Darkness Falls 1×19: It was gonna be a nice trip to the forest.


Duane Barry: The Prequel

I had a similar reaction at the ending of “Darkness Falls” to the one I had at the end of “Gender Bender” (1×13). “Gender Bender” left me overwhelmingly curious as to what kind of show this could be. What kind of writers would let an audience waste an hour only to not give them any answers in the end? Wasn’t the whole point of a mystery to solve it? Similarly, Darkness Falls had me wondering if this kind of television was even legal. There’s a rule, possibly written on a tablet of stone, which says that heroes must solve the crime and escape in the end by the skin of their wits. There was no escape for Mulder and Scully in this one. They just got lucky.

Paint me easy to please, but I love it when the action takes place is a dark, dense forest right out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. One can believe almost anything frightening in a forest at night. The dark claustrophobia reminds me of “Ice” (1×7) and there are quite a few parallels between the episodes. Mulder and Scully are stranded in the middle of nowhere, trapped like mice with a dangerous bug on the loose. Their companions may or may not be stable and there’s palpable tension within the group. Oh, and Scully can’t be too sure about Mulder’s sanity… though that’s every episode, really.

The tension between the two of them doesn’t last, however. After they let off a little steam they quickly realize they’d better stick together. And they do that almost literally. Before we knew it, Mulder and Scully have already started having conversations with their heads mere fractions of an inch apart. These two people just do it for me, I don’t know what else to say. Maybe it’s the way Mulder talks to her so earnestly and the way she responds; she looks at him with expressions that are so childlike, so trusting.

Speaking of trust, I have already contended that Mulder is a trusting soul, haven’t I? Well, here again he follows his instincts instead of his judgment by believing Spinney, the man of cartoon mustache and Droopy Dog eyelids. Maybe the eyes are what win Mulder over. Regardless, it’s very like him to store all his eggs in one basket without sitting down to check it for holes. Yet, once more, it’s Mulder’s instincts that save the day. Spinney did come back and if he hadn’t brought them as far down the mountain as he did, maybe the rescue team wouldn’t have found them in time.

And the Verdict is…

I remember the first time I watched “Darkness Falls” being shocked that Mulder and Scully were actually overcome by the insects. That’s not supposed to happen! As I said before, you don’t see protagonists defeated often on TV now and you certainly didn’t see it back then. That’s part of why I’ve always enjoyed this one. It’s not a hallmark episode, but it’s solid and it’s effective, which helps soften the disappointment I feel over the previous two episodes.

Also in the plus column, the little green mites aren’t overdone and so the special effects aren’t dated in the way that they could be. Not to mention, that cocoon thing is a horrifying concept.

A

Issues:

Why don’t the lights from the car save Spinney? They’re brighter than the light that was in the cabin.

Why don’t they try patching the tire from the start?? They could have patched it the second day and then driven out first thing in the morning on the third. Maybe those mites had started nibbling away at their brains.

For that matter, if Spinney could get out, they all could have.

On the second night, Spinney leaves the group to go to sleep in his own room. His own, very dark room…

The insects have spread out that fast? They can travel a day’s journey from their origin just to attack? If that’s the case, how do they know they’ll be safe if they just get off the mountain? What’s to stop the insects from following them further?

General Thoughts:

Interesting that there are actually two X-Files episodes (see “Detour” 5×4) where tree ring dating comes up as a topic. Whatever course Chris Carter took in college that left him fascinated, the professor must’ve been hot.

The fog in this episode is priceless. Anything a production crew can do God can do better.

I just finally understood that the “party favors” Mulder was referring to was a bag of pot. It only took me ten or eleven rewatches. But do you really want to be working heavy equipment while you’re high? That’s like asking to be maimed.

There is no way, no way on this side of Jordan that I would find myself cutting into a giant cocoon. What if there were baby spiders in there or something??

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Take a good look, Scully.
Scully: What am I looking at?
Mulder: 30 loggers working a clear-cutting contract in Washington state. Rugged, manly men in the full bloom of their manhood.
Scully: Right. What am I looking for?
Mulder: Anything strange, unexplainable, unlikely… boyfriend.

———–

Scully: I think it’s a male.
Mulder: Barely.

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20 responses to “Darkness Falls 1×19: It was gonna be a nice trip to the forest.

  1. Emily Michelle

    When I was reading your review of Ice, I was thinking of this episode the whole time. They’re quite similar: claustrophobic and dark; Scully and Mulder are isolated from the rest of the world, with danger all around, and have to rely on nothing but their wits and each other to get out. And they’re similar to me in that they’re my favorite two episodes of the first season.

    • Emily Michelle

      Also, sorry to clutter up this post with another comment, but the title of this post reminded me that I love that line of Mulder’s: “I told her is was going to be a nice trip to the forest.” He feels so guilty, and he’s going to feel guilty again and again in this show; almost getting Scully killed is sort of par for the course with Mulder.

  2. The glowing green bugs were and still are amazingly effective and the cocoon is tough to beat as well. If I were to make a top ten list of “most fun” episodes, this would definitely be at or near the top for me.

  3. Salome, you crack me up girl! I about fell off my chair reading the line: “Whatever course Chris Carter took in college that left him fascinated, the professor must’ve been hot.” Too funny!!!

    I always compare this episode to “Ice”. There are many comparisons between the two. Guess I’ve always been the type to like the original and skip the sequel. My instincts seem to still hold weight, because I still feel “Ice” is better. “Darkness Falls” isn’t bad, just not as good.

    • Hey, Summer!

      This is definitely an “Ice” knockoff, but in a really good way. Structurally and content-wise, it’s not as intense, but I dunno, maybe it’s the darkness of the woods and the “you can’t do that on television” ending, but it always wins me over.

  4. One of my favorites – I always get the end mixed up with the one where Mulder and Scully are trapped underground and are hallucinating. That was a later X-File wasn’t it?

  5. And Salome, I’ve been reading your blog compulsively for a few weeks now – excellent insight & I love the little tidbits & inside-joke humor. Thanks for stoking this obsessive XF fan’s fire! I have a soft spot for this ep – it was the first XF episode I ever saw, during its original broadcast in 1993-94. 😀

  6. Hahaha I too was surprised to see that lumberjacks smoke weed 😀
    I love this episode. One thing has always left me wondering though: What are they doing with that tire at the end of the episode ? Do they really have let it roll down the mountain just to find an exit ? o_O

  7. Still one of my favourite episodes of anything on TV. Love this episode.

    • I think it’s underrated myself. I thought these types of episodes were over, but I forgot that “Medusa” in Season 8 follows the same basic formula.

  8. Pingback: Medusa 8×13: Hot, sticky and crawling in the dark. | Musings of an X-Phile

  9. This is definitely one of my defining episodes along with Space. Both episodes scared the hell out of me when I was 10/11 years old.

  10. There is no magic like Mulder saying “we’ll think of something.”

  11. I love this episode. Also, can we talk about the fact that Mulder put a blank slide in his slideshow just for dramatic effect? “They VANISHED.” It cracks me up XD

  12. This is another one of my season 1 favorites. It’s effective, dark, suspenseful, and surprisingly hopeless. Like you said, they got lucky in the end. Otherwise, they’d have ended up as tiny green bug rations.

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