The X-Files #11: Eve

"Abducted." "Kidnapped." "Pot-ay-toe, pot-ah-toe."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A cloning experiment breeds psychotic little girls.

REVIEW: The Shining meets Orphan Black when Mulder and Scully come across highly manipulative, creepy clone girls, and in fact, the episode's structure takes pleasure in manipulating the audience into thinking one thing's going on, when it's really an other thing. It starts with a man's exsanguination, which looks a hell of lot like it's an episode about vampirism, for example, but the truth is less obvious and more sinister. It's one of two cheats in the script, the other being the abduction of one of the little girls in the story which, from what we learn later, shouldn't have her in terror like that. That's for our benefit. Now, of course, Mulder thinks it's about alien mutilation because cattle have been similarly drained of blood in so-called mutilation incidents. Of course. I'm more interested in Scully who, faced with a medical mystery, is drawn in a much less matter-of-fact way. When a second man, thousands of miles away, is revealed to have suffered the same fate at the exact same moment, and that this man has a daughter identical to the one in the first case, the plot kicks into high gear.

The investigation leads to a fertility clinic, and then to secret government cloning experiments, and would have you at first believe that someone is erasing people connected to a new batch of clones. And then that the girls are working in tandem with older versions of themselves so they can get the "family" back together again. Their super-DNA does have an unfortunate dominant gene that leads to psychosis after all. But in yet another twist, the girls developed that psychosis much earlier than the original subjects and are little killing machines who love to poison adults (and then exsanguinate them, I guess), EVEN their older "selves" if they can. And once we learn of this, once we're ahead of Mulder and Scully in terms of information, the episode flips its structure around, drawing a fair amount of suspense out of the situation. Who would ever think little girls were the villains? So the agents trust them with their soft drinks and they can manipulate a trucker into helping them get away. They've very smart, but Mulder and Scully ultimately, and satisfyingly, outsmart them.

Obviously, there's something upsetting about killer children, and the unnaturalness of their creation is meant to literalize the unnaturalness of their actions. But while the twins who play these girls are sweet and creepy when they need to be, sometimes giving an adult look that seems off - and we may be projecting over what is essentially a performance by non-actors - it probably wouldn't work without an exciting performance by Harriet Harris as the older Eves. Eve 6 in particular, she plays as a female Hannibal Lecter, just as vicious and demented. You hardly realize she's been asked to deliver exposition. Top notch work, and the highlight of the episode.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Speaking of exposition, why is Deep Throat on this case? Does his government group have anything to do with the Lichfield experiments? Or does he just enjoy creating chaos for OTHER government conspiracies? Including him here keeps his character alive in the series, but seems hardly necessary. He's becoming something of a crutch for writers who need to get information to Mulder in the quickest possible way, and that's, I suppose, the episode's THIRD cheat.

- Cheating aside, a tense, creepy episode that keeps you guessing, with a stand-out guest performance at the heart of it.


Ryan Lohner said...

What really makes this one effective is the casting of Harriet Samson Harris. Seeing this sweet old lady actor threatening to bite off a guy's eyeball hits a deep place in my brain, and makes the reveal that her larger role actually is a lot closer to her usual characters an actual surprise rather than just the other shoe dropping it could have been. I've really only seen this trick of playing against an actor's usual persona just to head right back into it one other time, with Timothy Dalton on Chuck, where it worked even better.

wriphe said...

Thank you for "exsanguinate," my word of the day!

Siskoid said...

Haha, well, they use it on the show. I'm just parroting it :-)


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