Wednesday, 14 November 2012

SLEEPLESS Episode 4 Season 2 of The X-Files


They cut out a piece of my brain…

Synopsis: Mulder teams up with Krycek to investigate a mysterious death and the pair uncovers a top secret military experiment and a man who has not slept for 24 years.

Sleepless represents the first Howard Gordon script without co-writer Alex Gansa and the finale instalment of season 2‘s early three strong grouping of MoW episodes. Just as we saw in the previous episode Blood, the science bit could only be viewed as incredible however it makes for a fun 45 minute paranormal outing, which includes the U.S government’s penchant for human testing and general disregard for life and a menacing and unpredictable killer as well as a premiere performance from the reconnoitring untrustworthy Alex Krycek and the mysterious Mr X.

First that science bit. It is all obviously tongue in cheek, to sit here and pick holes in it would be no different than being that person, who whilst watching a magicians card trick states ‘that’s not magic’ neither an endearing quality nor a beneficial one. The only thing you should do is sit back and enjoy the show ladies and gentlemen. The idea that the government was experimenting on its own troops in Vietnam to create a super soldier is actually a quite credible one and a continuation of the themes found in Deep Throat, Eve, Young at Heart, Erlenmeyer Flask and Blood and represents a just cause for Mulder to fight for.

The X-Files episodes which centred on government testing of their own troops and civilians almost always allowed for the antagonist of the story a chance of redemption as an indication to their own victimisation. Corporal Augustus ‘Preacher’ Cole is no different in fact all he wants to do is go to sleep but not without taking down his old murdering squad colleagues before he does. I feel uneasy that Mulder is so quick to sympathise with a man capable of murdering defenceless men, women and children and who also instigated two cops to shoot one and other leaving one in a coma and the other presumably dead. Mulder’s sympathy may possibly be a shroud to cover his true selfish intentions of wanting to take his man alive as hard evidence, proof to the fact that the U.S government are as underhand and callous as he says they are and thus gives more reason to the re-opening of The X-Files. Be that as it may Cole’s actions are still inexcusable and Mulders ability to simply brush over these facts irks me a little.

You will recognise war vet Cole although some may not know from where, he is played by veteran actor Tony Todd whose distinct deep reverberating voice and threatening appearance has made him somewhat of a genre favourite amongst scare fans and one of his earliest screen outings was the haunting Vietnam masterpiece Platoon, a combination of the two guises works ever so well here. Todd dose brilliantly with what screen time he is permitted. His scene in the Brooklyn apartment in which he has the Vietnam victims made up of women and children shoot dead his ex-marine comrade is chillingly conspicuous.

Sleepless sees Mr X unveil himself to Mulder for the first time. The new informant hands over a report to Mulder to help with the case. Mr X’s motivations will always remain clouded. Deep Throats intentions were seen a pure and selfless and a way of atonement for past misgivings whilst the intentions of Mr X will never be so black and white, his affirmation of the fact that he will never sacrifice his life for the information he has, dispels the idea of a crusader for truth and portrays a more narcissistic character (although in hindsight we do know differently). Mr X’s admission of having known Deep Throat personally and of his duty to Mulder and The X-Files may go some way to explaining his new position of informant, that’s just one we‘re allowed to work out for ourselves.

There is another arguably even more important character introduction in this episode. Special FBI agent and rat for the syndicate Alex Krycek makes his first appearance on The X-Files. After a rough start his all too eager to please attitude eventual begins to break down Mulder’s proverbial wall constructed of ‘trust no one’ mortar and come on admit it he fooled you as well. Krycek gave The X-Files so many twist and turns and the inception of this character was pure brilliance as was the casting of Nicholas Lea who was not only suited to the role but also gave nothing less than 100%.

Although Kryceks introduction holds high significance you may notice my establishment of the character has purposely been down played as I don’t think what the Krycek character represents to the franchise as a whole should take away from Tony Todd whose performance elevates this episode from a basic standalone MoW to a much greater one.



Musings:

  • I clocked Scully’s screen time at around the 2 minute mark all of which was spent devoted to Mulder, no real point to this musings except that I hadn’t mentioned her name at all during the review.
  • The parallels between Blood and Sleepless are so glaring that it seems weird that they would be played back to back. Perhaps to reiterate the point of Mulders contempt for a government that runs tests on its own people without their consent or well-being in mind. The suicide by cop ending which sees Mulder trying to salvage the situation also mimics blood and maybe a good precursor to his negotiation skills in the build-up to the following episode Duane Barry.
  • See what happens when you remove Gansa from the equation. Sci-Fi and the paranormal just arn't his strong points.
Watch Sleepless Instantly!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

BLOOD Episode 3 Season 2

‘I played right field’

Synopsis: An experimental pesticide has an adverse effect on its town when the inhabitants begin to embark on killing sprees culminating in suicide by cop.

It is impossible to think that this unforgettable episode will ever cease to become anything less than enjoyable and being a true favourite of mine I cannot wait to surmise the bountiful reasons as to why!

KILL, KILL’ EM, KILL’EM ALL Each violent instruction introduced by a high noted and sharp bang on the piano keys followed by a thumping heart beat drum rhythm. Straight after our opening teaser with the once mild mannered now disgruntled postal worker Edward, we discover that these cases of digital orders prompting there victim to act on murderous impulses are not isolated incidents but more of an epidemic in the usually peaceful town of Franklyn Pennsylvania. The premise of which is wholly exciting, dangerous and mysterious.

The spree of superficial random acts of violence is quickly continued with vigour by the vigorous porn/television actress Ashlyn Gere giving this episode an even finer cutting edge, her character’s virginitiphobia has to be an insider nod to her customary profession as does her attack on self-confessed sex addict David Duchovney (I kid obviously, David wasn’t diagnosed with sex addiction back in 1994 he was however diagnosed with young free and single-ism at the time).

Steady television actor William Sanderson’s portrayal of a sweaty nervous disgruntled postal worker on the edge of break down is superb. We eagerly anticipate his inevitable killing spree, with each passing opportunity more tension builds and culminates in an expertly derived unhinged shooting from top a clock tower and Mulder and Scully’s race to prevent it.

Mulders exposure to the experimental pesticides used on Franklyn’s crops is a wonderfully clever and subtle addition to the story line, the LSDM only effect on him is the message he received on his mobile phone ‘ALL DONE…BYE BYE’ the message could have only been sent by the government syndicate in charge of the spraying and this type of shadowy unknown government group going as far as to conduct inhumane experiments on its own citizens is what Mulder fears most.

This episode acts as a great exhibition of Mulder’s humour and reverence to his wit. One liner abounds and always gives reason to a re-watch. I particularly like his defence of playing right field in baseball and also noticed his immature ‘rubber’ joke that must be yet another homage to Ashlyn Gere’s profession.
With Mulder and Scully still on temporary hiatus the cameo by The Lone Gunman seems ideal. This is nothing more than a gentle re- introduction and they only conspire on Mulders own thoughts by adding in a brief history lesson on Government conspiracy with experimental pesticides. It is great to welcome them back and this time in shadier surroundings to their E.B.E premiere.

There is obviously one massive and confusing plot hole in Blood; the murderous instructions being able to be displayed on any electronic screen or display seen by any of the hundreds of people exposed to the LSDM. You may say perhaps due to the LSD contained within the LSDM that the victim’s fears prompted a visual hallucination on these devices which doesn’t go as far as to explain how each visualisation of the phrase 'kill them' are distinctly abbreviated in the fashion ‘KILL’EM’ as you would expect each individuals spelling to differ.


This level of technology and surveying is completely impossible so on the first few watches I hoped I had missed something but believe me it is what it is and in truth that is completely forgivable because this thrilling effort from Glen Morgan and James Wong makes up for its lack of plausibility with pure minute to minute humour, tension and well erm….. thrills!

Musings:

Just one, Scully’s sly introduction into this episode didn’t go unnoticed, I’m watching you. 

Watch Blood Instantly with Amazon

Thursday, 1 November 2012

THE HOST Episode 2 Season 2


I wouldn’t like to meet the Russian that had to pass this tapeworm!

Synopsis: After being given a disgusting assignment, Mulder begins to believe that his position at the Bureau is becoming untenable yet there is a lot more to the case than first meets the eye.

Time to turn the repulse-meter to maximum and I mean maximum. This mutated tape worm is without doubt the most disgusting creature ever conceived by Chris Carter and The X-Files team and this memorable creature holds a special place in many X-Philes hearts, she has even been affectionately named Flukey among The X-Philes faithful. It has been said that Gillian Anderson herself named The Host as the most disgusting X-Files episode she ever had the privilege to work on.

Flukey, happy to lie in wait in human excrement, has a face only a mother could love which is most probably why she is the proud owner of an asexual reproductive system and her method of incubating her parasitic offspring is tantamount to rape. I label Flukey as being feminine and reframe from using the name flukeman because she has to be one or the other and she reminds me of my mother-in-law. I will never forget the first sight of Flukey trapped in the transparent pipe at the sewage plant; excuse me if you think I am being too sympathetic here but she looked scared and confused as if she was trying to figure out who these people were and who she was.  We can assume that as a genetic mutation by radiation that Flukey is the only one of her kind and that her own existence is just as baffling to her as it is to anyone else, just like my mother-in-law.

This episode could have easily relied upon Flukey to make it a big hit and that would have been fine by me yet Chris Carter’s spices things up with some added ingredients. Mulder is back from his close encounter, back to his surveillance detail and thus back to his morbid disposition, threatening to leave The F.B.I in hope that he can pursue his investigations into the paranormal along a different path. He draws this conclusion after being what he considers to be ‘jerked around’ by Skinner and the F.B.I by his sewage based assignment. So it is funny that it is this assignment that gives Mulder hope of a continuation of The X-Files or at least investigating the paranormal, a notion vindicated both by Skinners admittance that The X-Files was shut down somewhat prematurely and also by the emergence of a mysterious ‘friend’ at the F.B.I. The ‘friend’ we later find out to be informant Mr X or simply just X. I can only draw the conclusion that Mr X had a hand in Skinner presenting Mulder with the case in an effort to re-establish the importance of The X-Files.

What gives this episode its piece of individuality is that Flukey is caught very early on, not only that, she represents hard evidence of the paranormal and proves Mulders doubters that he isn’t away with the fairies, in-fact this giant mutated Fluke worm is worthy of a Noble prize! So it seems strange that the reaction it receives seem so downplayed and I can’t help but smile at the idea that Flukey is to be treated at a psychiatric hospital, no wonder she looks so confused.

This popular MoW is utterly disgusting and brilliant in equal measures and made famous by the evasive Fluke worm.

Musings:

  • Mulder and Scully appear more relaxed with one another after their exploits in Little Green Men, as if the relationship is settling from the adjustments of being partners to being friends.
  • The heavy Fluke suite took so long to put on and remove that future X-Files writer Darin Morgan apparently wore it for 20hrs straight. Chris Carter joked that the wearing of the suite should be a rite of passage for any budding X-Files writer.
  • Flukey got cut in half and she survived, sure she is a worm after all but don’t forget about its offspring from the sewage worker that escaped down the shower waste. New Jersey certainly did have a problem on its hands. I wonder if the sewage workers felt comfortable with re-entering the sewers.
  • Who would I least like to find coming out my toilet, Tooms or Flukey? Errr……Flukey! 
Watch The Host Instantly with Amazon


Friday, 26 October 2012

LITTLE GREEN MEN Episode 1 Season 2 of The X-Files


No, Jorge, don’t touch that red button. Noho on the Roho.


Synopsis: The closure of The X-Files has left Mulder without direction, until a friend reaches out to him with some significant intelligence.

It’s season two of The X-Files, it’s time to get serious. A lot of Season one’s charm comes from its innocent misgivings, season two did not have the same luxury and had to mature. Season two needed to wow from the start. With time and money vested in growing its popularity Chris Carter and Co needed to grab the attention of the shows newcomers whilst staying faithful to The X-Files philosophy. With Little Green Men, Morgan and Wong nailed it using the right blend of emotion, conspiracy, scares oh and the first sight of an extra-terrestrial!

The first episode of the second season hooked millions of new fans to The X-Files, compare Little Green Men with its spoon feed treats, silky camera work and exotic locations to the pilot episode. In many ways they are similar but at the same time they are truly worlds apart.

The opening to this episode is as intriguing as it is clever. The introductory monologue tells the story of the voyager program and hints towards its successful contact with alien life from the far reaches of our solar system.  If the promise of contact is intriguing how about actually making contact? I remember the sight of the slender E.T as pure sensory overload, for avid fans and new comers alike, a great piece of television.
So our aliens finally have a face, well outline to the body anyway. As part of a semi-reinvention to The X-Files universe they are no longer seen as the atypical invisible scavenger like creatures depicted in Fallen Angel but the more traditional slim big head big eyed aliens from so many documented accounts of close encounters.

Both the dream sequence of Samantha’s abduction and the contact Mulder experiences at the observatory are hair-raisingly to say the least but for a good old jump out your skin moment look no further then Jorge in the bathroom  it got me 18 years ago and it still gets me today. Poor Jorge left looked inside the observatory for some inexplicable reason, his inclusion in the story an inspired one, how long had he been there? How many times had he been abducted? For a grown man to be scared to death it would take something callous.
The mythology arch of this episode was a true indictment of how far The X-Files had come in its short tenure and what direction it would take, a brief peak at an alien was enough to get us salivating at the mouth and we wanted more. So did Mulder

The unkempt Mulder stuck on an endless wiretapping detail seen earlier on in the episode was a depressed shadow of his former self. He allowed himself to question his own beliefs; his paranoia raged uncontrollably and seemed a man devoid of all-purpose. Without The X-Files Mulder felt worthless, although hope remained in the guise or Senator Matheson. His apology to Mulder about not being able to secure The X-Files future tells of his vested interest in the cases and that he was most probably Mulder’s friend in Capitol that he refers to in Pilot and to whom Skinners referred to in Tooms.

Mulder heeds Matheson intelligence and travelled without hesitation to the satellite observatory in Puerto Rico with complete disregard for his assignment with the Bureau. Telling in that his prerogative to a regular pay check pales in significance to his search for the truth. I find Mulders use of the Dictaphone brilliant as not only was it a good way of explaining to the viewers what the partner-less agent is seeing but also his reactions to what he was seeing, it was interesting to hear him doubt himself without Scully’s faithful ear to bend and in hindsight and a view to subsequent seasons it is especially interesting to hear him cast doubts 
over the events of Samantha abduction.

Mulder made sure Scully had her work cut out in Little Green Men. Her shoulder to cry on was all that was keeping Mulder in anyway sane, she believed in him even if he didn’t. With Mulders fantastical imagination and hostility towards authority figures it is easy to forget that Scully is three years his junior and that a year prior to Little Green Men Scully was heading for a perfectly amicable career in the FBI. She takes it upon herself to follow him blindly and back him at all conceivable cost. Lying to her peers she evaded the watchful eye of the bureau surveillance team and heads all the way to Puerto Rico, the airport scene is reminiscent of the airport scene for E.B.E and typical of the sort of covert methods taken by Mulder. Without this level of devotion and sacrifice Mulder and Scully would never have worked. Scully’s eleventh hour appearance is all that saves Mulder from the shoot to kill U.F.O crash site recovery operation team. This was not the first time Scully had saved Mulder’s life and it won’t be the last, debunking the theory of Mulder constantly saved the damsel in distress; Scully. Well actually he does but what I am saying is that it was not all one way traffic.

The cherry on the top of the icing on top of the cake for this episode and one of my all-time favourite moments from the second series is the final scene that not only authenticates Mulders paranoia to his being watched but also creates one of these; that awkward moment when Skinner yells ‘get out of my office’ and you think his taking to Mulder but his really talking to me! Ha love it and its significance to the development of Skinners character, he is no puppet but whether he likes it or not he cannot sit on the fence forever.

Consider attention grabbed Chris Carter there is nothing to dislike about this strong episode, its imagination and constant of thrills sees to that.

Musings:
  • It seems Mulders has been ‘hounding’ a lady for a date, I doubt that very much given his demeanour at the time and I am guessing that message was from an admirer of which I assume Mulder had many.
  • The big bucks second season means a proper Hoover building, the guts of which now look authentic and is a series main stay.
  • Mulders dream sequence of Samantha abduction differs from his recollection of the event via hypnotic regression. C.C explains the phenomena as possible inaccuracies in hypnotic regression. Want to know the real reason? Morgan and Wrong had never seen Conduit!
  • The alias George Hale is in reference to the mentally ill scientist that Mulder compares himself to during the covert meeting with Scully in the car park. If you have time Google him for a fascinating read.
  • Voyager 1 is currently the furthest man-made object from Earth, it is still in our solar system but scientists predict the craft to reach interstellar space within 3 years. I hope it doesn’t attract any unwanted attention!
Watch Little Green Men Instatnly with Amazon

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Six Best Monsters From The X-Files Season 1


Developing a premiere season is a tough task for any producer but what made Chris Carter and Co. jobs that much harder was the originality of The X-Files, it was experimental broadcasting  with no guide rope they just had their creativity, instincts and penchant for anything spooky, oh and they also had the notorious FOX Network executives to deal with.

The first season of The X-Files was rich in Monster of the Week episodes, in-fact it boasted nineteen in total the highest amount of stand-alones in any of the nine seasons.  Not all were classics mind and some were definitely dud but there was many diamonds amongst the rough.
Some of these monsters make the cut because they are just plain scary especially for the John Doe of 19 years ago some however make us smile and others make us sad.

With so many MoW’s to choose from narrowing them down to a list of six was not easy but here it is, the definitive list of the six best monsters from MoW episodes:

6. Cecil L’Ively, Fire

Possibly a controversial choice, Cecil’s general exclusion from these types of lists can only be merited to the overshadowing hate for Phoebe Green a women equally annoying and fugly. Cecil just makes the cut based on the fact that he should not be underestimated. The highly intelligent psychopaths’ dedication to his killings is unrivalled and his anti-establishment views make him an ideal candidate for world domination. His each and every sanctimonious move derived from pure evil. A wicked black heart gets this pyro-kinetic monster a top six spot.
Watch Fire instantly with Amazon

5. Roland, Roland

The hapless autistic Roland was an early example of the variety of emotional avenues Chris Carter would be granted to travel down over the course of the next 8 seasons. This X-Files MoW week didn’t scare anybody it may have got a few laughs but in truth they only feeling we were left with was that of sorrow, loneliness and possibly empathy for the most innocent and ill-fated young man. Perhaps that is fear.
Watch Roland instantly with Amazon

4. The bugs, Darkness Falls

These carnivorous nocturnal bugs cocoon and slowly digested their prey, eating them alive. What makes their fear factor worse is that they are undetectable in daylight. They could be gathering around your bed waiting for darkness to fall. If The X-Files ever gave us a reason to sleep with the lights on this was it.
Watch Darkness Falls instantly with Amazon

3. The Eves, Eve

Creepy test tube twins Cindy Reardon and Teena Simmons both killed the respective adoptive fathers through means of exsanguination at the tender years of eight. These highly intelligent blood thirsty sentence finishers are destined to drive themselves to psychotic madness in later life, just ask their big sis, eye ball biter Eve 6.
Watch Eve instantly with Amazon

2. Luther Lee Boggs, Beyond the Sea

On death row and desperate for a pardon, Boggs claims he can use psychic channelling to help locate a killer before he kills his kidnap victims. His claims seem to hold up against adverse facts to the matter. Is he to be believed and even if he is; is this a chance for redemption and should his sins be forgiven? A most memorable character responsible for bringing passion to The X-Files, his importance to the show should not be undervalued.
Watch Beyond the Sea instantly with Amazon

1.  Eugene Victor Tooms, Squeeze/Tooms

We became acquainted with this bile spewing stretchy odd ball over two episodes that allowed us to get a real insight into his peculiar existence. Tooms appearance was also the first MoW appearance in The X-Files history. We learned early on that behind his jaundice liver hungry eyes laid the brains to challenge Mulder and Scully, he is good at what he does after all he has been doing it over a matter of centuries. His ability to stretch out and squeeze through the tightest of spaces meant that no one was safe from his appetite, his prey seldom escape. He was disgusting, the sneer on his face was unpleasant, his method of sticking his nest together was sickening and his methods of entry repugnant (the sewer especially). It was fitting that Tooms suffered such a gruesome demise at the hands of Mulder and an escalator, an unforgettably brilliant end that he earned and it was no less than he deserved.
Watch Squeeze and Tooms instantly with Amazon

There you have it my definitive list of The X-Files first season best monsters from MoW episodes. Let me know your lists, who would of you include?

Monday, 22 October 2012

THE ERLENMEYER FLASK Episode 24 Season 1 of The X-Files


The man who knew too much.

Synopsis: Following a tip from Deep Throat, Mulder and Scully are led into an investigation that brings them closer to the truth than ever before.

The Erlenmeyer Flask proved that the triumph of mythology episode E.B.E was no fluke, an episode full of depth in questions and answers made The Erlenmeyer Flask an enthralling way to wrap up the first season. The freedom of the episode owes much to the lack of mythology in the first season which allowed Chris Carter to add all new elements that would become a main stay in the mythology arc over the course of the entire series. Alien DNA millions of years old, the human/alien hybrid, super strength, the ability to breathe under water and of course that toxic green blood. Carter took a step back and thought about his one, each component evaluated and polished before being woven into the fabric of the fledgling story arc.

Obviously it takes more than ideas and a script, it takes delivery and R W Goodwin delivers. It is from The Erlenmeyer Flask that Goodwin will go on to direct three more big season finales as well as other important X-Files episodes. In fact he never makes a dud and it is easy to see why.  From the very beginning The Erlenmeyer Flask accomplishes high drama and intrigue. The first shot sees alien/human hybrid escapee Dr Secare fleeing a state trooper in a high speed police pursuit, their vehicles take to the air in scenes worthy of The Dukes of Hazard, sparks fly as they land and in true cliché fashion Dr Secare even drives through a stack of empty boxes. Love it! The opening joy ride is only a peak at what is to follow.

The X-Files team work this case with efficiency, like a well-oiled machine. Mulder and Scullly play to their strengths; Mulder uses his unquestionable detective abilities to locate alien/hybrid Dr Secare whilst Scully investigates the science behind it. Scully’s discovery that the bacteria found in the The Erlenmeyer Flask not only predates Human existence but also contains extra-terrestrial D.N.A. sees her admitting for the first time in an apologetic manner to Mulder that she may have been wrong to question his logic and hints at her possibility of opening up to extreme possibilities. Eureka, a breakthrough of sorts although we still see Scully err on the side of cautious science for the next six seasons.

Scully, frequently found kerbside throughout season one is forced to take the reins when Mulder is captured whilst incapacitated by Toxic alien blood. With the aid of Deep Throats security clearance she ventures behind enemy lines and recovers an alien/hybrid embryo. Seeing is believing and for me and millions of other watching at home treating us to this discovery was a phenomenal revelation, its inclusion ingenious and a step on from E.B.E. It acted as a cliff hanger leaving X-File fans licking their lips over the prospect of what is to come in the next season, little did they know how highly their diligence would be rewarded.

Deep Throat’s admittance of knowledge in the The Erlenmeyer Flask marks his demise. The truth he tells Mulder and Scully is profound, divulging information on the top secret Purity Control project, on how a government fraction (the syndicate) have experimented on unwitting members of the public using alien D.N.A and how they found a cure for fatal diseases yet have no plan to disclose the information. The man, it would seem could get Mulder closer to the truth than any other. It is arguable that never again would he have a more forthcoming and trust worthy informant, Deep Throat’s fast track to the truth is something that Mulder will sorely miss. His availability to Mulder proved his undoing and it is this that would see his successors tread much more carefully in future. Deep Throat’s role in the X-Files may have been small in terms of airtime but his impact was huge and his death, not in vein, for it appears he wittingly gave his life for Mulders surely making him a martyr of Mulder’s cause in search for the truth. As a child I remember feeling warmth from his character and was shocked when he was killed, I have vivid memories of him uttering that infamous line ‘Trust…No…One’.

Deep Throats death was not the only end in this tale, word from very high office shuts down the The X-Files, Mulder, dismayed at losing Deep Throat and all the evidence surrounding the case, rings Scully at 11:21pm to inform her. His dejected manor and despondent tone evident, he says ‘I'm... not going to give up. I can't give up. Not as long as the truth is out there.’

C.S.M takes the next scene, locking the alien/human hybrid embryo away inside the pentagon; revealing the man as the sole recognisable face of The X-Files antagonists. The season ends, leaving everybody waiting in unbearable anticipation. Wow!

Musings:
  • I had no idea what an The Erlenmeyer flask was. It turns out it isn’t the flask in which the embryo is kept but the flask in which the alien bacteria was kept and is otherwise known as a conical flask this side of the pond.
  • The flashing crime scene stills of Dr. Berube dead body was a great effect and looks like something straight out of C.S.I
  • Scully should really know better than to put her fingers in a monkey cage. In her defence she did think they were friendly, this from a woman with a PHD!
  • The opening tagline ‘Trust no one’ replaces the tagline ‘The truth is out there’ presenting the first time it has been changed.
  • Gillian Anderson is apparently showing in this episode but I never noticed to be honest, I’m a man what can say, anyway the interlude for Dana Scully between Erlenmeyer Flask and Season 2 Episode 2 Host is baby time. Her first born, Piper Maru will lend her name to the Season 3 Episode of the same name.
Watch The Erlenmeyer Flask now!

Friday, 19 October 2012

ROLAND Episode 23 Season 1 of The X-Files


Roland’s revenge

Synopsis: The deaths of two scientists linked by their work prompt Mulder and Scully to investigate.

The penultimate episode of the X-Files season one sees a repetitive, candid pattern turn full circle. Roland is another story of revenge from beyond the grave by controlling the will of an unsuspecting person, see similar season one episodes; Shadows, Space, Lazarus, Born Again. The decision for Roland to follow Born Again was myopic and if it were not for Roland’s saving graces this review would be just another scathe-fest. As a fan with many re-watches under my belt I find myself looking beyond the story. I feel as an X-Phile that it is my job to see what some may not and sing high praises to episodes found wanting by others and mainly I would just feel plain guilty trouncing this one straight after trouncing Born Again.

Always look on the bright side of life.

The performance of steady actor Zeljko Ivanek is convincing, his character, the autistic Roland lends inspiration and a numerical gift from the similarly named autistic Raymond from late 80’s hit Rain Man. It is one thing to curl up your hands, speak in a laborious monotone voice and role your head slowly back and forth, it’s another to pull it off. His efforts are matched by co-star Kerry Sandomerski playing Tracy. I knew she wasn’t disabled because I saw her on Fringe the same night I began this write up acting as a perfectly ably mannered nun. Nailed it!

I can’t help but feel a nerve tingling unease when watching their scenes inside the politically correctly named half way house, partly due to the direction and the other part possibly guilt. The dull ache in the pit of my stomach is more than evident, an emotion David Lynch himself would be proud of generating. I find myself relieved when they are over and yet somehow disappointed they are not longer. The finale scene in which Roland must leave Tracy is especially sad when you factor in the autistic persons slight understanding on love and the pairs inevitable loneliness. The dream sequences that use vivid colours contrasting black and white also resonates well.

Mulder shows his compassionate side once more in the way he interacts with Roland. The understanding and identification he shares with societies victims is always direct, just and sincere and in complete distinction from his contempt for the villains. He has displayed this tact with children, i.e. Born Again and numerous adults, i.e. Fallen Angel with a warm trusting manor. Perhaps this empathy comes from Mulders own feeling of loneliness and confusion. Sometimes however his directness allows his mouth to run ahead of him leaving Scully to cut him short to avoid either embarrassment or ill feeling as she did when Mulder attempts to explain the events leading to Roland’s departure from the half way house to Mrs Stodie.

The inspiration for Roland’s character may have been Rain Man but surely the idea of the cryogenic chambers has to be accredited to the film Demolition Man. They are a massive sci-fi shout out and although they have no place in the labs of jet propulsion scientists, they are a fun inclusion. As are the manor of the scientist deaths. The noise Dr. Surnow creates when hitting the fan can only be described as a squelch and the chalk line of Dr. Keats fragmented head draws a wry smile.

The story may boast a fuzzy back story and inconsistency in plot, but there is occasion to laugh and cry. 18 years later and blessed with hindsight we know where all the effort went so it’s forgivable 7/10

Musings:
  • The computer software used in early X-Files to render e-fits of criminals and alter their age and appearance is nothing short of other worldly.
  • In the word of Kirk Lazuras ‘Everybody knows you never go full retard.’