The X-Files #108: The Wild and the Innocent

"O Lord, if there is a Lord Save my soul, if I have a soul..." - Ernest Renan
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: A couple rampage across Missouri in search of the baby a killer sold some family.

REVIEW: Can there be Redemption in the Millennium universe? Can the innocence referenced in the title, in fact, exist, beyond the realm of small children? This episode asks the question, but the answers are up to you. The above quote, Maddie's child and quest being called Angel, her narration about the nature of faith... All seem to wonder if there is a God, a Heaven, and true Innocence. Maddie may be along on her boyfriend's crime spree, and that crime spree may be in service of her search, but she never does succumb, never does become a Bonnie to his Clyde. Her purpose remains clear, and her acceptance of the violence that's all around her is perhaps the only way to survive so near the Millennium. Her world is toxic - a deadbeat father, her mother's suicide, a serial killer in her life, and a crazy, murderous boyfriend (so TWO serial killers in her life) - and in the end, she chooses to let her child go rather than rip him from a happier home and family. Does doing the right thing on this point redeem her? Not according to the justice system, but in your eyes?

The episode has an unusual hook, with Frank and Watts tracking a killer who's eluded them before, but who we know has already been taken care of by Maddie and Bobby. To add to his crimes, this guy's sold her baby and possibly been involved in her mother's death. Not that the episode wants me to tell you all this before you watch it. The episode is built around the mystery of just what Maddie is looking for; all we know is that this rapist-murderer took it away from her. The narration usually takes the form of her letters to her son, though sometimes they're taking place in the future, where she's telling this to someone. At first you think it's Angel, later your realize it's Frank, who is kindly visiting her in prison. His fatherliness kicks in here, but the bond she has with him is surprising. Missing scene? Again, I want to say how the brief Black family scenes act as a contrast, but also shine with their naturalism, their play-time laughter never forced and always genuine.

Regardless, it's a slowly unraveling mystery that episode blurbs destroy, so I'm sorry about that. Hopefully, it's some comfort that my cursory prep for this review had also spoiled it. It sure makes it hard to watch Frank flounder for once and assume things like "Angel" is the girl's father. I do have one major problem with this episode and that's the "Wild" component - bad boyfriend Bobby. I mean, what is this guy's deal? He saves Maddie from being raped by a criminal and puts this guy in the trunk of a car. Then he shoots a state trooper, then anyone who won't give him information about the baby. It's hardly justified, and the kid can't possibly think he'll get away with any of it. His last gambit is to use the baby as a shield so he can escape the cops. Nonsense. He's not drawn with any kind of complexity and comes off as a one-dimensional psycho required by the plot but essentially rudderless.

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE: Though most episodes to date have represented Frank's flashes of inspiration as an almost paranormal postcognition or ESP, he spends a good deal of this one making false assumptions and even seeing images based on those assumptions (although that's ambiguous). In other words, we have the first possible evidence that his "powers" are merely a way to show his imagination at work.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - Perfectly watchable and structured as a puzzle, it does suffer from a flat "villain" whose actions cannot really be reconciled.

2 comments:

Madeley said...

Fair play, you're doing a great job of selling me the idea of a corrupt world degrading to hell in these reviews, but overall it does just seem like a slightly-grubbier profiler show, which of course are all over the place these days.

You mentioned in an earlier review that initially you only watched the first few episodes before not bothering with the rest, and I was exactly the same back in the day. It was buried at an odd time when it was shown over here, too, I think? Which only meant that it was easy to stop following (although I do have a vague memory that it was heavily-hyped at the beginning because of the success of the X-Files, but that tapered off pretty quickly). I have to say there doesn't seem enough substance in the show yet to suggest I missed anything by not persevering.

Considering the point you are in watching this show, if it wasn't for your X-Files project, is this a show you would have continued watching?

Siskoid said...

I've been told it changes tracks pretty radically from season to season, so maybe it won't stay a grubby profiler show.

But I'm really grokking it. Sometimes, when you do a project like this, you've got to dig deep (like when I had to go through 7 seasons of Voyager), but that isn't the case here. In fact, I spent the whole day yesterday watching and writing, watching and writing, and have up through Friday done. You don't do that when a show is a chore.

 

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