I can’t watch “Redrum” and not hark back to “Mind’s Eye” (5×16), an episode that is similar in a lot of ways. It features a guest star well-respected in movies and television. The featured guest star plays the protagonist rather than the focus being on our two leads. It’s also a fairly quiet, psychological mind game of an episode. Like “Mind’s Eye”, “Redrum” both works and doesn’t work for all the above reasons.
This was the third episode filmed but the sixth episode aired of Season 8. I actually can’t imagine this playing right after “Without” (8×2) as the episode that introduces Scully and Doggett as a partnership. For one thing, it wouldn’t make sense for us to see Scully and Doggett working fairly comfortably together without seeing how that evolution happened. For another thing, in order for a series to temporarily ignore its leads, its leads have to be so established and their relationships so understood by the viewers that you can take a storytelling detour without the audience losing interest or getting lost. That’s why “Hungry” (7×1) could tell its story completely from the monster’s perspective, because the audience knows Mulder and Scully like the back of its proverbial hand.
Truth is, it’s still too soon. With only three episodes as partners under their belt, we still don’t know Scully and Doggett very well at all. Sixth is better than third, but it’s not great.
The bigger issue for me, though, is that Scully and Doggett aren’t merely peripheral they’re replaceable. There’s nothing about this episode that requires the characters of John Doggett or Dana Scully. Martin Wells could’ve had any old friend who was in law enforcement, anyone who would have been willing to let him stay the night at his place. There’s nothing about Doggett in particular that makes him necessary for this episode. And as for Scully, she’s just tagging along. She too could have been anybody. That tacked on speech about how Martin Wells may already have the answers within him is just that, tacket on. It doesn’t make sense in context that she would humor him and believing his story under the circumstances is not like Scully at all. No, those thoughts had to occur to Martin Wells for the plot to go forward and Scully was just the vehicle used to bring them to him.
To compare again, “Mind’s Eye” required Fox Mulder. No one else would have responded to protagonist Marty or have known how to help her even if they did. And back to “Hungry”, the forward movement of the plot is dependent on the particular rhythms of the way in which Mulder and Scully solve cases. It depends on us to know those rhythms and to be able to follow along without sheet music, without having to hear Mulder and Scully say what they’re thinking.
I’m sure this sounds unfairly minute and it probably is. I do think “Redrum” is a good piece of television but I don’t think it’s a great X-File. It would have made a better television movie, extended and without token appearances by our two leads.
Guest star Joe Morton’s acting is great and the concept is good. The message is thoughtful: Painful though it may be, you need to face up to who you are before it’s too late because justice is coming.
Even so, I remember being bored with it the first time I saw it. All I wanted was some more information on Mulder’s whereabouts, pleasethankyou. In lieu of that I would take a creepy campfire tale. This time it kept my interest, but I still wasn’t engaged. I wasn’t exactly engaged with “Invocation” (8×6) either, but at least that gave me atmosphere and more information about Doggett. At least I was watching characters I was already emotionally invested in.
And that’s all I have to say about that. “Redrum” is neither here nor there for me. I like it as a piece but I don’t feel it an an X-File, so there’s nothing to get worked up about. Oh, except for a Danny Trejo sighting. Because I love it when The X-Files and Breaking Bad meet.
I could’ve done without that spider just fine.
Doggett, I’m pretty sure that entry was unlawful.
There are echoes of “Monday” (6×15) here too, but there the same day repeated until someone made the right choice. Here, someone sees the future their actions lead to and gets a chance to do the past over.
Timeline Problems – This episode takes place in December. Scully found out she was pregnant in May. Thoughts?
I know he’s been in just about everything, but Joe Morton imprinted on me in childhood as Whitley’s one-time love interest and Dwayne’s rival on A Different World.
Also, the actress who plays his attorney, Bellamy Young, gives me Law and Order flashbacks.
“So put on that engineering hat, Casey Jones, because you’ve got a whole lot of trains to be pulling…” – The strangest cultural reference to ever come out of the mouth of a fictional prison roommate.
Someone fact check me, but isn’t this the second time we’ve heard the phrase “This is not happening”? The first time was “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’” (3×20). The third time I’d rather not remember at the moment.
Mercy triumphs over justice.
Trina: M… Mr. Wells, I…
Martin Wells: Trina, you knew about the Nanny-cam, didn’t you? You told the killer about it. You must have given him my key card, too.
Trina: Mr. Wells, I.. I… I wasn’t even there that night.
Doggett: First thing you’re supposed to say is: “What nanny-cam?”
Martin Wells: Are you trying to tell me that your brother is not a drug dealer?
Cesar Ocampo: My brother was a busboy when you sent him up. He had two strikes on him. He wasn’t dealing no more. You sent him up for who he used to be… and ’cause it was easy.