“Most of the unexplained has been explained…”
Now this is more like it! The first episode of ‘The X Files’ revival was terrible, the second only just better than average. With ‘Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster,’ however, Darin Morgan has crafted an episode that belongs in the annals of the best ‘The X Files’ episodes ever. It’s constantly funny, meta, unbelievable and touching, without ever wavering on one feeling or the other. The fourth wall is broken, we see Mulder in his underwear and Scully’s cleavage, there are hordes of easter eggs, and there are musings on the nature not just on The X Files, but on the revival as a whole. Plus, ‘Flight of the Conchords’ Rhys Darby becomes one of the all-time great guest stars on ‘The X Files.’ There’s nary a flaw in sight!
After the pre-credits sequence, we begin with Mulder throwing pencils at the ‘I Want To Believe’ poster (wait a minute, didn’t that burn during Dogget’s reign over the X Files? We find out that it’s actually Scully’s poster…so plot hole solved…kind of!). He’s musing about whether his tenure at the X Files was worthwhile. Has he done anything of important? “I’m a middle-aged man, Scully,” Mulder says. “Is this really how I want to spend the rest of my days? Chasing after monsters?” The meta-reading of this suits David Duchovny to a tee; in the first two episodes, he seemed bored with proceeding and unable to feign interest. Ironically, he seems bored whilst reading out that line, but soon delivers a decent performance. And it’s whilst he is chasing monsters, as Scully delivers the news that their next case involves…a monster!
“Sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it?”
There’s a man-sized horned lizard on the loose, killing people by slashing their throats. We see the monster in the pre-credits sequence, from the point of view of two stoners that sets the scene for the entire episode. One asks whether they should go on getting stoned or not. Is that all they are capable of doing? One says that if they were a werewolf, they’d simply get stoned all the time. Is it really the lizard man who’s doing all the killing, though? Or is there more to the lizard man’s story than meets the eye? This is a Darin Morgan episode: of course there’s more to the monster than meets the eye! In a twist, the lizard man was bitten by a human, thus turning him into a man at day and reverting back to his ‘monster’ form at night. The man, calling himself (hilariously) Guy Mann, reveals his secret to Mulder towards the end of the episode. Cue a hilarious and touching flashback that Guy Mann talks us through.
There was so much packed in to the flashback, and so much sardonic reflection on human life, that’s it’s hard to unpack looking back on it. As soon as Guy Mann turned into a human being, he had a sudden urge to get a job. Afterwards, he “kills a cow” by walking through a drive-thru and asking for a burger. He watches porn all day, and regrets having a job by the second day of his human transformation. However, he worried about debts, paying off a mortgage that he hasn’t applied for yet, so decided to keep his job. “At this age, I’ll never write that novel” are among some of the musings he confides to Mulder. All perfectly human sentiments, yet obliquely absurd when coming out of the mouth of a monster. Especially resonant is his sentiment that “Life’s hopeless…A few fleeting moments of happiness surrounded by crushing loss and grief.”
“I’m not the monster. You are the monster.”
In a sly dig, Mann asks who is the real monster out of Mulder and himself. Mulder assumed that a monster would be behind the killings; doesn’t that make him a monster?!? It turns out it was a human behind the killings. He has a whole speech saved for his eventual arrest, but Mulder cuts him off. Aren’t all serial killers the same?!? Whilst Mann is undoubtedly the highlight of this episode, Mulder is at his very best. There’s a great scene where he continually give Scully’s counter to his arguments, leaving Scully gasping to reply but unable to. It is a scene worthy of applause! By the end of the episode, Mulder is not only ready to believe again and has put his mid-life crisis behind him, but at the same time is ready to accept that his beliefs may be built on faulty ground. Scully doesn’t get much to do, unfortunately, but she captures the real murderer and basically does all the work while Mulder has his mid-life crisis. Plus, Mann lies to Mulder during his flashback about a steamy encounter with Scully, which again sent me into laughing fits.
There are even a few points where Mulder’s knowledge of modern technology is mocked. First, he can’t get his camera app to work properly, resulting in constant flashing and picture taking (resulting in blurry photographs of the picture that looks like fakes, but fakes Mulder would accept as genuine if given to him!). Second, Scully simply says to him “The internet is not good for you.” The first two episodes tried to convince us that Mulder and Scully and hip and up to date, so it was refreshing to be told the opposite. The easter eggs dotted throughout the episode were numerous. Scully’s dog Queeqweg was mentioned. We saw Mulder in red Y-fronts, echoing his red swimming trunks early on in ‘The X Files’ (plus, we saw Scully’s cleavage as well, so there was enough on show for fans of both Mulder and Scully!). The fourth wall was broken when Mulder’s phone rang and ‘The X Files’ theme tune blared out. I’m sure there are plenty I missed, but they didn’t feel forced or out of place.
“I have a whole speech prepared…”
I could go on, but I have already rambled on for far too long. My ramblings cannot do this episode justice. There was so much to enjoy that it’s hard to note everything down. Suffice to say, it was a pleasure for X-Philes, and not just because of the many easter eggs. From mid-life crises to musings about humanity, from psychology to stoners, ‘Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster’ packed so much in and yet never felt bloated. It was classic X-Files, unravelling what makes ‘The X Files’ great whilst not being afraid to poke fun at those very things. If the rest of the revival meets this standard, the first two episodes can be forgiven!
VERDICT: 9/10. Quintessential ‘X Files’ that had its tongue firmly in cheek, yet left enough moments for reflection and emotion amongst the genuine laughs. A classic!
Leave your thoughts/comments below!
Click here for my review of The X Files: Season 10: Episode 2: Founders Mutation)