Bloody Good Show
by Sarah Stegall
Copyright ©1994 by Sarah Stegall
Writer: Glen Morgan and James Wong
Director: David Nutter
Well, Friday night’s episode of “The X-Files” brought us back to the high standards set by the opening episode: creepy camera angles, good writing, tight pacing, and eerie music. Through this whole episode I felt that I was being forced to the edge of a cliff. By the last scene, where Mulder’s phone is sending him messages, I was standing with my toes hanging over the edge.
The pacing of this episode was excellent. Having pulled the pin out of the grenade in the teaser, writers Morgan and Wong make us wait and wait for it to go off. William Sanderson (“Ed Funch”) is one of my favorite oddballs; like Tracey Walters, he can sweat on cue. His excellent “mad scene” in the tower reminded me of Brad Dourif’s master turn in last season’s “Beyond the Sea”–it’s hard to laugh and cry at the same time. And the irony was delicious: unlike the other killers, the “messages” are telling Funch to commit an act–bloodshed–which will bring forth his deepest fears, not allay them.
The Lone Gunmen are back! [Though now I am really worried: does Frohike really have Scully’s phone number? Because I think she’s gonna need more firepower…] The muscle shirt is back! The TIES are back! Unfortunately, so is Mulder’s lousy buzz cut. Yet all is forgiven for lines like “Pardon my rubber”, “It’s men like you who give perversion a bad name”, and “He’s probably one of those people who thinks Elvis is dead”. I loved it when Mulder got angry over yet another bonehead calling him “Spooky”. I loved it that Mulder had an ally to help him (Sheriff Spencer, a very good performance) instead of continually fighting the bureaucrats. We finally get to see Mulder acting like a behavioral scientist; it’s been a long wait to see his famous reputation justified.
The absolute best scene, for me, was the one where Mrs. McRoberts (Ashlyn Gere) was in the garage. The lighting, the angles, the pacing, and the acting had me on the edge of my seat. I was right there with her, afraid to be alone in the dark with a stranger, trying to tell herself that it was all right, and not believing it.
The show played into the paranoia generated by government blunders like Thalidomide and DDT very well, while linking David Koresh, Charles Manson, and OJ Simpson into an up-to-the-second mix. I didn’t know if I was watching “The X-Files” or the ten o’clock news. I was afraid, right up to the last scene, that the writers were not going to be able to make the tenuous connection between pesticide poisoning and subliminal messages work. And of course, Morgan and Wong managed to wrap up all the loose ends in the final seconds and STILL leave us hanging!! Scully gets her rational explanation–a neurotoxin, and Mulder gets his–a conspiracy. Maybe Scully doesn’t have all the facts, or maybe Mulder is still suffering neurological effects from pesticide poisoning. Who’s right? Either, neither–or both. Great stuff. This is why I watch this show.
This one gets five sunflower seeds.