Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The X-Files: Bad Blood (5.12)

As with so many of the greatest episodes, Bad Blood plays on our own knowledge of Mulder and Scully's relationship, but also reveals additional layers to both of them by depicting what they really think about one another. Most of the episode is the same story being told from their individual perspectives, the humor lying in the subtle differences between them both. Scully remembers the investigation as another wild goose chase, bored out of her mind and struggling to deal with Mulder's elaborate theories about vampires. Mulder's interpretation casts Scully as a tired, negative hag who is constantly picking his theories apart, enters each scene with an annoyed and angry tone, and frequently bursts his supernatural bubble. It's all ridiculously entertaining.

One of the most memorable aspects of both perspectives is in their differing treatment of Luke Wilson's low-key sheriff. Scully paints Sheriff Hartwell as a hunky, flirtatious bachelor, while Mulder's interpretation of the same character involves buck teeth and the intelligent of a house fly. It says so much about Mulder's own love for Scully, immediately condemning anybody he considers a rival for her affections. Obviously Scully doesn't come off great in other parts of his perspective, but the love is undoubtedly there.

Vince Gilligan proves once again that he can consistently write hilarious pastiches of the series, utilizing the familiarity of Mulder and Scully and their archetypal roles to create humor. His script is filled with small moments of beautiful comedy, from Scully's repeated weighing of various body parts to the on-screen correction of the motel's name. And whoever came up with the intestine tumbling out of the weighing bowl is a mad genius, seriously.

The vampire element to the story is also pretty darn wonderful. I loved the idea of the obsessive compulsive disorder that affects every one of them, while the closing scenes with the crowd of vampires crowding around Mulder were almost George Romero-like. Bad Blood is The X-Files in experimental mode once again, with story developments played mostly for laughs but maintaining the beautiful characterization of similarly strong X-Files hours. A masterpiece. A+

Guest stars Mitch Pileggi (A.D. Walter Skinner); Luke Wilson (Sheriff Hartwell); Patrick Renna (Ronnie Strickland)
Writer Vince Gilligan Director Cliff Bole

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