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The X-Files – Lord of the Flies (Review)

This December, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the ninth season of The X-Files.

Lord of the Flies is an interesting episode, but not a good one.

After 4-D worked so hard to offer a glimpse of what The X-Files could or should look like in December 2001, Lord of the Flies feels like a step backwards. It is a regression, and not just because it awkwardly transitions Scully back into the role of lead character or because it returns to the comedy stylings largely eschewed by the eighth season. Lord of the Flies feels like a script that could have been written for the show in its third or fourth seasons, returning to the well-tapped reservoir of teen angst that has sustained quite a few episodes at this point.

Flies by...

Flies by…

Only a handful of elements serve to mark Lord of the Flies as a piece twenty-first century television. While Scully gets to play action hero at the climax, Mulder is gone; Doggett and Reyes do a lot of the generic detective work across the hour, even if little of their personalities gets to shine through. More than that, Aaron Paul and Jane Lynch pop up in supporting roles that nod towards the various futures of network television. In particular, Paul appears in a home-made stunt show called “Dumb Ass”, an obvious (and shallow) parody of Jackass.

However, Lord of the Flies is not particularly interested in any of these newer elements. The script very clearly wants to hark backwards, towards a past that is no longer easily accessible.

Somewhere, Scully is jealous...

Somewhere, Scully is jealous…

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The X-Files – War of the Coprophages (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

It is very odd to describe any Darin Morgan episode as “underrated.” And yet, despite that, War of the Coprophages feels like the underrated Darin Morgan teleplay.

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose had appeared towards the start of the season, featuring a powerhouse guest performance from Peter Boyle. Both Boyle and Morgan would win Emmys for their work on that episode, and Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose is perhaps Morgan’s most conventional script for The X-Files or Millennium. In contrast, Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space” is perhaps the most adventurous and gonzo episode of The X-Files ever produced, coming at the end of the season and relentlessly (but affectionately) mocking the show’s core iconic mythology.

Down the drain...

Down the drain…

In contrast, War of the Coprophages sits in the middle, literally and figuratively. It is positioned almost precisely in the middle of the third season, with Morgan writing the screenplay in an exceptionally short period of time. It isn’t a truly exceptional example of a monster-of-the-week episode in the way that Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose was, but it also isn’t as off-the-walls and bizarre as Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space.” It doesn’t feel like it has as much to say about death as Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, nor as much about life as Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space.”

And yet, in its own way, War of the Coprophages as an incisive and well-constructed commentary on The X-Files as a television show while allowing Morgan to tackle his recurring themes about society and humanity, and whether the world is what we would like to think that it is.

Bug hunt...

Bug hunt…

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