Conspiracy. Monsters. The woods. These are the makings of a great episode of The X-Files…until you realize it’s a standalone about Skinner. The conspiracy is just rehashed crap we’ve heard about before, the monster is just a man in a mask, and the woods…well, they look cool — as do Mulder and Scully (that turtleneck, though); and, thus, “Kitten” turns out just to be a colossal waste of time.
Join me for my Teso Dos Bitchfest.
Been There, Done That
He [Mulder] tries to help Skinner out of his deep hole.
That is from my review of “Zero Sum.” I was talking figuratively; but apply it here and it’s literal!
[Cue X-Files theme]
I don’t know why, but I always kind of space out during Skinner’s monologue. There’s so much going on in this episode that my mind is racing on everything else that I can’t focus on what he’s saying, nor do I really care. I love Skinner, it’s just that this story doesn’t engage me much.
This was referring to Skinner’s story about his time in Vietnam from “One Breath.” I didn’t care then, and guess what. I don’t care now! This brief moment from the second season has come back to haunt me as a full goddamned episode!
[Cue X-Files theme]
Skinner is such an interesting character, and this episode does him an injustice.
I said this about the first Skinner-centric episode from The X-Files Season 3, “Avatar.” He finally gets the episode he deserves in “Kitten,” but, unfortunately, it’s waaaay too late. Do the folks over at 1013 Productions know that this is a revival and not a normal season of a television show? Now is not the time to develop secondary characters or delve into their backstories. Why are you wasting everyone’s time?! Your chance at telling this story is long gone; and yet, you still try to cram it in like some platonic break-up plot. No, thank you.
Not to mention, “Kitten” has all the same themes and structural beats as “Avatar.” It could’ve been titled “Avatar 2.” Or “Skinner’s Struggle.” That’s a missed opportunity right there!
“Avatar” goes a little like this: It looks like Skinner is involved in some sort of crime. Mulder and Scully try to help him, believing he is a good man who has been loyal to them to his own detriment. Sound familiar?
Even some of the dialogue is similar: “Truth is, we don’t know much about him,” Scully says in “Avatar.” 22 years later she reiterates, “we know precious little about Walter Sergei Skinner beyond the professional.” Same thing — just wordier. Way to go, guys!
And this guilt trip they put on Mulder and Scully is so weak. Kersh is like, “I came back for this?” The X-Files were closed for 15 years, and they are still to blame for Skinner’s stalled career? Mmmkay. I get that his loyalty to them has compromised him dearly in the past, but I think we’re past using that as an excuse. Also, this betrayal aspect that Chris Carter so ineptly introduced in “My Struggle III” makes me have very little sympathy.
Are we really supposed to care that some old white dude isn’t getting a promotion? In this day and age? Hashtag: Time’s Up…or something.
Making The Most Of A Bad Situation
Make no mistake, the failure of this episode has nothing to do with the talented director and actors, and everything to do with a mediocre script and the decision to tell this story in the first place.
Carol Banker is just the third woman to ever direct an episode of The X-Files. There’s been over two hundred episodes with only three directed by women, so this makes for an embarrassing ratio. What Banker accomplishes in “Kitten” is exemplary and commendable. She took a story that very few people were interested in seeing and made it scary and exciting. From the Vietnam flashbacks to Mulder and Scully running around in the woods, nearly every frame was cinematic.
Who says women can’t direct action? Kathryn Bigelow has been proving they can for years; Patty Jenkins proved it with Wonder Woman; and Carol Banker proves it here with “Kitten.” The action bits are great, and the subtler emotional beats are just as engaging. Imagine taking an unoriginal story by men and turning it into something watchable. Iconic.
Women: making up for the shortcomings of men since the beginning of time.
Haley Joel Osment is fantastic in two roles. And it’s not just my super extra feelings about him having had played Gillian Anderson’s son in I’ll Follow You Down (although the scene where Scully and Davey interact is one of my favorite moments). Osment is such a gifted actor. Too bad he is in this episode. Too bad this episode exists.
Get Your Shit Together, Walter
Coming off the emotional high of “Ghouli” makes this episode even more disappointing, and it makes Skinner look really selfish. Mulder and Scully had just found their son, and all sorts of new leads had sprung up; but, no, they’ve got to go chase Skinner’s ass into the woods for completely unrelated reasons. And in the end, Skinner vows to do right by John and find out the truth about what happened to him.
Uh, bro, your “truth” can take a number. I believe William and a possible impending apocalyptic event take precedence over this.
Also, just the look on Skinner’s face at the end of his conversation with Mulder on the ferry in “Ghouli” is more than enough motivation for Skinner to decide to do the right thing with The Smoking Man. We did not need a whole episode to see that develop.
“Kitten” is a spooky episode of The X-Files, but the scariest thing about it is that my fear that it would be entirely pointless came true.
- If I see the word “Skinner-centric” one more time, I will impale myself on a Punji Stick.
- “[…] has everything to do with his blind loyalty to you and your misguided search for some imaginary truth.” This kind of describes those legions of fans who think it’s not possible to love The X-Files and criticize it at the same time. They seem to have a blind loyalty to Chris Carter and his “imaginary truths.”
- “It appears he may suffer from moderate to severe constipation.”
- I like this actor that plays the sheriff. He does a good job.
- The teeth thing is really gross.
- The ear thing is really gross.
- Scully in that turtleneck is the highlight of this episode.
- “I’d like to think that his choice to stay loyal to us was exactly that: a choice.” Yep.
- “I think cats are creepy.” Don’t watch “Teso Dos Bichos” then, Davey.
- BAMF!Scully saves the day.
- Also, did you see her in that turtleneck?