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"Jump the Shark" is the 197th episode and the ninth season's fifteenth episode of the science fiction television series The X-Files. The episode first aired in the United States and Canada on April 21, 2002 on the Fox, and subsequently aired in the United Kingdom. It was written by executive producers Vince Gilligan, John Shiban and Frank Spotnitz, and directed by Cliff Bole. The episode was created to give closure for The Lone Gunmen television series, which was a spin off of The X-Files.

"Jump the Shark" was a story milestone for the series, killing off long-recurring characters of the show who first appeared in the first season episode "E.B.E.". When former Area 51 Man-in-Black Morris Fletcher appears, claiming that a female friend of the Lone Gunmen is actually a super-soldier, Doggett and Reyes attempt to locate her but find that the situation is graver than they first expected. The episode earned a high Nielsen household and syndication rating when compared to other episodes of the ninth season, although it was generally negatively received by fans and critics alike.

Plot

When Morris Fletcher approaches FBI agents Monica Reyes and John Doggett with information related to the supersoldiers, they turn to The Lone Gunmen. He provides an alleged photo of the supersoldier, which the Lone Gunmen recognize as being Yves Adele Harlow, a fellow hacker who went missing a year ago. The Gunmen refuse to believe the evidence, especially when they find that Fletcher provided it, although the agents continue to pursue the trail.

Harlow murders a biology professor, cuts out an organ and disposes of it in a furnace. After the Gunmen capture her, she reveals that he had been experimenting with the immune system of sharks and had been grafting pieces of shark onto his body in order to become a living host to a biological weapon. His research had been funded by Yves' arms dealing father, who had commissioned Fletcher to find her and prevent her from stopping his biological terrorism plot. She further informs them that there is another host, who she is trying to identify and locate before he can unleash his deadly payload.

Once Fletcher realizes that he's been used by Harlow's father, he teams with the Gunmen to help Harlow find the second bioterrorist. After a few false starts and chases, the Lone Gunmen corner the bioterrorist with only a few minutes before his virus is due to be released. They realize that they lack the time to destroy his virus-filled organ and pull a fire alarm, causing large emergency doors to seal shut, simultaneously containing the virus and entrapping them with it. Their sacrifice earns them a final resting place in Arlington National Cemeterymarker, where Fletcher and the FBI agents pay their respects to them.

Production

The episode title is a humorous reference to the phrase "jumping the shark", which is used to describe shows that have reached their peak and started to decline in quality. Executive producer Chris Carter said that the title was a "tongue-in-cheek" title, and further stated that it was their "way of lowering the boom on anybody who thought that it did." He further stated that the series was "good" until the end, even after the departure of David Duchovny as Fox Mulder. According to IGN writer KJN, the episode was a homage to the website Jump the Shark, while no official word from the producers or writers have said or commented on this.

Various plotlines leaked before the episodes release, the most notably being the death of The Lone Gunmen. The episode itself was created to give closure for The Lone Gunmen television series which aired in 2001, therefore various characters from the show make cameo appearances.

Reception

Aaron Kinney from Salon magazine said that the episode title was fun, but said the creators continues to do the "very same flaws" which got the series were it is now, etc "cheesy melodrama, deathly slow pacing, and a lack of coherence". He further stated that was the main reason for why the show "jumped the sharks", and has never been able to restore its dignity. Critical Myth reviewer was also negative to the episode, saying it was "one of the worst episodes of the season". Further stating that it was bad episode even for The Lone Gunmen television series, at last he stated that he hoped that this episode was no indication of the how the series finale was going to be like. David Duchovny was available at the time of the shooting of the episode, leaving many fans disappointed that he didn't make a cameo appearance on the episode.

References

  1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/xfiles/episodeguide/nine/page15.shtml BBC's X-Files episode guide to "Jump the Shark"


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