Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The X-Files - S2:E23 "Soft Light"

[ S2:E22 "F. Emasculata" <<< Season 2 >>> S2:E24 "Our Town" ]

This episode starts with a hokey premise - a theoretical physicist (Tony Shalhoub) who, to quote the episode synopsis, is "literally afraid of his own shadow", after an experiment into dark matter goes wrong, in a dark twist on your prototypical superhero origin story - and follows it up with a number of throwbacks to the first season, starting with our favorite agents being introduced to the case by an old professional acquaintance (one of Scully's former students from the academy). The tech lab set is reminiscent of Roland, and an early scene features an excellently crafted reference to Squeeze.

There's plenty of good banter between Mulder and Scully (which we got a lot of in the first season), including lots of the dry humor that is appropriate to this series (as opposed to the quirkier approach in Humbug). Additionally, Mulder's forensic genius is once again pushed to the forefront, which is always fun to watch. A third act subplot involving government conspiracy raises the stakes in this episode, which features X in an unprecedentedly substantial role, that addresses the strain between him and Mulder since their last meeting in End Game. Altogether, the episode fails to rise to the level of greatness, but it has a lot of things going for it.

Memorable quotes:

Scully: Spontaneous human combustion?
Mulder: I've over a dozen case files; a human body is reduced to ash without any attendant burning or melting - rapid oxidation without heat.
Scully: Let's just forget for a moment that there's no scientific theory to support it.
Mulder: Okay!

Scully: Darkness covers a multitude of sins.

Scully: And whatever happened to spontaneous human combustion?
Mulder: Maybe it's not so spontaneous.

(This is an excellent example of why Mulder is such a great agent in spite of his radical theories. It's not that he's detached from reality - he's willing to modify his theories to fit the evidence that he's confronted with. He just doesn't have the same barrier to considering unusual hypotheses that most people have - which makes him the ideal investigator on cases that do end up involving paranormal phenomena. He zeroes in on the truth like a homing beacon while everybody else is fumbling over themselves because they refuse to acknowledge the possibility that what they're dealing with might really be alien abductions, or werewolves, or what have you).

Mulder: He believes the government is out to get him.
X: It's tax season, so do most Americans.

X: Dead men can't keep promises.

X: I'm not at your beck and call, Agent Mulder. I have nothing to gain and everything to lose by helping you.

Mulder: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

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