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The X-Files: Shadows

Case: Two dead men with residual electrostatic charges and throats apparently crushed from the inside.

Destination: Philadelphia, PA

Six episodes into a series about investigating the paranormal and we finally get our first ghost story --- which also doubles as a potential case of telekinesis. Two paranormal tales for the price of one! This time out, Mulder and Scully are asked to provide insight on two dead men with very unusual post-mortem characteristics. After being dismissed by the investigating agents, they decide to look into the matter on their own and Mulder soon comes to believe that a woman attacked by the deceased men may have killed them psychically. After further investigation, Scully becomes convinced that the woman actually helped her boss fake his death to avoid being charged with shady business dealings, while Mulder believes her boss is protecting her from beyond the grave.

I thought 'Shadows' was a decent episode. The writers did a good job with the initial misdirection. I was fairly well convinced that Lauren was using some newfound psychokinetic abilities without knowing it. It wasn’t until Mulder suggested they might be dealing with a poltergeist that I realized something else was going on. Plus, unlike the previous episode, this one was actually scary at times. The initial attack on Lauren at the ATM was chilling, as was the “psychokinetic” car-jacking. The two home invasions --- first by ghost, then by hired killers --- were also rather terrifying. Lisa Waltz did a great job selling Lauren’s intense fear during those two sequences.

As central characters-of-the-week go, Lauren was pretty solid. I felt quite bad for her. The poor woman lost the man she loved like a father to an apparent suicide, then all these seriously freaky things started happening around her. Plus, she had to cope with threats from her boss’s skeezy partner. By the time the second set of assailants were murdered in front of her, she was in pure hell. I’m surprised she didn’t just breakdown and try to end it all. Instead she showed some major chutzpah by pulling herself together and helping to nail Howard’s partner. Impressive.

I was also very impressed with how Scully convinced Lauren to help them close the case against Dorland and the Isfahan. It seemed unusually manipulative for Scully to prey on Lauren’s fragile emotional state, especially once she explained herself to Mulder. “I believe that she believes.” However, it was a very perceptive and smart move that led to them actually being able to solve a case. “I’m giving us the chance to solve a case that’s tangible. Instead of chasing after shadows.” It was kind of nice to see Scully in that type of role for a change, and she played it perfectly.

Other Thoughts

The guy playing Howard’s partner, Dorland, reminded me of The Smoking Man.

I loved Mulder using his glasses to get fingerprints off the dead guys!

Howard’s parking spot was going to “Tom Braidwood.” Tom Braidwood was an assistant director on the show and also played Frohike of the Lone Gunmen. Hilarious!

I could have done without the horribly cheesy surveillance photo showing Howard’s ghost lurking behind Lauren.

The X-Files sure does love to use those Vancouver actors over and over. Lorena Gale (Elosha from Battlestar Galactica) played the deadpan doctor who assured Mulder and Scully that Howard Graves was very dead. She also appeared in Season 2 as a nurse and in Season 4 as an attorney, and apparently she played a doctor in the recent movie, The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

As per usual, Scully just misses out on the really freaky stuff that Mulder witnesses. Twice in this episode!


Agent: “If any inquiry as to this meeting be made, we request full denial.”
Mulder: “I’d say you people already suffer from full denial.”

Mulder: “I would never lie. I willfully participated in a campaign of misinformation.”

Scully: “Psychokinesis? Meaning how Carrie got even at the prom?”

Mulder: “Paramedics check you out?”
Scully: “Yeah, I’m fine. Although I do have a ‘standing in line at the DMV’-sized headache.”
Mulder: “Mine’s more IRS-sized.”

Scully: “Are you saying Lauren Kyte crashed our car?”
Mulder: “Either that, or a poltergeist.”
Scully: “They’re hee-ere …”

Mulder: “You won’t find too many people at their boss’s grave who aren’t dancing on it.”

Mulder: “You know how difficult it is to fake your own death? Only one man has pulled it off. (pause) Elvis.”

Agent (re: Lauren): “I can make her talk.”
Mulder (leans in knowingly): “My advice to you --- don’t get rough with her.”

Final Analysis: Although a decent episode with some pretty scary events, fun quotable quotes, and a solid central character, ‘Shadows’ is not one that I ever feel terribly compelled to re-watch.

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.


  1. I remember this episode well, and it has been years since I've seen this episode. It will probably not be a very memorable episode if I watch it again, but the X-Files was one of the first shows of television I watched in my life. In fact, it's probably the third or the fourth.

    According to IMDB, this episode is written by the Morgan & Wong writing duo. I later learned that they were responsible for some successful 'humor episodes', until they quit somewhere in the middle of the show, and other writers tried (with varying success) to continue doing humor episodes.

  2. Morgan & Wong is Glen Morgan and James Wong. Darin Morgan (Glen's brother) was actually responsible for some of the best humor episodes (in my opinion). He did 'Humbug,' 'Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose,' 'War of the Coprophages,' and 'Jose Chung's From Outer Space'. He also starred as the infamous Fluke Man from Season 2's 'The Host' and was the main character in Season 4's 'Small Potatoes'.

    Morgan & Wong's episodes (many of which are excellent) tended to be more on the serious, character-driven side. Some of my favorites from the first season were theirs: 'Squeeze,' 'Ice,' 'Beyond the Sea,' and 'Tooms.'

  3. Oh right, got them mixed up. That'll teach me to spurt knowledge. :D

    Though Morgan & Wong do infuse their episodes with some dark humor, they are indeed not outright 'humor episodes'. Darin Morgan was a great humor writer though. Humbug, Jose Chung's, good times.

  4. "By the time the second set of assailants were murdered in front of her, she was in pure hell. I’m surprised she didn’t just breakdown and try to end it all."
    Oh please, having a protective force, as scary as the supernatural is, is not remotely grounds to end it all. Lauren's just a frightful old bitty and lacks gratitude.

    "Lorena Gale (Elosha from Battlestar Galactica) played the deadpan doctor [...]"
    Not to diminish the episode's spooky moments, but that sudden close-up shot of her face gave me a genuine scare, and then I laughed at myself ...HOWARD GRAVES IS VERY DEAD...


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