Sunday, September 6, 2015

The X-Files - S3:E18 "Teso dos Bichos"

[ S3:E17 "Pusher" <<< Season 3 >>> S3:E19 "Hell Money" ]

This episode's synopsis reads like a cheap sci-fi/horror flick. A sacred urn - containing human remains - is uncovered at a South American excavation site, and removed - against the will of the superstitious locals - to a museum in Boston. What follows - the unleashing of a curse in the form of a jaguar spirit - is so predictable (other than a welcome twist that crazy cat ladies everywhere will go...well, crazier for) that it's surprising Mulder has any trouble convincing anyone of it this time around (except, of course, for the fact that these characters don't realize they're in fantasy land).

I hate to criticize an episode as imaginative as this one - as this is the kind of story it seems that The X-Files was created to tell, at least as far as the monster-of-the-week format is concerned. Yet, at the same time, I feel like the series has advanced so far from its formative season 1 days, that my expectations for the quality of these episodes has risen considerably. Which, to be honest, is a good thing. Still, when you're marathoning the series like I am, it's nice to get an easy episode like this one every so often, to give you a bit of a breather. Plus, the call back to an earlier season is welcome.

Thinking about it, I remarked back in Shapes that the monster-of-the-week tends more often than not to be a humanoid freak - often a person with strange powers or abilities (or hungers or desires). I've always liked monsters better than freaks, in general, but, contrasting this episode with the previous one, Pusher, in particular, it gives me the impression that The X-Files' monster-of-the-week episodes were consistently better when they were dealing with humanoid freaks rather than straight-up monsters. Ah well. There are still some pretty creepy moments in this episode - involving rats, and intestines, and a series of underground tunnels.

Random note: The song that plays in the scene just before Dr. Lewton gets attacked by the jaguar spirit bears some resemblance to a song I've always loved from the classic first-person shooter PC game Doom - the melancholy victory theme that plays at the end of each(?) episode. I wonder if this is just a coincidence. It's well documented that id Software ripped off musical themes from other sources (including popular heavy metal songs) when scoring Doom, but in this case, this episode came out 3 years after Doom's initial release. Perhaps they had a common source of inspiration. Or, again, it may just be a coincidence.

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: Personally, if someone digs me up in a thousand years, I hope there's a curse on them, too.

(The sentiment is noted, Mulder, but you're a criminal investigator - what about all those bodies you've exhumed - or couldn't exhume, due to pesky, over-sensitive and superstitious locals - in order to perform autopsies so you can solve cases and prevent other deaths? I sense some hypocrisy here).

Scully: So you think Bilac's innocent - that the victim wasn't even murdered at all; that he was devoured by a mythological jaguar spirit?
Mulder: Go with it, Scully.

Mulder: Someone fed this dog rat poison?
Doctor: No. When I dissected the dog's stomach, I found an undigested fragment of intestine, which appears to be feline.
Scully: The dog ate a cat.
Doctor: I also found what appears to be bits of rat fur. I think the rat ate the poison.
Scully: Cat ate a rat.
Mulder: And the dog ate the cat.

(I swear, the cast was this close to breaking out into song...)

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