Saturday, January 2, 2016

The X-Files - S9:E5 "Lord of the Flies"

[ S9:E4 "4-D" <<< Season 9 >>> S9:E6 "Trust No 1" ]

It's remarkable (and not a little bit sad) that, just within the space of a single season, I've gone from comparing this show to the first season, when it was dark and fresh and just spreading its wings, to (now) the seventh season, when it was tired and silly and had jumped the shark. I guess we've moved beyond the era when it was the outside writers who could most competently capture the classic atmosphere of the show - now that the old guard has gone back to writing serious episodes, it seems that the freelance writers are only now catching up to the wacky mood of the fifth, sixth, and seventh seasons. As such, this "high school drama" episode about a teenage outcast with strange powers borrows more from the ridiculousness of Syzygy, than the more serious approach of episodes like D.P.O., or Rush (or even Schizogeny, which I seem to have liked better than the average viewer).

It starts in the worst possible way, with an opener that plays like a demo tape for a reality show called Dumbass, which is clearly a knockoff of Jackass. For the first, but not the last time, I ask...why? The reality approach and the crossover feeling can't help reminding one of X-COPS (although that was a better episode). That the main dumbass (but not the show's idiot host, who insists on being called "Sky Commander Winky" - again...why?) ends up dead by the time the opening credits roll is to be expected, but the mildly strange way in which his head gets smashed in really doesn't go far enough in justifying why this is an X-File. As it starts in earnest, I'm left wondering, is this episode going to be even worse than Fight Club? I wouldn't go that far, but it is pretty bad. I struggled to maintain enough interest to sit it out all the way through to the end.

The paranormal aspect turns out to have nothing whatsoever to do with the Dumbass reel - other than establishing a base for the teenage antics around which the episode's drama revolves - leaving me once again to ask...why? It's about a "bug whisperer" (like Aburame Shino from Naruto), which is a cool enough premise, but the episode is bogged down with too many tired cliches. Over-bearing mother? Check. Puberty metaphor? Check. (Though, while we're on the subject of metaphors, this is a perfect example of why it's a bad idea to wait until it's too late to give your kid the sex talk). High school students in their twenties? Check. An unlikely love story between an awkward freak and a relatively hot girl? Check.

And then there's this absurdly narcissistic doctor (we're talking Gilderoy Lockhart levels, here), who spends the whole episode creeping on Scully. (To be fair, that "electro-antenna-gram" is pretty clever, but all this talk of pheromones makes me wish this episode had been more along the lines of Piers Anthony's Firefly). For that matter, Scully looks even more made up than usual - like she's an actress instead of an FBI agent or a doctor (let alone a new mother), which brings attention to the fact that I'm watching a TV show. I'm sorry, but not even making copious references to Syd Barrett (including samples of his music!) is enough to salvage this episode - and that's saying a lot, coming from someone whose favorite band in high school was Pink Floyd. I'd rather watch Badlaa again, as tasteless as that episode was.


Memorable quotes:

Scully: Judging from the amount of insect feces in the ear and nasal cavities, it appears that they fed at such a furious rate that it caused the boy's skull to collapse from the inside.

(Oh my god, this is so ridiculous. It speaks for itself).

Doggett: I think I just solved this case. This kid had crap for brains; the flies couldn't resist.

Doggett: This isn't just stupid, this is glorification of stupid.

Doggett: I've said it before and I'll say it again: the whole reason this case is attracting flies is because somebody's full of crap.

(Thank you, Doggett, for talking sense in an otherwise ridiculous episode).

No comments:

Post a Comment