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02 January 2016 @ 11:36 am
X-Files Episodes 18-20  
Episode 18: Miracle Man
This would have been a perfect choice for a hoax episode, and it wouldn't have even needed that many changes for it. I mean, "faith healing." It's right there in the name. They just need to provide plausible deniability and let the viewers draw their own conclusions, and they come so close to doing that. There are locusts in the courtroom, and it turns out that they were in cages near the ventilation system. The (targets? beneficiaries? victims?) of the faith healing die, but they were poisoned with cyanide! And then they throw in the visions of Mulder's sister to reassure the viewer that it's okay. He really does have superpowers.

I did like the character of Samuel. I liked the way he was having a crisis of faith and didn't turn out to be some kind of evil serial killer, but I think that the visions undermined the ambiguity of the story to its detriment. They were trying to tie it into the mythology, sure, but. Ugh. I just wish that they'd at least have one hoax episode. I'm going to keep banging this drum until it breaks.

I do appreciate that you never see the "resurrected" Samuel, though. I'm kind of surprised he didn't show up Children of the Corn-style to punish the sheriff with G-d's wrath. And the identity of the killer was a good twist, as compared to how "Shapes" worked. But most what stuck with me was that it was too neat and should have been less clear. I don't have that much else to say on it.

Episode 19: Shapes
This was the werewolf episode. It wasn't a bad episode, necessarily, but it was the werewolf episode and it did all the things that always happen in the werewolf episode. They kill the werewolf early, but gasp, the murders continue! Why? Could it be that the person who was injured by the werewolf is, himself, now a werewolf? Well, now that you mention it...

And Mulder can tell it's the werewolf episode, too. You can almost see him ticking off the boxes as he looks for evidence.

I didn't realize that Native American werewolves was an older trope, though I suppose it's something that's often applied to marginalized groups--see also the whole Romani werewolf thing. I was glad that they actually cast Native actors for the parts, and then a little annoyed that the mythology was basically window dressing. Sure, manitou and so on, except it was a werewolf. It wasn't passed down in family lines, it may or may not have been spirit possession, but it was definitely "I got attacked and now I'm a werewolf too," which is your standard Wolf Man-style werewolf. That goes back to what I was saying about it being the werewolf episode.

The wiki tells me that "Shapes" came about because the suits wanted to include more standard monster scenarios, so I can see where they tried to spin it into being a bit more exciting within the bonds of keeping it standard, but it didn't stray far enough from the tree for me.

Episode 20: Darkness Falls
With the revelation that radiation turns wood mites into man-eating deathbug swarms, it is now my headcanon that X-Files is a prequel to Fallout. And a sequel to all those 50s B movies. All of them. That's why there's all those x-files out there.

This episode had a good premise--killer bugs that are maddened by darkness and eat people--but I thought it was hampered a bit by the other characters. The ecoterrorist and logger were both thinly sketched caricatures, so I didn't care when they got eaten. The bottle episode aspect, where they were all stuck in the cabin with a limited supply of gasoline powering the light, wasn't as good as in "Ice" just because there were fewer characters, though the revelation that they couldn't keep the bugs out at all and it was only the light that kept them safe was pretty well done.

The wiki points out that the weather during the shooting was terrible, and I kind of wish they had done a bit more with that. Maybe if the rain also kept the bugs from swarming, adding tension based on the uncontrollable weather? I suppose they wouldn't have been able to time that as effectively as the generator running out of gas, though it might have added another element on the side of nature being terrible and unpredictable.

Also, I liked this exchange at the end:
MULDER: "How you going to contain it to the forest? What if the swarm migrates?"
MAN: "The government has initiated eradication procedures. They're quite certain that by using a combination of controlled burns and pesticides, they will be successful."
MULDER: "And if they're not?"
*pause*
MAN: "That is not an option, Mr. Mulder."
The MAN's dialogue was really odd and wooden, but it was just ambiguous enough that it could have been creepy foreshadowing instead. It was a "Top. Men." kind of moment, and a great way to end the episode.
 
 
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softlykaorusoftlykarou on January 2nd, 2016 05:40 pm (UTC)
"This is not an option, Mr. Mulder" admittedly had me imaging the G-Man from Half Life saying it. Also this is now my head canon.