The X-Files #56: The Walk

"Your time has come."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A phantom soldier is killing military personnel and their families.

REVIEW: We know about phantom limbs, so why not a phantom soul? Uhh, whatever you say, Mulder. Truth be told, The Walk has a number of memorable ker-pow moments and really good effects (Ian Tracey ISN'T actually a quadruple amputee?!), well handled by Rob Bowman, a director who manages to make even ordinary shots look amazing (tense close-up inserts, Mulder and Scully driving by the camera). But yeah, a man trying to boil himself alive, the swimming pool attack, a child buried alive in his sandbox. It's all rather harrowing. But it's something the episode can't quite sustain. Later attacks seem far less inventive, and Rappo's disembodied phantom becomes a rather simple outline in the steamy hell of the climax.

Rappo is the bitter quadriplegic Gulf War veteran who wants his superior officers to suffer, so kills their loved ones. The obstructive general you think will be the FBI's antagonist at first - and Scully is very cool handling all that; remember, she's from a military family - soon becomes more cooperative when his own family might be at stake. Not that it helps. There's a lot of raw emotion on the base, which makes sense given what's happening, but that's a polite way of saying the acting is frequently over the top. Motivated - the villain and his targets are all rather suicidal - but a little "loud", especially compared to our stoic leads. Duchovny proves you can hold the screen with simple quiet intensity, as he does in the scene where Mulder confronts Rappo, but not everyone comes from the same school of acting.

The cool effects and loud acting do cover up a number of plot holes and head-scratchers however. Mulder walking around with dental X-Rays, what's that about? Is it always part of his ghostbusting kit? Rappo's powers, how do they work? I can accept his ability to project a solid-ish manifestation of himself, but he backwards masking? And how is he keeping his targets alive? How is the boiled man resurrected? How is he keeping the general from shooting himself in the head? And speaking of the boiled man, how is he still working on staff at the base at the end instead of facing a life sentence for murdering Rappo? Nowhere near airtight.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High (but just) - The script has problems, but I can't pan an episode that had me going "Holy crap!" every so often.



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