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"The X-Files" Avatar (1996)"The X Files" Avatar (original title)

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50 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

Succulent Succubus?

Author: Muldernscully from Roy, Utah
12 July 2006

After viewing Avatar, I find it to be on the more underrated episodes of the x-files. I was blown away while watching it recently. I noticed that David Duchovny helped out with this story, and he does a bang up job with Howard Gordon. It starts out with a pretty freaky teaser, Skinner seeing the old woman, and then finding the woman with a grotesquely broken neck. I like when episodes have cool transitions from one scene to another. A scene I refer to here is when it goes from the tape outline of the woman's body to the woman's body at the morgue in the fading tape outline's frame. I really liked the actress who played Skinner's wife, Sharon. Jennifer Hetrick plays the part so naturally. It's a pity they did not recur her character in the series. It was cool to see Skinner with hair in his wedding picture. Other things I liked was having Agent Pendrell make an appearance, and the episode featured touching music. Also, another dimension is added to Skinner's Vietnam death experience. One thing that bugged was the actress who played the hooker's boss. It appeared she spoke through gritted teeth. In the aired episode, CSM only has a non-speaking role. In a deleted scene, however, he has a big conversation with Skinner, which would've altered the episode dramatically, I believe. Commentary by Chris Carter states simply that the scene was unnecessary for the already heightened tension. I disagree. That scene brings up points that are later fleshed out in Zero Sum from season four. Avatar is a deep, touching episode, that explores the other side of Skinner, and does not get enough credit.

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Well done---just needed a bit more explanation

Author: mrlbem-2 from United States
9 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I think that this episode is misunderstood because of Mulder's theory, ultimately proved wrong, that the old woman is a succubus, which is an evil entity. Keep in mind that the title of the episode is "Avatar," which in the Hindu religion, means a deity of some sort who manifests a presence on earth. The old woman, I believe, was an avatar and also some type of spiritual alter ego of Skinner's wife. She was there to protect Skinner, in the process killing those who were part of the plot to do him harm. The evidence of her benevolent nature and the connection to Skinner's wife is found in the scene where Skinner sees the old lady and pursues her, only to discover that it's his wife, as well as the scenes where he sees the old lady in the hospital and prior to the car accident. By the end of the episode, Skinner realizes who and what the old lady is as well as the connection with his wife. He puts his wedding ring back on because in light of the events that just took place, he realizes that he loves and cannot leave his wife.

I thought it was a beautiful story, really. But it was a little too obtuse--you really had to think about what was going on. Plus, Mulder's theory was way off. Yes, there was something supernatural going on, but it wasn't quite what Mulder thought it was.

In sum, this was a refreshing episode, part of the overall story arc of the show (because it was another attempt by the Syndicate to bring down the X-Files by getting rid of the agents' staunchest ally), while focusing on Skinner.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

There's a Succubus Born Every Minute

Author: XweAponX from United States
22 November 2013

I loved this Episode originally, cos Samantha Carter gets her head twisted off like a chicken and Skinner's Wife is also Jean-Luc Picard's Girlfriend - And Skinner has about as much hair as Patrick Stewart did at the time, so this episode is highly appropriate..

I love it now, because of the high level of Creepo factor.

Skinner had told Mulder about his "Near" death Experience in Vietnam- But here, he reveals that there was no "Near" about it. He was dead, and brought back to his Body by the White Haired Old Woman.

Who we initially thought was some evil entity, leaving glow-in-the-dark lipstick on Samantha Carter's face. But Skin-Man did NOT know she was a hooker, paid for by one of Cancer-Man's minions, using Skinner's own credit card. Skin-Man thought it was just a chick in a bar, and how wrong he was.

So, what started out as to be about Skinner, ends up being about The X- Files instead. It seems Skinner is Skully and Mulder's Mac Daddy, he's the one who makes sure they can do it with out red tape.

But what is great is how Mulder is able to see that this Skinner-Related X-File is a setup, a way to use the X-Files to close the X-Files. But Mulder finds a more Mundane conspiracy. And Cancerman would have gotten away with it...

...If not for Skinner's Succubus, who was also Protecting Skinner's Ex- Wife Jennifer Hetrick.

This episode marks the very first time Skinner witnesses an X-Files event, something which cannot be categorized or easily referenced.

And he can't talk to Mulder about it - Not even off he record. At least not yet.

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9 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Business must be booming, I mean banging...

Author: Sanpaco13 from Sandy, UT, United States
10 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Avatar is a very strange episode for me. Its one of those that for some reason I can never really quite remember the story to until I watch it again. This is one of the first episodes that focuses on Skinner as a character and I love how they do it. The teaser shows a rare glimpse into his personal life as he is hesitating over signing his divorce documents with the pen that his wife gave him for their anniversary. The irony is too much for him to handle and he decides that after 17 years they can wait another day. He goes to a bar where he meets a very attractive woman and they end up sleeping together. However, in the middle of the night Skinner wakes up from a bad dream where he is doing the crazy lazy with an old lady and finds that the woman who he was with has had her head turned all the way around the wrong way. There are so many things that are touched upon in this episode that it is hard to go into all of it so I will sum up. It turns out that the woman is an escort who was hired by the shadow government to try and ruin Skinner and get him out of the FBI because of him helping Mulder and Scully. The old woman is some strange something or other that I still don't quite understand that Skinner has been seeing ever since his out of body experience in Vietnam. The shadow government dudes as far as I can tell are the ones who killed the escort lady and they keep killing more and trying to pin it on Skinner. Skinner meets up with his wife and later she is in a bad car accident and Skinner is again under suspicion for that as well. Finally he lets Mulder and Scully help him and admits to the crazy things he has been seeing. I guess he knows he can open up to Mulder because Mulder believes everything right? So Mulder and Scully use one of the other escorts as bait to try and capture the men that are framing Skinner but what they don't know is that the shadow government hit-man knows he is being setup and that Mulder and a task force will be waiting. Skinner goes to see his wife in the hospital and in a strange psychic moment, his wife comes back from her coma and warns Skinner about what is about to go down at the hotel. So Skinner shows up just in time and kills the hit-man and clears his name. Its not clear to me whether Skinner's wife dies or not. We never really see or hear about her ever again after the hospital scene. Anyway, the episode is quite entertaining and just complicated enough to keep me focused and interested. I give it a 9 out of 10.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

I really liked seeing Skinner having the spotlight

Author: Juan Sarmiento from Netherlands
19 October 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode is so much better than I usually give it credit for.

But I still have a few problems with it. First of all, damn, it's one if not the most vague episode of the series. It leaves little to no explanation to whatever happened. No wonder I've always had trouble understanding it.

So, the Succubus was protecting Skinner instead of killing his women? So, what was the whole deal with the red cape and broken picture frame? Was that to warn him?

and who was the guy that was trying to frame Skinner? was he working for CSM? I never really understood this part. I understand why, but i'm still very vague on the how/who/what deal.

another thing is his wife, maybe I am demented but did they even ever bothered to mention her again? I liked her, it's a shame they never did.

But even so, this episode is quite entertaining. I really liked seeing Skinner having the spotlight for once, and coming out as the hero.

Also, the succubus really worked at being creepy. Especially that scene where he sees her screaming in the mirror. That is very creepy and dream-like.

THREE stars for this episode. a good one, shame about the confusing mess.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Skinner Centric Episode

Author: AudioFileZ from United States
29 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Avatar is the first episode I remember where Skinner is the main featured character. It's fitting as in three seasons he has come to be a kind of protector for Mulder and Scully and his popularity with fans was, perhaps, stronger as a result of both Mitch Pillegi's talents and the evolution of his character.

Diversity in The X-Files can really help if done well and mostly it is here. The episode is a bit enigmatic as many potential questions a viewer could possibly benefit from had to be left open to interpretation due to time constraints. That said the crux of the episode is the emotional state of Skinner as he decides to wait 24-hours until signing papers finalizing his eminent divorce. In those hours his life is turned up-side down. He retreats to a bar where he is approached by an attractive women ending up in a tryst where he awakens to a nightmarish vision of being instead with a monstrous old women. Awakened startled by this vision he turns to look beside him only to find his paramour has a severely broken neck (head is turned completely around). As there are no other suspects Skinner is all but certain to be tried as a murderer.

Mulder, of course, finds it impossible to accept that Skinner is capable of murder. Scully finds a strange luminous substance on the victim's mouth and nostrils that is impossible to analyze. Turns out Skinner's vision of the old hag isn't a "one-off" as she is the same vision he had when he had his out of body experience as a only survivor in his near-death experience in Vietnam. Mulder suspects a paranormal tie-in of some kind he identifies as a "Succubus". Things get stranger as Skinner sees the hag replacing his wife who has come to comfort him. Soon Skinner is in deeper as his wife is forced off the road by what evidence indicates was Skinner's car.

Here's were the story turns from the paranormal to the shadow government as Skinner's cars airbag clearly shows the outline of a face other than his being the driver. Mulder and Scully believe the Madam whose escort was murdered may have answers, but they're too late as she is found dead of what appears to be suicide. Not stumped they locate one of the other escorts who did in fact have knowledge of the man whose image they found on the airbag. He set up Skinner's tryst in the hotel with the deceased so now all they have to do is bait him to meet the surviving escort. At the same time Skinner is at his wife's bedside when he frantically believes she's dying and sees the hag's face one more on his wife's body. He blinks and his wife has come out of her coma and says she has something she needs to tell him.

The set-up meeting with the mystery man doesn't go down as Mulder intends and only by Skinner's knowledge he should be there is Scully and the Escort saved when Skinner shots the mystery man as he about to kill the escort...and likely Scully. Skinner is thus able to clear his name and be a sort of savior too. Only thing is Mulder can't understand how Skinner knew to be at the hotel. There's plenty of holes as already stated and I'm not sure if the episode would be better if they were filled in, say, by splitting the story in two episodes and fleshing it out. There's a kind of low-key brilliance in what isn't really known here as to the intersection of the shadow government and the paranormal elements. We now know that those above Skinner would like to contain him as he is now somewhat of an obstacle instead of an asset due to his burgeoning protection of Mulder and Scully.

Avatar is a nice break from the myth-arc or paranormal event of the week. It does definitely have some kind of unexplainable series of events yet it makes clear that the people upstairs will do anything to regain a level of control they desire. Avatar is, as such, definitely worth a watch.

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"Maybe that's why Skinner's running. He's afraid."

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
15 June 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It was about time for Assistant Director Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) to get his own episode, or at least one in which he's the primary character. Except for all the wrong reasons - he's been implicated in the death of a prostitute and a car accident in which his almost ex-wife suffers a near brain injury. It's honorable for Scully and Mulder to get involved trying to clear his name, even if the paranormal aspect of the case is superseded by a plot to distance or remove Skinner from the X-Files.

Up to this point in the series we didn't know much about Skinner's background, his military service in Vietnam for example, or even the fact that he was married. Heck, even Mulder never considered Skinner to be a married man. As much as the Assistant Director was willing to divulge personal information, he informs Mulder of an old woman who began appearing in his dreams when he was given up for dead in a Vietcong ambush. Mulder's take on this has him believing it was a succubus, an evil entity, but he'll eventually be proved wrong when the old woman intervenes as an avatar to help Skinner make an unpredictable decision.

I actually found it more credible for Skinner to have received the avatar's message via his wife lying in a hospital bed, than I did for the dimwit conspirators out to discredit Skinner, to go along with Scully and Mulder's scheme to lure them to a prearranged meeting with a hooker. And the other part of that equation - the meeting was to take place at a hotel for an exchange of money, but not for the usual services. Yet all parties wound up in a hotel room. Why?

To my recollection, this was a one-off appearance for Mrs. Skinner (Jennifer Hetrick), which is too bad because she seemed like a genuinely nice and sincere person. In fact, even the whole outcome of her brain injury and hospital stay was left to the discretion of the viewer, knowing that if he's going to make a choice, Skinner will remain in the marriage to work things out.

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5 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

This time it's Skinner's turn...

Author: SyndicateFreeorDieHard from United States
19 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Skinner gets a full blast of the paranormal after spending the night in hotel room with a prostitute. When he awakens the next morning, she is dead, and is now being blamed for her death. Mulder and Scully are his only hope, but Skinner isn't so quick to trust anyone, not even Mulder. Also, Skinner keeps seeing an old lady, which he saw during his time in Vietnam, and has haunted him ever since. Mulder believes that something is happening that may be connected with an old myth, but Scully, the skeptic, begs to differ. She thinks Skinner may in fact just be having a simple sleep disorder, but the evidence that Mulder has for once is greater than Scully's science. And what does the Cigarette-Smoking Man have to do with all this?

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