The X-Files #118: Broken World

"Man is the cruelest animal." - Nietzsche
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Guy kills horses, moves on to humans.

REVIEW: Must be the new writers, because ugh, a serious misstep here. The hook is an interesting one, with Frank and Watts walking into town as a killer's evolving pathology is only now bringing on the edge of killing a person, but the horse angle is just about the only thing that's new and unusual about Broken World, as we quickly turn to some of the most obvious clues ever left by a Millennium villain and the leads kind of just following him from point to point. Nothing ever feels like a twist or a revelation, up to and including the taking of Claudia Vaughn, the county veterinarian. I don't want ALL of Frank's epiphanies to be opaque intuitions, but it diminishes him that we, the audience, can track the killer just as well as he can.

The obviousness includes the typical action finale, with the killer running after Frank with a cattle prod and a bolt gun while you think, "really? this guy is a match for our boy Frank Black?". There's a sort of strange equus ex machina at the end, so there can be a kind of poetic justice, and Frank can seem like a horse whisperer all of a sudden. The revelation that he "rides" so as an innate connection to horses is completely unsupported by the season that's come before (just like Frank contradicts his own behavior when he says his family essentially doesn't know what he does). It's not as bad of a cheat as showing an open human eye with a fly walking on it, and then having that person turn up alive, but yeah, it's not a strong ending.

Perhaps Broken World's greatest sin is the character of Claudia. I hate this archetype - the "activist" character that's essentially there to feel absurdly passionate about an issue, so she can spout statistics at us. This PETA advocate is grating in the extreme, and perfect for dropping exposition bombs that send Frank in the right direction every time. Lame. It's okay to be an activist, but to the point where your only topic of conversation is your Wikipedia of Horror, and you dislike other people because you assume they don't care as much as you do? That's a horrible TV cliché.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - The birth of a pathology is an interesting idea for an episode, but the writing just isn't capable of doing it justice.



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