Despite the fact that “Excelsis Dei” isn’t overly loved by the fandom, it is a shining example of how sophisticated the show has become since Season 1. “Shadows” (1×5) anyone?
That being said, “entity rape” is a hard sell.
This episode isn’t bad it’s just a little too grim and a little too obtuse. It suffers from the same syndrome as the two previous episodes: clues, clues everywhere but none that help me think. For instance, I wonder how many people ever pick up on the fact that Hal never raped that nurse? I certainly hadn’t. But we have to cut the writers some slack. They’re trying not to lose the famous ambiguity of Season 1 while still creating more depth in Season 2.
Here’s the plot rundown as I understand it: The residents at the nursing home are taking a hallucinogenic that not only has recuperative powers for their minds. It opens their eyes to the spiritual world. The problem is that the connection swings the other way as well. The more of the mushrooms that the residents take, the more the spirits have access to the physical world. These spirits are angry and bitter about their treatment at the nursing home and are eager to exact revenge using the living residents as a sort of conduit.
It’s literally taken me years to understand all that. I still haven’t figured out exactly why injecting Stan put a stop to the whole mess in the end. He wasn’t the only resident on those mushrooms. Maybe he was the only actual conduit? Who knows. I’ll work on that mystery my next run through the series.
What the former/dead residents are doing is so horrible and yet we’re supposed to sympathize with their vengeance. It’s true that their victims are no innocents, but the way they treated the residents amounts to little more than backtalk for the most part, not full-fledged abuse. They probably get the same or worse from their grandkids. It is a sensitive topic, however, and I do appreciate that in this episode the writers are giving what amounts to a homage to an entire generation. A very well-deserved one.
…And the Verdict is:
Despite its flaws I actually enjoy this episode. It has atmosphere, which I know is the default position of even the worst X-Files episodes, but it really does look and feel creepy as all get out. The scene at the end when the water overflows is like something out of The Shining. And the premise is good even if the execution is imbalanced. Tell me getting raped by a 90-year-old man’s ghost isn’t the stuff of nightmares!
Also, it’s good to see Scully take the lead on this one. It reminds me of “Squeeze” (1×2) in that respect; Mulder denies there’s anything to the case at all while Scully keeps digging. Not that she’s turned into a believer but episodes like this allow her character to branch out. It also shows that the writers are confident enough in the Mulder/Scully dynamic at this stage to play with the formula a little. A good sign of things to come.
Why did it all stop??
I love it when Mulder’s wrong. No such thing as entity rape, eh? Bah.
Isn’t it interesting how this episode acknowledges Mulder’s porn fetish right after we’re introduced to a perverted, if humorous, old man? See your own future much?
Hal Arden: You got to be kidding me. What do I think of her claims? I should be in the Guinness record book. I’m 74 years old. I’ve got plumbing older than this building. [Opens towel and reveals…] And it don’t work much better either.
Mulder: Thank you for sharing.
Scully: What do you think, Mulder?
Mulder: About the guy’s plumbing?
Mulder: Are you saying that the building’s haunted? Because, if you are, I think you’ve been working with me too long, Scully.