- Posted by Giaco Furino
- On February 16, 2016
- 0 Comments
- The X-Files
A young muslim man prays on his prayer mat, eats a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, joins up with a friend, and suicide-bombs a gallery in Texas. That oft-repeated intro is how this fifth episode of The X-Files starts, but where it goes from there is one of the strangest turns in the show’s ten season run.
While many people died from the bombing, one of the suicide bombers is still alive but in a vegetative state. Mulder and Scully are joined by, essentially, younger versions of themselves in Agent Miller and Agent Einstein (played by the remarkable Lauren Ambrose of Six Feet Under fame). They believe more bombings could be planned, and need to get info out of the comatose suicide bomber. So while Scully and Agent Miller keep the body of the bomber safe from Homeland Security, angry nurses, and various other people who just want to pull the plug on the guy, Agent Einstein and Mulder do their own sleuthing… on the astral plane.
Agent Mulder convinces Einstein to give him psychoactive mushrooms, and he then proceeds to trip. In his trip we see him float through a honky tonk bar, we see him get whipped by a dominatrix, we see him on a boat with the Smoking Man, and eventually he speaks to the suicide bomber and finds information that may prove useful.
The plot is incredibly rushed, and while we get a nice five minute sequence of Mulder tripping, I feel like it was under used. We get that camera locked on him thing, where he wobbles back and forth through traffic, and we see some interesting imagery when he’s on the boat, but they could have jammed this episode full of symbolism, sneak peeks at future plotlines, and more. Instead they play “Achy Breaky Heart,” a honky tonk number, and a Tom Waits song.
This episode is flashy in all the wrong ways, and generally feels like it was made by… how do I say this… old people. Again, the show seems out of touch, but at least this time it’s just out of touch with popular taste and trends, and not out of touch with social/cultural issues.
Which brings me to the terrorist narrative. As far as that goes, this episode actually attempts a nuanced view. The terrorists are muslim extremists, but we only spend a few moments with them. Instead we see much more of Texas, where the attack took place, and how the locals want all muslims out of the town. By pushing back, narratively, against the notion of deporting all muslims, this episode is making a knowing statement against that line of thought.
What really kills this episode is the fact that it feels forced. They plug in that Lumineers song “Hey Ho,” and we get multiple scenes where people are listening to music in headphones as we hear those same songs play over the action. Sure, it was a great excuse to get to hear a Ron Sexsmith song, but this is dated, old-fashioned, edging-on-corny writing and direction from, you guessed it, Chris Carter. I’m now beginning to feel like Carter is the problem with his own series. For a show about aliens, it’s surprising how un-human everyone feels when he’s behind the camera. And while this premise had a lot of promise, it’s half-baked, too jammed full of licensed music, and, in the end, doesn’t feel like an episode of X-Files.