The X-Files #79: Sanguinarium

"There's magic going on here, Mulder. Only it's being done with silicone, collagen, and a well-placed scalpel."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Witchcraft causes disgusting deaths in a plastic surgery ward.

REVIEW: A strange gory hodgepodge, this one, and filmed in the crappiest "hospital" ever. Even the sound people gave up on removing the nasty cheap echo. It'll turn you off plastic surgery, big time, with its varied "human sacrifices" disguised as gruesome medical malpractice. Never content with one modus operandus, the writers keep finding worse and worse plastic surgery deaths for their victims. Someone is liposucked to death, another's face is melted... There's the regurgitation of pins, and the use of leaches, and the villain cutting his face off, cold. It's the ickiest The X-Files have been in a while. But a coherent vision? Not sure.

Part of the patchwork quality of the episode is due to the various red herrings that keep the mystery going. Scully's side of the investigation would blame bad meds taken by the doctors as the culprit. Mulder has apparently pre-diagnosed the situation as demonic possession and jumps on the witchcraft idea almost too soon. We're led to believe the medical staff is part of a coven, but their secret meetings are just about covering their asses as a practice. Then suspicion falls on a certain nurse, and she IS a witch, but apparently practices white magic (leeches and all) and is trying to stop the real villain, a vain surgeon who sold his soul to the devil to stay handsome. Among his many powers, we find the ability to mind-control other doctors into killing for him, levitation, and teleporting medical tools inside a person's stomach. That's quite a range, and I dare call it random. So no, not particularly coherent.

The incoherence transfers to the story structure, in fact. In the climax, Scully runs into a surgical theater and stops the operation to save the woman's life. Cut to other stuff. When we come back, the doctors have saved the woman's life by... finishing the operation. So what did Scully do in that moment? And throughout the mystery, we get some pretty terrible clues, like software that morphs one man's face into another, apparently crucial to proving the villain's true identity. It's nonsense, and in this case, isn't really clear to anyone by irrational witch-hunting Mulder. I know the villain escapes, but I sure hope the X-Files reboot doesn't think it'd be a good idea to finally close this case.

- A lot of shocking gore, but that's sadly its best quality.


snell said...

Unfortunately, the creators seemed to think that the move to Sunday nights was a call to really up the gore factor this season...

Siskoid said...

How Catholic of them.

Madeley said...

Not to defend a duff episode, but in terms of the grab-bag of powers the surgeon's been granted by the devil (mind control, levitation, making objects appear inside people) it's at least consistent with the various powers that historically witches were accused of having (well, I say historically, it's still bloody going on in some religious denominations).

Personally, I've never been that happy with fictional shows treating horrific historical abuses of women during real-life witch-hunts in this way, i.e. "what if they really HAD sold their souls to the devil in exchange for black magic!" "Say, maybe that Witchfinder General was on to something!"

Siskoid said...

How long before the Christian Right imposes such a position on our governmental structures?

Madeley said...

Way things are over here at the moment, they'd appoint Matthew Hopkins as Commissioner for Older People.


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