Schizogeny 5×9: Talk about puttin’ down roots.


It's kinda like Children of the Corn except... not.

Here we have an X-Files episode about some emotionally disturbed teens in control of the forces of nature. Sound familiar? It should. It has strong similarities to Season 3’s “D.P.O.” (3×3).

Here we have an X-Files episode where a single and socially isolated woman unwittingly channels the personality and desires of an evil male ancestor, so much so that she even takes on his voice and perpetrates his crimes. Sound familiar? It should. It has strong similarities to Season 2’s “Aubrey” (2×12).

In case this hasn’t already clued you in, “Schizogeny” is an exercise in The X-Files By the Numbers. Mind you, there’s no disparagement when I say that because there’s nothing at all wrong with a tried and true X-File. The problem is that with this one, someone forgot Number 10: The Plot Makes Coherent Sense.

Sure, for a hot minute we think there might actually be something interesting going on. But the plot quickly melts into a mishmash of teenage angst, ghostly possession and sentient plants. Throw in issues of child abuse, a mental health practitioner projecting their own issues onto their patients and some Daddy complexes and now we have ourselves an unfocused jumble of ideas.

Even with its complexity against it, I think if Karin Matthews’ character had been a bit more fleshed out the episode might have pulled through. My natural instinct to compare Karin to B.J. Morrow in “Aubrey” doesn’t come out in her favor. You can feel the conflict within B. J. Morrow that makes her sympathetic while Karin Matthews is an emotional blank. I realize she’s a psychiatrist and she’s supposed to have control over her feelings, but I don’t sense any depth of character with her, there’s nothing going on under the surface.

To compare “Schizogeny” with something outside of The X-Files realm, there are also echoes of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho here, only instead of a mummified Mummy in the cellar, it’s Daddy Dearest who’s been preserved in the dark recesses of a creepy old house. And where Janet Leigh’s character overhears Norman Bates argue with his “mother” in Psycho, Lisa is kept awake listening to Karin Matthews’ long deceased father verbally humiliate her. In fact, the more I think about it, the more this episode comes off as a well-intentioned homage to Hitchcock. The X-Files certainly makes an excellent backdrop to attempt Hitchcock’s style.

But style is about all “Schizogeny” has going for it since there’s no substance. There really isn’t much going on in this episode of interest, and consequently, there isn’t much to discuss. So I’ll take this opportunity to wax analytical instead.

Mulder: Hey, Scully, is this demonstration of boyish agility turning you on at all?

Listen up, fellas, because I have a theory and I’m sticking to it: Mulder was Scully-crushing Season 5. Think I’m wrong? I’m not. And the beginning of Season 6 will prove me right.

Chris Carter may not have intended it, David Duchovny may not have meant it, the writers may not even have purposed it, but television has to be accepted as the sum total of what we as the viewers end up seeing. And after all the editing is said and done, the overall impression is that Mulder harbors some feelings for Scully in Season 5 that edge ever so perceptibly away from the platonic.

I know, I know, Mulder’s always been a flirt. But his jokes have an edge of earnestness to them now that, in my opinion, they didn’t have before. Take the above quotation, for instance. Sure, Mulder might’ve teased her with something like that in Seasons 3 or 4. But this time Mulder doesn’t just flippantly throw this line out there, he actually looks down to make sure Scully’s paying attention, as if to say, “Well, is it?” I realize that’s a small moment but try adding it to the next several episodes in particular and it starts to equal something more than merely playful.

Not that I’m about to advocate the fantasy of some dime store romance style piece of fanfic that would lead you to believe Mulder is crying in his Wheaties every morning wishing Scully would finally notice him, I’m just saying that Mulder’s heart is more obviously on his sleeve this season when it comes to Scully, that’s all. After that cancer scare coupled with the loss of all he believes in, who could blame him? Scully’s the last thing he has left.

Verdict:

I don’t hesitate to say “Schizogeny” is the nadir of Season 5. It’s noticeable even in the middle of a streak of so-so episodes. But unlike episodes like “Teso Dos Bichos” (3×18) that implode in a blaze of glory or episodes like “3” (2×7) that inspire righteous indignation, “Schizogeny” commits no grave sin outside of being plain old boring. There’s nothing memorable going on here one way or the other. I could wish that it were either hot or cold but being lukewarm I just want to spit it out. Like most other lackluster episodes, it’s forced to rely on the failsafes of Mulder/Scully banter and The X-Files’ gorgeous cinematography.

Underneath it all I believe there’s supposed to be a message here about the cycle of abuse, but the plot connections are so tenuous that it’s hard to take any social commentary seriously. Worse, it’s hard to side with these kids and fault the parents when all I want to do is reach through the screen myself and give Bobby a good slap.

D+

Here nor Theres:

The shots of the bare, wintry orchard are so lovely I could wish it had been used as the backdrop to a better episode.

There’s a joke in here somewhere about psychologists needing psychologists, I just can’t seem to find it.

Interestingly enough considering the parallels this episode has to “Aubrey”, Sarah-Jane Redmond who plays Karin Matthews appeared in that episode as well.

If that weren’t enough, the actress who plays Lisa’s Aunt played Darin Peter Oswald’s mother in “D.P.O.” At this point, it’s almost creepy.

Even the title of this episode is obtuse. “Schizogeny” isn’t a word, but “Schizogony” refers to the asexual reproduction of protozoans. Maybe the substitute of “geny” is a reference to “progeny” since this episode is all about the difficulties of parent-child relationships?

The Creepy Woodsman red herring is a little overdone. Scully backs away from him one too many times and it feels forced.

Factiod: “Scully’s line about the town getting ‘400 inches of rain a day’ is a reference to a comment David Duchovny jokingly made about Vancouver during his appearance on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, getting himself into a lot of hot water with the people of Vancouver. ‘Now that’s a bit of an exaggeration, don’t you think?’ was a perfect comeback by Mulder, given the circumstances.” http://cleigh6.tripod.com/CTP/CTP-schizogeny.html

Best Quotes:

Mulder: All that came out of his stomach?
Scully: Most of it. The small amount in his lungs is what killed him.
Mulder: Is it possible that he took the term “mud pie” literally?

———————

Mulder: Then how did the victim swallow 12 pounds of this stuff?
Scully: Well, when you fight for air a vacuum is created and maybe once he sucked down a mouthful of mud it turns his esophagus into a siphon. And with his head pushed down it filled all his passages like a gas can.
Mulder: [Grins and nods in amusement]
Scully: [Sheepishly] Well, you asked me for answers. These are the best ones I’ve got.

——————–

Scully: His mother says that Bobby can’t make friends. He’s been in therapy for his anger since 1995.
Mulder: That could be me.

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22 responses to “Schizogeny 5×9: Talk about puttin’ down roots.

  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly here Salome, definitely the weak spot of season five, the thing that annoys me more than anything about this one are two fold. One, it’s got Sarah Jane Redmond in it playing a disturbed woman, which given that she plays a similar recurring character in Millennium, should be a sign of good things, and whilst she does pretty well here, it never works as well as it does in The X Files’ sister series. Second, after five years of creepy, dark forests, the one episode of The X Files that decides to put that wonderful Vancouver atmosphere to the forefront of an episode ends up being a disappointment. It’s a shame.

    • I had heard that Sarah Jane Redmond was in Millennium and was pretty could, which only makes Schizogeny even sadder. But like you said, the greatest tragedy of all is the waste of a perfectly gloomy set of trees.

  2. I agree with you – their relationship changed in season 5. I think it was the cancer. I know it was, in fact. Now, like you said, I am not sure if it has to do with CC or DD or other crew, or just the natural order of things. I think (or I like to think, anyway) that their relationship built up, seasons 1-4, heavy on the angst of 3 and 4, and I think it becomes…. clearer, we’ll say, to Mulder. To Scully too, though she’s proven with this Emily arc that she’s in this “I am an island” phase at the mo. Whatever. It’s there. We all see it. My disk won’t play this episode so I’m not going to dig around trying to find it. Moving on. 🙂

  3. I won’t disagree with a thing you’ve said; the only reason I ever really rewatch this ep is for, “Hey, Scully. Is this demonstration of boyish agility turning you on at all?” That’s it. And I think that’s enough.

  4. Haven’t seen this episode in forever, and since it’s completely unmemorable, I can recall very little of it. I remember one thing that annoyed me: Mulder and Scully didn’t seem to have any reason to be investigating the case. The death at the beginning wasn’t especially paranormal, nor was a federal offense committed.

  5. I enjoyed this episode mainly because of Sarah Jane Redmond’s character. She had a lot of eerie similarities with this character as in her Millennium’s Lucy Butler (which, if you haven’t seen them, are just downright freaky mind trips). For a while there, I thought maybe they WERE the same character. I liked the dual-personality psycho-esque feeling. I agree, though, I didn’t understand at all the involvement of the Trees..that was like totally explainable..unless I missed something.

    Ugh, again with the Scully/Mulder romantic crap. Give it a rest, you’re forcing it and making it artificial. Just relax and ease it in 😉

    • I’m an unapologetic shipper so there are no apologies.

      But, no, I’ve really always thought that. And there really isn’t anything about this episode that’s more interesting than that one funny moment, so…

  6. LMAO @ “Mulder crying on his Wheaties every morning wishing Scully would finally notice him”

  7. I can’t believe I didn’t make the psycho connection! I’m embarrassed, truly. They did an homage to the birds in zero sum that was really cool. and in last night’s episode (founder’s mutation) with the birds also made me think of hitchcock immediately

    • Definitely! I wonder what kind of magic bird feed they used to harness all that fowl for Founder’s Mutation…

      • bad things happen when the birds gather is my new favorite line

        • I feel like this is one of those lines I’m going to be able to break out whenever, wherever. Like “It’s very moist in Vancouver.”

          Boss: Where were you this afternoon?
          Me: It’s very moist in Vancouver.
          Boss: Where’s that report I asked you for?
          Me: Bad things happen when the birds gather.
          Boss: I need you to summarize this data.
          Me: It’s very moist in Vancouver.
          Boss: Answer the phone!
          Me: Bad things happen when the birds gather.
          Boss: I’m tired of you!
          Me: You see, it’s very moist in Vancouver!
          Boss: You’re fired.
          Me: Bad things happen when the birds gather…

  8. I just remember the atmosphere being very foreboding but the plot having very little muscle, as you said. Too bad because indeed it seems there was a familial message in there somewhere about abuse; not just Hitchcockian, but a little Stephen King too. One of the writer’s must have been on crack.

    Worst episode of the entire show, or does Alpha take that prize?

  9. Fight Club and Babylon worst ever episodes. Will never watch either of them again. This episode is the worst of season 5.

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