Tag Archives: Fight Club

Babylon 10×4: I resent that characterization and I don’t even know what it means.


Babylon359

Don’t bother adjusting your antennas, ladies and gentlemen.

Mulder: Hi. Einstein? I need you to do me a favor so we can save the world. I’d like you to feed me some quasi-legal magic mushrooms to get me high. Because if I get high and reach that higher plane of consciousness that the Beatles only dreamed of, I can communicate with a comatose terrorist currently in a lower plane of consciousness. I’d ask Scully but she never lets me have nice things. She said no to the Star Wars wedding too. Can you rush down here, please? Thanks. #TrippingAgainstTerrorism

Well, shave my knuckles and call me “Curly.” That was a bunch of mechanical bull.

And you know what? Horrible as it is, it barely even got my shackles up. I mean, I’m not happy, but to break out that venerable and ancient stick called Brutal Honesty: this is what I had braced myself for. I had hoped for better, but I had suspected worse.

If you’ve been gracious enough to read some of my mental meanderings disguised as reviews, then you know that I’ve been rooting for Chris Carter to prove himself again to the fandom.  I’m a fan of both his writing and directing and am usually game for his experimental pet projects. “Babylon” is one of those, v. SMH16.

Fourteen years after the original end of the series and it’s obvious that Chris Carter has a lot he wants to say, he just doesn’t have 8,562 hours to do it in. This is a television program, not a New York Times op-ed piece. Go ahead. Throw out an idea, an opinion or two. Heck, indulge a little and make it three or four. Paint us a visual portrait of your life philosophy. But don’t try to force feed the audience over a decade’s worth of your cultural observations in a single episode of television. They’ll only vomit it all back up.

This forcefully reminds me of “First Person Shooter” (7×13), also directed by Chris Carter, which tried to ally itself with the feminist cause only to disgrace it in yet another failed attempt by the top ‘o the heap at solidarity with the social underdog.

Now, I’m not insensitive to the issues of stereotyping “Babylon” tries to raise having grown up with practicing Muslims in my own family. I’ve also been blessed both to travel and to know people in my own neck of the woods who grew up in predominantly Muslim countries (you might find it awkward to know how many of whom are more paranoid about Islam than most Middle America Americans are, but let me not pull on that thread). If Chris Carter really wants to prove how relevant The X-Files still is then here’s a thought: How about the highly religious young Muslim guy has nothing to do with terrorism??? Too radical?

I know I’m kvetching, but the truth is that for about the first half of “Babylon”, I was following along with an open mind, even if some of the early moments I didn’t understand…

Scully: Since when do you believe in God, Mulder?

Since when did you stop watching your own show, Chris? “Signs and Wonders” (7×9), “Closure“(7×11), “Existence” (8×21), “The Truth” (9×20/21), I Want to Believe… did I imagine you took Mulder through a spiritual evolution or did you imagine I’d forget?

Scully: You know that prophecies like this have been going on for centuries, failed prognostications of doom, failed prophecy – even in the Bible.

Mulder: Yeah, God told Adam that if he at the forbidden fruit he’d die. And he lived 930 years. Top that.

He lived 930 years and then he died… right?

Anyway.

Then of course, I see Mulder and Scully doppelgangers, think “Fight Club” (7×20), and immediately get nasty chills. To my relief, Agents Miller and Einstein aren’t at “Fight Club” levels of irritating. They also aren’t interesting at all. The way Einstein is written, she’s overdone. Miller comes across as little more than an over-eager frat boy. Mulder and Scully were young and full of wonder once, but they managed to radiate capability and intelligence beyond their years. And now I know: The X-Files couldn’t have been created in or with this generation.

But what am I stalling for, right? We all know what the baloney in this sandwich is… Mulder tripping through the tulips with a 10-gallon hat on his head and an Elvis in his pelvis. My concern waxed and then waned something like this:

kt0D2jv

200 (8).gif

200 (11).gif

200 (12)

200 (10).gif

200 (13).gif

And they’re trying to pass this off as the much anticipated return of the Lone Gunmen?

200 (1).gif

Call me crazy, but I don’t think badonkadonk hony tonk, inaccurate Biblical allusions, and unoriginal socio-political commentary together a cake bake. Frost it with a heavenly horn section and I am officially unamused. That’s right. God Himself just signed off on MSR and my reaction was:

200 (9).gif

I suppose there were a few vestiges of the thoughtful television The X-Files used to be. Do thoughts have weight? Do words have weight? Can anyone feel the weight of my thoughts like an Acme piano falling from a roof?

One (more) thing that did bother me was the not so subtle depiction of Texans and American law enforcement as a bunch of bigoted bullies. I mentioned “First Person Shooter”, infamous for attempting to elevate women by making men look like a bunch of hormone crazed idiots. “Babylon” sympathizes with a repentant terrorist to the point of making the victims, the citizens filled with righteous indignation, look mean for being angry. They absolutely should forgive and I’m not trying to suggest they shouldn’t or that bigotry against Muslims isn’t real or dangerous. But this episode wants the masses to offer forgiveness without conceding that there’s anything that needs to be forgiven. Yep. Knotted issues too big to be picked apart in less than an hour of television.

Verdict:

In the immortal words of those ladies of the barenaked variety: It’s all been done.

In the past fourteen years since the show ended, terrorism on television has been brought forward, pulled back, flipped out, dissected, intersected, and vivisected. I wanted, I so wanted, for this to be something fresh and new – something we were promised the revival would be; it was never supposed to be purely about nostalgia, remember? Instead I’m mortified to report that “Babylon” comes across as a desperate attempt to seem progressive, relevant, sexy and wise.

I can’t help but think back to “Improbable” (9×14) and Chris Carter’s last off-the-wall attempt to define God for a television audience. Then God was a dancing, prancing, grinning Burt Reynolds – low in authority, high in laughter. Now God is an angry tyrant who set man off on his path of confusion but will occasionally speak to the mankind He cast away through dissonant elephant calls – if you care to listen.

I won’t vouch for either interpretation. And the thoughts expressed all throughout this episode are so random and disjointed that I can’t even engage them in debate. I will only say that this doesn’t feel like the same Chris Carter who wrote “Irresistible” (2×13), but I know he’s still in there. I want to believe.

F

The 7th Trumpet:

That final shot is basically a redo of the final shot of “Improbable”, minus Burt Reynolds.

Mulder’s conversation with Einstein wandered very close to Tulpa territory and the mysteries of creation that make up “Milagro” (6×18).

Making Einstein jealous of Scully and then using that as motivation for her to assist in Mulder’s little experiment cheapens the character almost immediately.

The story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 involved neither anger nor violence, either on the part of God or man. So I’m not sure where Chris is coming from on the premise of this entire episode.

“You were 50 shades of bad.” – Absolutely. Freaking. Not.

Advertisements

Je Souhaite 7×21: How many centuries now has disco been dead?


JeSouhaite200

Breakfast of champions.

First off, disco is not dead.

Second off, it wasn’t until I joined the internet fandom many years after the show first aired that I realized people really loved this episode. ‘Cause I didn’t love it. I didn’t know what to do with it. I was bored.

Maybe it’s that every time I reach this point in Season 7 I’m so bored and frustrated that it really would take a magic wish to wake me up. – Or some devilish shenanigans a la “Requiem” (7×22). Maybe I would’ve liked it better if we hadn’t just had two kooky episodes in a row. Maybe.

I should love it because “Je Souhaite” is classic Vince Gilligan. And Vince Gilligan is probably my favorite television writer ever. Here he also directs an episode of The X-Files for the first time, which is in keeping with Season 7’s theme of letting everyone have a chance to take the wheel.

But my hangups with this episode are the same ones I used to have with “Bad Blood” (5×12 ) and that I should have but don’t with “Small Potatoes” (4×20) because I’m a hypocrite. There are radical, life-altering, world-changing events happening here and the responses are so… comedic that I find it jarring. In “Bad Blood”, Mulder is under investigation for killing an unarmed teenager but basically limits his reaction to sarcastic one-liners directed at Scully. In “Small Potatoes”, women are basically being raped by a man who tricks them into believing he’s their husbands, but dang it, it’s hard to hate Eddie Van Blundht. And here Mulder makes a wish that wipes out the human race and all he can say is, “Oh, crap.”

Where I actually start to disconnect  is when an invisible body is “discovered” and taken in for an autopsy. Would anyone believe it was a human body some guy on the bike had fallen over? And if they believed it was, wouldn’t the CDC, NIH and the Surgeon General have been called out? Why would the local coroner’s office have contacted Mulder and Scully? It’s not like they were investigating the deaths of invisible men.

I realize it’s comedic, but my mind has to be in “Real World according to The X-Files” mode or “Fantasy according to The X-Files” mode. I have a hard time switching back and forth between the two. At first, I think “Je Souhaite” is going to be funny but still somehow real like “Small Potatoes” manages to be, and then suddenly it’s not and a switch turns off in my head. This is a personal problem.

My second problem is that this trope is a little too familiar. Like Mulder, I too grew up watching I Dream of Jeannie, so I know it’s dangerous to be too literal with the jinn. And then there’s that episode of The Twilight Zone, “The Man in the Bottle” warning me to be careful what I wish for. Heck, even Duck Tales warned me that a genie’s power was dangerous.

And, most of all, I saw Aladdin. So we know where Mulder’s final wish is headed, m’kay?

My point is that none of this is new. Trickster genies are a tradition.

Tradition is fine. But there’s no point in telling the story unless there’s a fresh perspective on the tale, and by “fresh” I mean something more than the genie wearing a leather jacket.

If you’re still here, let me assure you that my griping is now done. Unlike “Fight Club” (7×2), this episode has real merit.

Even though my brain may have trouble suspending disbelief, it is funny. Most of my laughter is drawn out by the Stokes brothers who steal the show. I could’ve used a lot more of them. I love Anson’s kitchen table scream. Leslie trying to throw off Mulder and Scully’s suspicion. Chilly Zombie!Anson blowing up the house while Leslie rants and raves in the background. That’s good stuff. That’s Gilligan stuff.

Since Season 3, I’ve noticed that the penultimate episode of the season usually serves as a sort of emotional finale before the mytharc themed season finale. In Season 5, Vince Gilligan gave us “Folie à Deux” (5×19), an episode that reaffirmed Mulder and Scully’s partnership right before it was tested by the advent of Diana Fowley in “The End” (5×20). I don’t know if “Je Souhaite” was originally conceived of as the penultimate episode, but we do know that when it was written and filmed the fate of The X-Files was still up in the air. This very well could have been its last stand-alone episode. Just in case it was, Gilligan had a little message for the fans:

Mulder: The trick is to be specific. To make the wish perfect. That way, everyone is going to benefit. It’s going to be a safer world, a happier world. There’s going to be food for everyone, freedom for everyone, the end of the tyranny of the powerful over the weak. Am I leaving anything out?

Scully: It sounds wonderful.

Mulder: Then what’s the problem?

Scully: Maybe it’s the whole point of our lives here, Mulder, to achieve that. Maybe it’s a process that one man shouldn’t try and circumvent with a single wish.

You heard it here. World peace isn’t achieved by wanting it or wishing for but by working for it. And you don’t have to start big; you start by treating the people around you better.

Mulder: I don’t know if you noticed but, um, I never made the world a happier place.

Scully: Well, I’m fairly happy. That’s something.

Yes, it is, Scully.

If the world ends tomorrow, and knowing season finales on The X-Files it just might, we can rest at ease knowing that even if Mulder didn’t change the world he made a difference in one life.

Verdict:

All my kvetching makes it sound like my grade is going to be more dire than it is. But now that I know what to expect from it, this episode has grown on me over the years, which seems to be my recurring theme for Season 7. I guess when there’s nothing else left, you learn to appreciate what you have.

And who knows? In a few years I may like this as much as “Bad Blood”.

B

Random Observation:

Funny. Jenn doesn’t talk like she last came out of the 70’s.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I can’t believe you don’t want butter on your popcorn. Uggh. It’s un- American.

——————–

Jenn: The only thing you people are cursed with is stupidity. All of you. Everybody. Mankind. Everyone I have ever come into contact with without fail. Always asking for the wrong thing.

Mulder: You mean making the wrong wishes.

JENN: Yeah, it’s always: “Give me money. Give me big boobs. ” [Indicates crotch] “Give me a big hoo-hoo. Make me cool like the Fonz.” Or whoever’s the big name now.

Mulder: You been out of circulation a long time.

Fight Club 7×20: It’s better just to avoid these encounters altogether and at all costs.


FightClub215

I got grills. They’re multiplyin’.

The first rule of “Fight Club” is: You do not talk about “Fight Club”.

That is, unless you’re morally obligated to write a review.

As I said to another Phile friend on Twitter today, I’m not sure whether I should apologize to Chris Carter for hating it so much or demand an apology for having to watch it.

Shameless snarkiness aside, I know he must have been trying to create yet another golden moment for his baby, his show, his beautiful show that I adore. But “the best laid plans” and all that.

I’m sorry, Chris. I’m really, very sorry. You still love me?

Oh, you don’t know me? Oh, okay. Nevermind.

For all its presupposed good intentions, “Fight Club” comes across as desperately chaotic instead of energetically quirky. We have two women, and later two men, who can’t be in the same vicinity as each other without fixtures rattling and the world nearly coming to an end. You know what was a better take on this theme? “Syzygy” (3×13), also penned, though not directed, by Chris Carter.

But where “Syzygy” takes the idea of two people with a close affinity being destined to clash and slowly builds the antagonism to a crescendo, “Fight Club” starts at a ten and then pushes it up to a fifteen. I feel like I’m being yelled at for almost the full forty-three minutes.

Just like wrestler Bert Zupanic, I have a hard time keeping track of when he’s with which version of Kathy Griffin. Let me try to get one part straight, though. Mulder and Scully track down Bert Zupanic because he’s in a picture with a woman they believe is Betty Templeton. Only he doesn’t know Betty Templeton, he knows Lulu Pfeiffer. Mulder and Scully don’t know about Lulu Pfeiffer yet. They only know about Betty Templeton. That’s who they have background information on and that’s who they’re looking for. Ergo, it’s hard to believe they stumbled upon a newspaper clipping of a random guy with Lulu Pfeiffer. But I’m going to assume for the sake of the plot that somewhere the F.B.I. got a hold of a clipping of Lulu Pfeiffer that was assumed to be Betty Templeton, because it’s not like newspapers include names usually. </sarcasm>

That’s enough of me trying to follow the plot. The plot doesn’t even matter. Betty and Lulu are caricatures that merely exist to facilitate the anarchy. Over the course of the episode they change not, neither does their situation. Scully’s closing synopsis doesn’t so much as address their recovery. Let’s move on.

You would think, you would think, that the banter between Mulder and Scully would be a payoff, especially that opening scene. Instead, I find myself weary of the “Look at us, we’re Mulder and Scully of the Unstoppable UST” schtick. Yes, I know you’re not like that other F.B.I. couple, the ones who have worked together for seven years without nary a hint of romance.

Five of the past six episodes have overtly questioned the sexually ambiguous nature of Mulder and Scully’s relationship. The 1013 crew may actually be overestimating how interested we are, or our tolerance for being strung along.

Haven’t we established that they’re together? I’m glad they’re together. They should be together. Now, stop winking at me like you have a bug in your eye.

All that opening scene in the office tells me is that they’ve been doing this too long. And by “they” I mean Mulder and Scully but am afraid that in truth, “they” might have been 1013. There’s a desperation to exude superficial charm in this episode, like they were mimicking their own magic instead of creating all new magic. I don’t know what was happening behind the scenes, but what I’m seeing on the screen reeks of stress, boredom, and joylessness instead of fun and excitement. Is it getting dull to write for Mulder and Scully? If not, then instead of yet another episode about how familiar the beats of The X-Files are I’d like a better X-File, please.

Back when this aired, I remember thinking the show needed an electric shock to the heart fast or someone needed to put it out of its misery before my memories were tainted. Somebody has to do something because right now I’m thinking nostalgic thoughts about “Teso Dos Bichos” (3×18) over here.

Verdict:

In defense of my love for you, Chris, “The Post-Modern Prometheus” (5×6) and “Triangle” (6×3) are two of my all-time favorite moments of television. So there.

D

Whatnots:

Why would you give your future employer all your old addresses? Old jobs, yes. Old addresses, no.

I love Scully’s happy little smirk when she brings Bert Zupanic’s doppelganger into the arena.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: The interesting thing about these agents is they had worked together for seven years previously without any incident.

Scully: Seven years?

Mulder: Yeah, but they are not … romantically involved if that’s what you’re thinking.

Scully: Not even I would be so farfetched.

————————-

Scully: [On phone] Where have you been?

Mulder: [On phone] Seeing a side of Kansas City few men have the privilege to see.