"Why would you do that?"
"Because I can."

This is the answer the creator gives for his experiment in the 
Chris Carter written and directed masterpiece "Post Modern 
Prometheus", and in it I think we see just why he gave us this 
utterly unique episode. I am thrilled that this show can still be 
surprising. That it still takes risks. That it still experiments 
with style. However, experiments with style seem to always 
turn some folks off which is why I know this episode will 
have its share of detractors who find it a hideous beast. I was 
delighted at the introduction of the "new monster on the block" 
with its comic book flavor, classic horror movie edge, black 
and white cinematography, and fantasy happy ending. It's an 
amazing thing  that after all these years and 100 plus episodes 
the X-Files can still occasionally reinvent itself - this time 
completely at the hands of Chris Carter. It is almost enough 
to make me forgive him for "The List". 
Somewhere in the land a monster lurked ...

So Mulder and Scully travel to Bloomington, Indiana to find 
it (and I bet the folks that live there are thrilled at their portrayal 
in  this episode - why J.J.'s -with two "J"s- Diner is probably 
buzzing). Oops, sorry, didn't mean to allude to bees there. 
While Scully reads aloud the letter that summoned them to 
the burg, being filled in on such fun facts as Mulder is actually 
mentioned as an expert on Jerry Springer and that he visited 
(apparently without her knowledge) a woman who had a 
"werewolf baby", Mulder gives her blank looks while checking 
her rather predictable reactions. If he's that famous maybe he 
should get his own 1-900 number - God knows he gives them 
enough business himself. I will say I've been waiting a long 
time for Scully to ask what she does in this episode: "Is there 
anything that you don't believe in Mulder?" What is interesting 
is that Carter gives us a bittersweet link to recent mythology 
events in that Mulder says of alien abductions "I don't even 
know if I believe in that stuff anymore" - it seems that the 
"beautiful lies" have struck him pretty hard.

For the most part though the interplay between Mulder and 
Scully is lighthearted. They are the new stars in the town 
where talk shows, tabloids, and gossip rule. The mindless 
masses (who are so stupid they inadvertently burn down a 
barn) are swayed by the daily newspaper version of Mulder 
and Scully or a Doctor with a torch and a monster tale - 
leaving our heroes as the sole voice of reason in the episode. 
Even that gets turned on its head at one point where after a 
synchronized stumble into unconsciousness drugged by 
animal anesthetics they become frumpy doped up versions 
of themselves - Scully, at her most disheveled trying mightily 
to sound reasonable and Mulder stumbling and chattering on 
about violated frying pans and peanut butter smoking guns. 
Duchovny and Anderson appear to be having a blast filming 
this episode, and when they have fun, we have fun - their 
performances are even more delightful than usual, and I was 
laughing out loud most of the episode.

What monster story would be complete without the mad 
scientist and John O'Hurley plays him with flair - highlighted 
by Carter's generous use of thunder and lightening to punctuate 
his revelations. The town folk led by Pattie Tierce as Shaineh 
Berkowitz are a riot (even when they aren't rioting). The scenes 
at the diner where everyone alternately loves and hates Mulder 
make them much scarier than the monster they seek.

It isn't often that I enjoy Carter's writing style this much. 
The overly self-important philosophical ramblings were 
fittingly left to the Doctor,  and even Mulder's occasional 
digressions into Frankenstein analogies  worked. The 
parallels to horror classics juxtaposed with the Jerry  
Springer mentality of today and lots of humor was an odd 
combination  that paid off (monster hunting with a peanut 
butter sandwich is something I thought I'd never see). Even 
the usually heavy handed moral lesson wasn't annoying this 
time around - perhaps  because the episode doesn't end there.

The biggest risk that Carter takes with this episode is at 
the very end,  And it gives the biggest payoff. The case 
is solved, but not to Mulder's satisfaction because even 
though "Dr. Frankenstein pays for his evil ambition" in 
this case the monster did not "escape to go search for his 
bride". Instead of another in a long string of trademark 
gloomy X-Files endings something very odd happens. 
Mulder muses that he wants to speak to "the writer" to 
change things and in walks Mutato comic book author 
Izzie to give Mulder the ending he wants - one in which 
Cher plays intimate venues where our heroes and the 
"monster"can get front row seats to the bride of his dreams, 
one in which Cher sings of Elvis and Mulder and Scully are 
happy and smiling, one in which people say "what's not to 
love" about deformities, one where the hero does his own 
Elvis move and gets the girl, and one in which X-Files fans 
get their first real happy ending - only it isn't real.

A few notes on some of the technical aspects of this piece. 
I've never spent much time talking about cinematographer 
Joel Ransom before because, well, I still miss John Bartley - 
and if you don't know why then go watch "Grotesque" - and 
Ransom has never filled that hole for me. I will say that I
really liked what he did in collaborating with director Carter
in this episode in working with the smoke and shadows and
that ever present lightening. Scenes like the murder taking
place in shadows on the wall and the Mutato dancing to
"The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" amidst the smoke
obscured kitsch were memorable. Speaking of kitsch, kudos
to production designer Graeme Murray and gang for making
those homes appear somehow trapped in the 50s (enhancing
that creature feature feel) complete with old fashioned clutter ,
classic cars, old appliances, and that scary house of Dr.
Pollidori that had garland like kudzu on all the walls. Editor
Lynne Willingham was also hard at work completing the
look and feel, but I am especially impressed with her editing
of the last scene where she does such a deft job in showing 
us just enough but not too much of the Cher impersonator 
used in this episode that it is sure to fool some folks into 
thinking that they saw the real thing. As usual Mark Snow 
comes through with a stylized score of his own - one that 
evoked for me thoughts of a carousel or circus with its 
repeated use of bell tones - perfect for the episode.

Well, I've told you many of the reasons that I consider 
this episode to be amongst the best of the series so I'll 
come clean on the last purely personal reason. I have to 
love any episode that manages to give me Mulder and 
Scully doing what they do so well with "Gypsies, Tramps, 
and Thieves" playing in the background - "Preach a little 
gospel, sell a couple of bottles of Dr. Good".
What more can I say?

Random Musings
------------------------
-Retread Alert: Chris Owens who played Mutato here was 
last seen  sans makeup as Young CancerMan in "Musings" 
and "Demons".

-I really, really wish they would have redone the credits as 
well - it would have made the effect complete had they used 
that left to right  swiping old horror movie font with credits 
like: "Starring David Duchovny as Special Agent Fox Mulder, 
FBI" underneath their pictures.

-The ending may have been a fantasy (for Mulder as well as 
some fans), but it did prove something beyond a shadow of a 
doubt - My God those two look great together. Smiles are 
such a rarity on this show and to see Mulder and Scully happy, 
smiling, and dancing made me have to hang on tight to the 
fence I sit on.

-Frank's Fashion Spot: The costumers were working overtime 
on this one to help complete that scary small town retro feel. I 
loved the series of tasteless outfits worn by Mrs. Berkowitz and 
the feather fringed smock of our chicken scratch reporter. The 
elements (rain, wind, torch carrying crowd) did manage to 
cause a bit of a downturn in Scully's hair though...

-Really nice bit with the Cher obsession (explained so perfectly 
by  the movie "Mask"). Now if I could only figure out the thing 
for the "Dr. Nutter's Peanut Butter" (perhaps an ode to former 
XF director David Nutter). Did he just want his tongue to stick 
to the roof of both mouths?

-Mulder and Scully are served "Perk" cola - is that the 
lesser cousin of "Jolt"?

-Every time I hear a line like "You can't plant a seed in a 
barren field" I can't help but think of Scully. Her non-reaction 
to this as well as their discussion on procreation leads me to 
believe that Mulder has indeed not told her about her own 
situation.

-I thought the animal parentage insinuations were pretty 
humorous. The chicken-like reporter, the goatee boy, and 
Izzie who loved pigs and kept his room like a "pig sty" 
especially.

-I found it amusing that when Scully finds the comic book 
and makes the connections about it a light bulb goes on 
above her head in the string that is hanging there.

-The sandwich with the two bites out of it was a nice touch - 
as was Scully admitting "We were chasing what they told us 
was a monster".

-Our Little Sailor: "Who the hell is that?"

-It cracked me up to watch Scully fumble a bit with her 
explanation to Mulder after she'd told the Doctor she would 
understand because she was a scientist.

-Scully needs to work a little on her quick draw - she seemed 
to get tangled in her trench.

Autumn
"We already have that ability Mulder - it's called procreation."



Go back to the list of reviews