The X-Files (2000) – Orison, and The Amazing Maleeni

The possibly demonic, and definitely evil, Donnie Pfaster (Nick Chinlund), last seen in Irresistible, returns in Orison. Written by Chip Johannessen who had served as showrunner for Millennium’s final season, this episode debuted on 9 January, 2000.

Pfaster, serving life in prison, somehow seems to magically walk out of a maximum security instituion, and Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are called in to help with their investigation. Mulder is worried about his partner, and there is a shifting dynamic in this episode as Scully is a bit more of a believer in this story, as there are suggestive coincidences popping up around her throughout the story.

Things are complicated by a preacher, Orison (Scott Wilson), who seems to have a strange gift himself, and is intent on returning Donnie to god’s grace. But through it all Pfaster, who is a death fetishist, has one goal, to get the one who got away, Scully.

The ultimate confrontation is going to be between the two of them, but does that mean the evil will be stopped or just that Pfaster will be ended?

Scully is convinced that Pfaster is truly evil, but will that mean she is justified in her vengeance?

I like this episode, and how it plays with good and evil, and how it lets Scully revisit something that profoundly affected her, and how this time, she saved herself, or did she? Was what she did right, or was there something else working through her?

And Chinlund is still so damned creepy as Donnie.

The Amazing Maleeni was penned by Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, and Frank Spotnitz. First airing on 16 January, 2000, this episode is one of the few episodes of the series that arguably doesn’t have any paranormal or supernatural properties.

The agents fly out to Los Angeles to investigate the death of a magician who, after performing a trick which involved turning his head around 360 degrees, dies… his head falls off. Scully learns through the autopsy that the body has been dead a lot longer than was thought.

This leads the agents to a rival magician, Billy LaBonge (Jonathan Levit) and the dead magician’s twin brother, both played by Ricky Jay.

What we soon learn is that the entire episode is a huge sleight of hand and misdirection, and it’s all a long con that plays out fantastically and joyously, even as Mulder and Scully (who both display some prestidigitation through the course of the story) start pulling at the threads of the investigation.

Both Levit and Jay are professional magicians as well as actors, and everything (except for the head turn, of course) was done practically, and there is some great up-close magic happening throughout the story. It’s bright, sunny, and has some great moments, and both Duchovny and Anderson seem to be having a great time.

There’s more to come next week because the truth is out there…

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