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.

1 comments:

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.

 

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