The X-Files #22: Born Again

"All evidence suggests that Michelle Bishop is Charlie Morris. Short of her growing a moustache, how much more apparent does it have to become before you accept it?"
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A murdered cop is reincarnated as a telekinetic little girl.

REVIEW: It's a reincarnation story, but it also about psychokinesis... There's one element too many in there, and consequently, the episode feels out of focus. With one small tweak, making the dead cop a "spirit" that uses the girl as a conduit, you'd pretty much fix that, because the ghost could have those powers. And indeed, there's nothing to say that's NOT what's happening, except for Mulder's theories and conclusions. But since he's a character we've learned to trust, that's kind of what we're TOLD the episode is about, which just shows it doesn't quite have a handle on its premise. It sometimes strives for something, as when Mulder pushes the girl's mother to have her go through obviously traumatic hypnotic regression, but never quite reaches it. Mulder is obsessed, but not so obsessed as to get him into trouble. So in the end, we're left with a cop drama plot that would have been solved with or without the FBI's involvement, and that's when The X-Files usually get into trouble. When Mulder and Scully are merely observers, our own conduit into understanding a story, but with very little actual agency.

A lot of recognizable faces in this episode, including Maggie Wheeler who was the annoyingly-voiced Janice on Friends, and several TV jobbers you've seen all over the place, and these characters sometimes take over for a little longer than we would like. When we finally get back to Mulder and Scully, they're poring over files. It's never very exciting. It's what I would call a daylight episode, with the usual dark atmosphere only coming in towards the end, and maybe that's part of it. I nevertheless appreciate the offstage violence in Born Again. The original cop's death is incredibly gory, and we don't see it... except in the dolls the little girl mutilates, and the descriptions of course. We don't need to see him get drowned in a fish tank, but knowing it happened, and seeing the last thing he saw appear in video snow, it has an impact. What we imagine is worse than what the show could ever show. Compare to the relatively tame, but still bizarre, murders we do see.

Ultimately, Born Again just seems a hodgepodge of concepts we've seen before (creepy children, possession, psychokinesis, cold cases) blended together in a different way. It's not bad, but it's really just an episode of whatever "mystery-solving thanks to a unique talent" show you care to name. At least, that's what it feels like.

- Watchable, but slow and slightly irrelevant.


Toby'c said...

This one stands out to me because the little girl's actor Andrea Libman is now one of my favourite voice actors.

Siskoid said...

That's right! I'd researched it, but didn't think it relevant in the body of the text, but she's been in all the My Little Pony stuff and was Maya the Bee's (English) voice.


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