The X-Files #240: Badlaa

"In my experience, dead men don't tip."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A crippled fakir comes to the U.S. in someone's bowels, then starts killing randomly.

REVIEW: I've always liked Scully, and I like Doggett, but I think this episode illustrates well what is missing from the series without Mulder. It's the new character dynamic that's lacking. The X-Files weren't really about the supernatural case of the week, but about the chemistry between the two leads. It's not that I miss the so-called unresolved sexual tension, but I do miss the humor and the banter. Early on in Badlaa, Doggett does let his hair down and poke fun at Scully's current knack for crazy theories, but generally, it makes him grumpy in a way that's dramatic, but not, as in the previous dynamic, humorous. Since she can't act the skeptic anymore, Scully's dry wit isn't served as well as it used to either, even when she brings in Mulder surrogates to bounce off of like Burke.

The flipside of this coin is nevertheless the best part of the episode. See, Scully is only faking her role as a believer, and everything she's been telling Doggett - about keeping an open mind and so on - is what she's been desperately telling herself. I love her breakdown at the end (to the point where I wish it were in a better episode), her realization that she really doesn't HAVE Mulder's open mind, and is therefore compromised. She needs Mulder there, and so plays his part, WILLS him to be there, but it IS an act. Not being allowed to be herself makes her even more unhappy, and in this case, incarnating Mulder pushes her to a traumatic action, killing what seemed to her a boy. She took Mulder's leap, but it cost her.

It's unfortunate then that the case of the week is so unfocused (as many of the episodes have been lately). The fakir who is murdering people - played by Deep Roy (Mr. Sin to Who fans, Keenser to Trek fans) - starts out as the X-Files' latest toilet monster, a man who crawls inside a fat man's bowels and "pilots" him to America, but that creates a red herring that creates unnecessary conflict between Doggett and Scully. Because once he's there, he's all about clouding people's minds to appear invisible or as other people. (And if Burke's throwaway line about fakirs shrinking to the size of atoms is meant to cover the first power, it's not a thought I care to entertain.) So two powers that don't really seem to work together and just confuse the issue. But his lack of specific motive is what's really annoying here. Okay, his son died in a chemical spill. Okay, he wants revenge and has turned his back on his ascetic values. But why kill these people specifically? At no point is it explained that they might have a connection to the corporation responsible for the spill. I mean, one of these is a janitor in a school. If he's killed just so the fakir can get his job, well, why does he need that job? Why place himself in an environment full of kids when kids can apparently pierce the veil of his illusions? Is he just killing Americans randomly because it was a U.S. company that wronged him? Why even come to America when there are surely Americans living and visiting India? It's all complete nonsense.

- Enlightening about Scully's attitude with Doggett, but holy crap (pun not intended), the mystery of the week is bollocks.



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