The X-Files Revisited: Season 1 Episodes 4-6
In Iowa, on a campground, a blinding flash of light wakes up a woman in a camper. She goes outside to check on her camping children. Her young son claims his teenaged sister was taken in front of him, and he was powerless to stop it. If you have been paying attention, you will know why this kind of case cannot go ignored by Agent Mulder. It is practically the same thing that happened to him as child. He even goes out of his way to set up the trip with his superiors without checking with Scully first. It turns out that the young son is no receiving transmissions through television static. He is writing down binary code from a Defense Department satellite prompting the NSA to show up and put the kibosh on Mulder’s investigation.
Just like the last episode, “Squeeze,” this is a fairly simple story light on scares and mystery. What makes it so good is the character work on Mulder. Since we have met Mulder, he has been the pinnacle of roguish confidence. He has had his intelligence tested, but he has not had his will and motivation tested. That is what this episode is all about. The teen is eventually returned, but she is not talking. In the end, Mulder sits in a church with nothing but his thoughts. He cries staring at a picture of his sister. Meanwhile, Scully is back in Washington listening to hypnotic therapy sessions of Mulder, where Mulder repeats the show’s mantra “I want to believe.”. It is a strong ending for a middle-of-the-road episode.
“The Jersey Devil” S1E5
Don’t get too excited. This has very little to do with The Jersey Devil legend. In fact, the location seems to be the only similarity to the Jersey Devil. The monster of this week is actually a Neanderthal-like human living in the woods outside of Atlantic City and cannibalizing victims. The case gets the attention of the FBI when said caveperson sneaks into Atlantic City and starts picking off the homeless population for food.
It is actually the most unambitious episode yet. Only 5 episodes into the series the bar isn’t very high for that, but this episode is so incredibly unambitious that I would be surprised to come across if there is a worse episode.
The fact that the MOW this week isn’t quite that interesting is the writers seem to have purposefully dropped the stakes far enough that Scully has very little reason to stick around. She abandons the always curious Mulder in Atlantic City to attend her godson’s birthday party. While there, she meets one of the divorced fathers of one of her godson’s friends. The two hit it off and go on a date. She turns down a second one so she can help Mulder when the case starts picking up steam. It is basically an attempt to build up Scully’s character by showing us the things she is sacrificing to continue working with Mulder, a theme that to me was better executed in the episode 3 (“Squeeze”).
Mulder and Scully follow a lead when 2 dead muggers turn up with evidence of a built up electrical charge in their body and their throats crushed from the inside. An ATM camera leads them to Lauren Kyte, an office worker who has just quit after the suicide of her boss. Kyte was attacked by these men while trying to get money from the ATM. There was also a quick hard to see face on the video, that Mulder and Scully recognize as Howard Graves, the dead boss. Mulder believes it is a ghost. Scully believes Graves faked how own death.
We, the audience know better though. We have already seen the psychokinetic events that seem to follow Kyte and target those who threaten her. These events are pretty much just things floating, but for what started as a moderately budgeted show, the effects a pretty outstanding. In one scene, Mulder breaks into Lauren’s house after hearing a struggling. He ends up facing a man hanging by his neck from an invisible force. It’s a striking image.
This episode is kind of old-fashioned though and by extension corny. The only thing that makes it seem more modern is that the company that Lauren and Graves worked for were selling security secrets to a terrorist group. The politics are broad and inconsequential to the story, but science fiction and horror like this show used to use stand-ins and comment on these thing metaphorically.