Thursday, July 22, 2010

The X-Files: Oubliette (3.8)

Oubliette is an episode that I remember vividly from my childhood. Maybe it was the kid getting abducted from her bedroom, or the creepy class photographer responsible? Whatever the reasoning, it stuck in my head for years after. Watching it again, it's not exactly the masterpiece I remembered it being, but it at least featured an intriguing hook which overshadows an unspectacular mystery.

The episode as a whole feels almost too vague, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The supernatural isn't overt, only really hinted at, the guest character at the center of the episode isn't a traditionally sympathetic lady, while Mulder and Scully's involvement is pretty by-the-book. This is an FBI case about a young girl's kidnapping, not a sudden vanishing or anything like that. Like Irresistible last season, Oubliette feels a lot like the show laying the groundwork for Millennium: Subtle sci-fi cross-breeding with real-life horror.

I liked that Mulder's sympathy for Lucy didn't stem from his sister's abduction like Scully thought, but instead from his general sympathy for somebody who has gone through significant trauma. Lucy's apathy could also be responsible for increasing that sympathy, as if Mulder feels he should try harder to get through to her since her unwillingness to help is such a rare thing to find. This development did mean further anger from Scully, however, something seen last week too. I don't know if it's the writers or Gillian herself, but she's been a little shrill and obnoxious lately. As if she couldn't care less about it all. I'm assuming it's Scully's inconsistent denial of the supernatural coming through again, which sucks since I'd figured she'd evolved away from that as a character already.

Oubliette works as both a traditional thriller and as a character-driven drama. It's rarely groundbreaking, but it has a tone which I found pretty absorbing. Gorgeous locations this week, too. And Kaylee! Heh. Rating B-

Guest stars Tracey Ellis (Lucy Householder); Michael Chieffo (Carl Wade); Jewel Staite (Amy Jacobs); Ken Ryan (Walt Eubanks)
Writer Charles Grant Craig Director Kim Manners

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