The X-Files #224: Chimera

"Do you have a... a significant other?" "Um, not in the widely understood definition of that term."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: While Scully is on a seamy stakeout, Mulder investigates a monster with a raven familiar.

REVIEW: Hey, Chimera almost had a shot at recapturing the good old days of rainy Vancouver, but as the rain and sunshine alternate in a terrible mismatch from scene to scene, dampening a "perfect Easter Sunday", the shadows are often haphazard and lack intent. That could be said of the entire episode, from its messy structure to its ill-defined X-file. Its triumph lies in some very effective horror elements and a mystery that keeps the viewer guessing. But when you stop to think about the "rules" that regiment the monster of the week, or the intent of the contrast between Scully and Mulder's assignments, the cracks start showing.

Chimera sets up a suburban paradise invaded by a creepy woman from the wrong side of town, and perhaps not coincidentally, an obnoxious raven. From there proceeds an elaborate set-up that makes this woman the obvious villain, and once she is also attacked by whatever force is at work, on the Sheriff who was having an affair with both victims. On all three, actually, since his wife was also attacked, though she survived. All this sleight of hand to hide that cheery wife in plain sight. A dissociative disorder means she doesn't even know she's doing it, keeping her impossibly sunny reality intact. But doing what exactly? That's where the premise breaks down. Even if we chalk up the bits where she gets attacked to her imagination (seeing her other self), it doesn't explain why the dirty undead(?) figure is sometimes a projection (it's stronger than Mulder, appears and disappears out of nowhere, etc.), and sometimes her in a transformed state (the wound inflicted on the monster shows up on her shoulder). And sending her to a mental institution at the end in no way resolves the way her illness has manifested itself as a paranormal ability. So while the jump scares and frenetic violence are all quite good, there's something missing from the script.

Scully relegated to a tedious stake-out in a stanky room watching comings and goings at a brothel is meant to contrast with Mulder's cozy room and board situation at the Sheriff's house. There's some humor there, especially in Scully's dry wit, threatening his death, etc. However, its function in the plot is really kind of clunky. Her case is resolved in a mundane way because, at least thematically, it's become part of her world, and she makes a reference to a sheep in wolf's clothing pertaining to that solution. And from that, Mulder realizes the killer is the one person who really doesn't seem to be the killer. That's a stretch, and incredibly on the nose at the same time. Ugh. But I wouldn't part with Mulder calling Scully his atypical significant other, or Skinner giving Mulder the supernatural details of a crime through gritted teeth.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - A pretty solid horror story, but it needed another draft to get things right.



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