The X-Files #278: Scary Monsters

"Your lack of imagination saved our lives."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: Leyla Harrison brings the agents a case involving a boy's rampant imagination.

REVIEW: Little kids see monsters under the bed all the time, but no one usually believes them except Doctor Who. And, it seems, Agent Leyla Harrison, back for a second round after partnering with Doggett back in "Alone". You'll remember her as the X-Files superfan whose main purpose in life was to give Doggett her (and thus, theoretically our) stamp of approval, and dropping references to all sorts of old cases. Well, that's once again her function in the story, and it's redundant to the point of tediousness. And really, the Doggett-Reyes team has been together too long, and there are too few episodes left to the series, for her approval to be at all required. So at the end, when she expresses her fandom for them, who the hell cares?

Not to say there isn't so perfectly good humor in this episode. Scully's daily grind teaching at the Academy is worth a smile, and Harrison's boyfriend, though a bit broad as a character, has some good moments. Showing up in the middle of the night with a dead cat then being forced to watch a kitchen table autopsy is a fair piece of black comedy, and it's fun to see his reaction to his girlfriend's obsessive fandom. If Doggett and Reyes don't appreciate being compared to Mulder and Scully (even they doubt their abilities in this episode), imagining this poor guy having to hear about dreamy Mulder all day. The car engine exploding with blood. Doggett punching right through the facsimile of the sheriff. These are fun and essentially harmless shockers that amuse more than they scare.

The plot has its intrigues, though I think the audience figures out that Tommy's imagination is causing the monsters to appear way before the heroes do. Unfortunately, Tommy has a weird turn in the last act that makes the whole thing fall apart. He goes from being a victim of his own imagination, to acting like a devil child who relishes the violence and actively tries to kill even the people he seems to love. That's not what's happening in the first two thirds of the episode, so is completely unearned and unjustified. Doggett's ability to disbelieve and his use of the kid's imagination against him is fine (especially once you realize he isn't acting like a madman), but other elements of the denouement aren't as good. Scully's big rush to get up the mountain is undermined by the fact it really doesn't look like weather conditions are bad, and that she basically shows up to provide a ride back down, nothing else. And the indictment of television as a way to stifle Tommy's imagination, ugh. Please. What is this? The 80s? So trite.

- Scary Monsters has a good horror premise, and the black comedy does work occasionally, but so much of this, especially the final act, is wrong-headed, I can't give it a recommendation.



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