Thursday, March 31, 2011

The X-Files: Chinga (5.10)

By turns both hilarious in its absurdity as well as (dare I say it) kind of boring, Chinga is the work of guest writer Stephen King, arguably the world's most famous living horror novelist. Chris Carter was presumably drafted in to fix up the script, since so much of Chinga's 'killer doll' story is laborious and nonsensical. It is admittedly a lot of fun at times, too, but it's ironic that the real fun is generated not from the murderous doll and the creepy little girl who carries her around everywhere, but instead from the banter between Mulder and Scully, separated by geography and revealing a bucket load about their personalities in the process.

Scully is on vacation, desperate to get away from the supernatural occurrences of her daily life but almost immediately stumbling into eyeball-tearing horror as soon as she pays for her rental car. I like the little bits of growth lately, with Scully begrudgingly becoming more open to the idea of 'extreme possibilities'. This being Scully, however, she's not exactly happy with it (note her sense of abject embarrassment as she suggests the Deputy open up his mind a little), and is still a little too closed-off to even tell Mulder about the events she experienced in Maine. But I love that she's not the denial-prone scientist of yesteryear.

Mulder, surprisingly, has the funniest moments in the episode. Without Scully he's bored, alone and acting like a nerdy teenager. I loved the pencil gag, as well as that awesome moment where we all think he's watching porn, when in fact he really is watching some bee-attack show like he says. I feel that this element of Mulder's character (the mildly annoying but entirely human wackiness) is less a product of the writers and more David Duchovny, who seems to be so effortless with the more out-there gags like Mulder slamming the basketball down on his coffee table repeatedly while on the phone. It's his interpretation of the character at this point, and not so much the crew.

The actual bones of the story are a little flawed and clich├ęd, but still mostly fun. The doll itself is great, with her monotonous reading of sentences like "I want to play" or "Don't play with matches", and the entire final act (culminating in Scully throwing the bitch in the microwave), was pretty badass. But too much of the story feels too ridiculous, while the dead folk-visions are never explained, nor the reason for Polly acting so nutty in the first place.

Chinga is fine, but for an episode written by Stephen King it's slightly disappointing. What makes the episode great are the character moments that feel far too knowing and personal to be King's work, which renders his involvement vaguely pointless. Eh. B-

Guest stars Susannah Hoffmann (Melissa Turner); Larry Musser (Jack Bonsaint); William MacDonald (Deputy Buddy Riggs); Jenny-Lynn Hutcheson (Polly Turner); Henry Beckman (Old Man); Carolyn Tweedle (Jane Froelich)
Writers Stephen King, Chris Carter Director Kim Manners

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