"There are probably some who'll say that by doing this, we are interfering with their culture." "Probably. Screw 'em."
REVIEW: What an odd little episode. I mean, an X-Files spoof, at the height of that show's popularity, is amusing and all, but Crusade is still in its infancy. It's way too early to do offbeat episodes of the kind. Towards the end of the broadcast run, it's not TOO bad. As part of the first five as it was intended to be, it's nigh criminal. In fact, while Gideon and Matheson get some little bits of character development, the joke requires EVERY OTHER MEMBER OF THE REGULAR CAST to sit the episode. Say what?! What the heck was happening over there at camp Straczynski? Those character pieces offer some nice banter between the pair. Both are snarky in their own way. Skipping over the poop jokes, thank you, Matheson shows a bit more of his powers, while Gideon seems to be a little homesick and finds a little taste of home by the end of the episode.
And a taste of home is very much the theme of Visitors. The aliens found in a failing escape pod (not coincidentally made to look like a UFO) are wearing human suits, speak perfect English and from their flashbacks (which have an interesting black and white film noir feel), human offices. 20th-century ones at that. The premise is ridiculous, but this is meant to be a comedy. In an amusing reversal, the aliens accuse humans of visiting their world for centuries and pulling all the strings. There are gags based on Roswell, the faces on Mars, etc., and as it turns out, their planet is actively spreading these rumors to make Earth the scapegoat for any and all problems, lest their extremely paranoid culture starts waging civil wars again. That's as good a justification as any, and of course, a conspiracy to fake a conspiracy is fairly clever, but it's not particularly believable that they would transform their whole culture - fashion, technology, language - just to promote a hoax. There have to be easier ways. Nor am I too enthusiastic about Gideon's solution, choosing to spread the truth all over their planet. Yes, sure, it protects Earth from future retaliation if and when these guys become a full-on space power, but he should be ready to have civil wars and coups on his conscience. It's all done as a joke, but there's nothing funny about it. (Classic JMS.)
Of course, the whole idea is to poke fun at the X-Files, and if you know the show, you'll get your money's worth. The aliens have names that evoke Scully and Mulder's (or Duchovny's, really); the girl even has red tentacles on her head. The conspiracy guy pulls out a smoke at the end; he's the cigarette-smoking alien. There's a play on "The truth is out there", and a noticeable "Y" on the door in the flashback. I guess it's the office next door to Mulder's. 15 years later, this stuff isn't quite so biting. Good thing it works as a spoof on UFOlogy in general, with the characters looking like alien Men in Black. Still fluff though.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORMHOLE: See the featured quote for the shot JMS takes at Star Trek. Deep Space Nine winked at the X-Files too, in Trials and Tribble-ations, and played around with Roswell in Little Green Men.
REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Mildly amusing, especially if you're aware of the source material, but it's (again) way too early to be doing "offbeat" because we don't even know what the "beat" is supposed to be on Crusade.