Just Bananas About: Week of 2/15/16

I’m probably one of the biggest fans of The X-Files but have to admit that I was skeptical when I first heard that they were reviving the series. Sure, I’d love to see Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) back in action but let’s face it. The series creator and showrunner, Chris Carter, hasn’t had a major hit since the series went off air. I’ve been pretty faithful as who can say that they saw the 2nd movie, The X-Files: I Want to Believe, in theaters when it came out in 2008? I distinctly remember that it was only me and two other nerds in the theater. Lol. Still, I began to get excited with each new teaser and trailer that came out.

I’d thought I’d end up talking about series revival sooner but last Monday’s episode has been my favorite episode so far. Just to a quick series overview of the episodes that’s aired so far.

The premiere episode, My Struggle, got the duo back in the game of investigating mysteries. However, I felt that Mulder was going through his mid-life crisis and overly snarky with Scully. His attitude cut me deep in this episode. Also, Tad O’Malley (Joel McHale) seems to lead much of the storyline in trying to get the pair back in to the supernatural fold. The story was plagued with too much exposition but I almost understood why it needed to do that as the episode was trying to cover 9 seasons of the mythology and lore.

Then there was Founder’s Mutation, which was a monster-of-the-week episode. The storytelling was better but Mulder has a completely different attitude towards Scully in this episode. It was much kinder and it took me off-guard. I suppose it didn’t help that these two episodes had aired only a day apart.

That’s because this episode was originally supposed to be the 5th episode but Chris Carter decided to switch the episode, which I think was the wrong move but more on that later. The most important take away from this episode is that it covers Mulder and Scully’s perspectives on the son that they gave up, William.

The third episode, Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster, written by Darin Morgan. Darin Morgan is basically a legend as he was known for writing some of the more quirkier, funnier episodes of The X-Files. The most significant being, Jose Chung’s From Outer Space and it was that episode that made me appreciate this type of offbeat storytelling.

I think what’s really sad about the Were-Monster episode is that it’s such an expository episode. I do think it was brilliant that they casted Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords) to play the part of the lizard monster. There’s no one else who would have been able to do all of that dialogue with humor that has a dash of intelligence and yet hapless and befuddled at the same time. Overall, I think that newcomers to the series will miss the brilliance of Darin Morgan’s writing. It’s clearly there in the dialogue and the visuals but so many of the Easter eggs are so obscure that it’s easy to miss the punchline. I’ll say that I enjoyed the episode because I was in on the joke but I can’t say that it would have the same impact for everyone else which is a shame.

As for the fourth episode, Home Again was originally supposed to be the 2nd episode of this season and it does feel like it. It serves two purposes as the pair are trying to investigate the monster-of-the-week but it also covers Mulder and Scully’s history.

Remember when I said in the first episode that Mulder was overly snarky? If the premiere was followed by this episode, we would have seen the shift in his attitude. Despite whatever happened in their relationship, he comes to Scully’s side when she gets the call that her mother is in the hospital which I think is significant. The ties in their relationship run deeper than the fact that they are work colleagues or once had a romantic relationship.

As for the case that they are working on, the pair investigate the murders of federal employees who are trying to relocate the homeless in the Philadelphia. The monster-of-the-week is called the Band-Aid Nose Man who speaks on behalf of the homeless as everyone else seems to be looking out only for their own agenda, whether it’s the federal employee that’s trying to ship the homeless to another district or the federal employee from that other district that is trying to stop the move with an injunction.

The only evidence that Mulder finds at the crime scene appears to be a Band-Aid, which is a symbol for patching up the problem, and street artwork. The artwork is clearly a reflection on street artists, such as Banksy. They use familiar imagery and irony to make social commentary about government and society.

Back at the hospital, Scully must deal with letting her mother go. I’m delighted to see that Sheila Larkin has returned to reprise that role of Margaret Scully. Scully is surprised to hear that her mother has signed paperwork expressing her wish for her life not to be sustained by machines. What’s even more confusing is that one of her mother’s possessions is a US quarter put on a necklace chain. Scully comes from a religious family and she used to wear a cross necklace so the fact that Margaret is not holding on through her belief shakes Scully’s faith a bit.

Scully hears that her mom had been searching for her younger brother Charlie, who has been estranged from the family for years. When she tracks him down, she convinces him to try and speak to their mom and Margaret opens her eyes for a few seconds to let Mulder know that she also has a son named William.

As for the case, as the two narrow their search for the underground artist who created The Band-Aid Man, Scully hears his side of the story about how he didn’t realize his ideas could create this monster. However, Scully comes across a bit apathetic. Even though it’s just an idea, if he thought it up then that person is responsible for it.

Similarly, it’s Scully’s belief that Margaret created her younger brother Charlie and she couldn’t really let him go. Scully and Mulder will always be responsible for William, even though he’s growing up apart from them. The impact of this scene would have been far more reaching if Founder’s Mutation came after this episode because we would then understand why their child, William, was in their minds in that episode.

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