Sunday, November 22, 2015

The X-Files - S7:E8 "The Amazing Maleeni"

[ S7:E7 "Orison" <<< Season 7 >>> S7:E9 "Signs & Wonders" ]

Individually and in different combinations, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, and Frank Spotnitz were among The X-Files' most prominent writers, and were responsible for many of the series' great episodes. The three of them together first formed a team in season 4 on Leonard Betts (a perfectly solid freak-of-the-week episode that has the distinction of being the most-watched in the entire series during its initial run. according to viewer ratings), and later followed that up (with Chris Carter joining them) with Memento Mori (a particularly memorable mythology episode that won Gillian Anderson an Emmy). However, they were also responsible for the subpar season 5 mytharc Christmas Carol/Emily, and, after succumbing to the comedic tone of the sixth season, Dreamland as well. The team combine their forces once again for The Amazing Maleeni, and I can tell you it's not their best episode.

A jaded carnival magician loses his head after performing to a less-than-enthusiastic audience, which turns out to be the tip of the iceberg of a plot to rob a bank, involving sleight of hand on a grand scale, (ostensibly) in order to pay off a gambling debt. On paper, this sounds like it could have been a very clever episode, but the moment Mulder and Scully come on screen, you can tell the switch has been flicked and they're in comedy mode. There is potential in the premise for a cool story about a freak who takes advantage of his unnatural abilities to amaze and astound audiences, or even a story about necromancy. But that's not what this is. The end-of-episode wrap-up that explains how the trick was pulled off tells you that this episode was likely inspired by old-timey mystery shows. But for an episode that talks about misdirection, it's not nearly as funny or clever as Darin Morgan's best scripts. Between this, and The Goldberg Variation, I can't remember the last time I've felt so disengaged while watching an episode. Even the dregs of the first season kept me interested, but in this case I just feel bored. It's not enough to indict the whole season (which has had some good episodes so far) - yet - but if this turns out to be a trend, it doesn't bode well.

Memorable quotes:

LaBonge: What's in it for me? I mean, let's say I help you out. What do I get in return?
Scully: The feeling of pride that comes from performing your civic duty?

Maleeni: The great ones always know when to leave the stage.

(Yeah, I'm coming up dry. There's a lot of jokes in this episode, but nothing truly memorable).

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