The return of the X Files has been a hit and miss affair to say the least but the latest episode of the limited series run finds the show again firing on all cylinders. Written by Darin Morgan and harking back to some of his finest work (Humbug, Jose Chungs from Outer Space and the sublime Clyde Bruckmans Final Repose) ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ stands up with some of the finest comedy episodes the series has done. In fact, it was such a good episode that there was even a rare spark of life behind David Duchovny.
I won’t go too in depth of at this point (I’ll delve more into the season as a whole after it completes its run) but this episode proves that when The X Files stands its strongest it is in the single story format. ‘Forehead Sweat” finds Mulder approached by Reggie Something, a grey suited man dripping with forehead sweat who tries to convince Mulder that someone is using the Mandela Effect (Or the Mengele Effect) to erase peoples memory and change the past. Indeed Reggie even goes in depth into previous X File cases in an effort to remind Mulder that in fact he, Reggie, was an original member of the X Files and he was there from the outset, even before Scully arrived. The banter back and forth between the three is fantastic, and the writing is at it’s sharpest in a long time. There is a lot to take in this episode and I won’t ruin the brilliant comedy here (plus one very bad pun) but it is one of those episodes that will need a re-watch to take everything in. It is a nostalgic piece and reminds me why I used to love this show so much back in the day.
I have never shied away from my dislike of the mythology of the show, each brick that’s placed into that wall just shows time and time again that there is no solid plan in place for the story arc. They are usually poorly written, convoluted and way too far up there own backside. The monster of the week has always been the series’s bread and butter but that doesn’t mean that there is no room for character development. In fact the underlining theme for the latest episode (in fact the last two) has been how Mulder and Scully are people out of time, that the world has moved on and the dark landscape of the conspiratorial that they moved through just doesn’t exist anymore. Just who are they now that they have gotten older, having given everything to the pursuit of the truth and now all they have left is each other, perhaps not even that. This will probably be the last run of the X Files and I do hope they focus on the two as they struggle to find a place in the new world around them. Sadly though I think it’ll end on more of the same but there’s is always room in the realm of extreme possibilities to be pleasantly surprised.