Monday, November 30, 2015

The X-Files - S7:E12 "X-COPS"

[ S7:E11 "Closure" <<< Season 7 >>> S7:E13 "First Person Shooter" ]

It deserves to be said that whoever's idea it was (presumably Vince Gilligan, who wrote this episode) the idea of doing a crossover between The X-Files and COPS is nothing short of brilliant. Conceptually, it's as perfect a marriage as Freddy vs. Jason. That would have been true regardless of whether the episode had turned out to be good or bad or so bad it's good. But you get the feeling that, done the right way, it could be amazing. Unfortunately, I can't say that it quite manages to rise to that level, which is a little disappointing. But it's one of the more interesting experiments the show has done in its later years. And - I don't know how I didn't think of this before,'s a perfect opportunity, given the reality TV perspective, for The X-Files to do a found footage episode! Right down to the monster you never get a chance to see.

The episode opens like an episode of COPS, following a California patrolman investigating a "prowler" on the night of a full moon. They end up intersecting Mulder and Scully in the middle of an investigation into a series of monster sightings that Mulder attributes to a werewolf. (The way that Scully shuns the publicity, but Mulder relishes the opportunity to capture proof of the paranormal on camera is humorous, if entirely predictable). But as the varying reports come in throughout the night - alternately describing a werewolf, a "wasp-man", and Freddy Krueger, among other things - the form of the creature they're hunting (or that's hunting them) becomes ever harder to pin down. The only constant is the presence in its victims of mortal fear. Saying this as a fan of found footage films, truly good found footage is few and far between. This episode is not uncharacteristic, then, in its general mediocrity, and its failure to deliver on what is a solid premise. As such, I'd describe it more as a great idea than a great episode.

Memorable quotes:

Deputy Keith Wetzel: Irregardless, we're on the job, and if that makes people breathe a little easier knowing we're out there - be a little less nervous walkin' the streets at night - that's a good feeling.

(I respect the idea of "peacekeeping" officers - and I know my experience isn't universal -'s sadly ironic how naive this mindset is, given that cops often are one of the threats decent people have to watch out for on the streets. It's not entirely the cops' fault, themselves - although corruption is a real concern - but also because we live in a puritanical society that permits our lifestyles to be governed by bigoted moral standards derived from outdated religious tomes).

Deputy Keith Wetzel: We were attacked.
Sgt. Paula Duthie: By who? By gangbangers?
Deputy Keith Wetzel: Yeah, yeah. It was gangbangers.

Sgt. Paula Duthie: With all due respect, what the <BLEEP> are you talking about?

Mulder: I'd have to say that, at this point in the investigation, I'm usually a little more secure in what it is we're actually investigating. But we've had so many conflicting eyewitness reports, it's hard to ascertain what it is we're actually looking for.

Mulder: Scully, we came on this case looking for a werewolf, right?
Scully: Well, you did, that's correct.

Mulder: The camera doesn't always tell the whole story.

Scully: Well, you didn't get the proof that you wanted, Mulder. 
Mulder: Well, hey, you know, it all depends on how they edit it together.
Scully: It's gonna be a hard one to write up.


  1. I remember this episode. The mere existence of it sort of blew my mind. 'Cause Cops was constantly on. And then sometimes... it was The X-Files. I was like alsjjadjk.

    This would have come out right around the same time as Blair Witch. I assume they were trying to capitalize on that mania rather than it being a coincidence. This is also very similar to a much later show called Lost Tapes which encounters a new cryptid each episode and many of the episodes center around police.

  2. Yeah, I was wondering about the timing of it. It would have been hard to believe that this episode came out before The Blair Witch Project, but I did read somewhere that Vince Gilligan had wanted to do a COPS episode of The X-Files for a few years prior to its realization.