The X-Files: Young at Heart

Case: The apparent return of an old nemesis of Mulder’s, a murderer believed to have died in prison four years ago.

Destination: Washington, D.C. area

When a jewelry store robbery and murder are linked to a series of armed robberies/murders Mulder helped to solve as a new agent, he begins to believe a man he thought was long dead is responsible. Turns out the perpetrator, John Barnett, was the victim of genetic experimentation while in prison, and is now back on the outside, having been successfully reverse aged. While trying to re-capture Barnett, Mulder must face the emotional fallout from the old case, in which an agent died because Mulder followed protocol and didn’t shoot Barnett when he had the chance.

‘Young at Heart’ is another episode that I didn’t remember at all. I vaguely remembered the name John Barnett and that there was some kind of climactic confrontation in a performance hall, but other than that it was a complete blank. Even as it progressed, I couldn’t remember anything about it, which is kind of surprising given that it had such a strong tie to Mulder’s past.

The episode wasn’t bad, really. The story was sufficiently disturbing and gross (genetic experimentation, reverse aging, and a regrown ‘Swamp Thing’ hand to boot); it just wasn’t terribly compelling. Maybe they spent too much time laying out Mulder’s history with Barnett (trial flashback and all). Maybe it was the way they revealed what was really going on through a low-key living room conversation with the mad scientist. Maybe it was the throwaway addition of the government conspiracy angle near the end (yet another waste of Deep Throat).

Or maybe it was the general lack of suspense in the final confrontation at the concert hall. I didn’t for one second believe that Scully had been shot dead. She was the bait --- of course she’d be wearing a vest under those circumstances. Plus, it seemed pretty clear that Mulder wasn’t going to pass up the chance to shoot Barnett this time, given all the guilt he was carrying around about Agents Wallenberg and Purdue. “Dirty little secret” research be damned.

All told, despite some interesting ideas, the pieces never quite gelled into a powerful or memorable episode.

Other Thoughts

It’s too bad Reggie had to die. It was nice to meet a senior agent who actually had some respect for Mulder and thought that he was more than a joke, despite his reputation. “Remember the day you walked into my office, wet from Quantico? You pissed me off just looking at you, but then I saw how your mind worked. How you were always three jumps ahead. It was scary, Mulder. Everybody said so.”

I felt really bad for Scully’s friend, the cellist. Was she supposed to be able to perform after being caught up in a violent hostage situation? No one wonder Scully’s circle of friends seems to dwindle over the seasons.

The flashback to Mulder’s testimony was a bit cheesy. Something about the transitions and the presentation didn’t quite fit the general style of the series.

The music was also a bit distracting in this one. Especially in the scene at Scully’s apartment. It was very operatic (reminiscent of Carmina Burana), rather than subtle and eerie. I didn’t think it quite fit the tone of the episode.

Major editing glitch: When Mulder finds the photos in his car at the football game, the car is parked along a street full of cars. When they switch to the overhead shot of him driving away, there aren’t any cars parked along the street.

Another possible glitch: How did Mulder record both sides of his phone conversation with Barnett with what looked like a pretty standard tape recorder? Was it hooked up to his phone somehow (despite being on the shelf opposite his desk)? Is that some kind of standard FBI thing, or just the product of his paranoid mind?

Quotes

Scully: “I still don’t get it. What does this have to do with us?”
Mulder: “Robbing a jewelry store is a federal crime.”
Scully (sarcastically): “Thank you.”

Mulder: “I pull that trigger two seconds earlier and Wallenberg would be here to see his kid play. Instead I got some dead man robbing jewelry stores and sending me haikus.”

Reggie: “A lot of people are saying that Spooky Mulder has become an embarrassment. A liability.”

Scully: “What are you going to do?”
Mulder: “I know what I’m not gonna do. I’m not gonna hang around and wait for Barnett to send me another Valentine.”
Scully: “You mean the ghost of John Barnett.”
Mulder: “I didn’t know you believed in ghosts, Scully.”

Scully (to Dr. Ridley): “I --- I’m afraid to ask. What kind of hand did you grow?”

Ridley: “The man who owns the fountain of youth controls the world.”

Mulder (to Deep Throat): “You’re aware that this … freak of science you’re negotiating with is a murderer?”

Scully: “Mulder, I know what you did wasn’t by the book.”
Mulder: “Tells you a lot about the book, doesn’t it?”

Final Analysis: Despite the focus on a dark period from Mulder’s past and some truly disturbing human experimentation, ‘Young at Heart’ is an average and forgettable episode.

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

3 comments:

Jason Farrell said...

"Young" Barnett gave one of the worst performances by an X-Files baddie/monster that I can remember.

Unknown said...

Even "Space" and "Fire" weren't as appealing as this lump of turd.

Unknown said...

Haha got to love the way he says "Mul-der!" with contempt.