Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The X Files: Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose; The Post-Modern Prometheus; Bad Blood; Triangle

The X Files; science-fiction mystery series, USA, 1995, 1997, 1998; D: David Nutter, Chris Carter, Cliff Bole, S: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Peter Boyle, Stewart Gale, Pattie Tierce, Luke Wilson

Four episodes from the X-files: in the first, agents Mulder and Scully encounter Clyde Bruckman, a psychic who has the ability to foresee the deaths of people. They try to use him to help catch a serial killer... Mulder and Scully investigate the appearance of a monster-man in a small town, which has even been turned into a comic-book, "The Great Mutato" by local teenager Izzy. They discover that Mutato is actually a product of mutation experiments by local Dr. Pollidori. They help him visit a Cher concert... After he killed a guy thinking he was a vampire, Mulder is vindicated when the guy indeed turns out to be one... Mulder somehow shows up on a passenger ship, Queen Anne, floating in the Bermuda triangle during World War II. A woman there looks remarkably like Scully. With the help of the crew, he fights off the Nazis who boarded the ship in search of a scientist who will invent nuclear weapons. Mulder jumps into the sea and returns back to the present.

While "The X-Files" had their ups and downs, and steered too much into routine in some later seasons, four episodes from seasons 3, 5 and 6 outperformed the entire series by a landslide, and gave the fans true reasons to be one. Episode 3.4, "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" has a remarkably fresh script by Darin Morgan, who struck a fine balancing act between morbid mystery and black humor, whereas the guest appearance by the brilliant Peter Boyle was a stroke of genius: he plays the title character, a psychic who can forsee how people will die, and even sees his own death and disintegration of his corpse, yet stays remarkably calm, posing some thought provoking questions about the clash between fatalism and free will. There are also many little nice touches, such as the killer grabbing a palm reader, only to tell her: "You're a fortune teller, you should have seen this coming." Episode 5.6., "Post-Modern Prometheus", is filmed entirely in black-and white and is a homage to "Frankenstein". While the narrative 'limps' here and there, it has moments of humor (the diner adapted to the rumours of a mutant in town by offering "Mutant Grape Fruits" on the menu) and ends in a dreamlike, cozy finale where Mulder and Scully demand that the comic-book author of "Mutato" gives them a "better ending", and thus dance in tune to Cher's concert, only to be "frozen" into an animated picture.

"Bad Blood", written by "Breaking Bad"-creator Vince Gilligan, is the funniest "X-Files" episode of all time, which uses the vampire cliche only as a howlingly funny take on "Rashomon", in this case where Mulder and Scully tell the same story in two opposite, sometime contradictory ways, In the opening, Mulder kills a guy suspected of being a vampire, but Scully realizes the guy's fangs were only fake teeth, and thus Mulder goes "Oh shiiii..." but is interupted on cue by the "X-Files" intro. The running gag is that Mulder pretends that he always spots details important to the case, but completely misses the implications that Sheriff Hartwell (Luke Wilson in a surprising, comic guest appearance) has an overbite - whereas Scully tells her story with Hartwell without the overbite, as a dashing and handsome lad. "Why is it important to mention he had an overbite?" asks Scully. "I only wanted to be precise", replies a slightly jealous Mulder. This episode also has arguably the sweetest, cutest and most charming edition of Scully in the entire series (her cynical remarks and complains in Mulder's version of the story). "Triangle" is a slightly confusing, yet remarkably well directed take on "The Wizard of Oz", in which Mulder somehow travels back in time, to a ship during World War II, since the entire episode is directed in long takes, and features only some 4-5 cuts, whereas the moment where Mulder and Scully 'switch' for the split-screen is just plain clever. Chris Carter took a more experimental and demanding approach with this episode, and he got a winner.


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