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 for the Fred Gerber directed and Kenneth Biller and Chris Brancato written eleventh episode! (Notes can be read here)
This episode is actually really solid. It’s not flashy or maybe not that important in the overall scheme of the series, but it is a well constructed season one monster of the week episode. Dealing with eugenics and cloning of super human beings, it has some creepy moments and makes good use of the hour.
A case comes across Mulder and Scully’s desk involving the murder of the father of a young girl in Connecticut. The cold open illustrating the circumstances surrounding the murder is as creepy as any we’ve seen on the show so far. The daughter is standing in the driveway looking really freaked out, then a couple comes by to help her. They find the father on the swing set, completely drained of blood. Mulder likens this (however improbably) to cattle mutilations occurring all across the country, but there is another murder a bit closer to the mark. At the exactly same time on the opposite side of the country, another young girl’s father is murder in the exact same way. When Mulder and Scully come face to face with both girls, Teena and Cindy (Sabrina and Erica Krievins), they are as identical as their fathers’ murders. Our old friend Deep Throat ties them to an illegal eugenics experiment, which was supposed to have been shut down years ago, but clearly that is not the case.
Creepy kids are mainstay of horror, and since The X-Files often operates as sci-fi/horror, it’s not very surprising to see a monster of the week episode featuring creepy genetically engineered kids. The interesting thing about this episode is that though it’s a monster of the week, The X-Files would return to human cloning in subsequent seasons, tying it into the mythology arc of the show. The specifics do not arise out of this episode though, which I think is a shame. Self contained in this episode, I think it works a lot better here than the concept eventually would in its more drawn out form (well, pieces of that anyway). This episode is so very concise and specific about these girls and the experiments that made them, that I expected the show to come back to it later. But it drops any continuity with this episode, making you wonder exactly how many separate secret cloning experiments exist in the US.
But nevertheless, I like the concept as it is portrayed in this episode. We see the adult clone versions of the original woman that created both Teena and Cindy, and they are all freakishly strong and super smart. In the original experiment, they were all given the name Eve with a number after it (and the boys were named Adam). Eve 6 is the oldest one yet, driven to insanity and imprisoned underground in Connecticut (I’ll admit, one of the high points of this episode is that it takes place close-ish to where I live). In the case of Teena and Cindy, they’ve gone homicidally nuts way sooner than the original Eves, and of course Mulder and Scully don’t initially suspect innocent looking kids. They must not see them staring creepily at the camera all the time then.
That’s the one complaint I have with the episode. The show goes through great pains to get you up to speed with Teena and Cindy’s evil plan, but Mulder and Scully don’t notice anything amiss for a long time. Too long. I’m as big a fan of dramatic irony as the next person, maybe even more so, but this was too much. It doesn’t increase suspense as much as make us wonder why Mulder and Scully are so dumb. And that’s never a good thing.
In terms of visual style, this episode gets us back to basics. After all the slow mo and fisheye cam of the previous episode, this was very welcome. We have a lot of creepy settings, and the girls are often shot very creepily as they stare right at the camera, and there is a lot of regular creepy lightning, but nothing so far out of the realm of normalcy as to become tiresome. I probably wouldn’t be mentioning it except as a welcome departure from last week’s episode, but nevertheless I appreciated it.
Besides Mulder and Scully being a bit behind the eight ball in the late going, I really enjoyed this episode. I almost wonder if the series did itself a real disservice by leaving this story line behind when revisiting cloning later in the series’ mythology arc, but maybe that’s one reason this episode goes over so well. It’s back to basics after a flashier visual style last week, which is fine by me. Overall, the episode deals in some interesting sci-fi concepts and creates a lot of creepy horror moments, making it one of the better episodes of season one thus far.
Long story short: 3.5/4
Click here to read my review of next week’s episode, “Fire”