The X-Files #267: Daemonicus

"Sorry to disappoint you, but this is a course in forensic pathology. Hard science. An X-File is a case that has been deemed unsolvable by the Bureau, because such a case cannot be solved it may beg other explanations... a vampire, perhaps. Science, however, tells us that evil comes not from monsters, but from men. It offers us the methodology to catch these men, and only after we have exhausted these methods should we leave science behind to consider more... extreme possibilities."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: The agents are given the runaround by a mental institution patient, who may or may not be demonically possessed, masterminding murders on the outside.

REVIEW: I'm not a big fan of the Buffy look for X-Files/Millennium demons. It's a little to mundane and "solid" for this universe. And the script even makes a vampire slayer joke, which just calls attention to it even more. So I can't help but wonder if the episode would play better if the villain, Kobold (a less than impressive D&D reference), never wore the mask, leaving his true nature ambiguous, or as Scully calls it "uncertain". This is one of those "you're both right" stories, which in the X-Files universe also means all agents were wrong as well. You're pretty much with Doggett the whole way through, as Kobold is definitely pushing Reyes and Scully's buttons and manipulating the whole situation, but you also have to admit there's a supernatural element to this because you see it in action. That one victim appears to be masked does really very little to contradict the much nicer "mask" worn by Kobold, or the evil Reyes psychically senses. In effect, the episode makes Doggett pig-headed and the women naive.

Part of Kobold's ploy is screwing with Doggett's head, trying to ferret out just what made him join the X-Files and almost hitting upon it. Though the Internet is evoked as a source of information - and those FBI agents' lives are apparently on Newsgroups (stupid Lone Gunmen) - the episode actually plays it like Satan is whispering in Kobold's ear. But it's just as likely this is a cold reading, since he misses as much as he hits, if not more. Or is there truth to the idea that Doggett would have feelings for Scully? He's shown her friendship and kindness, he's invested in her well-being, but romance? I don't think so. The thing about his son is generally accepted as his reason for involvement, but that too is an incomplete picture. I guess the Internet doesn't know about all the Kirsh stuff. Reyes, for her part, is basically Frank Black and used the same way. She has flashes of insight, seeing what actually happened at the murder scene and sensing evil. The Millennium connection is further amplified by the reference to the Ouroboros, and of course, using a villain not unlike Lucy Butler. This is just distracting from what is otherwise a good screwy mystery with lots of crazy twists (some of which make sense), albeit one predicated on a super-mastermind predicting every little thing and like all such stories (note the overhead shot of a checkerboard floor), at times difficult to swallow. And speaking of swallowing, that's two episodes in a row that ends with a villain "drowning" and disappearing. Come on now.

Though they bring Scully in to do autopsies, it's lovely to see her get on a different career track as Academy instructor. She's now something of a legend, and everyone wants to talk about boogeymen, but she's a hardass no matter what. The intro to her course pretty much explains her loyalty to scientific truth, but now allows for Mulder's extreme possibilities. It's a nice mission statement, but one that allows for both viewpoints, for balance. That Doggett catches it and only hears what he wants to hear (that evil comes from men) is perfect for his character. He can achieve balance if he starts listening to Reyes, but it's more than atheism for him, it's denial. He dare not believe because of what it would mean for his son's case. That's hard to overcome.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - An interesting mystery, and there's a real attempt to explore the new character dynamic, but the episode is such a mess, neither ambiguous nor fortright enough. It too often strains credulity.

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