The X-Files S10E03 “Mulder & Scully Meet The Were Monster” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on Channel Five, Mondays, 9pm
Writer: Darin Morgan
Director: Darin Morgan
Essential Plot Points:
- Two stoners are getting high in the woods under a full moon when they see a guy being attacked by a terrifying lizard-man. Once the creature runs off, they find a body.
- The case falls into Mulder and Scully’s lap. Scully’s up for it, but Mulder’s disenchanted by all things “monster” these days and thinks it’ll be a bust. He investigates anyway.
- They stay at a motel lodge, where Mulder overhears the manager yelling about a monster. He questions him, discovering the sleazy bugger was spying on his guests – and saw one of them turn into a lizard-man.
- In the lizard-man’s room, Mulder finds some medication with the name “Guy Mann” (subtle) on the label. He goes to see Guy’s psychiatrist and, from there, traces Guy to a graveyard.
- Guy, a rather peculiar Australian chap, asks Mulder to kill him. He claims to be a lizard who was bitten by a human and has become a man. WTF? He also denies he’s killed anybody.
- Scully tracks down the real killer: an animal control officer.
- Guy is innocent. Mulder watches, amazed, as he turns from human to lizard and vanishes into the forest to hibernate for 10,000 years. (Naturally Scully isn’t there to see it too.)
So we finally hit the episode everybody’s been talking about: the one written by Darin Morgan, famed for playing the Fluke Man in the original series and also for penning some of The X-Files‘ most fondly remembered stories – everything from “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” to “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’”. In other words, he’s the guy who makes us laugh, and he certainly doesn’t fail to do so here.
In short, this is an absolute treat – from its daft title to the sheer joy you see on the faces of Duchovny and Anderson as they can finally relax and smile in their roles; all that po-faced exposition in the first episode seems like a distant memory. These are two human beings at last, teasing each other (“Mulder, the internet is not good for you”), laughing, enjoying their work and relaxing – although the shot of Mulder on his bed in his red Speedos, famous from episode “Duane Barry”, might be step too far, even if Duchovny ain’t exactly in bad shape after all these years.
Then there’s Flight Of The Conchords’ Rhys Darby – who incidentally played a werewolf in the wonderful What We Do In The Shadows, so he’s rather cornering the market when it comes to human-animal transformation acting. He’s by turns grumpy, exasperated, hilarious and likeable in his role as the unfortunate lizard-turned-human, and the way he describes human life just gets funnier and funnier as he goes on. From experiencing an insatiable urge to go out and get a job to finding himself transfixed by burgers and porn; to realising that life sucks and the only way he can find happiness is to get a dog – which he promptly loses – to mocking the concept of wearing a tie around his neck… well, there’s no avoiding the fact that everything he says makes a surprising amount of sense, and human life is actually a farce from start to finish. (His anguished assessment of existence also echoes the bleak worldview of Clyde Bruckman; there’s definitely a theme to Morgan’s writing.)
Of course his story is bonkers, and Mulder listens, perplexed and disbelieving, until he eventually realises it’s all true – and, therefore, his visionquest is still as valid as it always was. It’s a lovely way of dealing with his mid-life crisis, and when you add to this all the references to how the world has changed since he first took up the job in that FBI basement, it’s also a clever way of proving to him that some things always stay the same.
Incidentally, the running joke about Mulder almost missing his quarry because he’s fiddling with a new camera app is genius – and of course he doesn’t even think to use it when he’s finally confronted with a fully-fledged horned lizard-man. Ain’t that just life in a nutshell?
- Where do we even start? Well, first up, a huge “bravo” for the lizard make-up.
- Then there are the in-jokes. Hold on, there are a few…
- There were three cameos from old X-Files regulars: Tyler Labine and Nicole Parker reprised their roles as the stoners who also popped up in “War Of The Coprophages” and “Quagmire”; they also appeared, separately, in episodes of Millennium. Meanwhile the motel lodge owner is played by Alex Diakun, who’s been in several Morgan X-Files episodes as well as Millennium and The X-Files: I Want To Believe. Family reunion!
- Of course you noticed this, but Mulder’s ring tone is the X-Files theme. How very meta.
- In “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” Scully inherits Clyde’s dog, who she names Queequeg after a character in Moby Dick (her father’s nickname for her was always Starbuck, another Moby Dick reference). Poor Queequeg was eaten by a crocodile in another Morgan episode, “Quagmire”. Here he makes amends by having her take home Guy’s dog, who coincidentally is also named after a Moby Dick character, Daggoo. Bonus points to Scully, by the way, who adopts the dog even though it bites her. Never judge a dog by how it behaves in a cage, as many rescue centres will tell you…
- Absolutely love the casual way the murderer starts to confess his entire life story and Scully simply dismisses him with the line that all serial killers are the same. “I have a whole speech prepared!” he squeaks, the wind taken out of his sails. Fabulous.
- Not only does Mulder proclaim that old chestnut “I want to believe!” here, Scully also says the immortal line “Mulder, it’s me” as they speak on the phone.
- There’s a passing reference to Scully being immortal. Again, this is a shout-back to events from another Morgan episode, “Clyde Bruckman”, in which she’s told she’ll live forever. And that’s also referenced in the episode “Tithonus”. Will she? Won’t she? It seems certain that Mulder won’t, mind you, as Clyde already told him he’d die of auto-erotic asphyxiation.
- In a glorious tip of the hat – literally – Guy Mann wears the same outfit that Darren McGavin wore in Kolchak: The Night Stalker… the show that originally inspired The X-Files.
- When Mulder looks through the peephole in the motel, he’s a Fox looking through a fox. We see what they did there! Oh, and the seedy motel full of stuffed animals with peepholes has a serious Psycho vibe.
- The label on Guy’s medication says it came from Lycans Pharmacy. Lycanthropy is associated with being a werewolf.
- Mulder’s throwing the pencils again – this time not at the ceiling, but at the “I Want To Believe” poster, taped up and hanging on the wall again after he kicked it to pieces in episode one.
- Throwing in a random transgender character might have seemed like a wry reflection of the times we’re living in – and there’s no denying DJ “Shangela” Pierce is a blast to watch – but it’s a pity they made her (a) a prostitute and (b) a crack addict. Yes, yes, it’s supposed to be a humorous scene, but stereotypes are stereotypes and this is 2016, guys. Feathers were ruffled and viewers were annoyed… oops.
- “C’mon, I wanna make you say ‘cheese’,” says Scully in Guy’s gratuitous sex fantasy. That is, without a doubt, the worst pick-up line in the history of pick-up lines. Her squeaky Betty Boop voice is giggle-worthy, though.
And The Random:
- The grave visited by Guy is for Jack Hardy, who was an assistant director on Millennium, The Lone Gunmen and The X-Files: I Want To Believe. Beside it lies a gravestone for Kim Manners, who directed more episodes of the show than anybody else. “It’s really our way of dedicating the episode, if not the show to him,” Chris Carter told E! News about this sweet little moment. As a lovely touch, Mulder actually lays flowers on the grave, and places a hand on the stone in tribute. D’awww.
- Best Quote: Mulder: “When one checks into an establishment such as this, one expects the manager to be a peeping Tom.”
Reviewed by Jayne Nelson