With a little bit of the monster of the week theme and a whole lot of heart-wrenching, soul-searching as a parent, “Ghouli” was successful in giving us more information on William and a few creature moments at the same time. What made the episode though was some great work by Anderson and a great, tense overall feel.
Veteran James Wong, who both wrote and directed the episode, gives us a wonderfully creepy start, watching two girls sneak around an abandoned ship at night. When they are ‘attacked’ by a creature, both end up in the hospital spinning a very familiar tale, especially to Scully who’s waking dream/nightmares have led her and Mulder to pick up this case. Investigating further, the agents come across a dead couple and their son, who on the outset looks like he killed them before committing suicide.
It is here that things get really strange, all in a good way, and a connection to William is found but in the worst possible way. Gillian Anderson has her best scene in some time with her wonderfully emotional speech as a mother who has to say goodbye…again. It is a heartbreaking scenario and a powerful scene, but things are not always what they seem and soon the agents find themselves chasing something that might have summoned them to take on this case in the first place.
Wong lays out the episode in such a way that the creepy monster aspect is soon left behind, only to be replaced by the pursuit of all things William by more than one agency. This is when the mythology works best, fast-paced with many moving pieces, not having too many long-winded speeches and drawn out moments to drag everything down. Wong knows this and goes from point to point in an efficient manner, so much so that even the moments that are glossed over maybe a bit too quickly can be forgiven.
Skinner and Cigarette Smoking Man also make appearances, hammering down some points about both the dreaded virus and William, while still keeping things shrouded in secrecy. I guess these guys are pretty good at their jobs, especially CMS, who has no morals to hold him back in what he believes is his destiny on this planet.
There were a lot of moving parts in this episode, not to mention some great action and very tense scenes that combined with the great emotional performance by Gillian Anderson made for some great TV and a solid addition to the X-Files this year. It remains to be seen how everything is going to play out come the final episode but if the last two weeks have shown us anything it’s that in capable hands, The X-Files can still be a formidable show.
Four stars out of five
- Gillian Anderson was fantastic
- James Wong does a great job combining mythology and monsters
- The story of William now has a few more answers...and questions
- Fast paced episode sometimes glossed over some plot points a bit too easily