I’ve been delving into the popular sci-fi series The X-Files for a while now, making many attempts and failures to engage with its first season. Now it’s summer, and I’ve been weaving in and out through the series various episodes, trying to piece the gigantic enterprise together. It may seem strange for me to go back and recap an over two decades old television show, in some ways that type of thing is what the blog was built for. Join me this week as I review/recap the sixth episode.
So last week’s episode, “The Jersey Devil,” may have been the worst episode so far, and I will stand by that. “Shadows” is probably slightly better. There’s kind of a trade-off where the actual case makes a little bit more sense and packs a little bit more of an emotional punch, but there’s a bit less of Mulder and Scully just hanging out. All in all, I’d say this one is pretty average and doesn’t really lead to much of anywhere.
The cold open introduces our main character, Lauren Kyte (Lisa Waltz), a secretary who’s busy packing up her deceased boss’ office and crying. Another employee reveals he committed suicide. We see a plaque on his desk move in the background, on its own. Lauren takes it with her and leaves the office, only to get mugged by terrorists later who die by an unseen force. That took a turn.
Mulder and Scully are called in by two agents (I didn’t catch what agency they were from) investigating a case involving the dead muggers/terrorists from the cold open. They don’t seem to be fully dead, according to the agents they have “abnormal postmortem muscle reflex[es].” They aren’t very forthcoming with what they’re investigating specifically, to it falls to Mulder and Scully to figure out who these dead guys are. They uncover video of the attempted mugging of Lauren, complete with mysterious blurry shadow in the background, maybe holding the answer to who killed the muggers seemingly without touching them. Meanwhile, Lauren faces pressure at her job because of secret information she learned from her boss.
What at first appears to be special abilities on Lauren’s part eventually turns out to be the ghost of her dead boss, come back from the grave to protect her. His business partner and he made sold parts to the terrorists because their company was going under, and Lauren found out about it. This sort of takes the story in another direction, but as X-Files plots go this one is not too convoluted. There also is a pretty straightforward but also pretty chilling visualization of how the businessman died. Other than that we don’t really get a whole lot of memorable stuff in this episode.
There is one pretty good exchange between Mulder and Scully that definitely sticks out (though when I say “sticks out” I mean in terms of this episode, not the series as a whole). Once Lauren tells Mulder and Scully about the company’s connection to the terrorists, Scully uses Lauren’s belief in her boss’s ghost to get her to help them and the other two agents to track down the terrorists. Mulder takes issue with this because he wants to investigate the paranormal angle some more, but Scully points out that there’s a real crime to be solved here. This is significant because not only does Scully come out looking like the more competent agent here, but it also sort of makes the show’s central skeptic/believer dynamic sort of moot. The actual case doesn’t have much to do with the paranormal stuff, and it’s important to set that aside to actually save lives. The breakdown goes even further though, because we see Scully diverging from the more scientific “we gotta figure this out” viewpoint, even with her scientific background.
So that’s about it for this episode. I liked the main actress’s performance, but not to the extent where it makes the episode or anything. The Mulder and Scully interactions are interesting in that one scene, but overall don’t rise to the heights they do in other episodes. There are some cool horror visuals in this episode, but there are also some kind of cheesy ones. The monster of the week in question holds together better than some, but it’s also not as memorable as some either. All in all, a pretty average season one episode.
“I would never lie. I willfully participated in a campaign of misinformation”
Long story short: 3/4 stars
Click here to read my review of next week’s episode, “Ghost in the Machine”