Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review - The X-Files Season 4 Episode 15 Kaddish / 16 Unrequited


"Kaddish" is one of The X-Files's better attempts at an ethnic episode. Sure there are the staples--the requisite Holocaust speech from the Jew, the irrational Nazis, and yet another ethnic myth turning out to be true--but the episode doesn't have an overpowering message that threatens to become a cliche at every turn of the episode.

It also helps that the golem is actually pretty interesting. It was formed out of Ariel's dream that her fiance could come back, but the golem ultimately was not human despite its looks. Behind the procedural elements and ethnic touches is a deep love story which went terribly wrong but is righted in the end. It's an unsettling love story, though, as the golem is scary right up until the end of the episode.

Mark Snow proves himself to be awesome once again, incorporating Bach's "Little G minor Fugue" with the usual X-Files instruments during the first synagogue scene.

Score: 8.7/10


Neither "Kaddish" nor "Unrequited" are good episodes (especially following the potent duo of "Never Again" and "Memento Mori"), but the message of "Unrequited" jives so well with the theme of the show and is so striking at times that the episode could have been a great one. Unfortunately, the paranormal aspect of the episode and the plot sink it to a pretty low level.

The idea behind this episode is that there is a former Vietnam POW, presumed to be dead, killing generals who are covering up the fact that there are still POWs in Vietnam or Laos. That the government would stop looking for the POWs and even cover up the story is surely a heinous crime and it resonates with every viewer. This especially means a lot to Skinner who, as we recall, was in the war himself and had some memorable experiences. Mulder learns from Marita that the government is actually setting up Skinner to fail, because they want Teager to carry out the mission and kill those generals so they can't reveal the information.

This is truly some terrible shit that's going on and it's hard not to feel horrified if the stories were actually true. (In all honesty, the POW/MIA stories sound far more credible than alien stories.) It fits nicely with the alien conspiracy--the masked men who stop at nothing to hide their faces and carry out orders from behind the veil, and the parting shot of the flag sums it up well. Teager disappearing is a cool way to show symbolically what happened to him in the eyes of the government and, in turn, the public). He's there, but not really.

Now, the conspiracy and thematic aspect are great, but there's supposed to be more to an episode. The rest is a train wreck, convoluted and disorganized. The whole disappearing ability is hardly explained, but I think it has something to do with Teager affecting people's field of vision so he can hide in their blind spot to kill them. Even then, it's not explained how he does this. And how did he learn to do this? Mulder speculates that the North Vietnamese taught him the technique, which doesn't make much sense. It also doesn't help that the episode moves blindingly slow and, aside from several random detours into militia territory, is very straightforward.

Score: 8.3/10
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