Yep, this is how I like my X-Files. It might be surprising that in the firmament of contributing writers to the X-Files, one that often shines brightest is only credited for scripting enough episodes that you could count them on one hand. Darin Morgan came to the X-Files writing staff in a way that seems as unlikely as one of his stories. His brother Glen was half of the writing team of Glen Morgan and James Wong, whose combined byline capped off the opening credits of nearly as many early X-Files episodes as Chris Carter himself. Early in the second season, Darin was cast to wear the Flukeman suit in the episode “The Host.” He received his first writing credit for the show in the very next episode “Blood” after helping Glen flesh out a story that just wasn’t quite pulling together (the jury is still out whether it ever did). Before long, Darin had taken the assignment of writing an episode revolving around sideshow freaks. With his “Humbug” script, Darin single-handedly opened up the world of the X-Files to mocking self-awareness and (gasp!) comedy. David Duchovny even said with great affection that he was sure Darin was trying to destroy the show. He followed up season two’s “Humbug” with three more teleplays in the show’s third season. “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” would go on to win Emmy awards for both Morgan (Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series) and titular guest star Peter Boyle (Outstanding Guest Star in a Drama Series). He would continue his streak with the cockroach-infested “War of the Coprophages” and (this writer’s personal favorite) “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’” in which Charles Nelson Reilly narrates a sublimely Rashomon-like accounting of a UFO abduction case. A common element in this handful of episodes was the affectionate way he was able to playfully lampoon the gravitas of the series while simultaneously remaining true to its fundamentals. Without his contribution, it is unlikely there would have been room for later comedic episodes like Vince Gilligan’s excellent “Bad Blood,” “Small Potatoes” (in which Darin Morgan played the role of the episode’s antagonist, incidentally), and “X-Cops,” to name a few. With all the dour seriousness of this show, these standalone comedic episodes were often a much-needed blast of fresh air throughout the series. And that’s exactly where “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” stands. After the rocky first episode and the abject pathos of last week’s “Founder’s Mutation,” it was high time for a romp. I’ll warn you all that this writer is finding it impossible to find anything negative to say about this episode. So I’m just going to damn it all, embrace the love and rave for a bit. Because this was an hour I didn’t want to end. The episode revolves around Mulder and Scully journeying to Oregon in pursuit of a reported monster running around terrorizing a small community. People have been attacked and killed, sightings of some sort of three- or possibly one-eyed lizard creature have been reported, and an X-File is opened. The problem is that Mulder is going through sort of a thing. He is suffering doubt regarding the validity of all his years pursuing the paranormal, considering so much of what he had wanted to believe has since been disproven. Fortunately, he has Scully at his side to remind him that their job is really pretty cool and that he needs to get over it and carpe the damn diem. Their investigation leads Mulder to a hapless were-horny toad and Scully to a new companion. Ultimately, Scully solves the case while Mulder is left standing in the woods with lizard cooties on his hand and a renewed spark of curiosity in his heart. This episode featured a couple of notable guest stars. Rhys Darby, a New Zealand comedian perhaps best known for his role as Bret and Jemaine’s manager Murray Hewitt in the HBO series Flight of the Concords, brings a genuine likability to the monster of this episode. As far as this writer is concerned, Guy Mann the Horny Toad Lizard Man has already been registered in the canon of great X-Files creatures. The other notable guest star is Kumail Nanjiani. Apart from being a working comedic actor and stand-up comedian, since 2014 Nanjiani has hosted a weekly podcast called the X-Files Files, in which he and a guest banter about and discuss episodes of the X-Files. Being such a fan of the show, he jumped at the opportunity to take the role of Pasha the Animal Control Guy with a Secret. Much of the rewarding fun of this hour was the plethora of Easter eggs it had to offer. Starting from the very first moments, the gold paint-huffing stoners were portrayed by actors Tyler Labine and Nicole Parker. They are reprising their characters from the third season episodes “War of the Coprophages” and “Quagmire.” Speaking of recurring supporting actors, Alex Diakun who turned up as the creepy peeper motel manager has appeared in three other X-Files episodes and the second X-Files movie (not to mention twice on the X-Files’ sister show Millennium) in as many different roles. Guy Mann’s purloined human costume is nearly a perfect representation of the ensemble worn by Carl Kolchak on the 70s supernatural series Kolchak: The Night Stalker, which Chris Carter has repeatedly sourced as an inspiration for his creation of the X-Files. In fact, Guy’s Lizard-Man persona bears a stylistic resemblance to some of the creatures that appeared on that short-lived show. His dog’s name, Daggoo, is the same as a character from Moby Dick, just like Scully’s long-lost Pomeranian Queequeg. Some of the other hidden in-jokes were perhaps a little less obvious, yet still cheeky. Nevermind Mulder’s X-Files theme ringtone, what about those red panties? When the motel manager peeks in on Mulder, the agent is sleeping in bright red underpants which look suspiciously like the red Speedos he was wearing in the nigh-unforgettable pool scene in the second-season episode “Duane Barry” when he meets Alex Krychek for the first time. And then there’s Scully’s mention of her own immortality, which is in reference to an odd prediction from Clyde Bruckman back in the third season. Speaking of Bruckman, that episode is the one in which Scully steals a dog from Bruckman’s dead neighbor lady and adopts him as her own, just like her freshly-stolen pup Daggoo. The graveyard scene offered something of a more sobering reference to X-Files of yore. Two names in particular appear on the monuments, those of Jack Hardy and Kim Manners. Hardy served as a First Assistant Director on Millennium and 2008’s X-Files: I Want to Believe feature. Manners directed more than fifty episodes of the X-Files during the run of the series, the most of any director by a wide margin. The dates on his stone are accurate, and the quote “Let’s kick this thing in the ass” is a frequent on-set rallying cry of the director. If I was tied down to an anthill and forced to find a flaw in this episode, it would have to be Scully’s supporting role status. While she did ultimately win the day, there just wasn’t really all that much for her to do, even though her name was in the title just like Mulder’s. I realize that the main point of the episode was to reactivate Mulder’s supernatural mojo, but Scully was really treated like a piece of furniture for much of the episode. Perhaps this was deliberately presented by Morgan to showcase Mulder’s single-minded preoccupation and how he often treats his partner. Maybe there just wasn’t room in the story for any sort of meaningful arc for Dana. Granted, this run of episodes seems to be focused primarily on Mulder and his questionably teetering sanity, so we might find that she is relegated to a sort of Ishmael to Mulder’s Ahab for this miniseries. It will be interesting to look back on this sextet as a whole package. Oftentimes it’s easy to dismiss an episode like this one as a funny, quirky little break from the grind of episodic storytelling with no real bearing on the arching sweep of the series, but that has never really been the case with Darin Morgan’s episodes. As entertaining as they are, as deprecating to the conceits of the series as they purport to be, they serve a purpose of shining a light on the characters of this show from a slightly different angle. The irreverence with which it strips away the sometimes ponderous gravity of the show is done with respect and joyful exuberance. It’s sort of like when Weird Al parodies one of your songs. Unless you’re being a douchebag like Coolio, you consider it to be a rare privilege and savor it. Yes, Darin Morgan might have been trying to destroy the X-Files. But instead, he added a dimension of levity to the series, and it might not have endured nearly as long as it has without it. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.