"This is Roberta Sim. Age 40, suicide. She's been dead at least 3 hours. You got a call from her, she must have dialed 1-800-THE-GREAT-BEYOND."
REVIEW: I know shooting the movie was disruptive to the TV schedule, but holy crap is this season off to a weird start... First, three offbeat comedies. Now, this Mulderless episode's title evokes Dickens, but doesn't actually go to full route (only ghosts of Christmas past, perhaps that's a mercy), and actually turns into an important meta-arc story! It's a Christmas episode that ignores the "magic of the season" and rather uses the holiday as 1) a reason to get Scully alone without Mulder, 2) a frame of reference for some of Scully's dreams/memories, and 3) justification for the police's initial obstructionism (it's Christmas, can't we all go home now?). It avoids the sentimentalism of the season, but not its emotionalism, as the tired cancer survivor glumly faces her family, pregnant with mixed feelings. Her sister-in-law's actual pregnancy depresses her because her abduction experience took away her ability to conceive. Her judgmental brother guilt trips her for working during the holidays. And her sister's ghost is all around, in her vivid memories-turned-nightmares, and... on the phone?
At this point in her life, Scully knows better than to look for scientific explanations when the supernatural intersects her life, so when Melissa rings her with a mission to protect a little girl, it's not so much a matter of how, but a matter of why. And that "why" leads Scully on a merry chase to find the link between Melissa and an orphan girl who looks remarkably like her called Emily. After Emily's mother and father die under suspicious circumstances - faked suicides - she surprises us by applying to adopt what she thinks is her niece, but extra shocker, Emily is actually her DAUGHTER. You just never know what the people pretending to be aliens'll be doing with your ova once they take you back to your life, eh! Anderson once again gives a stellar performance as a woman desperate, obsessed and riddled with guilt. The highlight is her teary scene in which she is told a single FBI agent recovering from cancer isn't on any adoption agency's top list. Also props to teenage Scully (played by Anderson's own sister!) for hiding her disappointment at getting a religious object for Christmas.
Keep in mind I don't have any clear memory of the next couple seasons, so I don't know if Emily will be a recurring element beyond the next episode ("Emily") or if something happens to her, or even if there are lots of little Scully clones/progeny out there and why they might have been created. Certainly, the hitmen from the mysterious pharmaceutical company that's been working with Emily give Scully her own Conspiracy to pursue. Emily's anemia could be a cover for the real genetics being studied, and I wouldn't be surprised if she became a new "Samantha", taken from Scully, turning Dana into the show's new Ahab figure (Starbuck no longer).
REWATCHABILITY: High - Whether it's advancing the meta-arc, pushing the family drama element, creating an intriguing procedural mystery, or giving us chills with disturbing nightmares, Christmas Carol does it very well.