Fox‘s The X-Files Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster TV Show Review. The X-Files: Season 10, Episode 3: Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster is filled with laughs and nostalgia but precious little else.
Before you say anything, yes, I’ve seen Jose Chung’s From Outer Space, and yes, I’ve seen Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, both comedic episodes in Season 3 of the original series. Not only did I think they were quite funny, but I felt and still feel the former was one of the best entries in the show’s entire run. For what it’s worth, I thought this episode was funny also, with one scene where Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) steals flowers placed at a grave while trailing a suspect before placing them at the tombstone (bearing the name of a certain Kim Manners, nudge nudge, wink wink) right next to him easily becoming one of my favorite moments in the new series. It’s just that it might have been too funny for it’s own good, as you might have surmised from the scene described above.
Following the paradigm-shattering revelations of My Struggle and the disturbing subject matter of Founder’s Mutation, the show comes across as an anomaly even by the generous standards of The X-Files. Immense levels of momentum have been built up, and initially, it seems that the episode is going to handle it properly. Much to X-philes’ delight, we’re back in Mulder’s old division office, complete with his fondly-remembered “I Want To Believe” UFO poster. Well, fondly remembered by fans anyway. The now-reinstated FBI agent is chucking pencils at it when Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) enters the room to inform him about a new case. Despondent over the fact that dozens of the mysteries he used to ponder over have been solved and (presumably) the very real possibility that the government has been pulling one over him, arch-conspiracy theorist that he is, all these years, Mulder wants to hear nothing of it. Then Scully tells him a monster is involved.
As the two investigate a series of strange killings in a wooded area, Mulder’s nascent skepticism disappears and Scully’s returns, restoring their relationship and interactions to their original form in past seasons. Part of the homage I guess, although the idea of a show feeling the need to pay homage to itself doesn’t make much sense to me, even more so if said homage blatantly flies in the face of continuity established in immediately preceding episodes. Granted, the supernatural nature of this week’s monster necessitates a revision to the more grounded (or less absurd at least) narrative and tone of the last two installments, and if done more seriously, it might have done precisely that.
Judging by the episode’s treatment of the eponymous “Were-Monster” however, the producers intended to do nothing of the sort. While the creature, sporting scales, horns and striking red eyes, looks imposing enough, any potential for a truly memorable monster of the week is squandered when the show decides that the actor portraying it, Rhys Darby, is more interesting than the monster itself. Spending a good chunk of time out of makeup, we learn that Darby’s Guy Mann is not a man who turns into a human-sized lizard, but a human-sized lizard who turns into a man after being bitten by a serial killer (Kumail Nanjiani). We also learn that he was not responsible for those bodily-mutilated bodies (in case you were still wondering about those): it was the serial killer the whole time! My, what a tangled web we weave!
What Guy does do, however, is provide Mulder and viewers with extended, unsolicited commentary on the human condition that while occasionally chuckle-inducing, tends to be more stale than anything. Subjecting Mulder to a tired, “I wonder who the real cannibals are” (or Were-Monsters, as it were) spiel, Guy laments that he, among other perceived indignities, has to dress and work now and pathetically tries to convince the FBI agent to put him out of his misery. Taking pity on the poor monster, Mulder agrees, but only after he reveals how he started transforming in the first place. Overjoyed, Guy mutters, “Thanks mister, you’re the only nice person I’ve ever met!” Funny, yes, but in the wake of government and corporate plots to abduct and experiment on people, kind of underwhelming as well.
Overall, Mulder And Scully Meet The Were-Monster is an episode with an intriguing premise that goes nowhere because of it’s repeated falling back on gags and references to X-Files lore. The fact that the supporting cast consists almost entirely of stock-character comic relief doesn’t help, with a transgender prostitute, a vaguely-Germanic-accented psychologist, a lecherous motel owner, and even Nanjiani’s serial killer, ready to explain “why he did it” after being apprehended as if he were going to recite a dramatic monologue, rounding out the panoply of one-dimensional figures Mulder and Scully encounter. Again, it’s amusing for the most part and chockful of shout-outs that will make longtime show fans squee with delight, but ultimately, after 14 years off the air, both viewers and The X-Files itself deserve so much more.
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