Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The X-Files 10x03 “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” (This is How I Like My Mulder) [Contributor: Lizzie]

"Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster"
Original Airdate: February 1, 2016

When The X-Files premiered 23 years ago, it wasn’t an overnight hit, but it also wasn’t one of those shows that had to scrape by and beg for renewal. Its numbers were good, though not quite spectacular, and the show rose steadily every season until they reached a peak in season five. People enjoyed the conspiracy, loved the “monsters of the week” and were all in with the Mulder/Scully dynamic.

And yet, those weren’t the only reasons The X-Files gained viewers. From the first episode, the show managed to do something that wasn’t very common in dramas. It brought the fun. I don’t mean the laugh-out-loud comedy type of fun, but the meta kind of awareness that was necessary for a show that... well, dealt pretty heavily with the absurd.

Perhaps no other X-Files writer encapsulates this than Darin Morgan. Though he only penned four episodes in the original run of the series (“Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” “War of the Coprophages,” “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” and “Humbug”), Morgan – who won an Emmy for “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” – was one of those writers we always remembered.

Why do I start with these disclaimers? Because, wow, is this new episode different from the previous dark and serious hours. New fans might even question how or why this change came about. Old pros like me? We know that this is typical of the show we fell in love all those years ago. In fact, it’s probably one of the very reasons why we did. This is campy, self-aware X-Files at its very best: with Mulder believing everything, Scully trying to find scientific answers to every question, and both of them having a grand old time.

And, if they’re having a grand old time, then we’re having a grand old time.


Let’s start with the obvious: Mulder’s having a mid-life crisis. But, to be fair, Mulder has been having a mid-life crisis since at least 2008. Remember the second movie? The beard? The priest? This is why Scully left him, after all. Or, like, that’s the story Chris Carter is selling and we’re not buying. But, whatever, we’re not here to talk about the plot-hole the size of Texas that is Scully leaving Mulder for something she always knew about him. We’re here to talk about Mulder’s mid-life crisis.

On the surface, it’s about his job, about Samantha, about his life’s work. And I say on the surface, because it’s clearly all about Scully. Yes, she’s there, but she’s not there the way he wants her to be. He lost her, and what for? Everything he ever believed in was a lie. He gained nothing, he discovered nothing, and he changed nothing. So was it all worth it?

When the episode begins, Mulder’s clearly thinking “no,” and it’s hard to blame him. It’s hard to feel anything but sad for this shell of the Mulder we used to love. He’s sitting in his desk, making fun of himself. I don’t mean in the way where he mildly reflects on who he used to be, but in the kind of way where he’s questioning everything about his life. He’s questioned everything, and he’s past that. He’s now at the “my entire life was a waste” stage of the game.

If this was any other episode, the resolution for Mulder’s crisis would be… well, serious. It’s a Darin Morgan episode, though, and that’s what makes the journey from the sulking man at the beginning to the smiling one at the end so different. The thing about Mulder is that, yes, his ideas have always been outrageous; but he hasn’t been alone. We’ve all been right there with him. The X-Files, as a TV show first and then as the phenomenon, only worked because Mulder wasn’t the only one who wanted to believe. Sure, Scully made more sense, but she wasn’t the one we often identified with.

No, we, like Mulder, wanted to believe. And that’s why our journey toward buying the incredible story of the lizard-man is as bumpy and, ultimately, as satisfying as Mulder’s own.


A man who transforms into a man-eating-lizard-dragon, as the psychiatrist described him, is not as interesting as a lizard who transforms into a man. Or, at least, it’s not as an apt metaphor for human behavior. From an episode that brought out the laughs, in a big way, “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” was also surprisingly deep. The Lizard, after all, was happy as a lizard. He made a mistake and got turned into a human.

But being a human, well... sucks. Being a human meant, for him, these uncontrollable urges: to cover up, to get a job, to eat a cow (or a cheeseburger, in this case), to worry about mortgages and retirement and death! Being a human can also mean being unfairly accused of killing other people, just because you are labeled a “monster.”

Talk about racism.


This episode was crazy.

Seriously, it was insane. But it still worked, not only because David and Gillian looked to be having the time of their lives, but because the writing was so excessively self-aware. We’ve all wondered how a show like The X-Files would sell science-fiction in the age of smartphones, and they did it by making fun of Mulder’s technology impairments. We all figured this Scully wouldn’t need Mulder to save her. (Spoiler alert: she didn’t). We all knew The X-Files was as its best when it fully embraced the absurdity of everything.

We were right.

In a way, if this episode feels like such a departure from the rest of the miniseries, and even from the rest of The X-Files, as a whole, it’s because it’s an analysis of the character of Fox Mulder. Every fantastical thing happens to Mulder, and Mulder alone. This could very well be an elaborate fantasy – a way for a man who desperately wants to believe to get to the place he needs to. The place the viewers and the writers need him to.

But, if this whole thing is a fantasy, does that mean everything that came before is, as well? And even if the answer is in the affirmative, does that mean he was wrong to believe, that we were wrong to believe? The episode answers this question conclusively when Mulder (the believer, turned cynic for a bit) finally gets to see the Lizard-Man transform. It’s an answer to his prayers, and it’s an answer to ours. He believes. And now, thanks to him (and Darin Morgan), so do we.


It always has been.

And I don’t just mean the big conspiracy-laden truths. I mean the small ones: were-monsters and assorted creatures. As I said before, this whole episode is a big, hilarious metaphor that’s supposed to catapult us into a final reveal. I don’t know what the last episode, the mythology one, has in store. But I’m pretty sure, whatever it is, the writers need our faith restored for that. And that’s why we got a were-monster. That’s why we got Mulder’s crisis.

Because, we, like him, needed something to hold onto.

Other things:
  • I always knew Scully owned one of those posters. 
  • Now I know why Scully doesn’t want a desk. Or her name on the door. She just can’t stand to share the same space with Mr. Slob.
  • The whole Mulder vs. technology subplot in this episode is both hilarious and also a perfect explanation for why, after all these years, Mulder just can’t seem to get actual proof of anything. 
  • You having fun, Scully? We’re having fun. We’re having so much fun it should be illegal. 
  • Kumail Nanjiani, can you be in every episode from now till the end of time? Please. 
  • What in the world was up with Mulder’s car? What color was that supposed to be? Puke?
  • Scully has a new dog! Want to take bets on what she’ll name it? Only obscure literary references, please.
  • Mulder in the red speedo! Mulder in the red speedo! I’m surprised David Duchovny agreed to it (although, knowing him, maybe it was HIS idea), but let me be the one to say it: No one should ever, ever wear speedos, but David Duchovny can sure rock one.
  • I REFUSE to call the Were-Monster “Guy Man,” okay? So we’re going with the actor’s name.
  • Want to get really meta? Darby is dressed like Kolchak from the 1970’s Kolchak: The Night Stalker series. Darin Morgan, the writer/director of this episode left The X-Files to write on a Kolchak reboot.
  • The two graves we saw were tributes to Kim Manners and Jack Hardy. Manners is the most well-known to us fans, as he directed more than 50 episodes of The X-Files. Hardy served as the first AD on Millennium and The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
  • I’m pretty happy to see that the ties are now relatively subdued and professional. The ones you wore before were hideous, Mulder. HIDEOUS. I like to think Scully threw them all out when you two moved in together. 
  • Mulder’s disbelieving face after Darby’s tale about having sex with Scully was dead-on.
  • Mulder’s ringtone being the theme of The X-Files is about as meta as it gets.
  • Irony is Mulder chastising Scully for confronting a “dangerous subject” in the same week where he ran after a monster with a camera in hand, instead of a gun.
  • The love Scully has for Mulder is apparent in every look Gillian Anderson gives David Duchovny. Muder’s always been more obvious than Scully, but right now, there are so much heart-eyes going on between the two of them that I’m half-expecting someone to tell them to get a room. ONE ROOM.
  • Please, again, all I ask is that if they DO get a room, we get to SEE it. It’s been twenty-three years. We’ve earned it. 
  • Ratings have been not huge, right? I mean, that’s right because they’ve been ABSURD. 21.4 million for the first episode, 50 million worldwide, with some big markets left to report. At this point FOX would be crazy not to bring The X-Files back for more. 
The X-Files airs Mondays, at 8/7C on FOX.

1 comment:

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