Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The X-Files S7:E16 "Chimera"

[ S7:E15 "En Ami" <<< Season 7 >>> S7:E17 "all things" ]

Lately it seems that The X-Files has gotten into a certain rhythm where each season they'll do a couple of episodes that focus on either Mulder or Scully, to the exclusion of the other. No doubt, this is an opportunity to give the show's principal actors a break, much like those episodes that feature little to none of them at all (e.g., Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man, Unusual Suspects, Travelers, The Unnatural, Three of a Kind). To cite examples, going back to season 4 (although, to give credit where credit's due, the whole format of putting one agent on duty while the other calls in to offer comedic breaks probably had its genesis in Darin Morgan's War of the Coprophages), Mulder was forced to go on vacation in Never Again, while Scully spent Zero Sum off-screen and in the hospital. In season 5, Scully's vacation in Chinga turned out to be a case, but then she took a back seat to Mulder in The Pine Bluff Variant. Last episode - En Ami - was very Scully-centric, and this one puts the focus back on Mulder.

It starts out with Mulder staking out a strip club (talk about getting his dream job!), looking for a vanishing prostitute serial killer, before being called on to another case. I know that the X-Files are Mulder's baby, but running out and leaving Scully on "hooker-watch" is pretty cold (especially considering Mulder's natural affinity for the work, and Scully's absolute disgust with it). He ends up investigating what amounts to a corporeal manifestation of the "green-eyed monster". Leave it to David Amann to pen a good, classic-feeling monster-of-the-week episode. Responsible for last season's Terms of Endearment and Agua Mala, as well as this season's Rush, this just might be his best episode yet. It has a suburban feel, but it's creepier and more straight-faced than Arcadia was. And Mulder gets another flashing glance at the married life, but it looks much sweeter than it was in either Dreamland or Amor Fati.

Although this episode involves some kind of supernatural variation of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (rest assured, it is a much more appropriate take on multiple personalities than we got in The Field Where I Died), the paranormal aspects are vague enough that Mulder can't immediately ascribe them to a particular bit of folklore. And it's interesting to see Mulder's thought processes for once, since he's always jumping to preformed conclusions, only partially explaining himself after the fact. You get to see him work the details over in his mind here - the ravens, the shattered mirrors - trying to put the pieces together, instead of relying on a ready-made profile lifted from some fantasy literature (one wonders if Scully's usual presence might pressure him to lean on more fully-formed thoughts, whether to defend his approach, or to fare better against her unavoidable skepticism). The episode also does a remarkable job of emphasizing how weird Mulder's theories sound - given how familiar with them we are at this point - from the perspective of the local sheriff. It's a solid episode.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: I hope you realize there's no evidence whatsoever that this mystery woman of yours has even committed a crime. Though her wardrobe comes close.

(Oh, Scully...)

Scully: Mulder, when you find me dead, my desiccated corpse propped up staring lifelessly through the telescope at drunken frat boys peeing and vomiting into the gutter, just know that my last thoughts were of you, and how I'd like to kill you.
Mulder: I'm sorry, who is this?

Ellen: Do you have a significant other?
Mulder: Um. Not in the widely understood definition of that term.

(Not that I'm the sort of shipper fan to squeal at the implications of this response - Mulder can't give a clear no because he's obviously got something special going on with Scully - but I can relate to the difficulty in trying to explain to other people when you're in a "non-standard" relationship, where you don't feel comfortable defining yourself in traditional terms, but at the same time, it feels insincere to pretend like there's nothing going on).

Mulder: I gotta hand it to you, Sheriff. You put the service back into "protect and serve".

(This is a great scene. Note to the Sheriff: you've gotta be awfully dumb to try and sneak around on your wife when you've got a crack FBI investigator staying under your roof. Did you really think he wouldn't figure it out?)

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