Thursday, December 3, 2015

The X-Files - S7:E18 "Brand X"

[ S7:E17 "all things" <<< Season 7 >>> S7:E19 "Hollywood A.D." ]

And, the season continues it's on-again off-again pattern of alternating experimental episodes with traditional freaks-of-the-week. And, yet again, we have outside writers to thank for taking the show back to its dark and straightforward roots. The synopsis for this episode reads an awful lot like season 2's F. Emasculata - the agents investigate a corporate conspiracy involving a tobacco company (none other than the one manufacturing the Morley brand of cigarettes) and disease-transmitting insects - but manages to avoid feeling like a copycat (no prison break, no epidemic storyline). It's really more like a dead serious version of War of the Coprophages. It also features a lot of Skinner on duty outside the office, which is always a pleasure to see. (As an aside, it may simply be because the case contains some unexplained, potentially X-Filey qualities, but it's nice to know that when Skinner's under fire from the director to solve a case post haste, he relies on Mulder and Scully as his best agents). Tobin Bell is magnificently intimidating as a scientific guinea pig who chain smokes a deadly brand of cigarettes, causing Mulder to contract what must be the worst case of secondhand smoke in history. And the freak itself - or rather, monster - while being nothing more unearthly than a crop of genetically modified tobacco beetles, still manages to be creepy mainly in terms of how it kills. This episode is probably your best bet for gross-out episode of the season.

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: Rough night?
Skinner: It's shaping up to be a rougher morning.

Receptionist: Do you have an appointment?
(Mulder & Skinner flash their FBI badges)
Receptionist (unfazed): Do you have an appointment?
(Mulder & Skinner flash their badges again)
Skinner: Maybe you missed this the first time around.

(Oh, this is just a hilarious scene - two agencies trying to wield power over the other, neither one willing to give. It feels like it's been a long time since the show featured this kind of serious, straight-faced humor).

Dr. Voss: We knew people were never gonna stop smoking, no matter how unhealthy it was. So why not genetically engineer a safer cigarette?

Darryl Weaver: I'm a regular damn scientific marvel.

Scully: You're not gonna start smoking...
Mulder: They say the addiction is stronger than heroin.

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