The X-Files #282: Sunshine Days

"I think I'm finally gettin' the hang of this job!"
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Scully, Doggett and Reyes find a man obsessed with The Brady Bunch who has extraordinary mental powers.

REVIEW: I'm afraid I've never really watched The Brady Bunch, so a lot of this episode's nostalgia is lost on me. And with all that mytharc stuff to wrap up, having them throw a kooky romp in the penultimate slot is, shall we say, frustrating. But yeah, if you watched The Brady Bunch, then seeing the set again, half-glimpsing the characters (or look-alikes, if indeed, they look alike), and Reyes' intense fandom about the show will probably be fun for you. Mileage may vary. Me, I'm with Doggett. I don't get it, and it's his incomprehension I empathize and laugh with. But Scully, Reyes and even Skinner being played as "this is the proof we need!" levels of giddy is rather broad, bordering on the goofy. And when it invariably doesn't pan out, we go to sentimental schmaltz about "proof of things more important than the supernatural", a line that seems to think human kindness has been the theme of the show all along; it really hasn't.

I do understand that, at the end here, writer-director Vince Gilligan is using The Brady Bunch as a stand-in for The X-Files. All shows are eventually put out to pasture, and the lucky ones are fondly remembered, continue to accumulate fans in secondary markets, etc. But like the lonely super-psychic who manifests the Brady house, fans have to learn to let go too. All good things and all that jazz. Sunshine Days is a reminder that television can be good, but should be a shared experience, because real human contact is more important than these fictions they make for us. And all's that well and good, though it might be a little better if the show hadn't pulled the "character as stand-in for the fans" trope a number of times before. Still, in execution... The leads aren't just extra-naive, but also seem to forget the monster of the week has killed two people already. Just because they took the sting off those deaths by turning them into cartoons doesn't mean they didn't happen. Let's cool it with the Nobel Prize talk, okay? And the relationship between the stunted Oliver and the paranormal psychologist? It's meant to be sweet, and it is, but it may come off as creepy too.

But it's not entirely a wrong choice for the penultimate episode. Yes, they could and probably should have spent the time buttoning up mytharc elements, but Sunshine Days is a more symbolic pay-off. You have even Skinner believing in the supernatural, and saying they'll never close down the X-Files now. Amusingly, this isn't greeted by cheers, but by awkward smiles. The characters will never be free of this show (proof of that coming late January), and perhaps "changing everything" isn't a good idea. But for a few moments, the believers have their day, and finally realize there doesn't need to BE proof. Haven't we seen enough over the past 9 years? Isn't that proof enough even if no one else believes? We know we're right. And on a more personal level, Reyes and Doggett hold hands, a closeness leading out of the previous episode. If you wanted a feel-good ending, this may be it. I don't know what the finale actually has in store.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-Low - Though I can obviously write a defense of the episode, too many elements completely misfire to deserve an endorsement.



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