Thursday, March 10, 2011

The X-Files: The Post-Modern Prometheus (5.5)

This is not only Chris Carter's attempt at a Frankenstein pastiche, but it's also his attempt at writing his very own Darin Morgan episode. Not that we can blame him. For so long his name has been synonymous with monotonous narration and conspiracy junk that it's unsurprising he'd want to branch out and grab some of the spotlight himself. Miraculously, this is a wonderful tour de force of an X-Files hour, creating another small-town of caricatures and stereotypes but wrapped up in a gorgeous black-and-white horror story. And I'm a huge fan of episodes where Scully looks bored out of her mind, and this is certainly one of them.

The importance of Cher to the story could easily have translated as a weak gimmick; however it’s in the monster's identification with her '80s weepy Mask and her love for her deformed son that makes him such a fan. It's interesting to see such sweetness in an episode which is pretty horrifying in terms of subject matter. In general, the horror is covered up by the comedy, with genetic rape and weird allusions to bestiality rendered pretty darn hilarious.

If there's one area of weakness here, it's in the inconsistency of the tone. There are certainly elements that inspire thoughts of classic Universal monster movies, but there are also elements too similar to average X-Files episodes, so we have segments of the same electronic score playing during certain scenes, and Mulder and Scully still debating the nature of the monster via laborious monologues. While the episode is pretty stunning already, it could have been better if Carter had gone all-out in his interpretation of a 1950's monochrome horror movie, played up the silliness instead of drowning it out during certain moments.

The Post-Modern Prometheus is a visually beautiful episode, from the comic book framing device to the Danny Elfman-style score repeated throughout. There's also that stunning ending with Cher singing and Mulder and Scully dancing. I don't know how anybody can see that moment and not be moved in some way. A

Guest stars John O'Hurley (Dr. Francis Pollidori); Pattie Tierce (Shaineh Berkowitz); Stewart Gale (Izzy Berkowitz); Chris Giacoletti (Booger); Chris Owens (Mutato); Dana Grahame (Reporter); Jean-Yves Hammel (Goat Boy); Tracey Bell (Cher); Lloyd Berry (Old Man Pollidori); Miriam Smith (Elizabeth Pollidori); Xantha Radley (Waitress); C. Ernst Harth (Huge Man)
Writer Chris Carter Director Chris Carter

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