Monday, October 18, 2010

The X-Files: Tunguska (4.8)

I admit that I've reached the point where I'm not ecstatic whenever I realize another conspiracy episode is right around the corner. This is especially true of the Tunguska/Terma two-parter, which I had only heard bad things about. At the center of this episode at least is the resurfacing of Alex Krycek, a character whose purpose eludes me. He's always seemed like somebody written in to the show purely for fan service, being largely vague and angry all of the time. I guess the homoerotic banter and physicality between him and Mulder is fun, but it's clearly the show grasping at straws here.

However, the episode does at least have a decent sense of relentlessness and scope, which both usually save the conspiracy hours. The Black Oil, while on the verge of being tired, can still produce some decent scare moments, especially Scully analyzing the paralyzed doctor who suddenly comes alive. I also appreciated the reappearance of the evocative Holocaust imagery with Mulder imprisoned at the end, the victim of horrifying experiments.

One issue I have with this episode, and the show in general, is its over-reliance on action sequences. Krycek is pummeled repeatedly, we have frantic chase sequences through airports etc etc. I get that this was the '90s, but sometimes less is more. Especially with the Krycek abuse, it's just pretty ridiculous at this point. It doesn't help that the 'punch' sound effects are so awful, too.

A little over-wrought at times but tonally consistent, Tunguska is a decent opener to the two-parter. It's just unfortunate that the mythology of this show has become so distorted that any power episodes like this could have had is pretty much diminished. Rating B-

Guest stars Mitch Pileggi (A.D. Walter Skinner); William B. Davis (The Cigarette-Smoking Man); Nicholas Lea (Alex Krycek); Laurie Holden (Marita Covarrubias); John Neville (The Well-Manicured Man); Brendan Beiser (Agent Pendrell); Fritz Weaver (Senator Albert Sorenson)
Writers Frank Spotnitz, Chris Carter Director Kim Manners

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