We open with a family that appears to be having some issues. At first you think it’s another case of a man dissatisfied with his life, his family, his career. That is until you see the maggots in his bowl of cereal. Once again, The X-Files does a wonderful job of playing with our presumptions.
Also in true X-Files fashion, it takes the familiar Zombie legend and legitimizes it with science. Here’s an idea that you dismissed as a kid made intelligent, even feasible. With that said, you have to keep in mind that “Fresh Bones” has to be experienced, not understood. It’s not the plot that’s gripping, it’s the idea, the suggestion. This is an episode that’s truly supposed to be watched.
Isn’t all TV supposed to be watched, you say? Well, for this episode, the visuals are all one has to hold on to. It’s certainly not the acting and, as I mentioned, not the writing. Instead it’s the camera angles, the frightening images that it burns into your retinas. And I’m not knocking that. In this case it’s sufficient for entertainment.
Whatever you may think of the story, the production is top notch even after all these years. Already the most recent episodes are so much more polished than they were even at the beginning of the season. Just compare these last three episodes to “Little Green Men” (2×1), “The Host” (2×2), and “Blood (2×3).” It isn’t just that the subject matter is more shocking, it’s the direction, the acting (for the most part). They’re getting the hang of this thing.
One thing I had forgotten about over the years is how often crossover took place between the mythology and the stand-alone episodes in these early seasons. It doesn’t always make sense. Why would X go all the way to North Carolina just to tell Mulder that guards were abusing refugees? Doesn’t he have aliens, green ones, to exterminate? I smell an unnecessary plot device.
…And the Verdict is:
This episode doesn’t have very many fans and while I personally like it, I can understand why that is. We’re not left with many resolved questions in the end and it falls prey to Season 2’s An Excess of Red Herrings Syndrome. The plot is at points too mysterious for it’s own good. And there’s some political rhetoric thrown in which I confess I don’t fully understand because I was too young to know about what was happening at the time in regards to refugees. But for me, it walks that fine line of leaving the audience with questions and yet giving them a satisfying resolution. No, I don’t know what all went down but I know that Wharton was behind it. Watching him receive his comeuppance is enough.
There’s an abundance of striking images that are hard to forget. Maggots in the cereal, Wharton buried alive, bleeding meat, the dog’s corpse, and of course, a man digging his way out of Scully’s hand. That was a straight-up horror moment right there. In fact, it’s best to think of this episode as a horror film in miniature. Do you complain about the lack of a plot in Nightmare on Elm Street? No. It wasn’t made to have a plot. Take it for what it is.
Me, I’m just loving that The X-Files has reached the point where you can tune in every week and know that you’re going to see something freaky.
What secret was Wharton looking for? The secret to immortality or something? Was he trying to bring Bouvier back from the grave? You’d think he’d know better than to resurrect a man he murdered. That doesn’t a happy reunion make.
Last we left off with X, he had warned Mulder that the men who took Scully would be at his apartment that night and claimed that they couldn’t see each other again for several weeks. Why did Mulder think that would be the end of their relationship? Because he didn’t take X up on his offer but instead went to the hospital to be with Scully? How did Mulder interpret that vague calling card so easily?
Scully’s a doctor. She knows about infections and she would know to get that wound checked out. Not only that, but with all this talk about poisons and toxins she’d be even more on the alert. Instead, she rubs her hand idly and ignores the obvious. But as long as it gives us an excuse to have that scene in the car where Scully goes all wild-eyed, I’m cool.
Scully is way too obvious when she looks out the window after Mulder tells her they’re being followed. Where’s that covert training, G-Woman?
Rob Bowman was probably capable of making even the most ridiculous episode fun to watch.
An X-Files episode in New Orleans would have been an utterly awesome match made in Heaven. The Skeleton Key meets Silence of the Lambs.
Scully: [On finding a bag of frogs] Maybe I should kiss a few and find out if one is Guttierez.
Colonel Wharton: I’m sorry. I’m having my breakfast.
Mulder: That’s alright. We already ate.