Friday, November 19, 2010

The X-Files: Memento Mori (4.14)

The conspiracy episodes are now at a point where they're not merely creating even more problems and conspiracies within existing conspiracies, but are just revisiting past events. Several of the reveals here (the clones, CSM once again holding power over something or someone) are mere remakes of old episodes, and it's disappointing to see a story that could be pretty huge get reduced to the same ol', same ol'. Memento Mori is all over the place, but the conviction of Gillian Anderson's performance undoubtedly saves it from disaster.

She's pretty remarkable here, dealing with her cancer in a variety of believable ways. Her tone when describing to Mulder what the medical diagrams mean has the feeling of a random standalone episode, making you forget that the medical issue is actually affecting her now, and not a one-shot guest star. Equally moving is that wonderful scene where she tells Mulder that 'truth' is now actually in her. David Duchovny is also great here, perfectly capturing Mulder's complete disbelief that something can't be done to save his partner.

The rest of the episode isn't so great. Credited to four writers, Chris Carter's fingerprints are all over the nonsensical, annoying voice-over (which only helps in making Scully appear like a pretentious moron), while the various blind alleys the episode goes down are far too repetitive to be affective. It's reached a point in the show where the twists and double-twists are written as grand and epic, yet have all the dramatic weight of a lead balloon. I was all excited about the cancer arc and the re-visiting of the MUFON women, but I'm not sure I'm ecstatic over the direction the show is clearly taking this particular story now.

Well-directed and universally well-performed, Memento Mori falters everywhere else. Maybe I've just grown tired of the conspiracy/mythology hours. Nothing's moving forward and everything's been done already. Eh. Rating C+

Guest stars Mitch Pileggi (A.D. Walter Skinner); William B. Davis (The Cigarette-Smoking Man); Sheila Larken (Margaret Scully); David Lovgren (Kurt Crawford); Gillian Barber (Penny Northern); Tom Braidwood (Melvin Frohike); Dean Haglund (Richard "Ringo" Langly); Bruce Harwood (John Fitzgerald Byers)
Writers Chris Carter, Vince Gilligan, John Shiban, Frank Spotnitz Director Rob Bowman

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