X-Files Review – “Improbable”

Burt Reynolds guest starred on The X-Files last night. How did he do?


Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully
as John Doggett
as Agent Reyes
Burt Reynolds as… a guy who is really good at checkers.


Written and directed by Chris Carter

Original Airdate

Improbable originally aired on Sunday, April 7, 2002.


A serial killer is murdering women who have numerological connections. An unusual individual, played by Burt Reynolds, seems to always be around, but he never directly intervenes. Naturally, Reyes is the only agent to spot the numerological connection, but Scully noticed some bruising on the seemingly random victims that proves they are connected killings. In the last of a long string of seemingly improbable random events, Scully, Reyes and the killer all end up sharing an elevator. Scully realizes who he is, and after some time locked in a parking garage, they apprehend him (with help from Doggett.)

High Point

Scully’s attempt to get out of the garage. She really mustn’t have liked it there.

Low Point

The obviously intentionally bad looping for the singing. It wouldn’t be that bad unless they wanted it to be that bad, and yet I can’t figure out why they would want it that way.

The Review

This was a fairly original episode, with an original take on Burt Reynolds’ character. I give it 4 out of 6.

The effects this week were few and far between. In fact, the only one I remember that really stood out was the final crane shot of the city, which was done well. Still, it’s not like they were really pushed to the limit this week. I give it 4 out of 6.

The story was, well, sparse. Most of it seemed to be fun with a character, with Reyes repeating herself over and over and over. I give it 3 out of 6.

The acting this week was OK. The guest stars were very good, but Gish was again disappointing. This week, she was also the main agent involved. 3 out of 6.

The emotional response this week was minimal. I laughed a lot while they were stuck in the parkade, but that’s about it. I give it 3 out of 6.

The production was its typical high. I give it 5 out of 6.

Overall, this will probably be one of the funniest episodes of the season. (Jump The Shark may give it a run for its money.) Still, I’d like to see these last few episodes focus more on the mytharc than on the random killer of the week. I give it 4 out of 6.

In total, Improbable received 26 out of 42.

Next Week

Next week we get Scary Monsters, and the return of Leyla

8 replies on “X-Files Review – “Improbable””

  1. What the hell??
    Can anyone tell me what character Burt Reynolds was playing?
    Also, what was with the music scenes? This episode was rather cheesy. The part when Reyes comes into the office to an applause was really weird. The whole episode seemed like it was a dream.
    Maybe the writers should lay off the weed when writing the episodes.

    • Re: What the hell??

      Can anyone tell me what character Burt Reynolds was

      SPOILER (use rot13 decryption to read): Ur jnf
      cynlvat Tbq.

      • Re: What the hell??
        Playing God? I guessed at Satan considering he seemed to like the murders.

        Can anyone tell me what character Burt Reynolds was

        SPOILER (use rot13 decryption to read): Ur jnf
        cynlvat Tbq.

  2. Oddly enough…
    …I liked this episode. I’m not really sure why I liked it, but I did. It’s kind of nice to have something different once in awhile.

    • Re: Oddly enough…
      I liked it as well..I was laughing so hard at the music scenes, just the weirdness of it all. I started out the hour watching Alias, which I have been doing for most of the season, but this episode of X-Files was much more entertaining than the episode of Alias that was on.

  3. More Questions Than Answers…
    VERY refreshing to see the X Files try something different for a change – that IS what they’re about, or used to be. Alas, they were swinging for a home run like the Clyde B or Jose Chung episodes – among the best the X Files ever did – but sorry, this was only a double at best, and certainly not a triple. The whole concept of fate as an X Files theme has never really been explored as much as it should be in my opinion. Pity, it’s a key metaphysical concept that changes thru the ages as humans come ever closer to grasping it, but not quite. We think we’re so smart in the 20th-21st centuries with our knowledge of quantum mechanics and how close we think we are to a unified field theory – the ultimate in numerology – but in reality I think we’re very little closer to the truth that’s out there with our equation symbols of today than those cave painters who first symbolized bison as art were 30,000 years ago in a France gripped by an Ice Age. Just what IS time – consciousness – infinity – singularities – dimensions – coincidence – love? Letting a smiling good-ole-boy Burt portray the Mythical Trickster is as good an answer as we’re likely to get in our lifetimes. Although the story and plotline seemed weak and sparse, Chris Carter OBVIOUSLY sacrificed it for something else so he could fit in the Italian opera references – which went TOTALLY over my head, that’s as alien a culture to me as the Greys in Area 51. Anybody got a link to a translation? And were we to assume the two old Italian guys who Burt beat in the three-card monte game put him in the body bag that opened the final scene? What was THAT all about?

    And yeah, much as I hate to say it, Monica came off looking like a flake. Scully went up a notch in my book for losing control for once and blasting away, tho….

  4. OK, here’s my take
    Obviously, this ep had a lot to do with fate, and what control (or lack thereof) we have over our own lives. Early on, Burt gives the killer his card speech, mentioning how the cards are moved around, and implying that, if you were a card, you wouldn’t really understand the overall purpose. Such as it is with us and “God”; at least this seems to be the implication. This seems to me to have been reinforced by the musical numbers; we’re given a glimpse at a scene how God might see it. Where we would see a random, chaotic seen, God sees it in a steady, predictable order.

    Throughout, Burt is trying to get the killer to realize that he is being played like a card, and presumably try to change his ways, but he never does. In the end, when Scully and Reyes (and Doggett) show up, it’s simply the inevitable play-out to the killers life.

    Oh, and I do think that Burt’s character was supposed to be God rather than Satan. He seemed disappointed that he couldn’t make the killer see past “the game” so to speak. Perhaps a better title for Burt’s character would be Fate.

  5. Improbable – Chris Carter’s Opera
    Most people never got this about the only episode of X-Files ever made into an Opera, complete with singing, syncopation and the lead character dying. Once you see what Chris was doing here, the whole thing is excellent, and done very well, while compentently and perfectly timed to Mr. Zero’s wonderful musical score.

    While not an opera fan, I understand the difficulties Chris had in bringing the X-Files universe to this ancient and unforgiving media format. For his (largely unrecognized) effort, I give him a 42 out of 42. This episode should have gotten him and the cast an Emmy.

    When you think about other shows who have attempted an Opera in their series (Xena, OLTL, anyone?), Mr. Carter’s unsung (SIC) suceess is truly amazing. Entertainment history may well record this as one of the finest works, and certainly one of the best episodes of X-Files ever made.

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