Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The X-Files: Elegy (4.22)

Scully's skepticism has become more contrived over the years, eventually settling in the position of pure denial. Here, Scully witnesses events that go beyond rational explanation yet continues to refuse to acknowledge it. But while in past episodes her denial reads as crazily annoying, the strength of John Shiban's script forces us to only see sadness. She's so terrified of her own mortality, and can't even consider another life-changing occurrence right now, where she accepts that supernatural phenomena actually exists. Gillian Anderson is stunning here, pushing Scully's denial so far that it is released through anger towards Mulder. Their final scene together is heartbreaking. They're both so terrified of her cancer that they're at each other's throats. It's a horrible, but both inevitable and truthful evolution of the story.

Elegy is an episode of two halves, both excellent. The mystery, while a little derivative (both Roland and Excelsis Dei come to mind), is especially entertaining, featuring some of the strongest images this season, from Scully's discovery of 'she is me' written on the bathroom mirror, to that terrifying teaser shot of the dead girl trapped in the bowling pin mechanism. It's also incredibly involving, keeping the audience guessing as to where the story is going. And while the closer comes a little out of left field, the psychotic nurse is well-played, and it was welcome to see Scully attacked by somebody other than a deranged male. Sure, she's still being attacked a lot, but at least it was a female crazy-person this time.

But it's the character work for Scully that makes the episode so rewarding. It's a lot like a sequel to Leonard Betts, where emphasis isn't just placed on the squicky case, but more importantly on the effect the case has on Scully as a person. One wonderful point here is Scully's fear that her cancer is, of all things, letting down Mulder, a sad but also touching indictment of her character. For an episode so powerful, it's unfortunate Elegy doesn't appear to have more popularity in fan circles. Maybe it got a little lost in the shuffle so close to the end of the season? A

Guest stars Steven M. Porter (Harold Spuller); Alex Bruhanski (Angelo Pintero); Sydney Lassick (Chuck Forsch); Nancy Fish (Nurse Innes); Daniel Kamin (Detective Hudak)
Writer John Shiban Director James Charleston

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