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The X-Files' third episode is a bizarre, hilarious masterpiece filled with fan service

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This episode made the entire miniseries worth it

Being a human being sucks.

Warning, spoilers below!

Animals have it made, in fact. They can lounge around, only having to worry about finding enough food to survive and not being eaten. They do what they feel like, and don't have to think about finding a job, lying about their sex life or angst over the fact that if they haven't written that novel by now, they probably won't.

Take our friend Agent Mulder. He's lived his life being completely sure that he's surrounded by mysteries and secrets, and in the years since he's given up that work many of those mysteries were solved without him. And it didn't take a conspiracy to do things like mysteriously move rocks; it was just ice. Just ice.

The idea of shifting from the primal needs of lizards to the mid-life crisis of your garden variety human is what drives the third episode of The X-Files miniseries, imaginatively named "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster." Because they do both, in fact, meet the Were-Monster, even if it takes Mulder completely losing faith in himself and the mission to do it.

And this is one of the best episodes The X-Files has ever done, much less this uneven miniseries. I've watched it three times now, and every time I catch another joke or reference to the history of the show.

A few examples? During one scene Mulder gets drunk and passes out in front of a gravestone for Kim Manners, a director from the original series who has since passed away. The character at the beginning of the episode who is huffing paint is played by Tyler Labine who last played a stoner in "Quagmire," a third-season episode of The X-Files that was directed by ... Kim Manners.

My wife connected the two stoners, and I promised to give her full credit for the intense level of X-Files geekery required for that feat to have taken place.

Kim Manners

The phone call that wakes Mulder in that scene also reveals that Mulder's ringtone is the theme for The X-Files, and I have no clue what to do with that information other than make a high-pitched noise of delight.

Every single detail of this episode, from the fact the monster has to be killed by being stabbed with green glass to the odd hotel covered with the stuffed heads of what may be Jackalopes staffed by a single creepy man drinking what may be rubbing alcohol while peeping on guests, is surreal. At one point Mulder beats himself up by trying to find the internal logic to what's going on, only to be berated by the giant lizard who is temporarily a human in front of him. "Why?" the monster, who in his human form is named "Guy Man" (or is it Man Guy?), asks Mulder. "There's no external logic to any of it!"

There's winking at the audience, which this episode does constantly, and then there's turning to the audience and shaking its collective hand while thanking it for paying attention. In this case, after an encounter with a suspect turns violent, Scully tells Mulder not to worry. "Don't forget," she says. "I'm immortal."

So yep, The X-Files didn't just acknowledge a fan theory, it made it canonical. During another scene Mulder paces around Scully's bed giving his bonkers theory about what's going on, supplying even Scully's side of the conversation in a silly rant that seems to be making fun of the often turgid dialog of the show itself. "Yeah, this is how I like my Mulder," Scully says in response. He's driven, paranoid and having fun looking for things in the night.

This is how I like both of them, and the chemistry between the two leads and the literal monster of the week is handled perfectly. "I had forgotten how much fun these cases can be!" Scully exclaims at one point, and we agree. This is The X-Files at its absolute best.

Odds and ends

  • "Obviously our ancestors were as obsessed with impotency as we are." That psychiatrist was amazing.
  • This episode was written and directed by Darin Morgan, who also wrote "Humbug," "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," "War of the Coprophages" and "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space.'" This is his fifth episode of The X-Files, and every single one is golden.
  • Clyde Bruckman was the character who first hinted that Scully was immortal, while also sharing that Mulder was destined to die of autoerotic asphyxiation
  • "I didn't even get a chance to shoot blood out of my eyeballs!"
  • Pay attention to how David Duchovny says the word "Dagoo!" and fall in love with David Duchovny.
  • "When one checks into an establishment such as this, one expects the manager to be a peeping tom."
  • "Not with the gun, you idiot!"