The X-Files: Invocation

Case: A boy, abducted 10 years ago, returns, having not aged a day.

Destination: Dexter, Oklahoma

We find out Agent Doggett had a son in this mediocre retread of several X-Files of yore.

You guys, this isn't a very good episode. It's like its outer shell is The X-Files but the core is -- well, there actually isn't really one. Though there is an attempt to give 'Invocation' a center, it's not a successful one, I'm sad to say.

Upon further rewatches, and just general life experience, I am able to appreciate this series and, in particular, its production values. I admire, frequently, the level of difficulty a weekly, 22 episode season show is able to execute with not only proficiency but what looks like a little magic, too. The stories of The X-Files often lead to complex set pieces, post-production special FX and, directing wizardry. These are all things, that eight seasons in, have only gotten more efficient. In fact, the show's well-crafted rhythm should absolutely serve as its heartbeat, and this is no less the case in 'Invocation'.

The main issue is, well, there are two. This story is as old as time, and it's even been done multiple times within The X-Files own universe. (And done better. And that says a lot because... Calusari.) Though this one is loads darker and recalls to mind the Clint Eastwood film, The Changeling, in its level of horror, if its sole (story) purpose was to expose a side of Agent Doggett that we're to know, then I dislike it even more, because... plot contrivances. This leads me to my next issue. No, I'm not cool with John Doggett grieving a young son. I would be, if Fox Mulder weren't grieving a deceased / abducted / cloned sister, himself. But the combination of these two both grieving someone close is not good writing. Also, there's a John Walsh / Adam Walsh quality that I'm also not okay with. It's also not good writing and frankly, it doesn't work with the tone of the show's characters or their histories. Not to mention it's weirdly exploitative and off-putting, and those, by the way, are nice ways of saying what it really is. (FOX, I'm pretty much talking to you.)

All of that said, I am continuing to enjoy the Doggett / Scully interactions. And on a separate note, Scully is just all in with the paranormal which I'm genuinely tickled by. She even offered alien abduction as an initial theory, all by herself! Also, the 'this tape plays a creepy lullaby backwards' horror trope never disappoints. So, not all is lost.

Other Thoughts

* Good god, Gillian Anderson looks gorgeous.

* Kim "Manhunter' Greist!

* The tone is very strong and skin-crawlingly eerie.

* 13 million people watched this episode. 13 MILLION.

Quotes

Doggett: "You know, these words, 'anomalous', 'supernatural', 'paranormal', they purport to explain something by not explaining it. It's lazy." (Ohhh, is THAT what Scully has been thinking all of these years? Ha!)

Final Analysis: Average episode with other issues introduced here for the first time that will plague the character of Agent Doggett, and to some degree the show itself.

2 comments:

Mallena said...

The story of the little abducted boy was sad and did hold my interest, but of course it was totally implausible. Ghosts don't usually come back with a human body. Maybe he was a changeling. Hey, now's a perfect time to plug one of my favorite books, "The Stolen Child," by Keith Donohue. It's a wonderful story about a changeling from fairy lore and the stolen boy he replaces.

It is hard to believe that so many characters on shows have such truly awful things happen to them like murdered or abducted children. I think that Doggett showed his goodness of character just fine without having to go to an extreme trial for him.

drnanamom said...

Thanks for the review Heather. You explained to me why I found this episode annoying. I couldn't (or didn't take the time to) put my finger on it. Great choice of picture.