Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The X-Files: Detour (5.4)

It would be unfair to call this episode a total failure, but it is pretty darn disappointing. There are certainly successful elements at work here, but the shadows of the various classic episodes (Darkness Falls, Quagmire) it emulates dents a lot of the intriguing ideas on offer. It's also frustrating that Frank Spotnitz seems to have cribbed almost the entire structure of his script from Quagmire, right down to the third-act 'dialogue moment' between a marooned Mulder and Scully. What's kind of embarrassing about that, however, is how inconsequential it is. Sure, I guess it's fun to see the two of them discuss The Flintstones, but the lightweight quality to what could have been a great little moment only hampers the rest of the episode.

Let's start with the good. I loved the two agents Mulder and Scully were driving with at the beginning, both almost a parallel version of themselves, only not as disenchanted and ironic. It would have been a lot more fun if our protagonists actually attended the team-building seminar and got wrapped up in some investigative hoodoo there, instead of what turned out to be some paint-by-numbers silliness in the woods. At the same time, I liked the provocative flirting between Mulder and Scully throughout Detour, from the sleeping bag discussion to Scully casually entering Mulder's motel room with wine and snacks late at night. It was welcome to see them pretty happy again, since recent weeks have been so drama-heavy.

But outside of the character moments, Detour bombed. It's annoyingly a season one-style episode in which events occur almost entirely by chance (stumbling upon the mystery, getting saved at the end), while Mulder's grand theory about the forest monsters was way too vague and contrived to take seriously. The central idea of the episode is decent, but in execution pretty much failed. C

Guest stars Colleen Flynn (Michele Fazekas); J.C. Wendel (Agent Stonecypher); Scott Burkholder (Agent Kinsley); Anthony Rapp (Jeff Glaser)
Writer Frank Spotnitz Director Brett Dowler

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