Saturday, June 4, 2011

Review - The X-Files Season 3 Episode 13 Syzygy / 14 Grotesque


I remember "Syzygy" better than most episodes, and what I remembered of it was that it was a bizarre. Rewatching it, I'd say it is an awkward episode. It's supposed to be one of the funny episodes where it's not too serious and there are things to laugh at. Only I wasn't amused once. The main problem with the episode is how everyone behaves. Mulder and Sculy are quarreling, the two teenage girls are acting weird for no reason, and the townspeople aren't quite right either. I think that's where the bizarre part comes in. People are doing things they aren't supposed to be doing, but without understanding why, it's more weird than funny.

When we do learn the reason why, however, the episode becomes even more problematic. There is a "scientific" reason for this, a certain alignment of planets, which caused people to act differently. With this in mind, I suppose it explains why people are acting differently, but that puts all their actions in a rational framework which probably makes it less funny.

On the plus side, the episode is fairly spooky for a while. Using the lighting to great effect, Rob Bowman captures the potential for wrongdoing in this small town and sets the atmosphere for the episode. At the end of the day, though, "Syzygy" is a very disposable episode. Mulder puts it best, "Sure, fine, whatever."

Score: 8.3/10


Behind the seemingly simple plot of "Grotesque" lies a complex web of ideas. The episode begins without any supernatural elements, Mulder called in to help on the murder. And the episode ends with no clear supernatural elements, as the additional murder turns out to be the one who called in Mulder, his former mentor Prescott. But throughout the episode, Mostow claims there is a gargoyle that possessed him. Indeed, his sculptures encasing bodies are so hideous and frightening that it seems to be a plausible explanation. There is no definitive answer for this in the end, as there rarely is for the X-Files.

Looking at the non-supernatural side of the world, there is another explanation--that the gargoyle, representing the tormented man, is not a supernatural being that posses people but a construct of the mind which drives people mad. That seems to be the best explanation for Prescott who was driven mad after catching Mostow.

Likewise, Mulder falls further and further in the episode, consuming himself in the case and the nature of the evil. Scully finds herself alone and very worried about where Mulder is. Eventually, Mulder comes out of it after catching Prescott. There are lingering concerns, however. If it was the capture of Mostow which drove Prescott to madness, would it be the capture of Prescott that leads Mulder to madness? Above all, David Duchovny again proves himself very capable of portraying the crazed side of Mulder that refuses to let go or be led astray. It's a scary thing when it rears its head.

Score: 9.1/10
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