The X-Files #239: Salvage

"What are you saying, Ray Pearce has become some kind of metal man? 'Cause that only happens in the movies, Agent Scully."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A metal man is murdering the people he deems responsible for his condition.

REVIEW: Unbreakable had recently come out, hadn't it? While an indestructible man offers some nice opportunities for visuals - the car crashing into him, his hair like metal wire - the production doesn't quite have a handle on what the rules are governing their monster of the week. A car wraps itself around him like he's a telephone pole, but later he loses limbs from buckshot. So is he an immovable object, or just do the metal nanites in his blood just regenerate him?

But they could have made it work even with the inconsistencies if they'd taken the melodrama down a notch. Metal Ray is relatively non-verbal, and the actress who plays the woman from halfway house is good, but a lot of the other guest stars are playing it as arch melodrama. I just don't care about them or their situation. Ray eventually puts an end to his killing spree because he sees a kid watching, which is an enormous "I just now understood I'm a monster" cliché. As with Surekill, Scully delivers a cheesy reflection in the coda, and it doesn't even have the virtue of being right. Ugh. Ray's suicide (or exile, if he can't actually die) is a stronger moment, but by then, you've stopped caring.

I feel like I've been talking way too much about guest stars, and too little about the leads recently, and that's because the episodes don't center on them so much. There are some nice touches, like Scully being flippant as if to antagonize Doggett, the person who used to be her in the X-Files partnership. But then you also have her practically defending big business and mad science as if they held zero responsibility in the making of this monster (or his presumed death). Mostly, Scully and Doggett are the investigative tissue that holds the episodes together. I just feel they should be a lot more.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Some cool effects and a fair story, but the acting veers on melodrama and the writing on cheesy sentimentality.



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