The X-Files – Season 10, Episode 5 – “Babylon” – The Power of Words

The X Files Babylon

     This was easily the worst episode of “The X-Files” mini-series so far. The tone is all over the place and it doesn’t give any of the ideas proper space and time to develop and grow so remains a disconnected and disjointed mess. This is an episode that if it had chosen to focus on one of the big ideas it would have been great, but instead tried to to do much and failed.

     “Babylon” was directed and written by Chris Carter.

      The story involves Mulder and Scully investigating an area after a terror attack as they try to communicate with one of the terrorists who survived the bombing, even though he is in a coma. They are working with their younger counterparts as well with Agent Einstein in the Scully role and Agent Miller in the Mulder role.

The Pros: The Idea – The idea of investigating the afterlife or the idea and concept of God and belief is fascinating and could have worked with a tighter script, a smaller cast and a rewrite. I still like the ideas they wanted to explore.

Dana Scully – Scully is great in this as we see her working with Miller to find where the terrorist cell is. She is also the calm and collected to Mulder and after Mulder get’s high she’s there for him to bring him back down.

Fox Mulder – Mulder is just crazy this episode, and because it’s Mulder it works. It still one of the weakest ways he’s been written though. His hallucinating The Cigarette Smoking Man in the afterlife was just weird.

Skinner – Skinner appears briefly in this to reprimand Mulder…I wish we had gotten more time with him as anytime he’s around there is a great dynamic. I’m glad he survived the series thus far.

The Cons: The New Agents – They don’t really work as they feel like cutouts of Mulder and Scully while missing the fact that Mulder and Scully were actually fully developed characters.

God and Religion – We never really get this explored. There are trumpets that sound and no one knows from where but they never investigate it really and it is forgotten about. If it wanted to explore these ideas it should have taken the time to do just that.

Tonal Dissidence – The episode begins with a suicide bombing, radicalization is briefly discussed and we have Mulder get high and go to a Cowboy Club before he travels to the afterlife…What the hell?

   I wouldn’t recommend this episode. It doesn’t really work in anyway and I wonder if Chris Carter was the writer who took the show off the deep end before it was canceled based off what I watched here. If you want to see high Mulder it’s probably on youtube now and that’s pretty much it as far as comedy goes in an episode that should have been serious and focused.

Final Score: 2 / 10

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Carnivale – Season 1, Episode 6 – “Pick a Number” – Haunted by Ghosts

Pick a number

“Pick a Number” continues where we left off in Babylon and explores the quest for just by the carnival as well as giving us more information about Scudder. It’s a powerful episode to complete the stay in Babylon.

The episode was written by Ronald Moore and directed by Rodrigo Garcia.

The story picks off with Ben still in the mine and transported back to World War 1 in the trenches where he runs into Scudder, Lodz and a Russian soldier. While this is going on a funeral is thrown for the dancer and Carnival Justice is sought against the last man in Babylon who confesses to the act. From here these stories unfold.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Tone – The tone is haunting and foreboding, as we learn the people who can the day before were all ghosts and that Babylon is a literal ghost town where the dead can never rest. The last image is of Dora Mae the dancer being pulled into the darkness of her rape in murder after Samson has completed justice against the last man in Babylon. The town’s horrors still live on forever.

Jonesy – Jonesy’s doubts are put a little to rest in this episode when Samson tells him that he trusts him and thought he was trusted in turn. Together with the rest they seek carnival justice against the accused and last man and bury Dora. Eventually Samson wins him over as we see him traveling with Samson at the end as they continue following Scudder.

Professor Lodz – We see he fought in World War 1 with Scudder and that there is more going on too. He tries once again to train and help Ben but is denied. We see his tender side during the funeral and his brutal side when he invites Ben to watch Carnival Justice.

Ben – Is a very lost character still. He seeks Scudder in the visions of the past, but won’t open up to the one person who can help him. He’s keeping himself isolated and I think that’s going to have a bad affect on him later.

Pastor Justin Crowe – Is in the burned out church and eventually realizes God isn’t there for him anymore and leaves to wander. To him his God is dead for letting the children die and the ones who are guilty still live. This is the most desolate we’ve seen him.

Samson – Samson shows why he is co-manager when after carnival justice (Russian roulette) leaves the man alive. He gets information about Scudder going south and Scudder’s killing and bringing the ghosts to this place. After that he kills the bartender, leaving the man in the Hell he never wanted to die in. He fulfills the justice the carnival couldn’t get during the trial. He really steps up in this episode and for all these reasons is able to put Jonesy’s fears to rest, at least for the moment.

The Funeral – The funeral is powerful, with singing and everyone gives a gift to Dora to honor her. It really is a great scene.

This episode was nearly perfect and one I’d recommend. My only issue is that it was hard to hear the important stuff sometimes because characters didn’t enunciate. But the power of what happens and how honoring someone good and killing someone bad are shown lend power to the actions of the carnival as a whole and to Samson as the leader we see.

Final Score: 9.8 / 10

 

Carnivale – Season 1, Episode 5 – “Babylon” – The Evil of Humanity

carnivale-babylon-31     “Babylon” is one of the most powerful episodes of any show I have ever seen. We see character exploration of the major sort and see how desperation can make people evil and bad and left wondering if that evil was there all along in some places, just waiting for someone to blame.

“Babylon” was written by Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin and directed by Tim Hunter.

The story involves the carnival finally arriving in the ghost town of Babylon, Texas…where there used to be mine but there isn’t anymore. Here Sophie talks to one of the dancers Libby who lets her know she isn’t pregnant from her one night stand the day before. To deal with the turmoil everyone is feeling Samson treats them to a night on the town but things go south when the carnival starts up and they find just how unwelcome they are.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: Babyon – A ghost town with a dead mine…this place is haunting and foreboding the entire time here. It’s like something bad is just waiting to happen as Pastor Crowe reads a prayer for the children as a voice over and it tells of Babylon and how wretched it is.  Major areas are a movie theatre with one silent film and a nearly empty bar. The place is dead but there are people hidden.

Libby – Carlo Gallo is great and though we only get to know her in this episode (she’s had a lot of sexual experiences but has always had self respect) and she helps Sofie find herself and make peace with her night before. Sadly her reward is one of her fellow dancers getting killed and labeled a harlot.

Sofie – Sofie is growing and we find her stand up for herself to Jonesy as she connects with Libby. What affect Libby’s death will have on her remains to be seen, but her mother hated their friendship.

Jonesy – Jonesy is falling apart. He turns the Wheel on full speed and lets no one on or off and gets drunk. He tries to pursue Sofie but because he isn’t open or friendly to anyone he gets nothing back. It ends with him being cast from the carnival but returns with the body of Libby.

Professor Lodz – With his lover Lila the bearded woman, he goes out to the mine where Ben has been placed to guide or guard him. What he is doing is unknown at this point, but he believes he has to be there and foresees that Ben will be there. His relationship with Lila is wonderful and he continues to be the mysterious mentor.

Samson – Samson is back in the good as he treats the crew to drinks and does all he can to protect them from Babylon when he realizes it isn’t safe. It is here you realize just how overwhelmed he is by it all and trying to make the best choices for the carnival.

Ben – Finds Scudder in the mine and finds the words AVATAR carved into the wood. He chases Scudder who tells him that he may know who he is but he doesn’t know the bigger questions related to meaning. Scudder retreats when Ben asks what they are. His time is short but important in this episode.

This was a powerful and perfect “Carnivale” episode. From showing the evil of humanity as desperate men targeted an innocent who only treated them with kindness and labeled her a harlot. This being done side by side with Crowe’s prayer for the children was made all the more powerful.

Final Score: 10 / 10. Perfect episode.

Carnivale – Season 1, Episode 3 – “Tipton” – The Legacy of the Father

Carnivale Tipton

We continue with “Carnivale” with some answers about the past and who Ben’s father is, as well as Samson’s relationship with the town of Tipton and the foreboding of things to come.

“Tipton” was directed by Rodrigo Garcia and written by Henry Bromwell.

The premise is that they arrive in Tipton but the Sheriff doesn’t want them there because he’s worried about them losing what little money they have. After Ben is recognized for healing the girl Samson makes a deal with a preacher for a revival to raise money which leads to Ben becoming famous until he’s called by a dream to the Sheriff’s mother Rebecca and how she is related to Ben’s father.

Here is the assessment of the episode:

The Pros: The Tone – This episode really catches the desperation of the Depression, from the Sheriff’s distrust even though he’s worked with them before…to people needing hope through miracles and believing the tricks the Carnivale does in the revival since Ben is just a prop and doesn’t actually perform any on the actors that are chosen for healing. It catches the two faced of it which we see when some folks come to tear down Pastor Crowe’s new church because even if he owns it, they own land and their two faced “kindness” is screamed.

Pastor Crowe – Crowe is once again a very compelling character, as we see him preaching the end but giving the poor something to hope for. He’s a complex character and seeing him in action again is great, though the future of his church remains unresolved as the man who came to take it away find himself choking before he departs the church. If this will make things worse or better remains to be seen. Clancy Brown really does add depth to this role.

Samson – Samson is great as the practical leader once again, quickly changing the carnival to a revival and using the members of the carnival to excite the crowd and bring in more money. We also see how angry he was at giving Ben more freedom when Ben leaves them hanging without him and almost does an actual miracle that would have revealed them all the world. Michael J. Anderson continues exploring my favorite character on the show. Samson has them heading for trouble since he feels they have to go to Babylon after Rebecca reveals that is where Scudder is.

Rebecca – Rebecca was the lover of Ben’s father Scudder and we find out Scudder used to be a crook and in his revival suit he looks just like Ben. She feels guilty for not doing anything to stop him. Her role is small and powerful and she tells Ben that Scudder was last seen going to Babylon, which is where Samson has them go next.

Ben – Doesn’t want power and when he is given it is very humble. The most he does is use to follow his dream to Rebecca who points him to Babylon to find his father Scudder. She also reveals Scudder’s dark past a little bit and we we see him ready to save her until she denies it. For now none of the carnival knows his powers are for real. He is now invisible again, which I think is what he wanted anyway.

This is a good episode that furthers the development of Samson, Ben and Justin Crowe…which makes me excited for what’s to come. There is foreboding both in the name and mythology of Babylon, and that is where they are going next and what we hear about their bad experiences there before.

9.4 / 10. Really great, just would have liked more moments to see what will come of the attack on Crowe’s church.