Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The X-Files - S8:E10 "Badlaa"

[ S8:E9 "Salvage" <<< Season 8 >>> S8:E11 "The Gift" ]

So badlaa it's goodlaa? Ya know, it wasn't until I started watching this episode that I realized it's been a long time since The X-Files has done an "ethnic" episode - which is something it used to do relatively often. Surely there have been others in the time since, but the last most prominent ones I remember were Teliko and El Mundo Gira from season 4. The latter was written by John Shiban, who also penned this episode, marking his first writing credit for this season, and his first solo writing credit since season 6. The premise for this one is pretty out there. Leave it to a sixth grader to provide the perfect description for the freak in this episode - a "munchkin" (played by a deadly straight-faced Deep Roy, whom you might remember as the Oompa Loompa in Tim Burton's version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

The episode goes for the gross-out - in the opener, it's pretty obvious that the tiny Indian man is inside the fat guy, but what isn't clear is whether the Indian man crawled in there somehow (ew), or if the fat guy simply ate him - but there's a fine line between spinal slugs and anal taxis (especially when you have to watch the grimy-looking passenger on screen for the rest of the episode, knowing where he's been). I fear this episode crosses that line into tasteless territory. But season 1 had its share of duds, too, so I'm not going to hold it against this season. And besides, there's something admirable in the fact that, as preposterous as the premise is, the episode doesn't seem to care, and dedicates itself to going all out - balls to the wall. And the way the creepy Indian guy pushes himself around on that platform, complete with squeaky wheels - with no qualms whatsoever about chasing after children - it has total nightmare fuel potential. So that's something.

It's also nice to see Chuck Burks again. All of this nostalgia from earlier seasons of the show is really going a long way towards balancing out Mulder's absence, preventing it from feeling like a completely different show. And Doggett's reaction to Chuck Burks' outlandish theories is perfectly on point. But I don't buy trying to ascribe a human motive to the killer in this episode. Unlike the revenge angle in Salvage, I think this episode works better - and is a whole lot creepier - if the freak is simply following some kind of mutated biological instinct to procreate or whatever (and yes, typing that sentence made my skin crawl - but that's kinda the point here). Anyway, Scully and Doggett are still at odds with their opposing investigative approaches (doubtless a few cases aren't going to be enough to build the kind of rapport Mulder and Scully had), though in the end, Scully berates herself for not going even further, and being unable to live up to Mulder's legacy. One wonders if this isn't setting us up for another (mythology?) episode dealing with Mulder's whereabouts - hint, hint.

Memorable quotes:

Doggett: So what do you think, Agent Scully? Haunted hotel room, alien invaders, sloppy vampires?

(You really have been reading up on that backlog of X-Files, after all!)

Doggett: In my experience, dead men don't tip, Agent Scully.

(Ah, Doggett. It's weird to be able to pin his character so soon, but...he is ever able to boil his skepticism down to a laconic witticism).

Doggett: You know I agree that having an open mind is important to crime-solving, but...this theory of yours requires an openness that I'm just not comfortable with.

(You and me both, Agent Doggett).

Chuck Burks: It's hard to believe in something when you can't understand it.

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