The X-Files #294: The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

"Believe what you want to believe, that's what everybody does nowadays anyway."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A man shows up claiming he used to be Mulder and Scully's partner, but is being systematically erased from memories.

REVIEW: Darin Morgan's comedy script for the season is, no surprise, the best episode yet, but it loses something from the fact that everything up 'til now has been kind of doofy too. Are The X-Files now a parody of their former selves? That implies a shared memory of what the show used to be, both in terms of content and quality, and a perceived nostalgia for the classic program. And that's exactly what Morgan is discussing in his layered spoof.

Cutting every so often to non-canon material - the parody of a Twilight Zone episode, a conspiracy video, Mulder's memories of himself as a young boy with his adult head pasted on his body, classic scenes with Agent Reggie Something inserted into the action, various memories that could not possibly have happened - the episode is heavy on jokes, but also on nostalgia, both for the show as it was and the things that made our childhood memorable - whether we remember them correctly or not. The X-file du jour is about the Mandella effect, the phenomenon by which we might remember something at odds with reality. It's perfectly normal, or it's a memory ray conspiracy, or it's parallel worlds bleeding through, or Reggie Something is out of his mind... The episode doesn't really give you a single answer, and the wild inconsistencies are just part of the theme. Or if it does provide an answer, it's that you probably shouldn't examine your nostalgia too closely, let it live AS nostalgia, because there's a value in that that transcends the truth.

The joke DOES get a little old by the end, probably, or else it's just the jokeyness that does. I don't know about you, but I hate the Trump regime so much, I can't even stand references to it in media. I know you can't tell a contemporary story and completely avoid the one thing people continually talk about, but in this case, it's a reality I'd be glad to escape. Cheap shots about Trump or Ted Cruz just don't amuse me anymore. Nor do Uranus jokes, for the record. Still, the ending does reward the viewer with a cheesy alternate take on a "series finale", and a wry question mark through Skinner's late-game participation.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - There's so much packed in here, you can take some and leave some, and still find your due.



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