The X-Files Season 10, Episode 3
“Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster”
Posted by Kim
When The X-Files revival was initially announced, I was beside myself with excitement (naturally). When the news broke that Darin Morgan would be returning to pen an episode, I sat straight up and said “Oh, they are SERIOUS about this.” It’s funny how large Darin’s presence looms over the early years of The X-Files, especially when you consider the fact that he only wrote four episodes (and acted in two). But WHAT a four episodes though! All of them are beloved. There’s “Humbug”, which was the first time the show expanded into dark comedy (Scully eating a grasshopper and Mulder’s Adonis shot forever remain favorite moments). “War of the Coprophages” is a personal favorite of mine, from Mulder and Scully’s late night phone banter to the way it pokes fun at mass hysteria. But the two episodes he’s best known for are the wickedly satirical “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” and the witty but beautifully melancholic “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”, which won him an Emmy. (It also earned him the #4 slot on our Best X-Files Episodes of all time, which is the bigger honor, TBH.) “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” combines the satire and meta of “Jose Chung” with the melancholic exploration of the human condition of “Clyde” and adds a dash of the wicked humor of Vince Gilligan’s (whose style Darin definitely influenced) “Bad Blood”. It’s a love letter to The X-Files, littered with Easter Eggs for long time Philes. Basically, it’s perfect. As Alan Sepinwall said in his review, the rest of the revival could suck and it would be okay because we got this episode.
(I mean…I would not be okay with the rest of the revival sucking, but I understand Alan’s point.)
In her recap of “Founder’s Mutation”, Sage talked about how The X-Files pioneered the use of the cold open and I have to agree with her (shocker). What I love about the cold opens is that they IMMEDIATELY set the tone for the episode and you knew what you were going to get. Shady men doing shady things? Mythology episode Midnight in the woods with ordinary people? Monster episode. My cold open notes for “Were-Monster went a little like this: “Bad blood bad blood bad blood BAD BLOOD.” In our opinion (and Gillian Anderson’s), “Bad Blood” is the single greatest standalone episode of the series, so seeing parallels made me giddy. A pair of stoners (the SAME stoners from “Quagmire”, which Darin did uncredited work on. OH THE THINGS THESE TWO HAVE SEEN.) are huffing spray paint in the woods, because where else would you go? They share some deep thoughts under the full moon. Naturally they encounter what appears to be a monster when they stumble upon Kumail Nanjiani (living every Phile’s DREAM) wrestling with a lizard man who appears to be chomping at his neck. There’s already one dead body. “Dude!” the stoners exclaim. They may as well have said “Oh Shiiiiiiiiiiii….”. Let’s get it started, Mark Snow.
Then we get a classic Mulder/Scully office scene that speaks WAY more to Mulder’s current head space than “My Struggle” could have ever dreamed to. (No, I will not stop shading the characterizations in that episode.) Mulder is feeling disillusioned but it’s a real and relatable kind of disillusionment this time. He’s feeling old and he’s feeling irrelevant in the age where the internet debunks the conspiracies he spent years taking apart in a matter of minutes. (God, someone direct Mulder to Tumblr and the way the Larries debunk things in a matter of seconds. His head would explode…and then he would become one of them.) He’s questioning his life’s work and the monsters he’s always believed in. “I’m a middle-aged man, Scully. It’s time to put away childish things,” he declares, throwing pencils into Scully’s shiny new “I want to believe” poster. (It’s okay to believe in monsters, Mulder. I’m a 30-something obsessed with boy band conspiracies. We all have our crosses to bear.) And what of Scully? I love how SHE is the one who bought the poster. (The way she says “What are you doing to MY poster?” gives me life.) SHE is the one who lovingly recreates their office, even though it’s 2016 and somehow that still doesn’t merit her having her own desk or a nameplate. (OKAY.) “We’ve been given another case, Mulder,” she says with a glorious smirk. “It has a monster in it.” I love the role reversal here. Normally, it would be Mulder cajoling a reluctant Scully to join him on yet another monster case (“I hope you brought your cowboy boots.”) but now it’s Scully. I think it’s important to note here that Scully doesn’t suddenly believe in monsters. She makes that very clear later on in the episode. What she wants is for MULDER to believe in them. She subtly (and not subtly) eggs him on both in the office and when they are investigating the crime scene in the woods and it’s so LOVING it physically hurts me. All she wants is for him to be happy and excited about life again. Everything she does in this episode undermines the whole “Scully leaves Mulder because of depression” story, but that’s none of my business.
The trail of the Were-Monster leads Mulder and Scully to an all night truck stop where a Transgender Hooker (because of course) narrowly avoided an attack by wielding her pocketbook (again because of course). Naturally, her description doesn’t match the drawing they have, lending further credence to Mulder’s “NONE OF THIS IS REAL” attitude. What I love about Darin Morgan’s stories is that he populates his universe with outlandish characters (the hooker, the shady hotel owner, the psychiatrist) that are silly on the surface but when combined they fully flesh out the world that he’s envisioned. (The “They think I’m on crack.” “Are you?” “YEAH.” exchange = comic gold.) Never ones to walk away from a scene, our heroes comb the truck stop hoping that the monster is still lurking about. They stumble upon Kumail’s Animal Control Officer (that’s two places he’s been where the monster was. FORESHADOWING.) and join forces with him casing the joint. (I imagine the moment Kumail got the script went something like this: *sees that he gets scenes with David and Gillian* “I need a moment.” *freaks out Laura Linney in Love Actually style* “Okay, I’m ready.”) They find a body with the same bite marks at the neck that previous victims had. Scully stays behind to examine the body whilst Mulder and Kumail pursue the monster. (Me: Of COURSE you stay behind, Scully. You’re going to miss it JUST LIKE ALWAYS.) Mulder tries to work a new camera app on his phone but can’t, proving he is old and out of touch. The camera keeps going off like Mulder is some sort of one man paparazzi and BOOM the monster crashes into them, knocking them to the ground as Mulder desperately tries to snap a picture. Kumail is like “Fuck this shit, I’m out.” as Scully gives Mulder the once-over, finding that he is covered in blood. Mulder declares (almost giddily) that it’s not his. The monster seemingly takes refuge in a port-a-potty but when Mulder and Scully bust the door open, they find an outraged New Zealander just trying to take a poop in peace. Of course, not all is what it seems, as we see horns popping out of the back of his head as Mulder and Scully walk away. We’ve got a shapeshifter on our hands, ladies and gents.
God, I loved everything about this autopsy scene. I love the way Mulder crowded Scully’s personal space and the way Scully allowed it. I love how Mulder pushed the phone into her face like a small child. I love the way Scully feigned annoyance with him while she barely surpressed her fondness. I love how Mulder tries to drop some science knowledge on Dana “What about the Science?” Scully. I love “Mulder, the internet is not good for you.” (Truer words have never been spoken.) I love how they bantered about the fact that the victim’s bite marks appeared to be human. (“So we’re looking for a man-sized horned lizard with human teeth?”) But what I loved the most about this scene was how it felt like Mulder and Scully were getting on the same page again, easily falling back into roles that they thought were long forgotten. “You’re enjoying this, aren’t you,” Mulder asks her with a sense of wonder. “Yeah, I am,” Scully replies simply. “I forgot how much fun these cases can be.” I LOVE how Scully lets that moment hang between them before she shoos Mulder off, telling him to go back to the hotel. (“Aaaaaahhhooooooo…we had some good times, didn’t we?” RIP ME.) It’s like she’s saying “Remember this? We can have this again if only you would let it happen.” I AM FINE, I SWEAR.