Written by Chris Carter
Directed by Rob Bowman
Perhaps the biggest flaw with Syzygy is one of scheduling—- having two comic themed episodes right after each other would come as a moment of discord that had not yet become known for doing comedies. Then, of course, there’s the comparison of writers— Darin Morgan makes everything seem smooth and effortless while, sad to say, Chris Carter has a way of belaboring a joke. This maybe the reason for this episode’s not exactly stellar reputation. But measured strictly on it’s own merits, this is a very well done and often hysterical episode.
Dealing with satanists always seems to rub our heroes the wrong way — we’ve certainly seen how badly they regarded things when they actually had to deal with Satan (Die Hand Die Verlezt) but then again, that’s most of the joke about this episode — and may be a big part of why it’s hard to take. Mulder and Scully are snappish and standoffish to each other for the entire episode, and while they’ve been at loggerheads for the last few weeks, to actually have it made part of the fun may have been an offense a lot of fans were not willing to take. But when this ‘cosmic G-spot’ seems to be having the effect of making our heroes so pissed at each other—- and acting out of character in other ways— Mulder’s drinking! Scully’s smoking!— it’s understandable that many people didn’t get the point. Maybe they just thought it was sloppy writing— after all, this is a sin that Carter will fall prey to in later seasons.
But everybody in Comity is acting out of control— with the exception of one of episode’s solid gags, Madame Zelinka, the astrologer who sees herself more as a businesswoman, and who seems prepared even to let the federal government be on the hook rather then just tell Mulder what he needs to know. People who normally stand as solid citizens are so out of character that they’re forming mobs and cross-dressing and otherwise acting like the world’s coming to an end. Of course, the bigger fun is having the villains of the piece be two young teenage girls who happen to have the same birthday, and who look like they’ve decided to rip off Clueless to the point that they can’t even see how ludicrous they are. On the other hand, this may be the best handling of teenagers that The X-Files will give us, which may say less for the writers than it does for this episode.
And of course, there’s the fact that there’s another woman in the mix, and poor Detective White is nowhere near as entertaining as last week’s model. Say what you will about Bambi, but at least she was smart and competent. In all honesty, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson is one of the weakest thing about the episode— she tries to be a force of rationality one minute, the next she’s swigging down vodka and trying to mount Mulder in a motel room. Hate her, wouldn’t want to date her.
Admittedly, some people were just sort of unhappy that our heroes were so mean to each other—–frankly, a lot of these issues were things that have to have been boiling beneath the surface for the two of them, some of them just for comic effect (I always wonder why Mulder did all the driving) some far more serious (Mulder does leave his partner behind so often, usually to his detriment that you wonder why it took a planetary alignment to make her admit it). Some of the better dialogue comes from this, including his dialogue about perfume. Oh Mulder, you should’ve known better. And it’s another handful of garbled prose to greet us at the end of the episode, but at least Carter has the sense to puncture as well as make sure that it’s not quite our last line of dialogue.
It’s not a perfect episode by any means— I ‘m glad Carter showed us a clip of the Keystone Kops, but I have no idea what kind of hidden meaning there was at the end of every channel. And leaving the show open ended about what’s going to happen to Terri and Margi, considering all the carnage they’ve wrought on this town doesn’t seem like the right note. But there are so many good things about it—- the way Carter feeds on the discontent that’s been bubbling between the characters and turns it into comedy, makes it a noteworthy and amusing episode in its own right, even if you don’t think Satan had anything to do with it. Sure, it’s definitely fine.