The X-Files

Lord of the Flies
air date: 12-16-01

Curse long lead-times in production, or curse a show that has just grown tired. In either case, this episode felt like it had jumped on a bandwagon a little too late, only to find it had played these instruments before, anyway.

Opening with running video from a familiar-looking show called Dumbass, the episode takes a few potshots at its own network. We've seen that before in the episode that crossed over with COPS, as well as references to the alien autopsy video Fox hawked a few seasons back.

This time around, it's not just tired but unnecessary. For the kind of money Fox has thrown at Carter and company to keep this show limping along, gratitude, or at least graciousness, might be in order.

Besides, everything about the Dumbass show betrays a below-average viewer's attitude towards television. (Are these kids on a network or not, and if they are, how is it that the show is essentially run out of a high school?)

Viewers of The X-Files are savvier than this.

Even the monster of the week has a resigned air of predictability about it. Not that having an episode of Smallville cover the same territory weeks ago helps, either. But that was just coincidence, even if the two shows' methods of murder were exactly the same.

But the puberty/monster metaphor has been used before. The loner kid misusing his newfound powers has been done before. And the male FBI agent having a working knowledge of pornographic magazines has definitely been done before. The only difference here is that the writers have the sense to make Doggett uncomfortable about it.

At least Scully has more to do this episode. Not only are her autopsy skills crucial, but the episode actually makes it clear that this is so, as the town's regular coroner distances himself from the initial death as quickly as possible. She also takes an active role in the investigation, and though Reyes' intuition reaches the same answers, Scully's deductions make an overdue return.

Thankfully, too, this episode temporarily dropped the forced heat between Doggett and Reyes. Instead, we got slight Mars and Venus observations, as Reyes caught Doggett laughing at the Dumbass stunts.

All the animal attraction resided in the comic Dr. Rocky Bronzino, arrogantly chasing after Scully like one of his beloved insects having caught a pheromone. It might be interesting to see him pop up again a few episodes along, still in pointless pursuit. (Though Scully didn't say she was unavailable, just "a mother.")

Wisely, the episode dropped its cutesy elements as it raised the stakes, proving that the show can still find its footing. It just seems unlikely it will have to walk much farther.

Derek McCaw



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