Re-Opening The X-Files: F. Emasculata, Soft Light, Our Town

soft_light

Mulder: You can’t protect the public by lying to them.
CSM: It’s done every day.
Mulder: I won’t be a party to it. {to Skinner} How about you?
CSM: You’re a party to it already. How many people are being infected while you stand here not doing your job? Ten? Twenty? What’s the truth, Agent Mulder?

F. Emasculata

In many cases, The X -Files subscribed to the less is more theory when it came to gross-out effects and visuals.   Hide a monster in shadows and allow our imaginations to fill in the gaps.

And then there are episodes like “F. Emasculata” that ramp up the gross-out factor.  Big time.

A pharmaceutical company is looking to find new strains of viruses so they can offer the cure to the American people at highly inflated price.  This one is spread by pustules on various victims expanding and then exploding, releasing a ton of goo that contains microscopic parasites that quickly embed in their new hosts flesh and begins to kill them.  It’s a quick death — usually within 36 hours of exposure.  

If it sounds like something you don’t want to watch while eating, you’re probably right.

Mulder and Scully are brought into the case because it’s more than a simple epidemic at a  prison. With a contained population that no one will think twice about should a rapid epidemic sweep through the population, things go awry when two prisoners escape, carrying the disease with them.   It becomes a race against time to find answers and to contain the contagion.

I’ve got to admit it makes for a pretty intriguing, fast-paced hour of the show.  Mulder is on the road, pursuing our escaped prisoners while Scully tries to find answers at the prison (and nearly gets infected when she’s looking into things).   Mulder gets to have his second confrontation of the season with the CSM — this time in Skinner’s office and this time he gets to have the high ground.  Or so it would appear.   I like the idea of the connection between the pharmaceutical company and powers that be within the government.   And it’s nice to see William B. Davis get more screen time as the CSM — and we even get to hear him speak a bit.

But it’s really the memorable exploding wounds that make this one memorable.

It also includes Dean Norris in a guest role as the head of the team pursuing the escaped cons.  Alas, he doesn’t get much to do besides be a roadblock to Mulder at times.  Well, that is until he figures out that Mulder knows what he’s talking about and he begins to defer to him.

Soft Light

When this one first aired, Tony Shaloub was probably best known as Antonio from the NBC series Wings.

So, the fact that he is able to play a serious role so well may have come as a pleasant surprise to many.

Looking back, it’s hard not to see this as a potential audition for his Emmy-winning role on Monk.

Shaloub plays a scientists who was looking into dark matter.  When the experiment goes wrong, he’s given a horrifying ability — his shadow can kill people.  The effect of people being killed by his shadow is an effective one.  As is Shaloub’s growing desperation to avoid direct light.  If he doesn’t cast a shadow, he can’t kill anyone.

Mulder tries to contact Mr. X for answers, but only ends up tipping X off as to where Shaloub’s character is.  While we’ve known that X has a very different agenda than Deep Throat did, this one of the first episodes to really play on that.  X uses Mulder to find Shaloub’s character and bring him in for testing. X is willing to follow his own agenda, using Mulder as a pawn in the game as necessary.  While Mulder may or may not be aware of just how far X’s betrayal goes, he does suspect.  We get a second scene at the shipyards where the two first met earlier this season and it’s about as full of tension as you might expect.

It’s also an episode for Scully to feel the sting of betrayal as well.   A former student calls in Scully’s help and then throws her under the bus when things get a bit dicey.

Vince Gilligan’s first script for the show is a winner.  And we’ll see a lot more from him as we continue this journey.

Our Town

The secret to immortality — just dine on human flesh.

At least that’s the answer we’re given here.  An entire town is regularly consuming human flesh to stay young forever.  Alas, the last guy they cooked and ate had a rare brain disease that he’s passed on to all of them.

Ah, the fun of a case in Arkansas.

After the last two installments featured heavy guest appearances by some of our recurring cast, it’s nice to see Mulder and Scully go it alone here.  Scully’s initial reaction that this a case designed to have them chasing their tails is a nice one.  But as we quickly find out, there is more here than meets the eye.

One thing I recall about this one is it features Mulder’s sunglasses.    FoxTrot did a strip where Paige wanted to buy a similar pair to keep them out of the hands of her younger, sci-fi loving brother Jason’s hands.   The cartoon ran about the time I decided to take the plunge on the show and it’s stayed with me since that time.

 

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1 Comment

Filed under The X-Files, TV review, tv roundup, X-Files

One response to “Re-Opening The X-Files: F. Emasculata, Soft Light, Our Town

  1. We’ve started watching the X-files from the beginning too. Currently on season 2. Its interesting to see the difference between how you related to the episodes then and now.

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