The X-Files: Alpha

Case: Mulder and Scully investigate a dog randomly killing people. Yes, it is a werewolf episode.

Destination: San Pedro, California and Washington, D.C.

“Don’t mind him. He’ll go on forever.”

For the first time in quite a while, The X-Files tried to return to its roots with a MotW and our intrepid duo working together to stop said monster from wreaking havoc. Tried is the key word in the sentence.

This episode was a late season rush job and it shows. Jeffrey Bell, a new writer at the time, was tasked with coming up with something to fill a hole as the season wound down. Stories abound that no one could make this silly plot work and that re-writes were happening even as the episode was being shot. It shows. Too many plots, not enough resolution.

There was potential here, especially in the character of Karin Berquist. The idea of a shut-in who has some kind of emotional attachment to Mulder could have been really interesting to explore, especially as his relationship to Scully is evolving. The idea that Mulder feels comfortable being emotionally connected to someone he doesn’t know, and how far he is willing to confide in her, could have been incredibly compelling.

As could have Scully’s reaction to finding out about this relationship. The vague jealousy on view here doesn’t suit Scully. Her suspicions about Karin are never completely fleshed out. Instead, she comes across as cynical and unprofessional, defending her man against some unknown threat. The problem, of course, is that Mulder is not her man. Even worse, Scully’s jump from learning about this woman to not trusting her happens in a vacuum. Turns out she was right, but it would have been interesting to see how she got there.

Similarly, an exploration of Detweiler, of what happened to him, could have been fascinating. He is meant to be the villain of the piece, yet he never comes across as all that scary. It might have been fun to delve deeply into his psychology. What was he like before he was bitten and to what degree has this change to him altered or amplified his personality. We get none of that.

Ironically, the most important scene in this episode is the last. Mulder is sitting in the basement and receives a package from Karin. She has sent him her “I Want to Believe” poster, Mulder’s having been destroyed in the fire. This is an emotionally weighty moment, but it feels unearned. On top of all that, Mulder puts the poster in exactly the same place as the old one hung. Is this meant to be a sign that nothing has changed?

We all know differently.

Other Thoughts

-- Call me old school, but if you’re going to give me werewolves, give me a full moon and a morphing shot. To be fair, the dog to dog morph was fun. Yet another idea I wish had been explored further.

-- The opening scene is fun, classic Mulder and Scully.

-- How did no one notice that Detweiler kept showing up on a ship that he had no legitimate access to?

Quotes

Scully: “What happened to the dog?”
Mulder: “Dog gone. Dog gone. Doggone.”
Scully: “Yeah, I got it.”
The first of too many dog jokes to mention.

Scully: “Don't underestimate a woman. They can be tricksters, too."
I promise you, this line was written by a man. It sounds terrible coming from Scully.

Karen: "Lupus. From the Latin for wolf. Ironic, isn't it."
Scully: "Ironic or perverse?"
What is truly perverse is the female catfight that continually references dogs.

Final Analysis: Not all episodes can be wonderful. This is terrible, easily in the bottom ten of the entire series.

ChrisB loves dogs, but not this one.

2 comments:

Mallena said...

I'm a dog person but this one is just so boring. I'd rather watch my pug sleep and snore than watch this again. Better episodes coming up soon, though.

Heather said...

I like how you reviewed this, Chris. It's not a good episode but there are redeemable aspects, along with ideas that had promise. Probably the most frustrating combination of observations for a viewer, actually. For me, I always liked the actress playing Karin. Even though the friction between Scully and Karin fails to work, ultimately, GA plays her suspicion/jealousy/agitation in nuanced ways. The episode is very dark, visually, and the color palette is effective. Jeffrey Bell, imo, didn't ever truly get a firm hold on the MSR in his stay at TXF, but he gets an A for effort. (The Rain King)