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“THE X-FILES: Season 10, Episode 3” (TV Review)

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While the “monster of the week” episodes of THE X-FILES were among the most definitive- and divisive- of the series’ original run, they also doubled as the perfect catalyst for character development on the program. With Scully’s rampant skepticism and Mulder’s penchant for conspiracies and the mystically-informed, the “monster of the week” entries would frequently challenge and build upon these traits while giving our heroes the brilliantly-written rapport the fans craved. And therefore, when THE X-FILES unveiled “Mulder and Scully meet the Were-Monster” on the third installment of the 6-episode series reboot, the show not only revived its fantastic sense of humor but offered a vintage X-FILES atmosphere that felt beyond satisfying to witness again.

Written and directed by Darin Morgan, “Were-Monster” is a much more lighthearted affair than the previous two X-FILES entries, much to the relief of both the audience and the performers. In fact, one can see in the posture, performances and dialogue delivery of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson that the two are having fun getting back into the groove of things, especially as Mulder gets further and further into his own conspiracy theory, akin to a kid in a candy store. But perhaps even better is how the show deals with that dynamic, with the episode beginning with the shoe being on the other foot as Scully indulges her less skeptical side in order to bring Mulder out of his discouraged state of mind.

Yet perhaps an even more enjoyable aspect of “Were-Monster” is just how much it reminds you about the world and the characters that one might have forgotten over 14 years prior. On one hand, even Mulder talks about how easily deduced many of the X-FILES cases can be nowadays: with the internet, the omnipresence of cell phones and the effects of global warming, there’s much more that can be attributed to the mundane or disproven altogether rather than take a sensational turn. On the other hand, one also might forget just how capable Mulder and Scully are as a team, and when Mulder rushes to Scully’s aid to find the situation more than under control, one forgets how the conventional “damsel in distress” trope often doesn’t apply to Scully while Mulder’s embrace of the weird gets him closer to the more bizarre side of the truth.

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“Were-Monster” benefits exceptionally from its supporting cast as well, especially an absolutely amazing turn from FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS’ Rhys Darby as the titular terror. Darby, dressed for almost the entire episode like Kolchak from THE NIGHT STALKER with a grin-inducing visual nod, plays the creature with such empathy and unique physicality that when he describes his blunt responses to humans’ emotional and natural impulses, it’s more than just funny: it’s tragic. The episode also offers great performances from Kumail Nanjiani (living a dream come true as the host of THE X-FILES FILES), Alex Diakun, Richard Newman, D.J. Pierce, and Ryan Beil as well as a pair of inspired cameos from Tyler Labine and Nicole Parker.

Another advantage of “Were-Monster” is Morgan’s expert composition of the episode, giving his infectiously fun script an excellent visual companion. Presenting the show like a comical equivalent of RASHOMON, “Were-Monster” uses context, theory and execution in a way that feels unique to THE X-FILES and yet wholly original in its own weird little way. And with Mulder being at the center of it all, the audience’s desire to want to believe is satiated in a voyeuristic fashion that feels as poetic as it does appropriate to an information-loaded society. Likewise, Darin Morgan’s direction feels quite subversive, allowing the silliness and moments of reptition play out in all of their natural glory, unraveling in an organic narrative far too unseen in contemporary horror television.

Overall, “Mulder and Scully meet the Were-Monster” is an exemplary episode of THE X-FILES, regardless of series timeline, and one that will undoubtedly hook fans of the series who were on the fence following the previous entries. With Anderson and Mulder at their best yet in the revival, this episode’s supporting cast, concept and storytelling conceits help bolster an X-FILES case that feels classic but with an unmistakably contemporary edge and humor.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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