Friday, September 24, 2010

The X-Files: Unruhe (4.4)

While it does feature the return of the dreaded "Scully kidnapped and tied up" motif that has been resurrected repeatedly over the last three seasons, Unruhe is in fact pretty spectacular. Cribbing together the most successful elements of The Silence of the Lambs and several series classics like Irresistible and Grotesque, this is a wonderfully terrifying exploration into the mind of somebody left so mentally disturbed that he believes his horrific actions are actually beneficial to his victims.

The show continues to reflect Scully's own unease at working cases involving horrifying murders of women. It's unsurprising, but I like that they're keeping that thread going. Her repulsion over the abductions and killings was heartbreaking to watch. Just listen to the horror Gillian Anderson adds to her voice when describing how Schnauz lobotomizes his victims ("He did it wrong"), while her monotonous voice and expressionless face in the closing narrative scene worked so well when paralleled with her recent experience with her abductor. Elsewhere, I also loved her physicality right after Schnauz was killed. Instead of leaping to her feet and hugging Mulder or whatever, she just slowly walked into the sunlight, clearly drained by everything that had happened to her. She's so over getting abducted.

Ideas man Vince Gilligan once again creates an ingenious antagonist for Mulder and Scully. Gerald Schnauz is a terrifying monster, played to disturbed perfection by Pruitt Taylor Vince, latent in his misogynistic agenda and pretty cinematic in terms of his visual quirks (the stilts, the jittery eyeball). Equally memorable were the "thoughtographs" depicted throughout the episode - great art direction there.

One of the more underrated Scully-centric episodes so far, Unruhe is a powerhouse of great performances, Gillian even better than normal, and a terrifying guest role from Taylor Vince. A standalone classic. Rating A

Guest stars Pruitt Taylor Vince (Gerald Schnauz)
Writer Vince Gilligan Director Rob Bowman

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