Despite having only one other script under his belt so far, we're already aware that Darin Morgan is all about subverting expectations. Whether it's the argumentative dwarf in Humbug, or the agents awaiting the arrival of a "spooky" expert on unexplainable murders here, his M.O. is to constantly surprise. Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose as an episode is pretty surprising, as it's not only hysterical, but also profoundly moving.
The actual case of the episode, a series of murders involving psychics, immediately takes a back-seat to a far more interesting storyline. There's undeniably a tragic element to Clyde Bruckman, something Mulder can't understand. Bruckman's entire being has been reduced to facts and figures and statistics and probabilities, and he realizes that life itself is merely a series of coincidences. Where's the joy to be found in life if the end result has already been seen? Mulder unsurprisingly sees the positives to such a gift, whereas Bruckman, who has experienced the abilities himself, sees it only as a curse.
I loved the insight into what makes us individuals. What exactly happened which made the first victim collect dolls? What event transpired that sent her in that direction? What's the route cause of Bruckman's insurance day job? The serial killer of the episode equally struggles with his gift. He's desperate for insight into his homicidal tendencies, and it's only when he actually encounters another person with his ability that he gets the blunt, unexpected answer.
Peter Boyle is perfection in the part. Mulder and Scully are left as mere supporting players as he practically narrates the tale, explaining his own theories and frequently getting lost in the tiny details of his premonitions. At the same time, Scully's gradual turnaround in feelings for the man are heartwarming. To her, Bruckman starts out as yet another wacky phony from yet another FBI case. But, gradually, she begins to see him for the haunted, endearing man that he is, and their conversation together in his hotel room is beautifully acted by both parties.
Darin Morgan's script rises above the almost "constraints" of The X-Files as a series, creating a heartbreaking dissection of free will and human emotions, featuring a spellbinding character and performance at its heart. Genius, man. Rating A+
Guest stars Peter Boyle (Clyde Bruckman); Stu Charno (Puppet)
Writer Darin Morgan Director David Nutter