The X-Files #299: Nothing Lasts Forever

"I will deliver."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A youth cult, a Catholic vigilante, and organ harvest.

REVIEW: The X-Files try their hand at a superhero narrative... almost. And that's really what's wrong with this episode. It's a collection of almosts. Lots of interesting ideas, but it never quite explores any of them adequately. So while the Catholic avenger in this story, killing an organ-harvesting cult with weapons literally made from parts of a church has value, the character is in and out of the story when she should feel central to it. Making that church the very same Scully frequents is clunky. The agents and the avenger they're sort of looking for pass each other without knowing, but this isn't a story about a fate. Or even about faith, if we're being honest. When Scully tells us why she believes in God, it's more a joke than it is a secret origin. The episode never goes the full distance. On anything.

The villains are yet another instance of the show teasing vampires - the one monster that definitely isn't real in the X-Files universe - which is fine, and while we have seen "mutants" who extend their lives by eating people, the dialog suggests this is a scientific breakthrough that could turn anyone into an X-Files mutant. Fair enough, but this sort of gets lost in everything else that's thrown at us. The woman, for example, a '60s sitcom star obsessed with watching her own show, for example (not that they do a particularly good job of making the show feel like it's from that era), or the building with the creepy dumbwaiter access, or how the cult seems completely zonked as if under mind control. Communion almost acts as a metaphor with the non-vamps getting blood mustaches from their organ smoothies. There's a song. What is the episode trying to say? What are the villains' actual powers (they eat organs, but also graft themselves to their cultists)? Throw in Mulder's failing eyesight, resonating with the "getting older" theme of the season, just to muddy the waters a bit more. For that matter, what are the stakes? In the end, everything is resolved just a little too easily. Scully falls several stories, but lands in soft garbage. The avenger's captive sister is fine, as if she'd never been grafted to an organ vampire. And the avenger herself, her job done, gladly surrenders to the authorities. There's too much going on, so they've got to rush the ending, and even bail sooner than normal because...

...because this is the before-last episode, and they have to add a coda that should whet our appetites for the finale. And this too feels a little limp. There's talk of their son, of course (as if we could forget), and Scully whispers something in Mulder's ear (because we can't ever ever confirm their romance), and Mulder throws a pity party about how he's the worst thing that ever happened to her. They talk about choices and consequences, as if that were somehow all that relevant to the episode. And while Scully lights a votive candle that immediately goes out, Mulder finally lights it again and... it stays lit. Way to undercut any sense of dread, guys.

- I almost rated it higher, because it's certainly not boring or anything, but the more I thought about it, the more of a mess it is. In the end, it just doesn't deliver.


Green Luthor said...

The town in "Bad Blood" (s5e12) were vampires, just not exactly what's considered the "traditional" kind. (They didn't have the fangs and didn't turn into bats, but they were supposed to be vampires.)

This wasn't one I'd put on my "watch again" list, although I'm generally not one for the type of explicit gore that the episode had a lot of. On the other hand, it did have Jere Burns, so it wasn't a total loss.

(And, of course, as would be obvious to any careful observer, as the next episode is the last one (of the season, and possibly the series), that can only mean one thing: Chris Carter Mytharc Episode. The graphic organ harvesting certainly isn't the most unwatchable thing this season...)

Tribble said...

When you feel like adding yet another year long review, have you considered adding one of the comic book universes? Both of them have become long enough to keep you going for a year. Plus considering your love of the Dc universe especially the Outsiders :)

Siskoid said...

Year-long daily reviews are probably behind me for good, but yes, let's totally do the DCU starting with New Fun Comics #1. I should be done by the third Millennium ;). I guess I have the One Panel feature for that.

But seriously, comics indexing series are still something I do - Dial H and Krypto are currently among the favored (not to mention Invasion!) - but I've found them a little dull to write (and possibly read) when I've done them on a daily basis (the Star Trek and DCAU tie-in stuff, for example).

TV shows I might want to tackle in the format still include Battlestar Galactica and for a lark, Buck Rogers. I dunno.

Tribble said...

Buck Rogers was a weird mix of a show and I was always interested more in its evolution from pulp to radio and beyond than its actual storyline. Though you would get to review daffy duck for fun......


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