Monday, April 5, 2010

The X-Files: Gender Bender (1.14)

Disappointing since it aired after one of the greatest ever episodes, Gender Bender attempts to create an interesting dynamic between the vacuous underground club scene of the big city and the quiet, "otherworldly" Amish community, but it just doesn't work. Arguably one of the worst, and undeniably one of the most boring, X-Files episodes.

The idea of somebody who can swap genders due to excessive hormones is an intriguing one, but it's completely wasted throughout the episode, with the writers deciding to concentrate on the Amish-like community the gender bender came from. The most irritating thing about the entire episode is the conclusion, with the Kindred seemingly abducted by a UFO. Now, if UFOs were mentioned during the episode, it wouldn't be so bad. But to have a deus ex machina just drop into the script gives the impression that even the writers didn't know where to go with this, so just came up with any old solution. Coupled with the fact that (I'm guessing) the Kindred are never referred to again on the show, the episode feels half-done and empty.

The only decent aspects of this episode were the city-set gender bender scenes, which reminded me a lot of Basic Instinct, and those pretty cool morphing shots. They look a little low-rent by today's standards, but look pretty nifty when realizing this was made in 1994. I also thought the casting directors did a great job of selecting the actors playing Marty, who both look freakishly similar.

But the decent elements of this episode are difficult to come by, and the rest is mostly painful exposition and Amish clich├ęs, creating an episode which is good for an X-Files-sized sleeping pill, but not much else. Rating D

Credits
Guest stars Brent Hinkley (Brother Andrew); Michele Goodger (Sister Abigail)
Writers Larry Barber, Paul Barber Director Rob Bowman

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