Shadows 1×5: It’s a big bell with a big crack.


These are our "interested" faces.

This is the second outing for Morgan and Wong, though it’s ultimately not as memorable as Squeeze (1×2). Looking back, the episode spent too much time focused on the victim, Lauren Kyte. My understanding is that the network wanted to see Mulder and Scully helping people through their cases and this was Morgan and Wong’s response. Consequently, Mulder and Scully do more to help Lauren Kyte reach an emotional breakthrough than they do to catch the ghost. Fox probably should’ve kept its opinions to itself.

I have to say that overall, this is an episode I don’t have much at all to say about. It’s not particularly frightening, neither is it absolutely boring. There are quite a few humorous moments and some memorable side characters what with the pathologist and the graveyard caretaker. Scully starts throwing in the one-liners, which is a bonus. There’s also Mulder and Scully’s wild ride…

Part of the problem is that we, as the audience, know that the poltergeist is Howard Graves from early on. Mulder and Scully are playing catch up, which diminishes some of the excitement the episode should have had. Their investigation is sound, just boring because we already have the answers.

Most disappointingly, there isn’t much to observe about character development because, well, there is none. Mulder and Scully’s evolution is traded for Lauren Kyte panicking and sniffling. I suppose I can’t say there’s no character development. Scully does reveal that she’s an undiscovered actress. She certainly fooled Lauren Kyte. Mulder, for his part, if he isn’t angry at Scully for the charade, does seem a little disappointed that his partner would use Lauren Kyte’s belief to manipulate her. We all know that believing in ghosts is sacrosanct. Let’s go the positive route and say that Scully was trying to find a way for everybody to win.

At least Mulder and Scully learn to live a little… while they’re alive. This is the first time we see them just killing time together with Mulder’s suggested field trip to the Liberty Bell. Maybe they did learn a lesson from “The Jersey Devil” (1×4).

And the Verdict is…

Let’s just say the tone of this review isn’t negative but rather a little uninterested. I’ve seen this episode I don’t know how many times and still have the same reaction. Not that there aren’t some decent moments, but the story overall isn’t engaging.

Certainly the bathtub scene is creepy. It feels like something out of a horror movie. And like in Carrie, watching people get thrown around by an invisible force is always good for some fun.

Shadows does bear the lonely moniker of being the first, and maybe only real, X-Files ghost story. The later episode, “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” (6×8) was more of a jolly romp than a paranormal nightmare. Fun, mind you, but not frightening. This episode was influenced by the greats that came before it: Carrie, Poltergeist. In case we’re unsure of what the writers had in mind, the characters reference those films directly. It was a good attempt if not a rousing success.

At least we can be sure a truly platonic love existed somewhere in The X-Files universe.

C-

Bepuzzlements:

Why didn’t Graves exact his revenge from the beginning?

Who knew Mulder was a photographer? Why didn’t this knowledge pop up in later episodes like “Unruhe” (4×4) for instance?

General Observations:

Mulder’s first Elvis reference!

Scully in that green jacket and peach blouse… she looked like pumpkin pie on a Christmas dinner table.

During the interrogation scene, Mulder and Scully have his and her pink and black mugs. Hilarious.

Scully conveniently can’t get out of her seatbelt and so misses the poltergeist party. Is it predictable yet?

Did anyone else feel that Dorland was propositioning Lauren… just a tad?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I would never lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation.

——————

Scully: Psychokinesis? You mean how Carrie got even at the prom?

——————-

Mulder: You know how difficult it is to fake your own death? Only one man has pulled it off: Elvis.

——————-

Mulder: Hey, Scully, do you believe in an afterlife?
Scully: I’d settle for a life in this one.

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7 responses to “Shadows 1×5: It’s a big bell with a big crack.

  1. Emily Michelle

    “Scully conveniently can’t get out of her seatbelt and so misses the poltergeist party. Is it predictable yet?” Ha ha, so true. If there’s any way for Scully to avoid confronting anything like evidence for paranormal activity, the writers will find it.

  2. I am loving these reviews. Even on so-so episodes like this one (and even the so-so episodes are very much worth watching) I find it very cool to read this blog and compare it to my perspective. Since I’m posting, I will say that I largely agree with the review. I will just add that I found it cool (and refreshing) that Lauren was frightened by what her guardian-angel-ghost was doing, rather than unrealistically enjoying it.

    • Thanks, dude!

      And it is nice that they admit that the idea of a dead loved one sticking to you like glue is creepy and undesirable. Yes, I wish grandma were still with us. No, I don’t want her specter following me on dates.

  3. Pingback: 20 X-Files Episodes That Should Be on Your Top 10 List, but Probably Aren’t. | Musings of an X-Phile

  4. The X-Files was usually pretty weak when it played the traditional horror tropes straight, something season 1 did a lot of. One of my favourite things about the show is it’s versatility: over 9 years we got everything from comedies to body horror tales to new-agey medical dramas. Our villains have included everything from anthropomorphic worms to satanist plastic surgeons to nerd-killing holographic strippers. As long as we have our two (fantastic) leads, I can make room in there for the baddies we’ve all seen a million times before.

    I find this one of the better episodes of that sort (certainly better than Shapes, at least), though. The story is pretty rote, but it gets a huge boost from some great atmospheric music and direction; Mark Snow’s eerie piano score is fantastic, one of my favourites in the series. Like Ron Jones on season 1 of Star Trek: TNG, his music can make even the worst episodes worth watching.

    • I completely agree. Vampires, werewolves, your typical poltergeist… Season 1 tried both those were the episodes that typically lacked the most verve.

      P.S. I love TNG!

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