The X-Files #71: Quagmire

"All this driving from crime scene to crime scene is giving me highway hypnosis. Close down the lake."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A prehistoric lake monster eats Scully's dog.

REVIEW: At its core, Quagmire is Jaws, or I guess Lake Placid, with coniferous British Columbia doing a bad imitation of Georgia. A Nessie-type monster called Big Blue is reputed to be eating the locals, leading to repetitive attack sequences and lots of gory body parts floating up the lake. The "colorful" small town yokels inhabiting the story are rather drab, the monster turns out to be a mundane alligator with an absurdly prodigious appetite, and the final shot of the real Blue is a telegraphed and expected cliché. Forever remembered as "the one where they kill Scully's dog", even that element seems a little harsh, no matter how annoying Queequeg might have been.

But it probably wouldn't have happened at all if maverick humorist Darin Morgan hadn't been asked to punch up the script. His fingerprints are all over this thing. Along with Queequeg, we see the return of his stoners from War of the Coprophages, licking frogs this time, though don't ask me what they're doing in Georgia. His trademark self-deprecating humor is in there too, with some fun bits as Mulder does his best Chief Brody impression, the leads getting trapped on an island after their boat sinks and not realizing it's five shallow steps from the shore, a duck almost getting shot, the interesting detail about finding floating bodies with their pants unzipped, and many jokes besides (some motivated by Mulder's need to distract a grieving Scully, some by Morgan's need to entertain the audience). But these are hung on an ill-conceived skeleton of a story; nothing can change that.

The one scene that almost approaches greatness is the extended conversation between Mulder and Scully on the island. She's discouraged, she's just lost her dog to Mulder's hare-brained quest, and she's dropping truth bombs. Equating Mulder to Ahab is all a little on the nose, but his response is appropriate. To him, something like Big Blue, while wholly unnecessary to what she calls his "maniacal cosmology", is a tangible thing, more easily proven than UFOs and Conspiracies. If Big Blue (or the Jersey Devil, or Big Foot, or ghosts) exists, then there's hope that unexplained phenomena isn't just a product of overactive imaginations and folk tales. It's a comfort to him. Morgan understands the characters' dynamic quite well too. Though Mulder causes Scully a lot of stress, he's also throwing jokes to get her mind off things, and plays along with her explanation of Moby Dick, even though he's got a favorite quote from the book tucked and ready. His unacknowledged caring for her mental well-being and veiled avowal of his own nuttiness are just about the only subtle things in the episode though.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium, but barely - Darin Morgan to the rescue. Stay for the jokes and character moments, tune out for the monster of the week.


googum said...

I really love Mulder's Ahab speech this one. Thanks to you, I've been revisiting some episodes lately, and this episode may be next.

Siskoid said...

Oh I'm happy to hear that! I like to know I'm somehow watching the show with other people.

(Most of my entourage is too squeamish for The X-Files, unfortunately.)


Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zine