The X-Files #197: Collateral Damage

"They'll screw you up with denials."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: James Marsters guest stars as the Gulf War vet who kidnaps Peter Watts' daughter.

REVIEW: After Frank's harrowing experience almost losing his daughter, it's Peter Watts' turn. A bit close to one another, no? Still, it gives Watts a chance to become sympathetic again. Terry O'Quinn gives it his all, as a man who hides his pain well, but does hide it. Watts is a pro, he keeps his distance, he doesn't even want the FBI involved since the Millennium Group investigates its own problems. But eventually, he breaks down, desperate for Frank's help. And something raw and emotional stays with the character from then on. Distance is the best word to describe the two men's relationship, but Frank still can't let a young woman pay for her father's crimes, which would seem to involve even more biological weapon experiments, these during the Gulf War. Frank makes a connection between the toxin given Taylor Watts and what killed Catherine, in a key scene, during a Libertarian-flavored radio talk show. Both actors get some good moments, and whether subtle or overt, knock them out of the park.

The piece's villain is played by James "Spike" Marsters, immediately recognizable, though at first hidden behind a surgical mask and a American accent (his own, but we're so not used to it). Taylor's kidnapping is violent, but her treatment at his hands may make you queasy. There's something about strapping her to a gurney on her stomach, not her back, that's vaguely upsetting, and even though all we technically see him do is wash her hair, it's a harrowing piece of television. All he wants is for the Millennium Group to admit to using biological weapons on American soldiers, and he gets it. Not publicly, mind you, but his worldview is legitimized, and perhaps that was enough to satisfy his pathology. But we never find out because Taylor snaps his neck. Here, I have to call shenanigans. Yes, Taylor's dad is ex-military, ex-FBI, and she does know how to protect and defend herself. We see that. But you're telling me that weakened by a lethal virus, she manages to get the better of a fit special ops Marine and turns his whole head around? It's a bizarre finale that seems altogether too fortuitous because it gets Watts and the Group off the hook. Now they don't need to execute the suspect and draw attention to themselves. A story telling necessity, it just doesn't ring true.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - A strong acting showcase, the ludicrous ending doesn't quite kill the mood.


Simon (formerly Johnny Sorrow) said...

It wasn't just a libertarianish radio show, it was cult conspiracy radio host Art Bell playing himself! His Coast-to-Coast AM remains a fixture of late night AM radio.

Siskoid said...

I just don't know it.


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