Category Archives: Character Spotlight (TV/Film/Games/Books)

Why Illyria Matters

In the interim of waiting for Person of Interest to return (May 3rd, people, bookmark that date!), I decided to re-watch Angel. It had been a year or so since I had last done so and whenever I re-watch a Whedon project, I know I have a lot to look forward to. Not just because I’m aware of the generally consistently brilliant storylines, but because I always seem to discover something new each timebe it some sneaky foreshadowing or something more personal like a newfound love or hatred for a character.

During this particular re-watch, what really struck me is just how much I love Illyria. Though I was certainly already a member of her fan club, my appreciation for her has grown even stronger, largely because of how confoundedly misunderstood her character is.

It’s easy to denounce Illyria, under the belief that she is accountable for the demise of Fred. I don’t hold Illyria responsible at all and I’ll tell you why: she didn’t choose Fred as her vesselKnox did. There is no doubt in my mind that if Illyria could have chosen her vessel, she would have selected someone far more imposing. If you were a pure-bred demonic God-King, would you honestly pick a willowy 20-something human to contain you and all of your might? Probably not.

A Hole in the World” is undoubtedly one of, if not the most harrowing episodes in the Buffyverse to watch. As fans know, it essentially consists of the audience getting to watch Fred slowly die for 40-odd minutes. By no means is it an easy watch and most fans will agree that it came as a shock. Yet, in a way that is perhaps grotesque, it remains my favourite episode in the series because of how terrifically it was executed. If you have the DVDs, I implore you to watch it with the commentary from Joss Whedon, Alexis Denisof, and Amy Acker. Throughout most of it, they’re uncharacteristically quiet and just hearing them share their on-set experiences makes the whole ordeal even sadder. Everyone involved who was working on it was distraught, which tells you just how important and meaningful Fred’s character was (and still is) to many.

Before I get deeply into discussing Illyria, it’s only fair I write about Fred firstyou can’t have Illyria as we know her without Fred, nor Fred without Illyria.

Even those who dislike Fred can surely objectively see why she’s such a popular character: she underwent an enormous amount of positive character development, and was a ray of sunshine in oft-gloomy times for Angel Investigations. Rather unfairly, her character is often compared to other Buffyverse fan favourite Willow Rosenberg. This is always one comparison that I struggle with. Only on a base level are they similar with their love of science, intellectualism, and intelligence. Other than that, they couldn’t be more different. From the moment that Fred was introduced, she was a fighter, due to environmental circumstances; as opposed to Willow who, while assisted Buffy, certainly couldn’t be considered much of a fighter in the early seasons. Even as the seasons progressed, Willow generally worked with magick rather than really getting her hands dirty. Fred never had the internal supernatural element and was simply a young physicist whom had been accidentally introduced to the supernatural world, whereas Willow had insisted on helping out Buffy and later on using magick. There’s also the matter of how, no matter how dark things got for Fred, she never went “dark”her actions in”Supersymmetry” were ultimately for the greater good. I think that she was completely justified in her quest for vengeance and even though she was vexed, she didn’t try and end the world because of her pain. Suffice to say, Fred is anything but a Willow clone, which is an insulting phrase (I have unfortunately heard) to both deeply compelling characters and actresses.

Back to Illyria. In my humble opinion, she is easily one of the more unique characters that the Buffyverse has to offer. The Old Ones were mentioned as far back as Buffy‘s “Welcome to the Hellmouth” yet it was Angel that really fleshed out the concept in the form of Illyria by giving the audience a chance to see one in action for eight terrific episodes; a consummation, as it were. For me, the saddest part of Angel‘s premature cancellation is that we didn’t get to see more Illyria. I have read several times that in season six, Joss Whedon was planning on having Fred return and wrestle for control over her body. While that obviously didn’t come to fruition on screen, it has happened in the Angel and Faith comics, which I must say, are well worth reading.

Illyria’s powers are just one of many brilliant aspects to her character. What we saw on screen doesn’t even begin to skim the surface of what she’s truly capable of and that was awesome enough. Who else could destroy Team Angel in around 16 seconds tops? None of the other Big Bads shown in either series came close to taking out the heroes in such a short amount of time. Lest we forget that was Illyria in a weakened state too! One of the most interesting things I learned about her while reading one of the issues of the Only Human comic mini-series is that absorbing her power kills even extremely powerful demons who are close to Old Ones in the demonic hierarchy. Her true, monstrous form even has the ability to warp time itself, as shown in the comics. In short: don’t screw with Illyria.

Perhaps the main attraction of her character to me is what she represents and how she develops in such a short span of time. When you think about it, Illyria is basically just an alien stuck in a world she doesn’t understand. It almost translates in a child-like manner (something I’m positive is down to Acker’s contributions as an actress) and I have often found myself feeling sorry for her. Yet she isn’t content with simply not understanding the world and giving up, instead, she enlists the help of Wesleyshe wants to learn about human life and how she can integrate better. The dynamic between Illyria and Wesley is easily one of my favourite things about the entire series. It’s extremely poetic in the respect that Wesley is willing to help a pure-bred demon just because it is inhabiting the body of the woman he loved. Illyria acknowledges that and wishes to explore the Fred and Wesley dynamic further, even offering to assume the form of Fred for him, but he declines. Later, in one of the most iconic Buffyverse scenes, Wesley agrees to let her lie to him and he dies in the arms of “Fred” with a smile on his face.

Another dynamic which I thoroughly enjoyed watching was that of Illyria and Spike. Spike’s bold quips to her and Illyria’s… unusual ways of showing affection towards him made for some serious comedic material amidst the darkness.

My personal top Illyria moment takes place in “The Girl in Question” where she assumes Fred’s form for the Burkles without any prompting. There’s obviously something not quite right about “Fred” but her parents can’t quite ascertain what. The tension created from this alone is chilling but pales in comparison to the scene where Illyria talks in her usual regally strict tone while in Fred’s form. It’s highly unnerving and something that I would deem unmissable in the series; subtle yet full of lasting impact. It might not be flashy to look at or laden with powerful music, but it’s the mannerisms that Amy conveys that make it so special. In fact, it’s this episode that cemented Amy as my favourite actress of all time and I still consider it one of the top moments in her acting career.

To conclude, Illyria is a character full of layers both small and large. She looks like Fred, but they’re different characters and are both worthy of being intellectually examined. Dismissing Illyria dismisses how much of a phenomenal actress Amy Acker really is because if not for Illyria, we would never have been treated to the glorious moments that Amy so wonderfully conveyed. Introducing Illyria also gave the other actors a chance to explore previously uncharted waters and the writers a chance to add in all of the brilliant dynamics I mentioned. That’s why I say that Illyria matters.

 

 

 

 

 

“This Could Take All Night…” – Root & Sameen Shaw, PERSON OF INTEREST [‘Ship Spotlight]

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“Root-in-a-bear-suit” welcomes you to this blog post dedicated to Root and Sameen Shaw – aka Shoot – from the CBS science fiction/techno-drama series Person of Interest. If you are a newer fan of this dynamic, chaotic duo of badassery, you will find lots of goodies related to Shoot in this super-long guide about them. If you’re a longtime fan, hello!

I keep this post (mostly) updated with the following: polls for fans to vote in, interviews featuring the actresses who portray Root & Shaw (Amy Acker and Sarah Shahi), and any new (spoilery) information regarding the ‘ship in the upcoming fifth season. You’ll notice some “F” bombs in this post because CBS has been screwing with fans of Person of Interest on when the fifth season will air; we’re still in the dark beyond an announcement of “Spring 2016” and that’s totally unacceptable. We want our show, and we want it NOW!

This post is constantly being updated, but if there anything that you’d like to see added to this post, hit the Comments below and add your suggestions/screenshots/Shoot-related articles, fan videos, and fan art. Feel free to share it across the world on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook – pass it on to your friends who are clueless about Shoot and get them hooked.


LATEST POST UPDATES – 03/19/16

We got some new info about Season 5 FINALLY, but it comes with a bit of sad news as well. Most of us have been prepared for it, but I have to share it. Read below to see the latest news update.

Shoot got stopped in the Elite Eight of the Zimbio TV Couples March Madness ChallengeI won’t add much else to this, but there were a few fandoms anti-voting against us. To each their own, and I won’t say more about it ’cause I prefer to remain positive and neutral in fandom stuff. On the plus side: we do have new episodes to look forward to and more Shoot and then there’s gonna be lots of feelings to process and explore and I’m not mentally prepared yet for Root’s reunion with Shaw, or the rest of Team Machine (especially Bear).


Need More Root to Help with the Hiatus?

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Ms Buffy Buff (Cassandra) has written an excellent article on Root and her importance & significance not only on Person of Interest, but as one of the most developed and well-written characters in recent years, if not one of the best characters on television since its inception. Root has added quite a bit of flavor to what had originally started as your average crime procedural, and Amy Acker has demonstrated her finest acting work yet to the character. Read her post: Rooting for Root.


 

FUCK YOU, CBS! We FINALLY Get An Airdate, But…

CBS – the broadcast network currently obsessed with spinoffs of spinoffs, reality drivel, uninspired TV reboots of film/TV properties, and terrible primetime scheduling – finally gave us an airdate for the final season of Person of Interest. Starting May 3rd, Season Five will air in its regular Tuesday timeslot, but then they threw in a plot twist: they’ll be airing it twice a week from May 9th through the show’s finale on Tuesday, June 21st. It’s about damn time they announced something!

Honestly? I’m glad we finally got an answer,as to when the show returns. We have this shortened schedule but get two episodes per week, and my parents are going to have to deal with me for seven weeks as I invade their home and watch the show on their TV ’cause mine gets too much interference and can’t pick up CBS or ABC (no cable for this gal! Go digital antenna!). They’re going to see me at my fangirling best: crying, yelling, swooning, cheering, bawling, and a range of various emotions that might/might not be shared by them. Mom will be happy that Shaw’s back and Dad will be grinning over Root, and they’re both Shoot supporters. I love my parents. <3

If you didn’t see the sly “final season” that I slipped in there, it’s confirmed: CBS also officially canceled the show. Is there any hope the show could be picked up elsewhere? Sure? Do the cast & crew want it? Depends on them and any networks/streaming sites interesting in picking up the show. If this is the final curtain call, then I’m so very thankful  to everyone who worked on the show, for Mom stubbornly refusing to let me keep ignoring it, and the awesome friends that I’ve made in the fandom for the past year.

There was also some woman named Amy Acker that I met last year, and she was OK – I guess. HA! Sarcasm aside, she is one of the loveliest people ever and she’s making several convention appearances this year. I’ll be adding her convention appearances here shortly. If you have the opportunity to travel to one and meet her, DO IT! You won’t regret it!

Many entertainment sites have been reporting the news. I posted an article from TVLine, which you can visit by clicking on the screenshot below.

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Several months ago, a friend of mine created a Change.org petition that originally asked CBS to extend the episode order of POI’s fifth season from 13 episodes to more. At the time, the actors themselves had no clue if they were just shooting thirteen episodes or possibly more because CBS still hadn’t finalized a decision (back in May). Now we know that CBS has canceled the series and set the fifth season premiere for May 3rd, with the series finale airing on June 21st. Happy early birthday gift to me! :( I’m happy we’re finally getting to see the final thirteen episodes, but bummed out that it’s another series that I can add to my list of Shows That I Love That Have Ended Just As I Got Into Them.

The petition has changed to ask Netflix to save the show and air a future sixth season if that’s possible, in the cards, or if the universe so desires (and the fans demand it). Take a look at the petition and if you’re interested, give it your virtual John Hancock. Share it and spread it to fellow fans and help support a fellow fan who’s done a bit in the fandom to promote the show to those outside of our geek-o-sphere and welcomed me into the fold.


So, What’s the 411 on New Shoot Info? What’s Happening to Root & Shaw in Season Five?

[SPOILER ALERT! There are some spoilers for Person of Interest’s fifth season. You’ve been warned!]

It doesn’t help to be hearing about all of this badass stuff that’s gonna happen in Season Five without a premiere date to look forward to. I think this has been the longest wait for any show since forever. CBS claims that the show will be returning “this Spring 2016,” but what exactly does that mean? That means they’ll air it when they feel like it.  Can we just have the season start airing sooner rather than later? *heavy sigh*

Waiting for Season Five really, really sucks. On the plus side, at least WGN has been airing the episodes nightly on their network, and Netflix has the first three seasons to binge-watch. Still no word on when Season Four will be added to Netflix. Boo! It is available on Amazon Prime and iTunes, so that’s an alternative until Netflix adds it.

If you’re a spoiler-phobe and are trying to remain so, you should steer clear from here and keep scrolling. If you’re anxious for ANY news on the upcoming fifth season, watch the videos and view the photos below. Start with the NYCC 2015 Sizzle Reel, but be warned: you might find yourself in an endless loop of replaying the video several thousand times in a row (I swear I didn’t do that).

Three awesome Root & Shaw photos, courtesy of Chris Fisher. You’re welcome. To see more of his gorgeous ‘POI noir‘ photos, visit his Instagram. (Updated: March 1st)

root-poi-noir-newshaw-poi-noir-newroot-poi-noir-new-2Photos Credit: Chris Fisher via Instagram

NYCC 2015 POI Sizzle Reel

The funniest thing ever from the show. As my dad said at the end of the clip, “They’re giving her [Acker] more of a lead role? Nice. She’s really good.” He’s a Root/Shoot fan, making even even cooler than he already is.

NYCC 2015 POI Panel – Full Cast
(sound/video not in sync; hard to find the whole panel on YouTube)

A little more than half of this panel is related to Shoot and Root and Shaw’s characters. Sarah gives a great speech during it about how important LGBTQ+ representation is on TV, that cannot be missed We’ll call this panel the best Shoot-related comic con panel ever (unless we get one that tops it). Also, did they mention a love scene between the two? I want Shoot back on my screen soon and I’ll take every single scene with them. Fuck you, CBS, again.

NYCC 2015 IGN interview: Sarah Shahi/Amy Acker

Really good interview from IGN. Can these two work on projects together in the future?

NYCC 2015 AfterEllen Interview: Sarah Shahi/Amy Acker

Editor’s Note: The video doesn’t want to properly embed in this post – just click the link to check out the article and video.

Amy drops a massive bomb in this interview by saying that the writers have always been for Shoot, but could never agree on whether Root & Shaw have had sexual encounters or not; she and Sarah think that they have, on more than one occasion. Kind of changes the context of several scenes in some episodes, especially in episodes like “Honor Among Thieves” and “The Cold War” that more than imply that they’ve been having sex on a regular basis.

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Bonus Photo Time! Taken from Sarah’s Instagram, this is the first shot of Amy & Sarah back together as Root & Shaw. – you’re welcome. The Internet might’ve broken that day – I know I ‘squee’d‘ a few times. In public. It happens.


If You Couldn’t Tell From Above, Sarah’s Back And Kicking Ass As Shaw. She Was Sorely Missed.

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This was the most frequently-asked-question that Mom kept bringing up whenever I’d pay her a visit: “Is Shaw coming back? I know she’s not dead. Is she returning? I miss Shaw.” I give her credit and kudos for getting me into the show and introducing me to Root & Shaw. I love that she’s still interested in the show and thinks Shaw’s the shit. If Mom was any character on the show, she’d be Shaw.

If you want to read a few of the interviews that Sarah’s done since her return was first announced, here ya go: TVLine’s interview with Sarah – the site that first delivered the scoop. Read the AfterEllen interview where Shoot is mentioned as totally being on and so, so canon. Read this Give Me My Remote interview where Sarah fangirl’s over Amy (those two are the biggest fans of each other).


Do The Actresses ‘Ship Their Characters?

I’ll get to the answer in a minute. First off, I’d like to welcome all of the new fans who might be discovering Shoot for the first time. Welcome to the fandom! If you are new to Person Of Interest and are wondering why Amy and Sarah seem so familiar to you, let me introduce you to the actresses:

AMY ACKER – best known for Angel (Winifred “Fred” Burkle/Illyria), Alias (Kelly Peyton), and Dollhouse (Dr. Claire Saunders/Whiskey); also known as the “The Most Precious Ray Of Sunshine That Makes Morally Ambiguous Characters Both Sweet & Frightening.”

I was lucky to meet Amy twice in 2015 (in Denver and Toronto), and she’s the nicest person ever & the coolest person to talk to. If Amy’s attending a convention in your area, you should go see & meet her. For inquiring minds: she’s drop-dead gorgeous and has not aged since she appeared on Angel – she’s immortal, like Illyria. She takes the time to talk to you, she never stops smiling, and her positivity is infectious. As many fans will tell you: we’re lucky to be living at the same time as Amy.

http://quoteimg.com/amy-acker-angel-illyria/ Amy as ancient goddess Illyria on Angel

SARAH SHAHI – best known for The L Word (Carmen de la Pica Morales), Life (Dani Reese), Fairly Legal (Kate Reed); aka “They Couldn’t Have Picked A Better Actress to Play Shaw Than Sarah.” Perfect casting is perfect.

I’ve been a fan of Sarah’s since she first appeared on The L Word, and I totally forgot that she was in the first season of Alias in a small recurring role. She also famously appeared as the first “supernatural” character on the show Supernatural, and she’s also made appearances in films like Bullet to the Head and TV shows like Chicago Fire. My favorite role of hers has definitely been Sameen Shaw. I recommend checking out Fairly Legal because it’s a fun show and Sarah’s great in it as the lead, and she is amazing on Life.

http://www.tvequals.com/2012/04/20/fairly-legal-what-they-seem-season-2-episode-6/ Sarah as Kate Reed on Fairly Legal

What’s really awesome about this ‘ship is that Amy and Sarah are very supportive of it. They are the captains of the ‘ship and have been since the beginning. Hell, I think Amy ‘ships it more than anyone else on the face of this planet. Their on-screen chemistry – the super-flirty /morally ambiguous hacker Root & super-sarcastic /emotionless ex-assassin Shaw – is electrifying to watch, and the writers have definitely taken notice and have given us many memorable scenes between the two.

Besides the actresses and the writers, Shoot also has many other show supporters including: directors, producers, other cast members, and the hardworking crew members who work behind-the-scenes in making the show look amazing quite cinematic and epic in scope. There’s not too many couples (canon or not) that have not only the actors (actresses in this case) – and their coworkers – jumping onboard and supporting their ‘ship.


Why Do I ‘Ship Root & Shaw?

I’ll let the three excellent videos below tell you all about Shoot. You’ll see why I ‘ship them so hard:

Credit: YouTube user Shoot!!

The first one features a lot of Root & Shaw’s scenes from the show: from their introduction in Season Two’s “Relevance,” and ending with their last scene (for the time being) in Season Four’s “If-Then-Else.”

Credit: YouTube user doudoulty

The second video features a list of 30 reasons why people should ‘ship Shoot. There’s lots of good reasons listed, and it’s also another good introduction video to the ‘ship for newer fans.

Credit: YouTube user SHOOTPOI

The third video features the song “End of Me” by A Day To Remember and it’s an amazing fan video. The scenes and edits fit the music perfectly, and it hits me so freakin’ hard in the feels every time I watch it. I love the song as well.

To answer my own question: I ‘ship Shoot because there’s not too many interracial queer couples on TV. I ‘ship Shoot because none of the other characters (heroes and villains) ever bring up that it’s two women in love, no matter how stubborn the women are in admitting their feelings for the other. They can see how much Root and Shaw cares fr each other, and they never question that loyalty and devotion. Hell, even Samaritan’s top agent, Martine Rousseau, ‘shipped it (more on her and her ultimate ‘shipper status later). Martine once snarkily called Shaw Root’s “little girlfriend,” and no one blinked ’cause EVERYONE KNOWS IT. Finch even mentions something very important to Root about her relationship with Shaw, which you can read about in the next section. I ‘ship them because they are a perfect fit for the other, and they may not care about humanity as a whole sometimes, but they do care in their own way by trying to save the world from POI’s ultimate Big Bad: the evil A.I. Samaritan and its acolytes in Decima Technologies. I find that so beautiful to behold, and seeing these women go to extraordinary lengths to save one another (even self-sacrifice) is something you don’t see often on TV or in films.

They’re not an unconventional couple that will never exist in any cheesy displays of affection that you see so often repeated on TV like on The Bachelor. They are two women who love kink, push each others’ buttons, rescue each other against the odds, and ultimately help anchor Person of Interest by being the only established relationship in a series that doesn’t focus on many romantic storylines or elements, if rarely. And they’re not afraid to talk about any of their nights together, no matter how subtle they are (we’re on to you, writers). Ever since Root first met Shaw, there’s always been an attraction the other, a complex game that came to a temporary neutral end. When Root sees Shaw again for the first time since her capture by Samaritan, I will be bawling like a baby. I’m not prepared for Season Five, but at the same time I can’t wait to see Shoot’s return. It’s been too damn long…


Are They Officially Canon?

Yes they are! Before the Season Four episode “If-Then- Else,” Root & Shaw lived in the Land of Subtext, though there’s been subtle and not-so-subtle maintext between the two (I see those knowing looks, ladies!). The show has never shied away from bringing Root & Shaw closer through non-stop innuendos (Root) and half-hearted threats of violence against all the flirting (Shaw). Their first meeting was far from romantic (almost deadly), but it has grown into something more throughout the seasons.

There were various hints in Season Three about their relationship moving beyond the “platonic friendship” stage *cough* ten hours to kill in a CIA safe house *cough.* In Season Four, it became much clearer with several pivotal scenes that cemented not only the attraction, but caring and protectiveness the women had in each other.

In the episode “Prophets,” Root is about to go on a (potential) suicide mission and asks Harold Finch (the Machine’s “father”) to deliver a message to Shaw if she doesn’t make it out alive.

The entire quote as follows:

Root: “If the worst comes to pass… If you could give Shaw a message…”
Finch: “I think she already knows.”

Gone is the flirtatious Root, but one prepared for her own death in this somber and beautifully-delivered scene. She’s prepared to die so that Shaw may live, and it’s not the only time she’s made that decision. She will protect Shaw by any means necessary, but Shaw turns that on its head in “If-Then-Else.” You can watch the scene below:

Shoot scenes from Season Four, Episodes 1-7 Credit: YouTube user Step Ohah

Shoot officially became canon in the episode “If-Then-Else.” If there were any doubts about the nature of their relationship, those doubts were quickly swept away during the last five minutes of the ending scene. It’s a bittersweet reveal, but very important nonetheless.


How Did Shoot Start? What Are The Pivotal Episodes/Scenes To Watch?

[SPOILER ALERT! There are MAJOR SPOILERS for Person of Interest, starting with Season Two through Season Four. You’ve been warned!]

Quick Note:  “Number” = a POI that Team Machine has to help, and they could either be a victim or perpetrator. “TM” = Team Machine.

++ – denotes important Shoot episode.

I won’t go into the overall storyline of Person of Interest. I do cover what some of the episodes are about if they feature important Shoot scenes. The show is so vast and richly complex that it’s impossible to summarize it to newer viewers. Start with Season One and DO NOT SKIP ANY EPISODES! Missing even one episode will leave you lost – trust me. There are some really good Root & Shaw-centric episodes throughout the show, but these are the episodes & scenes that feature Shoot together. Let the arm-flailing and shrieking begin!

BONUS! Season One, Episode 23 – “Firewall” ++

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Before there was Shoot, there was Root. Originally appearing as a “Big Bad” on Person of Interest, Root has become an essential member of Team Machine and quite an important one, too.

Before she became their direct link to TM, Root was quite the worthy adversary. First appearing in glimpses in Season One’s “Root Cause,” we don’t officially meet her until “Firewall.” Finch & Reese get the number of a psychologist named Caroline Turing, who appears on their radars after a hit is put out on her by the corrupted cops behind the group HR. As the plot unfolds, we later learn that Turing set everything up and is later revealed to be…Root! The plot thickens as she kidnaps Finch to learn more about her god, the Machine, in the first two episodes of Season Two. Some of her backstory is discussed in the Season Two episode “Bad Code.”

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Season Two, Episode 16 – “Relevance” ++

Our first introduction to Sameen Shaw and one of my favorite episodes of the series. We get some background story on her and the shadowy government outfit that she works for as a highly-trained assassin, ISA. Shaw’s also a former Marine and has an extensive medical background. She has her first run-in with Root and it’s not pleasant – or we’re so led to believe. The mutual flirtiness was quickly picked up by the POI writers who discovered that there was some great chemistry between Shahi & Acker. Only they can make possible future torture sexy.

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Season Three, Episode 6 – “Mors Praematura” ++

The first episode where Shoot team up and sparks are ignited. In the previous episode, “Razgovor,” Root makes an uninvited appearance in Shaw’s lil’ studio apartment, stun-gunning the poor woman in a super-brief scene, as seen below:

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But Root’s not there to hurt her. She needs her help for a “number” that TM gave her. Introducing “Heavy Innuendo & Heart-Eyes” Root and “Captain Grumpy” Shaw! Also includes the infamous “stuck in a CIA safehouse for ten hours” scene, which is a fan-favorite ’cause we all want to know what they did in those ten hours. I doubt they were watching TV… I’ll go with the majority of fans and say that they had their first sexual encounter here (which has been alluded to since in another episode), ’cause ten hours is enough time for sexy, kinky things to happen. Several times. With a hood and zip-ties involved. Throw in a taser for a good time!

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Season Three, Episode 10 – “The Devil’s Share” ++

Root hasn’t been killed (yet) by Team Machine, but they are still reluctant to fully trust her, even though the Machine is now speaking directly to her (Root has become the Machine’s spokeswoman, or “Analog Interface”).  Root, Shaw, Lionel Fusco and Finch are out to save John Reese (Finch’s right-hand man) from a very dire situation while nursing a gunshot wound that almost kills him; he was shot in the previous episode. Reese went after HR, the corrupt organization of police officers and mobsters that were trying to control the city at the time, after their second-in-command Simmons murdered Team Machine ally Joss Carter. Of course, she and Reese expressed their feelings to each other and kissed, and that can never lead to good things. Kissing on this show can lead to death. The only person who’s escaped the “kiss of death?” Shaw.

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Season Three, Episode 12 – “Aletheia”

 

No matter how evil a character is – or was – at some point in their storyline, I find it hard to watch them get tortured by another morally-ambiguous character. Shoot share a scene at the beginning of this episode when Root comes in with her dual-wielding badass self as she rescues Shaw, Finch, and Arthur Claypool from the clutches of Shaw’s former employer, a humorless government official nicknamed Control (played by the amazing Camryn Manheim). In the ensuing gun battle, Root is shot while Shaw looks on, concerned for her safety. Root yells at her to escape with Finch and Claypool, though after escaping to safety Shaw wonders if Root’s OK. Unfortunately for Root, she’s kidnapped by Control and tortured for information on TM. The torture scenes are hard to watch, especially the scene where Control causes permanent hearing loss in Root’s right ear. Even through all that torture, Root doesn’t give in and she gets the one-up on Control in a chilling scene that has TM speaking through Root; Acker in one of her finest scenes.

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Season Three, Episode 17 – “Root Path” (aka “/”)

I LOVE Root-centric episodes ’cause they’re so unpredictable – just like the hacker herself. I also love the ones that feature a Shoot scene.  The Shoot scenes in this episode are brief but filled with Root’s patented innuendos and Shaw’s eye-rolling at it. The first one has some playful flirting from Root, with Shaw pretending to totally hate it (see the scene above).

The second scene has Shaw checking on Root’s wounds from several violent encounters. Root leans in with a sexy “I love it when you play doctor” before Shaw pulls away from her quickly. Oh, those crazy kids! I recommend watching the full episode because there’s a great scene between Root and Finch towards the end. You can always expect some superb acting whenever Amy Acker and Michael Emerson are in the same scene, with lots of emotional moments shared between their characters.

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Season Three, Episode 20 – “Death Benefit”

Two short Shoot scenes, but they’re two of my favorites. Root arrives on her sexy motorcycle to recruit Shaw for a trip up to Anchorage, Alaska to fight a militia and then down to Miami for a few cocktails and their version of “girl talk,” among the bruised & battered bodies of drug dealers. They know how to have a fun time. This episode is the last before a trilogy of episodes at the end of the season which show Samaritan’s activation. Decima Technologies, the sinister and shady tech company that built Samaritan, is run by a really dastardly bastard named John Greer – an ex-spy with a dark past who wants to create a New World Order using Samaritan as their leader. Things only get more intense from this episode on for Team Machine and Shoot.

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Season Three, Episode 21 – “Beta” ++

Consider this to be the Root/Shaw/Reese Power Hour. The episode is the first part of a trilogy leading up to Samaritan’s rise and Team Machine being forced “underground” to avoid detection from it and its operatives. Though there are no isolated Shoot scenes, there are lots of scenes with them and Reese, and I love it when this trio works together on “numbers.” It’s funny seeing Reese’s indifference to Root’s endless flirting with Shaw.

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Season Three, Episode 22 – “A House Divided” ++

Another Root/Shaw/Reese Power Hour episode. After Finch has been kidnapped by Greer and Decima, Team Machine has to reluctantly work together with Team Control, led by Shaw’s former mentor and attempted murderer Hersh. Both teams are looking for their respective employers, who have been kidnapped by a Decima off-shoot known as Vigilance: a violent anti-surveillance and privacy collective that uses various methods of torture and intimidation to try and force the government to stop spying on the American people. Root wanders off on her own for a bit and employs three hackers (all former POI’s) to modify seven Samaritan servers to help disguise Team Machine and the hackers from its gaze.

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Season Three, Episode 23 – “Deus Ex Machina” ++

Team Machine and Team Control are still desperately searching for Finch and Control and trying to stop their executions at the hands of Vigilance. There are a lot of Shoot scenes in this episode with Root & Shaw on a side mission to disable seven very important Samaritan servers by adding new identities for Team Machine (minus Fusco, who is not seen as a threat by Samaritan) and Root’s hacker employees: Daizo, Daniel Casey, and Jason Greenfield, who are all former POI’s. These seven people pose the biggest threat to destroying or disabling Samaritan in some way, and they have to be protected at all costs. Samaritan goes “live” at the end of Season Three, but our heroes are still around to kick its ass. The screenshots above are the last moments between Shaw & Root as their former selves before taking on their new identities, not knowing if they’ll ever see each other again. /FEELS

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Season Four, Episode 1 – “Panopticon”

Two fan-favorite Shoot scenes are in this episode, which sees Team Machine coping with their new identities and trying to save “numbers,” now that Samaritan is active and hunting down the Machine. Poor Shaw is stuck as a make-up saleswoman at a department store – her worst nightmare ever, though the five-finger discount on eyeliner is the only positive. Shaw’s manager asks her to promptly attend to a customer who has been waiting for a makeover for over 15 minutes. Shaw turns around and she sees…

…this crazy goddess in a tight blue dress, casually sipping on her iced coffee and giving her “I wanna sex you” eyes. I’d probably have the same reaction as Shaw, not gonna lie. ‘Cause HOT DAMN, ROOT! <3

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Season Four, Episode 2 – “Nautilus”

A less-than-minute long Shoot scene with Root & Shaw in a van. Root keeps checking up on Shaw, who is a bit annoyed by that (but secretly likes it). It’s a cute scene that’s all too brief in this episode, which features a future Samaritan player named Claire Maloney (if Martine is Shaw, Claire is Root).

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Season Four, Episode 5 – “Prophets” ++

Not only are there a few Shoot scenes in this episode, but there’s also a really deep and heartfelt conversation between Root & Finch about her relationship with the Machine and their ongoing war with Samaritan and its acolytes. At one point Root looks sadly at Finch, a bit defeated and ready to go on a mission that could possible get her killed to save a “number,” and she asks him to pass on a message to Shaw if she doesn’t make it out alive. Finch quickly adds that Shaw already knows. We can guess what Root wanted to say to Shaw.

This scene in particular is the first indication that Root & Shaw are more than just friends. Shaw expresses her own worry about Root when she asks Finch if he’s heard from her after her run-in with Samaritan operative Martine Rousseau (i.e. the super-evil blonde version of Shaw). One of the best episodes of this season & the series overall; a Top Three for me.

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Season Four, Episode 7 – “Honor Among Thieves” ++

Sylent Mari Says: This was the first episode of POI that I watched after a phone call with my mom one evening. She randomly mentioned the show to me (I wasn’t a fan at the time), and she mentioned that I’d dig the character “Root” ’cause she was totally gay and had a bit of a crush on a character named “Shaw.” I had previously seen a POI episode with Mom (Season Three’s “Liberty”), and I was happy to see Sarah (an actress I’ve always liked) and Amy (a favorite actress) in it, but I never caught their characters’ names. Jump to this episode. I called Mom later and said, “Wait! So Fred from Angel is the gay hacker you mentioned? Why didn’t you tell me sooner that it was her?” “I wanted you to see for yourself.” Thank you, Mom, for getting me into POI and Shoot.

Lil’ bit jealous there, Root? A great Team Machine episode with two of my favorite Shoot exchanges. The first exchange occurs towards the beginning of the episode, when Shaw is helping out their current “number”: a handsome thief named Tomas. Root – hiding out in Team Machine’s subway HQ and recovering from her injuries at the hands of Martine – decides to tease and flirt with Shaw over their shared comm link while she’s out on her “date” with Tomas. The flirting obviously gets to Shaw a few times, but she tries her hardest to play it off in front of Tomas.

Later, at the end of the episode, Shaw catches Root by surprise as she’s walking down the street. Root’s a bit irritated over a mission she & Finch had that supposedly led to a Samaritan-based operation, but turned out to be false, but perks up when Shaw appears. Shaw gives a heartfelt speech about almost running away to Barcelona with Tomas “for a hot second,” but deciding to stay in NYC because there were some things that she cared about in the city. Root’s face perks up and she cheekily asks if that’s why Shaw came to see her, but her ego gets knocked down a few pegs when Shaw asks for her assistance instead. Root quickly recovers, then not-to-subtly adds that “this could take all night.” That final look probably killed half the fandom and re-affirms the theory that Root & Shaw have had at least one sexual encounter:

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Season Four, Episode 9 – “The Devil You Know ++

A good amount of Shoot scenes are found in this episode. It’s time for Shaw to have a her own run-in with Samaritan. Martine spots Shaw across the department store her “identity” works at, and it’s quite the epic showdown. Fleeing from the scene, Root arrives as her ‘lady-knight-in-leather-on-motorcycle‘ and they escape Samaritan’s gaze. Finch, extremely worried about Shaw’s run-in with Martine, orders the two to hurry back to their hideout. Root’s having a hell of a time convincing Shaw to return, and not even Shaw’s flirty “Please” – which throws Root off for a second – dissuades her. She ends up sedating Shaw after tricking her, gently holding onto her as Shaw falls into a deep sleep.

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Season Four, Episode 10 – “The Cold War” ++

The stakes are raised when Samaritan and the Machine decide to have a “peace summit.” Root meets Samaritan’s own “Analog Interface” and he’s a creepy-as-hell grade schooler named Gabriel. There are several Shoot scenes in this episode as well: some fun, some more serious. In one of the most emotional moments in the episode, Shaw (who feels helpless as she’s ordered to stand down) berates Finch for allowing Root to go by herself to meet up with Samaritan. Finch stares her down and pointedly tells her: “There is one thing of which I am most certain – Root is not alone.”

I just re-watched this episode with a friend recently and caught on to the double-meaning behind Finch’s statement. How did it slip by me before? My interpretation: Root was alone after all these years and had found the Machine, who saved her, but then Shaw came into the picture and changed her world forever. Root will never be alone again because she has the Machine as her God, but Shaw is her other-half (whether they admit it to each other or not). Later, Finch tells Root that Shaw has left their hideout and is looking for her, wanting to help out with saving numbers. Root’s face is almost a lead-in to the next episode, which is a defining one for Shoot.


And Then Season Four’s “If-Then-Else” Happened…

For many fans and critics alike, this is the best episode that has aired of the show to-date. There’s several episodes in this season that could contend as the best, including: “Prophets,” “Terra Incognita,” “Asylum,” and “YHWH.” For me, “If-Then-Else” is one of the finest hours of television ever seen. It’s structured like a 45-minute epic short film that features interesting twists, very creative and intense computer simulation segments, and one of the most heart-wrenching final sequences that absolutely floored me and left me a speechless, sobbing mess as the credits rolled. Sometimes a heroine has to sacrifice herself to save the world and the woman that she’s fallen in love with.

For Shoot fans, this is THE episode that definitively cemented the couple’s canon status. The wonderfully shot and well-written simulation scenes featured different scenarios that the Machine was calculating while Her Administrator (Finch), Analog Interface (Root), and Primary Assets (Reese/Shaw) and Secondary Asset (Fusco) were in vastly different situations: Shaw dealing with a potential suicide bomber on a subway train, and the rest of Team Machine trying to stabilize the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and surviving Samaritan’s trap for them. Even with all the craziness and nerve-wracking moments in the episode, we also saw the Machine having a bit of fun too with her favorite couple. The Machine is Shoot’s biggest ‘shipper; no one can compare. This conversation occurs in her second simulation of everyone’s current (dire) situation:

Root: “Hey sweetie. You busy?”
Shaw: “A little. Skip the verbal foreplay, Root. Why you calling?”
Root: “Can’t a couple of gals take a little break from work to catch up?”
Shaw: “I’ve been arrested and you’re fighting an A.I. apocalypse, so no – we don’t have time to catch up.”
Root: “Well, there’s no need to be rude.”
Shaw: “…I am not having this conversation right now.”
Root: “There’s no time like the present, Sameen. Why are you so afraid to talk about your feelings?”
Shaw: “Feelings? I’m a sociopath – I don’t have feelings.”
Root: “And I’m a reformed killer for hire. We’re perfect for each other. You’re going to figure that out someday.”
Shaw: “Root, if you and I were the last two people on the face of this planet-“
Root: “An increasingly plausible scenario, given Samaritan’s plans.”
Shaw: “Fine. Maybe someday…when Samaritan wipes everyone out…we can talk about it.”
Root: “You’re saying ‘maybe someday’?”
Shaw: “Yeah, sure Root – maybe someday. Is that good enough for you?”
Root: “Yes, Sameen – that’s good enough for me.”

The last five minutes of the episode are insane, emotional, and a beautiful (temporary) send-off to a beloved character. Each of the simulations bring death to various members of Team Machine, but a shot-in-the-dark scenario (2+% success rate) is the only one the She sees as possibly giving Her team even the slightest advantage. She relays Her game plan to Root, who directs the team to stay together while they stop the market fluctuations and secure their escape route – a service elevator. That stupid, evil elevator. Meanwhile, Shaw is able to talk down the suicide bomber, who disables his device, and she arrives in the middle of a gunfight between a trapped Team Machine and the approaching Team Samaritan. As the central figure of the episode (alluded to many times throughout), Shaw really shines as the biggest hero of the hour.

In the middle of the gunfight, as Finch and Fusco help an injured Reese to safety, Root asks Shaw why they aren’t together. Love this following exchange (no, it wasn’t a simulation):

Root: “We’re so good at this together. You’re going to realize that someday.”
Shaw: “Root, no offense. You’re hot, you’re good with a gun. Those are two qualities that I greatly admire. But you and me together would be like a four-alarm fire in an oil refinery.”
Root: “Sounds cozy.”

The group safely makes it to the elevator but there’s no power to it. There’s an override button across the hallway; Shaw’s gonna press that damn button. Root grabs her because she’s not about to lose the woman that she’s come to love & care about – she’s gonna protect them all and be the one to press that damn button. Shaw turns around, mutters “Oh, for God’s sakes,” and then grabs Root by her signature leather jacket and gives her the kiss that fans have been waiting for a long time:

Shaw abruptly ends the kiss by shoving Root towards Fusco, who grabs onto her while Shaw runs out to push that godforsaken button. Root screams for Shaw from behind the elevator’s locked gate as Shaw falls to several bullets courtesy of Martine, who smugly comes up and points her gun at Shaw’s head. Shaw stares at her in defiance while Root falls apart and screams her soul out (dare you not to tear up at least once), fearing the worst has befallen her love. I’ve seen this episode tons of times and still get heartbroken during this final scene, even though I know Shaw is coming back. ALL. THE. FUCKING. FEELS.


UGH!!! ALL THE FEELS!!! NOT SHAW!!!

Why Shaw? Sarah Shahi was pregnant at the time with her twins, so she has taken a temporary hiatus from the show. Originally the writers had planned on offing Reese, but that changed when Sarah told them of her pregnancy. But did Shaw survive? As my mom once said after “If-Then-Else” aired: “No – they can’t kill off my favorite character. First they killed Sara [Lance] off of Arrow, and then Shaw. F-U TV.” Fear not, Mom! There’s good news ahead!

A Positive Outcome!

The following episodes are all Root-centric, but there are many Shoot feelings in each of them; I recommend several boxes of tissues to get through them in one piece. It kills me every time to start Season Four from the beginning and marathon through it – well, just the one time so far. I see my favorite perky psychopath around her favorite grumpy sociopath, and the feelings are so strong and so very mutual between them.

FANGIRL WARNING: We are now entering sad!Root Mode. Please proceed with caution. ALL. THE. SHOOT. FEELS.

Amy Acker deserves so many kudos for her acting in the series. This scene from “Control-Alt-Delete” breaks my heart every time.

Season Four, Episode 12 – “Control-Alt-Delete”

In this episode there’s a continuation of the storyline that “If-Then-Else” started. This time Shaw’s former employer and Root’s former torturer, Control, is involved. In the middle of a mess regarding national security and Samaritan, she is kidnapped by Reese & Root after they launch a rocket at her SUV and hold her hostage in a warehouse, asking her for information about Shaw’s whereabouts. Control repeatedly tells them she has no clue what’s happened to Shaw because she’s completely in the dark. Later on she goes to the stock market, seeing it freshly painted, and she knows that Samaritan has been lying about a lot of things. It’s time for Control to go full BAMF and find out more about Samaritan’s true intentions.

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Season Four, Episode 13 – “M.I.A.”

M.I.A. “Kiss-Cam” courtesy of the Machine. You’re welcome.

There is a major twist at the end of this episode that made lots of POI fans happy. Reese & Root, at the end of “Control-Alt-Delete,” get a really strong clue from Finch and the Machine that Shaw was possibly being transported in a white moving truck and heading to a location outside of the city. After causing mayhem and destruction across five states looking for their Mayhem Twin (Reese) and girlfriend (Root), it figures she’d be close to home. After a very strange visit to a strange town called Maple in upstate New York, Team Rocket (Reese & Root) thinks they’ve found Shaw, but it turns out it’s not her, but a secretary at the New York Stock Exchange who was injured & kidnapped in their battle with Samaritan, and possibly implanted with a neural device that could be used to control people. Root’s heartbroken face says it all, and even Reese’s face falls as he realizes it’s not Sameen.

While the rest of Team Machine has quietly said their “Goodbye’s” to Shaw at this point, Root’s not ready to let go or give up. Even the Machine tells her to stop searching for her, but Root refuses to believe that she’s dead. She can’t. If she loses that slightest bit of hope that Shaw could possibly be alive… True love never dies, as they say. And Hell hath no fury like a hacker who’s lost her girl and will kill everyone on the planet just to see her again.

The episode’s twist? We see Samaritan’s “father,” John Greer, talking to someone off-screen. We hear a familiar raspy voice and – SHAW’S FREAKIN’ ALIVE!!! If you think about it, she’s more useful to Samaritan alive than dead. Could Shaw be forced to do Samaritan’s bidding at a later time? That’s up in the air, and the episode “Asylum” explains a little more.

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Season Four, Episode 16 – “Blunt

There’s a brief exchange between Root & Finch in this episode, but we still see the effect that Shaw’s disappearance and possible “death” has had on Root. She’s been doing her own missions for the Machine, taking some time away in private after TM told her to “Sierra. Tango. Oscar. Papa.” (S.T.O.P.) looking for Sameen. Root wants to recruit more people to help them and Finch is appalled by the idea, especially after “everything that has happened” – a reference to Shaw. Root calls him out on that, asking him if that’s what they’re calling Shaw now, and Finch responds in return and reminds Root that she’s the one that doesn’t want to talk about Shaw. Cue a slight stab to the heart during this scene.

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Season Four, Episode 18 – “Skip”

sad!Root needs a hug from everyone. Who’s first?

This episode has one of my favorite Root scenes from the series, though it’s hard to watch because it packs such an emotional punch. Without spilling too much, there’s a moment in the episode where Root breaks down and tells Finch that Shaw’s “death” was her fault. She contacted Shaw for help at the stock exchange, and that guilt has been living with her this whole time. Even if Root hadn’t called her that day, Shaw would have still appeared for her friends and helped them out in their battle against Team Samaritan. This episode is also a Season Four highlight. Some fans dislike it, but I happened to like it. My only complaint is that the two storylines didn’t really gel together, and the pacing felt off.

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Season Four, Episode 19 – “Search and Destroy”

shoot00028There was badass!Root sorely lacking in this section. You’re welcome.

There is an epic Root vs. Martine fight in this episode; that’s all you really need to know. Team Machine have some awesome moments in the episode, but when Root spies Martine from across a snowy wooded area – she’s out for blood. This blonde bitch took Shaw away from her and she’s going to make her suffer. Reese stops her before she can choke out Martine, leaving Root quite angry and bitter about it. Later on in their underground subway hideout, Root is bandaging her bloodied & bruised knuckles as Reese comes in and tells her that killing Martine wouldn’t bring Shaw back. Root gives him this death glare and he acknowledges that he should have let her kill Martine. Well…hello “Asylum!”

One thing that really jumps out is Martine’s appearance. Her hair is dark brown and it’s loose and wavy. When she and Root have their confrontation, she’s even dressed similarly to Root’s style. It’s not something that I noticed at first, but after “Asylum” aired it dawned on me why.


And Then Season Four’s “Asylum” Also Happened…

What I love the most about Person Of Interest is that is such an unpredictable show that you will never, ever be emotionally prepared to watch an episode as a fan or guess where the storyline is taking us next. There are some wild moments in “Asylum,” a surprising death, and the escalation of three major storylines:

  • The Brotherhood vs. Elias, Reese & Fusco
  • Control vs. Samaritan
  • Finch & Root vs. Samaritan

Finch and Root have the most important storyline, IMO, because it deals directly with Samaritan and the reveal of its very sinister plans involving the Machine, as well as the reveal of Shaw’s whereabouts. While there are no direct Shoot scenes, there are several Shoot-adjacent scenes. And Root… If there’s ever a situation where I need someone to have my back, I want Root by my side.

Finch & Root (Team Nerd) are in the subway hideout, monitoring a situation between the Brotherhood and Elias and his crew when a cell phone starts ringing, startling the two. Root looks for it and notices that it’s Sameen’s cell. Shocked, she picks up the phone and hears the very voice she’s been hoping to hear for so long. It’s not a pleasant conversation: Shaw is asking Root for her help.

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It’s on. Root is going to find Shaw and rescue her, and will even sacrifice herself as long as Shaw makes it out alive. Anyone who crosses her path will truly know the definition of pain and death – mostly death. When Root’s so intensely focused it’s best to let her be and do what she needs to do to accomplish her mission. Finch, as hard as he tries to dissuade her on many occasions, tags along because he cares for Root as deeply as a friend can and doesn’t want to see her hurt or killed. Such an extreme change in their relationship from the first time Finch encountered Root to now.

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Poor Finch is desperately trying to keep up with Root as she hurries up to the top of a skyscraper to play a very scary game of “Chicken” for the Machine for information on Shaw’s location. TM isn’t budging at first, but as the situation becomes more precarious as Root blindly walks across the ledge of the building, TM relents and tells Root where to find Shaw.

Did the Machine know there Shaw was this whole time? Apparently so. And I’m pretty sure Root is hella pissed at Her. Why did TM keep this info hidden for so long? I’ve got some thoughts here in a minute.

Shaw’s been hidden in a mental institution that has an amazing amount of power (electrical and networking) going to it. That’s a little suspicious. In order to get closer to where Shaw’s being hidden, Team Nerd goes undercover as a doctor (Root) and patient (Finch).shoot00050

There’s some really funny lines between them, but there’s a slight moment of panic when a real doc asks Finch about his mental state and he stalls for a second, and we get this look from Root:

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That *THUD!* was millions of Root fans fainting from a single raised eyebrow. Amy is the master of the raised eyebrow and manages to always make it look both intimidating and sexy. Finch finally relents and plays along.

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Finch causes a distraction that allows Root to search for Shaw as he looks up information on Shaw on one of the institution’s computers. We get this catchy new nickname describing a certain “patient”: Compact Persian Sociopath. Yup – that’s Shaw in a nutshell. Root makes her way up to the floor where Shaw’s being held and it turns out to be something neither she nor Finch were expecting: Samaritan’s central HQ. HOLY. CRAP. Root tells Finch to escape while he still can, but he’s gonna stick with her ’til the bitter end. Or until he’s captured.

shoot00057 “We meet again, for the 1000th time…”

Root finds Shaw’s room and rushes towards a familiar black coat. It’s the same coat that Shaw was wearing the day of the Stock Exchange crash. As she’s clutching onto it, she hears vehicles starting. Rushing to a window, she sees visual confirmation that Shaw is alive and being led to a black SUV by Samaritan agents. So damn close! Meanwhile, out comes Martine from the shadows, smirking as evilly as one can while she says that she was able to break Shaw after months of unsuccessful attempts.

How did Martine finally break Shaw (if she actually did)? As I mentioned briefly in “Search and Destroy,” Martine’s look was much different than the last couple of times that we’ve seen her. Several fans quickly pointed out online that Martine probably changed her appearance to look like Root, tricking Shaw – who’s been heavily medicated and possibly hallucinating under the drug cocktails they’ve been giving her. The only person that Shaw really, truly, deeply loves and cares about is Root, and she probably told Martine a few things while assuming she was speaking to Root this whole time. Definitely a great plan, but oh so dastardly.

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Root is drugged in the middle of her fight in Shaw’s room as Finch is brought up to the room too. Greer comes in, smiling that smile that villains do when they think they’ve won it all, as he talks about Root’s direct connection to the Machine through her implant. Wait – how did they find out about it?

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Team Samaritan knew that Root communicated with the Machine directly, but they never really knew how.  Shaw revealed to them at some point that it was actually a cochlear implant. As Martine tells Root: “Your little girlfriend told us all about it.” Root sneers and spits back, “She would never.” What’s really important about that exchange is that no one corrects that fact – Shaw is technically Root’s girlfriend. Greer, Finch, Martine, Samaritan, the Machine, Reese, Fusco… They all know. Even the bad guys know that Shoot is a thing.

But the threat of laying a hand on Finch takes Root into temporary God Mode, finally getting revenge on Martine by snapping her neck in a “Oh my god, that just happened!” scene. My dad high-fived me and cheered on Root after that scene; turns out he’s a big Root fan too. Greer just stands around as smug as ever, not even blinking as his top operative is killed in front of him. Finch is speechless the whole time and probably extremely thankful that Root is on hisside.

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Samaritan, in the midst of all the chaos, offers the Machine a compromise: reveal Her location to it, and it won’t kill Her human agents. Finch is still speechless as Root turns towards a camera and screams at it, begging the Machine to keep fighting and to look for others that will help Her out. Finch, back in “Prophets,” once told Root that they were all interchangeable and that TM doesn’t care about them; only about Her needs and wants. Root argued that the Machine does care or they all wouldn’t be alive, counting all of the near-death experiences they’ve all been.

As the clock is ticking down the Machine finally – for the first time – speaks up:

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Last sad!Root picture, I promise.

The Machine saves Her team by relenting to Samaritan’s request, and as Its acolytes and Greer run off to find Her location, Root and Finch are still in shock that She finally spoke up and told them how much they all mean to Her, and how She was unable to rescue Shaw. I mentioned earlier that the Machine didn’t give Shaw’s whereabouts before. I think, along with a few other fans, that She’s been secretly in contact with Shaw and has her working as a double-agent. Make it seem like Sameen’s working for Samaritan, but in reality sabotaging them from the inside with the Machine’s help.

There’s a brief scene at the end where we see Shaw riding shotgun as she looks out of the SUV’s window, her reflection on the passenger side mirror, while a voiceover from the Samaritan operative that Control’s been dealing plays in the background, talking about people being given second chances and a rebirth to really find their true purpose. Hmm…

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Anything in the Season Four finale “YHWH?”

Well… There’s no mention of Shaw, but there’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene where Control’s right-hand woman is killed (or temporarily taken out) by someone holding a syringe, and the hand looks suspiciously like Shaw’s. That’s the only possible glimpse that we get of her until she comes back kicking ass and kissing Root in Season Five. “YHWH” is a highly-recommended episode that is filled with lots of action, suspense, and a heartbreaking moment between the Machine and Finch at the end. Collective *sign,* everyone.


AND HERE COME THE (FAN) ACCOLADES!

SpoilerTV Wins for 2015

SpoilerTV is a popular site for fans who want to catch the latest news, reviews, and so much more about their favorite shows. This year, Person of Interest showed up and swept several polls, making their first appearance on the site in major ways. Let us count the ways:

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As you can see above, Amy Acker and her character Root turned out to be quite the popular players, and deservedly so (as well as Michael Emerson). I’ve dubbed this year as #YearOfTheAcker because Amy’s profile has certainly risen to new heights thanks to her involvement on POI as the fan-favorite Root. It’s her highest-profile role to-date, and one that brings so many unexpected scenes of badassery from the character.

The much-touted episode “If-Then-Else” won the Episode Cup, beating out another POI episode: the Season Four finale “YHWH.” Many fans (like me) regard “If-Then-Else” as a highlight of the series for several reasons. The biggest reason – which takes up a chunk of this post – is the escalation of Root & Shaw’s relationship from flirting to casual encounters (a tidbit that was dropped at NYCC) to full-on relationship, which will be further explored during Season Five. For the umpteenth time: seriously, CBS? When’s it gonna air?

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ZIMBIO POLL SHOUT-OUT FROM AMY ACKER!

When it comes to actors & actresses who love the fandom they’re representing, there are two groups: those who just do their job and that’s that, and those who are so beyond grateful for their fans. And then there are some who dig the fandom so much that they also support the ‘shippers as well. There is no better example of an actor or actress who really loves acting and absolutely loves their current character, who is so kind & gracious to their fanbase, and is also the most down-to-earth individual ever than Amy Acker. She is also the biggest ‘shipper ever of the ‘ship her character is one-half of: Shoot. She loves Shoot fans, she gets a kick out of seeing fans wearing their Shoot shirts (got first-hand experience in that, LOL), and she can’t wait to see her ‘ship reunited in the coming fifth season. She also doesn’t shy away from talking about Shoot and brings them up often. She’s a fan like the rest of us, and that is the coolest thing ever.

To see how big of a fan she is, you can check out this short article that Zimbio posted. The most important thing from the article is the video message below, which she recorded at San Diego Comic Con 2015.

Side note: She is always smiling or laughing. Like the awesomest positive energy too. Having a bad day? Just watch a video with her in it and try not to grin.

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More About That March Madness Zimbio Poll

How popular is Shoot? We’re the small-yet-growing fandom that could. Earlier in March of this year (2015), Zimbio (a pop culture/entertainment website) had their annual TV Couples March Madness Challenge. The poll featured both canon (official couples) and fanon (fan-favorite) couples and the competition was fierce. During that time I got heavily involved in the Shoot fandom, and this post was my contribution to rallying the fans to vote as often as they could, and giving my reasons why people should vote for them in the poll if they were new to the fandom. Research for this post involved watching lots of Shoot fanvids and watching the episodes that they appeared in – no matter how brief their appearance is. One can easily lose track of time watching anything Shoot-related. In the end, the Perky Psychopath and her Compact Persian Sociopath won – surprise winners as they were first-year nominees, and they absolutely dominated. #TeamShoot

zimbio-win Zimbio posted two really fun articles that all fans should check out that dive into the A-Z’s of Shoot and the creativeness of fans (including Clexa fans from The 100, runners-up and another fandom to check out) in promoting their favorite couples during the Final Two.

Mulder & Scully Stumble Upon Another Conspiracy… Happy X-FILES Revival Day! – #1

"The X-Files" View Party ListThe X-Files Premiere Party ChecklistCollect them all!

Wonderful fans and visitors of this blog: the X-Files are back! Before this X-Phile starts writing a new article about her favorite TV series, it’s mandatory to have that most recognizable of theme songs playing as you read through it. Stream the hell out of this song today on repeat and annoy your neighbors as you crank it up. Here ya go:

To say that I’m excited that this Very Important Day (V.I.D.) has finally arrived is the biggest understatement of 2016, though I’ll probably be saying the same when Person of Interest finally returns this Spring. I’m currently in a state of pleasant calmness, but I have a feeling that in the next couple of hours my inner-fangirl will finally start squee-ing from anticipation. I never imagined the series ever making its triumphant return to the small screen, but I’m so glad that I was proven wrong. It’s like an awesome dream that suddenly popped out of nowhere, but it’s actually reality – which is way better.

Tonight (January 24) is the first of a two-night series premiere that FOX set for the revival. The remaining four episodes – “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” “Home Again,” “Babylon,” and “My Struggle II” – will be airing the next several weeks. The first episode is titled “My Struggle” and sees Mulder & Scully reuniting after several years apart. That’s as much as I’m going to say without spoiling anything.

The promos below give you some hints of what’s to come, though, and are spoiler-licious. The episode premieres tonight and Monday (January 25) at the following times in the USA on local FOX affiliates:

  • 10:00 PM – East Coast 
  • 9:00 PM – Central
  • 8:00 PM – Mountain (mine)
  • 7:00 PM – West Coast

My fellow Americans – we can all tweet and Facebook at the same time as the episodes are premiering and not spoil the series for anyone! Except for those that can’t watch the episodes immediately (sorry international fans). If you’re not a fan of the series, you might want to avoid all social media, TV, and the Internet for the rest of the day. If you want to add my handle on the Twitter thing and follow my non-stop geeking out, here ya go: @SylentMari. There’s also a spoiler thread for “My Struggle” that will be posted on the Geeky Voyage Facebook page.

In preparation for the two-night series premiere, “My Struggle” and “Founder’s Mutation,” this is a collection of promos, behind-the-scenes, character spots, and other miscellaneous clips from the new limited-run that FOX has released over the past several months. The following are video clips you can check out:

  • Cool mini-documentary on why The X-Files returned (with a sneak peek at future episodes).
  • Five sneak peeks at “My Struggle” for fans who want a trial run of the episode.
  • Fun lil’ viral video from the faux TV show featuring new character “Tad O’Malley” (Joel McHale from Community, The Soup)

[SPOILER WARNING] This is the most SPOILER-FILLED article that I’ve posted on Geeky Voyage, and I’ve done some pretty good spoiler-rific articles for various other shows. All of the videos below contain scenes from the new limited-run edition of the series. If you want to venture away and watch your favorite episodes and both feature films, I wouldn’t blame you. For the rest of you X-Philes that are highly anticipating the return of the series and can’t wait to see what happens, proceed with the utmost caution. [/WARNING]


The X-Files | Drum Intro

A cool, quick version of the theme song using some unique drums. It’s really trippy to listen to.


A Global Phenomenon

Remember way back in the 1990’s when The X-Files premiered and grew from a series with a small fan showing to a cultural phenomenon? This video is a friendly reminder of that time when the series dominated the world. It was an awesome time to be a fan back then and still is now.


They’re Coming

The first promo that aired for the revival series on October 26, 2015.


The X-Files | First Look

The first real look at the series – only 1:20 minutes. A great little tease of what’s to come.


The X-Files: Re-Opened

Before you watching the series premiere “My Struggle,” get yourself re-acquainted with The X-Files by watching this video. There’s lots of behind-the-scenes information and spoilers for the new episodes. It’s a good introductory video for newer fans of the series, as well as a great nostalgic look-back for longtime fans. The video is about 22 minutes and is a great way to get psyched about the new episodes premiering soon. My dad’s already seen it and he was astonished (people don’t use that word enough) when I told him that I hadn’t seen it yet ’cause S-P-O-I-L-E-R-S.


The X-Files | Declassified

The fastest explanation of The X-Files ever.


The X-Files: 10×01 – “My Struggle Opening Scene”

Try not to get chills & tears while watching this badass opening scene from “My Struggle.” Chills, I tell ya.


Collection of Sneak Peeks from The X-Files: 10×01 – “My Struggle”

SNEAK PEEK #1: “Expecting”

SNEAK PEEK #2: “Impossible”

SNEAK PEEK #3: “Masquerade”

SNEAK PEEK#4: “Do You Remember?”

SNEAK PEEK #5: “Urgent”


The Truth Revealed: Mulder and Scully

If you want a more definitive answer about Sculder’s (Scully/Mulder) relationship status, this video also answers that question.


The Ex Files

The title says it all and doubles as a major spoiler. If you’re a ‘shipper, not a warm & fuzzy clip to watch before the premiere.


Show & Not Tell: Joel McHale

Show & Not Tell: Mitch Pileggi

Show & Not Tell: Gillian Anderson

Watch Joel McHale (“Tad O’Malley”), Mitch Pileggi (“Walter Skinner,” and Gillian Anderson (“Dana Scully”) give you a quick introduction to the new episodes, with super-fast glances at upcoming scenes. If you’re graphics-savvy, you can rip the screenshots and decipher each new scene in detail. Must look away…


 The Conspiracy Will Be Televised

Mulder has a conservative other half! Tad O’Malley, played by Joel McHale from Community, is a brand-new character introduced in the series. He’s a conservative talk show host who’s a conspiracy theorist, which obviously sings to Mulder’s paranoid heart. O’Malley tries to recruit Mulder for a strange case, and Mulder tries to bring in a reluctant Scully back into the fold.


William

If you’re a fan that quit the series after the film The X-Files: Fight the Future or right before the final two seasons, you’re gonna be completely lost watching this clip. If you remember William, this clip explores some of Sculder’s feelings about giving up their child. Will we his return in the series? All spoilers point to “YES” –  in one of the new promos Scully gets an incoming call from “William.

 

Rooting for Root

Over the summer, I discovered a television series that blew my mind and changed my perception on modern television. Said series is Person of Interest.

Until I had subscribed to Netflix back in June, I hadn’t heard much about the series. I knew of the two main female characters, Root and Shaw (their portmanteau pairing name being the apposite “Shoot”) and that was as far as my knowledge on POI stretched. Sadly, the series receives next to no promotion in the UK so it is largely unknown to the majority of British audiences.

I had been fresh off an Angel binge at the time and I was dying for some more Amy Acker in my life. So when I saw an advertisement for POI on Netflix—its title card blown up in all of its deceptively subtle glory— I bit the bullet and loaded it up.

The first thing that I vividly recall being enamoured with was the usage of immersive camera angles and the special effects used for The Machine’s sequences. But above all else, I was smitten by the portrayal of AI. Finally, I thought, a show that doesn’t depict artificial intelligence in an over-blown, cliché, apocalyptic manner. Already, we were off to a excellent start.

And then I met Root.

To cut to the chase, Root has easily become my favourite fictional character of all time,  a statement that I do not write lightly. There are many characters who I hold dearly in my heart, but Root absolutely overshadows every single one of them.

Initially introduced as a faceless, enigmatic hacker in the episode “Root Cause“, we saw her properly for the first time in the season one finale, “Firewall“; only after she posed as a meek psychologist and deceived Finch and Reese, though. Her reveal at the end of the episode still remains as one of my favourite moments from the entire series.

Over the next couple of episodes, Root near disassembled Finch’s mind. As Finch later put it, “she hacks human beings as easily as she hacks computers“, a statement which certainly sums up Root’s character to perfection. After rendering him traumatised, she vanished for a while before showing up for the last few seconds of “Booked Solid“, which was a pleasant surprise as Amy had been uncredited as a guest star. For the duration of the season, she beautifully deceived Special Counsel and caused trouble for yet another person, Shaw (more on her later). Though it seems for a moment in the finale, “God Mode” that her time might be up when she is confined to a psychiatric facility, the season ends on Root answering a phone call from The Machine, who asks if Root can hear it. With the biggest smirk on her face, Root answers with one word: “absolutely“. Ultimately, she had won, for she had acquired access to The Machine.

By this point, Root was already my favourite character, but now, I was obsessed. All I wanted to know was what Root was going to get up to next, now that The Machine had identified her as its “Analog Interface”, which essentially means that Root is the face of The Machine and that she has constant access to it. My hopes for season three were high, now that I knew that Root was being promoted to a main character. I was not disappointed, as Root had a terrific character arc in season three, where we were treated to a Root-centric episode, “Root Path” (also known as “/“).

Naturally, I cannot write about Root without writing about her relationship with Sameen Shaw, the other female on Team Machine. Their development, both as individual characters, and as a romantic couple has been entirely organic. Without Shaw’s character, Root’s character would not have developed the way she did in certain aspects, and vice versa. Whilst it was The Machine that initially planted a seed of humanity into Root, it was Shaw who watered the seed and helped it blossom. If anybody doubted their sincerity and deep feelings for each other beforehand, surely their doubts were promptly quashed when the two engaged in a passionate kiss before Shaw tragically put her life on the line to save everybody.

Their romance is intense and keeps the audience on their toes. What you won’t get from them is romantic strolls in Central Park with birds chirping a pretty song in the background; what you will get from them is allusions to sexual intercourse in a CIA safe-house with ten hours to kill, accompanied by a hood and zip-ties. My kind of women.

Once Shaw is out of the picture from the middle of season four onwards, her absence is sorely felt. Root is distraught and devotes all of her time to ascertaining where Shaw is and how she can rescue her. It is evident that Reese and Finch are certain that Shaw is dead, but Root is titanium strong in her perseverance. At one point, Root comments, “I’m not the monster I used to be. I’ve changed. Well, mostly changed“. Which is a fair statement because at this point in the series, she serves as more of an anti-hero. Her methods are what I like to think of as organised chaos. At her core, she is a schemer, but she is using her skills for benevolent purposes at this point. Even so, she is still happy to use violence and she still goes off on her own quests, away from the others. One of the most interesting things I found in season four was how Root was even willing to defy The Machine in order to pursue Shaw. That, to me, was the biggest testament as to how far her character has evolved. She picked the woman she loves over what essentially serves as her God.

Despite CBS’ shambolic incompetence, I am still ecstatic for season five and what I am most looking forward to is seeing Root and Shaw’s reunion and finding out exactly what has happened to Shaw over the months. I won’t hold my breath for it, but I would love to see flashbacks of the two in their younger years because there is still much to be expanded on in their pasts. In the episode “Bad Code“, Root’s mother had been described as “not well” which can have a few meanings. I personally suspect that she may have been mentally unwell, thus resulting in Root having a less than pleasant childhood, a contributing factor in who she grew up to be. I also noticed how her father wasn’t mentioned at all. Root is certainly more comfortable around females, to the point where she insists on using feminine pronouns for The Machine so I suspect that she has had unpleasant encounters with males in the past, possibly even with her father. Of course, this is just my personal speculation, and hopefully, we will get to learn a smidgen more about Root. As for Shaw, I would love to see a flashback of her in the Marines. Observant viewers may have noticed that in the season four intro on Shaw’s service record, there is some interesting information including: her rank in the Marines was Captain (it is listed as RANK – DOR: CPT 20080616) and I believe that the numbers are when she was promoted to that rank which would have been June 16th 2008. There is also MIL SPOUSE SSN/MPS listed as redacted, which I believe stands for military spouse. This could mean that Shaw was actually married at one point. It wouldn’t surprise me if that was the case, after all, Sameen Shaw isn’t renowned for discussing her past in-depth. In any case, I am eager for more Shoot; their histories, their present romance, whatever! I’ll take anything.

Root hasn’t identified as such, but I am sure that she is somewhat of a transhumanist. It is her line “humanity‘s come as far as we’re gonna go. I want to see what’s next” which makes me suspect that. Given how the show centres around technology, I don’t think that it’s a ridiculous suggestion. Assuming that I’m correct, it only makes me love POI even more. Seeing a superbly complex, queer, transhumanist—or at the very least, tech-obsessed—female hacker on television isn’t an every day occurrence. Of course, only Amy Acker could portray such a character. This is the woman who portrayed a primordial, blue-tinged God-King, lest we forget.

Once season five finally airs, I will be updating this article with relevant information regarding Root’s character development, how I feel about season five, and Shoot. I hope that will be sooner rather than later because as I wrote at the beginning of the article, Person of Interest has blown my mind, and Root is a huge part of that.

 

 

30 Days of Halloween! Day 9 – And Your Winner for “Monster of the Week” is… [X-Files Monster Guide]

Sylent Mari Says: I’m obviously way behind schedule posting additions to the 30 Days of Halloween, but I will hopefully be caught up by at Friday of this week [10/23/15]. I suffer from chronic pain due to a back condition, and colder weather triggers it and makes it painful to do much of anything, including: Netflixing, cooking, and sleeping (three of my favorite things). Kinda hard to sit down for hours and write too. Enjoy this massively long post dedicated to many of my favorite Monster of the Week [MOTWepisodes from The X-Files. We’re less than 100 days from seeing the new episodes that make up the limited series! YASSSSSSSSSS!!!

It’s time for The X-Files to make another appearance on this blog. It’s not a retrospective post; those will be resuming shortly. While the X-Files is more traditionally known as a science fiction-drama series, it has had its encounters with monsters before. The term “Monster of the Week” (first dubbed by X-Files fans) refers to the non-mythology cases that Mulder & Scully investigated involving all sorts of bizarre humanoids, supernatural events, paranormal maybe-activity, and even demonic entities. These cases were always a blast to watch and they sometimes helped move the series along by giving fans a chance to relax for a moment before being slammed with the next mythology-heavy episode in the ever-evolving alien colonists/shadow government storyline.

There are several very popular MOTW episodes that many X-Files fans – both old & new – still talk about frequently. In our ever-growing fandom, these episodes are fan-favorites that have some of the quirkiest, funniest, freakiest, or darkest scenes & characters from the series. The impressions they’ve left on fans has obviously been felt throughout the years. You still have people who get very squeamish when talking about the most controversial episode of the entire series: “Home” – that episode makes an appearance here.

Each X-Files fan has their own list of MOTW episodes for newbies to check out. The list below is NOT a comprehensive list of every MOTW episode; some of them don’t fall under the Horror category. These episodes that I’ve selected are many of my favorites from the entire series run, as well as episodes I think every fan should check out at least once or twice. Some of the more humorous MOTW episodes I’ve left off the list ’cause they deserve their own post for another day. Probably somewhere in the X-Files retrospective I’ve been super-slow in completing.

More than a few of the best MOTW episodes in the following list were written by Vince Gilligan, who is best known to fans as the writer-creator of the critically-acclaimed television shows Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, both filmed in Albuquerque, New Mexico (city shout-out!). He’s written some of the best episodes pf the series that range from hilarious to horrifying. Definitely a creative dude.

Each episode below has a short synopsis and some have additional thoughts from yours truly (“The Host,” anyone?). If you’ve never seen an episode or were never a follower of the series, you don’t have to worry about understanding the main alien mythology arc that comprises 80% of the show. As stand-alone episodes, the MOTW are great introductions to newer viewers to the show and to series stars Fox Mulder & Dana Scully (aka David Duchovny & Gillian Anderson).

Bonus Time! Many popular actors & actresses of today had roles on the X-Files at some point in their careers. Some of these actors & actresses were already established, and some were just starting out. It’s amazing how many of them appeared in the series, and many will surprise you. If you’re also a fan of Canadian talent and watch way too much Canadian TV like this writer, you’ll also recognize many of the actors & actresses too. The first five seasons were shot in Vancouver, British Columbia, and a million shows still shoot up there.  

Episode Guide Note: Episodes with three “+’s” next to it is a personal favorite and one you should watch. ‘Cause it’s amazing. And probably written by Vince Gilligan. 


SEASON ONE

“Squeeze” / “Tooms” – +++
Written by: Glen Morgan & James Wong

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The first episode (“Squeeze”) that I ever watched of the series, and it scared the shit out my 12-year-old self at the time. Yep – I was 12 when the series aired in 1993. Eugene Tooms was the first repeat “monster” and wow… He was he a creepy son-of-a-bitch. Doug Hutchison was perfectly cast in the role, though he almost lost out on the part because the producers thought he looked too young to play the liver-eating killer. After watching both episodes, you’ll be scrutinizing every small opening in your house. Sleep well!

Guest Stars: Doug Hutchison (Lost), Donal Logue (Terriers, Gotham)

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“Shadows”
Written by: Glen Morgan & James Wong

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A young woman still mourning the loss of her beloved boss has the worst luck ever: hired guns try to kill her at her house, they attack her at an ATM, and yet she has a ‘guardian angel’ that seems to be saving her from these attacks. It turns out that the ‘guardian angel’ is in fact a poltergeist/spirit that is watching over her.  Could the poltergeist have a personal connection to the woman? Mulder & Scully race to find out the answer before more people “mysteriously” die.

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“Shapes”
Written by: Marilyn Osborn

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Mulder & Scully head up to Montana to investigate animal attacks on ranchers who are warring with a Native American tribe over land rights and just being general dicks to them (the ranchers). The case is similar to an early X-Files that Mulder found in his archive of really old X-Files cases that were created by other agents throughout the years (it’s quite the archive). Could it be a case of lycanthropy?

Lame CSI: Miami parody ahead: “Well, Scully…” *Mulder pulls out sunglasses* “It looks like someone’s been… barking at the moon.” *cue The Who*

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“Darkness Falls” – +++
Written by: Chris Carter

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Environmental activists + loggers + flesh-devouring lightning bugs = the episode that scared me away from camping for years. When Mulder & Scully investigate the case of missing loggers, the main suspects are activists (aka “eco-terrorists” to the logging company) who have been sabotaging logging equipment to prevent logging in a Pacific Northwest-area forest.  Make sure the lantern never goes dry and let “darkness fall” over your hiding spot…

Guest Stars: Jason Beghe (Chicago PD), Titus Welliver (Sons of Anarchy, Lost)

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“Born Again” – +++
Written by: Howard Gordon & Alex Gansa

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Does reincarnation exist? That’s one of the questions brought up in this late Season One entry. The episode features a young girl who witnesses the brutal murder of two detectives who might have been involved in the death of a fellow detective. She starts to exhibit some traits that are similar to the slain detective’s, puzzling her mother and Mulder & Scully as they investigate this strange & deadly case.

Guest Stars: Maggie Wheeler (Friends, Everybody Loves Raymond)


SEASON TWO

“The Host” – +++
Written by: Chris Carter

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One of my favorite, and most bizarre, of the MOTW episodes is this one featuring the infamous Flukeman, a humanoid-leech hybrid. Actually, we don’t really know what it is other than it’s a mutant that loves to hang out in sewers, infect its prey with huge leech-like creature, and sometimes loves to disappear its victim from septic tanks and porta-pottys. There’s a reason why I never use those things – besides being the most disgusting places on earth to visit if you absolutely need to.

Guest Stars: Darin Morgan (X-Files writer), Matthew Bennett
(Battlestar Galactica – reboot, Orphan Black), Gabrielle Rose (Once Upon A Time)

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“Blood”
Story by: Darin Morgan; Teleplay by: Glen Morgan & James Wong

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When appliances go homicidal! No, not really. This isn’t Stephen King’s The Mangler, but common household appliances are sending deadly digital messages to unsuspecting citizens  of a small town. What could be causing this chaos and paranoid among the residents? I’m going to have to keep a closer eye on my microwave tonight.

Guest Star: William Sanderson (True Blood, Deadwood)

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“3” (aka “Trinity”)
Written by: Chris Ruppenthal and Glen Morgan & James Wong

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The obligatory ‘vampire’ episode, though there’s a much better take on vampires in the Season Five highlight “Bad Blood.”

Guest Star: Perrey Reeves (Entourage)

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“Excelsis Dei”
Written by: Paul Brown

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A nurse at a retirement home is raped by a mysterious entity, first believed to be a poltergeist, but it could be a wandering spirit of one of the deceased residents of the home. Also – taking mysterious mushrooms with your regular medication can cause some disturbing hallucinations, or are they real?

Guest Stars: Teryl Rothery (Canadian series The Guard), Frances Bay (Twin Peaks, The Middle – R.I.P.)

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“Irresistible” – +++
Written by: Chris Carter

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Though not a traditional MOTW, what makes this a highlight of Season Two is the fact that we’re seeing a human monster with no remorse and a death fetish (i.e. he has an obsession with women’s feet and hands). Scully soon becomes a future target for this real-life nightmare. The “monster” is this episode is also perfectly portrayed by character actor Nick Chinlund.

Guest Star: Nick Chinlund (The Chronicles of Riddick, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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“Die Hand Die Verletzt” – +++
Written by: Glen Morgan & James Wong

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The occult + high school = classic X-Files episode. What? Your parents never participated in occult rituals in lieu of parent-teacher conferences?

Guest Star: Dan Butler (Frasier)

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“Humbug” – +++
Written by: Darin Morgan

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One of my all-time favorite X-Files episodes featuring Jim Rose and his merry band of circus “freaks,” including The Enigma. Darin Morgan has written some of the quirkiest and funniest episodes of the series, and their influence is still felt today in other shows. A classic MOTW episode.

Guest Stars: Jim Rose (Jim Rose Circus), The Enigma (Jim Rose Circus), Michael J. Anderson (Twin Peaks, Carnivale), Vincent Schiavelli (noted character actor – R.I. P.)

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“Soft Light” – +++
Written by: Vince Gilligan

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An experiment involving dark matter goes terribly wrong as a scientist is hit with a deadly “blast” of dark matter, only to survive his accident and take on a horrible burden: his shadow burns people to ashes if they step on it. Can Mulder & Scully stop him before more innocent people die? Watch out for the light!

Guest Star: Tony Shalhoub (Monk)

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“Our Town”
Written by: Frank Spotnitz

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After watching this episode, you’ll be scrutinizing the pink slime that McDonalds’ uses to make its Chicken McNuggets even more than usual. Or any chicken-based products. Those chicken strips still looking good for dinner tonight?

Guest Star: Gary Grubbs (Treme, Angel)


SEASON THREE

“D.P.O” – +++
Written by: Howard Gordon

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Two popular actors make appearances in this MOTW featuring a teenage outsider who can harness the power of lightning after being struck by it during a freak accident, and becoming the only survivor of lightning-related deaths in a small Oklahoma town. The teen uses his newfound abilities for various small benefits & pranks, like unlimited play at the local arcade he works at with his bestie, and messing with the town’s traffic signals. But what this teen a MOTW is his obsession with a former beauty queen/teacher at his high school, and he will stop at nothing to force her to give in to his affections – including using his dangerous ability to injure (and possibly kill) those standing in his way.

Guest Stars: Giovanni Ribisi (Dads, Selma, Public Enemies), Jack Black (Tenacious D, School of Rock, Goosebumps)

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“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” – +++
Written by: Darin Morgan

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There are several episodes from the series that really stand out and have been praised by both critics and fans; this is one of those episodes. A fan-favorite episode starring Peter Boyle, this MOTW is based on an unknown assailant who is murdering psychics left-and-right, though none of them appear to actually have psychic abilities. Enter Clyde Bruckman: a life insurance agent who can predict the death of an individual by touching an object the future “victim” has touched. It appears as though he has true psychic ability and even Scully’s skepticism is tested as she has a revelation at the end of the episode. Beautifully shot, poignant, and with a fantastic performance from Boyle.

Guest Star: Peter Boyle (Young Frankenstein, Everybody Loves Raymond – R.I.P.), Karin Konoval (Millennium, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)

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“2Shy” – +++
Written by: Jeffrey Vlaming

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An episode so gooey and gory that even I – a connoisseur of all things video-nasty – almost tapped out while watching it. I just can’t deal with bile-related ickiness, yet I can handle most other bodily fluids. This episode will also scare you away from any future online dating. There’s a great moment where Scully puts a misogynist in his place while she’s examining one of the victims of this bile-tastic killer. Don’t mess with Scully’s skills as a doctor or investigator.

Guest Stars: Timothy Carhart (24, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), James Handy (Alias, NYPD Blue)

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“Revelations” – +++
Written by: Kim Newton

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The X-Files have had several great religiously-themed episodes that have seen Mulder & Scully’s roles reverse: Scully as a religious believer and Mulder as an agnostic skeptic. In this episode, a young boy is being pursued by a man obsessed with looking for a real stigmatic, or someone who has mysterious bleeding wounds that are supposedly similar to the ones Jesus Christ had when he was crucified. Scully meets a strange gentleman who claims to be a guardian angel for the boy, Kevin, and she later becomes his protector from the man who’s trying to kill him.

Guest Stars: Kevin Zegers (Transamerica, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones), Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes – 1977; noted character actor), R. Lee Emery (Full Metal Jacket; noted character actor)

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“War of the Coprophages”
Written by: Darin Morgan

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If you really, really, really hate cockroaches – it’d be best to avoid this episode. If you want to see one of the funniest episodes of the series and meet an Department of Agriculture scientist named “Bambi,” then sit back and enjoy! It’s so worth it to see Scully’s eye-rolling as Mulder calls her at home on her day off and her dismissive “Bambi?” when she hears the scientist’s name. Scully and her eye-rolling are one of the best parts of the show.

Guest Stars: Tyler Labine (Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Reaper), A.J. Buckley (CSI: NY, Supernatural)

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“Syzygy” – +++
Written by: Chris Carter

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Sure. Fine. Whatever.” “I was just never sure your little feet could reach the pedals.” What happens when a rare planetary alignment starts affecting the residents of a small town, though two teenage girls seem to have some strange powers also manifesting. The scariest thing about this episode? The Keystone Cops playing repeatedly in Mulder & Scully’s hotel rooms. Mulder & Scully also act quite sarcastic to each other thanks to the alignment, delivering the two lines at the beginning of this synopsis.

Guest Stars: Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Friday Night Lights – TV series, Nashville), Lisa Robin Kelly (That ’70s Show – R.I.P.), Ryan Reynolds (yes, THAT Ryan Reynolds)

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“Grotesque” – +++
Written by: Howard Gordon

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A disturbed serial killer claims that demons have been haunting him, causing the murder of seven innocent men by his hands. The FBI quickly dismisses his claims, but more men are killed while he’s sitting in prison, which leads Mulder into believing his story has some credence to it. As Mulder digs deeper, the very demons haunting the serial killer could be haunting him as well.

Guest Star: Kurtwood Smith (Robocop, That ’70s Show)

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“Pusher” – +++
Written by: Vince Gilligan

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Quite the controversial episode when it first premiered because of a very suspenseful Russian Roulette scene between the MOTW, Robert Patrick Modell, and Mulder. Modell has the ability to bend people to his will by messing with their heads (making a cop miss the truck coming at him, forcing a SWAT member light himself on fire). He has a heightened sense of suggestibility – quite the dangerous ability. Mulder almost falls victim to it, but we know he survives. A stand-out episode of the series.

Guest Stars: Robert Wisden (Da Vinci’s Inquest, Final Destination), Roger Cross (every Canadian show you can think of: Motive, Continuum, Dark Matter, etc., 24), Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters)

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“Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” – +++
Written by: Darin Morgan

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This episode is pure perfection. Watch it now. Like right now.

Guest Stars: Charles Nelson Reilley (noted character actor/comedian – R.I.P.), William Lucking (Sons of Anarchy), Alex Diakun (Da Vinci’s Inquest, Andromeda), Jesse Ventura (former WWF/E superstar, Predator, The Running Man), Alex Trebek (yep – the Jeopardy host)

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“Quagmire”
Written by: Kim Newton

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You know the X-Files had to tackle a Loch Ness monster-inspired story at some point. As Scully learns in this episode too: it’s never safe to bring your dog with you while you’re investigating a case. A quirky episode with an offbeat ending.

Guest Star: Chris Ellis (Murder in the First, Sequestered), Tyler Labine (Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, Reaper)


SEASON FOUR

“Home” – +++
Written by: Glen Morgan & James Wong

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Over their original nine season run, the X-Files had more than a few episodes that had both fans & critics talking about them and dissecting their contents after they aired. While there’s been a few with somewhat controversial scenes or storylines, no other has come close to the amount of attention that “Home” got when it first aired back on October 11, 1996. Mulder and Scully investigate one of their most bizarre cases yet as well as encountering some of their most formidable foes: the infamous Peacock family, a deformed clan of inbred mutants that have given the term “keeping it in the family” a whole new meaning. My dad, who watches shows that are even gorier and more extreme than what was seen in this episode, tapped out after watching it.

Guest Stars: Tucker Smallwood (The Sarah Silverman Program, Star Trek: Enterprise), Sebastian Spence (Cedar Cove, Battlestar Galactica – reboot), Karin Konoval (Millennium, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes)

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“Unruhe”
Written by: Vince Gilligan

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Bizarre photographs showing phantom hands around future victims, a creepy serial killer, and Agent Scully’s life in danger for the umpteenth time makes this one of the more serious MOTW episodes. It has some great scares in it, but it’s also quite disturbing – seeing the photos of the future female victims screaming in terror before being “taken away” by the phantom hands associated with the killer. Scully’s own “death” photograph is a bit chilling to view.

Guest Stars: Pruitt Taylor Vance (Heroes Reborn, The Mentalist, Deadwood), Michael Cram (Flashpoint, Lost Girl)

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“The Field Where I Died”
Written by: Glen Morgan & James Wong

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This Season Four highlight is easily one of my top five favorite episodes from the series. It’s a sad & beautiful story that’s spearheaded by terrific performances from David Duchovny and guest star Kristen Cloke. This human-based MOTW episode features a David Koresh-like cult leader who almost leads his congregation to an early death in the opening scene, with the FBI quickly finding the cult members and its leader in a hidden bunker. Mulder has a moment of deja-vu with the wife of the cult leader, Vernon Ephasian: Melissa Riedel-Ephesian. It later turns out that their connection runs much deeper and could possibly be to a past life they both shared. Definitely a “not-to-be-missed” episode of the series.

Guest Stars: Kristen Cloke (Space: Above and Beyond, Final Destination, Millennium),  Michael Massee (The Crow, 24, Flashforward)

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“Sanguinarium”
Written by: Valerie Mayhew & Vivian Mayhew

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The occult and the world of body enhancement (aka plastic surgery) has a horrific marriage in this gory episode. There’s some great twists in it that I didn’t see coming at first, but now I’m like “Oh!” when I realize them now; I was 15 when this episode first aired, so lots of things flew over my head easily. Like the Golden Girls‘ adult humor, for example. If surgical scenes and bucket-loads of blood make you nauseous, this may not be an episode for you.

Guest Stars: O-Lan Jones (Edward Scissorhands), Andrew Airlie (IntrudersReaper), Richard Beymer (Twin Peaks)

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“El Mundo Gira”
Written by: John Shiban

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El Chupacabra finally makes an appearance in the series. It had to show up eventually – every other fantastical creature has show up. The episode has an interesting twist on the legend; it mostly works as a stand-alone episode.

Fun Fact: El Chupacabra has two major origin tales: one in Puerto Rico, one in Mexico, though I’ve heard most people speak of it as having Puerto Rican origins. *cough* I’m Puerto Rican, so slightly biased *cough*

Guest Stars: Rubén Blades (popular singer, Fear the Walking Dead, Gideon’s Crossing), Raymond Cruz (The Closer/Major Crimes, Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul), Lillian Hurst (noted Puerto Rican character actress)

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“Leonard Betts”
Written by: Vince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz

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The most-watched episode of the entire series with a depressing ending and a dire prognosis for one agent. I won’t go into further detail, but the MOTW is a slightly-sympathetic one that kills to survive. It’s terrible what he does (killing people to eat their cancerous growths – delicious), and he’s able to re-grow body parts like a salamander (including his head). He even attacks one of the few people that truly cared about him in life, which was a dick move on his part But the ultimate “monster” of this episode? Cancer, the big “C,” making itself known thanks to a simple nosebleed that surprises…Scully. Fuck cancer. Scully’s cancer storyline would be an ongoing plot for several episodes and seasons throughout the series, with the origin of her cancer being extraterrestrial.

Guest Stars: Bill Dow (Stargate SG-1, Da Vinci’s Inquest), Paul McCrane (ER, 24)

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“Never Again” – +++
Written by: Glen Morgan & James Wong

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An evil tattoo voiced by Jodie Foster that orders its owner to kill? Scully letting loose and getting her own tat? Sign me up!

Guest Stars: Rodney Rowland (Veronica Mars, Space: Above and Beyond), Jodie Foster (yes, THAT Jodie Foster)

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“Kaddish”
Written by: Howard Gordon

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Episodes dealing with hate crimes always hit me a bit hard emotionally; this is one of them. “Kaddish” deals with an anti-Semitic murder by Neo-Nazi assholes and a “golem,” a Jewish legend, avenging the man’s death. What makes the case even stranger is that fingerprints left on the body of one of the slain Neo-Nazi’s is that of his Jewish victim. It’s a well-done episode touching upon a sensitive topic and worth watching.

Guest Stars: Justine Miceli (NYPD Blue), David Groh (Rhoda, Black Scorpion), Channon Roe (Murder in the First, Kindred: The Embraced)

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“Small Potatoes” – +++
Written by: Vince Gilligan

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It’s time for a funny Vince Gilligan entry! Writer Darin Morgan appears as the MOTW: a strange man named Eddie Van Blundht who can change his identity to appear as someone else. Morgan’s first acting gig on the series was as the infamous Fluekman from the Season Two episode “The Host.” Oh, and he’s impregnating women (making them believe they’re having sex with their husbands), leaving behind tailed babies behind. We love our quirky episodes!

Guest Stars: Darin Morgan (X-Files writer), Christine Cavanaugh (popular voice actress – Babe – R.I.P.), Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis, Sanctuary), Peter Kelamis (SGU Stargate Universe)

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“Elegy” – +++
Written by: John Shiban

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I seem to be picking a lot of sad!Scully episodes – add this one to the list. In this one, a developmentally challenged** man working in a bowling alley starts to see different apparitions of a customer and his former employer trying to speak to him, yet words never come out. Scully herself sees an apparition and starts to question even her own skeptical beliefs. Unfortunately, the man who first started seeing them is dying, which is why he’s able to see them. Which means Scully is also- I’ll be right back while I grab a box of tissues. The “Scully with cancer” storyline was one of the darkest and emotional of the series, and episodes like this one remind us of her own mortality. Give Scully some love for once, writers!

** I apologize if I’m not using the right terminology. 

Guest Stars: Sydney Lassick (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Carrie – R.I.P.), Lorena Gale (Battlestar Galactica – reboot, The Butterfly Effect – R.I.P.), Christine Willes (Emily Owens M.D., Reaper, Dead Like Me)


SEASON FIVE

“Detour”
Written by: Frank Spotnitz

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If you’ve ever wanted to see an episode featuring hallucinations and mysterious murder-y tree people (or people trees?), than this episode is for you! If not – skip it. I have seen it several times and still don’t remember much from it, aside from Scully singing Three Dog Nights’ “Joy to the World” to a cold Mulder while they’re hunkered down in the forest they’re trapped in.

Guest Stars: Merilyn Gann (Everwood), Anthony Rapp (Rent – original Broadway musical)

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“The Post-Modern Prometheus” – +++
Written by: Chris Carter

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An instant classic. Extra bonus points for being in black-and-white and featuring the music of Cher. Yep, ya read that right. This is a take on the classic Frankenstein tale with a really cool twist (the Great Mutato, a creature dreamed up in a comic book, comes to life, who loves the film Mask – the Eric Stoltz/Cher film). The best part is the improvised scene at the end, where Mulder asks Scully to dance with him while they watch “Cher” singing one of her hits. A deleted bit from that scene features them kissing during the dance. MSR’s (Mulder & Scully Relationshippers) always get teased, but I can see why the kiss was left out too. Their first “official” kiss doesn’t come ’til later in Season Seven.

Guest Stars: C. Ernst Harth (Once Upon A Time), John O’Hurley (Seinfeld, Devious Maids), Chris Owens (aka “Jeffrey Spender” in The X-Files), Jerry Springer (yes – the talk show host)

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“Kitsunegari” – +++
Written by: Vince Gilligan & Tim Minear

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A MOTW makes a repeat appearance in this episode and this time he may not be the main culprit. Robert Patrick Modell, the “pusher” who was involved in an almost-deadly game of Russian Roulette with Mulder back in Season Three, makes a return. He might have a connection to one of his future victims that doesn’t seem as random as first thought.

Guest Stars: Ty Olsson (Supernatural, Continuum, The 100), Diana Scarwid (Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, Silkwood), Robert Wisden (Da Vinci’s Inquest, Final Destination)

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“Chinga”
Written by: Stephen King & Chris Carter

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AKA “Stephen King’s Killer Doll Episode with a Dirty Spanish Word As It’s Title.” I’m surprised that the episode title [aka the Spanish version of the “F” word) went unnoticed by FOX executives. The word itself is the name of the titular scary-ass doll that goes around killing people – classic King. While this offbeat and really weird episode doesn’t flow all too well, it’s still cool to see King’s signature style in the X-Files universe. Leave it to King to scare the bejeezus out of me with a creepy-ass doll and little girl.

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“Kill Switch” – +++
Written by: William Gibson & Tom Maddox

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I’ve been addicted to watching TV shows lately that cover the darkside of technology; the irony of using technology to watch shows about the perils of technology). Technology both amazes me and frightens me. In this episode, written by cyberpunk pioneers William Gibson and Tom Maddox, Mulder and Scully take on a case that’s like the forefather of the show Person of Interest, with a deadly A.I. trying to wipe out the people who are trying to stop it from killing innocent lives and setting people up to die *cough* Samaritan *cough*. It’s not perfect, but the “technogoth” chick in it is pretty hot and a sarcastic bad-ass, and it will make you paranoid around wires and small electronic devices. And computers. And satellites. Maybe I should step away from my laptop for a few…

Guest Stars: Peter Williams (Stargate SG-1, Da Vinci’s Inquest), Kristin Lehman (Motive, The Killing), Stephen Collins (7th Heaven, Revolution)

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“Bad Blood” – +++
Written by: Vince Gilligan

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A perfect example of writing a hysterical vampire tale that works perfectly on the small screen. This is not only a fan-favorite – it’s Gillian Anderson’s favorite, too. There’s so many quirky and offbeat moments throughout this moment, including a scene where a drugged Mulder starts singing the Shaft theme song (the original flick, folks) while Scully eye-rolls. One of the best episodes of the series if you’re looking for something a bit more light-hearted.

Guest Stars: Luke Wilson (Bottle Rocket, Idiocracy, Legally Blonde), Patrick Renna (The Sandlot, The Big Green)

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“Folie à Deux”
Written by: Vince Gilligan

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Writing a simple synopsis for this episode is a bit difficult, so I’ll share some key plot points from it:

  • Employee hallucinates his boss as giant bug creature, takes his office hostage.
  • After employee is killed, Mulder starts experiencing same hallucinations, and only Scully believes him.
  • Could the boss really be a bug creature?
  • Gotta love the really out-there MOTW episodes.

Guest Stars: Brian Markinson (Continuum, Caprica, The L Word), Cynthia Preston (Carrie – film reboot, General Hospital), Dmitry Chepovetsky (ReGenesis), Roger Cross (every Canadian show you can think of: Motive, Continuum, Dark Matter, etc., 24)


SEASON SIX

“Drive” – +++
Written by: Vince Gilligan

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The episode best known as “When Vince Gilligan & Bryan Cranston Met for the First Time.” Before Walter White and Heisenberg, Cranston played a man who was evading police as he was driving his wife to some unknown location. An experiment with sonar technology by the U.S. Navy was the possible culprit, but victims who were affected by the secret project and experiment conducted by them suffered a blown brain if they didn’t keep moving; in this case, traveling towards the West Coast. Mulder is taken hostage by Cranston’s character, and he realizes that heading West and continuously driving was the only way to keep the man alive. This is one hell of a nerve-wracking episode.

Guest Stars: Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Malcolm in the Middle), Junior Brown (popular singer)

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“Triangle” – +++
Written by: Chris Carter

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“Triangle” is not your average MOTW. Does a geographic area count as a MOTW? If so, the Bermuda Triangle is our winner! This uniquely-written and shot episode features Mulder trapped in a time warp, courtesy of the Bermuda Triangle, and he encounters alternate World War II versions of Scully, Skinner, and the Cigarette Smoking Man and a few others. There are some amazing long shots in this episode, reminiscent of Martin Scorcese, and it’s cool seeing the “present” and “past” scenes slowly start to meld together until Mulder is rescued at the end. One of my Top 10 favorite episodes.

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“How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” – +++
Written by: Chris Carter

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Season Six was known for having many off-the-cuff episodes that received a mostly-positive reaction from fans, though it felt a little off from the overall alien mythology that the series had worked so hard to establish throughout the previous five seasons. Not like the alien/Syndicate mythology was easy to follow at all. In this one, Mulder calls Scully on Christmas Eve to help him investigate the strange case of people mysteriously dying in a reportedly “haunted” house. Mulder & Scully encounter two unusual personalities in the house, and things get stranger by the minute.

Guest Stars: Edward (Ed) Asner (Mary Tyler Moore, and just about everything you’ve ever watched), Lily Tomlin (Grace and Frankie, and just about everything you’ve ever watched)

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“Terms of Endearment”
Written by: David Amann

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This episode has Bruce Campbell; that is all. If you have no clue who Bruce Campbell is, please watch the following: the Evil Dead film (and future TV) series, the TV show The Adventures of Briscoe County, Jr. (which aired right before the first season of The X-Files in 1993) and Xena, Warrior Princess (as the devilishly handsome thief Autolycus). Bruce is in this episode and it’s as weird as you can imagine.

Guest Star: Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead series, Burn Notice, Xena, Warrior Princess)

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“Tithonus” – +++
Written by: Vince Gilligan

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It’s time for another serious Vince Gilligan episode. In this episode, a photographer shows up at crime scenes and takes pictures of those close to death, trying to capture Death itself in action. What’s even stranger is that this crime scene photographer, Alfred Fellig, hasn’t aged for several decades. If you’ve created a drinking game to follow along with this MOTW guide, take a shot for Scully being in peril (yet again) in this episode.

Guest Stars: Geoffrey Lewis (The Devil’s Rejects, Land’s End), Richard Ruccolo (Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place), Mo Gallini (Chicago Fire)

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“Agua Mala”
Written by: David Amann

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Don’t drink the water. Or bathe in the water. Or be near the water. Just avoid the “bad water.”

Guest Stars: Darren McGavin (Kolchak: The Night Stalker), Joel McKinnon Miller (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Big Love), Valente Rodriguez (Happily Divorced, George Lopez), Diana-Maria Riva (The Bridge, The Good Guys), Silas Weir Mitchell (Grimm, Prison Break)

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“Arcadia”
Written by: Daniel Arkin

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If you ever wanted to see Mulder & Scully as your average domesticated couple living in an idyllic suburban gated community with this own dark secrets, you’ll definitely be satisfied by this episode. The MOTW itself is pretty lame, but it’s pretty funny seeing Mulder & Scully pretending to be your average suburban couple. If they don’t kill each other while undercover.

Guest Stars: Abraham Benrubi (The Bridge, Happy Town, ER), Tom Gallop (The Bourne Supremacy/Ultimatum, Will & Grace), Debra Christofferson (Carnivàle), Tim Bagley (Web Therapy, Monk, Will & Grace), Tom Virtue (The Secret Life of the American Teenager)

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“Field Trip” – +++
Story by: Frank Spotnitz; Teleplay by: John Shiban & Vince Gilligan

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I really don’t know how to describe this episode, but it involves mushrooms. Of the hallucinogenic type. And hallucinations in general. And lots and lots of goo.

Guest Stars: Robyn Lively (Teen Witch, Twin Peaks), David Denman (Parenthood, The Office, Angel), Jim Beaver (Supernatural, Justified, Deadwood)


SEASON SEVEN

“Hungry”
Written by: Vince Gilligan

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This MOTW is a bit different than the other episodes for one reason: it features the point-of-view of the “monster” itself. It’s a great reflective piece on someone who tries to deal with day-to-day life as something more than human. Another great episode from the common theme in this guide: Vince Gilligan.

Guest Stars: Chad Donella (Final Destination, Saw 3-D: The Final Chapter), Mark Pellegrino (Lost, Supernatural, The Returned), Judith Hoag (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Nashville, Big Love)

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“Millennium” – +++
Written by: Vince Gilligan & Frank Spotnitz

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Lance Henriksen guest stars in this episode as his Millennium counterpart, Frank Black. If you’ve never seen or heard of the show Millennium, it’s a series created by Chris Carter that ran for five seasons before being cancelled. I honestly don’t remember much from the series, but I have seen most of the episodes;  I just haven ‘t seen them since they originally aired. The series was on Netflix for a while, but has since been taken off. I recommend the show because it was a bit darker than the usual FOX fare at the time, and Lance Henriksen is a gifted actor who doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves. In this particular episode, Mulder & Scully pay a visit to Frank Black in a psychiatric hospital to find a man who’s been resurrecting the dead to help bring the apocalypse to Earth, sooner rather than later, in the year 2000.

Guest Stars: Lance Henriksen (Aliens, Near Dark, Millennium), Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko, Southland Tales), Brittany Tiplady (Millennium), Octavia Spencer (Snowpiercer, The Help, Fruitvale Station), Dick Clark (TV host – R.I.P.)

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“X-Cops” -+++
Written by: Vince Gilligan

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The X-Files + COPS + a tale about supposed lycanthropes = one of my favorite TV mash-ups ever. Before you ask the question, yes – this episode was shot in the live-action style of your average episode of COPS, and it works to absolute perfection in this episode. I really wasn’t sure if I would like this episode when it first aired, but it later turned out to be one of the many offbeat episodes that I greatly dig.

Guest Stars: Judson Mills (Walker, Texas Ranger), Lombardo Boyer (Murder in the First, The Bernie Mac Show)

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“First Person Shooter” – +++
Written by: William Gibson & Tom Maddox

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Scully is a motherfriggin’ badass in this episode! Another episode written by the  cyberpunk pioneers Gibson & Maddox, Mulder and Scully investigate a gaming company that is ready to introduce its newest IPO to the public, but there’s one little snafu: its in-game femme fatale is killing players in real-life, which should be impossible because it’s just a game. Right? When Mulder enters the gamer to get to the bottom of the mystery, he’s trapped himself. So who’s gonna rescue him? Enter badass Scully OWNING the game! For the Scully lovers out there, this is one of my favorite episodes featuring our favorite skeptic.

Guest Stars: Krista Allen (Significant Mother, What About Brian), Constance Zimmer (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., UnREAL, House of Cards), Billy Ray Gallion (LOST), Michael Bower (Salute Your Shorts)

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“Theef” – +++
Written by: Vince Gilligan & John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz

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This dark and frightening MOTW episode features one of my favorite character actors, Billy Drago. He has that frightful, imposing, yet seductive persona that makes his terrific for villainous roles, much like Tony Todd (who also appeared in an early X-Files episode). In this episode, he plays a man that uses hexcraft to seek revenge against a doctor that was involved in his daughter’s death. There’s lots more to the story, but this is a great unsettling episode to watch on a stereotypical “dark & stormy” night.

Guest Stars: Billy Drago (The Hills Have Eyes – remake, Charmed), James Morrison (24, Hawthorne, Space: Above and Beyond)

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“Chimera”
Written by: David Amann

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I’m not really sure how to describe this episode, other than Scully’s stuck on a stakeout detail while Mulder investigates this X-File solo. The aforementioned ‘chimera’ of the title is not the creature of mythology that you’ve heard of, but something entirely different. It’s an OK episode – not one you have to watch immediately, but good to watch if there’s nothing else on TV.

Guest Star: Wendy Schaal (American Dad – voice: Francine Smith)


SEASON EIGHT

“Patience”
Written by: Chris Carter

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If you aren’t a fan of the Duchovny-less final seasons of the series, you can skip this section now and move on to reading another post…or something more constructive. If you’re a fan of Robert Patrick’s “John Doggett,” welcome to his third appearance in this season! This MOTW episode is a bit lame an is not really notable other than Dogget and Scully butting heads over their investigative styles, and there’s a bat creature of some sort in the mix. It’s a pretty forgettable episode, but at least it kept Doggett on high-alert for the bizarreness he would start to encounter as part of the X-Files team.

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“Roadrunners” – +++
Written by: Vince Gilligan

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As a huge Scully fan, any episode where she takes the lead is an automatic win for me. Scully-centric episodes are always interesting, and this one is no exception. Scully’s working solo on this MOTW and encounters a strange religious cult that worships a slug-like creature that controls its victims after being inserted into their spines. Yuck… Will Scully make it out alive before she becomes a slug-infested pod person? Spoiler Alert: It’s Scully! She can handle anything.

Guest Star: Conor O’Farrell (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Lawrence Pressman (Transparent, Hart of Dixie)

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“Via Negativa” – +++
Written by: Frank Spotnitz

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Another “crazy-ass religious cult leader” story. In this episode, a religious cult leader has the ability to enter people’s dreams and murder them in their sl- Ummm… Freddy Krueger, is that you?

Guest Stars: Wayne Alexander (Babylon 5), Keith Szarabajka (Angel), Grant Heslov (True Lies, Good Night, and Good Luck, The Scorpion King)

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“Salvage”
Written by: Jeffrey Bell

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[Insert your own “Iron Man” jokes here]. One of the weakest episodes of the series. If you’re at least the tiniest bit curious to see why I dislike it so much, then feel free to view at your own risk. And try to contain your scoffing and eye-rolling to a minimum.

Guest Stars: Arye Gross (Castle, Ellen), Scott MacDonald (Carnivàle, Star Trek: Enterprise), Wade Williams (Prison Break)

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“Badlaa”
Written by: John Shiban

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Another “meh” MOTW episode that’s mostly notable for the appearance of character actor Deep Roy. An Indian beggar (our MOTW) seeks revenge for the people of his caste in India after an American company has deadly gas released from one of its facilities, killing over a 100 people in the Indian mystic’s area. I didn’t really care for the portrayal of the beggar in the episode (not Deep Roy’s fault –  the writing was a bit weak). An episode worth skipping unless you’re a completest like me and have to watch it.

Guest Stars: Bill Dow (Stargate SG-1, Da Vinci’s Inquest), Deep Roy (Big Fish, Doctor Who, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Michael Welch (Z Nation, Joan of Arcadia)

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“Alone”
Written by: Frank Spotnitz

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This episode is most notable for being David Duchovny’s last MOTW appearance on The X-Files, before his appearances became finally tapered off with a few guest appearances. His only appearance in Season Nine would be in the series finale, the two-parter “The Truth.”

Guest Star: Zach Grenier (The Good Wife, Deadwood, 24)


SEASON NINE

“Dæmonicus”
Written by: Frank Spotnitz

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Monica Reyes was one of the most polarizing characters in X-Files history, sharply dividing fans who liked and hated her. Can we all agree – at least – that Diane Fowley (Mulder’s ex-girlfriend and the bane of Scully’s existence) was just the worst? I really liked Reyes and I might be in the minority of fans who did, but I’ve always liked the actress who portrays her: Annabeth Gish. As someone who’s spent most of her life in Albuquerque, I gotta give some love to a hometown gal. This MOTW is based around Satanic rituals and demonic possession; if that’s your thing, I recommend it. I’ve always like a good old-fashioned demon possession story.

Guest Star: James Remar (Dexter, The Legend of Korra)

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“4-D” – +++
Written by: Steven Maeda

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In this Reyes-centric episode, Reyes has the unfortunate task of trying to figure out how a killer who seems to bend reality and can move in and out of “realities” murdered Doggett with her gun in one alternate reality, while she’s accused of the crime. I liked the episode a bit and I dig Doggett & Reyes’ friendship. Reyes is more open-minded than her male counterpart and is willing to accept explanations that would make most people roll their eyes (hello, Scully!). She’s kinda like a New Age-y version of Mulder, but probably with ideas that even Mulder himself would thing were a bit “out there.”

Guest Star: Cary Elwes (multiple appearances in the series; The Princess Bride, Saw)

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“Lord of the Flies”
Written by: Thomas Schnauz

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While this episode is nothing spectacular, I gotta give it a shout-out for featuring both Aaron Paul and Jane Lynch. I swear – almost every working actor in Hollywood has made an appearance on the series. There’s so many I haven’t listed on here, but they’ll be featured eventually as part of the ongoing X-Files retrospective I’ve been working on over the past year.

Guest Stars: Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, Big Love), Erick Avari (Heroes, The Mummy), Hank Harris (Popular), Jane Lynch (Glee, Party Down, The L Word), Michael Wiseman (Vegas), Samaire Armstrong (Resurrection, Entourage)

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“Hellbound”
Written By: David Amann

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I always call this episode “the Hellraiser one” because of the skinned bodies seen in frightening hallucinations from future victims. The first Hellraiser sequel was named Hellbound: Hellraiser II, which makes for another coincidence. In this episode, a vengeful spirit is attacking the souls of those who may have killed them when they were alive, and repeating the process throughout the years whenever these souls are born into a new body. Skinning them alive is the most popular way of taking them out.

Guest Star:  Don Swayze (The Bridge, True BloodCarnivàle)

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“Audrey Pauley”
Written by: Steven Maeda

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Reyes-centric episode time! You have two choices: skip it if you hate her, or watch it ’cause you like her or you love the show and will watch all the episodes. After being involved in a nasty car accident, Reyes falls into a coma and her consciousness finds itself trapped in a limbo-type  world where random patients that she encounters for help “disappear” mysteriously. What’s happening? Someone in the hospital is killing their comatose bodies, making the patients “disappear” from this alternate realm. While trapped in this limbo-like realm, Reyes keeps encountering a somber woman named Audrey Pauley, who is like a guardian angel of sorts for the patients trapped in this world. Will Reyes wake up before she becomes the next victim?

Guest Stars: Stan Shaw (Fried Green Tomatoes, The Monster Squad), Tracey Ellis (The Crow: City of Angels, The Age of Innocence), Vernee Watson (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, The Big Bang Theory)

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“Improbable” – +++
Written by: Chris Carter

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Before the episode “Sunshine Days” was released towards the end of Season Nine, I would’ve easily called this one the strangest MOTW episode of the series. It’s so offbeat and strange and enjoyably weird that you have to watch it a few times to really appreciate it. The brilliant casting of Burt Reynolds in one of the best roles of his career helps as well. The episode itself involves Scully & Reyes investigating murders based around numerology, trying to catch a serial killer who keeps offing numerologists.

Guests Stars: Burt Reynolds (every TV show & film you can think of), Ellen Green (Pushing Daisies, Little Shop of Horrors), John Kapelos (Forever Knight, Justified), Ray McKinnon (Sons of Anarchy, Deadwood)

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“Scary Monsters”
Written by: Thomas Schnauz

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A young boy’s scary hallucinations causes the death of his mother and a family pet, who were attacked by strange insects. A confrontation with an overly-protective father seeking to protect his son from the FBI “strangers” leads the agents into a very dangerous situation. With insects. Lots of insects. Gross.

Guest Stars: Scott Paulin (Castle, Teen Wolf – film), Brian Poth (CSI: Miami, True Blood), Steve Ryan (The West Wing, American Dreams – R.I.P.)

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“Sunshine Days”
Written by: Vince Gilligan

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Leave it to Vince Gilligan to deliver one of the most truly unique and absolutely nutty episodes of the series. What do you get when you mix Bud Bundy + Ben Linus + the Brady Bunch in an episode? You get the most “WTF?” episodes of the entire series. I can’t even begin to describe it, but the main suspect in some bizarre killings is Oliver Martin, who was a cousin of the Brady’s on the show. Could Cousin Oliver be behind the killing, or is it the house itself with a sudden taste for blood? The twist – the house the show was shot in is also a suspect. Yeah – told ya it was weird as hell.

Guests Stars: David Faustino (Married… with Children), Michael Emerson (LOST, Person of Interest), John Aylward (ER, The West Wing)

30 Days of Halloween! Day 7 – “She is the Slayer…” – Part 1 [TV Show Throwback]

On this seventh day day of the 30 Days of Halloween I’m spending a little bit of quality time with my favorite vampire slayer: Buffy Summers. Though the show has been off the air since 2003, its impact on pop culture, and even the academic world (there are lots of published papers and books based around the show and character), is still quite significant. It made series creator Joss Whedon a household name and helped him launch several other series that are still beloved by fans (newer & older) today: Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse, as well as many other projects and films like Much Ado About Nothing and a small-budget indie film named The Avengers. There are still lots and lots of fans who re-watch the series frequently, and there’s also new fans that are discovering the show for the first time and diving head-first into the fandom.

As a BTVS fan who got into the show mid-way through Season Two, I’m still very grateful for the constant inspiration the show has given me since I first discovered it in 1998 – courtesy of my badass mom. In many ways the show saved my life and I’m eternally thankful for the positive influence it’s had in it. It was so cool to watch this show in high school because I was the same age as the characters, and seeing them battle real-life horrors and the trials & tribulations of being a teen growing up and entering college and adulthood was something I related to. When the blog was originally named A Voyage into the Quirky, Offbeat, and Geeky, I created it with the intent of showcasing many of my geeky interests, including my love for all things Buffy. That love was shown in a long retrospective series that I wrote several years ago, and in this special lil’ tribute post I’ve included the links to all of my original posts. I stopped a post short of finally completing the retrospective and that final post will appear Friday.

My lovely friend and fellow Geeky Voyage writer, Cassandra, and I are both Whedonites. We are huge Buffy fans and we’ve both got growing collections of Buffy-related items (comics, books, cards, figures, etc.), and we could probably talk your ear off about the characters, the episodes, and the seasons all day long. We’re extremely passionate about the show and we’re also big fans of the spinoff Angel. A very popular character from that show will be featured on Day 10 (this coming Sunday) of this ongoing countdown, and we both have lots of feels for them and the person who portrays them. ‘Cause that person is the most perfect human being ever and a ray of sunshine and the biggest sweetheart to their fans.

If you’d like some light reading for this weekend, I present to you all twelve parts of my Buffy Retrospective below. If any of you readers have any thoughts you’d like to share about how big of an impact the show has had on your life, I’d love to read them. I love meeting fellow fans and geeking out over one of my favorite shows with them. Your favorite episodes, scenes, relationships, characters, and anything else Buffy-related… Share all of your feelings below in the Comments section.

I do apologize for the crappy pictures. My Photoshop skills aren’t exactly l33t, and the original videos I pulled the screencaps from weren’t very clear. Enjoy the nostalgic value of the pictures and relieve all of your favorite moments from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.


RETROSPECTIVE INTRODUCTION

A 15-Year Retrospective On The “Girl With A Stake Who Saved The World (Again)”

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SHOW SYNOPSIS

BTVS Retrospective (2): Seven Seasons Reduced To Fourteen Minutes

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FAVORITE SCENES

BTVS Retrospective (3): And These Are A Few Of My (Most) Favorite Scenes – Part One

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BTVS Retrospective (4): And These Are A Few Of My (Most) Favorite Scenes – Part Two

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FAVORITE EPISODES

BTVS Retrospective (5): Full Season Pick-Up (Favorite Episodes – Part 1 of 3 – Seasons One & Two)s1xe7-angel

BTVS Retrospective (6): Full Season Pick-Up (Favorite Episodes – Part 2 of 3 – Season Three)s3xe3-faith-hope-and-trick

BTVS Retrospective (7): Full Season Pick-Up (Favorite Episodes – Part 2 of 3 – Season Four)

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BTVS Retrospective (8): Full Season Pick-Up (Favorite Episodes – Part 3 of 3 – Seasons Five and Six)

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BTVS Retrospective (9): Full Season Pick-Up (Favorite Episodes – Part 3 of 3 – Season Seven)

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FAVORITE CHARACTER

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Retrospective (10): The Characters, Part 1 – Favorite Character (Always “Five By Five”)

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SHOW CHARACTERS – #HEROES

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Retrospective (11): They Will Always Save Us [Team Slayer]

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SHOW CHARACTERS – #VILLAINS

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Retrospective (12): They Will Try To Destroy Us [Team Evil]

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer Retrospective (13): Music & Final Thoughts

Still Need A Bigger Boat: 40 Years Of “JAWS” [Movie Retrospective]

[OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING]

Yes, this film just recently celebrated its 40th anniversary.Yes, many movie lovers have seen this film – some countless times. But I’m still throwing in this warning for the few of you who still haven’t seen the movie yet. And if you haven’t seen it go out and buy the 35th Anniversary Edition; comes with a really awesome documentary about the making-of the movie as well as a cool picture booklet with behind-the-scenes anecdotes and pictures. Thank you and enjoy!


Let’s kick off this special retrospective in high-gear with a very familiar theme song that most people have heard at least once in their lives:

If you weren’t traumatized listening to that, you’ll definitely be after watching the original trailer to this cinema classic:

Welcome to this retrospective celebrating the first summer blockbuster and one of the most recognizable movie monsters of all time: JAWS. Enjoy this throwback look at a cinematic classic that still captivates and scares the living daylights out of moviegoers. Are you still afraid to go to the beach or swim in any body of water, including pools? You can thank this film for that terror!

Growing up, I was fascinated with the silver screen. I loved seeing movies of all types of different genres, but I was also big fan of monster films. Some of my favorite films when I was a young Sylent Mari included many of the classic Universal Monster films like: Dracula, Frankenstein, Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, and so many others. I’m still very much a lover of all things Horror, and I love Horror films and TV shows. I have few friends who are into the genre but very thankful that we can geek out over the frightening and gory.

There was one particular Horror/Monster film that really captured my attention & imagination as a kid, and to this day it remains my favorite film of all-time: JAWS. Part drama/monster/horror – and equal parts amazing – JAWS is a timeless film classic that still scares the crap out of audiences both young and old today. I recently attended a special 40th anniversary screening on June 21st of this year and it was at about 90% capacity. There were families, there were single folks like me, and the age range was very diverse: toddlers, teens, adults, and a few moviegoers in their 70’s-80’s. It was so much fun to get to experience JAWS on the big screen, and the whole time I felt like I was a kid watching it for the first time, excited and smiling throughout the whole film.

My mom still has this drawing with a “What I Want To Be When I Grow Up” job description on it from first grade (I was six) that I drew for a class project. While she is still quite proud of it and loves to show it to me every so often when I visit, I can only imagine what my poor first grade teacher was thinking at the time. I will eventually get a picture of that drawing and share it here, but here’s a short description of it:

Quint is being eaten alive by the dreaded Great White Shark that has been stalking various beachgoers and swimmers, while Chief Brody looks on in horror as he scrambles to safety on the Orca (Quint’s boat). Below this really cool-and-primitive stick figure drawing is a written sentence from me: “When I grow up I want to be a marine biologist because I want to study sharks.”

Though I never became a marine biologist (Never Say Never!), I still have a lifelong love and fascination with sharks, and especially Great Whites. Great Whites have always gotten a bad rap and JAWS didn’t help their cause, scaring people and causing many to kill millions and millions of sharks (Great Whites and other species) for fear of attacks happening all around the world. In reality, shark attacks only account for 10-30 fatalities a year…if that. Yet thousands upon thousands of sharks are killed for their fins and thrown back into the water, where they can’t swim and subsequently drown and die. #SharksAreOurFriendsNotFood

I won’t bore everyone with repeating tales of the production – which are vast and quite legendary. There are many documentaries and interviews that detail the struggles, frustrations, and fights that frequently broke out on set while the film was being made. One of those interesting documentaries is below. This originally aired on the BIO Channel back in 2012, and it’s a fascinating look at all of the behind-the-scenes stuff that occurred on the film. Despite all the production nightmares and the uncooperative mechanical sharks (including the legendary “Bruce”), the film would later become one that is highly regarded by critics who were impressed with young director Steven Spielberg’s risky vision – using POV shots of the shark stalking swimmers, putting his cast through hell and back, and ultimately creating a film executives originally thought would wind up an epic disaster.


JAWS: The Inside Story aired on the BIO Channel in 2012


Why do I dig JAWS so much? I could spend several posts writing about what an important piece of cinema it is, how it still affects people to this day, etc. The film means a lot to me because it was such a badass film when I first saw it and it left quite the impression on me. It inspired me to pursue various creative avenues, including filmmaking in the future. The direction of the film was groundbreaking for its time, and I love the tension & horror that we get whenever we see the shark POV scenes, as Jaws slowly swims up and seeks the right prey for it to devour.

What could’ve easily been a cheesy monster film was anchored by some very strong performances from its lead cast: Roy Scheider as “Chief Brody,” Robert Shaw as “Quint,” and Richard Dreyfuss as “Matt Hooper.” Including the supporting cast, the film had several excellent dramatic scenes that brought chills to me. Despite the mechanical sharks being divas and refusing to work most of the time, those three actors gave us several of cinema’s greatest dramatic scenes.

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The opening credits of the film


Sylent Mari’s Favorite Scenes from JAWS

The following scenes below are my favorites from the film. It’s so hard to choose a favorite scene because there are so many to choose from, but these are the ones that have really stuck with my throughout repeated viewings over the years. With Summer in full swing, there’s still plenty of time to watch this Horror classic and remember –  if you see a fin in the water, be wary of it…

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The first victim to be killed by the mysterious “ocean” dweller

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Second victim, the young Alex Kintner, during a busy day at the beach

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Meeting salty sea-dog Quint for the first time, after Alex’s attack

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Mrs. Kintner slaps Chief Brody, blaming him for Alex’s death

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Ben Gardner makes a surprise appearance; another victim of Jaws

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The Mayor of Amity being a delusional dumbass as Brody & Hooper warn him about the shark that’s been stalking Amity’s beaches

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A young painter screams for help after a false alarm at the beach; the shark attacks a boater in the “Pond” in front of Chief Brody’s son

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Quint, Hooper, and Brody prepare for an epic voyage to kill the shark

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“We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

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Our rag-tag team of shark hunters meet the huge villain up close

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Quint recounts a haunting tale of the U.S.S. Indianapolis (based on a true story), which sunk in shark-infested waters during World War II

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Jaws is not amused by having three barrels harpooned to it.

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Jaws is not amused with Hooper trying to poison-harpoon it

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Quint and Jaws’ love affair is over as quickly as it started.

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“Smile, you son of a bitch!”
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Chief Brody ain’t having it. He’s had a bad day, Quint’s dead, Hooper’s probably dead… He throws a tank into Jaws’ mouth, hoping to teach it a lesson. Just one well-placed shot. BOOM! you son of a bitch! Joining the celebration is…HOOPER! The bromance is still alive & strong as Brody and Hopper swim back to shore.
THE END!