The X-Files #110: Loin Like a Hunting Flame

"Two souls, alas, are housed within my breast." - Faust
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A killer is giving victims drugs, filming them having sex, then posing them in death.

REVIEW: There's a questionable piece of casting with Maureen Murphy of the Millennium Group being played by Harriet Harris. X-Philes will best remember her as the evil series of clones from "Eve", a fact I was immediately reminded of when she shows up at a crime scene where a dead couple has been posed as Adam and Eve. Still, they could have brought back Lindsay Crouse, I suppose, and no one wants that. Maureen is a similar character, a humorless, stern-looking woman, but she's actually useful as an investigator. To the story's themes, too, given that she exposes Boulder, Colorado's resident sex crimes expert, Detective Thomas' sexism. Despite opening up to Frank in the later chapters, I don't think the episode ever redeems this jerk, and it probably shouldn't have tried to. He works best as an idea, as the other side of the coin represented by the killer.

See, he's as repulsed by deviancy as the killer seems attracted to it, and yet, they have similar back stories. Thomas couldn't satisfy his wife after working on sex crimes in L.A. for so long, a job that effectively destroyed his libido. He turned to voyeurism (pornography) to get his mojo back, but it only made things worse. The killer, for his part, is a severely repressed man who could never satisfactorily consumate his marriage, and is vicariously living through staged sexual encounters to replace his absent sex life and push himself to commit the act. He's attracted to others' lust, and his blurred vision transforms his victims into erotically-charged images before our eyes. From voyeurism, he moves to murder, freezing his victims in the moment of exctasy, something he plans to do to his wife and himself as well when the time comes. It's too bad all his poses can't be as elaborate and interesting as his "loss of innocence" was, reproducing a scene from Genesis. His "experimental" phase, puts two women kidnapped from a key party on a park bench. Very plain. Much better is the forced reenactment of his wedding vows by a couple about to be married. The pathology is interesting, if not always as richly rendered as that first murder.

Structurally, the episode is crafted to confirm Frank and Maureen's conclusions as they are made, never revealing too much too soon. Detective Thomas is more a foil than a help, making it clear from the outset that "squealing for help" wasn't his idea. He resents the fact that a woman has been assigned to the team, which prompts Frank to slap his wrist and defend the gender's insight - the ghost of Catherine here, and the only reference, however oblique, to her. But the way he treats witnesses he believes to be deviants speaks to an even greater dysfunction. That's why I don't think his sudden interest in asking Maureen out is earned - I much prefer to think he's putting on the trappings of masculinity to save face.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - An interesting mystery, returning to crazy sex crimes which are meant to be Frank's specialty, but the main guest-star is perhaps a bit broad.

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