The X-Files #169: Dreamland II

"You think being a man in black is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Mulder in Fletcher's body, Fletcher in Mulder's body, and then time snaps back and undoes everything.

REVIEW: Part II is definitely superior to Part I, but problems still abound. For example, Michael McKean's "once upon a time" narration, accompanied by home movies of Mulder (in Star Trek jammies, no less) makes for a fantastic teaser. Unfortunately, it wastes the conceit on this one sequence, which isn't justifiable in the greater context of Dreamland. Though there is some repetition with the Mulder-Mrs. Fletcher relationship, its use to create a paranoid farce when everyone converges on the same bar, is fun. And though Mulder fails to relight her fire, so to speak, the incident does lead to what is hopefully a stronger marriage by the end (except...). Back in Washington, Fletcher is using Mulder's body to woo Scully, but thankfully, she's realized he isn't who he says he is, and was just playing along with the seduction. It's an entertaining sequence that at first masquerades as something we've already seen (in Small Potatoes) and makes Scully look both smart and funny (she won't be called "baby"!). AND it shows us that Mulder indeed DOES have a bedroom, but he uses it for storing boxes and boxes of documents. This one reveal perhaps made Dreamland entirely worth it no matter what else I think.

Lots of other good bits, including the idea that Saddam Hussein (whom we'd seen in pictures in Fletcher's office) was fabricated by Fletcher. How he finds it hilarious that the Lone Gunmen are publishing his cover stories thinking it's the truth. "Grandma Top Gun" and everything she says. Scully quoting Planet of the Apes, "I'd kiss you if you weren't so damn ugly." The ridiculousness of the conspiratorial meeting/exposure of Mulder's source in the bar bathroom. Fletcher popping his cork in the bedroom. I think the bumbling music cues are a bit on the nose and rob the scenes of their dry wit, but as a comedy, Dreamland II mostly works.

As a piece of action/mystery/sf, it doesn't do so well. Mulder has way too little agency, and usually succeeds through sheer chance. He gets out of the previous episode's cliffhanger through no work of his own. He discovers who his "source" is because, on a whim, he tries to show his "wife" a good time, something he's been entirely reluctant to do since he filled Fletcher's shoes. But most egregious of all is that the tear in the fabric of space-time that caused this problem is undoing itself with no help from anyone whatsoever, which in turn undoes the events and memories of the entire two-parter except for its first teaser. So whatever we think Mulder, Scully or Fletcher might have learned, it's all gone. Mulder HASN'T lived a normal life. Or discovered the Area 51 guys are just UFO jockeys and don't know anything about aliens. And Fletcher HASN'T repaired his marriage. NOTHING HAPPENED and NO ONE REMEMBERS. I hate that sum zero kind of scripting, especially if it's not going to come with some sort of poetic irony. The notion that Scully nevertheless finds a merged coin, an artifact from the aborted time line, is fine in and of itself, but Mulder finding his apartment clean and renovated makes absolutely no sense. They aren't experiencing days of lost time here. The apartment from days ago should still be a filthy sty. Every time the production has tried a straight up, Trek-style premise this season, it's always come with a dose of Voyager-stupid. Back to the paranormal, guys. Please.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A lot of fun, but the deus ex machinae (am I doing the plural right?) cheapen the whole story.


Andrew said...

There's a pretty strong implication later on that one thing remained intact from the swap--Fletcher seems to have cleaned out Mulder's (ahem) document collection.


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 Class 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 FW Team-Up 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 Shut Up Star Boy 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 Streaky 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 Zero Hour Strikes Zine