Familiar 11×8: That’s it. It’s too perfect.


 

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Homie don’t play ‘dat.

 

Before I watched this, I had just finished “Teso Dos Bichos” (3×18). I’ve been binge-watching The X-Files, but I’ll get into that later.

Anyway. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t get any cornier during the original run than “Teso Dos Bichos”, so if this episode couldn’t prove itself an improvement over that… Well.

One thing that I’ve noticed this rewatch is how, especially in the early seasons, The X-Files made its bones by treading a fine line between “now you see it” and “now you don’t.” Every case left room for plausible deniability, be it from the mouth of Scully or the U.S. government. Every resolution left everything unresolved. Every unmistakable evil could be dismissed as a relatively benign phenomenon. For instance, the possessed doll in “Chinga” (5×10) could easily be mistaken for a charming antique. And then… came Mr. Chuckleteeth. Obvious much?

First of all, who would give a child such a nightmarish doll in the first place? I mean, tell me Mr. Chuckleteeth isn’t the Devil. He makes Chucky look huggable. But, hey, no one seems to be alarmed by the faces of those Bibbletiggles either.

I’m getting my grump on not so that I can make this a rant, but so that I can get it out of the way. You know what? I’m not mad at “Familiar”. As far as the revival goes, it’s a definite hit. Of course, the revival doesn’t go very far… but let me stop.

At least this week I was actually mildly curious as to who was behind it all, which is a vast improvement over every other viewing I’ve had this season. That said, I suspected it was Anna from the beginning and between being right and her only mildly nefarious motives, the ending was somewhat of a letdown.

But again, going back to my rewatch, this episode feels mostly in line with the creepy, mysterious, small-town vibe that characterized Seasons 2 and 3 in particular. Even if I hadn’t been bingeing on the good stuff recently, I still would have been forcefully reminded of “Die Hand Die Verletz” (2×14). Here’s another town where the history of the New England witch trials run deep and practitioners of this sacrilegious heritage unleash an evil they can’t control. “Did you really expect to conjure up the Devil and expect him to behave?” And here’s another town, like in “Syzygy” (3×13) that (almost) opens with the funeral of a local boy, killed by “black magic”.

I dunno, though. Despite all the creepy smog, blue lighting, and the distinct turn in the right direction that the dialogue takes here, I can’t help but feel that there’s something still distinctly wanting. The form has returned, for which I am grateful. But I’m missing the substance. I’m still missing the heart and soul of the show somewhere.

Verdict:

Don’t get me wrong, I liked it. But Mr. Chuckleteeth isn’t the only thing that’s obvious. The X-Files was never great shakes at social commentary. “Teliko” (4×4) anyone?

I resent Mulder’s implication of “small town justice”. In other words, we’re more likely to hear of injustice in a small town where people are stupid and less sophisticated than… who? The overpaid government workers disguised as bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.?

Anyway, I found “Familiar” a little too familiar, a little too “on the nose”, if you will. But “on the nose” is better than “way off the mark” or, my favorite “so far apart from the mark you never even saw it nor realized it existed.”

I’ll take it.

B+

Clown Shoes:

Looks who’s playing a police officer! It’s the dude who played a police officer in every episode of The X-Files ever. Hello, Roger Cross. 24 crossover like whaaaat.

And it’s Jason Gray-Stanford from Monk. Nice beard.

So now Mulder has a son again, huh? Thanks for that. And thanks for teaching me how not to care.

That “cauldron” joke Scully made in front of the playground, did it feel a little insensitive and out of character to anyone else?

“He’s potentially John Wayne Gacy with a monkey.” Again, this sounds like what would have been a Mulder line.

A magic circle of salt. Say it with me: “Fresh Bones” (2×15).

If the suspect was on record as a sexual predator, even if he was only guilty of youthful indiscretion with someone a little younger than he was, wouldn’t he have been forbidden to work with children? I feel like a career as a children’s entertainer would’ve been about the last thing he’d have done.

Best Quotes:

Scully: Thanks for backing me up out there.

Mulder: Yeah, you’re my homie.

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49 responses to “Familiar 11×8: That’s it. It’s too perfect.

  1. I was bored, to be honest. It felt like well-trodden ground, and modern X Files can’t really tell those stories as well as it used to. As you said, something is missing.

    But that said, I was bored in the same way that some of the worst early X Files bored me. So in itself, it is a compliment.

    • Right? Some of those X-Files were duds. Even then they had this coldly mysterious atmosphere that was all the show’s own. To me, this mimicked that. It’s not quite there, but it forcefully reminds me of The X-Files’ past.

  2. I was a bit puzzled by my reaction to this one, and you summed it up beautifully as always!

    “The form has returned, for which I am grateful. But I’m missing the substance. I’m still missing the heart and soul of the show somewhere.”

    This!! On paper, it was straight out of S2/3 but there was just something not quite right. I think the whole time, I’ve been wondering if they returned to the atmospheric Vancouver-y raininess, the proper MOTW subject matter, the Scully hair, the banter, whatever… THEN it’d feel like the x-files again. But this one just proves that, even with all that stuff, something has gone never to return. Maybe this the episode that will finally let me give up on the hope that these stories will ever feel like x-files, put them in another part of my brain and be done with it (which is kinda a relief actually!)

    • Yes, yes, exactly. It’s difficult to put your mental finger on what’s wrong. But maybe it’s just as simple and vague as “they’re not in the zone”? Sometimes it’s not just the ingredients that make the recipe, it’s the quality of the ingredients, it’s the finesse and experience of the cook, it’s the cookware used, it’s the elevation of the land, you get the idea. I feel like we’ve gotten some of the right ingredients back, but that’s not a cake I smell in the oven.

  3. Another rushed ending with little climax, despite being rather watchable. Did anyone think it seemed off for Scully to say she finds a child autopsy difficult? I reckon the lack of any dialogue would have said all it needed to and seemed more in place with her character. The actor playing the sheriff also didn’t seem like he could swallow his own words. All that and Scully needed a throat lozenger.

    • I’ve mourned Scully’s voice and held a funeral for it. #RIP.

      The ending was rushed, a sin that many early X-Files are guilty of, actually. But more importantly, as you said, it was anticlimactic which is a much worse sin.

    • Yes, I have found a lot over season 10/11 that the writers have given Scully lines that don’t need to be said. In the past all that information would be put across just by a simple look because she and Mulder had this practically telepathic thing going on. But now they make her actually say what’s she’s thinking when it is not necessary. It makes her dialogue sound forced and unnatural.

  4. “So now Mulder has a son again, huh? Thanks for that. And thanks for teaching me how not to care.”

    Re-pasting so I can virtually hug your quote.

    I’m so sad about them trampling over all of the personal nuances the series used to have. It did have them, right?? Passion and substance and eloquent prose..love and depth and complexity. Fully written characters.
    I honestly think Im crazy now and my younger self must have invented all of it.

  5. As far as the revival goes, this one was definitely one of the better episodes we’ve seen. Still, as you said, it felt like something was missing. Your rating is spot on for me, but here’s what I see is the problem:

    1. Showing us too much: I’ve always felt the X-Files walked this nice, fine line showing us just enough and letting us imagine the rest. To me, that’s always made this series scarier in my mind than perhaps it really was onscreen. Showing a mob beating the sexual predator should have been enough for the camera to pan up and let you assume what happened. When we saw not only that, but the man being shot in the head (especially at such an early hour in the TV schedule), I was shocked. Physically, I jumped in my seat, eyes opened-wide in disbelief at what I had just witnessed. And the court scene that followed? It just felt unnecessary in this case.

    2. David & Gillian’s hearts just aren’t in it anymore: Now hear me out on this one before everyone starts being haters. I respect & love David & Gillian for all they’ve given us in Mulder & Scully over the years. Both have become great actors in their own rights. Even though they’ve both given us some great performances, even this season, there’s a big difference between the wide-eyed, excited-to-learn-anything, new actors they were when they joined the show at the beginning than now. They’re established in their careers, honed in to perfect their craft, and don’t really need to work on the X-Files for a paycheck anymore. Gillian, especially, is ready to be done, and David, although less so, perhaps wants to try new/different roles too. GA begrudgingly did seasons 10 & 11, although saying for years she was done. Maybe she did it as a last huzzah to the fans and as a way to let Mulder and Scully ride off into the sunset with a proper ending. Unfortunately, Chris Carter seems to want to beat a dead horse repeatedly, squeezing every last penny out of the franchise, with no closure – EVER!

    Imagine being in David & Gillian’s shoes at this point, having agreed to a farewell tour, only to discover your manager wants you to tour until you’re on your deathbed. Not only that, but he wants you to perform only the stuff that wasn’t good enough to make it the first time around, or half-thought out ideas that your acting is supposed to save. Even if you’re bringing all your acting chops (as these two are), think there’s a big difference in doing something because you “have to” and because you have the drive to “want to”. This season feels more like a favor from both actors. While both are “bringing it”, think it’s hard to fully hide the actors (as are the fans) ready for resolution and to move on to something else.

    I give Gillian credit for having the courage to say “enough is enough”. She’s faced a lot of backlash from disappointed fans, but at this point I’m ready to stand behind her 100%. If Chris Carter can’t find a way to end this, someone has to pull the plug. Sure, I always hope for CC doing the right thing, but by this point, I’ve learned the hard way the sick bastard enjoys playing with the emotions of fans who made the show into the phenomena it is too much to stop. I’d much rather imagine the X-Files world through fanfic instead of killing off characters and an unsatisfying, never-gonna-end, kill-off-all-your-favorite-characters type show. This is not what I signed up for. This is not what ANY FAN signs up for!

    On a side note: Sexual predators who take advantage of children are not supposed to work with kids. However…while being a teacher, coach, or a “professional” job working with kids may require a background check to ensure the safety of the children, that wouldn’t prevent a sex offender from hanging a shingle outside his house as an “children’s entertainer” & hiding the truth from parole officers and parents. Scary, I know.

    • 1. Completely agree. To start with, they did a good job of not showing that boy’s murder, but showing the beating and killing of that man lacked the impact it should have done because they had it on screen instead of off.

      2. I agree again, and I completely understand it. They’re being given material that is below their standard – not just now they are more seasoned actors, but also below par for when they were originally doing the series. I was excited when they both came on board to do it again, but also received that GA has brought a confirmed closure, so that the fans can just enjoy what we have without the constant wondering about the future.

      • I do wonder when GA voiced her thoughts of “this is it” to CC. I’d hoped she’d done so prior to the writing of the scrips for the entire season, even if it was publicly announced after the filming (or at least a majority of it) to fans.

        Have been trying to come to terms with the supposed cliff-hanger ending that may be the end of the road for this show that’s been with me for my entire adult life. It’s sad and heartbreaking to know that something so important to so many of us is going out on more of a whimper than the great send-off fans deserve.

        Even if the show does continue on without Scully, this may well be the end of the road for me. Chris Carter has had 3 opportunities to do the right thing (I want to believe, season 10, & season 11), but instead of finding giving us a decent ending, he toys with us. Because of this, have been doing a lot of soul-searching and feel this may be the time for me to walk away as well. Don’t get me wrong…I love the show & always will, but at this point, I need to stop being an enabler to Chris Carter’s repeated bag of tricks. He’s only taking the show I love and giving it a slow, painful death. Find myself repeating Scully’s words from earlier this season, “I want to remember how it was…I want to remember how it all was.” She’s right. I can live watching the old episodes and reading fanfic instead of indulging in Chris Carter’s money-grabbing, misguided dismantling of the X-Files. This time, I’m shutting down the basement office.

        My apologies for the rant. I needed to get that off my chest.

        • I don’t think even CC would attempt to continue the show with GA, and DD definitely wouldn’t , IMO.

          Scully’s line sums up X-Philes feelings perfectly, and we always will remember the way it was because we have all those wonderful episodes to rewatch and prove it.

  6. As I noted in another post of yours I found moments of this episode to be right on the money when compared to the original run.

    The atmosphere was on point, the writing and dialogue for the most part sounded good. The subject matter was creepy and disturbing but…as with nothing lasts forever our dynamic duo are just going through the motions imo. There is no/little urgency or alarm in their actions and reactions to what is happening around them. Is this due to the actors just not being that interested or cannot find their old mojo or what?

    Mr. Chuckle-teeth was too cliched and would have worked better if the face and head were toned down, not black and white.

    • I thought the atmosphere for this episode was excellent. It was one of the best things about it. I don’t actually mind the cliche’d doll. I think that is the point. A number of X-Files episodes highlight the stereotypical features of a given paranormal case, particularly with witchcraft. I do have a slight issue with Mr. Chuckle-teeth supposedly being a children’s TV character though. I know there are some freaky kids’ characters out there, but he could never have been considered child-friendly material. I mean he scared me, never a mind a six year old.

  7. I hate horror, so Mr. Chuckleteeth scared the bejeezus out of me. Especially during that scene in the dark house with him, and then the tv magically came on, and then Chuckleteeth was talking about ‘going straight to Hell,’ and then I wanted to turn my computer off and go hug my Superman plushie. I got over it.

    The Chief’s little girl really creeped me out and I couldn’t figure out why until a few hours after I watched this episode it clicked that she looks EXACTLY like the creepy little girl who didn’t talk in that episode of Grey’s Anatomy where there’s a terrorist attack and Meredith almost drowns during the triage (somehow; I don’t even know). That episode had to have been from about 12 or 13 years ago at least; HOW IS SHE STILL A LITTLE NON-TALKING GIRL?

    It did feel like an old X-File. Maybe that was part of what was missing. It “felt” like an old X-File, but there was a formulaic “been there, done that” feeling to it. It’s like all the writers did was get out a check sheet: Small town, CHECK, Kind-of supportive local cops who are actually pretty sketchy, CHECK, but one cop is a good cop who will ultimately help M&S, CHECK, creepy kids themes, CHECK, Mulder and Scully discussing case and said weird small town in a cruddy motel…oops, we missed that one. And so on. That might have been one of the reasons David and Gillian didn’t seem to care that much; they’ve been there and done that sooooo many times.

    The sex offender part was a bit iffy. He maybe, possibly (depending on the laws of the state) could have had a job working as a children’s entertainer. It would depend on what tier sex offender he was (which, if you listened to the character, he was probably convicted of a statutory rape, which is a lower level sex offense, and he would thus be a lower level sex offender) and how long ago the sex offense occurred. Depending on the level of the sex offense, the person wouldn’t have to file after a couple of decades or so. And if MA is a Truth in Sentencing state, he wouldn’t have a parole officer following his tracks his whole life to watch him; he’d have a probation officer tracking him as long as he was on probation (or as long as he had to register as a sex offender). Ergo, maybe the people booking him as a clown wouldn’t have found him on the sex offender registry because he didn’t have to register anymore…I’m just giving the writers too much of a benefit of the doubt here, because there’s no way they thought ANY of this through.

    Also, Mulder! You know you have to write a report every time you fire your gun! And every government worker knows the number one goal of government work is to avoid writing reports. Duh.

    It may be sad, but the judge letting the cop off easy at his arraignment is pretty much true. I’m from a small town type place and can tell you I know of a former law enforcement person getting six months for killing someone in a hit and run and then trying to cover it up. Any normal person would have gotten like eight + years for that. So, I totally bought that part.

    All-in-all, I wasn’t too disgruntled with this episode. At least it had seeds of the good old days of The X-Files. Right? Even down to the “Not Researching Anything of Substance” clause they apparently have in their contract. Solid B+ indeed.

    • Emily reminded me of Polly from Chinga, the way she gazed. She was a bit of a red herring; in the teaser I thought this was going to be another evil/creepy kid episode and Emily was responsible for the boy’s death. That scene actually reminded me of ‘The Calusari’ teaser, when Charlie/Michael watched on coldly as his little brother was run over by the train.

  8. Manic circl of salt was Milinium

  9. Forgive me for potentially forgetting, but have we had a serious discussion about Gillian’s voice?

    In season 10, I felt like she was making acting choices that flowed from her recent work as Stella Gibson and in Hannibal: quiet, calmly spoken women who had power and didn’t need to express it.

    I was sad about that, and I remember commenting last year that it was as if she’d “forgotten” how to do Scully.

    But these last few episodes seem to have made it really clear that she has *damage* to her voice. She sounds like she needs to clear her throat whenever she speaks at any volume.

    Am I mistaken there? Does she sound like she’s physically incapable of doing the old Scully voice now?

    If so, does anyone know what caused this?

    There’s a part of me that thinks her quiet speaking affects the rest of her performance. She doesn’t seem to have the life that she used to have.

    • You are absolutely right about her voice. She sounds like she has strained it by yelling too loudly or something and it’s been there for most of this season and last.

      As to how it affect her performance I have commented on this before here…her reactions and emoting to situations surrounding her don’t mesh at all imo at times (most of the time?).

      I know this is going to sound bad coming from a guy but I also think she looks really thin…too thin compared to last season even. Is that just me?

      • It’s not just when she’s playing Scully, but in real life her American accent sounds strained. I think she’s been in Britain so long that she can’t acclimate to her American accent as well anymore or something. She’s not old by any means, but she does kind-of remind me of Katherine Hepburn in On Golden Pond sometimes. I blame her in no way. Being dual or bi-dialectal must do something to your vocal cords at some point. I don’t know, that’s just my best guess.

        I think she does look skinny, but not unhealthy. As long as she’s healthy and happy, from a woman’s perspective, everything is okay. But then, I’m not a dude, so I can’t speak for how guys feel.

        • I’m a gay man, which gives me proxy rights to judge women’s appearance (jk jk). I guess one thing I’d say about her having less weight on her face is that it seems to change the way she shows emotions.

          But that might be internalised misogyny from me right there – she looks sterner and more tired all the time to me, and it is literally cos her face is thinner. I don’t know if it’s possible to make an objective judgement. Would I say the same about a man with less weight on his face? Duchovny gets a pass cos he never emoted that much facially. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Mulder Nod, the “I know, I see it” repeated nod he does a lot.

          If I think back to Stella Gibson, her reactions were all muted as well. It didn’t matter as much cos we’d not heard GA use that accent before.

          Salome: You’re doing a rewatch at the moment. What can you tell us about the difference in the way Scully looks, talks, reacts and shows emotions compared to now?

    • YES! For me Scully’s voice is something that constantly disturbs my mood. That raspy and quiet voice makes her sound weak and/or apologetic. She used to have this calm and strong voice, the voice that I love.

      I was hearing that voice in Ghouli like once. It was the voice-over when Scully was sleeping. Did anybody else noticed that? I was like YES!!! but it was only that one voice-over that was *just* right. Maybe she was capable delivering that voice when she was 100% concentrated on talking, not acting? Just wondering.

  10. 1.) I too recognized Roger Cross from Pusher and Folie a Deux and got really excited.
    2.)They don’t exist? Really Scully? Just how many times has she been a victim of witchcraft? I count four. Quick, someone fact check me.
    3.)”Your my homie” nice classic Mulder line. His humor is on point this episode. Like season 1-3 on point.
    4.) I have a bone to pick with the opening scene in the forest. When exactly did Scully become the profiler in this partnership?
    5.)Coyotes do attack people. Mostly children and they’re moving east. We have them in NC now, and they also attack dogs and chickens. I hear about it all the time and I live IN THE SUBURBS.
    6.)Mulder still hasn’t learned to touch evidence using gloves?
    7.)Really? The little girls name is EMILY? Whats with the constant reuse of names? Do the 1013 writers only know women named Maggie, Melissa and Emily?
    8.) My mother would have made me get up off my lazy behind and get my own juice. No “please” about it.
    9.) Kinda surprised kids were the main victims. X-files stayed away from that back in the day. Mostly.

    • I was annoyed at point 4 as well. If you make a point of having someone say “profiler-y” things, you need to comment on the fact that Mulder is an Oxford-educated psychologist, who wrote a monograph on serial killers and the occult that helped to catch Monty Props in 1988 and was generally thought of as the best analyst in the violent crimes section

    • 2. We’ve got to love Scully for her continual denial. I think she just has to for the sake of it sometimes, and I love her for it.
      3. Loved that line too.
      4. This really bugged me too. Scully says while she’s doing the autopsy that Mulder is the profiler, but during the whole episode, Mulder never gives a profile, and it is all Scully. Then again, she was completely wrong, so it does go to show she is not that master profiler Mulder is. Her profile seemed to come a bit out of the blue. There was no evidence to suggest or back it up, and yet even when the father was given an alibi, she was still convinced.
      7. This!

      • 7. Ummm, not to mention William/Bill/Billy/Will…it sometimes literally feels like a third of the male characters on this show are named some derivative of William. After both Mulder and Scully’s father’s were named William and then her brother was William and then her son was William etc., etc., Oi with the puddles already, enough is enough! Can’t someone be Sean or Scott or Liam or something?

        • Yeah, Bill Jr being named for his dad and Scully wanting to give her son a family name kinda makes sense, but BOTH M&S having Williams for Dads? It makes for too many. 1013 are some remarkably lazy and unimaginative namers…(Hate to break it to you, but Liam is actually short for William…)

          PS: Love the Gilmore Girls reference.

          • It always go me that Scully tells Mulder at the end of season 8 that she is naming their son William after his father. Huh? Um, wouldn’t it make more sense that you’re naming him William after your father? Especially since Bill Mulder (though regretful and partially reformed) was part of the shadow government that caused half their problems in the first place.

    • 7. Don’t forget Holly!

  11. Everyone has pretty much summed up this episode perfectly already, but I’ll just add a few of my thoughts.

    You’re all right, this episode has all the ingredients for X-Files episode, but none of the soul. It was like they mixed all the ingredients together, but then put the oven temperature on too low, so it failed to rise.

    Saying that, I did enjoy this episode. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoy a below par episode from the original seasons, and using Salome’s example, I definitely enjoyed it more than ‘Teso Dos Bichos’.

    Loved Scully’s line about their previous conversations about spontaneous human combustion. It was my favourite part of the episode.

    The alien Teletubbies made me laugh. I mean it was ridiculous, but did give me one of those excitable nostalgia moments of ‘Oo Oo, I recognise that reference!’

    • “You’re all right, this episode has all the ingredients for X-Files episode, but none of the soul. It was like they mixed all the ingredients together, but then put the oven temperature on too low, so it failed to rise.”

      This is perfectly stated.

  12. Oh god. This is disturbing and an upsetting teaser as unfortunately it reminds me of child killers, not with supernatural elements. Why would a child have a creepy toy like that? Reminds me a bit of the SAW face. Plus a mother would not turn her back for a length of time on the phone. She could have watched him while she was talking on the phone. I suspect the women on the bench has something to do with it.

    Scully’s voice still sounds off, low and gravelly. The black cop looks familiar, was he in another episode? He kinda of looks like Xzibit in I Want To Believe. Go Scully the profiler, who needs Mulder. So it looks like some conspiracy within the law enforcement is going on. Maybe this will be a witch episode?

    Love it when Scully ignores the cop who says to her put your gun away. I’m finding this episode disturbing because child abduction and child murder is not entertainment. There are to many real life parallels out there. So maybe we are dealing with some supernatural shape shifter now? Watching this is difficult. The murder of the convicted child pedophile awful to watch. Oh gosh the climax, dark and horrific.

    The episode has echos of “Die Hand Die Verletzt” 2X14, the unleashing of a force which cannot be controlled. Was that an it’s over, but it’s not over ending? We haven’t had one of those for a while. Mulder and Scully witnessed some pretty horrendous things this episode.

    The plus points about this episode are the cinematography, the dark horror feel, which is how I like the x files. I prefer dark tales over comedy episodes any day. I wasn’t bored while watching this, was just difficult to watch. Maybe if they focused more on the witch (or what ever dark force it was), it could have been more palatable. Therefore it’s hard to grade.

    Oh and they didn’t change the opening credits tag – yay!

    B+

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