Lord of the Flies 9×6: You can’t have it both ways.


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What if there was an X-Files/Breaking Bad/Glee mashup?

In which Breaking Bad takes over The X-Files for the second of three times.

But before we get to that, I think I’ve come to a mini understanding. Doggett and Reyes as characters don’t have the comedic capabilities that Mulder and Scully did.

Now, I’m more tired than anyone of hearing myself compare Doggett and Reyes to Mulder and Scully. I prepared myself for change when Season 9 first aired and I’m certainly resigned to change now. My complaint isn’t that we have a new team. No, it’s that this new team isn’t equipped to handle this kind of episode. To put it in layman’s terms, I don’t think they’re ready for this jelly.

Doggett jokes around, sure. But his jokes fall flat because he sounds like an old fogey shaking his head at kids these days. There’s no point at the end of his pitard. Mulder would have delivered those very same lines with a sardonic bite that would have left me giggling.

Scully would have shared knowing or appropriately horrified looks with Mulder at all the right moments, because her character knows how to play up the chaos around her to the best effect. Reyes spends most of the episode looking nothing but bemused, as if this crazed cast of characters genuinely needed the help of the F.B.I..

This episode is not good. But even with its shortcomings it had the possibility of providing us some memorable moments. The scenes in the morgue with Dr. Herb Fountain are still my favorites of the episode. Erick Avari, a veteran character actor who I love, plays Dr. Fountain. He carries the comedic weight of these scenes on his own, and not just because he’s the broad character. Doggett and Reyes give him next to nothing. Their reactions are way too subdued; they shouldn’t be over the top but they need to be appropriately surprised

I know my comparisons are unfair since Mulder and Scully had time to develop a shorthand and a status quo before being thrust into the world of comedy. Yet I still find myself longing for “Humbug” (2×20) and their pitch perfect responses to the madness, and even for “Bad Blood” (5×12) when they showed us they could themselves be the madness.

Frankly, despite the madness that is Dr. Rocky Bronzino, King of the Fake Bronzer, some of the better parts of this episode are watching Scully deal with him. He’s not a great character, but at least he gives Scully something to do besides pine for Mulder and worry about William.

Then again, the low point of this episode is watching Dr. Scully give CPR to a man who’s already breathing. So I guess it’s a wash.

The truth is, “Lord of the Flies” is confused. The basic plot is a serious X-File, but the overall tone is that of an episode of The Lone Gunmen. Why do I say that? I’m glad you asked.

Sadly, The Lone Gunmen only lasted thirteen episodes, but Thomas Schnauz wrote two of them. Two good ones, I might add. A personal friend of Vince Gilligan’s from film school, he was pulled onto The X-Files after the show ended and went from there to… yep, Breaking Bad.

But back to The Lone Gunmen for a moment, Dr. Rocky Branzino is a character perfectly in keeping with the over the top tone of that show. What he’s doing here in an X-File that’s also trying to be both scary and emotional is beyond me. This is a jumbled mess of goals. Is it a broad comedy? Is it a serious murder investigation? Is it a character study in teenage angst? Is it a short horror film? Is it a Twilight Zone mystery with a twist? Is it trying to be all things to all men, that it might by all means win some?

Tonally, “Lord of the Flies” doesn’t know if it’s a real X-File or a light X-File. It’s possible to straddle the fence and it’s been done successfully before, but this isn’t one of those times.

And if you’re going to have a comedic episode with Jane Lynch in it then she should get the chance to be funny. I’m sorry.

Still on the topic of soon to be wildly famous guest stars, if you had told me that the intrepid Sky Commander Winkie would later blow my mind as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad, I would have raised a Scully brow. And there’s our Breaking Bad trifecta for this episode: Vince Gilligan produced it, Thomas Schnauz wrote it and Aaron Paul starred in it.

Verdict:

The X-Files has a long tradition of mixing puberty with the paranormal. You know the drill – your body’s going through changes and you don’t know where you fit in, so you electrocute your friend in the parking lot, have an astrological meltdown, or plow your teacher into the cafeteria wall. Or, you can turn into a B movie fly monster and cocoon your enemies, which appears to both the biological fate and freewill choice of Dylan Lokensgard.

Whatever the try-hard philosophical ponderings of the closing monologue, Dylan isn’t sympathetic, or scary, or even interesting. And as such he adds nothing to the Puberty Pantheon. “Hungry” (7×1) was a better take on a monster who wanted to be anything but.

*cough*MoreVinceGilligan*cough*

C+

Pheromones:
What kind of pheromones are Mulder and Scully excreting that they keep attracting entomologists with silly names?

Mothers are women too, Scully. “I’m with someone,” would have been a more definitive answer.

The teenage romance doesn’t sell. It rarely does in real life either.

When was the last time we had an ending voiceover/case report?

Once again, Scully is a distraction from Doggett and Reyes. Worse, she’s outshining them.

I have no idea why Dylan’s little love interest suddenly feels affection toward the murderous nerd once he’s gone.

No, really. Who hits on somebody by talking about shared menstrual cycles?

FYI, Breaking Bad’s first takeover was “Drive” (6×2) and the next will be “John Doe” (9×7).

Best Quotes:

Dr. Fountain: Well, it’s the kid’s parents. They’re suing everyone.
Reyes: For what?
Dr. Fountain: Everything. They’re suing the county for making the street too steep, the supermarket he stole the shopping cart from, the company that made the helmet he was wearing.

——————–

Dr. Rocky Bronzino: Dr. Scully? This is so exciting. I’ve never had a partner before.
Scully: I have.

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17 responses to “Lord of the Flies 9×6: You can’t have it both ways.

  1. oh goodness – I’ve been waiting for you to get to Lord of the Flies and TrustNo1 and I am SO with you on ALL of this …

    Jane Lynch – the whole time I really wanted her to have at least SOME comedy – I’m not saying she HAS to be in a comedic role all the time but the woman is just too talented for this flat character. Just because she’s a mother, a principal and a ‘monster’ doesn’t mean she can’t have some spark to her.

    Plus, on the note of the SeX-Files: why in the world was Reyes wearing essentially a see-through shirt when she and Doggett get to the school? Seriously?

    Ah if only Scully had told Bronzino she was with someone – that would have been amazing – but, ya know, that would mean M/S would be verified and we can’t have that can we (even if she was only saying it to try and get him off her back) :/

    I keep thinking I need to break down and just watch “Breaking Bad” …

    • Yes. Yes, you do. Binge watch it. It’s so worth it. Vince Gilligan took everything he learned working on The X-Files, was mindful of a couple of things that went wrong, then ran with it.

      Jane Lynch was wasted on this role. Without a doubt. We all know she’s capable of much more. I still remember her Monk guest spot from years ago.

      I’ve noticed Reyes attire since the season premiere. I see what you did there, Chris Carter. She was the childlike one vs. Mulder and Scully in Season 8, now she’s the sexually confident, capable modern woman who uses her appeal to manipulate her boss and flirts with Doggett. They’re definitely sending a message. Both versions of Reyes are NOT Scully.

    • Oh yes, you have to watch Breaking Bad!

  2. I didn’t like this one. It’s too weird and not in a good way. All the stuff with Rocky just felt so awkward. I couldn’t even find amusement with his character interacting with Scully because I feel like the old Scully would have told him where to go and not tolerated his grossness. I didn’t like the ending with him either. Am I supposed to be glad that he got Scully on top of him giving mouth to mouth? Blergh. Also…Scully would never fall for that. He deserved a swift kick in the balls. Instead of a comeuppance, he gets a reward. No thanks.

    I didn’t really find it funny or quirky and I agree that Doggett and Reyes just didn’t gel with the kind of humor they were going for.

    Another issue is that I didn’t really care about any of the other characters, especially the “romance”. The whole time I thought Natalie was only drawn to Dylan because of all the pheromones, not because she actually cared about him. Then, what? She finds out he’s a bug man and she still is pining over him in the end? Nope. I wasn’t feeling this one at all.

    • “Awkward” is a good word for the entire episode. Like a gawky teenager, it doesn’t quite fit in anywhere.

      The teenage romance I couldn’t buy at all either. She was the token object of affection with no real personality or motivation. Her boyfriend is murdered so she takes comfort in Dylan because deep down she knows he likes her and she wants to feel good about herself. He nearly takes her mouth off with a kiss. She understandably runs screaming. She realizes he murdered her boyfriend. She screams she never wants to hear his name again. He kidnaps her. She finds out his mother is a fly creature too. He lets her go. He sends flies to send a romantic message. She smiles. The end.

      Huh???

      • And so I’m back… I have to admit I had to push myself to keep watching Season 9. After the first two episodes I was ready to give up, but well, Revival is coming and I’m nothing if not a bit OCD-ish, so I just need to end this.

        Didn’t like this one either, for all the reasons you just said. Like Amanda I didn’t really get Nathalie. Something that really bugged me (pun intended, I guess) is when Reyes came over to talk to her and she just said “He kissed me.” Like there was nothing more to it.
        He kissed her with a bug mouth and made her tongue bleed. I think I’d start with that.

        Another thing that got me a bit frustrated was the dad who disappeared.
        First of all, he wasn’t a bugman, but his wife was a bugperson, so how did that work? Did she not hurt him when she kissed him? I mean, they had a child, which means they had sex at some point. Doesn’t weird-mouth just become part of the problem right there… Sex tends to get pretty intimate.
        And then he vanishes and the police don’t really investigate the house at one point? He was just there in the attic… Probably stinking up the place. Did the kid never go play in the attic either? As a fellow geekkid (minus the bug-factor) I can say the attic was my favourite playground.

        I’m sure I’m just overthinking an episode that was probably made to just laugh at and be enjoyed without too much of a critical eye, but since that fell flat, well… I got bored and went digging for plot holes.

        Also… every woman knows you bring up the synchronisation of female menstrual cycles when you want to creep out a guy who tries to flirt with you. It doesn’t work the other way around. Sorry Dr. Bronzino, it’s a buzz kill.

        • I was confused by the husband too! That would mean his wife was able to hide who and what she was for many years. Does that mean Dylan could learn to control his buglike functions and kiss a girl normally?

          It doesn’t matter, though. Like you said, the episode falls flat.

          Also, YES. I wondered why Natalie didn’t mention that he bit her either. That would be #1.

          Also… every woman knows you bring up the synchronisation of female menstrual cycles when you want to creep out a guy who tries to flirt with you. It doesn’t work the other way around.

          LOL!!!

  3. Yeah, this is the first time I’m watching the non myth arc season 9 episodes, so I’m using your reviews to power me through. And you’re absolutely right. There’s a difference between comedic “Scully-flat” and “Reyes-flat.” And Reyes-flat just kinda is terrible in this one. I did at least enjoy Scully being kind of Scully-ish for once this season, and it was nice to see the flashlight and the gun. Was wondering most of the episode if she still toted her service weapon around. And unfortunately even “Scully-ish” outshines our two new leads.

    I wonder if they could have just cut Gillian’s contract to like three or four mytharc type shows and used the extra coin to bring in David for that, though I suppose he was busy with… what exactly? I wasn’t really paying attention this season. But Gillian outshines these two way too much and even when they are bored out of their minds, her and David at least produce some chemistry. Ah well. Guess I’ll just keep plowing through the season.

    • You put it so much better than I did. There’s a non-responsive flat and then there’s a comedic flat. Reyes was just kind of there and not engaged.

      “Scully-ish” is about all even she can manage. Even that makes me long for how this might have played out if it was a pre-Season 8 episode.

      I don’t know what they could have done with the contract situation. Creatively, Scully shouldn’t have been there. But I just found out recently that in order to receive decent pay per episode (Fox was trying to lowball her), GA contracted at the beginning of Season 8 for two seasons. She couldn’t leave, even though I believe she wanted to at the end of Season 8 and made it clear she wouldn’t be back for a Season 10 no matter what they offered her.

      Whatever happened behind the scenes, we have what we have. It just takes a considerable effort to power through Season 9, loyalty notwithstanding.

  4. “Still on the topic of soon to be wildly famous guest stars, if you had told me that the intrepid Sky Commander Winkie would later blow my mind as Jesse Pinkman in Breaking Bad, I would have raised a Scully brow. And there’s our Breaking Bad trifecta for this episode: Vince Gilligan produced it, Thomas Schnauz wrote it and Aaron Paul starred in it.”

    –DEFINITELY. And so interesting, I didn’t know that!

  5. “Once again, Scully is a distraction from Doggett and Reyes. Worse, she’s outshining them.”

    It’s so fascinating to hear others discuss the episodes. I always assumed Scully was supposed to outshine them in their scenes together. I saw the writers as immediately trying to use Doggett and Reyes (or any excuse) to bring Scully’s character into the story, because they knew that’s what we were waiting for, and that’s how they thought they would keep the show going. That’s how I rationalized how they would immediately go to Scully for help without trying to get further on their own first. It never occurred to me when I first watched that it was doing their characters a disservice by doing that. You’re right when you say we are trying to give Doggett and Reyes a fair shake, but we just can’t when either Mulder or Scully are in the episode too. You can’t keep yourself from comparison. I do have to say that of all the ways they brought Scully in during season 9, I think this case was most believable.

    • I know I was waiting for any glimpse of the glory days. But then, that was a large part of the problem. Scully was a constant reminder both that those days were gone and that they were better.

      Doggett and Reyes were just starting to get their thing together too. It’s kinda sad.

  6. Let me clarify that — the case itself is not the most believable part, but rather the decision to call Scully in. If you had a bizarre medically-based case like then I think it makes perfect sense to call her in.

  7. Pingback: Scary Monsters 9×12: I want to believe. | Musings of an X-Phile

  8. Pingback: D.P.O. 3×3: No, man, not the cows again. | Musings of an X-Phile

  9. Well, this played like a parody of the XF, not an actual episode.

    Crazily enough I found Rocky to be the best thing about the show. His over the top smarminess and fakery with the small addition of sincerity was amusing.

    The rest played out poorly and the acting was sub-par all around. I’m guessing the actors were using a lot of takes to get through this mess.

    It wasn’t scary or interesting tbh.

    Cheers

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