The X Files: Mulder and Scully Meet the Were Monster (Review)

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With an abbreviated “special event” sort of season, The X Files has accelerated its time line, putting in a Bad Blood type of episode with Mulder and Scully Meet the Were Monster. While not as intricate as the Vince Gilligan scripted tale where both the FBI agents had wildly differing versions of the same event, “Were Monster” is just as clever and well put together.

Prior to discussing the storyline and all its random “Alice in Wonderland” type of oddities, a word about guest stars in this latest visit to Chris Carter’s verse. As in prior episodes a well-known face, or two, appears in this episode.

First and foremost, Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, Monsters U) appears in the opening moments as a “stoner” sniffing gold spray paint from a bag as a “were creature” dashes past him, and his girlfriend.

Alex Diakun is another familiar face from the world of science fiction and horror, the Canadian actor has worked since 1971 in a variety of television and film projects, including Dead Zone and The X Files: I want to Believe and has worked on the series before, notably on episode’s written by “Were Monster” director Darin Morgan.

The X Files takes the legend of the werewolf and turns in on its head and changes the type of creature into a were-lizard. All during the episode, Fox Mulder is having a crisis of faith. Doubting his own mission in life along with his beliefs. As the one who “Wants to believe” Mulder suddenly turns into a male, and sarcastic, version of his more level headed partner.

This transition is not the only one that takes place throughout the episode. Many characters in the show, met by the agents, are in a phase of change, or are not what they appear. The transgender hooker, the animal control officer, the psychiatrist and, of course, Guy Mann (Rhys Darby).

Mulder and Scully Meet the Were Monster has its fair share of humor, a’la How the Ghosts Who Stole Christmas (voted one of the best episodes out of the first multi season run of The X Files). From Mulder’s telling Dana that the creature “shot blood ‘out’ its eyes” to the malfunctioning camera app, there are comic moments.

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“Shoots blood out its eyes…”

In fact the entire story deals not only with transitions and points of view, it brings up self-doubt and a mix of warped humor with more sophisticated views on life. (The entire exercise in monster hunting by Fox (as doubting Thomas) and Scully who plays Devil’s Advocate, has a twist on the  Pogo punchline: We have met the enemy (monster) and it is us [sic].)

As the two agents track down the “were monster” (which is another “monster of the week” plot scenario devoid of any long running storyline connection) a number of homages, or just plain X File references, appear. At one point Fox’s phone rings and it is The X Files theme that floats out from his cell.

The outfit that Guy Mann wears, when he is not the were-lizard, screams Carl Kolchak aka Darren McGavin (from The Night Stalker) who appeared in an episode of the original X Files in 1999 as Agent Arthur Dales in two episodes.

Sidenote: Darby kills it as Guy Mann, full stop. 

There are other less apparent gestures to things outside the verse. The green bottles are evocative of the Absinthe bottles back in the time of werewolf legends for example. Others are more of an insider nod and wink, like the headstone for former X Files producer Kim Manners at the cemetery.

Some of the scenes play out like some comic sketch, the doctor and Mulders conversation about the monster (and the show’s clearest Pogo reference) and the tale that Mann relates to Fox also feels like an oddball comedy expository gag.

Apart from the monster of the week plot, Mulder admits to feeling old, “middle-aged,” and out of it. On a sidenote, Gillian Anderson actually looks younger in this show than she did in all of Hannibal… His crisis of faith in his own mission statement makes the viewer uneasy and this never quite leaves even as the tale winds down.

The X Files: Mulder and Scully Meet the Were Monster is not only a long and well done “Shaggy Dog” story, but is also a long punch line to the “man bites dog” gag (or in this instance “man bites lizard-man”).

Before the end of the episode, Fox has a long scene with Mann and the two indulge in a comedic double act to die for. The entire episode is full of Easter eggs for fans of the long running series check out the article over on Vulture where Keith Uhlich goes through a number, including the Daggoo reference, the other tombstone, and a number of fan favorite moments or plot devices.

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10,000 years…

The X Files Shaggy Lizard story ends with Mulder regaining his faith, and enthusiasm, for the hunt. Fox airs this return to Chis Carter land on Mondays. Tune in for some nostalgic enjoyment and to see where Mulder and Scully will head next.