The X-Files #106: The Well-Worn Lock

"The cruelest lies are often told in silence." - Robert Louis Stevenson
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Catherine helps a victim of abuse bring her father to trial.

REVIEW: From a case in which Catherine participates to a case all her own. Now that the format has been well-established, the show can break it. And notably, Chris Carter wrote this one. Instead of Frank doggedly pursuing a case while Catherine acts as his support structure, the roles are reversed. She's assigned a victim of sexual and psychological abuse, even teaming up with Bletch to flush the perpetrator out, while Frank plays the loving husband and father, simultaneously acting as a contrast to the unhealthy, secretive home of the victim. Though they bring Frank in as an additional investigator once the father has kidnapped his youngest child, he's more or less another Bletch. He makes it clear earlier that Catherine can take care of herself and in no way is played as a knight in shining armor, nor Catherine a damsel in distress. In fact, after the frankly pretty cool action sequence where Mr. Bangs tries to run Frank and the cops over on a muddy road, it's Catherine who boxes him in in her SUV, at some risk.

Regardless of who is doing the investigating - and the absence of a murder precludes Frank's direct involvement - the theme remains the same. The world is going mad. The depravity is getting worse. And the leads bear sad witness to it. The family doesn't just have an abusive father, but a mother who let it happen and is now adamant the secret never be revealed. At times, it's enough to make you think there'll be a twist where the father didn't do it, but that's a red herring. Perhaps the script is manipulating us into doing what the forces in the story (city hall, the D.A.'s office, etc.) are doing, which is trying deny this ever happened because we don't want to think about the ugly truth.

And then the third act happened. One of The X-Files's greatest weaknesses is that it doesn't do trials and hearings very well. With this episode, I've got to lay a large part of that at Carter's own feet. It's like he's never seen a courtroom drama before - which is where his audience would have learned how the justice system works. So we have the prosecution going AFTER the defense. We have some very weird shenanigans from the judge, asking for Victims Services to hold the abused woman's hand so she can give testimony (acting very much like he's on the prosecution's side), just so Catherine can be on screen for the climax. And while I can believe the eldest sister would not come forward like her sister even though she shares the same history, the prosecution is really cutting off its own arm by not introducing evidence that the youngest child was born from incest. Where are the DNA tests that seemed like such irrevocable proof? That could all be forgiven if it didn't get so melodramatic at the end, but it does, and that's a turn-off.

- I love the idea of Catherine being the lead in some of these, but the episode takes a dive in the third act.



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