The X-Files #287: Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster

"We've been given another case, Mulder. It has a monster in it."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A jaded Mulder gets his groove back when he meets a were-human.

REVIEW: Darin Morgan is back to take the piss out of The X-Files, as only he can, and I'm glad they didn't use the fact there were only going to be six episodes in the season to justify not doing a comedy. Especially since Morgan's have been among the best eps of the original run, full stop. He takes the show's absurdity and plays with it, always amusingly, and sometimes impishly (Mulder's ring tone is the X-Files theme music?), never forgetting to also deliver a strong story, character beats and theme. He also writes the season's "monster of the week" episode, which is quite relevant given his first X-job was playing one. And his script is quite right. Those ARE among the most absurd, especially since the show purports to be about UFOs. Monsters are distractions, and their great variety, along with the fact no proof is ever left over from those cases, is quite ridiculous, cumulatively.

This take on the werewolf myth, having a primeval reptilian creature get bitten by a man and turning into one by the light of the full moon (played by yet another great comic actor, Rhys Darby, or Murray from Flight of the Conchords), with all the "human instincts" (clothes, language, bullshitting, getting a job, hating it, lying about sex, etc.) coming to the fore uncontrollably. It is SO silly, Mulder can't bear to believe it even though he wants to, at least at first. This is definitely a story about transformation, but it goes the opposite way of what's normal for the show. It's about normalization, if you will. "Guy Mann" becomes the most ordinary of men, but struggles to re-become what he initially was. We meet a transgender woman who has transitioned to her proper sex. And Mulder, over time, and discovering a lot of the X-Files were explained in his absence as mundane phenomena or hoaxes, has been "normalized" into someone who is now cynical about these things. As the investigation unfolds, his theories go from wild animals, to a creature, to a monster, and finally, to the inescapable fact that this is more absurd still. And only at the end, does he "normalize" (for him) and become the Mulder we used to love, the Mulder who expects and then does see wonders. He and Guy have the same arc. Becoming everyone's definition of normal, and then returning to their own.

And of course, there are plenty of laughs along the way. Morgan brings back his trademark stoners. There's a funny psychiatrist who doesn't take his clients' problems very seriously. Guy's story about a ridiculously horny Scully making out with him, which ties in neatly with his being a humanoid horny toad, bloody tear ducts and all (I played with them a lot during my teenage summers in Texas). Scully having fun and WANTING Mulder to get manic and gullible even though it doesn't help her believe in ANY of it. Her easy capture of the real villain, no need for Mulder's usual last-minute rescue (even though he attempts one). Mulder flashing away with a camera for the first time since the original pilot. Mulder doing both sides of his usual argument with Scully. Guy's apparently "instinctive" Hamlet discussion. The cheeky mention of Scully's immortality. And though a sad beat, I still want to mention long-time X-Files director Kim Manners' name showing up on a tombstone (he passed in 2009). In an episode where everything is a bit of an inside joke (the port-a-potty should take you back to Morgan's first involvement, for example), even the bad morphing effect looks calculated to make you smile.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: So ARE there jackalopes? These rabbits with antlers were created by a taxidermist in the 30s, but Guy mentions a friend of his got mauled by one. Well, given his power of BS and that his friend, likely a horny toad too, was named George... it's just one of his lies.

- Darin Morgan does it again. Hilarious and thoughtful all at once. Loved it.


Green Luthor said...

I *loved* this episode. I'm glad they were able to find room in these six episodes for a silly episode like this; this one alone justified the revival to my mind. (I usually like the silly episodes more than the darker, more serious ones (especially the mytharc episodes), although I also doubt the series would have worked as primarily a comedy. But as infrequent divergences, they just add so much to the series that I'm glad they were made...)


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