Carl Sweeney continues the ultimate X-Files countdown of all 209 episodes, as voted by you, with Season 3 Episode 7, ‘The Walk’…
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably a bit surprised to see ‘The Walk’ in such a lowly position on our poll. I think I can understand, though, why this is an episode that only featured on a couple of lists of favourites – it’s solid and well-crafted, but perhaps not distinctive enough to endear itself to a lot of fans.
‘The Walk’ was written by John Shiban, turning in his first script for the series, and directed by Rob Bowman. Bowman is justly celebrated by X-Philes, but Shiban is a writer whose reputation among the fans is quite low. In fairness, it’s easy to see why, when you consider that he was responsible for penning some real duds, including ‘Teso Dos Bichos’. I would contend, though, that he’s also responsible for some good stuff, and that his contribution to some memorable co-written screenplays, such as those for ‘Monday’ and ‘Field Trip’, often gets ignored.
The action here concerns the agents’ investigation into an unidentified force preventing a suicidal Army veteran from taking his own life at a military hospital from Maryland. The veteran believes that the force, which sometimes appears in the form of a soldier, is responsible for killing his family, and is now trying to torment him. Eventually, Mulder deduces that a quadruple amputee nicknamed “Rappo”, a resident at the hospital, is committing the murders, having developed the ability to induce a state known as ‘astral projection’, a kind of out-of-body experience where the person involved is able to leave their physical body. “Rappo” served in the Gulf War and believes that the conflict robbed him of his prospects for a good life, so is seeking revenge on his superiors.
A floating apparition is quite a difficult antagonist to centre an episode around, but there’s some effective, well-staged horror here. Two sequences, in particular, stand out: the murders of Captain Draper in a swimming pool, and of the young boy in his backyard sandpit. An open question is whether this episode ever becomes much more than a collection of neat set-pieces – its poll ranking would suggest that, in the minds of many fans, it does not.
Mulder and Scully don’t really get much to do throughout, barring an impressive scene early on in which Scully stands her ground against an attempt by the Army hierarchy to stall their investigation. This is an episode where the agents’ primary function is to work out what’s going on for the audience while the real drama plays out in parallel with other characters. The theme of supernatural vengeance is one that The X-Files reused regularly in its early years, and the episode feels somewhat reheated as a consequence. The issues raised about the treatment of injured soldiers, and the indifference of the television-watching public to contemporary warfare, continue to ring true.
MULDER: You’re a soldier. You knew what you were getting into when you enlisted. Now you want to blame everybody else. Why do you want to blame your COs?
RAPPO: I blame him for what happened to all of us. You don’t know what it was like… You sat home and watched the war on cable TV like it was a damn video game. You have no idea about the guys that died. About the blood… the sand. What it feels like when a hit comes. Thing is, you just don’t care, do you? You got your crude oil. Just change that station, right? Killer got his prime time. LC got his fancy little medals. Now, take a good look at me, WHAT DID I GET?! Nobody knows how I feel. They took my life away.
MULDER: It was war that destroyed Leonard Trimble’s body… but his wounds went deeper than the loss of his limbs… What destroyed those parts of him that make us human beings? Those better angels of our nature? I cannot say.
Our blog team also decided to rank the show based on their own lists, so here’s what they picked in 202nd place:
Tony: “SUREKILL – sure to bore the arse off you, more like. Beyond a really good, tense teaser, this has no redeeming features and moves like a drugged snail.
Carl: “Been a while since I’ve seen it, but I’ll go for LORD OF THE FLIES at this point. A dull, laboured, unfunny mishmash of an episode, and I say that with all due respect.”
Andrew: “TELIKO. Boring and oddly, perhaps, racist. Someone is draining the pigmentation from black males’ complexions? What the hell kind of a pitch is that? This is a clunker.”
Paige: “BABYLON. Some humorous moments don’t make up for some embarrassing profiling, an unwanted reboot of Mulder and Scully through two younger agents and a final scene with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer.”
Do you agree with this episode ranking? Let us know what you would put in this spot on Facebook, Twitter or via comments below!