RECAPITATION! The X-Files S11 E3
After two dour, but peppy, episodes of The X-Files I am excited to finally bite into our first classic “Monster of the Week”. But my fiancee brings up a good point, why ARE they looking into this X File? It seems like after the events of the past two episodes they would, I don’t know, not really be looking into some random case of twins where, I’m just calling it now: the survivor from the first doppleganger encounter we see IS THE DOPPLEGANGER.
Dum dum dum.
While last weeks episode felt like The X-Files trying to blaze their own Black Mirror-esque trail, this weeks feel like it’s cut from the Tales from the Crypt cloth. And to be frank, it’s rather preposterous outside of the comic book corn of the EC comics vault, and in contrast to the last two episodes does make me wonder, “Why?” Why this case? Outside of needing six episodes to fill out this mini season, the necessity of Mulder and Scully to continue opening the X-Files cases seems to be less and less pertinent with each passing episode from the original series run. We know they are looking for their son to stop an alien apocalypse, which was established in the gonzo first episode where we discover Scully’s son is actually fathered by the Cigarette Smoking Man. So when Scully, at the end of that episode, says “The truth is still in the X-Files.” we get that’s to set up the next five episodes. But in reality, this Monster of the Week fails to tie into the overarching story, which in modern times seems disjointed as in our binge watching habits we want each episode to at least continue ideas that are set in the previous episode.
The story of dopplegangers showing up and murdering their human counterparts is a great idea. The film +1 did it rather marvelously, and frankly was the first thing I thought of when the episode was announced! Especially with this being the first true blue MotW episode, it was set up to be potentially very scary! But then Chris Carter gets in his own way with a very weak reasoning as to why this is happening. Mulder and Scully end up in a town investigating a string of deaths where people are saying they keep seeing their self attacking them. Through happenstance, Mulder picks out just the right room that houses are prime suspect: Little Judy Poundstone (played remarkably by X Files veteran Karin Konoval). Ya see, Little Judy has split personalities and likes to play a games of hangman with her brother, Little Chucky Poundstone (who is also played by Konoval, something I did NOT know when watching the episode and just...wow. Supes respect for Ms. Konoval!). How is she playing hangman when she is locked away in a padded room? Psychically, of course. Through a contest of who can chew the scenery the most, Mulder and Scully deduce what is going on before they too can succumb to the deadly childrens game these childlike adults are playing. Tl;dr Mulder and Scully have to stop psychic twins from playing a deadly game of hangman. It’s just...ya see, that works on paper for a five page Vault of Horror comic strip, but stretching it out to 45m destroys the initial “Oh that’s kind of clever” and let’s us sit in whats going on so long that by the end: who really cares?
The X-Files has always, at its heart, been a procedural show. Maybe to truly keep The X-Files going, they need to lean heavily back on its procedural roots. We like the fun, peppy Monster of the Week episodes with our fearless FBI investigators discovering ghosts, monsters, and other esoteric cryptids. But the episodes are tarnished when it is either trying to be wedged in to an already convoluted storyline, or it acts as a stand alone which sticks out like a sore thumb. Stephen King recently tweeted that he wanted to see “Law and Order: Vampire Squad”, and really...isn’t that what we want to? Good monster stories about the people who investigate them. I will forever be optimistic about The X-Files, despite what we’ve been given for the past decade, but I think it's time the show started feeling wildly different.