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"The X-Files" Paper Hearts (1996)"The X Files" Paper Hearts (original title)

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40 out of 45 people found the following review useful:

The Mad Hatter

10/10
Author: Sanpaco13 from Sandy, UT, United States
9 July 2007

Paper Hearts has become one of my favorite episodes since I started watching the series again. I remember watching it earlier on when I was more into the mytharc of the series and wanting to know about the conspiracies and I remember being disappointed that this episode leads you to believe that you would get answers about Mulder's sister and then you don't. But you know after rewatching it and knowing the final outcome and being able to focus on other aspects of this episode it really is great. I love the acting performances both by Duchovny and Gillian Anderson and the guest star performances are just as good. I almost want to like Roche when I first meet him. He acts like he and Mulder are just old friends that haven't seen each other in a while. This works very well for a serial killer because actually the exact opposite is the case. The music was another high point of the episode for me. It doesn't happen often that we get an original score for just one episode but this is done here and it is just eerie enough yet soothing to the point that you actually feel like you are in Mulder's dream with him. All in all this is a great episode and I give it a 10/10.

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20 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Why is a raven like a writing desk?

10/10
Author: Muldernscully from Roy, Utah
29 August 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

After the physically demanding Tunguska/Terma episodes, Mulder continues to get tested in Paper Hearts; this time emotionally. Vince Gilligan, better known for his humorous episodes, shows that he is quite versatile in writing, giving us deep drama and emotion. The teaser immediately grabs your attention with Mulder having a dream of following a laser pointer that gives him clues along the way and leads him to the location of the victim of a serial killer. This episode has never affected me this way before. Tears came to my eyes twice during the episode. Perhaps it is because I am now a father of three young children. But I feel for Mulder and his pain in Paper Hearts. I found it interesting that one dream leads Mulder to finding this victim, while his next dream misleads him into believing that John Lee Roche may have kidnapped his sister. And I must say, Tom Noonan plays this heartless serial killer to perfection. The way he taunts Mulder just to exact a little revenge for Mulder capturing him is cruel. Not only does Vince Gilligan's script tug at your heart-strings, but Mark Snow's score for this episode is brilliant, making the emotion even more poignant. Excellent performances by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson help round out this episode to make it a gem of season four.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

One of the best episodes of the X-Files

9/10
Author: bigblue123 from United Kingdom
31 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is one of my all time favourite x-file episodes for a number of reasons. The storyline is brilliant - maybe Mulder's sister wasn't abducted by aliens but was in fact taken by a child murderer who is now in prison. The bulk of the episode is therefore Mulder interrogating this murderer (who is claiming he abducted Samantha) and the resulting effect that it has on him. The acting is also fantastic. Anderson is great as usual and Duchovny's performance is almost heartbreaking as he desperately tries to seek the truth. However, the best performance comes from the highly underrated Tom Noonan as the child murderer. He creates a character who is both chilling and yet both tragic and pitiful.The psychological mind games that he plays with Mulder are great to watch. The episode is well directed and constantly keeps you guessing. Although the ending is obvious it is a fitting climax. A truly excellent episode.

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9 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

Unforgettable

9/10
Author: aurrora_australis from United States
12 December 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I agree with muldernscully, and I think this was X-Files perfection from start to finish. The music was haunting and eerie, probably one of my favorite scores of all of the series. Seeing Mulder have those dreams and being manipulated by the pedophile was extremely spooky, but equally endearing was how Scully had his back and empathized with him throughout the ordeal as he tried to reconcile his sister's abduction with the activities of the pedophile during that same time. On a completely superficial note, I loved when Mulder sank the basketball in the prison gym, further serving to emphasize him as the hero in contrast to the scumbag child killer. This is classic X Files, before the movie and before they moved to L.A.; it is one of the best and one of my favorites from season 5. The ending was definitely suspenseful, and it's one I wouldn't mind seeing again.

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6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Continuity issues

5/10
Author: soph-d-el
3 August 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I feel that this episode would have worked better in the 1st season than the 4th. While I enjoyed the emotional aspect of the episode's story, the continuity errors were simply too big to ignore. The story contradicted what has been established in previous episodes. We've seen proof and hints of what happened to Samantha. Again and again it was confirmed that Samantha was in fact abducted. Mulder even saw CLONES of her. The possibility of Samantha being murdered by a child murderer after all just contradicts that WAY too much.

So I don't find it believable that Mulder would suddenly buy this guy's story. We've seen Mulder make some irrational choices when his emotions get the best of him, but I think that he'd ignore all he's previously seen to such an extent If it was in the first season, sure, but as a 4th season episode it just doesn't really tie to the storyline.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A nice, emotional character study

10/10
Author: Juan Sarmiento from Netherlands
14 November 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

What a great episode, i've never given it the praise it deserves. The one thing that always used to bug me was the stupidity of Mulder in this episode. Because he practically let John on the loose, and because he was portrayed soo weakly.

But really, I get that know. He wanted to find his sister so badly that he made some wrong choices. It's entirely believable.

Some of my favorite scenes were the dreams. They were so well-done, especially the intro with that little girl being sucked into the ground.

This episode is a nice, emotional character study full of cute Mulder/Scully moments.

FIVE stars, great stuff!

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

"What are you saying you believe now?"

8/10
Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
22 June 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I'd have to go on record seconding the reviews of a handful of writers on this board regarding the dismantling of prior episodes if we're to believe the disappearance of Mulder's sister had anything to do with something other than an alien abduction. The idea did form the basis of an intriguing counter-theory, and the story was written in a clever enough manner to give the viewer pause regarding the previous stories in the mythology arc, but when all was said and done, the Samantha killer premise wasn't going to work for a lot of fans.

With all that said, and if you disregard the stuff that had gone before, this was a pretty intense psychological drama played out between Mulder and child killer John Lee Roche (Tom Noonan). The way the Roche character was written as a 'friendly' adversary only made you want to hate the guy more, conducting himself as if he was just a regular guy instead of a monster who deserved execution instead of life imprisonment. Showing no remorse, Roche toyed with Mulder's emotions to such a degree, it would have been appropriate for Scully to step in at some point and give the guy a couple of whacks just for the sheer satisfaction of it.

Aside from the inconsistency with prior stories in the series, there did appear to be one plot hole here if this were to be treated as a stand alone story. Considering Roche's exceptional power of recall in remembering what type of vacuum cleaners he sold and to who, it didn't seem credible to me that he wouldn't have recognized the home Mulder brought him to as being the wrong one. It worked in the story to discredit Roche's ability to string Mulder along, but it seems he should have been sharp enough to see the ruse Mulder was trying to pull off.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Step in Closer and View the Episode On its Own Terms

8/10
Author: jlewis-6 from United States
16 April 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

To my mind "Paper Hearts" is one of the better episodes in the series, with great performances, great original music, and a genuinely uncanny psychic connection between two characters, Mulder and the serial killer John, not to mention a great display of empathy between Mulder and Scully. It also has what looks like an inconsistency: despite three and a half seasons that have made it a virtual certainty that Mulder is correct in believing that his sister was the victim of an alien abduction, in this episode he adopts a contrary view, namely that John murdered Mulder's sister. Consider the facts. First, John has been sentenced to prison for life without possibility of parole, a horrific sentence for anyone, serial killer or not. Second, Mulder's gift for profiling involved "getting inside" the minds of serial killers, and here's where the uncanny or sci-fi aspect of the series kicks in. Mulder's vivid dreams establish the psychic "nexus," which John tries to downplay but which is plainly at work. What happens is that John manipulates Mulder's dream to achieve his goal in this episode, which is to terminate his incarceration in a way that will give him maximum satisfaction. Like most of us, John is much smaller in real life than in his self-image.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

An OK episode if you disregard a number of previous X-Files episodes.

8/10
Author: jedo_team from Netherlands
5 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

John Lee Roche makes a good serial children murderer with a calm, charismatic and creepy voice.

There is a problem straight away though. The story concentrates around the murder of several children and the search for Fox Mulder's long lost sister. However, from previous episodes we had already established that Mulder's sister was not kidnapped by a serial killer. Never mind the fact that the serial killer claims that he kidnapped the sister of the person who just happens to be the same person ho will later arrest the killer for other killings. So the show loses credibility when it tries to convince that agent Mulder allows himself to be played due to his willingness to believe.

Mulder is having realistic psychic dreams enabling him to find the victims, dreams which are never really explained. This, combined with the killer pretending to be the mad hatter is nicely intertwined into the idea that Mulder is not sure what is and what isn't true.

An OK episode if you disregard a number of previous X-Files episodes.

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Broken Hearts

10/10
Author: hellraiser7 from United States
26 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Warning do not read unless you've seen the episode.

Time doesn't heal all wounds, no matter how far away in the past tragedy is, like a scar it stays with you forever. This is one of the saddest episodes I've ever seen, this episode is a different kind of episode as it's more of a character drama with Mulder and how much the loss of Samatha has affecting him throughout the years.

Tom Nonnan whom is an underrated actor I like, really does a great job at playing a scumbag villain you just plan hate because villains like him actually exist. This guy just has this sick mockery and self assurance about him, he's so full of BS (he was a salesman after all) and was constant utilizing leverage which just all the more made both Mulder and my blood boil to magma hot.

Your really share his determination into finding the truth of the fate of most of the girls with the paper hearts. And you can also see him emotionally struggling to keep himself together as it seems like every minute and second with the scumbag he's dealing with, he's going to explode and he nearly does. One moment that was crowd pleasing was when the scum sucker pushed a wrong button with Mulder and then Mulder decks the guy, I couldn't help but cheer.

We are in the same boat as Mulder as we are trying to figure out if this guy is telling the truth or just selling more malarkey. From a moment when he clams that he came to their house and solid a certain vacuum to them and of course we find out they have that very vacuum which just gave me a cold feeling and made me wonder if this scumbag really is responsible for his sister's disappearance.

I really liked the dream sequences, as it's surreal but at the same time a sense of reality where with one it was locating a body from that I wondered if Mulder somehow developed some psychic ability. But the one most affecting was where we actually get a glimpse into Mulder's past where we see some of the final minutes with his sister which made the cold feeling grew and wonder if may'be this is a part of Mulder's past that he blocked out and were finally seeing.

It all comes down to a intense final confrontation as Mulder deals with a hostage situation but the scumbag tries to put on the leverage once more as we see one final paper heart unidentified. He of course clams it could be Samantha and if Mulder takes him out he'll never know. We see Mulder is still plagued with uncertainty but despite it, it doesn't cloud his better judgment. This isn't the easiest dilemma as Mulder is faced with the choice of finding the identity of the last paper heart but possibly jeopardizing the life of the hostage in the process. Or taking him out to save the hostage but leaving the last girl unidentified and jeopardizing her life. Of course the choice is made as Mulder sees the scumbag about to pull the trigger as the scumbag continues thinking things are going to still go his way, but he's dead wrong, because Mulder's not buying what he's selling.

The ending I'll admit made me cry as Mulder looks at the heart and puts it away. Despite not being Samatha, it's some other lost girl waiting to be found and just like Mulder there are people that continue to find her.

To every child lost you will never be forgotten because you are always in our hearts.

Rating: 4 stars

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