Monday, October 12, 2015

The X-Files - S5:E4 "Detour"

[ S5:E3 "Unusual Suspects" <<< Season 5 >>> S5:E5 "The Post-Modern Prometheus" ]

Stopped by a road block while en route to a totally unnecessary team-building seminar (as if Mulder and Scully aren't already the best pair of investigators in the bureau), Mulder and Scully take the opportunity to ditch the annoyingly cheerful agents they are carpooling with (I have to say, as cool as it sounds, "Stonecypher" is a really weird name) in order to investigate the unexplained case of a strange predator (one of whose victims is a man I couldn't help noticing was played by the same actor who protrayed Scully's one-time hypnotic regression therapist in The Blessing Way) in the swampy woods of Florida (still filmed in miraculous Vancouver). How's that for a run-on sentence?

It's funny, but when I started watching Darkness Falls in season 1, I thought it was this episode, and I was confused, because I thought it was supposed to come much later in the series. Well, as I now know, it was this episode I was thinking of. The opener is somewhat reminiscent of F. Emasculata, which also started out in a dangerous jungle environment, but this episode, pervaded by a subtle sense of humor, is closer in tone to Quagmire, although not quite as good. There is even a point at which Mulder and Scully become stranded out in the woods at night, in a scene that seems to want to be the infamous "conversation on the rock" from that episode.

The episode is written by Frank Spotnitz, who usually sticks to mythology episodes - but his last non-mythology solo writing credit was on Our Town from season 2, which was a pretty decent episode. There is some dialogue about the encroachment of civilization upon mother nature, but the social commentary is subtler than it's been in the past on this series. The monster in this episode is some kind of camouflage humanoid with glowing, red eyes, that Mulder compares to the West Virginia legend of the Mothman. But being stalked in the woods by an invisible, intelligent creature - especially when they use infrared to track it, and start talking about it regulating its body temperature to avoid detection - can't help but conjure up images of Predator in one's mind.

As a final note, I was worried when Mulder started questioning an attractive red-haired police detective that this was going to be another one of those uncomfortable situations where Scully gets jealous and petty, like she frequently did in season 3. Thankfully, it didn't go that route. Even though it may have been a result of the professional distance between them in their early days, I liked when the two of them wouldn't get all bent out of shape every time one of them showed fleeting interest in someone else. They should certainly have enough confidence by now in the bond between them, especially after recent events, to know that even if one of them were to momentarily stray, they would always come back. They may not be "together" in a traditional sense, but they could still adopt a poly sensibility.

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: Pop quiz. What animal will attack the strongest, leaving the weak to escape?
Scully: ...
Mulder: The answer is none. Not one of the over four thousand species native to North America will attack the strongest when the weak is vulnerable.
Scully: And what does that have to do with anything?
Mulder: It makes me think that what we're dealing with here is no ordinary predator.

Mulder: Civilization is pushing very hard into these woods. Maybe something in these woods is pushing back.

Jeff: Nature is populated by creatures either trying to kill something they need to survive, or...trying to avoid being killed by something that needs them to survive. If we become blinded by the beauty of nature, we may fail to see its cruelty and violence.
Scully: Walt Whitman?
Jeff: No, When Animals Attack on the Fox Network.

(Lol, more self-advertisement. Not quite as effective as Nisei's take on Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction, though).

Mulder: I think nature is supremely indifferent to whether we live or die. I mean, if you're lucky, you get 75 years. If you're really lucky, you get 80 years. And if you're extraordinarily lucky, you get to have 50 of those years with a decent head of hair.
Scully: I guess it's like Las Vegas - the house always wins.

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