Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The X-Files: Our Town (2.24)

I always struggle to enjoy episodes which feature the villains having their own scenes where they discuss their evil plans. Don't get me wrong, episodes told entirely from the villains' perspective work well in principle (The X-Files did their own variation on that somewhere down the line), but throwing in a scene into an episode where the bad guys plot their schemes always feels a little weak. It's why an episode like Born Again from the first season just didn't work, and it's why this episode quickly goes off the rails half-way through.

The beginnings of Our Town are sufficiently creepy, even if it does create a portrait of small-town existence similar to the depictions in both Blood and Red Museum. We have the grotesque motif of the vat of ground-up tissue, as well as the revelations about the chicken feed ("Chickens feed on chickens?"), while it's always fun to see Mulder and Scully come up with a theory, only to realize the truth is a lot worse.

However, the episode completely loses it as soon as the cannibalism rears its head. Once again, we have Scully abducted and faced with imminent death, while the flock of crazed cannibals doing their own little Wicker Man show was just too gimmicky for me. That could be true of the entire episode, even the moment where Scully puts down her bucket of Chaco Chicken felt a little contrived.

I credit this episode's flaws to a script which was almost too afraid to play the themes with subtlety. Deciding to make everything so literal and crazy made Our Town unintentionally hilarious. Rating C

Guest stars Caroline Kava (Doris Kearns); John Milford (Walter Chaco); Gary Grubbs (Sheriff Tom Arens); Timothy Webber (Jess Harold)
Writer Frank Spotnitz Director Rob Bowman

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