The X-Files delivers the best of the first three revival episodes with “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster.” Not only does it stir up memories of the fun season 5 episode “Bad Blood,” it’s an hour filled with Easter eggs, entertaining guest stars, an existential crisis and a certain red Speedo. In short, it’s the kind of episode I’d show someone not completely sold on the series.
Just as Mulder is debunking his own work — a prank here, a hoax there, to explain what he once thought was the unexplainable — he and Scully get a case in which eyewitnesses describe seeing a three-eyed monster. But what’s really going on in Oregon?
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Tyler Labine and Nicole Parker-Smith return as stoners (previously seen in “War of the Coprophages” and “Quagmire”). Kumail Nanjiani, Rhys Darby and Richard Newman bring the comedy with their roles as Pasha, an animal control officer questioning his life decisions; Guy Mann, who is in the middle of the case in a unique way; and Dr. Rumanovitch, Guy’s psychiatrist. Alex Diakun, having already appeared in three episodes (“Humbug,” “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” and “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space'”) and the second movie, plays the motel manager.
Look at the Moon…
The stoners’ high is interrupted when they hear and then see a man being attacked by some sort of creature. The creature flees and the man is fine, but the body next to him? Not so much.
When better than as Mulder is throwing pencils into Scully’s I Want to Believe poster and realizing just how “much of the unexplained has been explained” in their time away for them to get this case? He’s now looking at things with “fresh, if not wiser, eyes.” Scully’s response? “Mulder, have you been taking your meds?” Mulder’s wondering if he wants to spend the rest of his days chasing after monsters.
At the crime scene, Mulder has a perfectly reasonable explanation to attribute everything to an animal attack. The animal control officer who was attacked, Pasha, didn’t see what attacked him because it was a mountain lion and they attack from behind. Three more victims are found over there because it was a wolf, and wolves take prey to their lairs. One of the victims was found naked because he was a nudist and on a midnight hike when he was attacked.
And when Scully points out that the uniqueness of the wounds implies a human element, he’s ready to leave his profiling background even further in the past than his monster-believing one. “You’ve seen one serial killer, you’ve seen them all.” Still, whatever is going on, there are people being killed.
The creature strikes again, though this time the eyewitness confirms it only had two eyes — and horns (like a lizard) — and was wearing tighty whities. In their attempt to track it down, Mulder and Scully run into Pasha, out looking for a stray puppy and, as he tells them, just overall questioning his life.
Mulder ends up chasing after the creature, phone out, snapping photos with a new app he has no idea how to use, and by the time Scully catches up to him, he’s on the ground and they see the creature run into a porta-potty. When they open the door, however, a man is inside, and once they leave the area, he exits — and he has horns in the back of his head.
If nothing else does, the conversation Mulder and Scully have over a victim’s body reminds you that this is 2016 and not the days when their phones were the size of cordless ones in your home. Mulder’s attempt to take a photo of the creature results in a lot of unnecessary flashing and photos and a few useful images, like ones of the “man-sized,” “hairless” creature, and a video of Mulder screaming as it shot blood at him from its eyeballs. He even has a scientific explanation for that: it’s the horned lizard’s defense mechanism. “Mulder, the Internet is not good for you,” Scully says. (It really isn’t.) Overall, this does sound silly, but it’s nice to see them enjoying themselves.
Well, When You Check into This Type of Motel…
If you looked up “sleazy motel on the side of the road,” you’d find a picture of this place and this manager. When Mulder checks on why the manager is screaming about a monster, he claims it was about a guest who hadn’t paid his bill. Mulder takes a look in the trashed motel room with its door open and finds a prescription for Clozapine, along with a passageway in the walls for the peeping Tom manager to look in on guests through the eyes of the animal heads on the walls in each room.
The manager’s attempt to explain that? A security feature. It’s okay, though, Mulder assures him. “When one checks into an establishment such as this, one expects the manager to be a peeping Tom.” He’s more concerned about what he saw that had him yelling “monster!” That would be the man Mulder and Scully found in the porta-potty, Gun Mann, yelling at himself in the mirror, getting angry, smashing it, destroying his room and turning into a monster for what he hoped would be the last time. (I wonder if that turns the manager off his peeping Tom ways…)
Cue Scully getting to just sit back and watch Mulder theorize and give her counter (“To which I know you’re going to say…”), which really brings up memories of the old days. “This is how I like my Mulder,” Scully says. (Me too.) But, no, that doesn’t mean she agrees that they’re dealing with a monster or an experiment-gone-wrong. What they can do is follow up on the lead they do have on the room’s occupant (the prescription bottle Mulder found) and check out of that motel ASAP.
Mulder goes to see the psychiatrist who prescribed the meds, and this guy I like. A lot. He tells Mulder the tale of a man trying to kill a man-eating lizard by stabbing it in the appendix with a lance made of green glass (“These old fairy tales, the monster must always be destroyed by some form of penetration. … Obviously, our ancestors were as obsessed with impotency as we are.”), only to discover that he was the monster all along. The moral of the story: “It’s easier to believe in monsters out there in the world than to accept that the real monsters dwell within us,” whether that’s in a person’s head, heart or somewhere else in their body.
After briefly mixing up his patients — werewolf was on Monday — Dr. Rumanovitch shares with Mulder that he prescribed the anti-psychotic and suggested that Guy take a quiet stroll in the local cemetery the next time he had an episode as “a reminder that no matter how overwhelming our anxieties might be, they will soon be resolved when we are dead and buried for all eternity.” Probably not the best advice to offer someone as a psychiatrist. Oh, and he has a prescription for Mulder too because, “Who is in more need of an anti-psychotic, a man who believes himself to be a were-lizard or a man who believes that man?”
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Woe is Guy
Scully finds Guy working in the local phone store, but when Mulder gets there, he’s gone and the place is trashed. When she asked if she could ask him some questions, he quit and went on a rampage, she explains. Mulder’s out the door before she can even get around to telling him the lab results that came back.
Mulder finds Guy in a cemetery (and leaves flowers at Kim Manners’ grave!), bemoaning that people die and looking to confess — that life is nonsense and he wants it all to end. He even makes a pathetic (and very obvious) attempt to go after Mulder with a broken bottle to try to get him to grab the bottle and use it to kill him, but Mulder knows what he’s trying to do (green glass lance to the appendix). Instead, he promises to kill him (receiving a gracious “You’re, like, the only nice person I ever met” in return) if he tells him the whole story.
So here’s Guy’s story. He had just been lounging around, as a man-sized lizard like himself does, when he heard a struggle and ended up in the middle of one man attacking another. He was bit, and the next morning he turned into a human, physically and mentally. He was overcome with the need to cover his naked body, so he stole the clothes off one of the dead bodies and was possessed by the need to hunt. For a job. By the end of the day, he had been made manager because he now has “the Darwinian advantage that humans have over other animals: the ability to BS [his] way through anything.” Who needs a social security number or references when you have that?
Is he BS’ing Mulder now? Maybe. After work, he committed a murder. Of a cow. He ate a cheeseburger, even though in his natural state, he’s an insectivore. He then spent the rest of the day watching porn. Sometime during the night, he was delighted to find himself changing back, until the next morning when he became a caffeine-addicted human. He returned to work, realized how much he hated it and quit, but then was overcome by the fear of being able to pay his bills, get a loan, start a mortgage and save for retirement.
When the meds from the psychiatrist didn’t work, he did something insane: adopted a puppy. He was out looking for it when he ran into Mulder — and saw the man who bit him, Pasha.
But why did he turn human again in the porta-potty? There’s no external logic to it, so why should there be an internal one? Guy argues. He returned to the motel, only for the jackalope head on the wall to scream at him, so he fled, turned human again, went to work and met Scully, who lured him into the back room and they had sex.
That’s when Mulder stops him, knowing that he’s lying. Guy admits that since he became human, he can’t help but lie about his sex life, but everything else is true, so kill him now, please? No, this is all just too silly, Mulder decides. And it just gets sillier (in the best way). Once Guy learns that he’s an FBI agent there investigating murders and thinks he’s responsible, he gets offended that he wants to arrest him for something he didn’t do and runs off, calling him the monster. What else is Mulder supposed to do but drink?
If You’ve Seen One…
When Scully calls, Mulder tells her he’s fallen off the wagon, gotten a taste of his own monster-hunting ways and downed the whole bottle. He wonders if he’s just a fool as he goes through the photos and video he’s taken on the case. She’s at the animal shelter to talk to Pasha, and the puppy (Guy’s puppy) there bites at her finger, reminding her of Queequeg (Queequeg!) and making her miss having a dog to love and someone to hold grudges for her. Pasha attacks Scully, just as Mulder’s noticing the bite on the creature in one of the photos, and he’s on his way, calling for backup — and the location of the animal shelter.
By the time he gets there, Scully has subdued their murderer. She had known it was Pasha because he had left behind a pole with tissue and blood from his previous victims. (Rookie mistake, serial killer.) It started as a child, he tries to explain, his uncontrollable urge to torture small animals and then … seen one serial killer, seen them all. There’s no need to hear the speech he had prepared, and he’s taken away.
“You forget, I’m immortal,” Scully reminds Mulder when he calls her out on approaching dangerous suspects. (Watch/rewatch season 3’s “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose.”) And, hey, Scully gets a new puppy.
As the episode ends, Mulder finds Guy in the woods, stripping and on his way to go hibernate as his kind does. How long does this hibernation period last? 10,000 years. That’s not possible, Mulder protests, part of him still seeing all of this as absurd. However, he then admits, “I want to believe.” Guy walks over to him, tells him he’s glad he met him, holds out his hand for him to shake and turns into the creature again. “Likewise,” Mulder says as Guy runs off.
The X-Files airs Mondays at 8pm on FOX.
(Image courtesy of FOX)