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12 November 2015 @ 09:33 pm
X-Files Episodes 12-14  
Episode 12: Fire
Faxes! Cassette tapes! Welcome to the 90s! Or Japan!

(spoiler: It's not Japan)

I'm starting to love Mulder's bullheaded gullibility. There's a conversation with an actually kind of creepy arson specialist about accelerants and flammability and how conceivable it is to start fires under certain conditions and he's suddenly like "but guise wat if pyrokinesisisisisis?" And he's right because this is X-Files, but it makes me wonder how he conducts his personal life. If one of his socks is missing, does he assume it's been abducted by aliens or fallen into a dimensional rift or something? I'm surprised Scully's hand isn't permanently melded to her face.

 photo tumblr_mhnipbYeKd1r8rcm5o1_500.jpg

"But what if it is lizard people?  photo 8-d597b39b37de51c39f6f27ba12636c163f5666f5.gif

I was a bit distracted by Badger being the villain and showing his true psychotic lowlife credentials, but not enough for it to harm my enjoyment. And the plot and his behavior tied into a concept I've found interesting about psychic powers--that they're related to the psychic's mental state. Like, someone who can speak to ghosts has had a brush with death, or a telepath not respecting anyone's privacy, or a pyrokinetic being an arsonist. Like so many ideas with mythic resonance, it's really easy to read this an in extremely uncomfortable way. Mental illness gives you superpowers!  photo emot-psyduck.gif

It's a bit like my flip characterization of Changeling: the Lost as "abuse gives you superpowers."

I didn't buy most of the rest of it, though. Mulder's old flame (hiyoooo!) had no chemistry with Mulder at all and her showing up was a bit too James Bond. The car and the cassette were ridiculous. And the government is imprisoning a pyrokinetic, taking precautions to show that they know he's a pyrokinetic, so why is any of this stuff secret again? I wonder how far the show will be able to stress my acceptance that this somehow remains secret without breaking it?

Oh, that's right. In the 90s, everyone thought the government could conduct a successful conspiracy.

Episode 13: Beyond the Sea
Last episode had Badger, and this episode has General Hammond as Scully's father and Gríma Wormtongue as a creepy serial killer psychic. I recognized Don Davis right away and now Stargate and X-Files will forever take place in the same universe for me (even though here he was in the Navy and in Stargate he's in the Air Force), but I had to look up who Brad Dourif was. Amazing performance.

This was probably my favorite episode of the show so far. I know that just swapping Mulder and Scully's narrative roles is kind of cliche, but I thought it worked even if I would have preferred to see more General Hammond around and I'm annoyed that they introduced Scully's father just to kill him off. After episode after episode of Mulder's wild-ass guessing that's constantly proven right, I'm glad to see him wrong. And there was enough ambiguity until the half-way point of the episode that Boggs could have been running a scam to get back at Mulder. And then at the end, Scully does the natural human thing--she handwaves it all away and justifies it in light of her pre-existing beliefs.

I do wish she hadn't had the visions, though. That pretty quickly tipped it over into telling us that there was something X-Filish happening and that Boggs was legit. In a show about mysteries, a little more mystery would be nice. Though the scene with the spirits of Bogg's victims was genuinely creepy.

It's also a good example of how X-Files works because of interplay between Mulder and Scully, and why I've been told to only watch up to season seven. The tension between skeptical and naive believer who is always right ( photo emot-argh.gif) and the chemistry between the actors combine together to drive the show. And Scully not coming to the execution at the end? Wow. Wow.

If I had to pick one X-Files episode to show people to get them to watch, it'd be this one. Not to knock "The Post-Modern Prometheus," but...

Episode 14: Gender Bender
Alright. So we have a group of Orthodox Jews / Amish / the Strangers from Dark City who live in a cult compound up in the hills of Massachusetts. Also, they can change their sex at will. Or maybe not at will, and it requires some kind of eldritch ritual in their womb-temple to the Black Goat of the Woods. Honestly, once Mulder went down there and saw them using the Milk of Shub-Niggurath to resurrect someone, he should have called DELTA GREEN. Except they would have just come in and burned everything down, and then we wouldn't have had an episode.

So what was going on? Were they cultists? Aliens? Alien-human hybrids? Mutants? Who knows. My personal explanation based on how they talked about "humans" as a separate group is that they were some of the Thousand Young of the Black Goat of the Woods, and there's not really anything to contradict me except that I know X-Files was made before Cthulhu got its tentacles into everything. That's actually one of the aspects of this episode I liked the most--there was no explanation. The viewers were just as confused as Mulder and Scully were. Some of the venom in my previous episode commentary has been defused now, though I'm sure it'll come back if the show goes back to Mulder always having the proper explanation five minutes into the episode. Or maybe it'll wrap around and be kind of charming like it was in "Fire."

I also like how federal agents had no problem rounding up a posse and busting into a cult compound. You can tell this was written pre-Waco.


Brief non-episode point: Apparently Chris Carter was planning on having a lot of hoax episodes mixed in with the actual supernatural ones, according to the X-Files Files, but they realized that the hoax episodes simply weren't as interesting as the supernatural ones. And I can understand that, as much as it sometimes annoys me.
 
 
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Current Music: PHI, EnV, Dualryan - Take it to the Club (Continuous Mix)
 
 
 
nelcnelc on November 13th, 2015 05:02 pm (UTC)
Whereas when I saw this episode I remembered Don Davis from Twin Peaks, where he played (I think) an Army officer. Or maybe Marines? I guess he was the go-to guy for wise military officers for a while there.
dorchadasdorchadas on November 14th, 2015 05:24 pm (UTC)
He certainly looks the part.
q99q99 on November 14th, 2015 05:27 am (UTC)
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Brief non-episode point: Apparently Chris Carter was planning on having a lot of hoax episodes mixed in with the actual supernatural ones, according to the X-Files Files, but they realized that the hoax episodes simply weren't as interesting as the supernatural ones. And I can understand that, as much as it sometimes annoys me.-

Personally, what I wish some shows did is do more than one plot per episode on occasion- one an easily-solved or hoax, another a real, or such.

Like, House got boring as heck because diseases always got solved on schedule. Easily curing one, then getting another would be more interesting. X-files should've had something that looks real, turns out to be a hoax, then, say, Mulder and Scully pick up on something real on the way back.
dorchadasdorchadas on November 14th, 2015 05:23 pm (UTC)
X-files should've had something that looks real, turns out to be a hoax, then, say, Mulder and Scully pick up on something real on the way back.

Something like that would help a lot, yeah. Or relate them, so there's an ambiguous ending and you can get an or was it moment as the credits roll.

Though something else the X-Files Files mentions is how hard it was to catch up on episodes you missed. I know that if I missed a couple weeks of X-Files and tuned in to see an episode with a hoax, I'd probably be a bit let down.

Edited at 2015-11-14 05:24 pm (UTC)
q99q99 on November 14th, 2015 11:36 pm (UTC)
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Something like that would help a lot, yeah. Or relate them, so there's an ambiguous ending and you can get an or was it moment as the credits roll.-

That's a good point. One can have the odd episode where there *is* something and the cast not realize it.

Schlock Mercenary has a great story about the 'ghost in the pipes.' Where the pipes of a large spaceship began to sound like evil voices after the bodies of the old crew were shoved down them, saying actual things, which drove the AI insane. The 'conclusion'? Air in the pipes, cleared it out and everything was fine! And the AI was banned from ever thinking about how unlikely it was that air in the pipes would sound like evil voices.



-Though something else the X-Files Files mentions is how hard it was to catch up on episodes you missed. I know that if I missed a couple weeks of X-Files and tuned in to see an episode with a hoax, I'd probably be a bit let down. -

Yea, that's a point. I think one would have to make sure the hoaxes were *good* hoaxes. They can/should still involve creepy/compelling characters and such. It can be a good mystery without being supernatural, and hoaxes should be uses *sparingly* to begin with, so only when there's a really good hoax script.