Sunday, October 3, 2010

The X-Files: The Field Where I Died (4.5)

I have always struggled with this episode. I remember watching it years ago and coming away from it tired, unmoved and a little frustrated that I had just spent an hour watching something so boring. Before watching it again, I assumed that it must have been something wrong with me, and not the episode. It's Morgan & Wong, surely it's gotta be pretty great. In the end, while this episode isn't as bad as I remembered, I'm still not sure it's executed well at all.

The idea of past lives and souls eventually finding each other somewhere down the line is of course pretty intriguing. However, I'm not sure if it totally worked when Scully, Samantha and the Cigarette-Smoking Man all became involved in that particular subplot. It's a lot more effective for Mulder and Melissa to somehow be connected through the centuries, alone. Adding in a variety of X-Files characters weakens the whole thing somehow.

Too little time is spent on the hook of the episode, the doomsday cult themselves, and this too weakens the finale of the episode. If we never even knew the members of the Temple, then why should be expected to necessarily care about their deaths? I also didn't think Kristen Cloke was that great here. Yes, the show asks a lot of her and she's by no means awful, but there's a phoniness to the scenes where she regressed back to that old-man persona, which probably wasn't helped by the static camera being kept on her the entire time. Cut her some slack, editors!

While I can appreciate the ambition of Morgan and Wong, the episode is paced too slowly and some of the plot twists undermine what could have been an intriguing storyline. And what we do have is washed away in a sea of pretentious dialogue and biblical quotage. Eh. Rating C-

Guest stars Mitch Pileggi (A.D. Walter Skinner); Kristen Cloke (Melissa Rydell Ephesian); Michael Massee (Vernon Ephesian)
Writers Glen Morgan, James Wong Director Rob Bowman

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