After a night of cumbersome reintroductions, exhausted performances and a plodding story, the show regains its balance with a monster-of-the-week episode with a disturbingly discordant teaser courtesy of one of the series’ most prolific writers. We’re back on terra firma.
Dr. Sanjay (Chris Logan) is in a boarding meeting when the aural noises around him begin to consume him into a schizophrenic state. At first, it’s darkly humorous to see him screech over an overwrought nervous breakdown when the other employees are oblivious to it. Then he barricades himself in a Nugenics laboratory and stabs himself through the ear orifices with a letter opener. The giggles cease and the teeth-clenching, self-mutilating body horror takes over.
James Wong is the sole director and writer here. His accomplice Glen Morgan couldn’t participate in this one but the tone is distinctly hair-raising like their best work. Back in a FBI G-man suit, Duchovny has released the albatross around his neck and he is much more peppy that last night. The fish-out-of-water interaction between Mulder and Gupta, Sanjay’s clandestine lover, is amusing at best (“the truth is in there” line in regards to sexual orientation is a jocose inside-baseball reference).
The whirring sound effects inside the victim’s heads do scramble the viewer’s equilibrium which is the desired effect even if it is slightly painful to listen to. Likewise, Anderson must have been shouting beforehand because her voice sounds weak and hoarse. This is not the strongly independent Scully when she laments that she may have been just an “incubator” for William.
It is still problematic that the writing staff are brazenly iterating Obamacare and other topical issues to remain current. One sequence that absolutely sent frissons down my spine was when Scull daydreams about William’s gradual puberty into an alien hybrid. It had the same eerie dreamscape of Beyond of the Sea when Dana rhapsodizes her father reposing in a chair silently muttering to himself.
When Scully and Mulder scroll down a corridor of deformed children (Marfan’s syndrome, erythasma, etc.), we are aghast at the menagerie around them because of their physical abnormalities. But Anderson and Duchovny are completely compassionate and poker-faced which is the key to why we adore these characters.
Usually, the deeper we are trawled into the plot, the less enthralling it becomes. Quite the contrary with this yarn. The more we are edified on preterhuman experimentation by the Department of Defense and a mother’s knife-carving fetal exodus, we are drawn farther into the web. In fact, this episode is deceptively more concentrated around the mythology arc than it first appears. The Monolith explanation to William is a veritable tearjerker and I’m abashed to say I shed a few tears. Next week is the long-awaited return of Darin Morgan. I’m hoping this isn’t a bell-shaped curve in quality and the miniseries continues on its ascent.
Rating: 3.25 out of 5