Friday, September 18, 2015

The X-Files - S4:E4 "Unruhe"

[ S4:E3 "Teliko" <<< Season 4 >>> S4:E5 "The Field Where I Died" ]

I gave up keeping track of all these foreign episode titles after the second season. It's too easy to drown in them, and their significance is not always explained. For example, Piper Maru was the name of a submarine in that episode, but it's also the name Gillian Anderson gave her daughter. The meaning of Talitha Cumi (or Herrenvolk, for that matter) - a phrase that isn't actually used in the course of the episode - is left as an exercise for the academic viewer. Unruhe, on the other hand, is explained. Like Die Hand die Verletzt, it is German; and it means "unrest".

This episode is a prime example of how the writers on this show could take some weird sci-fi phenomenon - in this case, a neat parlor trick from the psychic's handbook - and then incorporate it into a gruesome case of murder (or kidnapping), for Mulder and Scully to investigate. Like, it's not enough that someone has the power to project his thoughts onto photographs - he has to be a killer, too! But then, that's the kind of show we're watching, isn't it?

Of all the things a kidnapper could want to do to an innocent victim, though, giving her an amateur transorbital lobotomy (which involves a spike through the eye socket - shudder) is not exactly what you'd expect. But then this perp, played by the imminently recognizable Pruitt Taylor Vince, is no garden variety madman. His interrogation, in which he - pretty convincingly, at first - claims ignorance, is unsettling, and the episode's climax is unusually tense. It looks like Vince Gilligan (who also wrote last season's Pusher, as well as season 2's Soft Light) is shaping up to be a talented writer.

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: In the sixties, a bellhop named Ted Serios became kinda famous for taking what he called 'thoughtographs'. He claimed that by concentrating on an unexposed film negative, he could create a photographic representation of what he saw in his mind. He did landscapes, cathedrals, the Queen of England.
Scully: Thoughtographs.
Mulder: Also known as 'scotographs'. Literature on thought photography dates back almost to Louis Daguerre.
Scully: So that makes it legitimate?

Mulder: What if someone had this ability? An image like this would be a peek into that person's mind.
Scully: Into their darkest fantasies.
Mulder: The fantasy of a killer.

Mulder: What else happened in 1980, Gerry?
Gerry: Well, John Lennon got shot. Where the hell are you going with this? What are you, Sigmund Freud? Why don't you cut the BS?

Scully: It's over, Mulder.
Mulder: Well, then, that photo wouldn't be his fantasy. It would be his nightmare.
Scully: What the hell does it matter?
Mulder: Because I wanna know.
Scully: I don't.

(Scully's a tough chick, but she always seems to take the consequences of the actions the criminals she assists in apprehending more personally than Mulder. That's not a strike against her - certainly, it demonstrates her humanity, and you could criticize Mulder for being too detached at times. But it does seem a little unprofessional. Especially when her gut reaction to "nail the fucker to the wall" gets in the way of carefully examining all the evidence. Personally, I have to say I relate more to Mulder's usually cool approach to detective work. And, certainly, his desire to understand the criminal's mindset - no matter how unappealing that is - contributes to his crack talent in profiling, and being able to predict a criminal's next move - critical in preventing further abominable acts from being committed. Scully learns this lesson the hard way in this episode).

Scully: My captivity forced me to understand and even empathize with Gerry Schnauz; my survival depended on it. I see now the value of such insight. For truly to pursue monsters, we must understand them. We must venture into their minds. Only in doing so, do we risk letting them venture into ours.

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