail the latter into playing by the Syndicate's rules. In other words, this IS a frame-up, one designed so that it can be fixed so Skinner will owe them something. Those were the hidden stakes here.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - I'm glad for the focus on Skinner, but the featured X-Files is unfocused and the character's marital woes unconvincing.



Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zine