Long Live the Lone Gunmen.
April 22, 2002
Spoiler Warning: if you haven’t seen “Jump the Shark” yet, there are major spoilers in the following review.
For the first time in nine years of watching The X-Files, I am truly speechless. Stunned. And more disappointed and angrier than I’ve ever been.
“Jump the Shark” is the culprit, of course. The Vince Gilligan/John Shiban/Frank Spotnitz script is a story tailor-made to be the Lone Gunmen’s swan song. It has all the elements of a great episode. The return of Morris Fletcher. Supersoldiers. Bioterrorists and a deadly toxin.
But did it have to be the end of the Lone Gunmen?
I still can’t believe it. I’m somewhere inside denial and shock and mourning, and anger at Chris Carter. This is the saddest thing to ever befall The X-Files in its entire history.
I don’t like to read spoilers, especially as this is the last season of the show. So I had no idea what was coming at the end of this episode. But as I sat there and I watched the last scene, Arlington Cemetery, three coffins, Skinner, Scully, and the rest of the Gunmen associates in shock and grieving, the horrible truth hit me: Byers, Frohike and Langly are gone. They’re gone, and they’re not coming back. As Yves said at the funeral, “It’s not right.”
There’s a lot that isn’t right about “Jump the Shark” actually. It doesn’t nearly have the level of tension and conflict and suspense that an episode like this should. It relies too much on the new characters created for the Gunmen’s spinoff to propel the story. And the worst sin of all is that final act.
As I think back to the pivotal scene, in which the Gunmen are faced with making the ultimate sacrifice, I get more and more angry. How could they write a hands-on-window, Spock/Kirk dying-moment thing without Mulder there? Without Scully? This last moment belongs to M&S and the Gunmen. It’s their relationship that should have been explored there. I don’t care what strings they had to pull, or how much money they had to truck in front of the show’s stars, but get Duchovny or at least Anderson into that scene.
In life you don’t always get a chance to say goodbye. Life teaches us this lesson when we least expect it. (I live in New York City, so I’m assuming you get my meaning). This is part of the reason why we watch TV. We like to think that in the world of entertainment, at least our characters can find happiness, contentment, satisfaction, love, a sense of completion or closure to life’s relationships. All the things we hope for in our lives. We live through the characters. Certainly for X-Philes, the Lone Gunmen represent much more than just a trio of paranoid, goofy conspiracy specialists. They’re our guys.
I’ll always remember them in the Vegas-themed “Three of A Kind.” (Especially good, as my favorite Gunman, Byers, is recognized as the cute one who gets the girl, sort of). Or in the Morris Fletcher original, “Dreamland.” Or splitting one of Scully’s twenty-dollar bills to show her how even her money is monitored by the men in black. And Frohike’s many deliveries of flowers, or his declaration, “She’s hot.” Frohike and Mulder hugging. The trio hunched over a computer. The many, many cool shirts Langly owns. Those hysterical headlines of theirs.
Oh hell, pass the tissues, will you? The Lone Gunmen are dead. Long Live the Lone Gunmen. Their truth is out there.