Saturday, April 3, 2010

The X-Files: Beyond the Sea (1.13)

So far above and beyond anything the show has given us so far, this episode sees The X-Files taking a huge risk in its storytelling and producing a blueprint for what the series is truly capable of. Beyond the Sea is a powerful, terrifying hour all about faith and emotional horror, and featuring stunning performances from Gillian Anderson and Brad Dourif.

Scully's fear of believing in anything other-worldly is at the forefront of this episode, her gradual understanding of Boggs and the messages he claimed to be relaying going against the stoic skepticism that got her the job of Mulder's partner in the first place. To play with that important element of the series is daring, and it's ridiculously successful thanks to Gillian Anderson. She plays that fear of the unknown so well here, from her painful disbelief at first, to her exposed anger later on as she confronts Boggs in his cell. I also loved that quick moment where she realized that Mulder had actually called her "Dana" for once.

It's heartbreaking but completely necessary to have Scully abandon that hint of belief in the last scene. Her heart and her mind are pulling her in two different directions, and she knows that to save face she'll need to return to her skeptical ways. And her decision to not discover her father's message made for a beautiful closer to the episode.

Elsewhere, Brad Dourif gave an equally powerful performance, utilizing every fiber of his body and voice to create something so alien and horrifying. I also loved that you were never sure if Boggs was an actual psychic. Sure, it was heavily implied that he was, but the strength of the script leaves you with that same lingering feeling Scully has as the credits roll. With Boggs gone, the mystery remains with no concrete answer.

A masterpiece of an episode which deservedly puts Scully center stage for once, featuring phenomenal performances, a great script, and some truly visionary directing from David Nutter, who here creates something so different from the norm, with the quick edits, those silent, lingering black and white shots and a real feeling of dread. A series classic. Rating A+

Guest stars Brad Dourif (Luther Lee Boggs); Don Davis (Captain William Scully); Sheila Larkin (Margaret Scully)
Writers Glen Morgan, James Wong Director David Nutter

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