Mulder, the Internet is not good for you.
When it was announced that Darin Morgan was part of the X-Files revival, my interest in the project was peaked. All four of Morgan’s previous offerings for the show were among my favorites of the series with “Clyde Bruckeman’s Final Repose” ranking not only as my favorite hour of the show, but one of my favorite episodes of television ever.
But even as I was enthusiastic to see Morgan back on the show and had “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” circled in my mind as the “must see” installment of the new season, I have to admit I felt a bit of apprehension. I wondered if Morgan could return to the fold after a break of nearly twenty years and capture the magic again.
Thankfully, it only took the teaser on this week’s new installment to affirm that Morgan was back and that this episode could be something special.
Fox is infamous for running series out of order (see also Firefly). And while I’m not certain who decided to run the six-episodes of the new season in a different order, I’ll be intrigued to see if has as much of an impact as it felt like it was having during the course of this episode. Last week, it felt like Mulder had got his groove back and was fully engaged in the quest for the truth about the unexplained after slowly coming back to the crusade in “My Struggle.” Starting things off “Were-Monster” felt a bit like we had taken a step or two back and were watching Mulder get his groove back for this installment.
Frustrated and feeling like his crusade and life’s work has been wasted, Mulder starts the episode off with questions of the validity of his work and whether or not he’s taking his medication. Scully comes in with an intriguing case in Oregon that seems to be right up Mulder’s alley from the good old days and soon the two agents are headed out to investigate some connected deaths that could either have a supernatural overtone or be the work of a serial killer. I can’t help but wonder if Scully picked this case to try and re-engage Mulder a bit since he’d been off his depression meds. Maybe she felt like a case like this one was just what the doctor ordered.
As with all the great Morgan episodes, this one serves a de-construction of all things X-Files. Along with “Humbug” it shares the theme of the outsider not necessarily being the monster. In this case, it’s Guy Mann, a reptile-looking creature who is awoken from his hibernation period in the woods and bitten by a serial killer. To his dismay, the creature starts transforming during the day into a human being — and one drive to find a job, prepare for his future and worry about all the things that keep us up at night. Mann’s concerns about his place in the world and his questioning if it all makes a difference is a nice counter-point and parallel to Mulder’s quest and disenfranchisement.
It’s also of interest that both characters are on high powered medication to help their mental status. And it brings up an interesting question of whether each of the parties really need these mind and mood altering drugs as much as they need to be engaged in the world in some way.
Of course, this being a Morgan episode, there are some laugh out loud moments that, quite frankly, are far more engaging than most comedies I’ve seen recently. From Mann’s fantasy about Scully to the two returning stoners to the actual culprit having a speech prepared by no one caring about it, I laughed, snickered and was amused by the episode no end. And that doesn’t even count the Mulder fills in both sides of the conversation portion of the installment.
Morgan’s take on the characters is still as askew as it ever was and this one is so full of great Easter Eggs that it demands multiple viewings. (The red speedo, Scully’s immortality, the gravestones, Mann’s outfit as a homage to Kolchak, etc).
It also felt like David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were having a LOT of fun in this one. I felt like this was the first episode of the revival that had both of them fully engaged as Mulder and Scully.
Now unless the finale misses the landing big-time (and it could), I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this episode alone made the whole series return worth the time and effort. Even if the episodes that follow aren’t quite as good, to get this one is simply a treat and worth every second.
I’ve seen this one referred to as an instant classic in other forums and I’m inclined to agree.