The X-Files season 11, episode 6 review: Kitten

Photo credit: Shane Harvey/FOX The X-Files via Fox Flash
Photo credit: Shane Harvey/FOX The X-Files via Fox Flash /

After 11 seasons and 2 movies, we have only had all but a handful of episodes based around Walter Skinner (pretty sure you can count them on one hand). We dive into the past of Walter Skinner, recalling his time in Vietnam and we watch Mulder and Scully try to uncover what is going on.


At the start of the episode Assistant Director Kirsch implies to Mulder and Scully that Skinner’s indulgences to their behaviour is the main reason Skinner himself hasn’t progressed in the FBI. Whilst not wholly inaccurate, it does lend some weight to the fact that Mulder and Scully really are thorns in the side of those above them, Skinner being the ultimate recipient of such.

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We don’t really know much about Skinner. There was a season 3 episode where we learn he has gone through a divorce, and there have been little hints as to some form of combat history. Off the top of my head I’m somewhat sure that this is the first time we see his experiences in Vietnam. Correct me if I am wrong though. We have had episodes where he recalls various events of his time in combat, but this seems to be the first “flashback” to his time in the Army.

Having a story revolve around him is a nice surprise. It breaks up the focus on Mulder and Scully and their weekly installments of the monster-of-the-week/mythology. Aside from that it gives a chance for Mitch Pileggi to shine as a character he has played since the very first season of the show, back in 1993 (believe it or not Skinner didn’t appear on the show until episode 21 of season 1).  He has hinted on Twitter recently that he had a backstory written up for Skinner as a way for him to get inside the head of the character.

What does that mean now that we know Skinner has been involved in Vietnam? It could explain the characters need to follow orders from less reputable sources, and yet still harbour care for those that he deems worthy. Lets not forget the amount of times the he has stood up for Mulder and Scully, much to the annoyance of his superiors.

This leads on to Mulder and Scully, and their mistrust of Skinner. These “seeds of mistrust” had been sown during the past two seasons, and we as an audience are still unsure as to where he stands in the overarching mythology. However when it comes down to it we get dialogue like this:

"Scully [reading note]: The monsters are here.Mulder: The monsters are here.Scully: Does that get your juices flowing?Mulder: As much as I appreciate any reference to my juices, my only concern here is Skinner."

Just want to put a quick word in for guest star Haley Joel Osmet. The former child star of The Sixth Sense and A.I. Artificial Intelligence is doing some really creepy things here once he gets going. He looks to be on a resurgence of late, it is good to see him play a sort of against-type character. I say “sort of” because he leans into the weirdness of his aforementioned roles, as the son of Skinner’s Army friend, Kitten.

Next: The X-Files season 11, episode 5 review: Ghouli

His description of the tests that have gone on in his town that has led to Skinner coming to visit go back to the idea of a “conspiracy.” And like most conspiracies the tests continue on, the cries of a madman echo on and on, but no-one is willing to listen.

To go back to that implication that Kirsch implants into the mind of Fox and Dana, Walter is quick to counter that if it weren’t for them, he wouldn’t even be alive. Despite the mistrust that is clearly on the surface due to recent events on the show, there is clearly something underneath their relationship. I sincerely hope that Skinner is redeemed, and that Mulder and Scully can trust their long-suffering superior.