The X Files Revisited: 10.03 Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster
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The X Files ran for nine seasons between 1993 and 2002, spanned two movies and then came back from the dead in 2016 for a revival series of 6 episodes. In many ways, the show is as much a cultural phenomenon as it ever was and The Digital Fix has been looking back at key episodes across the show’s run starting with the pilot episode, reviewing numerous classic stories and the first movie The X Files: Fight The Future. Now we're in the final stretch of our revisited as we cover the last season of the original run, the second movie and look back at 'season 10' a year on. Next up, we have the comedy classic Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster...
One episode that everyone seemed to unanimously love when The X Files returned was Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster; in my original review I praised the episode's ability to have fun with the show's premise and on rewatch it continues to stand out. Founder's Mutation and Home Again might be great bookends, but it is this episode that is the real highlight of the show's revival.
Having recently worked my way through the latter half of Mulder and Scully's journey - his abduction, the birth and loss of William, his trial and fugitive status and now return to the fold years later, the episode not only serves up plenty of laughs but delivers a melancholy look at Mulder's motivation and passions. Monsters used to excite him; as terrifying as Tooms or the Fluekman might be, you could see the glint in Mulder's eye when he was on the case. Now he is a man embittered by years of experience, finding that everything he believed in could be a hoax and sometimes those monsters weren't real. Perhaps its his selective memory at play, but you can't help but feel for him as he despairs at Scully that these monsters he chased for years might just be - like the rock-like creature in Colorado which turned out to just be a publicity stunt by a local landscaping business - all fake.
So much of the joy of Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster comes from the wonderful twist on the classic werewolf story, Rhys Darby's guest performance, the moments of hilarity, wonderful in jokes and Darin Morgan's fantastically quotable script. But it is also in seeing Mulder rediscover his passion for hunting monsters; at one point Scully calls him bat-crap crazy and its only then do we realise we finally have the old Mulder back.
Darin Morgan pulls out all the stops in his long awaited return to the show (it's hard to believe he hadn't written for the show since season three's Jose Chung's "From Outer Space") and steals the revival from the other writers with some truly memorable comedic moments. Mulder trying to use his phone to capture the monster had me in stitches yet again, topping off a wonderfully bizarre moment that sees Mulder and Scully attempting to track down the underpants-wearing lizard monster, while Mulder's visit to the Dr. Rumanovitch is pure madness; a cliched therapist (in a good way) who knowingly prescribes Mulder anti-psychotics for his delusions.
But the highlight of the episode in the graveyard scene, which is both incredibly bittersweet with gravestones acting as tribute to Kim Manners and Jack Hardy and offeering a delightful interplay between Duchony's world-weary Mulder and Rhys Darby's Guy Mann. Morgan employs his usual trick of mixing up the narrative - Scully seduction of Mann in the phone store 'flashback' is incredibly funny - while also retelling the events of the episode from Mann's point of view. There is so much to adore; the were-lizard and the dog in the motel room, Mann's desire to settle down and get a job as soon as he became human, the peeping tom motel manager and Mulder's red underpants (a nice throwback to his infamous red speedos) and Mulder's 'on the nose but very fun' The X Files ringtone. The biggest trick Morgan pulls off is the twist that the lizard was bitten by a man, the monster becoming human. I'm not sure I've ever seen that done before.
Of course the 'immortal' Scully takes down the real culprit, the gamekeeper who likes to eat humans, before deciding that Mann's dog is hers for the taking (it was Darin Morgan after all who gave her Queequeg). Mulder meanwhile gets the proof he needs as Mann transforms back into a lizard and disappears into the woods to hibernate.
Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster still delights and remains one episode that will continue to stand up to multiple viewings. My only criticism; it jars a little in a season of only six episodes; older comedy episodes worked because they were spaced out across 20+ episode seasons. But that's not the fault of this episode, but the revival. On its own merit, it is probably an all time classic, something The X Files failed to really achieve in its later years. Was that enough reason to make the revival a worthwhile endeavour? Maybe it was...