The X-Files #203: Darwin's Eye

"If you don't move on, you end, or you're ended."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: The FBI races after a girl escaped from a mental institution, accused of having decapitated her father. Emma's own father descends into dementia.

REVIEW: Millennium is ostensibly about the nature of evil. Darwin's Eye writes a new definition for that evil to place next to the others. From the cool speech at the beginning through the themes expressed throughout the episode, the evil posited is, simply, an accident. Cassie Doyle is said to have killed her parents, an incident followed by 7 years of silence in a mental institution, where she writes on walls and refines her pathology. Though she doesn't link the murders - neither her parents nor the orderly killed so she can escape - to his philosophy, it will eventually connect. She talks a lot about the accident of Earth's creation from gases and dust; about the eye which has evolved against all odds; and about the simple accident of meeting someone and falling in love. She also claims to be innocent and rants about a government conspiracy to silence her after executing her parents, and for a while, it seems legitimate. The final twist reveals she really did decapitate her father and two other men. But like everything else, that pathology is accidental. Incest and rape "created" the monster she became, and her actions are dictated by happenstance - the obsession with crossed palm trees is because she left her father's head in a motel room with just that sign, and so on. Cassie is never unsympathetic, even though her fixation for heads in boxes is right of Se7en (an acknowledged inspiration for Millennium).

And yet that doesn't mean she wasn't also right about the conspiracy. Emma, acting a whole like Frank, seems to be right about a connection to the intelligence community. The father's employment record seems tailored to spying, and Cassie has drawn images reproduced by her own father who worked in intelligence as well. Some of this is pure accident. He makes origami palms, but they're more likely linked to napalm attacks in Vietnam. But then, why was the mother killed with a gun, execution style? Was the father similarly killed, leaving his traumatized teenage daughter to chop off his head and make off with it? She's surely wrong about the men in suits coming to kill her, but some of that story has the ring of truth. Misunderstandings, accidents. The two agents even seem to have their wires crossed, with Frank flashing to Mr. Hollis' motivation, and not Cassie's.

It does mean the episode trades on red herrings, but only as far as plot goes. Thematically, there's no problem there. Emma's subplot is affecting even if it doesn't actually tie into the crime. It's necessarily hard to watch one's parent deteriorate, but the moment I found most effective is Mr. Hollis telling Frank, bluntly and honestly, that he's losing his mind. There are, in fact, a lot of great moments in the episode. Baldwin proving he's mostly just a sour-faced hairdo when a head drops on him and he loses his composure, even before the cameras. The music and narration at the top of the show. The strange romance. The fake out with the sleeping clerk. Okay, I would question how no one saw there was a face on Cassie's cell wall earlier, but that's a pretty small problem.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High
- Thematically, it sings. Plotwise, it tends to jerk you around. I prefer to listen to the singing.

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