Sunday, March 25, 2012

The X-Files: Roadrunners (8.4)

Ranking up there with Home in terms of grizzly scares, Roadrunners is one of the eeriest episodes in a long while, Scully embracing the classic female horror movie protagonist role as she's pursued and attacked by a group of crazed cult members in the middle of the desert. Vince Gilligan's script is straight out of the genre playbook, with an isolated Scully cut off from the outside world and trapped in an abandoned desert town populated by a collection of vacant eccentrics. The story opens traditionally, before turning into one of the most gory horror shows I've seen.

Scully is spectacular here. Unlike traditional females in horror movies, she quickly realizes that she's stuck in a bad situation, as well as latching onto the fact that the locals appear increasingly determined to keep her around. While she is still forced to experience huge chaos, Scully remains resourceful and take-charge -- very much the tough FBI agent that she naturally is. But one of the most horrible moments is in her initial attack in the barn, where she cries out that she's pregnant. It's such a painful scene, seeing her so desperate and isolated. Gillian is really screaming here, terrorized to the point of real fear. Again it sort of folds into the 'new' Scully, somebody a little colder, but arguably more fearful. She really is alone nowadays (partly of her own making, naturally), and her vulnerability here was particularly difficult to watch.

The cult were obviously intense. There were so many wonderful ideas here, from the burrowing slug monster to the bloody holes at the base of victim's backs. This is true horror genius, with some of the grossest prosthetics ever seen on this show. Sure, the structure of Roadrunners isn't entirely original, but the details are ridiculously powerful, and it's hard not to be scared for Scully. A

Guest stars David Barry Gray (Hank Gulatarski); Lawrence Pressman (Mr. Milsap); Conor O'Farrell (Sheriff Ciolino); William O'Leary (Gas Station Man); Rusty Schwimmer (Female Driver)
Writer Vince Gilligan Director Rod Hardy

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