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The X-Files – Beyond the Sea (Review)

Ah, Beyond the Sea. My favourite episode of the first season. Maybe my favourite episode of the first two seasons, although I’ll confess that my opinion is prone to change. I’m in good company. Darin Morgan points to it as his favourite episode. Chris Carter has (again and again) singled it out as the best episode of the show’s first season – a piece of television that works “on every level.”

It’s easy to point out all the exceptional stuff in Beyond the Sea. Gillian Anderson is phenomenal, as we’ve come to suspect from spending half a season with her. David Duchovny is quite happily relegated to a supporting role, willing to allow his co-star room to breathe. Brad Dourif is sensational. Glenn Morgan and James Wong’s script is phenomenal. David Nutter’s direction is absolutely top-notch.

However, what always struck me about Beyond the Sea was just how incredibly confident and casual it was. It was bold and clever and provocative, but it was also tight and controlled. It’s brilliant, but it never feels like this isn’t a level of craft the show can’t consistently hit.

We are the dead...

We are the dead…

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The “Meta” Mystery Approach…

I’ve always been fascinated by mysteries in fiction. That said, I will concede I’ve never really been particularly good at picking up on the hints within the work itself designed to point towards a particular perpetrator. I haven’t necessarily got the skills to pick up on what tiny little detail mentioned in dialogue or the tiniest little action that supports a particular conclusion – it’s just not how my mind works. Instead, perhaps as a direct result of watching far too many movies, I find it more relevent to look at factors outside the fictional world where the mystery is set in order to reach a conclusion – I’m more likely to identify the culprit by reference to the film itself than the clues on hand.

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