Sunday, June 27, 2010

The X-Files: Soft Light (2.23)

In film and television, fear is best created from something firmly rooted in reality, something that the audience experiences or sees every day. When such an ordinary something is turned on its head and suddenly made something for us to "fear", it's where the genius happens. Soft Light, while not entirely successful as an episode, at least has a wonderful central conceit.

Tony Shalhoub, who would later make a career out of dysfunctional and jittery characters, is one of the most notable early X-Files guests, genuinely depicting the type of paranoia and self-hatred and fear that I assume would come from having a killer shadow. Heh. The storyline itself isn't hugely memorable until the last twenty minutes or so, but the volume of ideas on display here easily overshadow that. Yes, the special effects are hilariously awful, but I loved the concept of a shadow essentially sucking its occupants into a black hole. Even if the science is wonky as hell.

The real point of interest in this episode is in the reappearance of X. His behavior here is remarkably disconcerting, as we get real knowledge of his separate allegiances. The X-Files as a unit was being played with by the higher-ups only last week, and now Mulder is aware that they are being used almost as a stooly to get the Conspiracy what they want. "Trust no one" never felt so significant.

It falls apart on closer inspection, but Soft Light is a great episode when it comes to characters, both Mulder and Scully getting some great material (the latter with the in-over-her-head Detective Ryan), while the conceit of the hour is inspired. Also loved the little reference to Eugene Tooms tucked into that one early scene. Nice. Rating B+

Guest stars Tony Shalhoub (Dr. Chester Ray Banton); Kate Twa (Kelly Ryan); Kevin McNulty (Dr. Christopher Davey); Steven Williams (X)
Writer Vince Gilligan Director James Contner

No comments:

Post a Comment