Friday, August 28, 2015

Case 01, File 06: Shadows

AKA: Surrogate Daddy Issues From Beyond the Grave

One well I seem to remember The X-Files returning to a lot was the 'Revenge from the grave' well. It's a reliable enough well, as many movies, books and TV shows have used it in the past, but the flip side of that is that most elements of it have been covered already. As such these episodes tend toward being samey at worst, and kind of unoriginal at best. There are a couple that work though, so don't take my opinion on these episodes as given.

The plot is devoted to a woman named Lauren, whose boss/father figure Robert has just committed suicide. She is attacked by some at an ATM, but rescued by a mysterious force. Mulder and Scully are called in by rival agents when the corpses of her attackers exhibit some odd signs such as still being warm hours later. Mulder suspects telekinesis and after some investigation, they travel to Philadelphia, tracking down Lauren.

They eventually discover that the rival agents were investigating Lauren's company for selling parts to terrorists, while Lauren discovers through ghost-communication that Robert was murdered (she makes that leap awfully fast based on the info she gets, but whatever). After some mixups and a couple of thugs getting ghost-murdered, Lauren helps Mulder, Scully and the other agents search the offices, where they get some ghost-assistance and find the evidence. Bad guys go to jail, Lauren goes to work in Ohio (I think) and Robert goes to rest. Happy endings all around. Well except Lauren, she has to go to Ohio.

It's like a peek into an alternate universe where the X-Files is more ethnically diverse

If you're wondering why this episode took so long to review, it's because I found myself at a loss for what to say about it. It never quite wanders into bad territory, as the direction is competent and the script is reasonably amusing, but that just means it winds up kind of boring. Not good enough to be...well good, but not bad enough to be interesting. As I write this it's been only about a day since I've seen it, and it's already fading from my memory.

It's not that the episode doesn't have some elements that are interesting, it's just that it never really goes anywhere with those elements. The entire episode is devoted pretty heavily to Lauren, who is overall a pretty boring character, and most of her story is predicated on a relationship that, due to the structure of the story, we never get to see. Meanwhile the ghost wanting to stop his company from selling parts illegally is conceptually interesting, but it's incredibly underdeveloped.

I always feel like somebody's watching meeeeeee

Of course the problem with most of these 'Revenge From Beyond the Grave' episodes is, as I said, they get kind of samey. The best of these episodes will focus on the elements that make it stand out from other similar stories. Unfortunately this episode doesn't really have any elements like that to focus on, so it just winds up without much to focus on. Even the writers were apparently unhappy with it, as it was studio mandate that they write an episode where Mulder and Scully help someone, as apparently they started to notice that Mulder and Scully rarely actually resolve their cases (seriously, the monster/culprit gets away like 2/3rds of the time).

I'm reaching for commentary here, because there's really not too much to say about the episode. The special effects haven't aged particularly well (the scene where the letter opener flies across the room is particularly hilarious to me) and the pacing is kind of wonky, but it's not really worth talking about in depth. There are going to be episodes where I have unique insights, or fun jokes to make, but unfortunately this isn't one of them. So I'm just going to pass off how boring this review is as meta-commentary on how boring the episode is and end it here.

Oh I wish I'd waited for Scully, I really wish I'd waited for Scully

Case Notes:
  • The 90s teens (homeless?) in the cold open are entirely hilarious to me for reasons I can't place. Maybe it's because they look like extras from The Doom Generation?
  • Mulder's snark in the opening scenes: A++. Also, Scully is getting all the good pop culture references this episode (Carrie and Poltergeist notably).
  • The bit where Mulder uses his glasses to lift fingerprints from the corpses is actually really sneaky. Good job Mulder.
  • I like that they're showing us Mulder and Scully doing actual, you know, detective work, but I find it really hard to believe that nobody checked the ATM footage when the dudes were found 10 feet from it.
  • Lauren's cat is an excellent cat. This isn't relevant to anything, I just really like her cat.
  • Mulder cracks a joke at one point about Elvis being the only person to successfully fake his death. I feel like he makes a ton of jokes like that through the course of the series.
  • I think the gravedigger is supposed to come across as kind of sweet but he reads as SUPER creepy to me. Also, he totally gives out information without Mulder or Scully even flashing a badge.
  • The male Murderous Thug is super committed to killing Lauren. The female one pretty much tries to bolt around the moment the furniture starts moving on its own (doesn't help, but still), but the male one keeps gunning for her. Nice to see integrity in our murderous thugs.
  • The episode is working really hard to keep Scully out of the room when ghost happenings are afoot. It works a bit in the climax (ghosts have sealed the door) but in the scene in Lauren's house she basically just takes forever to run in the front door. It feels a little cheap.
Current Celebrity Watch:

Nothing. This isn't a very character heavy episode.

Future Celebrity Watch:

The sarcastic corner lady is played by Lorena Gale, aka Elosha from Battlestar Galactica (she was the prophetic religious lady who hung around Roslin a lot?). The internet informs me she died in 2009, which is sad. She was really good in BSG.

Coincidentally, one of the two agents who clash with Mulder and Scully over their investigation was also on BSG as one of the Quorum Delegates. Not gonna pretend that's quite a Future Celebrity, but it's an amusing coincidence.

Audio Observations:

Again, nothing. There really isn't much to this episode.


  1. "Nice to see integrity in our murderous thugs."

    You gotta take pride in your work. If you don't respect yourself, why should other people do so?