The X-Files #269: Lord of the Flies

"This kid had crap for brains, the flies couldn't resist."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A teenager who can control bugs has it in for the makers of a Jackass-like show, including one played by Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul.

REVIEW: Hey! It's Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad in a role that could easily be "Pinkman, the teenage years". Unfortunately, he's in a pretty terrible "comedy" (I stress the quotation marks here) episode. Pinkman--I'm sorry, Winky-is the host of Dumbass, a rude amateur stunt show just like Jackass, that apparently plays on cable despite the fact that it's apparently made by teens after school, teens who use their stardom to bully others and who act like a kind of street gang. And nobody bats an eye, even after one of the stars ("Captain Dare") is killed on camera. That's just window dressing anyway, for the actual premise about an angsty teen who controls bugs, and like his mom (big twist and dumbass reveal) is part insect (she's played by Glee's Jane Lynch). Cue body horror, heads caving in because they're filled with flies, body lice and fireflies that spell out words, and so on. X-Files that make us quirm? Fine. But are you squirming because of the bugs, or because of the awkward comedy/soap opera?

As a comedy, you can sometimes see Lord of the Flies reaching for something potable - The Fly reference, for example - but most of it doesn't work. The extended "expert" joke plays for time more than for laughs. The character of Rocky Bronzino, the flirtatious entomologist (why not bring back Bambi here?) and hopeless caricature. Even Doggett's zingers feel forced, as if they were really written for Mulder. The episode is smothered in sappy music to make sure we take none of it seriously, and we don't, but that doesn't make it FUNNY. As for the teen soap elements, they're terrible too. Sentimental angst 101, one-dimensional villains, and a weird fantasy fulfillment with the girl finally falling for the killer freak who killed her previous boyfriend and who thinks of himself as a bug, literally and metaphorically.

Let's throw in an abrupt ending where we find out the principal/mom was in on it and her highly trackable escape with her son, and one of those overwrought Scully's journal entries that COULD be a parody of itself, of course, but really isn't. Yes, Scully's part of the team, but it doesn't feel right that she should be stealing narration away from the new co-leads, nor does this feel like a Season 8-9 episode given how driven Doggett normally is to get results. There's too little closure in this, especially the kind of closure Doggett can easily get (i.e. arrests). Was this script floating in the slush pile for a while, or what?

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Breaking Bad fans will be interested to see where Aaron Paul met producer Vince Gilligan, but this is otherwise an unfunny and unromantic teenage romantic comedy with bugs thrown in. I would definitely have to be dosed with pheromones to love this one.



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