The X-Files #295: Ghouli

"Hope is not a fact."  
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A teenager who projects illusions might be Scully's son.

REVIEW: This episode pulls a fast one on us. It's called Ghouli, and initially gives us the maggoty corpse of a dog, a creepy disused ferry, and a slimy tentacled monster. It's gonna be one of those gross ones where the monster escapes in the end so there's no body to examine. I probably would have been happy with that. Instead, it soon becomes clear the monster is just an illusion and its victims just girls defending themselves from the monster (actually, one another). Meanwhile, Scully has a vivid dream that points her in that X-file's direction, and it turns out the girls had the same dream. From there, the mystery deepens further as the source of the dreams/illusions is found dead along with his parents. But faked his own death with his illusion powers, and he's a human/alien hybrid the DoD wants dead, and... Well, this thing sure has a lot of twists and turns!

The most important of which is that this psychic teenager is really Scully's son William. Well. The revelation is not incredibly well handled (it feels like we're missing a scene that confirms it), but more interesting is the POSSIBILITY that hangs over Scully's head. Evidently, there's a connection between her and this adopted boy just the right age, or else she wouldn't be getting visions from him. When he is found dead, she fears the worse, and we're shown a scene where she tests her own DNA. As with many elements in the episode, we're shown and not told things - one girl talking about the monster smelling of cinnamon and the other offering Scully a candy that could very well be cinnamon, for example, or the apocalyptic nature of Jackson's (William's) fanfic - we're left to put the pieces together ourselves. Then she breaks down, makes what she feels is the most inadequate of apologies; it's all quite emotional and well acted. Of course she is deceived, and the boy lives. False reality is a theme throughout, whether it's Scully's anxious dreams, the types of episode Jackson makes us think we're watching, or Mulder not giving his real name to his barista. Jackson's identity issues are also at the forefront, with  that big "WHO" in his room, and his interest in origins and legitimacy (as represented by Malcolm X being a personal hero).

In the third act, things devolve into action as the DoD agents make their move and for the most part shoot each other thinking they are others. Again, the episode manages some fake-outs. Scully wasn't just shot, was she? That guy she keeps seeing who delivers random wisdom, could he be the scientist we're told worked on the hybrids until he disappeared 15 years ago? In the end, he's William too, and the audience should be one step ahead of Scully on this point. They might even have left it ambiguous, but are kind enough to let her know. That there's audio on the gas station tape is naff, but it's a sweet and hopeful ending for Scully, knowing her son is alive and probably safe, and that she got to share a moment with him. If we never see him again, it's not a bad way to tie his story up, though I expect we will.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Emotional and sweet, with lots of surprises. There are issues with clarity, both in plot and tone, however.



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