The X-Files

Season 3 Episode 13

Syzygy

1
Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Jan 26, 1996 on FOX
8.5
out of 10
User Rating
319 votes
20

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

EDIT
A rare planetary alignment causes strange behaviour in the residents of a small town but particularly in two teenage girls who were born at the exact same moment on that particular date.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • Syzygy

    10
    Syzygy was a perfectly entertaining episode of The X-Files. I really enjoyed watching because the story was well written, interesting and had some nice horror elements to it. I liked how the two girls had powers because of the cosmic alignment happening, playing on a very interesting subject of how celestial bodies influence us. The character and plot development for Mulder and Scully and their working relationship was amazing. I liked how every thing played out and look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • A duo demon girls who are killing people then don't like until they turn on each other

    1.0
    what the CRAP happened to x files?!?!?!



    I am trully disappointed in this episode. What happened to the relationship between Scully and Molder that has been developing from episode 1? It seemed like the writers were all in lulzy moods when they wrote this. The whole atittude of the episode was not the drama you would think to find in an x files episode. These episodes are supposed to be filled with science fiction and suspense. This episode exhibited NONE of those qualities and is a terrible representation of what this series is about. If I never see another episode like this as long as i live, I will die happy.moreless
  • A rare planetary alignment leads to some shenanigans.

    7.0
    Whereas I found some of Darin Morgan's episodes to be hilarious and dark at the same time, I found this episode to be strange, confusing and too heavy on the funny. I can't deny, however, that the lines between Mulder and Scully remained awesome and gave the episode some level of heart. In a way, it reminded me of the episode "3" from Season 2, easily the worst episode of the show to date. Both of these episodes had Mulder acting in a way he normally wouldn't, and it made me both times realize that the writers sometimes lose track of what makes him such a compelling character.



    But enough nitpicking from me: the episode was pretty fun. It was mostly about a planetary alignment that left everybody in the town acting differently than they normally would. People were irrational and were acting weird, especially Mulder and Scully, who seemed to be arguing about every little thing. Every time that Scully said "Sure. Fine. Whatever," I cracked up. And Mulder saying that he wanted to solve the mystery of the horny beast was just as funny as any sitcom on TV right now.



    I suppose overall, it wasn't as bad as some previous episodes, but I was just bothered by the lack of explanation of things and the way the plot seemed to have more plot holes than any other movie or TV show I've seen recently. What in the world was that movie about? The one that kept playing on every channel? Beats me.moreless
  • Sure. Fine. Whatever.

    9.0
    At this stage in the game, Season 3 is shaping up to be a very experimental one for "The X-Files". The "Anasazi" trilogy that opened the season pushed the mythology into uncharted, more personal, yet more global waters. Darin Morgan continues to explore comedy as a tool for his episodes with his two contributions thus far. Even Chris Carter has been in fairly experimental mode, certainly as a director, with his green-hued "The List". Here though is Chris Carter the writer having a go at something a little different. Get this for high concept: Mulder and Scully hate each other's guts. Something as simple as that yields an episode that is jam-packed with quotable line after quotable line, with "Sure. Fine. Whatever." now becoming the stuff of legend. It means that "Syzygy" not only has the rare distinction of being a laugh-out-loud episode, but also it's

    undoubtedly the hardest to spell! Of course any long lasting or close relationship gets tested at some point, so in effect the events depicted here are a refreshing new angle on the relationship between the two. The fact that the two actors attack this with such vigour is testament to how much they both enjoy the change. Anderson in particular makes Scully as snippy as possible. What could be funnier than seeing her stalk off down a corridor in anger, or pacing up and down her hotel room, smoking no less, and whining on about "Detective White". (Who meanwhile is trying to do the horny thing with a surprisingly unwilling and drunk Mulder.) This proves to be very fertile ground for the character of Scully. Natural animosity and dismissal of small town beliefs is actually the perfect scenario for her innate cynicism, something that Mulder doesn't miss an opportunity in calling attention to. Of course let's not forget that this rare planetary alignment (a plot device that emerges very slowly, thereby giving us much time to enjoy the uncharacteristic behaviour of the agents) doesn't just affect the partnership of Mulder and Scully. Take a look at the teenage Carrie wannabes, Terri and Margie. Initially the syzygy homes in on these two and channels their wants and desires, most of which they don't even seem to understand themselves, in destructive directions. It was only a matter of time before such uncontrollable hormones would be unleashed against each other. The two actresses capture well that listless, always pretending to be bored quality that seems to be the hallmark of such girls. The episode also gives Carter the chance to take a few potshots at smalltown life. He would do this to even more exaggerated effect with Season 5's "Post-Modern Prometheus", and it is slowly starting to become an X Files theme in itself, as the last episode "War of the Coprophages" proved. At this juncture though, it seems little more than good-natured ribbing. So we do get a giggle out of the town's paediatrician being a closet transvestite, and the local psychic complaining about the difficulties of running a small business. Just as daring as the fractured relationship on show here is the very tone of the episode as well. This could have gone in many different ways, but the overall tone is one of slapstick. And that's despite the number of teenage deaths that occur throughout. But just take a look at the very well-executed climax where Terri and Margie cause all sorts of havoc in the police station, especially with guns going off left, right and centre. It's all set to Keystone Kops music, giving the whole thing a very goofy quality, when in reality it's a highly dangerous situation. And it's interesting to note too that the moment after the planetary alignment has occurred at midnight on the girls' birthday, everything reverts back to the way it was. Mulder and Scully go back to being (largely) in sync with each other, by shouting "Put that gun down!" in unison to the descending lynch mob. And the two teenage girls revert to being just that. Two teenage girls. Only with really bad hair. Carter can't resist one last pop at our dynamic duo as they drive off into the sunset, with Scully hilariously telling Mulder to shut up. And he, equally delightfully, repeating her mantra of "Sure. Fine. Whatever." A million T-shirt slogans instantly appear in sympathy. 9/10moreless
  • Not a bad episode, but definitely suffered from a few obvious flaws

    6.5
    Okay, I liked the plot for this episode. Sure, it's not horribly original, but it was a fine idea for a filler episode nonetheless. I think it could have been done better. Every person in the town was being affected by the positions of the stars, their behavior becoming erratic and even aggressive--sure, fine, whatever (no pun intended); people behave bizarrely; Mulder and Scully fight constantly...a decent concept, but why were those two teenage girls the ONLY ones with powers, and why were those powers almost identical with the power often associated with witchcraft? I mean, X files could easily have pulled off any number of witch-based episodes, so couldn't they have done something a little more unique with the girls' powers, at least? Finally, my biggest pet peeve with this episode has got to be the two teenagers. I KNOW from experience no high school student talks the way they did...in fact, I think anyone who talked and behaved the way they around the other students would have been social outcasts, no matter how pretty they were. Finally, I really wish Scully and Mulder's bickering could have been resolved somehow. It would have been a little more satisfying for me if they had made up or at least confronted each other about their constant fighting.

    All this said, the episode was funny, and I certainly didn't hate it.moreless
Dana Wheeler-Nicholson

Dana Wheeler-Nicholson

Detective Angela White

Guest Star

Wendy Benson

Wendy Benson

Margie Kleinjan

Guest Star

Lisa Robin Kelly

Lisa Robin Kelly

Terri Roberts

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (11)

    • Principal Setting: Comity, Caryl County

    • Symptoms of astrological phenomena (in this case, aggressive and rash behaviour, mostly out of character) increase and decrease in a bell curve. So everything suddenly being different as soon as the clock ticked over past midnight (best example being the girls suddenly returning to their original character, not that we witness it to start with) is particularly unlikely. The exact alignment of the planets would be the height of the strange effects and if the power of this astrological occurence was particularly great, a feeling of relief might occur just as the planets move out of exact alignment but the effects should linger for as long as they build up.

    • This episode established the popular phrase among The X-Files community, "Sure. Fine. Whatever.".

    • This is the first (and possibly only) episode that Scully is seen smoking.

      This is due to the planetary alignment, people are engaging in behaviour that they wouldn't normally, as the psychic says. Also made apparent by Mulder uncharacteristically drinking, and Detective White coming onto Mulder.

    • 22:54 As girls sit around the Ouija board the shadow of the camera is visible on several of them, on the left side of the shot.

    • 15:40 the player runs into the table with the drinks on it, when shot from behind he stands up, but when shot goes to front for his line, he is back on the table 15:43.

    • In this episode, there is a joke about why Mulder is always the one to drive. This was a nod by the show's producers to the X-Phile community, which had been asking that question.

    • The planetary alignment which was stated to be the cause of the problems was between Mercury, Mars and Uranus. The alignment was shown onscreen in the episode and was depicted at night near a full moon. A full moon is always opposite from the sun and so Mercury could never be in a visual alignment with a full moon. Additionally, Uranus is not visible with the naked eye.

    • At the end, when each girl informs on the other, is it likely that both of them would be thrown into a room together and without an agent or police officer present, especially with all of the unexplained events going on?

      Scully and Mulder did this to try to stop the effects of the girls' anger from wreaking havoc on the squad room.

    • When Scully arrives to investigate the kid who was crushed by the bleachers the time stamp says 5:10AM. It seems strange that the investigation would start the next morning, unless the high school holds basketball practice at 3:00 in the morning.

    • Scully says that she has been working with Mulder for 2 years. The date of the Pilot episode is March 1992, which would make it at least 4 years since she was assigned to the X-Files.

  • QUOTES (15)

    • Scully: The map says to turn right at the intersection.
      Mulder: The detective who contacted me told me to turn left.
      Scully: At the intersection?
      Mulder: At the stop light.
      Scully: This isn't a stop light, it's a stop sign.
      Mulder: Well, I'm sure she meant 'stop sign.'
      Scully: Turn right.
      (They turn right, then a moment later they drive back and go left)

    • Mulder: Ah, Scully, if I'm not mistaken, we're going to be taking a left up here. Uh, there's an intersection up here. You're going to want to -- (Scully shows no sign of slowing down) Scully! You're going to want to-- (Scully speeds through the stop sign) You just ran a stop sign back there, Scully.
      Scully: Shut up, Mulder.
      Mulder: .... Sure. Fine. Whatever.

    • Det. White: You know, I don't feel like going home. Do you mind if I slept here? (Kicks off her heels)
      Mulder: Actually, I'm sure I could get you another room. (Heads to phone and dials 0. Looks over his shoulder at Det. White as she begins to unbutton her blouse. Dials quicker)
      Det. White: (Tackles Mulder onto the bed) Maybe we can solve the mystery of the horny beast.
      Mulder: Maybe we should just watch some television. There's a movie on TV. Actually, it's the same movie on every channel.
      Det. White: Weird. I like weird.
      (Scully walks in)
      Scully: Mul- (Sighs) There's been another death.

    • Mulder: Let me drive.
      Scully: I'm driving.
      Mulder: Scully, it's not what you think.
      Scully: I didn't see anything anyway.
      Mulder: Will you let me drive?!
      Scully: Why do you always have to drive? Because you're the guy? Because you're the big macho man?
      Mulder: No, I was just never sure your little feet could reach the pedals.
      (To Det. White)
      Mulder: Will you go with her please? Thank you.
      (Muttering angrily to himself in separate car)
      Mulder: "Big, macho man."

    • (Mulder hugs Detective White and starts to sniff at her neck)
      Detective White: What are you doing?!
      Mulder: Nothing.
      Detective White: You've been drinking.
      Mulder: Yes, I have, which is funny because I usually- I normally never- I don't drink.

    • Mulder: This may not be the time to mention it, but someone is wearing my favorite perfume.
      Scully: Can I have a word with you?
      Scully: This has gone on far enough.
      Mulder: What?
      Scully: I am not going to be humiliated by you, in front of you, or by having to bring a teenage girl in, on her birthday of all days, to identify the bones of her dead dog, Mr. Tippy. I see no reason to pursue this case any further.
      (Mulder only half-listens, instead he is sniffing the air around Scully)
      Scully: Not only that, I find your conduct and comportment in this investigation not just alarming but highly objectionable. What are you doing?!
      Mulder: Must be Detective White.
      Scully: If that's the reason we're sticking around, that's your business.
      (Scully storms off, Mulder follows, laughing)
      Mulder: What?! What are you talking about?

    • (Both Mulder and Scully take out a latex glove. Scully gives a withering look to Mulder, who rolls his eyes and puts the glove back in his pocket.)
      Mulder: Go ahead.
      Scully: No, you go ahead.
      Mulder: No, no, no. Be my guest. I know how much you like snapping on the latex.
      (Scully snaps on her latex glove with special emphasis.)

    • Scully: You weren't in your motel room.
      Mulder: Oh I went to follow up a lead with Detective White.
      Scully: I see.
      Mulder: You see what?
      Scully: Look, we've been working together for what, two years now? We have different opinions. But I didn't expect you to ditch me.
      Mulder: I didn't ditch you.
      Scully: Fine, whatever.
      (Mulder rolls his eyes)

    • Mulder: First off, I'd like to apologize for my partner's rude behavior. She tends to be rather rigid. But rigid in a wonderful way, not like she was today. Personally, I like to try to keep a more open mind.
      Det. White: So. What are you doing at my house?
      Mulder: I was hoping you could help me solve the mystery of the horny beast?

    • Mulder: If it's no bother, if it's not too big a deal, maybe you can get me a few photographs of that thing which bears absolutely no resemblance to a horned beast.
      Scully: Sure, fine, whatever.

    • Scully: Let me guess. They told you about a wild beast entering in on a Black Mass. The drinking of blood. The sacrifice of an infant... or a blonde virgin.
      Detective White: Yeah. ... Excuse me.
      Scully: Where's she going?
      Mulder: You don't suppose she's a virgin, do you?
      Scully: I doubt she's even a blonde.

    • Mme. Zirinka: [after Mulder gives her a credit card] I'm just waiting for authorization.
      Mulder: I'm a federal agent.
      Mme. Zirinka: Last I heard, the government couldn't pay its bills.

    • Mme. Zirinka: ...only this year, Uranus is in the house of Aquarius.
      Mulder: That's a bad thing?
      Mme. Zirinka: Bad like an Irwin Allen movie.

    • Mulder: If you detect a hint of impatience in Agent Scully's voice, that's because the FBI's study also found that in most cases, like the McMartin preschool trial, witnesses were often prompted in their statements by rumors of stories that were being circulated and that there was in fact nothing to support them.
      Detective White: How do you explain the burning coffin at the funeral?
      Mulder: Don't ask me.

    • Mulder: If, eh, you detect a hint of skepticism or incredulity in Agent Scully's voice, that's because of the overwhelming evidence gathered by the FBI debunking virtually all claims of ritual abuse by satanic cults.
      Detective White: Is that true?
      Mulder: Don't ask me.

  • NOTES (9)

    • The song playing during the Keystone Cops on all channels on the motel room tv's (and later on in the Police Station mayhem) is "The Sabre Dance" composed by Armenian composer Aram Khachaturian.

    • The song playing during the birthday party is Live's "All Over You".

    • Ryan Reynolds, who plays Jay "Da Boom", went on to play roles in movies such as Waiting, Harold & Kumar, and Van Wilder as well as star in the TV series Two Guys and a Girl.

    • Guest star Gabrielle Miller also appears in Season 2 episode "Our Town" as Chaco Chicken worker Paula, who lures the inspector, George Kearns, into the woods in the beginning so the town could cannibalize him.

    • There are a few references to The X-Files video game: the motel in the game is the Comity motel, and the lead character in the game is Craig Willmore, mentioned as one of the basketball players during practice.

    • The original script called for Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange to be playing on every channel as Mulder and Scully played with the remote controls in their hotel rooms, but the footage proved to be so expensive that the producer settled for clips from the Keystone Cops.

    • The name of the episode, "Syzygy", is an astronomical term for an alignment of three bodies of the solar system along a straight or nearly straight line.

    • The name of the town, 'Comity', also means 'courtesy'. As we watch Mulder and Scully enter the town, on the other side of the intersection we see a road sign that says 'Leaving Comity' (how true, once they enter, no one is civil to each other). As they leave, the camera passes the road sign that states 'Entering Comity' (thankfully true again, since everything goes back to normal after they leave).

    • Grover Cleveland Alexander High School featured in this episode is a reference to a question David Duchovny missed on Celebrity Jeopardy. David said after that he thought he was still on the sports section. He confused the pitcher (Alexander) with the president (Grover Cleveland).

  • ALLUSIONS (4)

    • Mascot: Horned Goat

      The school mascot is a two horned goat, which is often used in Satanic rituals, to represent Satan.

    • Madam Zirinka: Bad like an Irwin Allen movie.

      There's a bit of a double entendre here. Irwin Allen was a producer/director renowned for making some of the most popular TV series of the 60s and 70s (and beyond) and the first big disaster movies, such as The Poseidon Adventure and The Towering Inferno . Mme Zirinka is referring to the fact that events that might ensue from these two girls coming together will be catastrophic, like the events in an Allen movie, but in the word 'bad' there's also a gentle nod to the fact that Allen's movies, many of which were not only popular, but also successful, were not always great critical hits, and some of his films, such as The Swarm and Return to the Poseidon Adventure are considered by some to be amongst the worst disaster movies ever made and were box office bombs. Allen died in 1991, aged 75.

    • Carpe pm

      When the two girls go into the bar to tell their latest prey that they're not dressed up for the funeral, one of them mentions they are there to give him a good time that evening - carpe pm. This is a very clever allusion and pun of the Latin phrase Carpe Diem or seize the day - or in other words 'go for it'.

    • There are numerous similarities between this episode and the events that occurred in the famed Salem, Mass. in the colonial era. A group of teen girls began accusing people of witchcraft and the town became so hyped that several people were hung for the crime. Arthur Miller's The Crucible is not historically accurate, but captures the general feeling of that time. His play was an allegory of the McCarthy trials, which showed similar hysteria over a perceived threat. In the tradition of X-Files, of course, there was an actual threat in this episode, not just a preceived one.

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