Monday, August 9, 2010

The X-Files: Syzygy (3.13)

I always wonder what happens to the creator/executive producer of a show when a writer suddenly appears and entirely exploits the potential the show has, raising the bar to such an extent that it leaves everything else out in the cold. Was Chris Carter a little intimidated? A little bruised? This is clearly his attempt at a Darin Morgan script, from the wacky supporting characters to the exaggeration of Mulder and Scully's on-screen "personas". But, and it's especially unfortunate considering the episode it followed, Syzygy ends up a mess unsure of which direction to exploit.

The tension between Mulder and Scully made me a little uncomfortable, surprisingly. Gillian Anderson was almost too convincing at the whole "ridiculously pissed-off and tired" thing, while David Duchovny was almost too douche-y. It also didn't help that the vague undercurrent of tension between the two of them has been bubbling under the surface ever since the Nisei/731 two-parter hasn't been as obvious as it was here. Especially coming right after Coprophages, it's far too abrupt to be taken seriously. At the same time, Scully's jealousy over Dr. Bambi last episode was understandable as she a) looked like a porn star, and b) completely gelled with Mulder's personality. She was like a porno, female Fox. Boring, gullible Detective White just didn't justify Mulder's overt interest, and their make-out session (which I'm guessing was caused by the planetary alignment... right?) didn't really work.

Syzygy would have probably worked better as a straight-up horror story. Wendy Benson and Lisa Robin Kelly were suitably convincing as the vacuous blondes slowly becoming more and more disturbed, and I liked the various Carrie-inspired mayhem they caused. Equally fun was the "Loves me-love's me not" teaser and their birthday party antics. An insight into small-town paranoia is another interesting theme to explore, despite having been done to near-perfection only last season on this show.

While Syzygy is a lot of fun, with a couple of memorable scenes and supporting characters (Hey! It's Ryan Reynolds!), it's too flawed to really fit into any genre. Sometimes intentional flirting with various genres can work, but this isn't an example of that. As a first attempt at something a little more daring, then props to Carter, but it's not spectacular. Rating B-

Guest stars Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (Detective Angela White); Wendy Benson (Margi Kleinjan); Lisa Robin Kelly (Terri Roberts); Garry Davey (Bob Spitz)
Writer Chris Carter Director Rob Bowman

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