Ah, Darin Morgan. It’s so good to have you back in The X-Files fold. Morgan, as all X-Philes know, is responsible for the original series’ most off-beat and typically humorous episodes, including “Humbug,” “Clyde Bruckner’s Final Repose,” “War of the Coprophages” and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space.” With this third installment of the revival, Morgan brings even more laughs, Easter eggs and a decidedly lighter tone to the proceedings (and hopefully those who felt Duchovny and Anderson seemed to just be going through the paces on the last episode — which was technically Episode 5 — will be pleased to see them having fun again).
In this episode, “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” (an obvious homage to the classic Abbott & Costell Meet… series of films), Mulder is actually rethinking his desire to get back to work. Why? Because everything they ever investigated has been explained. Objects don’t move by themselves (ice!) and there are no monsters. Except Scully informs him that they have been assigned a new case, and this one has a monster. In the previews for the episode, she seemed to be saying this in all seriousness taken out of context, but in context you could see she was really saying it with a bit of a smirk. So off we go on a wild adventure.
Seems a small town in Oregon (and this episode had a very Twin Peaks tone to it), locals (including one played by RuPaul’s Drag Race favorite Shangela) have been reporting seeing some kind of lizard man with three, one or two eyes. No one is really sure, but they do know it has horns. With the discovery of several dead bodies in the forest, and one of the naked, Mulder and Scully try to begin an investigation. But Mulder’s new camera app for his phone is not working properly, and there is a man from animal control who is also seeking the creature, or so he says. When Mulder comes face to face with the beast, he manages to get several shots fired off — from his camera — with the best being a close up of his own face. They see the monster run into a porta-potty, but when they open the door there is just a very startled man inside.
Mulder & Scully try to put the pieces together and the episode throws a whole host of inside jokes and nods for the fans to savor while the resolution puts a twist on the whole monster concept and maybe even restores Mulder’s faith in investigating the unknown. Say what you will about the first two episodes of the series, but this one was definitely a highlight that harkened back to the good old days. We got to see a Mulder and Scully who were once again playful with each other, and Scully even said how much fun she had working on these cases (which seemed like a good way to address the moroseness of the previous episode even though they’re being aired out of order).
For the true believers, the episode was also filled with Easter eggs, the most important of which were the two tombstones in the cemetery where Mulder was trying to get some information from the suspect, Guy Mann (Flight of the Conchords‘ Rhys Darby). One tombstone, which Mulder gave a loving touch, featured the name of Kim Manners, director of the most episodes (52 total), who passed away in 2009. The second tombstone had the name Jack Hardy, who was an assistant director on Chris Carter’s other shows, Millennium and The Lone Gunmen, as well as on the second X-Files movie. He was also a beloved member of the Vancouver film community. What else did eagle-eyed viewers spot?
- The paint huffing couple, played by Tyler Labine and Nicole Parker Smith, previously appeared in season three episodes “War of the Coprophages” and “Quagmire,” for which Morgan did an uncredited rewrite. Nothing has changed for these two … and it’s a wonder they’re still alive!
- We see Mulder throwing pencils not at the ceiling, but at the I Want To Believe poster on the wall. But how is that possible since his poster was torn when he kicked it in the first episode? Scully walk into the office (and she still has no desk) and asks what he’s doing to her poster. Nice save guys!
- The porta-potty was probably a reference to the season two episode “The Host” in which the episode’s monster The Flukeman hides. Darin Morgan actually played The Flukeman.
- Guy Mann is seen wearing a seersucker jacket, tan pants and straw hat (his only pieces of wardrobe apparently) which is a nod to the classic Kolchak: The Night Stalker, which Chris Carter has always cited as an influence on The X-Files.
- In the hotel, the peeping tom manager, who has a secret hallway and eyes in every room, spies Mulder asleep wearing only a pair of red briefs, a callback to the infamous red Speedo he wore in season two’s “Duane Barry” episode.
- After Scully recklessly charges into two possibly dangerous situations without back, Mulder says she could have died by being so careless. Her reply, “You forget … I’m immortal,” was a reference to the “Clyde Bruckman” episode. Scully asks Bruckman, a psychic, how she dies and he simply says, “You don’t.” When Mulder considers one of the forest victims’ fate as his own, possibly death by wolf, lion and bear all at the same time, he’s obviously forgetting Bruckman told him he would die as a result of “autoerotic asphyxiation.”
- The motel manager was played by Alex Diakun, who has appeared in three previous Morgan-scripted episodes, as well as Morgan’s season two episode of Millennium, “Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me” and Chris Carter’s season one episode “Lamentations.” He’s also the head-transplanting physician in the second X-Files movie. They consider him part of the show’s ensemble at this point.
- Somehow, Mulder has a ringtone of the show’s theme song on his phone.
- Daggoo, the cute dog at the animal shelter who was briefly Guy Mann’s pet. The name is another reference to Moby-Dick which began in season one when we learned in “Beyond the Sea” that Scully’s father often called her Starbuck, who was the chief mate on the Pequod. Those references continued with the name of Scully’s dog, Queequeg (introduced in “Clyde Bruckner’s Final Repose”). In the episode “Quagmire,” Scully refers to Mulder as Ahab (and Queequeg is also eaten by an alligator). Daggoo was a harpooner on the Pequod, so it’s no wonder Scully feels a connection to the dog.
It was nice to have a fun episode mixed in with this revival series, and the clever writing shows that Morgan has not lost his touch after all these years. But with only three episodes left, we’re sure to be heading back into darker territory, and hopefully we’ll find out why the Cigarette Smoking Man was so concerned that the X-Files has been reopened.
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