Tag Archives: Elvis Jokes

Surekill 8×9: Calling Clark Kent


Surekill23.jpg

Meanwhile, Scully’s wardrobe choices have been excellent.

Whelp, Season 8’s been going along at a fairly good chop, especially considering the ship is sailing without Mulder. But every season has to bomb sometime. And for Season 8, that time is now.

This is only writer Greg Walker’s second X-File. The first one was the very promising “Brand X” (7×19). “Brand X” had many classic X-File elements and was on the verge of greatness, but I’m sorry to say that despite also harkening back to earlier seasons in style and substance, “Surekill” left me bored.

“Surekill” centers around two fraternal twin brothers, Dwight and Randall Cooper, who together run a pest extermination business, human pests included. In some strange twist of fate or science, Randall was born with super eyesight, x-ray vision, in fact. Dwight got the short stick and was born legally blind. Either the force is seeking balance or Randall got some of what belonged to Dwight. On the flipside, Dwight clearly got all the brains. Because of that, and likely because of guilt over having taken the eyesight that rightfully belonged to his brother, Randall is completely under his thumb. Dwight exploits his brother’s x-ray vision and his slow wits by having him shoot drug dealers through walls, ceilings and other places unseeable. Then the two go in and steal the money someone else already illegally earned.

All that I understand. But if Randall somehow got his superpower at the expense of his brother, one would think Dwight would have been born completely blind and not just legally blind. As it is, Dwight only acts like he can’t see when he feels like it.

Anywho, trouble comes in the form of a woman, Tammi, who works for them and plays a classic femme fatale trope. She’s the femme fatale who acts like a damsel in distress and robs you behind your back. Dwight sleeps with her while Randall stares at her… and stares at her… and stares at her…

Really, is x-ray vision sexy? Because I’ve seen x-rays and they’re not sexy. But Randall’s vision has a funny way of stopping just where he wants it to, and it appears he can stop at Tammi’s flesh without seeing through to her bones. Which I suppose is why he rented the apartment next door to hers so that he can stare through the walls at her taking a shower. Randall was somewhat sympathetic before that little scene. But I find it hard to sympathize with the Ultimate Peeping Tom, however Scully may think it’s romantic that he only wanted to look at Tammi. What an absurd way to try to make the story emotionally compelling as an afterthought.

The problem with “Surekill” is that it spends a lot of time on the Surekill Exterminations team and I’m not interested in any of them. I don’t like them. I don’t hate them. I don’t feel pity or anger toward them. I’m certainly not interested in their little love triangle. If nothing more is at stake than one of them killing each other, what does that matter to me?

If anything, the characters are off-putting and I’d be happy to see them destroy each other. Dwight is skeevy and Randall’s creepy, Dwight demanding what sounds like yet another round of obligatory sex from Tammi in his office while he knows Randall’s looking on through the door. Yep. I hope they do die.

Worse than that, there’s nothing that distinguishes the plot either. The teaser starts off fabulously; a terrified man runs into a police station asking for protection from an assassin and is killed in a locked cell while in police custody. That definitely qualifies as an X-File. Sadly, from there the story slowly peters out, becoming less and less interesting until, by the end, I don’t really care how it’s resolved.

Verdict:

X-Ray vision alone isn’t enough to build an X-File upon, it seems. So a criminal uses his superpowers to spy on a girl and kill other criminals. So what?

I complained in “Patience” (8×4) that the baggage of building Scully and Doggett’s relationship got in the way of the plot a little bit. Here, I wish it had. At least then I’d have something to think about. Scully and Doggett are already acting like they have a routine. Well, when did they get a routine and I missed it?

And I might add, Scully and Doggett observe without doing much to actually solve the case. Dwight, Randall, and Tammi all stay one step ahead of them.

Stupid ain’t cute.

C+

Rats:

I understand that Randall can see through walls, but how is it that those bullets of his can go through anything and everything?

These guys don’t sound like they’re from Massachusetts.

The way this case resolves itself while Scully and Doggett play catch up reminds me of “Die Hand Die Verletz” (2×14).

Doggett makes an Elvis reference… I miss Mulder!!

Dwight Cooper is played by Michael Bowen of, you guessed it, Breaking Bad. Because you know I love my X-Files/Breaking Bad connections.

Did you spot James Franco?

Best Quotes:

Dwight: I sent him a ham every Christmas till he finally told me he was a Jew.

——————–

Doggett: Calling Clark Kent.

Home 4×3: There’s something rotten in Mayberry.


A hero falls.

There may be something deeply flawed in me but I’ve never found this episode disturbing. Not because I’m any proponent of infanticide, I’m not even pro-choice, but it all takes place in a context that’s distinctly “horror” and I just can’t take any of its inflammatory subject matter more seriously than any other piece of popcorn entertainment.

If anything, the only thing that remotely bothers me is that these victims of generations of inbreeding are reduced to caveman like monsters, mere bogeymen. Are victims of genetic mutations little more than savage beasts? Have we forgotten The Elephant Man so quickly? But I can easily put the blinders on for this issue because it’s worth it.

This episode is gorgeous. I don’t know what suddenly happened to the show’s budget and I certainly know nothing about camera work, etc. but the picture quality has suddenly improved triple fold. The whole effect is downright glossy. Director Kim Manners, may he rest in peace, was generally the go-to man for horror episodes, and he was no stranger to landmark episodes having previously directed “Humbug” (2×20), an episode as freaky as it is funny. But he outdoes himself on this one. The way he films the famous murder of the Taylors with near wordless poeticism is memorable even if you’re not a fan. And visiting the bowels of the Peacock house is like dropping down to Dante’s 6th circle of hell… and the theme of that circle is The Civil War.

In a way, I feel sorry for these throwbacks and I believe we’re meant to. The Peacocks are just trying to hang on to the last vestiges of life as it has been. Like they did in “Humbug”, Mulder and Scully represent the encroachment as life as it eventually will be for all; perfect looking uber humans floating on a sea of unnecessary technology. As sick, twisted, and perverse as their family is, there’s something sad and poignant about the downfall of the Peacocks because it’s the simultaneous downfall of all that the town of Home represents.

How many enclaves are left where one can keep oneself unspotted from the world? Where young boys can ride their bikes to pick up games in the field instead of being driven from lesson to lesson in their mothers’ black SUVs? Where people know that murder, kidnapping, and rape exist but don’t trouble themselves by worrying about them because they only take place in theory?

This idea collapses after a certain point because the Peacocks, in trying to preserve what they have, end up destroying it (or nearly so) and the town of Home along with it through a series of acts that are monstrous for humans, if not unacceptable in nature. The trouble is, they see themselves as survivors, and morality and survival are often strange bedfellows.

There’s a fine line, I suppose, between incest and inbreeding. One is a forced, violent, or at the very least manipulative act. The other is institutionalized a la the Pharaoh’s of Egypt. For the Peacocks, what they practice is more the latter. This is a way of life to them. At some point they realized no one else was going to willingly marry into the family, so they had to make do with what they already had. Really, this whole thing is a crude form of practicality.

Verdict:

This was X-Files legends Morgan & Wong’s first episode back on The X-Files since leaving in Season 2 to produce their own Space: Above and Beyond. I’m sad to say that as much as I love their work, when they came back in Season 4 they almost seemed to be writing for a different show. Each of the four episodes they wrote on their return were “out of bounds” in one way or another. “Home” I think steps over the line the most successfully.

I love it when Mulder and Scully takeover a small town. There’s nothing shocking about evil in the city, but when it lurks in the cellars of corn-fed middle America there’s always something more sinister about it.

I love Tucker Smallwood as the likeable and wise Sheriff Andy Taylor. I love that Mulder and Scully are making more wise-cracks than usual. And, most of all, I love Johnny Mathis.

True, Johnny Mathis wouldn’t lend his voice to this episode because of its content so it’s actually a Johnny Mathis wannabe that we’re hearing, but it has the same effect.

This was the first X-Files episode to come with a viewer discretion warning for graphic content (the second, “Via Negativa” (8×7), would be more deserving if you ask me). Consequently, the Fox network refused to show it in reruns for the longest, giving the episode an extra layer of mystery to add to its charms.

I can understand why objectively, it’s just hard to understand in reverse since now we live in a world filled with Law & Order: SVU reruns and incest in all its forms is a topic that’s been beaten to death, infanticide too. And the brutal beating? It hardly seems graphic anymore.

It’s not a celebration of such things, it’s an exploration of them. That’s where I draw the line.

A+

Randomness:

So the seed of “Mommy Scully” has been planted. Bearing the future of Season 4 in mind, could that just be a coincidence? I highly doubt it. By now Chris Carter was in the midst of feverishly planning for the upcoming movie. In order to do that, they had to have the trajectory of the mythology for the next couple of years already planned out. Morgan & Wong referenced in interviews that they wrote their episodes at the beginning of the season with a mind to where the writing staff was aiming to have Mulder and Scully at the end of the season. I appreciate the subtle continuity.

No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you with this episode number and neither am I. Once The X-Files took off, the production schedule was never the same again. This is the third episode of Season 4 but the second one aired.

Ah, the introduction of David Duchovny’s “Elvis” cut…

Best Quotes:

Scully: Meanwhile I’ve quit the Bureau and become a spokesperson for the Ab-Roller.

———————–

Scully: Mulder, if you had to do without a cell phone for two minutes you’d lapse into catatonic schizophrenia.
Mulder: Scully, you don’t know me as well as you think you do. You know, my work demands that I live in a big city, but if I had to settle down, build a home, it’d be in a place like this.
Scully: It’d be like living in Mayberry.
Sheriff Taylor: Agents Mulder and Scully… Hi, I’m Sheriff Andy Taylor.
Mulder: For real?

————————

Mulder: Is there a history of genetic abnormalities in your family?
Scully: No.
Mulder: Well, just find yourself a man with a spotless genetic make up and a really high tolerance for being second-guessed and start pumping out the little uber-Scullys.
Scully: What about your family?
Mulder: Aside from the need for corrective lenses or the tendency to be abducted by extraterrestrials involved in an international governmental conspiracy, the Mulder family passes genetic muster.

————————-

Scully: You still planning on making a home here?
Mulder: No. Not if I can’t get the Knicks game.
Scully: Well, just as long as a brutal infanticide doesn’t weigh into your decision.

————————-

Mulder: Scully, would you think me less of me as a man if I told you I was a kind of excited right now? There some secret farmer trick to get these things moving?
Scully: I don’t know. Baa-ram-ewe. Baa-ram-ewe.
Mulder: Yeah, that’ll work.
Scully: I babysat my nephew this weekend. He watches Babe fifteen times a day.
Mulder: And people call me Spooky.

————————

Scully: Way I think it goes here is that Edmund is the brother and the father of the other two.
Mulder: Which means that when Edmund was a kid he could ground the other two for playing with his things?

Blood 2×3: That’s not supposed to happen anywhere.


Postal meets Paranoia.

It’s one thing to have an itsy bitsy fear of spiders, but what if that fear lead you to break out more than a can of Raid? What if it led you to kill two-legged creatures as well?

OK, so maybe spiders didn’t make an appearance in this episode (though they would have if I were in it). Instead, it’s your toaster oven that’s out to get you. That’s right, don’t trust anything your alarm clock tells you. Your machines, and your mind, have been hijacked by the government for a controlled experiment designed to test chemical weapons of war on unsuspecting citizens.

I could buy that, really I could, if only I understood how it was all going down. This episode suffers from a syndrome I like to call “But If That’s the Case, Then…”

For example, citizens subjected to the chemical LSDM are receiving messages through electronic devices. Or are they? Judging from the scene is Mrs. McRoberts’ kitchen, these messages may not be real. Mulder glances at her microwave a second after Mrs. McRoberts does and sees nothing. And it doesn’t make sense that if these messages were visible to all, no one else would have seen them. It’s also hard to believe that someone is somewhere typing all these in at precisely the right moment addressing precisely the right phobia. The question is then, if these messages are in their heads, why do they only see them in machines? Why not in the clouds or in their mother’s meatloaf?

On the side of the messages being real, Mulder directly states that the government is using some sort of subliminal messaging system to control people once they’ve been exposed to the LSDM. But if that’s the case, how do they know what these people’s fears are in order to tailor their messages? In Funsch’s case, how did they know he was afraid of blood and not, say, needles? It’s not as though he’d been to a psychiatrist to be diagnosed, he hadn’t been to the doctor in years. And if someone is spying on these people, then how? Satellites? Can they see through buildings? How on earth can they control every single computer or TV? If they have that much power, surely they could have done a better job of covering up their conspiracy.

The only conclusion I can come to is that there are subliminal messages that somehow, only people who have been exposed to LSDM can see. And somehow, the government is powerful enough to control every electronic device… everywhere. They know just where you are, just what screen you’re in view of, and just what phobia button to push. Far-fetched? Most definitely.

If the story isn’t quite logical, that’s because it’s about the absence of logic. It’s all about paranoia. “Blood” is playing off of our own latent fears as a society. Technology isn’t a useful tool, it’s a weapon used to spy on you. That quaint, small town you’re driving through is actually home to The Stepford Wives. The government that claims to be protecting you with pesticides and preservatives? It’s using you as a guinea pig.

Conclusion:

This episode is about government conspiracy in its purest form. There are no aliens and no signs of the paranormal. I can’t think of a single Season 1 episode that falls into this category except for Ghost in the Machine (1×6) so it’s a nice break from the greater mythology and the typical Monster of the Week. In a way, it’s a forerunner to John Shiban’s awesome “The Pine Bluff Variant” (5×18), which is another reason why I can’t be mad at it.

Even so, for an episode written by Morgan and Wong, “Blood” is at the lower end of the success spectrum. It’s not particularly intense or insightful. In fact, the plot is confusing and even the audience can’t be sure of what’s happening. Are the messages real or imagined? Did the government plan this or is it just a series of unfortunate events?

Exploring personal phobias and societal fears are both great concepts for The X-Files, but they probably should have stuck to one or the other. This episode tries to cover too much. There are government plots, spree killings, uncontrolled paranoia and even machines that talk to you. How many darts can you throw at one board?

Because of all these variables, it’s hard to catch hold of what’s happening. Even in the end, we’re not sure whether the mechanical messages people were seeing were real or imagined. The plot took a back seat to casting vague suspicion on the government. If not the government in particular, a group of nameless, faceless men willing to inflict torture on their fellow citizens without so much as a qualm. With such an unflattering picture of the Federal government, you can tell that Chris Carter et al. grew up in the Nixon era.

It’s not all sturm and drang, however. The Lone Gunmen make a clever return and Frohike’s crush on Scully is intact. Mulder gets in some good quips and Funsch’s freakout on the bus is absolutely great. I can’t really rally behind this one but it’s not a waste of time. Watch it for the highlights rather than the whole.

C+

Best Quotes:

Sheriff Spencer: Played softball with this guy over Labor Day. He was one of those nice guys. Couldn’t play and didn’t bitch about being stuck in right field.
Mulder: What’s wrong with right field?
Sheriff Spencer: Always the first one to shake hands at the end of the game, didn’t matter whether he won or lost.
Mulder: Gotta have an arm to play right field.
Sheriff Spencer: Bought a round of beers afterwards even though he didn’t drink.
Mulder: I played right field.

———————

Frohike: So, Mulder, where’s your little partner?
Mulder: She wouldn’t come. She’s afraid of her love for you.
Frohike: She’s tasty.

———————

Mulder: Hey, Frohike, can I borrow these?
Frohike: If I can have Scully’s phone number.

———————

Mulder: He’s probably one of those people that thinks Elvis is dead.
Scully: Mulder, I was wrong. Exposure to the insecticide does induce paranoia.
Mulder: I think this area is being subjected to a controlled experiment.
Scully: Controlled by who? By the government, by a corporation, by Reticulans?

The Rain King 6×7: We usually just say, “Please.”


Trust me, the man knows how to kiss.

This is probably the cutest X-File ever, and for that reason, fans either love it or hate it. I’m of the love it variety.

If some shudder at the mere thought of “cute” and “X-File” in the same sentence, I can understand why. What do cheesy romantic storylines have to do with a show about mutant monsters and alien probes? Nothing. That is, of course, unless said show had reached the point where mutants and abductions were so commonplace that small town love triangles made for a nice distraction from the gravity of the overarching themes.

But I’m not here to defend “The Rain King” as no defense is necessary. Much better writers than this mere mortal liked this script so much that it got freelance writer Jeffrey Bell hired as a full time staff member. He would go on through Season 8 gracing us with some hits and some misses, but for this episode alone I could plant a big wet one on him.

Which would be plagiarism.

Besides, I could never do it better than Sheila Fontaine does it to an ill-prepared Fox Mulder – Sheila who is played in shameless yet sympathetic fashion by Saturday Night Live alumnus Victoria Jackson.

Does that sound like déjà vu? It should because Jackson is the third Saturday Night Live member to show up on The X-Files this season and she won’t be the last. That will be Charles Rocket in “Three of a Kind” (6×19). Season 6 could be subtitled The Year Saturday Night Live Abducted The X-Files.

In a season that is undeniably more light-hearted than any before it, all this Saturday Night Live style energy is a good fit. Admittedly, “The Rain King” dabbles in some pretty obvious forms of comedy. But is that so wrong? The days of the dark, macabre comedy of writers Morgan and Wong have passed and Vince Gilligan has almost single-handedly caused the advent of an era where Mulder and Scully drink wine with shapeshifters and dodge flying cows. It’s like graduating from High School to college; both periods are precious in their own way.

Okay, enough context. I know this is what you’ve been waiting to read:

Scully: Well, it seems to me that the best relationships, the ones that last, are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look at the person and you see something more than you did the night before. Like a switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend is… suddenly the only person you can ever imagine yourself with.

Whoever thinks Scully isn’t talking about her own feelings for Mulder, raise your hand… and then put it back down. Stop embarrassing yourself.

It wouldn’t be hard to make the case that the whole point of the plot here is to out Mulder and Scully to themselves, or rather, to let them know that the rest of the world is onto their little charade. And not the fictional world they reside in only but the real world of their television audience as well; Chris Carter & Co. throw an exaggeratedly knowing wink to the viewers at home who they acknowledge have been saying the same things for years – “I see the way you two gaze at one another.” Mulder and Scully are the only ones not in on the joke, not realizing how obvious they are.

Back to the statement at hand, I can reasonably hypothesize that the “suddenly” Scully alludes to probably occurred during the events of “The End” (5×20) and possibly around the time of Fight the Future. I can say with scientific certainty that her pause before she shakes her head “No” to Sheila’s query as to whether or not she’s ever kissed Mulder is because she’s recollecting the events that took place in a certain hallway. Will she ever admit as much in a less veiled fashion? Maybe to herself.

Mulder isn’t any better with his bald faced lie to Holman (“I do not gaze at Scully.”), although he does find much amusement when he and Scully are constantly mistaken for a couple. Then again, Mulder said they should pick out china patterns long ago. At least he has the decency to be embarrassed by Sheila’s attentions. Oh, and as an aside, it’s not surprising that Sheila develops a thing for Mulder. What’s surprising is that more women don’t on this show. That’s how you know it’s not real. Men that good looking don’t come around often enough for the female population to be indifferent, fictional or otherwise.

I realize that “The Rain King” and its brand of overt Shippiness is a turn off to some fans. Yes, Holman’s parting, “You should try it sometime,” in Mulder’s direction may be a tad much. But the show had to throw long-suffering Philes a bone. If Mulder and Scully’s relationship isn’t going to move forward any time soon, they have to toss Shippy bait into the water every so often to keep the fish biting. I remember those days and I know I needed confirmation and validation on some level at least. If Season 6 is a little heavy on that validation in the standalone episodes, it’s only to cover the emotional trauma of episodes like “The Beginning” (6×1) and the soon to come “One Son” (6×12). I said I wouldn’t defend this episode, but there you go.

There’s only one thing that concerns me and that’s that post season opener, we’ve only had one serious episode, the kind you watch through your fingers, and that was six episodes ago. We’re overdue for some high stakes, don’t you think?

Verdict:

“The Rain King” may not be the crafted genius of “Bad Blood” (5×12) or “Small Potatoes” (4×20), but it’s a fully entertaining hour of television. Perhaps it’s because I’m 1/64th Cherokee, but when Sheila starts screaming, “Darryl, no! Not the face!!” I jump up and down in unbalanced laughter.

I will not apologize. I cannot. This episode isn’t a guilty pleasure because I feel no guilt. It’s my right as an X-Phile to mop up silliness like soup at the bottom of the bowl when I see fit.

A

Somewhere Over the Rainbow:

Reason #1 to love this episode – “Okay, Rhonda, that’s enough! Go find yer mama!”

It has been a looooong time since Mulder gave us an Elvis joke.

What garbage can did Mulder sneak this case file out of? There’s no explanation given for how Mulder and Scully found a way to investigate an X-File behind Kersh’s back again, but it’s not hard to imagine Mulder pulling some stunt off camera.

Mootz has made it through surgery, rehab, and been fitted for a prosthetic leg in only 6 months? And he has time to set up his Rain King operation? He’s had 40 customers by the time Mulder and Scully arrive.

That’s not the only timeline issue here. The events of this episode take place in August but it aired in January. And I haven’t delved into it, but I’m pretty sure that it conflicts with the timeline of earlier episodes.

The Rain King has a rock star rider attached to his contract. Maybe he really thinks he’s Elvis.

Knee-jerk Skeptic Scully is back. A man can’t control the weather? Didn’t she ever watch “D.P.O.” (3×3)?

We got robbed – a scene between Mulder and Scully after they’re forced to spend the night in the same motel room could have afforded us priceless humor.

Who is Scully kidding? She wasn’t checking Mulder’s head for injuries and she wasn’t just making a joke either. She was looking for an excuse to play in his hair.

Much like in “Small Potatoes”, there’s some gentle mocking of David Duchovny’s status as a heartthrob happening here.

Reason #63 – the look on David Duchovny’s face as he mentally tracks the cow flying overhead.

From Cherish the Past: Speaking of flying cows, Kim Manners said that if he had to do it all over again, he would go back and change one small but significant detail of “The Rain King.” “I screwed up big time,” said the director, “which I realized while I was driving along the Ventura Freeway two months later. When that cow dropped through the ceiling, I should have had David ad lib ‘Got Milk?’ I’m still pissed at myself that I didn’t.”

Reason #106 – Mulder and Scully swaying to “The Things We Do For Love”.

Best Quotes:

Holman Hardt: Well, you gotta help me.
Mulder: I got a plane to catch.
Holman Hardt: You can’t go. If you don’t help me, who will?
Mulder: I am meeting my partner at the airport. [Mulder’s phone rings] Excuse me. Hold on. [Answers] Mulder.
Scully: Mulder, it’s me.
Mulder: I’m on my way.
Scully: I’m not so sure. Have you looked outside lately? It’s pea soup. Our plane can’t take off until after this fog lifts.
Mulder: Fog? Holman!
Holman Hardt: [Shrugs]
Scully: Holman?
Mulder: Yeah… he wants advice. Dating advice.
Scully: Dating advice? From whom?
Mulder: Yours truly.
Scully: [Silence]
Mulder: Hello? Hey, Scully. Scully, you there?
Scully: I heard you. Mulder, when was the last time you went on a date?
Mulder: I will talk to you later. [Hangs up]
Scully: The blind leading the blind.

———————–

Holman Hardt: I’ve been envious of men like you my whole life. Based on your … physical bearing, I had assumed you were… more experienced.
Mulder: [Silence]
Holman Hardt: And you spend every day with Agent Scully, a beautiful, enchanting woman.
Mulder: [Silence]
Holman Hardt: You mean you two never, uh…?
Mulder: [Silence]
Holman Hardt: I… confess I find that shocking. I… I’ve seen how you two gaze at one another.
Mulder: [Impassive silence and then…] This is about you, Holman. I’m here to help you. I’m perfectly happy with my friendship with Agent Scully.
Holman Hardt: So according to your theory I walk in there, tell her I love her and the drought will end?
Mulder: [Fixes his tie and pats his face] Just tell her how you feel. And Holman… I do not gaze at Scully.

————————

Sheila Fontaine: You love him, don’t you?
Scully: Wha…?
Sheila Fontaine: You’re jealous because Agent Mulder and I have a special connection and you’re trying to divert me to Holman.
Scully: What? {Editor’s Note: The look on her face. The look on her face.}

Miracle Man 1×17: What in tarnation do you want?


Why am I the only one smiling?

The problem with Hollywood is that they can rarely depict religion from anywhere but the outside. This makes for rather two-dimensional viewing. Chris Carter and Howard Gordon gave an objective look at Southern Christian culture the old college try, but as Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

What do we end up getting? We get a sideshow circus on a bad cable access channel, not the Church in America. To be fair, some of the stereotyping is necessary. Like Mulder and Scully, the audience has to be inclined to discount what they see initially in order for the ending to be all the more powerful. We wouldn’t have a startling surprise if the Reverend felt legit from the get go. Understood.

But I have a couple of bones to pick, if not with the Reverend’s ham-handed portrayal, then with the script. A Reverend, particularly a Southern one, would never say, “Rise up and heal” he would say “Rise up and be healed.” And that line about “This is the power of belief”? No. Pentecostal preachers don’t lounge in their Lay-Z-Boys reading The Secret. Most of all, he would never, ever say, “Samuel will heal you” or say to Samuel the words, “The grace and goodness of your healing power.” That’s akin to blasphemy. They bring in FBI consultants for the show, right? Well, they couldn’t find a preacher??

I’m critiquing the Reverend since I can’t critique Samuel, as he’s not supposed to be an Evangelical at all. Apparently, he’s a psychic healer who uses techniques found in Eastern medicine to fix people’s “energies.” This explains why Samuel can say “I have healed” rather than “God has healed” without being declared anathema. As Tina would say, what’s God got to do with it?

I know I’m nitpicking and that is in some ways unfair. Most people may not even catch the finer points of difference I’m dredging up. But it’s the little things that lend authenticity to a tale. And if I’m going to get wrapped up in the story than I need to believe that the characters are who they say they are.

No matter. Don’t mind me. I only sound bothered. I actually couldn’t care less about this episode. But, ah, therein lies the problem.

And the Verdict is…

I did say that there is a general trend upward in episode quality during the last half of Season 1. It’s a very general trend. “Miracle Man” represents a slight dip. How boring would it be if the graph just went straight up?

If Samuel and both of his antagonists were more empathetic, gripping characters, this might have worked. My suspicion is that this episode is stretched too thin with 4 prominent guest stars sharing screen time. We can’t fully appreciate a single one of them. Their emotions run deep but we only see the surface of their resentments and hear exposition about the rest. And if 4 wasn’t a difficult enough number to manage, let’s add the spectral figure of Samantha Mulder as a distracting complication.

Samuel should have been the focus. Then again, his bad boy behavior isn’t convincing. He’s a moping, petulant child the entire episode. That is, until he turns into a Christ-like figure led as an innocent sheep before the slaughter. Then he finally shuts up. I take it back. That was more than enough of Samuel.

Well, it’s not all bad. This is about as open-minded as we’ve ever seen Scully and the hints dropped about her own background of faith are well worth the watch. And both Mulder and Scully respect Samuel. If Scully doesn’t absolutely believe him she doesn’t absolutely discount him either. At the very least, writers Chris Carter and Howard Gordon are trying to tell us that faith shouldn’t be so easily dismissed, no matter how seemingly ridiculous the messenger.  That’s something worth taking away.

A well-meaning if less than anointed episode. A more successful attempt will come much, much later with “Signs and Wonders” (7×9).

C

P.S. For a great example of how to imitate Evangelicals believably see The Apostle with Robert Duvall. The man was brilliant.

Nagging Questions:

All it takes is a few well-placed potatoes and you have a plague of locusts on your hands? I bet no one told Moses.

Since when are autopsies anti-scriptural? Sounds more like a convenient plot device.

General Observations:

I believe this is the second episode to feature Mulder’s Elvis obsession. I’d better start keeping track.

A pink mansion. And here I thought pink Cadillacs were ostentatious.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I think I saw some of these same people at Woodstock.
Scully: You weren’t at Woodstock.
Mulder: I saw the movie.

————

Scully: I was raised a Catholic and I have a certain… familiarity with The Scripture. And God never lets the Devil steal the show.
Mulder: You must’ve really liked The Exorcist.
Scully: One of my favorite movies.

————

Scully: You’ve got that look on your face, Mulder.
Mulder: What look is that?
Scully: The kind when you’ve forgotten your keys and you’re trying to figure out how to get back in the house.

Shadows 1×5: It’s a big bell with a big crack.


These are our "interested" faces.

This is the second outing for Morgan and Wong, though it’s ultimately not as memorable as Squeeze (1×2). Looking back, the episode spent too much time focused on the victim, Lauren Kyte. My understanding is that the network wanted to see Mulder and Scully helping people through their cases and this was Morgan and Wong’s response. Consequently, Mulder and Scully do more to help Lauren Kyte reach an emotional breakthrough than they do to catch the ghost. Fox probably should’ve kept its opinions to itself.

I have to say that overall, this is an episode I don’t have much at all to say about. It’s not particularly frightening, neither is it absolutely boring. There are quite a few humorous moments and some memorable side characters what with the pathologist and the graveyard caretaker. Scully starts throwing in the one-liners, which is a bonus. There’s also Mulder and Scully’s wild ride…

Part of the problem is that we, as the audience, know that the poltergeist is Howard Graves from early on. Mulder and Scully are playing catch up, which diminishes some of the excitement the episode should have had. Their investigation is sound, just boring because we already have the answers.

Most disappointingly, there isn’t much to observe about character development because, well, there is none. Mulder and Scully’s evolution is traded for Lauren Kyte panicking and sniffling. I suppose I can’t say there’s no character development. Scully does reveal that she’s an undiscovered actress. She certainly fooled Lauren Kyte. Mulder, for his part, if he isn’t angry at Scully for the charade, does seem a little disappointed that his partner would use Lauren Kyte’s belief to manipulate her. We all know that believing in ghosts is sacrosanct. Let’s go the positive route and say that Scully was trying to find a way for everybody to win.

At least Mulder and Scully learn to live a little… while they’re alive. This is the first time we see them just killing time together with Mulder’s suggested field trip to the Liberty Bell. Maybe they did learn a lesson from “The Jersey Devil” (1×4).

And the Verdict is…

Let’s just say the tone of this review isn’t negative but rather a little uninterested. I’ve seen this episode I don’t know how many times and still have the same reaction. Not that there aren’t some decent moments, but the story overall isn’t engaging.

Certainly the bathtub scene is creepy. It feels like something out of a horror movie. And like in Carrie, watching people get thrown around by an invisible force is always good for some fun.

Shadows does bear the lonely moniker of being the first, and maybe only real, X-Files ghost story. The later episode, “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” (6×8) was more of a jolly romp than a paranormal nightmare. Fun, mind you, but not frightening. This episode was influenced by the greats that came before it: Carrie, Poltergeist. In case we’re unsure of what the writers had in mind, the characters reference those films directly. It was a good attempt if not a rousing success.

At least we can be sure a truly platonic love existed somewhere in The X-Files universe.

C-

Bepuzzlements:

Why didn’t Graves exact his revenge from the beginning?

Who knew Mulder was a photographer? Why didn’t this knowledge pop up in later episodes like “Unruhe” (4×4) for instance?

General Observations:

Mulder’s first Elvis reference!

Scully in that green jacket and peach blouse… she looked like pumpkin pie on a Christmas dinner table.

During the interrogation scene, Mulder and Scully have his and her pink and black mugs. Hilarious.

Scully conveniently can’t get out of her seatbelt and so misses the poltergeist party. Is it predictable yet?

Did anyone else feel that Dorland was propositioning Lauren… just a tad?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I would never lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation.

——————

Scully: Psychokinesis? You mean how Carrie got even at the prom?

——————-

Mulder: You know how difficult it is to fake your own death? Only one man has pulled it off: Elvis.

——————-

Mulder: Hey, Scully, do you believe in an afterlife?
Scully: I’d settle for a life in this one.