The X-Files: The Amazing Maleeni

Case: Mulder and Scully take on the case of a magician who has lost his head. Literally.

Destination: Sunny California

“Abracadabra, man.”

For a show that is placed firmly in the world of the paranormal and the unexplained, it is hard to imagine that it took the producers and writers six years to come up with a story based in magic. This episode is the result.

This is not a great episode. The pacing is bad and one gets the feeling that the writing was a bit cobbled together. In fact, three of the best writers of the series are credited with this episode. You know what they say about writing by committee...

I don’t care. Yes, this episode forces us to suspend disbelief in a big way and yes the resolution is forced and, finally, a bit silly. But, unless you are a complete cynic, magic is fun. This episode is fun; it is light and frothy; it keeps us guessing without asking us to invest too heavily in the story. It is entertainment for entertainment’s sake -- not unlike a magic show.

The mystery at the heart of the show is also light, but fairly well developed. Like any good mystery, once we know the answer, the clues are relatively clear during the episode, but they are easy to miss the first time through. Because it is a show about magic, there are the requisite twists and turns, some of which are painfully obvious. This is an episode that keeps us guessing, but doesn’t ask us to think about what is happening too hard.

What makes this episode fun to watch is, yet again, the banter between Mulder and Scully. For once, they are not facing aliens, guns, or massive government conspiracies. They are simply trying to solve a case in the sunshine. They are enjoying themselves, and each other, immensely.

The other pair that is so much fun to watch is Maleeni and Billy. So often in a episode like this, either the perpetrators or the ones chasing them are shown to be stupid, incapable of seeing what is right in front of them and allowing those they are up against to win almost too easily.

Here, neither side is stupid. The plan was a good one, but Mulder was able to see through it and stop it from happening. I like the fact that he chooses to let the two magicians get away with what they did. It shows us that he, too, respects the effort.

And, that in a nutshell is this episode. A very good effort that we can enjoy if we don’t think too deeply about what is happening in front of us.

Other Thoughts

-- Cradock Marine Bank (at least another branch of it) is where Monday takes place.

-- I looked up Ricky Jay and Jonathan Levit on IMDb and learned that they are both actually magicians. And, here all these years I thought the camera moves were awesome.

-- Gillian Anderson is a beautiful woman. But, put her in a top hat? Hello!


Quotes

Scully: “The hand may be quicker than the eye, but it still leaves fingerprints.”
Mulder: “Provided they haven’t dumped the trash.”
Scully: “Skeptic.”

Billy: “Mozart and Salieri. They sound pretty much the same to a layman, but they ain’t. Know what I’m sayin’? It’s about originality, style, and, more than anything else, soul. Because, that’s what separates the great ones from the hacks.”

Final Analysis: Like a good illusion, this episode is fun if you accept it at face value and don’t spend any time trying to figure out the trick behind it.

ChrisB spends far too much time in front of a screen or with a book in her hand.

2 comments:

Heather said...

Chris,
Completely agree with your assessment. Love Ricky Jay here and the fact that the writers allowed the magicians their own tricks to be written into the ep. Scully in a top hat is also so very aesthetically pleasing. :) Great review.

drnanamom said...

I enjoyed the review and completely agree. Sometimes you just have to let things be what they are and enjoy.