The X-Files #171: Terms of Endearment

"Nothing but good thoughts. You and this baby are my hopes and dreams."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Mulder investigates a demon who hopes to father a normal child.

REVIEW: Bruce Campbell guest-stars in the X-Files' version of Rosemary's Baby, and though he's best known for giant personalities, he does a very good job with the drama here. Though he proves to be an abortion demon, he's also just an expecting father anguished that his offspring are plagued by his own genetic defects (if you will). His heinous acts hurt him as well, and in the end, he'll prove that he really did love the mothers of his children. With Campbell, you get some humor as well, and recognizability that acts as sleight of hand so you don't expect a greater evil to be involved. The nightmare sequences where the demon takes the baby are pretty cool (which makes the twist particularly fun), and Bruce's failure rate amusing, which helps distract from the fact the episode is about killing babies.

I'm starting to wonder when Mulder and Scully will be reinstated as the primary X-Files investigators. Mulder is currently stealing shredded documents from Spender's office, piecing them together and turning them into active cases. Which is funny, but can't possibly be sustained. Meanwhile, Scully is doing background checks on prospective federal employees. Again, amusing, but since she spends half the episode on the phone, the current approach isn't viable long-term. Mulder's harassment of the demon dad is cheeky, but it does lead to results, but he does get rumbled. Don't get me wrong, I like how it plays out in this episode, but it's going to get old fast.

The twist. The twist is that Bruce's other wife Betsy is herself a demon with an opposite agenda - she wants a demon child to raise, not a human child. The episode doesn't give a whole lot of background on this second couple, but I guess she knew his real nature, but hid hers from him. No idea why demons have to trick one another into having offspring. Before she flashed her eyes, the story remained ambiguous. The hallucinatory qualities of mandrake (which Bruce gave the women to induce labor) might have meant Bruce WASN'T a demon per se (even of he could drain the life force of a person away), but a disturbed mutant who kept giving his children genetic defects, and Betsy some kind of Satanic cultist who wanted a "demon" child (i.e. one with those defects) and killed her normal offspring. But we're in Buffy territory here (as with the Millennium episode "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me") where demons walk the Earth unambiguously and have their own crazy underground culture. At least it's kind of sweet that Bruce would give his first wife her soul back before dying (of sorrow?), but even his death seems a contrivance. Seems like his brother-in-law cop should have been pulled off the case long before he could shoot Bruce in cold blood.

- A perfectly fine dark comedy, but I'm wondering if The X-Files isn't distancing itself from its core.



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