Saturday, December 5, 2015

The X-Files - S7:E20 "Fight Club"

[ S7:E19 "Hollywood A.D." <<< Season 7 >>> S7:E21 "Je Souhaite" ]

Sigh. I wonder when it was decided that this would not, in fact, be the last season of The X-Files, and that the show would continue on for another year (or two, as the case would be). Because, you'd think that, with the series winding down, they wouldn't waste one of their last episodes on something this bad. On the other hand, you get the feeling that the cast and crew have already checked out. The death knell had been sounding on this show for a long, long time - at least as far back as the fifth season, although at that point it was still far off in the distance. But this episode might as well represent the show's burial. It's sad for me to say this, but I'm almost looking forward to the introduction of Robert Patrick, because I'm hoping that a drastic change is just what this show needs to inject some new life into it. I don't think I could take another season of not trying due to just not caring.

I'd like to say that this episode (which is less like that adaptation of the Chuck Palahniuk novel than it is a commercial for Doublemint gum), written by none other than Chris Carter himself, is a total anomaly, but then there was Syzygy in season 3. That episode also came on the heels of a more successful (albeit only by a slim margin) comedy episode - Darin Morgan's War of the Coprophages. One is tempted to say that Chis Carter should stick to what he knows, but then, he's been writing unpopular monster-of-the-week episodes - even of the serious variety - since the first season (see: The Jersey Devil, Space). And while The X-Files could have recovered from an episode like this back in its third season, it can't be removed from its context here, where it represents a signifier of the show's final death throes.

There's an attempt at some deconstruction, but the show is trying too hard to poke fun at its characters and its very premise, during a vulnerable period in which it was most successful trying to recapture its old formula. Deconstruction was fun in the third, fourth, and fifth seasons, but honestly, there's a point at which you can deconstruct a show so much that it falls apart. For example, when Mulder and Scully try to shake up their usual pre-investigation briefing by playing charades, one wonders, what is the point? Except to give Chris Carter a chance to demonstrate that he's tired of this show. I swear to god, I would sooner watch Space, followed by 3, and then Teso Dos Bichos (not that I've ever hated those episodes as much as the rest of the fanbase), than sit through this episode again.

Not even Scully repeating one of my favorite lines from the pilot episode can save it - because these are now two completely different characters. They're not impassioned, young, career-minded professionals looking to prove themselves through a dedication to their work. But two tired, middle-aged workaholics with nothing left to fight for (with the mystery of Samantha's disappearance finally solved, and the government agents responsible for Scully's abduction swallowed by their own conspiracy), who have finally - after seven years working together - submitted to the latent attraction between them because they both know they will never have any semblance of a normal social life outside of their work, which they are feeling increasingly less fulfilled by.

I know Gillian Anderson is a fantastic actress. A lot of fans talk about David Duchovny phoning it in during this season, and I can see why. Gillian's been holding on very strongly, but during the scene in this episode in which she has to talk to the abusively violent-tempered father of the two antimatter twins played by Kathy Griffin, I can almost see her face belie the tired annoyance of having to do a scene with this insufferable character. It's probably just more of her great acting talent at work, but regardless, we've come a long way from Scully confronting Luther Lee Boggs in prison. Remember that? Remember when this series could do a truly fantastic episode like Beyond The Sea? Do I even have to mention how appropriate it is that the professional wrestler's stage name in this episode is Titanic? Yeah. R.I.P, The X-Files.

Mulder gets dragged into a steaming sewer.
(Like the rest of us, watching at home.)

Memorable quotes:

Betty Templeton: You do not wanna get in the ring with me, Mister!

(At least, I think it was Betty. Or maybe it was Lulu. I can't tell the difference. And, frankly, I don't care).

Mr. Damfuse: A big, ugly dog lifted its leg on my family tree.

(And this episode, apparently).

No comments:

Post a Comment