Re-Opening The X–Files: Red Museum, Excelsis Dei, Aubrey

You know for a holy man you got quite a knack for pissing people off.

Red Museum

Back when each season of the X-Files only got 12 episodes per season commercially released on VHS, I felt it was a shame that somehow “Red Museum” didn’t make the cut.   One of the biggest reasons is that it’s trying hard to tie into the central mythology of the show and give some closure to certain aspects of it.   In this case, it’s the crew cut man who kills Deep Throat who meets his own demise in this episode.

“Red Museum” was originally intended as a cross-over episode with CBS’ Picket Fences.   At a late stage, CBS got cold feet about the idea (both shows aired on Friday night) and backed out of the deal.   Both series went on with the episodes intended for the crossover, but with some slight reworking.  The connection between the two episodes would involve experimenting on bovines. I’m not quite sure if Mulder and Scully would have shown up in Rome for this one instead of another town in Wisconsin but I do recall that we’d have Mulder coming to Rome in the Picket Fences installment.

Instead Chris Carter is forced to tell a story that juggles a lot of elements — a group of kids who are being taken off into the woods and returned with the words “He/She Is One” written on their backs, a mysterious religious group on the outskirts of town and the local bovine population being given injections to produce more milk and more beef on the hoof.  It all ties back to the experiments in “The Erlenmeyer Flask” and purity control.  Is it possible the teenagers of this town are being injected with alien DNA and used the

same way as the cattle?

The big issue that may have kept this one from making the VHS cut is that it lacks focus.  Yes, we find out a bit more about the fate of the Crew Cut Man and get some closure there, but in the end it’s another example of the three-steps-forward, two-steps-back story advancement the show could take at times.   And yet in all of that I still find this a solid enough episode — at least for the first half.  Once we get into purity control and potential government conspiracies, things unravel very quickly.  It’s not Carter’s best effort but it’s still good enough to be worth watching again.

Excelsis Dei

On the other hand, “Excelsis Dei” is one of those episodes that hasn’t aged all that well.   Mulder and Scully are brought into a haunted retirement community on reports that there has been some kind of supernatural abuse going on.   We then spend 44 or so minutes with our heroes chasing around ghosts and such.  Honestly, apart from a set piece involving a bath tub and flooding, there is VERY little to recommend here.

The biggest thing with this is is that it’s tedious and dull.  It feels like the series is just going through the motions.   I kept wondering if this one was produced before a break in the production schedule (maybe a holiday break) and everyone was just trying to get it done so they could go on break.

Aubrey

“Aubrey” along with the next episode shown could be considered seed episodes for Chris Carter’s second series Millennium.  That one dealt a bit more with serial killers, though I’d argue that it was a bit before it’s time.   If Millennium came on today in the world of Criminal Minds, it might be a bigger hit than it was back in the 90’s.

“Aubrey” finds Mulder and Scully looking into the case of an B.J. Morrow who since she found out she is expecting the child of her boss/boyfriend has been having some strange dreams and visions.  One of them led her out to a field where she’s uncovered the bones of an FBI agent who went missing in the 40’s while investigating a rash of serial murders.   Like Mulder, this guy was ridiculed for his beliefs — but in the older agent’s case it was for using profiling to find killers and not just following the clues.

Turns out that there are serial murders taking place with a similar MO in the modern setting — and the connection could be BJ.

The story holds up well.   Part of this is the dark, moody direction by Rob Bowman.  And part of it is the script doesn’t pause long enough for you to really question the supernatural connection the case has.  In this case, it’s that evil has skipped a generation and is being channeled into BJ.

“Aubrey” also gives us the first inclusion of actor Terry O’Quinn in the X-Files universe.  He’ll be back in the first movie and he’ll also have a large role on Millennium when it reaches our screens.  He’s probably better known today as Locke from Lost. 

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Filed under Re-Opening the X-Files, review, TV review, X-Files

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