'Beauty's only skin deep, baby. I go all the way to the bone.'

Title: Never Again
Season: Four (1997)
Duration: 43m
Written by: Glen Morgan and James Wong
Directed by: Rob Bowman
Rating: ****

The X-Files could often be accused of being in bad taste, not least for its treatment of co-lead Dana Scully. A subplot running throughout the whole of season eight concerned enemies trying to get her to miscarry her unborn child, and in season four we got the 'Scully cancer trilogy', a trio of episodes where she learned she has it, she goes off the rails because of it, and she gets treated for it.

All three episodes have a pretty whacked-out set-up to go with such a dark subject matter: Leonard Betts features a man who is living cancer and can grow back his own body; while Memento Mori features Scully's life being saved by the Cigarette Smoking Man. Any of the three could have been chosen to represent this plotline of the series, but only Never Again featured Scully getting her rocks off.

It's a great episode too, however: reputedly due to be directed by Quentin Tarantino before the Union forbid it, it's slightly off-kilter with the rest of the series, made palatable by the knowledge that Scully had just learned of her illness (except on its initial US airing, where the more traditional 'Mulder and Scully' episode of Leonard Betts had been rearranged in the running order to make it screen after the Super Bowl).

Some of Scully's 'wild child' recollections seem more based on Anderson's own experiences, but the connection between herself and her episode co-star Rodney Rowland (they dated for a time afterwards) helps sell it all. Rowland plays Ed Jerse, a recently divorced man, driven insane by hallucinogenic ink used in a Bettie Page tattoo. Said tattoo speaks to him with the voice of Jodie Foster, though we later find out the hallucinogens aren't quite as strong as we'd been led to believe, and that a lot of Ed's misogynistic instincts are the real deal. Add to this a collapsing relationship between the two lead Agents and Mulder getting 'spiritual enlightenment' by going to Graceland, and it's an insane instalment of the series, taking what should be light-hearted subject matter and making it pitch black.

Select A Track
1 Rocks Off: Never Again

2 Rip This Joint: Redrum

3 Shake Your Hips:
The Post-Modern Prometheus

4 Casino Boogie:
The Goldberg Variation

5 Tumbling Dice: Improbable

6 Sweet Virginia: Small Potatoes

7 Torn and Frayed: Home

8 Sweet Black Angel: One Breath

9 Loving Cup: E.B.E.

10 Happy:
Musings Of A Cigarette Smoking Man

11 Turd On The Run: Tooms

12 Ventilator Blues: Anasazi

13 I Just Want To See His Face:
Clyde Bruckman's Finale Repose

14 Let It Loose: Humbug

15 All Down The Line: X-Cops

16 Stop Breaking Down:
Jose Chung's From Outer Space

17 Shine A Light: The Pilot

18 Soul Survivor: Beyond The Sea

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