What would you do if you were a were-monster? Get a job at Smart Phones Is Us?
The thing I'm really loving about this revival of The X-Files is that it has a feel of 'OK. We've got six episodes. Fuck it, let's just have a blast!' And so they are doing things that they would never be able to do within the confines of a 22 episode ongoing series. My Struggle gave us Mulder touching actual reverse engineered alien technology and getting the proof he needed that he was right all along about life on other planets, although they weren't the threat he should've been chasing for all those years. That's game-changing end-of-season stuff. That's not the kind of twist you throw away in your opening chapter. Not if you've got 21 more episodes to fill.
And now we have Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster, another flipped-on-its-head episode with Mulder coming face to face with, and shaking hands with, a real proper "monster". No shadows or partial coverage to give any doubt. The world of The X-Files is very different in 2016, and I am loving it.
There are people who aren't keen on the lighter, more comedic episodes of The X-Files, fortunately I am not one of them, so, for me, Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster might just end up being the best installment of this run. It comes from writer Darin Morgan who previously gave us Humbug, Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose, War of the Coprophages and Jose Chung's From Outer Space. Four classic gems from back in the day, and now he's delivered a fifth that I have little doubt will be remembered as fondly by fans old and new.
M&SMtW-M (I'm not typing that every time) started off with the reappearance of the stoners from Morgan's War of the Coprophages and Quagmire episodes, and it actually was the two original actors who played them back in 1996, Tyler Labine and Nicole Parker. Labine pops up all over the place, but Parker quit the business 18 years ago, so that was pretty cool that they managed to lure her back for this.
Then we got to the first flipped-on-its-head part, with Mulder seemingly happy to believe in the existence of extra-terrestrials, but monsters? Nope, u-huh, load of baloney. So we had a bit of a reversal of characters, with Scully open to the possibility (and with a desk, she had an actual desk with an 'I Want To Believe' poster above it - no chair though, woman not sit on job) whilst Mulder goes through a minor mid-life crises.
In typical Morgan fashion the script was very witty, a little random at times, but some of the bits that didn't necessarily make sense initially all came together nicely in the end. In the first half there were so many moments when I actually laughed out loud (I don't do that very often, I'm a miserable git), especially when Mulder was having trouble with his new app, but they were nothing compared to the hilarity of the second half as Guy Mann recounts his story to Fox.
This was the second flipped-on-its-head part. Mann (played by the brilliant Rhys Darby) explained how he's actually a 'monster' who was bitten and now turns into a man by day, complete with all the regular man-urges, like needing a job and worrying about his pension. The monotony of everyday human life has never been so brilliantly or hysterically observed by someone non-human (why do we have ties?), and by the end of his version of events you understand exactly why he feels he can't go on with this hum-drum existence. I do hope we see him again one day, maybe in 10,000 years after his hibernation.
With M&SMtW-M The X-Files had a lot of fun at its own expense (of course Mulder has that tune as his ring tone!), referenced some episodes and themes from the past (Scully's immortality for one), paid tribute to two of the shows departed friends (Kim Manners and Jack Hardy), and delivered an episode that, for me, sits up there with the best of them.
As Scully put it, I'd forgotten how much fun these kind of cases could be.