The X-Files: Chinga

Case: While on vacation, Scully meets a scary doll. No, really.

Destination: Ammab Beach, Maine

“The talking doll myth is well established in literature.”

This episode should have gone down in television history. A well-established show with a fan base that would forgive just about anything written by the master of horror, Stephen King. It did not go down in television history. Why? Because it is a truly terrible hour.

Let me say right from the start that I am not the fan of Stephen King that many are. While I respect his writing and I respect the fact that he can find horror in the most mundane of objects, the vast majority of his novels and stories just don’t work for me. The few books of his that I have read all needed an excellent editor, one who is willing to cut the extraneous bits out and leave what is wonderful.

This episode has the same problem. There are fewer things more mundane than a doll. The problem is that this one is just not frightening. We all know what is going to happen before it does, which rather dulls the horror. And, like so many of his books, there is too much else going on.

For example, all the jokes about Maine are just ridiculous. If the sheriff had said “Ayuh” one more time, it would have been a laugh out loud moment. The lobster is absurdly large. The people in the town are all small town cliches.

It doesn’t end with that, unfortunately. Even Mulder talks about the fact that a killer doll is a horror fiction trope. And, while I’m sure that “The Hokey Pokey” was meant to be ironic, it doesn’t work. It’s just silly. The twist at the end is so obvious as to be insulting to our intelligence.

The biggest fault with this episode, however, is the Mulder and Scully dynamic. Whether or not King had ever watched an episode of the show before he wrote the screenplay we will never know. The fact is that he missed what makes the partnership so great. Chris Carter has a writing credit as well. Rumor has it that he re-wrote the Mulder and Scully parts so that they would better fit the on-going relationship between the two. Oh dear. Can you imagine how bad that first draft was?

Having said that, the final scene between Mulder and Scully is pure gold. The way they speak to each other, her face when she sees the pencils in the ceiling, the look she gives Mulder at the end are the reason this show worked so well even when an episode was abjectly terrible.

Other Thoughts

-- The reveal that Mulder is actually watching a film about swarms and not watching porn is very well done.

-- The best part of the episode is Mulder’s line when Scully reels off all the information about witchcraft. It made me giggle, even this time.

-- The other thing that made me giggle is the title of the book lying next to Scully’s bed, Affirmation for Women Who Do Too Much.

-- The name of the boat that Melissa’s husband is on is Working Girl. I will now prove to you all just how obsessive a David Duchovny fan I am. That particular movie was his first film. If you haven’t seen it in a while, check it out and play Spot David. He shows up on screen a couple of times, very briefly.

-- Speaking of old movies, the woman who plays Melissa will always be Jen Pringle to me.


Scully: “No. I don't think it's witchcraft, Mulder, or sorcery. I've had a look around and I don't see any evidence of anything that warrants that kind of suspicion.”
Mulder: “Well, maybe you don't know what you're looking for.”
Scuilly: “Like evidence of conjury or the black arts or shamanism, divination, Wicca, or any kind of pagan or neo-pagan practice? Charms, cards, familiars, bloodstones, or hex signs, or any kind of the ritual tableaus associated with the occult; Santeria, Voudom, Macumba or any high or low magic?”
Mulder: “Scully?”
Scully: “Yes?”
Mulder: “Marry me.”
Scully: “I was hoping for something a little more helpful.”

Final Analysis: It should have been great. It’s one of the five worst episodes this show ever did.

ChrisB is truly a huge fan of this show, just not this episode.


Juliette said...

I quite like this one - I definitely wouldn't put it anywhere near the show's worst episodes (though in my case those are a collection of conspiracy episodes and 'Home', which everyone else loves, so clearly I know nothing). I love the phone calls between Mulder and Scully, and I was fairly entertained by the rest. I've never read any Stephen King, but I've seen a few of the films and TV series based on his work (I thought IT was very good, Carrie was OK, The Shawshank Redemption was very good. Still haven't seen The Shining!). Maybe I haven't seen enough King-inspired stuff to be bored of it. Maybe I just have bad taste!

Heather said...

I agree this one doesn't really work though it's charmingly novel. Makes sense that King got the MSR right since he was always a vocal shipper back in the day. IIRC, they didn't have enough time to really work on the story which is why the elements of it that are bad are realllllly bad. :) Thank you for your thoughts, Chris, great review.

I've always appreciated that TXF fans are very diverse and have different preferences and can freely express their thoughts without worry. :)

Jason Farrell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I agree with Juliette, I actually enjoyed this episode. I don't understand why no can just sit back and enjoy the ride. Rather it must be over analyzed ruining their chances of being entertained.