The X-Files – “This Is Not Happening”

Another new episode, another review. Click “Read more” for the spoiler-filled extravanganza!

Cast and Crew

The episode was written by Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz, and directed by Kim Manners. The major characters were played by Robert Patrick, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, and Annabeth Gish.

Original Airdate

The episode originally aired Sunday February 25, 2001.

What Happened

The episode opens with a believer in abduction phenomena chasing lights in the sky. The UFO disappeared behind a hill, and somehow cloaked its appearance before he got there. He saw a figure running from a body on the ground. When the believer reached the body, he found that she was alive, and that he recognized her.

Skinner, Scully and Doggett all flew out to Montana to investigate the case, because the woman who was found was abducted a few days before Mulder at the same location. She was in very rough shape. In her doctor’s words, she was “circling the drain.”

Doggett soon brought another agent in on the case. Played by Annabeth Gish, Agent Reyes was an expert in cult actions and ritualistic abuse. She felt that cult actions were an option in this case. In fact, she felt everything was an option, and seems to refuse ruling uot any phenomenon, including alien abductions. (She didn’t disbelieve in the phenomenon, but she didn’t believe it applied in this case.)

That was before she saw a UFO. She chased them down, and recovered a corpse at the site. The body was a friend of the UFO chaser. She also saw one of the men that tried to colelct the corpse, and tracked him (via FBI resources) to a farm near the scene.

The FBI stormed onto the property and found what seemed to be a cult built around the suspect, who had had a cult following before. (He believed the end of the world would be triggered in the new millenium by aliens.) The first recovered victim (who had been taken from the hospital by a man who looked like her doctor) was found here, completely healed.

While searching the security video taken at the farm, Reyes spotted a man who changed his appearance into Dggett’s. Scully recognized the man as Jeremiah Smith. (Most fans would remember him from the Talitha Cumi/Herronvolk two-parter that bridged seasons 3 and 4.) He had the ability to change his appearance, and to heal others.

Scully returned to the farm to find him. She did find him, but he’d only reveal himself to her. He said he was helping these people by healing them, and that Scully was interfering and endangering him.

Scully was called away from the investigation when Mulder’s body was found in the area. It seems it was too late to save him. Scully ran back to the compound to find Jeremiah, but she arrived after the UFO flooded the room he was in with light. When she looked, she found the room was empty.


on April 1st, with the episode DeadAlive


This was a very well done episode. The acting was great in most cases. I didn’t quite believe Annabeth Gish as Agent Reyes, but much of that can be a result of the writing. Reyes was written with little or no personal development this week. Her professional side could use some development as well. I’ll reserve final judgement for a while. She’s in a three-episode arc this season, with an option in her contract to return for season 9, if there is one. Still, Doggett had much better character development in his first appearance than Reyes did here. I got the impression that Reyes was introduced before the writers really decided what they wanted to do with her, and what kind of character she’s going to become.

Aside from the potential problems with Reyes, the writing was great. We get a definite sense of the emotional baggage Scully is dealing with trying to find Mulder. We saw Doggett search for alternative explanations to the case, as Scully often encourages him to do, only to have his idea shot down because it wasn’t the alternative solution that Scully and Skinner had decided was correct. We also saw the reintroduction of Jeremiah Smith.

We also saw something which (I hope) is forshadowing for the rest of the season. The cult leader believes that armageddon is on the way, and will be brought on by these aliens. If he’s right, the rest of this season will be very interesting.

I’d also like to mention the fantastic musical score by Mark Snow. He doesn’t get a lot of opportunity to do soft music for emotional scenes on this series, and he did a wonderful job on it.

High Points

It’s hard to pick a moment or two that really stood out this week. In my opinion, the best line was Doggett’s, during his interrogation of the cult leader.

Leader: How long are you going to keep asking me the same questions?
Doggett: Night’s long. Coffee’s hot.

I found this exchange strangely amusing, and a great example of Doggett’s attitude toward his suspects.

The most powerful scene, in my opinion, was the discovery of Mulder, and Scully’s frantic dash to find Jeremiah Smith.

Low Point

I’d have to say the worst part of the episode was the introduction of Agent Reyes. It felt like the writers had no clear direction, and were simply adding this character by the request of Fox. (Fox have always wanted to see romance on the show, but Chris Carter refused to bring Mulder and Scully together in that way. There are rumours that Reyes was introduced to be a love interest for Doggett.) Reyes might become a great addition to the show, but she’s not there yet.

The Scores

Originality: This episode wasn’t a far cry from some of the past episodes. They even said it was the first case of people being returned physically harmed, even though this has happened on the show before. (Cassandra Spender, who later came back healed, and the pilots from Deep Throat, the second episode of season one.) I give this one 3 stars out of six.

Effects: The UFO never seemed to blend into the environment at any time, and the lens flares in the scenes with the light just reminded me I was watching TV. Why use lens flares in the CGI? However, the sequence in which Jeremiah Smith healed the first victim was vrey well done. The effects also get 3 out of 6.

Story: The plot was well-designed, and I was anxious about what would happen next, despite the fact that information about the return of Mulder and introduction of Reyes had been leaked weeks ago. The episode was just as driven by emotion as it was by events. I give it 5 out of 6.

Acting: This would have been 6 out of 6, had it not been for Gish’s lack of direction. I give it 5 out of 6.

Emotional Respone: Did I really feel what the characters were feeling? Well, in some scenes, yes. I did feel anxious, and I did sympathize with Scully’s difficulty dealing with the possibility of Mulder’s loss, although I knew how the episode would end. I give it 5 out of 6.

Production: In this episode, the directing was very well done. The writing, aside from Reyes, was great. Again, I have to praise Mark Snow for his fantastic score. I give the production values of this episode 5.5 stars out of 6.

Overall: How did the entire episode integrate? We saw three major events this week, with the return of Mulder, the introduction of a Jeremiah Smith, and the introduction of Agent Reyes. The actors and writers seemed to be on the same page, even if they didn’t always know which page that was supposed to be (Reyes). Overall, this episode gets 5 out of 6.

Total: In total, I give This Is Not Happening 31.5 stars out of 42.

Well, for the month of March, The X-Files will be pre-empted by The Lone Gunmen. I’ll write reviews of that show after each episode. Some of these will be shown on Sundays, and some on Fridays. Each review will tell you when to expect the next one. The X-Files will return on April 1st, with DeadAlive.

5 replies on “The X-Files – “This Is Not Happening””

  1. wh00p
    Note that there were three hours between the story being posted and the inevitable first-poster. This ain’t /., it’s not exactly a big deal here…

    Anyway, is it time to implement that comment moderation system? :)

  2. Third post weeee!
    By the way, X-Files really does suck… I outside of a few really good episodes, I never really saw the allure of it. And on the flipside, since X-Files started running, I believe a lot more people actually believe in UFO’s and stuff.


  3. Useful Info About ‘The Lone Gunmen” is carrying the full article. They basically go over the premise and how it will be different from X-Files. Scheduled debut date: March 4th.

  4. Fifth post weeee!
    The only good X-Files episode is a mythology episode or one with the Lone Gunmen in it. There are only few “monster” episodes I liked. (aka The Cockroach One)

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