Monday, August 21, 2017

Case 03, File 15: Piper Maru

AKA: Oil Is Usually Black, Right?


Ah, the Black Oil. One of the most key components of The X-Files' internal mythology, and yet it didn't show up until over halfway through the third season. It's definitely one of the most memorable aspects of the mythology, visually distinct and utterly unique from most of the previously established alien mythology (which, aside from the Alien Bounty Hunter, have been pretty straightforwardly pulled from general UFO ephemera). And its introduction would mark a major turning point in the story.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Case 03, File 14: Grotesque

AKA: Gargoyles Are My Design


A lot of great horror is found in subtly, ambiguity, the sense of not being sure what's going on, which is why it's a bit of a shame The X-Files doesn't indulge in it very often. The Shining is one of the greatest horror films ever made, and that final shot, which makes you question everything that came before, is one of the big reasons why. Although, I will say, the usual lack of any ambiguity makes those moments where it pops up very memorable.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Case 03, File 13: Syzygy

AKA: You Guys Ever See The Craft?


The X-Files is a fairly adult show. I don't mean that there's lots of sex and violence (although it can get pretty violent at times). I mean that the characters are entirely adults, who have finished college, have steady jobs and have no children (and generally no desire for them). The only way the show could be more adult is if we saw them doing taxes on screen. This isn't a complaint but it does mean the moments where the show dips its toe into actual contemporary teen culture...odd.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Case 03, File 12: War of the Coprophages

AKA: Kafkaesque on the Shore


Darin Morgan is one of those X-Files writers who is really really excellent in a way that's very hard to quantify if you're not an X-Files fan. I've heard him compared to Larry Charles for Seinfeld, but Charles is important because he wrote a huge number of episodes, Darin Morgan only wrote 5 (and one of them was in the new season). But he made an indelible mark on the show in those 5 episodes, to the point where the show was still imitating him seasons after he stopped writing for them, and even the least of his episodes is a stone cold classic.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Case 03, File 11: Revelations

AKA: God Needs To Talk About Kevin



When The X-Files decided it was going to make Scully religious, they probably realized they were eventually going to need to center episodes around it, which means they were gonna need to find a way to make it into a conflict. So by flipping the tables in the religious themed episodes, making Scully the believer and Mulder the skeptic, they have an episode that (in theory) puts a unique spin on its central relationship. Of course, if they bungled it, the episode would still be mediocre.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Case 03, File 10: 731

AKA: Murder on the Alien Express


You know, there's, probably an interesting thinkpiece about the uh...let's say problems with The X-Files appropriating real life atrocities (for example, the Unit 731 experiments or, you know, the fucking Holocaust) but good lord do I not want to be the one to write it. There's probably a lot to examine in it, but it's not going to be a fun examination, and it's going to run into a lot of issues with how culture as a whole treats tragedies. And for the most part, I come to The X-Files to have fun. So despite addressing it in my opening paragraph, that's not what this review is going to be about.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Case 03, File 09: Nisei

AKA: Aliens On A Train



By this point The X-Files has settled into it's comfort zone when it comes to mythology episodes: Two linked, plot heavy, episodes somewhere in the early part of the season, two linked, plot heavy, episodes somewhere late in the seasons, plus season premiers and finales. It's a good comfort zone to be in, as it means the series can get a lot of stuff done in a couple episodes and get back to what the series does best.