The X-Files

Season 3 Episode 7

The Walk

Aired Wednesday 8:00 PM Nov 10, 1995 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (11)

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  • Walks a good line

    Everyone's always quick to cite John Shiban as being the perpetrator of some of the show's most stultifying episodes. And certainly, when you have to sit through such lacklustre efforts as "Teso dos Bichos" and "El Mundo Gira", they have a point. But consider this. "The Walk" is not only Shiban's very first X Files episode, but it's also one of the great overlooked episodes of Season 3 that not only tells a good story but also has some deeply critical statements to make about the US involvement in the Gulf War. It begins with a particularly gruesome exercise in how to devise the nastiest way for someone to cause damage to themselves. The soldier's self-immersion in boiling water is bad enough but the subsequent glee with which the camera feeds off his horrific injuries makes this uncomfortable viewing. But I think that actually is the point. Especially when we meet the character of Rappo, raging against the iniquities of his own injuries. Truth is, we don't like to be reminded of people with severe disabilities – that is why they are usually housed in special care facilities, out of view – and this episode is very cogniscent of that fact. And very cleverly, Shiban is able to come up with the concept of one such angry man being able to channel his anger into destructive ways. It's quite simply one step beyond the now generally recognised pattern of blind or deaf people heightening their other senses to compensate their loss. One of the big questions here is how long will it be before Mulder posits his theory of astral projection? And surprisingly, he holds off on that until he is absolutely certain that that is what they are dealing with. Naturally Scully is incredulous of his theory, but she knows better than to dismiss it entirely out of hand. And on the subject of withholding things, it's at least halfway through the episode before Rappo is clearly revealed to be the villain of the piece. Nice to see Scully's completely unflappable attitude in the face of army intimidation. Presumably this stems from her naval family background, but she certainly won't be thrown off an investigation like this by some army personnel. This episode also demonstrates the show's complete lack of compunction about killing off subsidiary characters. While other programmes might shy away from killing off children, the general's son is one of the first victims to be buried alive in one of the largest sandpits in Christendom. And the female officer fares no better, in a scene which is a direct steal from the 1940s horror classic, "Cat People". What is easily distinguished in both those scenes is the high calibre of the special effects. Indeed Rob Bowman's direction is confident and stylish throughout, aided immeasurably by another outstanding contribution from cinematographer John Bartley. Just look at the way Gillian Anderson is lit throughout the episode (and Duchovny to a slightly lesser extent) – it screams "movie star"!

    But when you come right down to it, "The Walk" is a highly political episode. Scully comments that the government has completely disavowed any instance of Gulf War syndrome, so how then do we explain what's going on with Rappo? And his very rage stems precisely from him being subjected to God knows what whilst in combat. It's a theme very redolent of Oliver Stone's "Born on the Fourth of July", which in turn must count as one of the most sharply critical anti-government films of recent years. It begs the question as to whether such themes would be tackled in the very different world we find ourselves post September 11th. One would imagine not in the wake of patriotism that followed that cataclysmic event. But it's these very questions that help elevate "The Walk" into one of the more involving episodes of this season.