The X-Files #207: Via Dolorosa

"That's the guy who gave Frank Black a one-way ticket to the psych ward, huh?" "It wasn't one-way."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Frank investigates a copycat killer while Emma is distracted by her father's illness. Boom goes Baldwin.

REVIEW: The penultimate episode of the series starts with a shot of Frank and Jordan running before rewinding to a week before. The scene has absolutely nothing to do with anything that happens in Via Dolorosa, so seems entirely pointless. And that's how I generally feel about this whole plot in regards to how it will lead to the series finale. Frank witnesses the execution of a serial killer we've never heard of, but who he put on death row. Then he gets a goodbye Polaroid from that killer, which made me wonder if he was the original Polaroid killer who I thought was dead. He wasn't, it's just a confusing detail. Then the murders start up again, the work of a copycat indoctrinated by persons unknown, possibly the Millennium Group which has used psycho killers before, or else one of the Group's enemies. It's not a bad profiling procedural, not at all. It has horrific murders, a complicated pattern, etc. But is the manufactured link between the M.O. and Frank really the best threat for the end story? Perhaps if the Group were more involved...

Peter Watts is in this, but he's trying to seduce Emma using her father's Alzheimer's as leverage. This subplot is unpredictable - Mr. Hollis trying to shoot Emma in the night - and rather touching - not recognizing her except that she is someone he loves. I'm glad Emma's story has the potential for resolution before it's all over. But with the Group offering a cure - and if it exists, it's one they've been keeping from the public, the monsters - one wonders what kind of resolution it will be. Will Emma be able to betray Frank? I think that's a choice she can make. It's just not clear how she'll be able to push Frank out of the FBI, and from there how the Group will be able to make Frank fall into rank and do the work they want him to do for them. Since the killer isn't caught by the end, it looks like the finale will have a LOT to take care of.

And looks like we must say farewell to Agent Baldwin, but I don't think anyone's shedding any tears. He's always been a jerk, to both Frank and Emma, and he is here too. He's so slimy there's even a moment where I wondered if HE was the copycat. So that he would die when a booby trap explodes in the killer's apartment isn't exactly upsetting. He did go in at night when Frank recommended they wait 'til morning. He brings a team into dark, closed spaces without the benefit of night vision when he KNOWS the killer has such. And then when Frank's gut tells him to warn Baldwin out of there, the latter sees a bomb and DOESN'T RUN OUT! That's probably a failure of the direction, but Baldwin had plenty of time. Emma was only a few steps outside the door - saved by a page from her father, but was she actually saved by Watts and the Group? - and she was fine. Baldwin just froze for no reason, except to up the stakes in a most artificial fashion.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A pretty good procedural with a strong emotional subplot, but it fits awkwardly into the program's end game, not quite resonating the way it should.



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