The X-Files: Signs & Wonders

Case: A young man is killed by snakes in his car.

Destination: Blessing, Tennessee

"Are you a righteous man, Agent Mulder?"

This episode is all about being really creepy. It has a slimy and (apparently) unpleasant church leader who kicks his daughter out for getting pregnant, a sexually abusive church leader who impregnated the girl in the first place, and snakes. Lots and lots of snakes.

I should say, I have good friends who really love snakes. And keep snakes. Three of them. I mostly try to pretend they're not there! Some people love snakes, but for a larger number of people, they are terrifying, spine-tingling and shudder-inducing creatures. Throw in some deeply disturbing Rosemary's Baby-type shenanigans and you have the ultimate in body horror - snakes not just crawling around a person, but actually coming out of a person. Ewwwwwwww.

The thing is, I'm not sure there's much more to this episode beyond the creep factor. Unlike many of the episodes concerned with Christian mythology, this particular story doesn't really touch on Scully's religious faith in any meaningful way. The X-Files has done creepy and possibly abusive religious cults before, and done them better ('Die Hand Die Verlezt', 'The Field Where I Died'). It's done creepy animals before, and done them better ('Darkness Falls', 'War of the Coprophages'). It's done small town abuse before, and done it - well, even more creepily, that's for sure ('Home').

All in all, this episode doesn't really seem to add anything or go beyond what all those previous episodes have done. There's nothing much wrong with it - there's no real explanation for what on earth is actually going on, but that's par for the course on The X-Files. There's some messing around with who the real bad guy is (spoiler alert, it's not who you think), which is mildly interesting, but nothing really ground-breaking. It's all just rather meh.

Other Thoughts

 - Tracey Middendorf, who plays Gracie, played Tina in the Angel pilot episode.

 - Scully gets to rescue Mulder in this episode, which I always like to see (and the show did it impressively often).

 - I feel I should reiterate - a woman gives birth to snakes in this episode. Ewwwwwwwww.

Quotes

Scully: Snake-handling - we didn't learn that in catechism class.
Mulder: That's funny, I knew a couple of Catholic schoolgirls who were expert at it.

Mulder: People think the Devil has horns and a tail. They're not used to looking for some kindly man who tells you what you want to hear.

Meh. One and a half out of four snakes.

Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.

2 comments:

Heather said...

Juliette, thanks for a great review. I concur that this one is just so-so when all is said and done. Love the Mulder line about Catholic girls, I laughed out loud from the other room, in this recent rewatch. This season is tough for all the reasons you describe this one as, basically, forgettable.

drnanamom said...

Thanks for the review Julliette. What I liked about this episode was the exploration of Mulder's faith, whatever that might be. Is he a good man and/or does he believe he is a good man? Obviously Scully thinks yes, but Mulder isn't so sure.