Season 2: Episode 5 - Duane Barry
Z: Wow, Brandon does not like aliens. I mean, he loves them. But he is very, very scared of them. We watched this one over breakfast and multiple times did he say, “I’m glad we’re watching this during the day…if it was nighttime, I don’t know…” And Brandon’s right, those creepy aliens are scary. Nobody wants their teeth lasered, amiright?
Honestly, I didn’t truly appreciate this episode until we watched the second half of the cliffhanger. More on that later, but this really was an excellent episode. The pacing, the reveal that Duane Barry is suffering from delusions due to a head injury, then the reveal within a reveal that, oh wait, he has alien bits inside of him and maybe he was abducted after all and THEN reveal within a reveal within a reveal SCULLY GETS KIDNAPPED. (Noooooo.)
Also Mulder goes swimming in a tiny red Speedo at the beginning of the episode. How come? No clue, but it seems pretty essential to his character development. I don’t think we would have “gotten” Mulder had we not seen him in a tiny, red Speedo. Mmmhm.
B: Alright, I’ll admit it, growing up, there was nothing that fascinated but scared me more than alien abduction and that is a big part of why I loved The X-Files so deeply. However, when its done right, as a child (and even a little now as an adult), I could get utterly paralyzed by the fear of it. I doubt if back in 1994, I did start watching this episode, I could have got through the cold open. By today’s standards, the alien abduction scene shows some cracks in the special effects, but still looks pretty darn good.
The rest of the episode is really close to perfect and I would probably give it a nine or ten if it only had more real Scully action. The idea of using the Phineus Gage incident as a way to add doubt to the character of Duane Barry and his side of the story was real genius. I would also like to add that Zara was right on top of Phineus Gage and gave me a nice description of him about four seconds before Scully did. The episode is set almost entirely in one room during a hostage situation, then as all of Duane Barry’s supposed lies start to unravel as true, Scully is kidnapped and we are thrown our first “to be continued…” of the series.
This episode continues to show the quality that is coming later down the road. I would also like to point out that the best episodes so far have all been alien-rated. That’s a fact.
Excuse me, I have to go hide under the covers in my bed for a week.
Z: 8 tiny, red Speedos out of 10
B: 8 nose implants out of 10
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Season 2: Episode 4 - Sleepless
Z: This episode was alright. US soldiers are turned into sleepless killing machines in Vietnam and subsequently go bonkers on each other. The episode basically provides an excuse to introduce us to two new recurring characters - the mysterious new informant “X” and new FBI buddy, Alex Krycek. He’s so keen! And he loves Mulder! NOPE. Just another pawn of Cigarette Smoking Man. I was kind of surprised that they reveal that he’s spying on Mulder and Scully at the end of the very same episode where his character is introduced. I feel like that could have been a later reveal but I guess they were like, who cares, let’s just get this set up as soon as we can and call it a day.
B: According to my minutes of research, this is one of Chris Carter’s favorite episodes, which is odd because I personally wasn’t that into it. This is more like a Fringe episode than an X-File, with the monster being more of a science experiment gone wrong than really paranormal. I still think its so weird that they got their show called the X-Files about X-Files renewed for a second season, and there’s no actual X-Files yet.
On the positive side are the introductions of X and poor poor Alex Krycek. I agree with Zara that they should have made Mulder and especially the viewer trust him more before revealing that he’s just a puppet, it would have made that turn have so much more weight and wouldn’t have changed too much story-wise. Enjoy Krycek while you can, because his character is going to get really annoying quick.
B: 4 Scully wearing 90’s wire-rim glasses out of 10
Z: 5 ghosts of Vietnamese children out of 10
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Zara & Brandon X-Rated
Season 2: Episode 3 - Blood
Z: One of my favorite things about re-watching The X-Files is seeing great character actors who I have come to love make appearances as monsters, killers, and the victims of monsters and/or killers. (And/or aliens.) In this case, Deadwood’s E. B. Farnum, the terrible sad sack hotel owner, plays a terrible sad sack postal employee who goes on a shooting rampage after being set off by LSDM and some angry LED displays. KILL ‘EM ALL!
That last transmission from the machines (or, the government - did they ever figure out who was sending the messages?) is the best - ALL DONE BYE BYE! I remembered that from when I saw this episode twenty years ago, and now it will be stuck in my head for another twenty.
Wikipedia Fun Fact - that lady who beats the car repair man to death, and later stabs Mulder, is a former porn star!
B: To me, this episode was a jumble of ideas. The severe fear in blood, the spraying of super chemicals in suburbs by a shadow government, and homicidal messages hacked into electronics would each be their own The X-Files episode if a little more love was given to fleshing them out. At times, it felt like our Netflix was malfunctioning and flipping between different files, then they all come together. The reason?
The postal employee is William Sanderson, whom I know more as JF Sabastian from Blade Runner, Larry from Newhart, and the sheriff from True Blood. He is one of the best at playing sad-sack wannabees and helps keep this episode in watchable territory.
Oh, sorry, before you thought I was going to give you a reason for why all of that was happening?
Also, The Lone Gunmen are back for another perfect scene of Look! These Ideas Are Based on Actual Events. They also make more comments about how hot Scully is, in case we forgot because we only see her for one minute an episode now.
Spoilers, there’s no reason for why any of this was happened. Still a great ending though.
Z: 6 angry fax machines of 10
B: 5 The Lone Gunmen Zine subscriptions out of 10
Season 2: Episode 2 - The Host
Z: Ugh, this. THIS. I have so many things, as Brandon already knows by the number of times I yelled “COME ON!!!” while watching this episode. Starting with that goddamn Soviet Poop Monster. Or, flukeman. Or whatever. I hated it. HATED IT. Look, if you worked in sanitation, and you and an FBI agent pulled this out of a pipe:
What would you do?
A. Kill it with fire.
B. Call in the CDC, quarantine the flukeman and study it to prevent future flukemen.
C. Call in the local law enforcement, decide to prosecute the flukeman as a man based on the fact that it is man-sized, strap it to a gurney, and then drive it to jail in a van with no guards.
D. Please don’t pick C.
Duh, Poop Monster escapes back into the sewers and runs amok til Mulder slices him in half. But doesn’t pick up the body? So…we’re left to think that he lives somewhere out there in the muck, next to the rat kings and abandoned boa constrictors. Probably making more Poop Monsters.
GO AWAY POOP MONSTER I HATE YOU.
B: My enjoyment of this episode has little to do with what was actually happening on screen, but listening to Zara freak out every time the Soviet Poop Monster comes on screen. The Soviet Poop Monster, or Flukeman is a fan favorite and I remember images of him in my X-Files books. He’s a memorable scary image, but I don’t think everyone remembers just how silly this episode really was. Its like a Mad TV sketch of The X-Files, that’s right, I’m not even saying its at SNL levels of quality.
The idea that the US government, who in The X-Files has been so apt at covering up even the most believable of X-Files cases, like the feral humans in South Jersey in Jersey Devil would be so inept in dealing with a sentient creature formed out of radioactive chernobyl poop found in the Newark sewers is hard to swallow - for many reasons. If just because a creature has two arms and two legs, we cart it off to an insane asylum, I would think we would have a lot of monkeys in straight jackets. Wait, DO WE HAVE MONKEYS IN STRAIGHT JACKETS?
One thing I never noticed as a child, is how often Mulder and Scully are visiting New Jersey. As an avid reader of Weird New Jersey, I totally get this, but wish they used some of the more well-known/interesting New Jersey legends like Midgetville and The Jackson Whites instead of totally making poop monsters up. I do think the later episode Dod Kalm and The X-Files video game deal with The Philadelphia Experiment, so I’ll give them a little more credit.
B: 5 Soviet Poop Monsters out of 10
Z: UGH NO SOVIET POOP MONSTERS EVER. 3 cans of Chernobyl soup out of 10.
my favorite review so far…
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Season 2: Episode 1 - Little Green Men
B: I wanted to like this episode more than I ultimately did. It has all the elements I look for in an episode. You have a classic piece of UFO lore, the “Wow! Signal”, the first time we see Samantha’s abduction, and the first time an alien is shown on screen in the show (just a shadow puppet in a light, but a damn scary shadow puppet in a light).
The problem with this episode is once Mulder goes to the satellite where the Voyager recordings are being returned, there’s so many basic questions unanswered. Why are the aliens returning the signal just to this satellite dish? Why are they coming to destroy the tapes (I think?) if they were the ones playing the bach back to Earth? If this satellite dish was shut-down, how does the government know about it and if so how can Mulder and Scully get there separately before their goons did? Why do the aliens always knock out Mulder and leave him there? Shouldn’t they have his face on a Wanted poster in their breakrooms by now? I feel like I personally experienced abductee missing-time for a full scene that maybe answered those questions.
I did like Mulder having a buddy in congress, when Skinner finally stands up to the Cigarette smoking man (imagine all the second-hand smoke he had to endure?), and the scene where the aliens show up to and start messing with the electronics, but again WHY?
Z: I agree that this wasn’t what we wanted it to be. We thought it would be another E.B.E. and while there was one actual E.B.E. present, it lacked the pacing that made that earlier episode so thrilling and fun. I did love Mulder bro-ing out with his Congressman friend over Bach. (Congressman friend, what Congressman friend you might ask? Wouldn’t it have been useful to get in touch with his Congressman friend during the whole Deep Throat drama? Ehhh, don’t worry about it.)
And, yes, Mulder & Scully shouldn’t be able to shake the secret government ops so easily. I loved when they were gunning it out of the jungle (nice rental car, Scully!) and the army guys are like, “Welp, looks like we lost ‘em.” As if they couldn’t just send some guys to the airport and catch them there? Mulder & Scully are so elusive!
Z: 6 out of 10 silhouetted aliens
B: 6 out of 10 stratego board games.
If you want to know the image that haunts my dreams, its the one above.Zara & Brandon X-Rated
Girls Is Flappy Bird: Why Do We Love Pain?
The other night, while watching a few episodes of Girls, I started to become so uncomfortable and frustrated that I picked up my iPhone, the modern adult version of hiding behind the couch. Through the soup of the internet, I had heard a lot of buzz about an iPhone game called Flappy Bird, and as usual, downloaded it and immediately forgot about it. “This should provide the right amount of distraction,” I thought.
Oh how wrong I was.
SEASON 1 RECAP
What we liked:
- Every use of technology. Every time a picture is enhanced, beards are added to police sketches, screenshots are actual polaroids of the tv, no one uses a mouse - they just type and computers do things and sometimes become sentient, and the utter fear of “computer viruses”
- Scully’s baggy jackets and endless supply of Power-Suits. She is swallowed in fabric.
- The beginnings of everything - introductions of characters we know are going to become important like The Lone Gunmen, Skinner, Cigarette Smoking Man.
- Special effects hold up, we promise. They bend Vancouver into a lot of places, especially a pine-lined highway.
- Basically, everything still holds up. This is not a chore and we’ve found things to like in every single episode, except for Shapes (the Native American werewolf episode).
What we disliked:
- Over reliance on ghosts on being the answer to everything. There’s endless paranormal topics, yet Season One loved to explain away everything on the dead. Beyond The Sea nailed it and the rest are just trying to remake that magic.
- They are too stuck in the roles at this point. Scully sees far too many things to remain the staunch skeptic she appears to be this season. How many times can she fall down just as the alien is going to appear? She sees her dead father and holds an alien fetus, yet through short term amnesia or bad-writing continues to be the anti-Mulder until the last scene of the season finale.
- Tooms is dead! (or is he?!…. no, he is.)
We finished reviewing every episode of Season One and the grand experiment continues!Zara & Brandon X-Rated
Season 1 - Episode 23: SEASON FINALE The Erlenmeyer Flask
Z: “Trust No One” - uh oh, new tag line, shit’s about to get real!! This episode lays the foundation for everything we will come to expect from “The X-Files” mythology - secret research on alien DNA, alien-human hybrids, black ops, alien fetuses in jars - all the while tying up the season in a neat To Be Continued. Only without Deep Throat. (Pour out some Purity Control for Deep Throat.)
Speaking of alien fetuses in jars - did anyone else worry about how Scully managed to carry a frozen alien baby out of that facility in her satchel? Wouldn’t it leak liquid nitrogen everywhere, not to mention ruining the lining of that aforementioned satchel? It ends up in a box, but again, same question, how is it not just a floppy alien fetus mess when she hands it over? I know it ends up nicely preserved in formaldehyde in a drawer full of other nicely preserved alien fetuses…but still, these are the things that keep me up at night.
B: The X-Files are shut-down? But what did I watch for the rest of the 90’s after the The Simpsons? Was it all just missing time?
Its hard for me to like this episode more than “EBE”, because aside from one little alien fetus, its not really about aliens, but building the government conspiracy around them. As a child, I remember liking the monster episodes more, but now I really see what makes this show so groundbreaking is the mythology that ties it all together. We take it for granted now that showrunners all have a master plan and every episode will end on a cliffhanger, but this show’s contemporaries were The Cosby Mysteries, Touched By an Angel, and Matlock. What they are doing here wouldn’t be seen on television for another decade.
The death of Deep Throat I will always think was a bit short-sighted. I understand that they were trying to add danger and move the show forward, but I doubt they thought the show would last as long as it did and maybe with that character around longer, they wouldn’t have to build proxies for him down the road like Mr. X and Martin Landau. Deep Throat coming it to explain things here and there would have probably given them a little more structure when things start to get shaky later on - have him retire or go on the lam! Now instead, he gets to go to heaven with his dead alien friend he shot in. the. alien. face.
Zara’s Rating: 8 frozen alien fetuses out of 10
Brandon’s Rating: 7 frozen alien fetuses out of 10
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Zara & Brandon X-Rated
Season 1 - Episode 22: Roland
Z: I mean, haven’t we seen this before? This is like Shadows + Born Again, and we JUST saw Born Again. To be fair, it wasn’t ghosts this time but a cryogenically frozen head that’s controlling his twin to reap revenge. But still, basically the same.
Plus, why would a nice scientist decide to murder his ENTIRE lab in horrible ways when it was just that one guy who was stealing his research? It’s not like they caused his car accident!
It was fun to see wonderfully creepy character actor, Zeljko Ivanek, (aka JJ from Big Love aka the Magister from True Blood,) but that’s about it.
B: The one real redeeming piece of this episode is Zelijko Ivanek plays Roland as a very convincing autistic person. I genuinely felt bad for the character for being controlled by his cryogenically frozen brother and felt bad for the actor playing him who gave too strong of a performance for what the script called for. For instance, one moment where Mulder explains to Roland that he is being controlled using a toy flying saucer (nice one) was very touching.
The rest of the episode is sort of a mess. We get even more insane 90’s tech, where through a keyboard-only photoshop, they take a beard and glasses off an obvious Zelijko Ivanek to reveal… they are twins! Also, the home for the mentally disabled where Roland is apparently only has two people living in it, until the last scene where you see one more.
Z: I’m going to give you my jar of stars, Brandon.
B: Finally. I have to say that for a show about aliens, we’ve had to sit through a lot of weak ghost episodes this season.
Z: Since I am pro-ghosts, and I liked Shadows, I will now argue that IT ISN’T ALL ABOUT GHOSTS, BRANDON!! Let’s count them out.
B: Remember, there’s one episode that is a ghost from space, a Space Ghost.
Z: Which was an ALIEN. Not a ghost. Even though it did ghost stuff.
B: NO! It was dead!
Z: FINE. Space, Shadows, Beyond the Sea (kind of - Scully’s dad is a ghost), Lazarus and Born Again. And now Roland. Six ghosts. Versus how many aliens?
Zara & Brandon X-Rated
Season 1 - Episode 21: Born Again
Z: This episode was cool…you know how I love a creepy child plotline. And we both enjoyed the Buffalo setting so they could cast every New Yawk-y character actor they could find. Like Janice from Friends. “FBI? WHAT-AH-YAH-DOIN-HEEEEYUH?”
BTW, Brandon, Fiore was familiar because he was DR.ARNOLD ROSEN FROM MAD MEN.
B: THAT’S IT! I guess he is type-cast into playing weird love triangles.
This is a completely watchable X-Files episode, and I mostly had fun with it. I enjoyed the reincarnation side, but large stretches of the episode are spent in regular cop-show territory.
Its also sort of interesting that the young girl who once was a guy still seems to love his former wife, they should have played more with those dynamics.
Her love is shown when the girl leaves an origami giraffe on her wife’s doorstep. Origami? You know, “the japanese art of paper-folding”, which was explained to the audience like only three-year olds watched the show. Was origami just coming to the mainstream in America in 1994? I seem to remember it being all over the place when I was a child though - definitely remember a Reading Rainbow episode about it. This girl was doing some really complex origami here and the mother brushes it off with a “I don’t know where she picked it up!” Today, this kid would be all over YouTube with her flying origami.
Why am I so tied up on origami in an X-Files episode? I guess it wasn’t that great after-all.
Zara & Brandon X-Rated
Season 1 - Episode 16: EBE
Z: Oh, my God, where to begin? This is IT. This episode is Chris Carter’s way of saying, “Oh, you forgot this show was supposed to be about aliens and government conspiracies? Take that.” And then he pulls a lever to dump a pile of dead alien bodies on our heads. Classic Carter, you guys.
We’ve got Deep Throat, a busted up UFO, an E.B.E., a CIA cover up, a secret air force base with an even more secret LEVEL 6, a guard I thought was Dan Castellaneta (but who IMDB tells me is NOT) and most importantly, the Lone Gunman! They believe in the conspiracy Scully is hot. Confirmed, gentlemen.
Wikipedia tells me that one of the writers, Glen Morgan, claimed the tone was inspired by “All the President’s Men.” Ya think?? This episode is basically “All the President’s Aliens.”
Brandon, can you make a gif of the moment when Mulder puts his hand up and shushes Scully? Because that was the best.
B: Of course.
Z: Thank you.
B: The Lone Gunman arrive in an episode that has everything you’d want in an X-Files - Roswell, ETs, gulf breeze, Mulder’s apartment, forest drug-fueled UFO enthusiast parties… You can see how much research and love the creators of this show had for UFOs, as everything is so spot-on to how it is in actual close encounters and not just made-up sci-fi writer non-sense.
After Mulder basically tells Scully to shut-up, all skepticism goes out the window, leading to Deep Throat revealing why he does what he does. It’s like Homeland but with Greys. This is, I think, the first of many times where Scully sees so many things, you have to believe she has the worst memory in the world for staying such a hard skeptic.
I do wonder if they always intended the Lone Gunmen to be series regulars or if their episode-stealing scene won the show over. They quickly become Mulder’s version of Sherlock Holmes’ Baker Street Irregulars, men on the street and my favorite part of the show, so its amazing how perfect they are out the gate.
Season 1 - Episode 16: Young at Heart
Z: SALAMANDER HAND! SALAMANDER HAND! THERE IS A SALAMANDER HAND HERE!
THAT IS ALL THERE IS TO SAY.
(Side note - I didn’t get why some jewel thief as so creepily fixated on Mulder. Like, he was REALLY into Mulder, enough to devote his salamander hand to destroying him. A ton of FBI busted him that day, it’s like, dude, go creep on someone else.)
B: Only thing this episode has going for it, is it tells the story of the first episode of The Young Mulder Mysteries with his first case reopening. I feel bad for Scully’s friend whose Cello recital was ruined by Salamander Hand going on a rampage. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, the bad guy has a Salamander Hand. That’s his “thing.”
we can’t stop. we won’t stop.
salamander hand.Zara & Brandon X-Rated
Zara & Brandon X-Rated
Season 1 - Episode 12: Fire
Z: This was an alright episode - I think we fell asleep in the middle and finished it another day. Though, we do get another chapter for the Young Mulder Mysteries - an English ex! And she’s a heartbreaker!
B: Lots of Young Mulder Mysteries tidbits with Fox’s old girlfriend coming back. Other than Scully throwing all kinds of shade at her, not that memorable of an episode. Some impressive fire effects though.
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Because this is probably the most sci-fi/fantasy shows debuting in any fall tv ever, I thought I’d get my thoughts down. I have to say that the Sleepy Hollow pilot is one of the strongest of any show I’ve ever watched.
First, I have to get something out there. I have a deep connection to the Hudson Valley, Washington Irving, and especially Sleepy Hollow. See our Sleepy Hollow episode of Laughing Historically filmed in the Sleepy Hollow graveyard for your proof there.
In that episode, we talk about how The Headless Horseman was created by Washington Irving within two years of Mary Shelley creating Frankenstein, yet as a character, compared to his stitched together brother, the Horseman has only had a few screen adaptations worth noting. Same goes for the setting of the Hudson River Valley which is dripping with legend and atmosphere, but is no where close to the world renown of other haunts like Transylvania or New Orleans.
The show-runners of Sleepy Hollow are Orci and Kurtzman, the two men responsible for writing the Star Trek reboot and Fringe. They understand how to write to a genre and here they are working from the idea of a ghost story turned supernatural tv show. While watching the first episode, I could sense they did their homework, as parts harken back to the feeling I would get while watching Are You Afraid of the Dark, Supernatural, and Twin Peaks at their best. Lets be clear here, parts of this show are utterly off the wall how-the-hell is this on tv bonkers, but its my kind of utterly off the wall how-the-hell is this on tv bonkers.
A pilot really has to do one thing, set the tone and the course of events in motion to sustain a full tv show and it is there that I think Sleepy Hollow shines. They use the tropes of the genre to without giving too much away, literally set in motion X-Files in the Hudson River Valley.
I’ve read a lot of positive press on Sleepy Hollow, but of course some hating too. Let’s be clear here, Sleepy Hollow isn’t Homeland… but in the same way that American Werewolf in London isn’t The Godfather. We have plenty of intricately woven drama narratives on television now, its time we get some quality fun popcorn entertainment to go with it.