After an uneven Episode 1 and 2, X Files is finally starting to get back onto the rails of what we’ve come to expect from the series. It’s not perfect but it’s near vintage.
** WARNING ** SOME SPOILERS ** WARNING **
The episode starts by providing insight into what Mulder is feeling lately. He’s down because he is questioning whether he’s wasted his life chasing fictitious monsters. He feels old and uninspired. At the same time, Scully is trying to prop him up and encourage him, without necessarily agreeing that there are monsters in the world. Still, Fox is discouraged and mopey.
Enter a series of vicious murders that appear to be attribute to what some are calling a Lizard Man, and things pick up. Add odd characters like a dog-catcher who’s had it with his profession and a transgender who gives the Lizard man “what for”. Mix in some blurry photos and you have a nice classic episode.
Despite reported encounters with this creature, Fox is cynical and chalks these up to visual tricks and misunderstandings. Ultimately, he (and to a lesser extent Scully) begin to unravel the mystery of the murders and this monster, and we are presented a nice twist the end. The story ends with Mulder realizing that maybe there are indeed unknown creatures in the world that need his investigation.
What makes this episode work is the misdirection and vivid story telling, but the latter almost breaks it as well. There’s the quirky hotel in the middle of nowhere, run by an oddball peeping tom with a drinking problem. And the tormented monster with an unbelievable backstory. There’s grisly murders. There’s even a sex scene for Scully, which oddly seemed out of place as I don’t recall any episode over the course of the series showing such a thing.
What almost failed was the exposition in the third act. There’s a lot of talking and explaining and flashbacks. Some of it is humorous, most is just expository. But it’s basically boring and seemed to be a short cut to quickly wrap up the episode and get to the final scene. There appears to be a flub where Fox is called by his first name when he hasn’t yet introduced himself. I could be wrong.
The acting is better, though like many X Files, there’s a lot of muttering. As is customary, no one says “goodbye” when ending a phone call and no one says “hello” when answering the phone (they just say their name, “Scully” or whatever).
The Monkey did enjoy the episode itself, but also because it forebodes improvement each week. For those really attentive X Files afficianados, you’ll notice some funny inside jokes. I checked the Wiki page on this episode to confirm. Very clever and I like it — I like the nods to faithful viewers.
I’ll keep a running list of Episodes based on my ranking. Thus far I have:
- Episode 3 – Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster
- Episode 2 – Founder’s Mutation
- Episode 1 – My Struggle
In my book, as you can see, the quality and enjoyment is improving. Make sure you check it out and tell me what you think!