Written by Vince Gilligan, John Shiban & Frank Spotnitz
Directed by Kim Manners
The second part of this story should be disappointing; after all, that’s what X-Files two-parters are. All the toys gets put away at the end, and this time, our heroes don’t even get the benefit of knowing that anything in this entire series of events even happened (let’s do the time warp again). But because this is a comedy, and sadly the only one of its kind in the entire X-Files oeuvre, we don’t feel nearly as disappointed by the ends of results. Mainly because the entire Dreamland story arc is about taking the mytharc and doing some much needed deflation to it.
The opening voiceover is absent the normal purple prose, partly because it isn’t Carter writing it for once, but mostly because it views Mulder’s entire back-story with an outsiders POV, and we can see just how sad Mulder has made his life and career with the FBI. Michael McKean’s portrayal of Fletcher was delightfully sleazy in the last episode; here, he has to do something much harder, and try and introduce a note of humility into his performance at times. At times, he succeeds a little (the bit where he enters the bar where ‘he’ and his wife are drinking together speaks volumes) but mainly he spends much of the episode staying on the dry weasel-like tone that he managed in the episode.
For most of the Dreamland II, it holds up remarkably well. The scene when he recognizes the mole in Area 51 as his immediate supervisor General Wegman is fairly funny, as well as a little satisfying. Of far more enjoyment is the scene where he identifies himself to the Lone Gunmen, and tells them that all the truth searching that they have been doing since they started their newspaper is nothing but another level of coverup, and that he enjoys adding this layer of deception to the lives of conspiracy buffs like Mulder, and it’s frankly a bit that probably holds up far better considering that its really an additional add-on to the level of conspiracy that the series hinted at in Season 3. Arguably, it’s the best sequence that the Lone Gunmen would ever be a part of.
Curiously, the bit that by far is the most enjoyable is when Mulder/Fletcher approaches Wegman in his office, and asks him point blank why he sabotaged the aircraft that led to the time warp that has caused the entire problems, and we find out that he did this not to give information to Mulder, but to get it. Apparently, the government conspiracy is so compartmentalized that not even the men in charge of running know just how deep it goes. Wegman isn’t some old man of the consortium, or even part of the military we usually see on the series, he’s just a working stiff, who at the end of the day, wants to know if his life had any meaning. There’s something very poignant about the way he asks Mulder: “Do aliens really exist?”, and one can almost wish Mulder could enlighten him.
One of the things that is better about this episode is the way that Scully finally finds herself accepting the unbelievable, at least to a degree. The way she turns her gun on Morris during the supposed seduction is rather surprising, and seems like such a breakthrough for her, its a little frustrating that she’ll have no memory of it by the end of the episode. That’s nearly as frustrating as the fact that she tells Mulder that she’d kiss him, if he weren’t so ugly. Paradoxically, Duchovny has a little less to do in this episode, considering how central it is to him, but it is interesting to watch how he tries to adapt as well as possible (and the scene where he confronts ‘himself’ in the bar bathroom is very funny as well.) Unfortunately, the episode also tries a little too hard to poke at the heartstrings with the scene between the Fletchers at the ends. Considering how much Fletcher seemed to enjoy being Mulder, it’s a little unbelievable, even for this series, that he would try to win back the wife who was throwing him out on the street. And after being so shrill for the last hour, as well as unbelieving, its kind of hard to believe Joanne would change perspectives that quickly even with the evidence. (Later episodes would reveal that it didn’t last very long either.)
But overall, the writers of this episode didn’t drop the ball. If we’re wondering at the end why there are some residuals from time snapping back like a rubber band – well, this is the X-Files after all. And considering how much better Dreamland fit that so many of the other conspiracy arcs, its rather disappointing that they wouldn’t try it again (especially considering what was about to happen to the Conspiracy). It’s entertaining enough to make you think the move to Hollywood has done some good to a series that was starting to get stale for the last year.
My score: 3.5 stars.