Review: That X-Files episode where aliens came to Earth to play baseball, and what it says about race in America

The most iconic shot from The X-Files‘ 25 year run is also the funniest one: the image of a somber grey alien gazing away unto loftier things while holding a bat and dressed in a baseball cap and a little alien baseball uniform. You see, the alien in question is the true form of Josh Exley, the rootinest-tootinest bad-ball batter in the bush leagues who came to earth and stole the identity of a disappeared child from Macon, Georgia because he loved baseball so, so much. Season six’s The X-Files episode “The Unnatural” was David Duchovny’s writing and directing debut, and it shows. The episode is a bunch of tropes loosely strung together by the mythology of the X-Files that had already been years in the making, the foremost of which being that American identity has the power to unite all people in its embrace, regardless of the historical wealth of systemic obstructions marginalized people face to claim that identity.

The X-Files is a time capsule of 25 tumultuous years in American history, particularly the mistakes of 90’s-era colorblindness. The episode “The Unnatural” is a unique record of the failures of pretending that the naive adage of Michael Jackson ever rang truethat there was ever a period in history when it “[didn’t] matter if you’re black or white.”…

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