The X-Files

Season 2 Episode 4


Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Oct 07, 1994 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (15)

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  • Pivotal stuff

    There is a little moment in the midst of the excitement of this thrilling episode (no 4 in Season 2, and the fourth excellent episode in a run) that cuts through the plot and reveals the human side of “The X Files”. Mulder and Scully are having one of their inevitable cellphone conversations when she comments that his new partnership with rookie agent Alex Krycek seems to be working out well and he quips back that it’s nice not having everything he does questioned. And then the two of them lapse into a short silence as they both realise how desperately much they miss each other. No huge chunks of expository dialogue required, just a short silence that tells us acres of information about how close these two agents have become. And this is further underlined when at the end of the episode, Scully asks Mulder if he trusts his new informant and Mulder can’t answer – the implication being all too clear that there is only one person he can trust. Which is all for the better really, considering that this episode ends with what can only be described as a shocking revelation. But we’ll come back to that.

    There’s a hell of a lot going on in “Sleepless” that it’s to everyone’s credit that it’s all accomplished within the 45 minute timeframe. Not content with treating us to a truly enthralling X File about some Vietnam vets, operated on during the war, who have had their ability to sleep surgically removed, the episode premise broadens out to encompass just where such a “gift” might take you. The hallucinatory quality of Augustus Cole’s predicament (and only him, mind, none of the other vets are so hellbent on revenge to have acquired this skill) adds yet another wrinkle to the plot. One too many, some might argue, but not really. It adds some justification to his murderous spree. Whilst also giving us some cool ways for people to die. (As a footnote, the fact that the sleepless soldiers experiment can ultimately be judged to be a failure makes an interesting counterpoint to the more successful experiment of supersoldiers which is Season 9’s mytharc.)

    On top of this, we have the introduction of Krycek. Mulder of course is almost hostilely resistant to the idea of being given another agent to work with, especially one so apparently green. But the truth of the matter is that Skinner was well within his rights to give the case to Krycek seeing as he genuinely unearthed it, and didn’t spuriously come across it thanks to some anonymous tip-off in the way that Mulder did. Krycek himself is keen and persistent and proves to be sufficiently dogged in his attempts to keep up with Mulder that he has to relent and let him in. Interestingly, when Mulder does expound his wacko theory, Krycek’s reaction is not one of scepticism but of acceptance. More interestingly, this doesn’t enthuse Mulder. It’s almost as if he needs Scully’s resistance and questioning attitude to help him enlarge and strengthen his own theories. Furthermore, into the heady mix concocted for this episode, we have the first appearance of X, Mulder’s new high-echelon informant. In only one scene, actor Steven Williams brings a brutish intensity to his part. Gone is the avuncular chumminess of Deep Throat, X seems like a much more dangerous and subversive character. What Mulder must make of him can only be surmised, for he’s not yet at liberty to trust him, though the file that X hands over is crucial in the cracking of the case. Except the case is not cracked. Augustus Cole may now finally be able to sleep, but all evidence from both Mulder and Scully’s ends of the investigation disappear, leaving them with nothing. Quite why this particular case warrants such close attention from the mysterious powers that be is rather odd, and presumably Skinner would be wondering what his two newly assigned agents have been working on, but that is all actually immaterial. It opens the door to a piece of double-crossing subterfuge that none of us saw coming. Krycek is working in league with the Cigarette Smoking Man. Not only that, but they are working together to destroy the X Files and presumably Mulder himself. With the disbandment of the X Files at the end of Season 1, we all naturally assumed that this was merely a temporary measure and that Mulder and Scully would be together again. Indeed it hasn’t proved to be too big an impediment thus far. But Krycek’s chilling words to CSM that “Scully is a much larger problem” (she certainly is at 8 months pregnant!) indicate that there is now a very real element of danger. Now we are really uncertain about the fate of our two lead characters. So “Sleepless” is an instrumental – and riveting – episode in laying down the groundwork for the next few episodes and the introduction of the show’s mythology, when the programme would attain some extraordinary creative heights. 9/10