Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The X-Files - S4:E23 "Demons"

[ S4:E22 "Elegy" <<< Season 4 >>> S4:E23 "Gethsemane" ]

Just two episodes ago, Skinner was being framed for murder. Now it's Mulder's turn, when he wakes up from an unnaturally vivid dream about his childhood, and finds himself in a Rhode Island motel room, covered with somebody else's blood. He doesn't remember anything from the last two days. You know Mulder can't be responsible, but the question remains whether he was framed, or if somebody did something to put him in a different frame of mind. The rest of the episode is dedicated to piecing the mystery together, and is quite fun. In a grim sort of way. It's very centered around Mulder & Scully; it feels like they spend more time together than usual, before splitting up and pursuing different leads. Obviously, Mulder is being bull-headed when he insists on investigating instead of going to the hospital first to see if he's even alright, but in the back of your mind, you're thinking, maybe he's been set up, and once he reports any part of what happened, he may not be given a chance to find the truth about what really happened. So you can forgive him.

This episode is constructed almost backward (but in a skilled, rather than haphazard way), which makes it far more compelling than if it had been put together in a more straightforward manner. It's also appropriate, given the theme of memory loss (one is reminded a bit of the movie Memento). The main thread - involving an experimental therapy for alien abductees - is almost buried by the drama of Mulder's predicament (even though you know it's coming, it's heartbreaking when the detective finally starts reading Mulder his rights), the weight of his need to remember, and the danger of pursuing those memories at the expense of everything else. It's a very well-crafted episode, written by one-timer R.W. Goodwin, who is responsible for directing a veritable who's who of mythology episodes (The Erlenmeyer Flask, One Breath, Anasazi, The Blessing Way, Talitha Cumi, Herrenvolk, and next week's Gethsemane, along with a couple more). It's no wonder, then, that this is the second non-strictly mythology episode this season (after the daring Paper Hearts) that tackles the issue of Samantha's abduction.

I'm gonna put a spoiler warning here, because the rest of this review discusses Mulder's speculations in this episode about his sister's abduction.

Mulder pursues an experimental (and dangerous! - having led previous patients to commit suicide) treatment to unlock his memories, leading him to deduce the existence of a former relationship between his mother and the Smoking Man (which the rest of us learned in Talitha Cumi). He even goes so far as to question his father's paternity. His mother doesn't dignify that with response (which is somehow more suspicious than if she had just said no). But Scully discovers that the doctor's treatment involves a powerful hallucinogen, so the memories can't necessarily be trusted (surprise, surprise). You have to feel bad for Mulder's mother, though. In addition to everything she's been put through on account of the conspiracy, Mulder only ever seems to visit her when he needs to drill her for unsavory details about the past. On the other hand, it shows just how much Samantha's abduction destroyed their family...

Memorable quotes:

Scully: You are taking a big risk, Mulder. I feel strongly about this.
Mulder: I know you do. But it's my risk.

Scully: Mulder, I refuse to believe that you had any part in this.
Mulder: I had those people's blood on my shirt, Scully. I was missing for two days. I have no recollection of my actions during those two days. There were two rounds discharged from my gun. I had the keys to this house, the keys to their car. Do the words Orenthal James Simpson mean anything to you?

Scully: Mulder, I'm gonna get you out of here.
Mulder: You're a doctor, not a lawyer, Scully.

Mulder: my father?
Mrs. Mulder: What do you want - to kill him again?!
Mulder: Just answer the question, mom. Just answer the question!
Mrs. Mulder: I am your mother, and I will not tolerate any more of your questions!

Scully: What was the last thing he said to you?
Dr. Goldstein: He said he was going to exorcise his demons.

(I don't know why, but the concept of "exorcising one's demons" always stuck with me. That's the one thing I remembered most about this episode).

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