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The X-Files: Lazarus

Case: The disappearance and erratic behavior of Special Agent Jack Willis following a near death experience.

Destination: Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland areas

After being shot during an attempted bank robbery takedown, Scully’s former flame, Special Agent Jack Willis, comes back from the brink of death a changed man. Mulder believes he’s the victim of psychic transference and is now inhabited by the consciousness of the deceased robber, Warren Dupre. Scully prefers to rationalize Jack’s strange behavior in psychological rather than supernatural terms, believing her friend was so obsessed with the case that he’s experiencing a post-trauma psychosis.

‘Lazarus’ gives us the opportunity to explore some of Scully’s professional and personal past. I was very surprised to learn that she was involved with Jack when he was her instructor at the academy, and vaguely disappointed in her. She’s such a smart woman, I’d expect her to recognize the numerous potential pitfalls of getting involved with a teacher. Between her decision to join the FBI instead of practice medicine, her teenage cigarette sneaking, and this ill-advised affair, she’s turning out to have quite the rebellious streak. She’s going to need it working with Mulder.

Other than learning a bit about Scully’s past, I didn’t find this episode all that interesting. Maybe I just watch too many genre shows, but the basic plot felt like standard, run-of-the-mill supernatural fare to me. I’m sure I’ve seen this story on Medium a few times (including a recent episode). Perhaps it was more original back when it first aired, but plots with “switched identities” or “two consciousnesses in one body” seem pretty stale at this point.

The thing in the episode that got me most fired up was the writers’ mishandling of the Baltimore geography (I grew up in the Baltimore region and was a planner there for several years). At first, I thought they screwed up when Lula’s call was traced to the 202 area code after Mulder said Scully had to be within a 5-mile radius of Arbutus. There’s no way anything within 5 miles of Arbutus is in that area code. When Mulder explained Lula was using Scully’s cell, I thought it was nice attention to detail.

But then they blew that all to hell by having Mulder tell the other agents that Scully was within a 3-square-mile area near the “Washington County Regional Airport” located “just south of the state line.” Arbutus is just outside the Baltimore Beltway in Baltimore County --- nowhere near the state line --- and Washington County and its regional airport are located in Western Maryland. Even stranger, there is actually an airport near the plane symbol on Mulder’s map: the Baltimore Washington International Airport. Not exactly a big hub for “light aircraft” activity. I know these problems wouldn't be apparent to many viewers, but would it have killed the writers to be more accurate?

Other Thoughts

Jack cutting off Dupre’s fingers was pretty gross. Why did he take three? Was it really that tough to get just the one?

That was Callum Keith Rennie (Battlestar Galatica, Due South, upcoming role on 24) as Lula’s brother, Tommy! Kind of fun to see him in an early role. He looked strange. I wasn’t really sure it was him until I checked the end credits.

Scully’s birthday is February 23rd.

Until they explained it, I was very perplexed about why ‘Dupre’ and Lula were keeping Scully alive. Given what hardened killers they were, I had a hard time believing they would drag her around with them. Especially since ‘Dupre’ knew she was the one that had killed him.


Mulder: “So I don’t think this was a simple necrophiliac mutilation. Willis sliced and diced those fingers to get at the wedding ring.” The notion of a “simple” necrophiliac mutilation made me laugh.

Mulder: “Two men died in that crash room, Scully. One man came back. The question is, which one?”

Prof. Varnes: “It turns out that one of the dead passengers on the plane was having an affair with his wife. The dead passenger’s memory, his consciousness, had survived through the pilot.”
Scully: “What happened?”
Prof. Varnes: “Well, the pilot became increasingly disoriented. Schizophrenic his doctor claims. So one day, he strangled his wife with an extension cord.”
[Professor smiles and walks away.]
Mulder (after a pause): “That’s a nice story.”

'Dupre': “Even ugliness is beautiful because of her.” Groan. This line is even worse than the “no matter what happens, I know we’ll be seeing the same stars” crap from the beginning of the episode. No wonder Lula turned on him.

Mulder: “Can you at least accept the possibility that during his near death experience some kind of psychic transference occurred?”
Scully: “Can’t you accept the possibility that this isn’t an X-File?”

Lead Agent: “All right, people. Settle down and grab a seat. Mulder says he’s got something.”
Second Agent: “What? An alien virus, or new information on the Kennedy assassination?”

Scully: “What am I gonna tell him?”
Mulder: “The official story.”
Scully: “Which is?”
Mulder: “Fugitive Lula Phillips died yesterday in a shootout with federal agents which also resulted in the death of Special Agent Jack Willis, killed in the line of duty.”
Scully: “What am I supposed to tell myself?”

Final Analysis: Not a terrible episode, but not overly compelling either.

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

1 comment:

  1. Best thing about the episode for me (albeit a very small thing) was the way one of the helping cops gradually started to respect Mulder across the course of the story, once he saw how professional Mulder was. A nice touch.

    Other than that though, mediocre episode for many reasons.


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