The X-Files #223: En Ami

"I've been a destroyer all my life. Before I die, I'd like to prove that I'm capable of something more."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: The Cigarette Smoking Man and Scully take a secret road trip to find the cure for cancer.

REVIEW: William B. "Cigarette-Smoking Man" Davis wrote this pure conspiracy episode, a chance, perhaps, to reveal something about the character he plays and guide him in one direction or other. Of course, it's very difficult to gather any useful intelligence on a man who's running a con. In fact, it's hard to know who he's running that con ON. Answer: Everyone, perhaps even himself. The pun in the title is fairly clever. En Ami, French for "as a friend", sounds like "enemy". Which is he? He's been impersonating Scully online and needs her in the flesh to complete the hand-off of medical super-tech (a cure to all disease), so he seduces her in a number of ways. (If you didn't see the disc swap coming, you don't know Cancerman.) But since he throws the disc away, it's hard to know just what his agenda is. Does he play the sad old man to prey on Scully's oft-mentioned interest in older men, or is he actually taken with her? Is that why he lets her live and kills the hitman he's working with before it happens? Does he try to push Scully into Mulder's arms so his son can have some kind of happiness, or is he just trying to distract Scully with upsetting topics of conversation? Was the spry 118-year-old real, and for that matter, was the Cancerman's beneficent God routine reall too? Is he really dying, or was that part of the ploy? Even after the evidence disappears, Scully still believes he's somehow sympathetic. He's won.

At least Scully was lying too, agreeing to keep Mulder out of it, but sending him hints and messages (even if most didn't reach their destination). But you can't out-lie a master. Giving Scully a relationship to the Cigarette-Smoking Man at this juncture is, of course, another step towards adapting the show for a Mulderless existence. From nasty father figure to... what exactly? Oddly romantic patient/doctor relationship? He goes on and on about having saved her, highlighting "power" over "good", simultaneously nudging her to think of him as a soul she can save. Mulder is understandably trying to help her from a distance, and brings in the Lone Gunmen in what must be one of their strangest appearances yet. With a series of their own on the horizon, perhaps there was a mandate to make them look really active, as opposed to waiting around for Mulder to call them. Either way, they're slightly ridiculous, which goes against the rest of the episode's tone.

This is also the last episode to be directed by Rob Bowman, and he'll be missed. It looks great like all his material. Great use of shadows, well-crafted suspense, and effective reveals. That boat ride alone, on the lake, looks gorgeous. His talent is the one thing here that's undeniable and unambiguous.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: The hybrid Jeremiah Smith in Talitha Cumi had told the Cigarette-Smoking Man that he had lung cancer. Here, he cites a cerebral inflammation. So was his cancer cured already by the same means as Scully's or the kid's in this episode's teaser? Or again, all lies?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - An episode that keeps you guessing, and while well crafted and acted, it perhaps keeps you guessing too long and too much. Not sure Davis sells me on Cancerman's destruction of medical research that could save him (or if he's not ill, make him).



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