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