Scully: Mulder, what do you know about free radicals?
Mulder: Is this a quiz?
As I said after watching the end of the Scully is taken arc with “One Breath” there are times when going back to the good ol’ Monster of the Week episode seems like a bit of a step back. Part of that is that after having some huge revelations in the mythology episodes, it’s hard to see our heroes go back to the day to day investigations without necessarily seeing much or any impact from the previous installments. It’s hard to believe that after recovering his faith to keep looking for his sister that Mulder is willing to put that on the back burner while he investigates invisible elephants.
It doesn’t help that the episode immediately following “Colony” and “End Game” is this one. It’s an episode that has some interesting ideas and a great teaser — invisible elephant goes on a rampage. But overall the pieces don’t quite all add up. It feels like the writer has some good ideas that are sprinkled into things but they’re never quite developed. Questions are brought up but never really explored. Instead, it feels like the episode is just building to that next commercial break with something new to shock us or keep us tuned in. And yet, despite all of that, it never gets much more interesting that the invisible elephant in the teaser.
If it feels like I don’t have a lot to say about this one, it’s because there isn’t as much there as I’d hoped. I sometimes think I should come back and watch this one having not viewed the two-parter that leads into it. I have a feeling it might fare better in my overall estimation. But it’s still not quite as memorable a monster of the week installment as others and so I tend to overlook it.
Not since the original Star Trek’s “The Deadly Years” have we seen old age make-up done quite so ineffectively. A couple of weeks ago, I said I thought that the plot of this one was used in season one’s “Young at Heart.” I’m not sure what that says about either installment.
Looking back, they’re both better than I recalled — but a lot of that comes down to the Mulder and Scully interactions. Watching the two age on the ship and having Scully have to take care of Mulder is nicely done. As we will see in season three’s “Quagmire” you can elevate a fairly standard story with some nice character moments. And this one does them well. It’s just kind of a same the old age make-up for Duchovny isn’t the best in the world. Anderson’s actually works a lot more effectively and I give both actors credit for acting through layers of old age make-up to give us some good character moments.
This one was originally written to try and save some money after the huge two-parter in “Colony” and “End Game.” It was also intended to give Anderson and Duchovny a bit of a break by having an “easier” script to play out. I’d be interested to hear the actor’s thoughts on this question. Though odds are they may not remember.
And yet the episode still hangs together fairly well. Of the two covered in this post, I like it a bit better. It’s the more effective of the two and the one that did a better job of holding my interest.