Category Archives: Recap
“Kaddish” is a remarkably relevant episode, given that we currently have actual Nazis threatening Jewish community centers all over the United States and also one in the West Wing advising the man in the Oval Office. We’re living at a time when justice for minorities seems less and less likely to come from government agencies and police.
The dialogue in the scene where Mulder and Scully approach the father-in-law of a Hasidic man murdered by Nazis in a grocery store gave me chills this evening:
JACOB WEISS: Where were you when Isaac needed your protection? When we called the police, they said we were paranoid, that there was nothing to worry about. They always say that when someone threatens the Jews.
MULDER: So there was a specific threat of violence?
JACOB WEISS: The threat is always there. Just this morning, this is what I found under our door.
JACOB WEISS: And now you come here not to help us, but to ask our help so you can impose justice to the only man who has taken justice into his own hands.
MULDER: We would be happy not to disturb the grave site if you can tell us who that man is.
The authorities as represented here are not interested in justice, but investigating the killings of those who perpetrated a hate-crime against a member of a minority group. Minorities and the systematically marginalized are regularly told that they are imagining things or just being paranoid. It takes someone actually getting injured or killed for the authorities to respond, and then their response is typically nominal, at best. Once out of the hands of the police, courts treat minorities no better.
Since the inauguration, we have seen moves to systematically dismantle and remove civil rights protections for minorities and instead allow those with power to cast themselves as the objects of discrimination.
This conversation between Mulder and Scully after they leave Jacob Weiss and his daughter reflects the sort of false equivalency that we have heard and read in the news every day since November 9, 2016.
MULDER: …but it’s hard to fault his attitude when you see something like that. (He hands it to Scully.) Anybody delivering justice to a people who have known that kind of persecution and hatred, why wouldn’t they protect him?
SCULLY: Justice or revenge?
MULDER: I’m not saying those kids don’t deserve full prosecution under the law, but the hate mongering goes both ways.
SCULLY: Yes, but the right to free expression doesn’t extend to murder.
This sort of false equivalency should enrage us, but often, particularly if it doesn’t directly affect us, we let it go as being just words. Words, however, have power. Symbolic violence is still violence. People against whom violence is perpetrated should not be expected to defend or come to the aid of their attackers. It is an example of further violence to expect them to do so.
Mulder finally comes around to understanding the forces that animated the golem and motivated it to enact justice against the Nazis who murdered Isaac for no reason other than the fact of his existence:
SCULLY: Mud! (She follows him.) Mulder, what are you talking about? And… for what purpose? Exacting revenge?
MULDER: I don’t think it was hate that created this, Scully. I think it was love.
We all need to channel our love and pain into righteous rage and keep pouring it into our various golems, which take the form of protests, lawsuits against illegal and unconstitutional actions on the part of law enforcement and members of the executive, and other similar actions. It might also take the form of clay men who will strike out into the world and seek justice for us, but that seems like a lot more work than supporting the effective modes of action that we currently see taking shape all around us.
I can barely watch this episode. Thank God (swt) that is over.
I usually have to distract myself with something else while it is playing. Tonight it was grading student work that I am behind on. I am usually not squeamish at all, but there is something about an antebellum throwback amputee inbreeding horror episode that really gets to me. I’m not sure what it could be, exactly.
In recap, if you want to skip this episode, do so. I would also not recommend watching it when you are about to sleep or eat or be a human person.
And we’re back, somewhat out of time, for season 4.
We begin with the very weird “Herrenvolk.” I don’t have much to say about this episode, except that I can’t figure out who the blond boy drone clone is supposed to be. If the girl is a Samantha drone clone, then who the hell is the blond boy drone clone?
It’s a mystery. I’ve been wondering this for 20 years. I guess I shall have no answer today either.
And bees? WTF?
What to do? Well, OBVIOUSLY you join in. OBVIOUSLY.
My synopsis of this episode is: “What? Forest sex? Masks? What the hell is going on here? Weird diseases? Where are they getting… Oh! Cannibalism? What the bleeding, lunatic hell is going on here? HOW COME NO ONE NOTICED THIS BEFORE MULDER AND SCULLY? What on earth? CABINETS FULL OF HUMAN HEADS? HUMAN SOUP BONFIRE?”
This episode demonstrates to us the importance of really never, ever going to small rural towns or interacting with the people in them. If you do this, you are very likely to end up in the soup.
This episode is incomprehensibly bonkers. It is like a Craigslist date. Not even a weird Craigslist date, just a normal one, which is admittedly pretty weird.
This episode might also be a comment on those weird white people clubs that have their basis in some-vaguely exoticized interpretation of some mysterious eastern culture. Is that what the Shriners have been doing all these years? The Elks Lodge may just be a cannibal soup smorgasbord or whatever. There is literally no way to know for sure since the main manner of finding out would be going to these places and potentially being eaten.
Best to keep away from all that. Stay safe everyone.
What is this episode? I forget it. It is gross so far. Why is there such gross? Omg gross. Stop it. OH GOD I JUST REMEMBERED THIS EPISODE. IT IS DISGUSTING. SPOILER ALERT THIS IS THE GROSSEST EPISODE OF X-FILES THAT THEY EVER MADE.
So this is about the Biodiversity Project or something and it turns out that some nerds found some bad shit in the jungle. Dr. Robert Torrance, Biodiversity Project, has some really bad buboes on his mug. Why? Because he was poking around some disgusting dead animals. What is the plague? I can tell you. Some people think it is about not detoxifying enough. Maybe that. Drink more juice. Dr. Robert Torrance didn’t drink enough juice. The vulture knows. The vulture knows not to be fucking with that disgusting dead plague thing.
Note while the opening credits play: You should know that I’m writing this blog entry while procrastinating on doing things I should be doing, like writing term papers. Ha, ha. No one can stop me, because I’m a grown up.
So after our initial teaser of Dr. Bob getting plagued, we go to some scary industrial office scenery. Wait it’s a prison. PRISON. A prisoner receives a letter. It’s probably just a letter from a concerned follower. Or maybe his girlfriend. It probably isn’t a PLAGUE LETTER. Oh, but it’s bloody. Bad sign. Oh shit, it’s also addressed to Robert Torrance. WRONG ROBERT TORRANCE. Things are going to get bad! Why are there no lights in this prison? Budget cuts. In the 90’s, the prisons didn’t have lights, due to budget cuts. Thanks, Clinton.
So what was in the letter? Maybe some organs or something. Definitely plague-infested. Now the prisoner has some plague. The worst thing about this horrible plague is that the buboes kind of move on their own. Honestly, if I saw someone with buboes gently rising and falling, sinking subtly into the gore of the suffering patient, straining upwards against the stretch of skin on which they’ve colonized, I would probably just set them on fire. That seems reasonable.
The other prisoners are pretty incredulous. One guy is an idiot and is like “Maybe something’s just going around.” The other guy is more clever because he knows that the sheets of infected prisoners are going to the incinerator, not the laundry. He’s probably a white-collar criminal. Probably did some insurance deception shit or maybe a Ponzi scheme. This dude knows what’s going on. He’s used to tricking people, not being tricked. Guess what. Plague for you. Plague for everyone.
Now Mulder and Scully have arrived. They’re here to work on the federal marshals. The prison guards are like WTF why are you idiots here. GTFO. M&S don’t know why they’ve been sent, and no one knows anyone or anything. This sound about right based on what I know of federal procedure. Mulder doesn’t think they’re being told the entire story; guess what, Mulder, you work the X-Files, duh. The entire story is too nutso even for you, always.
Now some guys stole an RV. They are the prisoners who escaped I guess, which is why M&S got called in. Now I’m getting it. So complicated. Scully is trying to figure out what’s going on in the prison, and she’s got it figured big time. Some terrible infection is going on in the prison, she realized, and the CDC are here acting like some cagey bitches. That’s pretty much always how the CDC act I guess. Not much has changed in twenty years.
We’re cutting back and forth between the prison and the escaped prisoners. One of the prisoners is on the phone with his wife, who seems to be quite glad that he’s out of prison, though perhaps she wonders about the protocol that has (or has not) been followed. It is rather unorthodox for a prisoner to be released without prior warning late at night, she probably knows. The other prisoner is in their hotel room covered in some pretty bad pustules. Disgust. Why for the pustules?
Back to the prison. So much fire. Bodies, bodies, burn, burn, burn. Scully finds out how much they’re burning, and how messed up the bodies marked for incineration are. Not much gets past Scully. But, Scully gets past the CDC, I guess, as the CDC asshole just now realizes she’s poking around the incinerator area. The CDC guy is so anxious about her finding out the secret cremations that he pokes a body bag open, what? How even? So he gets sprayed in the face with pustule juice. Serves him right, I guess? One time I had such a bad sunburn that my leg erupted in disgusting burn pustules, and my friend Nick was harassing me, so I threatened to put burn juice on him. I followed through, too. That wasn’t as bad as this X-Files disease, though. All things considered, Nick got off pretty easy.
Mulder’s focusing on the manhunt while Scully sneaks around the dead. Mulder’s no idiot; the escaped prisoners might have the disease. He’s a good FBI agent. He knows that the prisoners might have tried to call their girlfriends, and he’s tally right. Mulder gets on the pay phone (quaint!) and swings around his FBI badge number like it’s a big dick to get the operator to give up some info on the calls out of here. But then a helicopter lands and some crazy stuff goes down. Everyone is crazy. Everything is crazy. I have a universal theory of humanity: Exploding pustules bring out the worst in humans.
Luckily, though, Mulder got the phone number and address of the call made to the prisoner’s girlfriend. And just in time, because Prisoner Dude just got home. He’s making out with his lady, and then he goes right to showing her his escaped buddy who is now absolutely covered in tumescent, bulging buboes.
Meanwhile, Scully is like, hey, maybe I’ll find out who sent this pustule-meat letter to Robert Torrance the Prisoner in the first place. Probvs what I would have started with. DUH. Turns out the gross disease-meat was sent to the prisoner by the biggest pharmaceutical company in the country. Sinister! Why would Big Pharma send disease-meat to a prisoner? Maybe a name mix-up is involved. Ha, ha, duh. You can’t outsmart me, X-Files.
You can’t outsmart Scully, either, because she just found a bug in disease-meat. Since we saw a clip of the same bug in the original disease animal in the opening teaser, I’m guessing this is integral. OH NO!!!! The Prisoner Dude’s girlfriend just got pustule-sprayed while trying to take care of the other guy. She’s a goner. Don’t mess with your friends’ exploding pustules. That is some life advice for you.
Back to the prison. The CDC jerk has the infection now, since he got pus-sprayed (pusprayed?). Oh, actually he works for Big Pharma. He’s not CDC at all. I guess he just lied about being with the CDC, that or the CDC are in bed with Big Pharma. (Which they are, duh.) So Dr. Osbourne (from the pharmaceutical company, also CDC) knows about the disease, and he also knows that when the pustule exploded on him, Scully was in the room too. Honestly, I would probably think Scully was infected if she didn’t have protagonist’s immunity, but since she does, we don’t have to worry about her. If I ever encounter disgusto-explosion disease, I hope I have protagonist’s immunity. Do you ever wonder if you’re the protagonist? How can you tell? I guess you can tell if you can fight off like fifteen men and not get diseased from exploding pustules when everyone else does. Simple science.
Now Mulder is confronting the FBI wanks who sent him out. Cigarette Smoking Man is like, duh, the public doesn’t need to know. I agree, actually. Do you know how dumb the public are? They don’t even know how to handle stuff like exploding pustule diseases. CSM is right — don’t tell ’em, everyone’s better off.
The prison is under full quarantine, and Scully is trapped inside. Mulder wants the public to know about the health crisis, and Scully doesn’t. She’s so reasonable. “They’ll be a time for the truth, Mulder, but this isn’t it.” Talk about a quote that sums up their relationship. She’s not even mad about being trapped inside the prison with not only prisoners, but also puspraying Costa Rican disease.
Dr. Osbourne is testing Scully for the disease by using the insects. Remember how I told you they’d matter? They do now. It’s a 30 minute plus 2 hour test. Somehow the bugs tell you if you have the disease, whatever, I forgot to care. Scully has 2.5 hours to find out if she’s going to die of pustule explosions. I’m so nervous.
Mulder is talking to the infected prisoner’s girlfriend. She doesn’t think anything is wrong. Why are movie people always so resistant to understanding that they’ve been infected by some horrible disease? I mean, I usually think I’m not sick when I am, so I guess I have some sympathy. One time I had pneumonia and I refused to go to a doctor until I was so sick I couldn’t walk from the bedroom to the kitchen. Ha, ha. If I got pustule explosion disease, I would probably refuse to seek treatment too. This is how epidemics happen! Human nature.
Before Scully can get her explosion disease test results back, the doctor starts dying of the pustules. She has to complete the test. The doctor thinks people have a right to know the danger that Big Pharma are putting them in by, uh, what? Mailing disease-organs to prisoners? He says, on his deathbed, or death-incubator or whatever, “Don’t believe for a second that this is an isolated incident.” So I guess Big Pharma are mailing disease-meat to like every prison in the US. Not cool, dudes.
Scully now does her requisite science stuff, mostly to remind us that she can. This is a lady who went to medical school, then FBI academy. Now she’s stuck in a prison testing bug guts for pustule explosions. Never stop dreaming, Scully.
Prisoner Dude is now infected big time, and he’s taking a Greyhound. I tell you what, this scene is the most realistic of the whole episode. Have you ever taken a Greyhound? Basically everyone on there has exploding pustules on their face. Or they’re murderers or something. You can see the OUN of Greyhound — I can’t believe they let them have even those letters.
Scully is indignant: Dr. Osbourne is dead now, and he’s in line for the incinerator, so there’s no one in the System who is willing to tell the tale. The Big Pharma lackeys are covering up all the evidence so that no one ever knows the risk they put the public in, and Scully is mad. She doesn’t even get to keep any evidence! No souvenir pus, no memorable meat. Like usual, she doesn’t have anything to corroborate what she’s seen. So now, Prisoner Dude is infected, on a Greyhound, and he happens to be the last shred of evidence of Big Pharma’s reckless endangerment of the American public in the pursuit of new erection drugs (or whatever they were looking for; probably erection drugs because that’s all anyone wants).
Now we’re at the action-climax of the episode. US Marshals have the bus surrounded, and the prisoner is on there, we think. Mulder is surreptitiously asking the bus driver if the prisoner is on the bus, and it’s super sexy. When Mulder gets sneaky, everything gets good. So of course the prisoner takes a young boy hostage so that they let him go to go explode his pustules all over whomever he wants. BUT GUESS WHAT. That’s freedom! What is freedom other than the freedom to go spray your disease-pus on whomever you want? Duh.
The prisoner is putting two and two together. The disease came from the disease-meat letter in Bobby Torrance’s cell. Bobby Torrance was a guinea pig. Personally, I think it’s a highly convoluted system. Big Pharma orchestrated the whole thing “to circumvent years of FDA trials to get their drug on the market.” Skinner doesn’t think Mulder should go public with this; Mulder obviously wants to. Scully is resigned to the notion that they can’t prove anything. Duh. They never can. Mulder never solves a crime. It’s funny, because supposedly he was a superstar when he was doing behavioral profiling, and now he’s in the X-Files and never solves a single case. How does he make it past his reviews?
Skinner lays down some truth: they’re always ahead of you, Mulder. Watch your back, Mulder, he says. Mulder’s like whatevs. As always. Thanks, Mulder. See you next week for “Soft Light.”
Okay, so, this episode is about what can go wrong with trains. There are a lot of things: bad brakes, derailing, running out of whatever powers trains, tracks that lead to a bridge that is out, etc. But the most dangerous possibility by far is that of a poltergeist messing with kids so that they walk in front of novelty trains. Truly horrifying.
Also, can we talk about the weird “childproof holster” that Teddy’s mom tied him to the sink with? Is that a thing? I remember when there were those weird spring leashes for kids for mom’s to have in stores so that their children wouldn’t get snatched in the 1980’s. Everyone was worried about the abduction of children in the 1980’s. Presumably it happened a lot or they wouldn’t have been so worried. I was not abducted as a child, so I really don’t know about that.
Anyway, back to poltergeists. So, the crazy old Roma lady, Golda, screams about how the child is a devil child. This episode would be impossible today, as there are so few well-behaved children anymore that they would be identified as the devil children for being so well-tempered and polite. Instead, children are now expected to scream continuously, particularly in movie theaters and the like, and always wherever I am sitting whilst trying to eat lunch. It is also totally normal now for children to send their malevolent, ghostly doppelgangers out to harm those around them.
Golda, on the other hand knows the business. The chicken guts on the roof trick. That is the good stuff. If more grandmothers threw chicken guts on the roof, maybe their grandchildren wouldn’t be such devils. Of course, the idiot government people want to bring social services into the mix. They do not know how to deal with evil children and poltergeists. All they have is bureaucracy. What they need is chicken guts to throw on the roof. They do not have any of those.
Why are the cops and everyone else so freaked out by Golda’s religious practices. First amendment, jerks. If she wants to draw backward swastikas (the not-Nazi kind) on kids and bleed chickens dry in her bedroom to protect herself and her family from nutty stuff and ghosts, let the lady be.
BUT NO, Scully. You have to call social services.
Back to bleeding roosters. The technique portrayed in this episode is impeccable. Big bowl. Lots of rooster blood, and what happens: the bound poltergeist child gets trapped in smoke. But even the daughter can’t appreciate a good ol’ avian bloodletting spirit-binding ritual. How dare she toss the old Roma grandmother out on her ass. Rude. She is clearly the only thing standing between this family and utter madness. I mean, here is Charlie bringing dead, bled-dry roosters back to life. What the hell is social services going to do with a kid who has a poltergeist who can bring dead animals back to life. That is way worse than those pre-psycho kids killing neighborhood cats when they are teenagers.
So, back to trains. When you are booking your next train trip, be sure to ask about the rate of poltergeist-related accidents the railway company has experienced in recent years. They are legally obligated to tell you. If there are a lot, I might rent a car or something instead. You don’t want to mess with poltergeists and trains. They are already super slow and prone to all sorts of delays. Poltergeists will only make that way worse. There will be exorcisms involved. Nobody wants to deal with all of that just to go on a train without bother.
Lovely, maggot-hallucination-ridden Folkstone, North Carolina. Camp Lejeune right next door. Nutty things happen near military bases. Particularly Marine bases, probably.
Anyway, as Xfiles20yearslater’s south-east correspondent, it is my duty to discuss this episode since it is set in the great state and one of the original 13 colonies. Amanda has long familial ties here as well. We are all North Carolina loyalists here at Xfiles20yearslater. We’re also the first to admit that there is some crazy magic up in here. We don’t need any imported voodoo to have some nutty things happen in the Superior Carolina. We’ve got about all we can handle.
There is a place, about 40 miles from where I live, called the Devil’s Tramping Ground. It is a circle in the woods upon which nothing will grow. It is suspected that this is because the devil tromps around it when no one is looking. It looks a bit like a bonfire pit.
BUT IT’S NOT. It’s demons or something, y’all.
This state is filled with stories about crazy things happening at the hands of supernatural forces. Take the Lost Colony at Roanoke Island, for instance. It was the first English colony in the New World. It didn’t last very long. After a failed attempt at settlement in 1585, colonists returned in 1587 to give it another go. When John White left and returned again in 1590, the colony was completely gone, leaving only a tree emblazoned with a crude carving of the word “CROATOAN.” CREEPY.
No one knows what “Croatoan” means. No one ever will. Actually that is not true. It likely refers to the name of an Island south of Roanoke where some English-friendly native Americans lived. John White instructed that if the settlers he left behind decided to leave Roanoke, that they carve the name of the place to which they absconded into a tree. It is like texting your friends to tell them that you went to a different bar because you were bored where they planned on finding you, but with trees and carving with knives.
Anyway, it is a better story for the Lost Colony to just be lost. Scary, scary. The Outer Banks of North Carolina are host to loads of creepy stories about creepy things. Also pirates. Like, proper pirates. Like, Blackbeard. The actual Blackbeard. Edward Teach. Look him up.
So, back to the X-files: the moral of this story is that this is what we get when we don’t regulate immigration properly. Voodoo. Dead marines. Crazy chicken feet stabbed through military paperwork. Obviously, we should be doing a better job at this kind of thing. Or, we should maybe not pay so much attention to ghost stories and actually pay more attention to the humans around us. Maybe immigration reform is a good idea. We should perhaps be more compassionate. If we were, folks wouldn’t do so much voodoo on us.
I leave you to contemplate that with this song. Enjoy.
Oh, and try not to get buried alive. That would be a total bummer.
Welcome to a live blog of this episode. Maybe there are spoilers. I don’t know. How about this: this episode aired 20 years ago today. Shut up with your spoilers.
Welcome to Milford Falls, New Hampshire. Jesus Christ Superstar is not appropriate for the high school of this town. It’s also important that all high school decisions are made in a creepy seance. Duh. I love to have a good discussion of educational procedure and theatrical scheduling before praying to the powers of darkness. Also, what’s that? A foreign language? Foreign languages are so frightening. X-Files is so good. Paganism! What is it?
Also, the high school is called Crowley High School which is awesome. Go read Diary of a Drug Fiend, which is both my favorite book of Aleister Crowley’s and also maybe my favorite book.
I assume that this episode is reflective of the mid-nineties obsession with ritual magick and Wicca and the occult. I certainly had such obsessions in that time. One time my friend and I were Wiccan for upwards of two weeks.
Interestingly, the forests of New Hampshire and of Oregon (see the Pilot) look a lot like the forests of Vancouver. Okay.
So, now we have teenagers opening the gates of the darkness beyond. Teenagers in the nineties were always doing crazy stuff like this. Have you seen The Craft? Well that came after this episode so I think we know where to find its inspiration. And later Practical Magic. Anyway, back to the teenagers. They manage to do something with their clumsy chanting, and a bunch of rats (or lizards, who can say) show up. Then they die? I don’t know. I looked away at something else in the room. Whatever.
Now the FBI has to come check out the forest because the teenagers are dead or just gone or whatever. So Mulder and Scully have to come and check out the artifacts of the teenagers’ totally amateur rites of occult. Theurgy also. We have a specialist in theurgy on our editorial board. I will let him tell you more about that.
The teenagers go to a high school that looks exactly like the high school in Twilight. Maybe Milford Falls is actually Forks, Washington. That would make sense. Mulder and Scully are interviewing the teenagers now, which I guess answers whether they died or not. Only one did. Turns out that they never thought their chanting would work.
Next we meet Mrs. Paddock, the biology teacher who makes all the students cut up animals. Creepy enough. Is she the devil? I’d argue that a lot of fundies would say that any biology teacher who teaches evolution is the devil incarnate, but in Milford Falls, the teachers clearly worship Satan. So maybe Mrs. Paddock is Satan. Wait and see.
What would make the devil want to be a biology teacher? Here is my thought. I think that maybe the devil showed up as Mrs. Paddock to check out a little coven of occultists in nowheresville New Hampshire to see if they’re doing any good. Like Philemon and Baucis, but the other way. Instead of testing humans for their adherence to the sacred guest-host relationship formulation, Mrs. Paddock seems to be testing students’ willingness to cut up cute little piglets. That’s what I’m getting from this.
What’s brilliant about X-Files (aside from Mulder’s glimmering, arrestingly enduring handsomeness — a moment’s pause in memory of the red speedo) is their ability to send Mulder on an average of a million tangents every episode. When it’s aliens, Mulder first thinks it’s werewolves. When it’s werewolves, he’s sure to think it’s spirits. On and on. It’s basically like the throwaway suspects they always put into Law and Order episodes to trick you into thinking you don’t already know who the perp is (hint: you do). Here, we have what we presume to be either a Satanically-possessed teacher, or Satan Himself maybe, and Mulder is pretty sure that we’ve got repressed memories of sexual assault going on. Mulder is remarkable. And not just remarkably hot.
That brings me to the high school student who just freaked out during dissecting a piglet. I think it’s pretty reasonable that she freaked out because the piglet came back alive. That would throw me, for a second, but I’m extremely motivated by grades so I would power through. Anyway, Mulder and Scully talk to the girl outside, and she explains that her parents are devil worshippers who get her pregnant, murder the babies, and bury them in the cellar. They also murdered her sister as a sacrifice. The scene is actually terrific — very good horror. One time I got Rosemary’s Baby and The Astronaut’s Wife confused for, like, seven years. I have also confused Raising Arizona and America’s Sweethearts for years at a time. I have not seen any of these movies.
Mulder and Scully confront the parents. So smooth and subtle. Basically the parents are just like, “Uh, no, we don’t impregnate our daughter and murder her babies.” Very nuanced police work, agents. When you have suspects, especially murder suspects, but confronting them might derail your investigation, just go ahead and confront them. People who murder babies always just tell you that they do if you ask them with an FBI notepad in your hand. Also the dad tells Mulder that maybe Mulder is the devil incarnate, which is a great trick play.
The town elders meet to talk about how the girl gave up the secret cellar-baby-corpses. Now we have a brief respite from the horror genre to visit satire: “We’ve lost our faith!” they chide and cluck. A Greek chorus lamenting the god’s anger at Milford Falls, they, together, remember the old days when the devil reigned supreme and no barely-pubescent girl had an unmarred uterus. “We must rekindle our faith, rather than lose it.” As a religious studies scholar, I could probably talk about this at length, but whatever. People are always trying to rekindle their faith, because guess what: it’s hard to keep faith in a world that just throws one bad thing at you after another. Quite frankly, even if your definition of good stuff is forcing pregnancies on your daughter and murdering your grandchildren, and your definition of life’s tragedy is, uhh, not doing that, the world is still throwing bad stuff at you all the time. For instance, pregnancies last sooo long. You may want to nab six infant sacrifices a year, but you only have one daughter of child-bearing age since you had to sacrifice the other one. Your high school students want to do Jesus Christ Superstar when that’s clearly offensive to your religious sensibilities. Life is full of trials and tragedies.
So, now stuff is boring for awhile. Mulder confronts Ausbury, one of the Satanic faculty members of the high school, who admits that they did use the kids in ceremonies. But the kids were hypnotized until they’re 18, then they are brought into the sect, but they aren’t raped or anything. Like Confirmation, I guess. I will ask a Catholic about that. It’s probably the same. Mulder gets a call from Scully, so he handcuffs Ausbury and goes to find Scully. Scully says “jump,” Mulder jumps. All the way through. Bet she says some other stuff, off camera, if you know what I mean. SEX.
Then an anaconda eats Ausbury. This is unlikely since they aren’t big enough. Also they are South American. Scully says it’s a python, though. No python in America is big enough to eat a folk. Maybe it got out of the zoo. But the devil works in mysterious ways.
Mrs. Paddock was the one who called Mulder, not Scully, just to get him out. She fakes an assault so that Mulder and Scully think the Satanic faculty members beat her up. But turns out they didn’t, I guess, but anyway they go to see what’s going on with them. But instead the teachers knock em over the head and drag them, caveman style, into a ceremony where the teachers need to sacrifice some people (which doesn’t help with Ausbury’s previous claim that they laid off the murdering), and Mulder and Scully look like good sacrifices.
Mrs. Paddock says “It is already too late.” Mulder and Scully get away from the ceremony, because they do that. Mrs. Paddock has written “It’s been nice working with you” and now she’s gone.
My boyfriend’s assessment of the episode: “I like this one because it’s religious. It’s the Deep Space Nine of X-Files. Write that down in your blog.” I told him he could write in the blog, but he doesn’t know how to look at blogs.
The core of the episode is the presentation of common religious (typically Christian) themes in a dialect of, rather, devil worship. The fact that we watch and find it either funny, satirical, or offensive (depending on your own personal preferences in religious flavor) suggests that at the very least we can recognize the themes as a subversion of normal religious expectation. Also: does anyone else think of the toe-lickers in Pink Flamingos who kept women in their basements when they watch this episode?
This episode reminds me of that song and the song reminds me of this episode and so I will have this playing in my head for the next week. So now you can as well. You’re welcome.
What a great episode. It is one of my favorites. It was 20 years ago as well, but my past self did not know that until later when another past self had seen all of the episodes. Thankfully preferences and emotions can propagate backward through time, as was covered in the recent science documentary film, Interstellar. It allowed me to know then what I know now that I knew then. See? Regardless of that, I find this episode compelling because there is absolutely nothing supernatural going on here. Amanda noted in our live Google Hangout about this episode that it is “not an X-File at all,” rather “just an episode of Law and Order: SVU” (she promises to blog about this tomorrow. I’ll link it from here [SECRET: everything is linked]). This guy is just completely bonkers.
Really, the episode is a catharsis/PTSD episode for Scully to process through the trauma of her own abduction, etc. Getting abducted by someone who is going to mutilate her corpse would be totally traumatic given that she was abducted before by aliens who mutilated her body. Very simple plot device. Very effective.
Originally, apparently, this episode was written to be about Donny Pfaster’s necrophilia, but the network declined because they were a bunch of prudes or something. So the script was re-written to just be about a guy who fetishizes death. Gross either way. Upon watching it again, I’m not sure really how it is not just still about that.
What did the original script actually contain? Scully’s report is clearly about necrophilia. Did Chris Carter accidentally just write a snuff porn script? I can imagine the conversation with the network executives:
Carter: I think you’ll really like this one, guys.
Fox Execs: I mean. This is just porn. With dead people. It’s gross. Teenagers watch this. No.
Carter: Come on guys. It’s not porn. Sure, it gets a little graphic in a couple of places but we’ll shoot it really tastefully.
Fox Execs: I don’t think…
Carter: No, you know, like that movie. What was it called? The one with Helen Mirren and Malcolm McDowell? Franco Rossellini produced it with Bob Guccione? Romans and stuff?
Fox Execs: CALIGULA?!
Carter: YEAH! Caligula! Just like Caligula, but without so many Romans and with more corpses.
Fox Execs: No.
Fox Execs: Leave now or you’re fired.
In any case, it is a masterpiece.
Scully’s best line: “I’m going to modem it out to you,” referring to a print found on a victim’s thumbnail.
She meant that she was going to take copy of the photograph of that print, scan it into a computer, and then use the thing pictured to transmit it one bit at a time at 300 baud to a computer in Minnesota, where it would resolve on a screen in really low resolution and then be printed onto paper using a dot-matrix printer.
The process would have taken thirty years. That transmission is still going through. It will arrive ten years from now, when we are watching X-Files 30 Years Later.
Mulder poses an interesting point about sunflower seeds in the most recent episode, Aubrey. Scully, as usual, poo-poos it. Read the transcript below:
Mulder: Well, on a basic cellular level, we’re the sum total of all our ancestors’ biological matter. But what if more than biological traits get passed down from generation to generation? What if I like sunflower seeds because I’m genetically predisposed to liking them?
Scully: But children aren’t born liking sunflower seeds. Environments shape them; behavior patterns are taught.
Mulder: There are countless stories of twins separated at birth who end up in the same occupation, marrying the same kind of people, each naming their child Waldo.
Mulder: Jung wrote about it when he talked about the collective unconscious. It’s genetic memory, Scully.
So, the main question of this episode is: “What makes sunflower seeds so delicious?”
I think that it is the fact that they come from the sunflower plant already roasted and salted. I am given to understand that there are also kinds that are not like this, but I do not want to meet them. I have been confronted with kinds that have an outer husk that must be chewed off and spit on the floor of the Cairo Metro, but I also do not like that kind. I prefer the naturally roasted and organically salted variety.
Why would their be a whole episode about whether or not people like sunflower seeds? Well, clearly there is a deeper message encoded here about how they can cause intergenerational madness in babies born to mothers who eat them. As Scully rightly retorts, children indeed are not born liking sunflower seeds. But sometimes, Scully, they are born with genetic memories that make them carve fraternal and sororal designations in peoples’ chests, I guess.
How do you like them apples, huh, Scully?