X-Files (2016) season 10, episode 3
"Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster"
WRITER: DARIN MORGAN
DIRECTOR: DARIN MORGAN
AIR DATE: February 1 2016
"Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster"; the very title suggests this is going to be the sort of episode that shouldn’t be taken seriously. As much as The X-Files in the past has featured science fiction, horror, and supernatural elements throughout, there’s always been an underlying sense of humour, often shown through the interactions of the characters. Occasionally though there have been episodes winking at the audience, fused with a rich satirical, quirky edge that leave the audience laughing. Writer and director Darin Morgan, who had a hand in such classic episodes of the series as "Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose", "Humbug", and "War of the Coprohages", brings his warped sense of humour to this episode, which has the same anarchic sense of fun and unpredictable style.
The episode starts out with two familiar faces - a pair of stoners (Tyler Labine and Nicole Parker-Smith). The characters appeared in two episodes of the original run, including ‘War of the Coprohages’ and ‘Quagmire’, and they’re still stoned, still seeking new ways to get high. It’s surprising that after all this time, they haven’t both overdosed. The pair are startled by a strange creature out in the woods and make a rather gruesome discovery. Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson) are brought in on the case, and soon find themselves dealing with eccentric witnesses, a mystery about what’s really out in those woods, and a very odd possible suspect (Rhys Darby).
The episode itself justifies having a season ten. It’s brilliantly funny, filled with in-jokes, a whimsical fun mood, and a breezy pace. It plays around with the idea of what really constitutes a monster - is it the malevolence inside someone or the physical appearance? And it turns the usual take of a were-creature and twists it in a very different direction. The physical appearance of the creature in question reminds one of The Creature from the Black Lagoon (though the crew members who put the costume design for it together made it look more authentic).
and a Kolchak-esque suspect
The in-jokes and references abound throughout the episode. The clothing worn by the suspect, matches the standard clothing of Darren McGavin’s protagonist in the 70s series Kolchak: The Night Stalker. McGavin himself guest starred in a couple of episodes of The X-Files back in the day. Mulder’s tendency to throw pencils is revisited, as is a nod towards "Clyde Bruckman" as Scully wryly says at one point that she’s immortal. A one-time Scully pet dog, Queequeg, who met a bad end in "Quagmire" is mentioned. And the names of two deceased crew members make their way to two tombstones in a graveyard - Kim Manners, who had a hand in directing or working on multiple episodes of the series is one, while Jack Hardy, a production assistant for Chris Carter on Millennium and The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
Two scenes stand out in particular - one is at the aforementioned graveyard, a long but hilarious conversation between Mulder and his suspect; the suspect does most of the talking, and Rhys Darby runs wild with Morgan’s dialogue, delivering it with deft timing and making it all the more funny. I’ve never seen the actor in anything, but this is a tour de force performance. The other involves Mulder himself, speaking to Scully - he takes both sides of what would usually be their conversation, comparing his wild theories and knowing exactly what rational thing Scully would say to refute him. His delivery of the whole speech and Scully’s facial responses are brisk and funny, a fitting thing in an episode that has such a wonderfully quirky tone to it. It’s a delightfully fun and hysterical episode, and while we’re only halfway through this, it’s a safe bet to assume this episode is the best of the season.