Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 1/30/01
The X-Files: The
Complete Second Season
1994-95 (2000) - Ten
Thirteen Productions/20th Century Fox (Fox)
review by Bill Hunt,
editor of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/B/A
Specs and Features
Approx. 1,200 mins (25 episodes at 48 mins each), NR, full frame
(1.33:1), 7 single-sided, dual-layered discs (6 discs contain 4
episodes each, the 7th contains 1 episode plus bonus features),
custom gatefold packaging, 4 deleted scenes accessible using
multi-angle feature (from the episodes Sleepless,
and Anasazi), 3 "behind-the-scenes"
clips (from the episodes End Game,
Humbug and Anasazi),
20 "international" clips from the episodes Duane
Barry, One Breath,
and Anasazi (in dubbed
Japanese, German, Spanish and Italian), 49 TV spots (10 and 20
second spots for 24 episodes and a 20 second spot for the 25th), 9
Behind the Truth segments (as
seen on FX), 12 interview clips with Chris Carter about the
episodes, The Truth About Season Two
featurette, collectible booklet, PC Friendly DVD-ROM features
(including an interactive game - Unholy
Alliances, weblinks and access to online events),
animated program-themed menu screens with music, scene access (12
chapters per episode), languages: English and French (DD 2.0),
subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned
Scully: "Did you
find what you were looking for?"
Mulder: "No. But I found something I thought I'd lost... faith
to keep looking."
When you're talking about The X-Files,
if the first season is where it all began, the second season is
where things really took shape and began to pick up steam. It's
during this period that we see Cancer Man (aka "the Cigarette
Smoking Man") coming into his own for the first time as one of
the most evil villains ever to appear on TV. We're introduced to a
spate of new characters that will become an important part of the
series' mythology, including X (Mulder's new informant), Alex Krycek
(I like to think of him as "that rat-bastard Krycek"), the
infamous Alien Bounty Hunter (aka "the Mighty Morphin Bounty
Hunter"), Margaret Scully (Agent Scully's mother), William and
Teena Mulder (Mulder's cold-hearted parents, who are somehow
involved with Cancer Man) and, of course, Assistant Director Walter
Skinner (Mulder and Scully's boss and chief ally at the FBI). The
second season is also important for really kick-starting the "Conspiracy"
between a mysterious shadow government and extraterrestrials (who
are always up to no good). It's also the first time viewers get a
glimpse of an alien on the series... even if it's only a glimpse.
It's enough to let people know that maybe Mulder isn't crazy after
More importantly, it's during the second season that the characters
of Mulder and Scully are more thoroughly explored. During the course
of these 25 episodes, Mulder finally finds his long-missing (and
presumed abducted) sister, Samantha... or does he? Mulder and
Scully, who lost the X-Files at the end of the first season, see the
branch reopened, and their investigations renewed. We learn that
Mulder is fan of Chris Carter... as in the wide receiver of the
Minnesota Vikings (that Mulder's my kinda guy). The season's last
episode, Anasazi, features a
truly nail-biting cliff-hanger, which energizes the show even
further going into season three. And in a three-part story arc
beginning with the 5th episode, Duane
Barry, Mulder faces his worst nightmare - the apparent
abduction of Agent Scully by extraterrestrials. This single
storyline, which came about almost by accident as a way to deal with
actress Gillian Anderson's unexpected pregnancy, is perhaps the best
thing that ever happened to this series. It not only raised the
stakes in terms of just how bad the bad guys could be, it also
peeled back the layers of Mulder's character to reveal just how much
he relies upon, and even loves, his partner. His decent into quiet
desperation during her disappearance gave the series a raw, edgy
feel. And, once reunited, the dynamic between these two characters
had undergone a seismic shift that continues to fuel the series even
in its current, eighth season.
Following the pattern established by the successful release of the
season on DVD, Fox has now given us The
X-Files: The Complete Second Season. The season's 25
episodes are arranged 4 to a disc, on 6 dual-layered DVDs (the 7th
disc contains 1 episode and most of the set's bonus materials).
Here's a rundown of the episodes, along with the episode number and
a brief synopsis of each:
Little Green Men (2x01) - The
X-Files division has been mothballed by the Bureau brass, and Mulder
and Scully have been relegated to more mundane work (Mulder's
tapping wires, while Scully teaches the finer points of forensic
pathology at Quantico). But just when things look most desperate for
Mulder's cause, his longtime sponsor, Senator Matheson, comes
through with a tip - extraterrestrial contact's been made at a
shutdown SETI research facility in Puerto Rico. The proof Mulder
seeks may very well be waiting for him there... if he can beat an
elite military team that's on its way to cover-up the evidence.
The Host (2x02) - People begin
dying mysteriously in Newark, New Jersey, and Agent Mulder is
assigned to the case. But what he thinks is a meaningless homicide
investigation turns into a X-File, when the killer seems to be a
strange creature living in the sewers.
Blood (2x03) - When a series
of violent killings breaks out in Franklyn, Pennsylvania, the local
P.D. is left scratching their heads at the lack of motive. And when
Mulder's brought in to try to make sense of it all, what he
discovers makes even less sense - machines that command people to "Kill
Sleepless (2x04) - The death
of a researcher specializing in sleep disorders leads Agent Mulder
and his brash new partner, Alex Krycek, to uncover a secret military
project from the Vietnam War. They soon encounter the result of that
effort - a soldier who'd literally kill for a good night's sleep.
Duane Barry (2x05) - Mulder
and Krycek are called in to assist on a hostage negotiation, when it
turns out that the perpetrator - an escaped mental patient named
Duane Barry - believes himself to be the victim of alien abduction.
Mulder initially believes his story, but doubts when Scully
discovers that Barry's medical condition means he's probably lying.
Unfortunately, Mulder learns he may have been right after all, when
a piece of very unusual evidence leads Barry to his next victim -
Ascension (2x06) - Duane
Barry's on the run and he's got Scully with him. Now, it's up to
Mulder and Krycek to find him before it's too late. But Barry's goal
is to deliver Scully to his alien abductors, hoping they'll take her
instead of him. And Krycek - along with the mysterious "Cancer
Man" - may actually be helping him do it.
3 (2x07) - Scully's missing
and the traitorous Krycek has disappeared as well. After weeks of
searching, Mulder still has no leads. Fighting ever-increasing
despair, Mulder's got only one thing going for him - the newly
re-opened X-Files. But his first case alone, an investigation into a
series of vampire-like killings in Los Angeles, only heightens his
sense of isolation.
One Breath (2x08) - Without
warning, some three months after her disappearance, Agent Scully
mysteriously reappears in a local hospital. But she's in a coma, and
her body shows signs of extremely unusual medical experimentation.
As her condition deteriorates and her family struggles to cope with
her impending death, Mulder's given an opportunity for revenge. But
will he choose to take it... or remain at Scully's side?
Firewalker (2x09) - In their
first case after being reunited, Mulder and Scully investigate a
series of deaths among volcano researchers working in the field -
deaths caused by an unknown (and possibly silicon-based) life form.
Red Museum (2x10) - When a
number of Wisconsin teens are abducted and drugged in a small town,
the locals believe a religious cult is to blame. But Mulder and
Scully discover that unusual medical research is being conducted on
the teens... possibly involving alien DNA.
Excelsius Dei (2x11) - When a
nurse at a retirement home is raped by a seemingly invisible force,
Mulder and Scully learn that the attacks may linked to angry spirits
from beyond the grave... and that one of the elderly patients may be
the focus of it all.
Aubrey (2x12) - In the town of
Aubrey, Missouri, Mulder and Scully investigate a police detective
who seems to be solving decades old murders by experiencing visions
of the killings in her mind.
Irresistible (2x13) - Mulder
drags Scully halfway across the country to investigate the
mutilation of buried corpses at a graveyard in Minneapolis,
Minnesota. The local Bureau guy thinks UFOs might be involved, but
Mulder (who, it turns out, has tickets for he and Scully to take in
a Vikings/Skins football game) decides it's just your garden variety
escalating death fetishist. Unfortunately, the case hits a little
too close to home when Scully becomes the fetishist's next target.
Die Hand Die Verletzt (2x14) -
The agents look into the death of a New Hampshire teenager, who
seems to be the victim of witchcraft. What they discover is that the
local PTA's doing a lot more than just planning the next school
fund-raiser. Nothing like that old Black Magic to keep the kids in
Fresh Bones (2x15) - When a
pair of Marines dies mysteriously at a government processing center
for Haitian refugees, Mulder and Scully investigate and discover
that the evidence tells a strange tale of abuse, revenge and some
seriously funky voodoo.
Colony (2x16) - When a UFO
crashes into the ocean above the Arctic Circle, the pilot is rescued
and promptly disappears. He soon begins killing doctors at abortion
clinics across the United States - doctors who are identical but
unrelated. Mulder and Scully realize that the men are clones, and
Scully arranges protection for those that are left alive. Then,
Mulder's long-lost sister Samantha suddenly appears with word that
the pilot is really an alien bounty hunter, and that the clones are
part of a colonization project. But the clones aren't the only thing
the bounty hunter is after - he wants Samantha, and he takes Scully
hostage to get her.
End Game (2x17) - Mulder asks
Skinner's help in the exchange with the bounty hunter, hoping to get
both Scully and his sister out alive. But things go bad, and both
Samantha and the bounty hunter disappear, falling into an ice cold
river. Samantha's body is pulled out the next day, but it looks like
she wasn't what she claimed to be. Desperate to find some answers,
Mulder pressures his informant, X, for the alien bounty hunter's
location. Before long, Mulder finds himself trekking across the
Arctic wilderness, in a race to reach the bounty hunter before the
government can destroy him.
Fearful Symmetry (2x18) -
Escaped animals from a zoo in Idaho are suspected of killing several
people, but the evidence leads Mulder and Scully to believe that the
real killer is a mysterious - and invisible - force.
Død Kalm (2x19) -
Mulder leans that a Navy ship has mysteriously disappeared in the
Atlantic, and the only survivor, a 28-year-old crewmen, appears to
have aged a lifetime. Suspecting a connection to a rumored
time-travel experiment, Mulder and Scully set out to find the ship
and become trapped on it as their bodies age dramatically.
Humbug (2x20) - Mulder and
Scully investigate a murder spree that seems connected to the
residents of a town full of side-show circus performers. They soon
discover that the killer has an unusual connection of his own.
The Calusari (2x21) - The
agents investigate the death of a young boy, whose family is plagued
by mysterious accidents - accidents which might be connected to an
F. Emasculata (2x22) - Mulder
and Scully help in the hunt for a pair of prison escapees, only to
discover that they're suffering from the effects of a deadly
contagion. They soon learn that the prisoners are being used as
human guinea pigs in secret government experiments to test a new
Soft Light (2x23) - The agents
are called in to explain a series of unusual deaths, where the
victims seem to have been vaporized. What they finds leads them to a
nearby research company called Polarity Magnetics, where one of the
physicists is literally afraid of his own shadow.
Our Town (2x24) - When people
mysteriously disappear in a small Arkansas town, the investigation
leads Mulder and Scully to a local meat processing plant and
evidence of cannibalism.
Anasazi (2x25) - In the
season's cliffhanger finale, a hacker delivers Mulder a data tape
containing his Holy Grail - secret Defense Department files on UFO
activity. But the files are encrypted in Navaho, and Cancer Man will
stop at nothing to get them back. It seems Mulder's father was
involved in the Conspiracy, but just before he can confess to his
son, he's killed by Alex Krycek. Meanwhile, Mulder's becoming more
and more irrational, and Scully risks her career to keep him out of
trouble. The trail leads them both to New Mexico, where a former
Navaho code-talker named Albert Hosteen agrees to translate the
files. But Albert reveals that the desert is hiding an even more
shocking secret. Just as Mulder appears on the brink of blowing the
lid of the Conspiracy, Cancer Man and his men arrive to destroy the
evidence... and Mulder along with it.
So there you have the episodes - intrigued yet? In terms of
quality, these DVDs deliver terrific looking full frame video, that
I think may even be a slight improvement over the Season
One discs. The picture is crisp and clear, with accurate,
if occasionally muted, color (a stylistic choice - not a
color-timing problem), excellent contrast and very good detail.
There's still grain visible, but that's the way this show is
supposed to look - dark and gritty, and it has a lot to do with the
film stocks and lighting choices made during production. The video
also still retains a slightly digital look, but it's nothing you
don't see in the network TV broadcasts. More importantly, if you've
only ever seen these episodes on TV, you simply don't know what
you're missing. Trust me - they look WAY better on DVD.
The sound is also much improved over what you experience in TV
broadcasts, if only because the Dolby Digital 2.0 surround audio
seems to be more somewhat encompassing. This isn't terribly active
surround sound, but it works very well to convey all that spooky
ambience and it's a perfect match for the visuals. Dialogue is clear
and clean, there's solid bass and composer Mark Snow's eerie
soundtrack really gets under your skin.
Once again, though, it's the extras that you might find surprising.
There's a lot of good material here, and there's definitely more
than what was included on The Complete
First Season. Most of the material is found on Disc
Seven, but a few things are spread over the other discs
in the set, most notably clips from various episodes in multiple
languages. There are some 20 international clips in all, in dubbed
Japanese, German, Spanish and Italian. You also get 4 deleted
scenes, which you can watch separately or using a "Follow the
White Rabbit" style multi-angle feature in the context of the
episodes they came from. Did you know that the character of X was
originally played by a woman? Well, now you do. You get 3 "behind-the-scenes"
clips, including one in which we see the production crew building
that cool submarine conning tower from End
Game. There are also some 49 brief TV spots for the
season's various episodes, which appeared on Fox and the FX Network.
And we're just now getting to the good stuff!
You also get 9 Behind the Truth
segments for various second season episodes, which are little looks
at various aspects of the production as seen on FX. Then there's a
14-minute featurette, The Truth Behind
Season Two, which includes cool interviews with series
creator Chris Carter, producer/director Rob Bowman, producer/writer
Frank Spotnitz and various supporting cast members (but sadly not
David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson). They talk about the developing
storylines and characters, and relate funny production anecdotes
from the season. Best of all, you get 12 insightful interview clips
with Carter, in which he discusses various aspects of his particular
favorite episodes from the season - very cool. Finally, Disc Seven
also includes another DVD-ROM interactive trivia game (this one
called Unholy Alliances),
along with the usual studio weblinks. If I were going to pick nits,
I'd say that I still want to see more of Duchovny and Anderson on
the bonus side, since particularly David Duchovny appears unlikely
to return to the show for a ninth season (so if you producers are
gonna get him talking about the series on camera, now's the time to
do it). And I'd LOVE to see things like Easter Eggs - bloopers
anyone? But I have to say that I really dig the deleted scenes and
the Carter interviews that we've gotten so far. Hey Fox - please
keep 'em coming!
Once again, Fox has really delivered a package to please even the
most fervent X-Files fan. The
studio is really writing the book on how to do TV product on DVD
with these sets. And since the ninth season of The
X-Files is likely to be mostly Mulder and Scully-less,
I'm savoring these early episodes all the more. Thankfully, The
X-Files: The Complete Third Season is tentatively slated
for DVD release in May. So right about the time Agents Fox Mulder
and Dana Scully are replaced by Agents John Doggett and Monica Reyes
(gasp!), we'll have at least another 24 episodes of the good stuff
to drown our sorrows in. And we can always hope that Fox dangles
some major bank under Duchovny's nose to get him back one last