The X-Files #179: Arcadia

"She's quite the new-ager. She's into those magnetic bracelets and crystals and mood rings, what have you. I mean, God bless her, she's a sucker for all that stuff."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Mulder and Scully pose as a suburban couple in a gated community terrorized by a garbage golem.

REVIEW: I was looking forward to this one because for some reason I'm unusually tickled by stories about people having to pass as Stepford-normal. It has its moments, but the A-plot is a little too outrageous for its own good. I mean, is it REALLY worth living in Arcadia Falls if the rules are that strict and any deviation, even accidental, brings the ire of a murderous garbage monster? A garbage monster given life by a Tibetan spell brought to the States by Gogolak, an overzealous conformity freak who runs the planned community like it's a cult, yet can't seem to stop new people from buying homes in the neighborhood? Beyond the premise, the show is vague about a number of its plot points - where Big Mike goes after he's attacked, just what makes the creature attack Gololak at the end, why there's a camera-like POV in Mulder and Scully's house when they apparently aren't being watched...

So the reason to watch this one is pretty much the comedy that can be derived from Mulder and Scully posing as a married suburban couple. Mulder uses it tease Scully, primarily, presenting HER as the UFO/New Age freak he fell in love with. She forces a smile and bears it, but when they're alone together, makes it plain she doesn't really have any patience for his faux amorousness. Sorry 'shippers! She has no interest whatsoever. Air kisses? There's also mild amusement to be gotten from their "at home" behavior, but these aren't too remarkable - the usual face masks and toilet seats left in the up position. Still, Scully's pretty funny in the way she calls him out on it. Almost makes me want these two to become platonic roommates.

Ultimately, that's not enough to salvage the episode. It seems like it has something to say, about tribal behavior in the modern age, about the anxiety of fitting in, about gated communities in general, about Victorian discipline and the dark underbelly it's hiding or repressing, but nothing really comes into sharp focus. Arcadia is content to play this as a light romp and a put down of suburban life (or at least, the gated kind).

- The comedy is fun, if a little obvious, but the monster of the week is less than remarkable.



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