The X-Files #191: ...Thirteen Years Later

"Never believe anything you see on Halloween." - Reverend M. Goodman, October 31, 1985
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Killing on a shlock horror movie set mirror those of other films. KISS guest-stars.

Thirteen Years Later is amusing enough... for a Castle episode. But is it Millennium? The show is already straining to find its third season legs, and we get an offbeat comedy episode that exists just outside canon. Not sure that's a good idea. The eventual twist will justify all the liberties taken with the material, but as you watch it, everything seems a little off. Emma keeps calling Frank "Mr. Black". Frank himself spouts strange cop clichés. Guest characters are Hollywood caricatures. And for an episode that keeps moaning about how Hollywood isn't real compared to real cop heroics, it sure doesn't know how things are filmed either. This is a movie set as dumbed down in a movie. The KISS appearance is meant to be irrelevant, but then why is Frank flashing to their faces all the time? Yes, that ridiculousness is due to the way the story is told by a postmodern unreliable narrator, but going on the previous four episodes, they're mistakes the Season 3 crew might well have made.

Director Thomas Wright has a lot of fun with it, recreating shots from well-known horror films, starting with Psycho's shower scene. Tapping into the humor, he breaks format even more by still-framing the suspects and dropping graphics on the screen. The show's trademark act-starting drum beats are used on the actor playing Frank almost diagetically. It's fun. I just wish the Hollywood irreality had been enough for the script. If the characters had been themselves and not some figment of a madman's imagination, it would have kept its meta feel, and perhaps had something to say about fictionalized police work. And we could have kept Frank "gonging" horror movie after horror movie because the characters' motivations were ludicrous or plain. But none of it happened.

The way Emma makes Frank watch all those movies actually seems to say something about this third season. He's not interested in horror films, but she compares the murders to Millennium's pilot (eeech, don't compare yourself with some of the best of the show!), where he studied French poetry to get into the Frenchman's mind. Wouldn't you research this too? What I read from this is a move from the literate and, to some, pretentious, to the shlocky and mainstream. The show is now trying to appear to a lower common denominator and in the process, has lost what made it intriguing. Did scriptwriter Michael Perry mean to say this? Regardless, he did, and to an audience trained by previous seasons to read subtext.

- An amusing and well-shot episode where the audience gets "trolled", but the silliness doesn't really fit the program.



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