The X Files Renewal: Episode 6 Recap and Review

So, I woke up this morning feeling conflicted.

On the one hand, I was sad.  When something epic comes to an end, I always feel that way…

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But I felt confused, too.  I was a loyal fan, and someone had the nerve to just leave me in the dark!

And angry.  When something finishes, I want some satisfaction, dammit…you can’t leave me hanging like that!

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No, I am not not talking about my 2015 football season, as unsatisfactory as that was.  And no, I am not back together with my ex, either!

THE X-FILES: L-R: Gillian Anderson and guest star Annabeth Gish in the “My Struggle II” season finale episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Feb. 22 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

I am actually talking about the season finale for the much anticipated The X Files renewal.  I watched it last night, and I am feeling sad (it’s always sad when things end, at least for someone), confused and yes, even a little angry.  In fact, I just want to give Chris Carter and the rest of the creative team a good, hard shake and ask them, ever so diplomatically, WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?  WHAT THE ACTUAL?  FUCKERS!  FUCK!!!!

Well, the above may be a bit of hyperbole, so maybe keep the f bombs, but lose the cap locks (after, I like to think I am civilized, and don’t resort to the overuse of cap locks to make a point.)  While I did enjoy this episode, and think it does have some merits, I am also feeling conflicted, angry and maybe even a little bit let down after the conclusion of this season.  Alas, I have been an Indianapolis Colts fan for years though, so this feeling is not new to me.

With that being said, here is my review and recap of My Struggle II, the season finale of The X Files renewal.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


 

Synopsis

The episode begins with a voice-over by Dana Scully, detailing her history and her work on the X Files, along with her admiration for her partner, Fox Mulder.  The voice-over ends with Scully mentioning that her genetic material contains what she considers to be alien DNA.

One morning, Scully shows up at the office, only to discover that Mulder is not there.  Mulder’s computer is still there, and indicates that he has been watching one of Tad O’Malley’s podcasts detailing a government conspiracy, and a massive outbreak of a plague that will endanger the entire population.

Scully is worried and meets with Tad O’Malley at Mulder’s house, where there appears to have been a struggle, but no sign of Mulder.  O’Malley had arranged a meeting with Mulder, and also had his DNA tested, learning that his DNA contained alien genetic material.  O’Malley tells Scully that he suspects the entire population was affected, and this may be the start of a global epidemic.

Agent Miller takes over the search for Mulder, and Scully recruits Agent Einstein to help her determine if there will indeed be a global epidemic.  Scully suspects that smallpox vaccines may have been contaminated with alien DNA, which were given to an unsuspecting population in an effort by evil men to destroy the population.  Scully meets Einstein at the hospital, where they notice a young man who appears to be extremely ill and also has a lesion on his upper arm, where he received an anthrax vaccination from the military.  Scully fears that anyone who has received a vaccine for anything will have his/her immune system react to the vaccine and become ill.  Agent Einstein is skeptical, and tells Scully that she is skeptical of her theories.

In the meantime, Agent Miller has tracked Mulder’s phone to Spartanburg, SC, and begins the search for Mulder.

Scully receives a summons from her old friend, former agent Monica Reyes.  Upon meeting with Reyes, Scully learns that Reyes has been working with The Cigarette Smoking Man, who has survived a terrible accident, leaving him with burns on much of his body.  Scully also learns that Reyes has made a deal with her nemesis:  in exchange for helping him, Reyes has also received injects of alien DNA, which will keep her safe from the global pandemic.  Reyes also informs Scully that she is safe as well, because she also has been injected with alien DNA.  Scully is disgusted at Reyes’ actions, and wastes no time telling her so.  Scully also realizes that alien DNA is not attacking peoples’ immune systems, it is actually a Spartan virus that has been passed on to the population via childhood vaccinations, and that she may be able to use her own alien DNA to create a cure for this virus.

Mulder has arrived at the home of the Cigarette Smoking Man, but he is battered, due to a confrontation with a man sent by his nemesis to attack.  Additionally, Mulder has become ill with the plague that is infecting the rest of the population.  However, Mulder still attempts to confront his nemesis and expresses his disgust for his actions.  The Cigarette Smoking Man tells Mulder that mankind is headed for extinction anyway, and Mulder loses consciousness.  Mulder then awakens to Agent Miller, who has saved them.  The Cigarette Smoking Man lets both Mulder and Miller escape, offering no resistance.

At the hospital, Scully and Einstein continue to work on a cure for the global plague, using Scully’s alien DNA as the basis.  Einstein, the nurses and several doctors become ill, but Scully is able to manufacture a cure.  She receives a call from Agent Miller, who tells her that Mulder is in bad shape.  Scully then races to find Miller and Mulder on an extremely congested freeway.

Finally, Scully is able to locate Miller and Mulder on the freeway.  Both men are ill, but Mulder is in particularly bad shape.  Scully realizes that Mulder actually may need stem cells, and tells Miller than in order to obtain those, she will need to locate their son, William.  A spaceship descends from the sky, shining a light on Scully.  The scene then fades to black.


 

My Thoughts

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And on a few different levels, too…

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I did enjoy watching this episode, and I believe that there are some merits to it.  However, something about this episode just didn’t “gel” for me.  Like with the previous episode, Babylon, I felt that I had a jigsaw puzzle in front of me, and some of the pieces were either missing, or I just couldn’t figure out how to put the puzzle together.

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But first, let’s talk about the good in this episode.  Contrary to popular internet opinion, I do believe that I can find some good in this episode.

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I think the best thing about this episode was that it was “Scully-centric.”  I love Scully…who doesn’t love Scully?  Really, who doesn’t love Scully, so I can come to your house and beat you with a wet noodle?

Growing up, I was a nerd, living in a small Midwestern town.  I had aspirations to perhaps go into science, or maybe mathematics.  I always dreamed of being a part of something bigger than myself, and looked to life beyond that Midwestern town.

In other words, I was the outcast.  My social calendar was clear until…oh say…2012 or so.  Being a nerd (and a female one at that) isn’t easy, but someone has to do it, right?

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Well, Scully also did it very well (the female nerd thing, that is).  She “scienced” like there was no tomorrow.  She could kick bad guy ass with the best of them, and all while wearing three inch heels.  And she got Mulder out of jams pretty frequently, and kept him from completely going off the deep end before he lost any shred of credibility.

In other words, Scully gave me (and probably many others like me), someone to look up to and admire.  And that was a breath of fresh air.

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And this episode was indeed very “Scully-centric”, even right from the beginning.  Mulder was MIA, and Scully was left to try and save the day.  Scully got to use her smarts to come up with a solution to save the world.  Again, Scully had to go save Mulder’s butt.  Scully even got to do the intro this time, so we could get her POV of the time she has spent on the X Files, along with the reminder of how much she has had to sacrifice, all in the name of Mulder’s quest for truth.

I also loved how Scully’s DNA was the likely savior of the human race, and how this fact is probably linked to a certain memorable episode where some crazy guy says that Scully is “immortal.”  Well, Scully’s DNA is (presumably) injected into the rest of the human race to save it.  And if that is not immortality, I don’t know what is.  Scully living on in everybody?  Hmmm, I think I like that!

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Another thing I liked about this episode was the reappearance of one of the most iconic onscreen villains of all time…

Yes, the Cigarette Smoking Man.  The CSM is a bad ass.  Well, actually, given some of his actions, he is probably just an ass.  Regardless, he is still iconic.  And awesome.  And missed, at least by me.  So seeing him was a breath smoky, stale air.

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So some things worked in this episode.  However, not everything, or even most things worked for this episode.  So let’s talk about it, and since we are civilized, we will refrain from using the caps lock button this time.

And speaking of the caps lock key, this episode contained more than its fair share of some really off-the cuff, wacko, fringe ideas.  I know that I was watching a show basically dedicated to off the cuff, wacko, fringe ideas (after all, cases don’t earn that X for nothing) but c’mon, man!  Chem trails?  Anti vaxxer sentiments?  Microwave radiation?  Again, c’mon, man!  Give me something I can actually buy, like Flukeman!  I think even Mulder was rolling his eyes at all this…

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Scully turning into Ms. Ranty-pants and babbling about conspiracies and vaccines being the doom to us all?  Did the writers forget some essential facets of Scully’s character, like the fact that she is a scientist and would probably encourage parents to vaccinate their kids?  And I can’t even say that Mulder would have bought any of that either.  He has an open mind, but not so open that his brain would fall out…

As stated before, I liked the fact that the Cigarette Smoking Man was a player in this episode.  But again, things didn’t add up.  Why would Reyes sell her soul to him, so she could spend her life handing him cigarettes to smoke through his traech (and there is another disgusting image I can’t un-see, Freud would be proud for the creative team on that one).  That confrontation with Mulder made no sense, either.  And Mulder went out with a whimper, instead of a bang, against the nemesis who has been plaguing him since day one.  A bit of a punk ass ending, for sure.

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Oh, and speaking of endings…

WHAT.  THE.  FUCK.

Yeah, I know, I broke my own promise, but I couldn’t help it.  So I apologize for the use of the caps lock.  I just can’t help myself, that’s all.

I am trying to figure out if the ending was just lame, or open-ended.  For the sake of the show, I am hoping for the latter, so we get more episodes.  I felt like the creative team realized that they only had 45 minutes, so oh damn, gotta end this, after we have built all this tension.  So damn the luck, guess we will have to beg Fox Network for another season.  Who gives a shit if we piss off the viewers?  While we are at it, let’s tease about Mulder and Scully’s son William AGAIN, but only mention his name and give no more information, and then cut to a black screen.  So the viewers will never get any closure on that (I mean, William has only been mentioned in every episode this season, and there appears to have been a build-up to something).  And the viewers will never know if Scully’s efforts were successful, and the human race was saved, or if the aliens won out anyway.  So yes, hard to tell if we are looking at lazy or open-ended, in terms of that ending…

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Torture.  Definite torture.  Chris Carter and the creative team did not get the memo that torture was supposedly outlawed by the Geneva Convention…


 

So, there you have.  Many of us wondered if this would ever happen.  But it did.  We were reunited with our favorite onscreen duo. Although the reunion was brief, it was still sweet.  And fun.  And frustrating, at least at times.  But one thing it never was:  dull.  So I say goodbye, at least for now.  And maybe I can hope for another sweet reunion with Mulder, Scully, Skinner and the rest of the gang.  Actually, I am not saying goodbye, since I don’t like the finality of that word.  But I will say, “see you guys later.”  And maybe I will.

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11/22/63: Episode 2 Recap and Review

As a child, one of my favorite shows was Quantum Leap (yes, the nerd is strong in this one).

Every week, I would tune in and watch my hero, Sam Beckett (another Hoosier who also loved physics?  Hot!) travel back in time, and avert some kind of tragedy or make better decisions to change the past.  Sometimes, we got a two-for-one special, where Sam averted tragedy, and made someone (or even multiple someones’) life or lives better in the process.

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Sure, it wasn’t always easy, and Sam frequently stumbled into road blocks.  And often there was a twist:  Sam thought he was there to do a particular thing, but Al and Ziggy would argue with him otherwise and push him into doing his “assignment.”  Or Sam would have to take a detour, which would be necessary to accomplish his “assignment.”  However, Sam would eventually be drawn back to his “assignment”, even when things were not as they seemed…

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So yes, time travel was often a difficult thing.  That pesky past that does not want to be changed…

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And our hero, Jake Epping, was reminded again of that fact in last night’s episode of 11/22/63.  In fact, I was reminded of Sam Beckett and his adventures fairly often when I watched this episode.  However, I was also reminded fairly frequently that I was, in fact, watching something has been adapted from a book written by the man considered to be the master of modern horror…

So, Stephen King along with one of my favorite childhood television shows?  Where do I sign up for that?!

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Right, I did renew that Hulu subscription…whew!

So, without any further ado, here is my recap and review of the second episode of 11/22/63, titled The Kill Floor.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


 

Synopsis

The episode begins with a young Harry Dunning, who is chased by bullies into the woods, on October 29th, 1960.  The bullies steal Harry’s pants, so Harry heads to the neighborhood drugstore, where he stashes a spare pair of shorts with his friend the pharmacist.  At the drugstore, Harry encounters Jake, who is reminded of his mission to save Harry and his family from his murderous father, Frank Dunning.

Jake asks the pharmacist about renting a room in town for a few days, and is referred to Mr. and Mrs. Price.  Mrs. Price does not trust Jake, but rents the room to him anyway, demanding a week’s payment in advance.  With the words of Harry’s essay echoing in his head, Jake heads to the local bar in the hopes of meeting Frank Dunning.

When Jake arrives at the bar, he speaks to the bartender, a young man named Bill, and inquires about Frank Dunning.  Bill immediately becomes uncomfortable at the mention of Frank, and does not appear to believe Jake’s cover story that he is in town to write a book.  Jake’s wish is granted, however, when Frank and a group of his friends arrive at the bar.  Frank is charming and charismatic, and appears to befriend Jake.  After spending some time drinking with Jake, Frank invites him to visit the local slaughterhouse, so that Jake can prove that he is “one of them.”

After arriving at the slaughterhouse, Frank demands that Jake slaughter one of the cows with a mallet.  Jake refuses, so Frank slaughters the animal without a second thought.  Jake begins to realize that his mission of stopping Frank from murdering his family will not be easy.

The next day, Jake visits the Dunning house, and tells Frank’s wife Doris that she and her family have won an all expenses paid Halloween vacation, in the hopes that he can prevent tragedy.

That night, Jake eats dinner with the Prices and makes some small talk.  However, Mr. Price opens up to Jake, telling him about his experiences as a soldier in World War II. where he was awarded a bronze star after killing a young man.  Mr. Price tells Jake that his actions were not heroic, despite the fact that he earned a medal.

Jake’s conversation with the Prices is interrupted by the arrival of Frank, who tells Jake that he wants to make up for his treatment of him the previous night.  Frank takes Jake to his butcher shop, where his badly beaten wife emerges. It turns out that Frank has beaten his wife for accepting the “vacation” given to her by Jake.  Frank tells Jake to not interfere in his marriage, and also badly beats Jake.  This makes Jake all the more determined to stop Frank, and he makes a last minute purchase of a gun.

Again, Jake is reminded that the past does not want to be changed, as he suffers a suspicious round of food poisoning later that night.  Al’s notes state that his cancer was a consequence of his attempts to change the past.  However, Jake awakens the next morning, determined to go forward on his mission and stop Frank Dunning.

Jake stakes out the Dunning house, but runs into Bill the bartender.  Bill tells Jake that he has it in for Frank Dunning, as he thinks Frank murdered his sister and her baby 12 years ago, but was never brought to justice.  Jake confesses that he has time-traveled from the future and that he knows that Frank will murder the Dunning family, but Bill is suspicious, as the murders were supposed to occur at 8 PM.  It is now 8:05 PM and the Dunning family is still alive.  Jake realizes that Frank used the back door, and hears Mrs. Dunning’s screams.  Jake runs in to the house in an attempt to save the Dunning family.

When he is inside the house, Jake tells the young Harry to hide inside his bedroom.  Frank tells Jake that he should not be there, and Jake shoots him.  However, this only further enrages Frank, who wrestles Jake to the ground.  Mrs. Dunning runs, but Harry makes an appearance.  Frank yells at his son to give him back his hammer, which he was going to use as a murder weapon.  Franks demands that his son give him back the murder weapon, but Harry runs downstairs with it instead.  Frank lunges after his son, and Jake strangles him with a piece of rope from behind, killing him, sparing the lives of the rest of the Dunning family.  Bill also appears at the foot of the stairs, witnessing the death of Frank Dunning.

Jake walks out of the Dunning house and returns to the Price’s house.  Mrs. Price asks Jake if she needs to call the sheriff.  Jake tells her that he did not do anything wrong.  Mrs. Price responds, telling him that only God can judge.  Jake then proceeds to drive out of town.

While driving away, Jake is bothered by the blood on his hands.  He stops to wash his at a street-side faucet and reminds himself that Harry and the rest of the Dunning family are still alive.  Jake then turns around, and encounters Bill the bartender, who holds up a newspaper clipping from 1963.  Bill demands to know what is going on, and ushers Jake into his vehicle at gunpoint.


 

My Thoughts

Again, if you don’t have a Hulu subscription, get one…the first two episodes alone of 11/22/63 are worth it!

But of first of all, I am remiss…

I don’t even think that I can blame the fact that tax season is frying my brain for this one…

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Derp.  Derp derp.  Derp derp derp.  Derp…well, you get the point!

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No, I did not recognize Bevvie from the levy er Annette O’Toole in this episode.  I only saw her name on the ending credits.  Talk about out of left field…

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So nice one, Mr. Abrams and Uncle Stevie and whoever else was involved in this…I never saw that coming!

And of course, for us Constant Constant Readers, this was a great Easter egg…

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As many who are reading this know, part of the novel takes place in Derry, Maine.  Derry is a hotbed of strange activity of the Stephen King universe, and several books are placed in Derry.  And perhaps the most famous of all the Derry books would be It.

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Yes, the novel about your friendly neighborhood homicidal clown connects to a book about time travel, nostalgia for an era lost, Vietnam and all that other good stuff!

In the novel 11/22/63, Jake actually meets Richie Tozier and Beverly Marsh, who are two of the main characters from It.  And all of King’s work is connected (this is a well known secret), but I think that this is perhaps one of his best connections.  Somehow, the homicidal clown in the sewers gets a tie-in to the guy going back in time trying to prevent the Vietnam War, and it all makes sense…now how cool is that?

Of course, I had a funny feeling that this tidbit would not make it into the mini series, given the fact that written material has a different “face” onscreen, if you will.  But we were given the next best thing:  the actress from a mini series that was pivotal in my origin story as a Stephen King fan had a part in this mini series.  And yes, this made sense too!  Way to feel a chill up my spine, just like the chill I felt when I read that part in the novel.

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And the use of the word “rube”…nice way to refer to Dr. Sleep, along with working in your son’s novel as well!

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So let’s talk about the visual component to 11/22/63 for a moment.

Well, more than a moment, as they deserve a little more time, since they are so great.

One aspect of the visual component of 11/22/63 that deserves some attention is the town of Holden, KY.  As I stated before, this part of the story takes place in Derry, Maine in the book.  And Derry is creepy, as any King fan will tell you.  Jake even talks of this in the book, noting that he felt quite unsettled during his time in Derry.  And I felt unsettled when shown the town of Holden, KY in the mini series.  I am sure that said friendly, neighborhood homicidal clown probably has the rights to Derry, so we had to change the location to Holden, KY.  However, the change was in name only.  I felt the same creepy vibe when I watched the mini series and wanted to warn Jake to stay away from storm drains, as a matter of fact.  So perhaps the mini series has created a Twinner of sorts to Derry…

One of my main concerns in regards to the adaptation of 11/22/63 was the portrayal of the time period, aka the early 1960’s.  King paints such a vivid picture in the book of this time period, as seen through the eyes of Jake, who was born in 1976.  And so far, the mini series is doing the same, and we see it in everything from Jake’s clothes (oh, that hat!), the cars, the neighborhood drugstore, the wallpaper in the Price’s house, to the TV dinners and even the books shown on display at the drugstore (The Flash and Batman…swoon).  The care and detail in this portrayal is just amazing, and I love it.

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Another part of the visual component I like about the 11/22/63 is the near constant reminder that we are watching something based on the work of Stephen King, aka America’s Boogeyman.  11/22/63 is not a horror story, and doesn’t really come across that way at all, but it does have its share of creepy moments.  The flies hovering around the dead animal carcass are one example (gross much?).  The use of red light when Jake is worshiping the porcelain goddess is another.  We even had someone show up in a creepy, old school bunny rabbit costume.  I don’t know how much, if any, say that good old Uncle Stevie had in all of this, but I am sure that it has his seal approval…I know that it has mine!

 

This mini series also makes good use of foreshadowing.  Foreshadowing is used A LOT by the Master, but that does not always translate well to the big screen (which is why some of his work loses its punch when translated into movie or television format).  However, this show is doing a fairly nice job of using foreshadowing.  In this episode, I was struck in particular by the tale of war that Mr. Price confessed to Jake.  First of all, this was great foreshadowing for what Jake would have to do:  kill someone so that he may save others.  I liked the implication that although killing may appear brave to others who were not in the trenches (aka Mrs. Price, who cannot figure out why her husband does not want to display his war medals), that is not always the case, and in fact the act of killing can be a cowardly thing, no matter what the circumstances or motivations behind the killing.  Also, 11/22/63 is a book that makes a statement on war, and just what, if anything, can be done to prevent it, along with the consequences of going to war, and even the consequences of not going to war.  So it seems to me that the show is setting all of this up with Mr. Price’s tale of war, although we shall see in the future episodes.

(Oh, and the M*A*S*H reference…nice one, guys!)

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And let’s talk about the bad guy…

Well, he may play a relatively small role (what I call a “major minor character”) but Franking Dunning is hugely important to the story.  For one, see the part about the foreshadowing. It seems that Frank is the warm-up for the “main” bad guy, aka Oswald. For two, Frank Dunning is a bad dude.  A really bad dude.  There are plenty of those in King universe, and Frank is just in a long line.  However, Frank stands out a little bit, because of the fact that he is not a main character, but still manages to have a huge influence in the overall story.

And in portraying Frank Dunning, Mr. Fergie er Josh Duhamel has pulled out a performance that I did not know he had up his sleeve…Mr. Fergie is not one to be trifled with!

Frank Dunning is handsome, charismatic and psychotic.  Naturally, Duhamel does not have a problem with that first part, but he also nailed the other two parts.  I know I would cross to the other side of the street if I saw him walking around town. James Franco looked the same way in most of their scenes together…the chemistry between those two was fantastic, and they played off of one another very well.  In fact, I am a little sad that Frank is now dead and we won’t get to see Franco and Duhamel together, although I do have the appearance of Oswald to look forward to.

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So that’s it for The Kill Floor.  Will the show continue to deliver?  Has Jake changed his mind about the past, or has it been changed for him?  Join me next week to find out, when we review and dissect episode 3, Other Voices, Other Rooms.  And maybe make some new friends in the meantime…

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Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

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Ghostly Love: My Review of Bag of Bones

As anyone who knows me will tell you:  I am not much of a “girly girl.”

In fact, I could almost be mistaken for “one of the guys”  (although hopefully this does not happen too often, due to certain “assets” that I possess).

NFL: Denver Broncos at Indianapolis Colts

I am rude and crude at times.  I love to watch football and scream copious of amounts of profanity  and cheer for my team.  I laugh at bodily functions.  I make dirty jokes.  After all, I can’t help that both penises and vaginas are still hilarious even after my nearly 38 years on Earth!

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Of course, the non-girly tendency extends to my taste in books, movies and television.  As a rule, I don’t “do” chic lit.  I prefer fantasy and horror, although I like to think my repertoire is vast.

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As for movies and TV, I generally consider them a waste unless at least one person is getting blown up.  Bonus for fiery car crash scenes.  And they have to be quotable, too.  More bonuses for clever usage of the word “fuck”, which happens to be among my favorite words, actually.

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But, there are always exceptions to the rule.  Every once in a while, I feel “girly” and decide that a good, ugly cry may be cathartic, after all.

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And my soul is not completely black, I like to think that there is a little bit of color hidden in all that darkness.  In other words, I do enjoy romance, at least a little bit.

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So who do I turn to when I need a dose of chic lit?

You guessed it…The Master himself!  Again, this blog, you being surprised…I won’t even get into it any more!

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Yep, it turns out that old Uncle Stevie can write romance really well…is there anything The Master can’t do?  Well, maybe interpretive dance, but don’t feel bad, Sai King, I kind of suck at that myself, actually!

Many of King’s books actually contain some great romances.  These include Wizard and Glass, It, 11/22/63 and quite a few others.  As I have stated many times before, King is much more than just “America’s Boogeyman.”  He includes that element of reality in his stories that take them from good to unforgettable.  And romance is a part of everyone’s life.  After all, even cold-blooded killers can fall in love and get their hearts broken, just like the rest of us.

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The novel Bag of Bones is on the list of books written by King that do justice to romance.  On the one hand, it is “classic” chic lit.  We have a widower.  We have a single mom.  There is a cute kid.  And a mean old guy trying to ruin the lives of said single mom and cute kid, until the widower steps in and offers his help, falling in love with the single mom and cute kid in the process.  But on the other hand, it is classic King.  There are ghosts.  Lots and lots of ghosts.  Senseless deaths.  A mystery that needs to be unraveled soon, or someone (well, make that several someones) will be in grave danger.  The best of both worlds, in other words.

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So a spooky ghost story that also has some “feelsies”?  Well, it’s been awhile since I had any catharsis, so sign me up!  Time to take another journey into one of my favorite King novels, so buckle up for the ride!

As always:

Homer spoiler


 

Synopsis

The story is told from the perspective of Mike Noonan, who is a moderately successful novelist living in the town of Derry, Maine.  The book begins in tragedy:  Mike’s wife Jo dies in a drugstore parking lot of a brain aneurysm. Even more tragically, Mike finds out that Jo was about seven weeks pregnant with the couple’s first child when she died.  Mike spends the next four years in a haze of grief, unable to write.  Any time Mike tries to write again, he becomes physically ill.  Mike also begins to dream of the couple’s summer home, Sara Laughs.  Even though he has not spent very much time in the home since the death of his wife, Mike decides that he will spend a few months in the home, with the hopes that the change in scenery will help him overcome the writer’s block that he is suffering.

Almost as soon as Mike arrives at his summer home, he senses a ghostly presence.  The ghostly presence indicates that it may or may not be his late wife, Jo.  Mike also makes the acquaintance of Mattie Devore, one of the residents of small town.  Mattie is a fan Mike’s work.  Mike rescues Mattie’s daughter Kyra, who has wandered onto the highway while Mike is driving.  This spells trouble for Mattie, as she is a widow engaged in a custody battle with her rich father-in-law, Max Devore.  Almost immediately, Mike receives a harassing phone call from Max Devore, and is summoned to appear in a court deposition in regards to custody of Kyra Devore.  Mike also meets Rogette Whitmore, Max Devore’s personal assistant, and George Footman, a local sheriff’s deputy who also works for Devore on the side.  It is clear that Mike has made an enemy of the old man, and he becomes angered at the old man’s  harassment of Mattie and Kyra Devore.

Mike also begins to realize that he is not alone in Sara Laughs.  He continues to sense a ghostly presence, and also realizes that his wife Jo had made a few visits to Sara Laughs before her death without Mike’s knowledge.  Jo was also seen in the company of an unknown male, and Mike begins to wonder if Jo had been having an affair.  Mike also begins to receive messages from someone or something in regards to Mattie and Kyra, begging him to help Maddie with her custody battle.  Mike then hires a lawyer named John Storrow to represent Mattie in her custody battle.  Mattie is grateful, and promises that she will do anything she can to repay Mike.  Mike also begins to fall in love with Mattie, and has a strange dream that includes Mattie, his late wife Jo, and Sarah Tidwell, a blues singer who inhabited the land now occupied by Mike back in the 1900’s.  Mike grows curious in regards to the history of his house, and begins to conduct his own research.

Shortly after arriving at his summer home, Mike is able to write again, and begins work on a new novel, hoping that the writer’s block is permanently gone.

Mike also receives a visit at his home from Max Devore and his assistant Rogette, and the visit is not a friendly one.  Mike is attacked by Rogette, and nearly drowns in Darkscore Lake.  However, he receives some help from the ghost of his wife Jo, and manages to survive the encounter.  Mike also receives a visit from Richard Osgood, another hired gun employed by Maxwell Devore.  Osgood serves Mike with a letter asking him to drop the custody case for Kyra Devore, and Devore will do the same.  The letter also taunts Mike in regards to his previous encounter with Devore and Rogette.  Mike speaks to Rogette on the phone, and tells her that he will fight back if either her or Max Devore tries to attack him again. Mike also receives a distressed phone call from Mattie, who has lost her job at the library due to the actions of Max Devore.

The next day, Mike receives a call from his caretaker, Bill Dean.  Bill tells him that Max Devore passed away the previous night, supposedly committing suicide by drowning himself in the bathtub.  Mike meets with Mattie and Kyra, and shares a kiss with Mattie.  Mattie plans a party to celebrate the fact that she no longer has to worry about the custody case, and invites Mike and the lawyers he hired.  Mattie also tells Mike that there have been some strange things going on in her house, namely magnetic letters that spell out messages and the names of people, including Mike’s deceased wife.  Mattie gives Mike one of the messages, but he is not sure what it means, other than the fact that it may pertain to one of his crossword puzzles.

That evening, Mike speaks to Jo’s brother, Frank.  Mike learns that Jo had been doing research on Sara Laughs, and had perhaps stumbled onto something in regards to the house and Mike’s family history.  Frank confesses that he met Jo at Dark Score Lake, and that Jo was not having an affair.  Frank also tells Mike that Jo stated that she would never return to Sara Laughs, and that she would tell Mike her secret when she was ready.

That night, Mike has what he believes to be a dream where he visits the Fryeburg Fair in the 1920’s.  Kyra Devore also joins him the dream, and the dream is extremely vivid, causing Mike to believe that he has actually traveled back in time.  Mike and Kyra see Sara Tidwell perform with her band, The Red Tops.  Sara is wearing a dress that belongs to Mattie, and clearly has evil designs directed towards Kyra.  Mike and Kyra also encounter people who appear to be the ancestors of some of the people in town, including one man named Jared Devore, who is likely related to Max Devore.  Mike is able to escape the past through a fun house, with the help of Kyra.  After Mike arrives safely at his house, he hears someone screaming, and thinks it to be the ghost of Jo.

Mike speaks to Mattie, and tells her that she may still be in danger, although Mattie is extremely happy because she got her job at the library back.  Mike talks to several of the people in town, and learns that several children who has names that sound similar (Carla, Kerry and even Kia, his unborn daughter), have died mysteriously over the years, and that this likely has something to do with Sarah Tidwell, her brother Reg and his son Kito.  In the process, Mike loses the services of his caretaker and housekeeper, who become upset when he begins asking questions.  Mattie’s lawyer, John Storrow, also speaks to Mike and informs that Mattie has inherited 80 million dollars from Max Devore.  The only catch is that she must remain in town for at least one year after his death.  Mike continues to sense a presence in his house.  He hears a child crying, and figures that must be Kito.  He also encounters the ghost of Sara Tidwell in his bed.  Mattie and Kyra also sense a supernatural presence in their home, and Kyra’s magnetic alphabet letters mysteriously vanish.

A crossword puzzle book finally provides Mike some more clues in regards to Sarah Tidwell and the history of the town.  When he looks in the phone book, Mike sees many names that are similar, especially in the families that have lived in town for some time.  Mike begins to fear that Kyra is in danger, as her name is is one of the similar ones.

Mike meets John Storrow at the airport, and he, John and the rest of the team that assisted on Mattie’s case meet at her house for a celebration.  However, the celebration comes to a tragic end, as it is interrupted by gunfire from George Kennedy, one of Max Devore’s hired hands.  John Storrow is wounded in the firefight, and Mattie is killed almost instantly.

Mike calls the authorities, and flees to Sara Laughs with Kyra, comforting her the best that he can.  However, Mike is nearly overcome by another force that almost compels him to drown Kyra in the bathtub.  Mike is then distracted by the ghost of his wife Jo.  He realizes that he has been inadvertently writing clues in the novel he was writing.  One of those clues indicates that Mike needs to looks under Jo’s old studio for two plaster owls.  Mike heads to the studio, unsure of what he will find.

When Mike arrives in the studio, he struggles with the ghost of Sara Tidwell.  With the help of Jo’s ghost, he finds the plaster owls.  Mike finds several newspaper clippings in regards to Sara Tidwell and her band, the Red Tops.  Mike also finds several newspaper articles showing the deaths of children, all of whom have similar names to Kyra’s, and has a vision of the father of his caretaker Bill drowning Bill’s twin sister Carla.  Mike realizes that the ancestors of the townspeople had done something horrible to Sarah Tidwell, and that he is also descended from one of those men.  Mike also vows to keep Kyra safe, and put the ghosts to rest once and for all.

The ghosts of Sara Laughs then tell the story of what happened to Sara Tidwell.  Sara and her band the Red Tops had settled in Dark Score Lake and called it home.  Most of the townspeople had no objection to their presence, even though they were black and this was turn of the century Maine.  However, Jared Devore, an ancestor of Max Devore and a small group of his friends did object to the presence of black people in their town, especially a black woman with Sara’s personality.  One afternoon, Jared and his friends confront Sara as she is walking along the lake.  Sara laughs at Jared, and is gang raped for her actions and then murdered to keep her from talking to the authorities.  Sara’s son Kito also witnesses the rape and murder of his mother, and the men drown him to keep him from talking to the authorities.  Mike then destroys the remains of Sara Tidwell, putting her spirit to rest.

However, all is not well.  Mike finds out that Rogette Whitmore has tried to kidnap Kyra, and he must rescue Kyra.  With the help of the ghost of Mattie, Mike is able to do that, although Rogette is killed in the process.  Mike realizes that Rogette was not just Devore’s assistant but also his daughter and Kyra’s aunt.

The book ends with Mike telling the story to Jo’s brother Frank, when he and Kyra spend Christmas with Frank.  Mike has retired from writing, and it attempting to get custody of Kyra.  The process is slow, but the now recovered John Storrow tells Mike that the odds are likely in his favor.


My Thoughts

One of Stephen King’s strengths  is that he can write “real-life horror” extremely well.  He has demonstrated this in books like The Shining, It and Pet Sematary.  Sure, ghosts, vampires, zombies, etc are terrifying, but anything having to reality can be even more terrifying (i.e. domestic abuse, alcoholism, the death of a child and so forth).

redrum

And King also does this really well with Bag of Bones.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some scary ghosts in this book, and I give them their due.  But the scariest parts to me had almost absolutely nothing to do with anything supernatural.

For instance, the part where Mike is chased into the lake by Rogette and Maxwell Devore…shudder!  If I had to pick a way to die, drowning would NOT get my vote, the idea just scares me to death (no pun intended).  King’s description of the torture that Mike goes through is just brutal, and definitely can make someone re-think the idea of swimming by his or herself.

Another brutal scene in the book is the one that details the rape and murder of Sara Tidwell.  When I first read the book, I always saw Sara Tidwell’s ghost as somewhat sympathetic, even before I read this scene.  But she got my full sympathy when I read this scene, no questions asked.  This is another brutal scene.  She is gang raped, in front of her son.  And then murdered, along with her son, so that they will both stay quiet.  The fact that the rape and murders are racially motivated makes them that much sadder.  The fact that no one was brought to justice because the victims were African American also makes it sad.  I do not excuse Sara Tidwell for killing generations of kids, and coming thisclose to killing another one, but who could blame her?  The kind of pain that she endured is just not something can be erased.  Covered up, perhaps, but again, that kind of pain does not stay buried, and is something that will be felt for a long, long time.

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Another thing I loved about Bag of Bones was…you guessed it…the portrayal of the small town!

small towns 1

Yes, Sai King writes the small town extremely well, and Bag of Bones is just one example of that.  It was a fascinating look at how the town in question created the ghost, and just how far the locals will go to protect their own and attempt to keep that secret.  Small towns may appear to be idyllic, but they often hide an ugly side.  And it doesn’t take a lot for that ugly side to surface.  No one is safe from that ugly side, no matter who their parents, grandparents or great uncles are and no matter how strong their ties are to the town.

bag of bones 4

As stated before, Bag of Bones is a great love story.  Actually, there is more than one love story in Bag of Bones.  The first one is Mike and Jo’s love story.  The amount of detail King puts into their relationship is tremendous.  I liked how I really got to know Mike and Jo as a couple, and all the little things about their marriage:  how they would celebrate with a glass of champagne after Mike finished writing a book, how it was always Jo who suggested that they visit Sara Laughs for a bit, how Mike ate the chocolate bunny Jo had bought before she died, feeling like that was his last connection to her, the code that they would speak (Bunter’s bell, heehee), and how easily one can almost take this for granted, and then have it taken away, for really no good reason.  Ok, excuse me while I go plant one on my awesome husband!

But I also loved the relationship between Mattie and Mike, even though it was brief and never consummated.  No what your views on parenthood are, there is something enduring and even sexy when a man can take care of a kid (or a dog or cat for that matter, they count as kids).  If I were in Mattie’s place, I would have been smitten too:  good with kids, easy on the eyes and smart.  You can’t ask for much more than that!

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Another thing I loved about this book was the tie-in to Herman Melville.  Now this is where King shows that he is much, much more than a writer of horror (although us Constant Readers knew that already).  One of the criticisms that I hear A LOT about King is that he is not literary enough, whatever that means (not sure how many books one has to sell to cross over from being “literary” to being the “literary equivalent of a Big Mac and fries” though).  And to those people, I say this:  read Bag of Bones, fucker!

Bartleby the Scrivener is considered to be a literary classic.  And here we have Bag of Bones, written by the man who is considered by many to be the master of modern horror.  The book is a Gothic ghost story, set in a small Maine town, and deals with topics such as racism and rape, along with the trials of single parenthood.  You would not think that we can insert a literary classic into the fold and have it work.  But it does, and it fits in perfectly with the ghosts, the small town and all the serious topics that this book deals with.

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The theme of Bartelby is the premise that our jobs keep us “tethered” to this world, if you will.  And this is very true.  One of the first questions that people ask when they meet someone is usually in regards to employment.  We have “career day” when we are in school.  “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  is a question that children are asked all the time (for the record, I am still mentally about 12 years old and have not grown up and am somehow trapped in the body of someone who is almost 38. At this rate, I will have an answer to that question in another 38 years or so).  So work is a big part of most of our lives.

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And, as Mike mentions in the book, marriage is a book part of most of our lives too, especially for men.  Take away one or the other, and one starts to become “un-tethered.”  And I think this goes for both men and women:  I have endured both divorce and job loss (thankfully not at the same time), and there were times when I thought I might just drift away, into the wind, metaphorically speaking.

However, our hero, Mike Noonan, actually loses both.  First he loses his wife, Jo.  Then he is unable to write, so he loses his job.  Like his characters, and Bartleby, he essentially becomes “a bag of bones”, and begins to wonder why he exists and what his purpose is.  Like Bartleby, he nearly exits this world, becoming a ghost of sorts.  Ironically, it the ghosts that save Mike and give him sort of substance.  He can write again (although that is more of a trick of the ghosts).   He has a purpose, in helping Mattie and Kyra.  He may find love again with Mattie (although that hope is cruelly dashed).  And even at the end of the book, after enduring unspeakable tragedy, Mike realizes that he is more than “a bag of bones”, even though he is without his work and without a partner in life.  However, Kyra gives Mike’s life a purpose, and he can no longer write off his life because he “prefers not to.”  The responsibility for Kyra provides substance for Mike, and he can no longer exist as a ghost.

bag of bones 2


Well, that’s it for Bag of Bones, aka chic lit from the master of modern horror.  Join me next month, as I review and dissect a book that has some personal meaning for me, and is just a great story:  Rose Madder. Oh, and we may take a detour and visit the world of our friendly neighborhood gunslinger while we are at it!

Tune in next month:  same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin


 

Connections

Here we go again.  Just for fun, here are some of the connections that I found to King’s other work in Bag of Bones:

Bag of Bones partially takes place in the city of Derry, Maine.  Derry is the location for several other works of Stephen King, including It, Dreamcatcher and Insomnia.

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-Mikes encounters a man named Ralph Roberts.  Ralph Roberts is the main character in the book Insomnia.

atropos

-Mike also mentions knowing someone by the name of Thad Beaumont.  Thad Beaumont is the main character in the book The Dark Half.  We also find out that Thad commits suicide not long after the events in The Dark Half.

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-Norris Ridgewick makes an appearance at the end of Bag of Bones.  Norris is a character in the book Needful Things.  Mike also inquires after Polly Chalmers and Alan Pangborn, who are also characters in Needful Things, and learns that they have moved to New Hampshire.

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-Kyra and Mike travel back in time to the Fryeburg Fair.  Roland sees a sign for the Fryeburg Fair in the final Dark Tower book.  Kyra and Mike could also be considered to have gone todash, which is a state of altered consciousness that allows one to travel through space and time, as experienced by Roland and his friends in the book The Wolves of the Calla.

South Park wolf

-In the final book of the Dark Tower series, the character of Stephen King owns a house called Cara Laughs.  This house may a Twinner to Sara Laughs, as strange things also happen at Cara Laughs.

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The X Files Renewal: Episode 5 Recap and Review

Sometimes, you just feel like this:

Hurr

Like after talking to your ex-husband for any length of time, for example.

Or maybe watching the oxymoron known as MTV.  Well, an oxymoron if you are like me and remember just exactly what the M stood for (hint:  it wasn’t teenagers getting knocked up).

straight outta tp

Or it could be as recently as last night, when you plopped down on the couch, after a long, thrilling day at work in the tax resolution industry (trust me, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds), ready to watch your favorite duo tackle whatever the monster of the week is this week, along with the added humor, a few well-placed Easter eggs and so forth.

Well, when I tuned into The X Files this week, I did not get what I expected.  Instead, the offering was a little different this week.  Not that this is bad, but it was similar to trying a new food, and that food is so new that you have to come up with names for the new flavors that you experienced.  Sometimes, there is no name for those new flavors, and you are just at a loss for words.

So, I got introduced to a new flavor last night.  And I am not sure how to feel about that.  With that being said, here is my recap and review of Babylon, the fifth episode in The X Files renewal.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler

 


Synopsis

The episode begins with a young Muslim man named Shiraz, who lives in Texas, saying a prayer.  The young man eats a snack and leaves his house, heading to an undisclosed location. Shiraz then pulls into a motel parking lot, where he is greeted by other young, Muslim men.  The men then head to an art gallery, and it becomes clear that they are “suicide bombers.”  They are successful in their mission and bomb the art gallery, presumably causing the deaths of themselves and several patrons.

We are then introduced to agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, who are discussing some cases of unexplained phenomena in Mulder’s office.  They are interrupted by a visit from special agents Miller and Einstein, who are assigned to investigate the bombing of the art gallery.  Agent Miller wants to speak to Mulder, as Shiraz is now in a vegetative state and near death, and he has heard that Mulder may be able to communicate with the man, due to Mulder’s experience in dealing with the paranormal. Miller and Einstein feel that Shiraz and his friends did not act alone, and may be part of a larger terrorist group. Mulder tells him that he does not, and Miller hands him his business card, telling Mulder to call him if has any leads, while expressing an admiration for Mulder’s work.  Agent Einstein is skeptical, attempting to debunk her partner’s “wild” theories.

While at the airport, Agent Einstein receives a call from Mulder.  Mulder tells her that he thinks that he may have a way to communicate with Shiraz, but does not want to involve Scully, who is still grieving the death of her mother.  It turns out that Mulder wants Einstein to administer him “magic mushrooms.” so that he may try to communicate with Shiraz on a different plane of existence.  Einstein is initially skeptical, but later agrees to the experiment.

In the meantime, Agent Scully contacts Agent Miller, telling him that she also wants to try to communicate with Shiraz.  However, Scully wants to use science to possibly elicit yes/no responses from Shiraz, using an electro-encephalogram.  Scully meets Miller at Shiraz’s hospital room.  She and Miller run into several road-blocks, including a Homeland Security team that tries to take the case from them, and a racist, paranoid nurse who attempts to speed up Shiraz’s death. They are unsuccessful in communicating with Shiraz, but are at least able to protect him from the racist nurse.

Mulder has finally convinced Einstein to administer the “magic mushrooms” and experiences a series of vivid hallucinations, which include encounters with his boss, Walter Skinner, and the deceased Lone Gunmen.  The hallucination concludes with an encounter with Shiraz, who whispers a few words into Mulder’s ear.  However, Mulder does not understand the words, because they are spoken in Arabic.  Mulder awakens at the hospital and is chastised by both Skinner and Einstein.  He also learns that the pills he ingested were not actual hallucinogens, but were placebos instead.

Mulder, Scully, Einstein and Miller re-convene in Shiraz’s hospital room and provide each other with a recap of what has happened so far.  A woman then enters the room and Mulder recognizes her from his hallucination:  she is Shiraz’s mother, and wishes to visit her dying son.

Upon seeing Shiraz’s mother, Mulder then remembers the words that Shiraz uttered to him in his vision.  Miller, who has spent some time in Iraq, is able to translate these words as “Babylon Hotel.”  This turns out to the name of an actual hotel.  The FBI raids this hotel, finding the group of terrorists that Shiraz was a part of, and makes several arrests, preventing another large-scale terrorist act.

At the end of the episode, Agent Einstein has loosened up a bit, and is more willing to entertain the possibility of the paranormal.  Scully visits Mulder at his house, and the two walk hand-in-hand on his property, discussing what religion means to various people, and just what God is, if He even exists.  Mulder looks up at the sky, and hears the sound of trumpets.


My Thoughts

Hurr?

As I said before, I am not sure how to feel about this episode.  Yes, there was good in it (it’s The X Files, how can it not be good?)  But there was also some parts that just baffled me.  I feel like I have a jig saw puzzle, and the finished product should look awesome, but I failed it putting the pieces together correctly, so now it just looks like a jumbled mess…

However, let’s talk about what I did like about this episode, as I actually found a found things to like.  One of those things that I liked was the humor.  This episode had a quite a bit of that, and it was much needed.  For example, Scully’s answer to the knock on the door:  No one here but the FBI’s most unwanted!  And telling Mulder that she was waiting 23 years to say that.  And also telling Mulder that it felt awesome to finally say that…loved it!

And speaking of humor, let’s talk about Mulder in this episode for a minute…

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Mulder is quite the trip (see what I did there), to say the least, and especially in this episode.  And he would appear to have some interesting musical tastes as well.

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I was kind of expecting Mulder to boot, scoot and boogie, actually.  Oh the 90’s, in your ridiculous, mullet haircut, so bad it’s good catchy country music tunes and fashions that were the thing back in the day but now we would not be caught leaving the house in that get-up unless it’s Halloween, right along with your ridiculous country line dancing…oh, those were the days!

Mulder’s niacin induced trip was certainly the high point of the episode.  Really, I may have to pay a visit to my neighborhood dealer er GNC and see if someone can hook me up, although I do have one small request:  Tim McGraw or Garth Brooks, please…nothing wrong with Billy Ray or Trace Adkins, however my tastes in country music tend to be a little less achy breaky and badonkadonk, and more in low places.  And if I can dance half as well as Mulder did, then that will be some good niacin right there!

I also have to give more props:

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Yep, more Easter eggs…one of my favorites of the season, as a matter of fact!

easter eggs 1

Well, we have talked about the good of this episode.  Now let’s get to the ugly, or confusing at the very least.

Now, anyone not living under a rock (and probably those living under a rock too, Wifi is everywhere now, it seems) has heard about the so-called War on Terror.  Yes, terrorism: The Word of Today, much like communism was The Word of Today when my parents were young pups.

Naturally, terrorism and terrorists have made their way into pop culture.  After all, we have shows like The West Wing and Homeland.  And often, we can just turn on the local news, and get our fill of terrorism, in the form of a school shooting or attack on unsuspecting people who were out to enjoy themselves in some public place.  In other words, there is no escaping The Word of Today, either via the news, social media or unfortunately, live and in person.

So of course, The X Files had to say something about this.  Although what was the show trying to say about terrorism?  Was it really trying to say anything about it?  Insert the confusion right here.

At the start of the episode, we have the guy who obviously practices Islam saying a prayer and then heading out.  He gets harassed by the locals and meets up with his friends.  And I was thinking, please don’t be a terrorist, please don’t be a terrorist, please don’t be a terrorist.  Well, those hopes were dashed about 30 seconds later when an art gallery (of all places) is targeted for attack.  In fact, I actually felt like I watching something on Fox News.  That feeling was heightened when the racist nurse tries to kill Shiraz but is deterred by Agent Einstein.  And the look on Agent Einstein’s face when she has to listen to the nurse…yes, most people who do not watch Fox News probably get that look on their faces when they are stuck listening to that nonsense for more than all of five seconds.  So glad Fox network recognizes that fact and was able to bring it to our attention!

I felt that this episode could have made a statement about terrorism (like the Muslims didn’t do it, it was actually the town locals who harassed Shiraz and framed the Muslims, maybe), but really, no statement was made.  We did hear a tired cliche:  basically, the Muslims are at it, and we better thank our lucky stars that we have the heroes in the FBI protecting us (although Mulder and Scully are still my heroes and I love them immensely).  In other words, a bit of lazy storytelling that even The X Files is prone to at times.

And we have Agents Miller and Einstein.

X Files Baylon 3 X Files Babylon 6

So just what am I supposed to do with these guys?  Hope that Mulder and Scully pass the torch on to a new generation?  Be proud of Mulder and Scully for giving birth to such great spiritual children?  Maybe hope for a new TV show called Trading Partners, where FBI agents trade partners for a day and gain great insight about themselves, and maybe end up with an amazing home makeover in the process?  So yeah, insert more confusion right here as well.

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And the ending to this one.  It is interesting, I will give you that.  Again, is the torch being passed on to Miller and Einstein, where they will investigate cases “outside the norm” and earn the ridicule of their colleagues?  Or will they just be assigned to that boring terrorism task force?

And is the ‘ship back?  Mulder and Scully HELD HANDS!  *swoon*  They walked hand in hand across Mulder’s property and had an intimate conversation about religion, the meaning of life and all that jazz.  But Mulder hears trumpets…what does that mean?  Is it just after effects of some especially potent niacin?  Or is something more sinister in store?  Or does it just mean that even the higher powers think the ‘ship is meant to be?

X Files Babylon 2


Well, that’s it for Babylon.  It definitely was not Home Again, or the masterpiece known as Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster, but, for better or for worse, it is now part of the canon.  And a certainly memorable part, at that.  Join me next week for the recap and review of the renewal finale, My Struggle II.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

 

11/22/63: Episode 1 Recap and Review

So who here has ever wanted to travel back in time, and try to change the past for whatever reason?

*raises hand slowly*

Yes, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I have fantasized about traveling back to the past.  Giving past me a warning about her taste in men would be a top priority (geez, you would think my first marriage was right out of a Stephen King book or something).  Appreciating the good cartoons that you had to get up really early for on Saturday morning for would also be a top priority.

But even if we have the ability to travel back in time and try to change the past, should we exercise that power?  It worked out for Marty McFly in the end, but would it work out for mere mortals like me?  As painful as that first marriage was for me, my life may actually not be the awesomeness it is today (my ex still is, and always will be, King Douchey McDoucherson of Doucheville in the state of perpetual douche, however) if I did not have the experience of that marriage.  I probably would not have moved to South Carolina, where I happened to find a job in the tax resolution industry, aka my chosen career.  I would not have been able to open my home to the true thing of evil, aka a blue heeler puppy whose government name is actually Duncan.  Most importantly, I would not have met my husband, the co-parent to the thing of evil, my partner in crime, my lucky 13, the love of my life.  So as difficult as the past was, I would be afraid to change it, as I may come back to the present, and find it all jacked up, with the town bully in charge, even (per Back to the Future Part 2 Marty McFly).

candy bar pie 010

Apparently, when The Master is not writing about child-killing clowns, proms gone wrong, rabid dogs and other things to haunt my nightmares, he thinks about time-travel.  And he decided to write a book about the subject, possibly because he was bored one afternoon…

Stephen King

Yes, Stephen King has written a book about time travel.  Yes, he can take on almost any topic, and write a compelling book about it.  No, he is not just a writer of scary stories…oh the horror (see what I did there)?

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The name of this book is 11/22/63, and it centers around a school teacher named Jake Epping, who travels back in time to attempt to make a major change in history:  prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Jake was born 1976 and, like yours truly, had only an academic sense of a major historical event that shaped a generation (i.e., the generation of King and my own parents).  However, Jake learns that the past does not want to be changed, and that nearly everything he does has an effect on those he meets.  Try as he may, Jake is unable to keep his distance from the people he meets, and the relationships he forms have an effect on his mission to thwart Oswald.

card-1963

Many consider this to be the best King book ever written, and rightfully so.  So, I heard last year that it would become a Hulu mini series.  All of a sudden, I had a reason to reactivate that account.  And for the past four months or so, I have been muttering, at random, “Please be good.  Please be good. Please be good.”  After all, JJ Abrams, Stephen King and James Franco…could that combination ever be bad?

Well, the tentative answer is probably not.  In fact, this combination is shaping up to be pretty good.  And it’s pretty early still, but this combination may even be great.  I don’t want to jinx it, but I am seeing something there.  And I really like what I see, although only time will tell.

So, without any further ado, here is my recap and review of 11/22/63, episode 1.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode begins with schoolteacher Jake Epping, who resides in Lisbon, Maine, listening to one of the students in his adult education classes read an essay about an event that transpired on Halloween 1960.  The student, Harry Dunning, was attacked by his psychotic father.  Harry’s father killed his mother, sister and two brothers, while also injuring Harry.  This event has been traumatic for Harry, affecting his life in every way imaginable.  Jake applauds Harry’s essay, and agrees to write a recommendation for Harry so that he may obtain a promotion at his current job.

After class, Jake heads to Al’s Diner, where he meets with his friend Al, the owner of the diner.  Jake’s soon to be ex-wife Christy arrives, and Al excuses himself and heads to the back of the diner.  Jake briefly chats with Christy, and signs their divorce papers.  Christy leaves the diner, wishing Jake the best.  Al reappears a few minutes later, but is literally a changed man.  Al tells Jake that he has cancer, and looks to be dying, instead of the picture of health that he appeared to be when Jake first walked into the diner.  Jake helps Al home, and Al promises to give Jake an explanation the next day.

The next day, Jake teaches his high school English class, and tries to impart the importance of seemingly small events in history to his students.  However, most of his students are not paying attention, and one is distracted by a video of a dancing parrot on his cell phone.  The student promises to send Jake the video at the end of class.

Jake meets Al at the diner after class.  Al takes Jake back to a closet in the back of his diner, and has Jake walk through it.  Jake is skeptical until he is not longer in the closet and appears to have stepped back in time.  Al confirms that Jake indeed has stepped back in time to October 21st, 1960.  Jake appears to be invisible to most of the people he sees in this particular moment in time, although a strange looking man with a yellow card in his hat repeatedly tells him that he “should not be here.”

Al tells Jake the rules for what he calls “the rabbit hole”: every trip through the closet leads back to exact same moment on October 21st, 1960; no matter how long one stays in 1960, the time in the present will only be 2 minutes later upon return;  and going through the door will always erase what was done on previous trips to the past.

Al then proposes a trip to the past for Jake, so that Jake may accomplish what he could not:  preventing the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  Al believes that the past can be changed, although this is difficult (Al’s sudden cancer diagnosis being an example of the past “pushing back”).  Al believes that if Kennedy had lived, the Vietnam War would have been prevented, and fewer lives lost. Al also wants Jake to find out if Oswald also attempted to assassinate Edwin Walker, as the same kind of rifle was used in the assassination attempt on Walker and the killing of John F. Kennedy. Jake is skeptical, and argues with Al.  He then leaves to attend the graduation ceremony of his adult education students (Harry Dunning is included in this group).  Jake then learns from another school employee that Al will not be getting the promotion, and changes his mind about traveling to the past.

Jake returns to Al’s home the next day, and finds that the man passed away during the night.  Jake then gathers all Al’s notes in regards to Kennedy, the money Al left him and some fake identification (his new name is Jake Amberson), and returns to the diner.  He steps through Al’s “rabbit-hole”, and returns to 1960.

When Jake enters the past, he immediately gives himself a makeover of sorts, which includes a haircut, a shave and a new suit.  Jake also purchases a yellow convertible, and places an improbable bet on a sporting event at the local dive bar.  Jake wins the bet, but brings some unwanted attention upon himself.  Later that night, a man is sent to the hotel Jake is staying at to rough Jake up and discourage him from placing any more bets.  Jake is able to distract the man with his modern cell phone, and flees town.  While he is fleeing, Jake catches another glimpse of the mysterious “Yellow Card Man”, who again tells him that he does not belong there.  Jake throws his cell phone into the river, permanently cutting off his ties to his own era.

Jake then travels across the country, heading to Dallas, Texas.  While he is traveling, he is reminded that life in 1960 was not great for everyone, as he encounters segregated restrooms and is reminded of the deplorable conditions that existed for many.

While scouting Dallas, Jake meets a pretty blonde by the name of Sadie Clayton.  Sadie is a fellow book lover, and nearly leaves her pocketbook behind on the bench she was sitting on when she was talking to Jake.  However, Sadie is married, so Jake sees her on her way.

Jake rents a room in a boarding house recommended to him by Al.  He meets the owner’s son, who tells Jake that he intends on enlisting in the military when he is old enough and serving his country (and will likely die in Vietnam).  Jake attempts to contact his father in Chicago, but is again reminded that the past pushes back:  he gets nothing but static on the pay phone, along with a car that careens through the phone booth, killing the driver almost instantly.  Before she dies, the driver of the car tells Jake that he does not belong there.

Although he is badly shaken after he witnesses the car accident, Jake continues on his mission to prevent the assassination of Kennedy.  More specifically, he spies on a man named George de Mohrenschildt, who may have ties to the CIA.  Jake follows de Mohrenschildt to a CIA ralley and attempts to sneak into the event.  However, Jake is caught by security, and winds up in a room that is literally a dead end, teeming with roaches and red lights, and the space-time continuum appears to be breaking down.  Jake is then escorted out of the building by the security guards, and is again reminded that he does not belong there.

That night, Jake follows de Mohrenschildt to an upscale restaurant, and learns that de Mohrenschildt does indeed have ties to the CIA.  However, Jake is nearly burned on his arm and barely escapes a collapsing ceiling, reminders of the past “pushing back.”  When he returns home, the reminder is even more gruesome, as his boarding house has caught on fire, destroying all of Al’s notes.  Even worse, the son of the owner is burned alive and perishes in the fire.  Jake feels responsible for the death, and decides to head back to Maine and return to the present, before he causes any more damage to innocent people.

However, Jake makes a stop in Humboldt, KY on his way home, with the intention of preventing Harry Dunning’s crazed father from killing Harry’s family.


 

My Thoughts

Before anything else, let’s talk about the elephant in the room…

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Yes, the dreaded part of any book that is adapted to film…

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The Changes.

Yes, The Changes.  You know, when your character is wearing blue sneakers in the book, and the movie changed them to brown penny loafers…just what was wrong with the sneakers, Hollywood?  Sneakers are beautiful too, why do they need to be changed to meet your standards of shoe?

In other words, I am aware of some major changes to the details of the book.  Do they bother me?  Well, my inner book douche is extremely bothered by them, but I will have to keep her busy with noting the kind of shoes each character wells.  That should be a project to shut her up for a bit…

I am actually ok with the changes made to the story.  11/22/63 is a novel that consists of a lot of internal Jake dialogue.  Internal Jake dialogue makes for a fascinating book, but does not translate very well to the screen.  Movies and television consist of interactions between characters, so it is understandable that adjustments need to be made, much to the chagrin of book douches.

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However flexible I may be about adaptations, there are a few things that I am looking for in any adaptation of 11/22/63:

 

  1.  Jake’s effect on the past.
  2. The past’s effect on Jake (i.e. the people he meets, the places he visits, etc).
  3. Jake and Sadie’s relationship, which is one of the sweetest, enduring and heartbreaking relationships in any book.
  4. The character of Jake himself.  Jake has built up walls (intentionally or not), and is a man who obviously feels, but has a hard time conveying to others how he feels (we get the feeling that this may be why he is divorced).
  5. How obsessive Jake becomes in his attempt to change the past, no matter what the consequences may be.
  6. The time period Jake visits itself.  I want to see 1960-1963 in all its splendor, along with its darkness.

It’s still early to make a complete evaluation, but if I were Jake Epping and grading this, I would definitely give this a solid B.  In other words, above average, but there is still room for improvement in order for it to reach its full potential (nope, didn’t ever hear that one growing up.  not at all).

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In regards to the first item on my list, I would say that 11/22/63 is doing fairly well.  In fact, it may be doing a little too well, as the phrase “you shouldn’t be here’ is tossed around like it’s going out of style.  However, the visual representations of “you shouldn’t be here” are fantastic, in my opinion.  For one, there is the Yellow Card Man.  The producers and writers did a great job of transferring an enigmatic (on a good day!) character from the book to the screen, and making him a major player in the film.  I also loved the scene where Jake gets trapped in what appears to be a sub-sub basement room, and is immediately accosted by cockroaches under a bright red light.  This scene in particular (especially with the use of the color red) served to remind us that we are watching a visual representation of a book written by the man who many consider to be the inventor of modern horror.

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Like I said before, it is still early.  However, I am beginning to see bits and pieces of 2-5, even in the first episode.  We may only being seeing glimpses right now, but I enjoyed those glimpses immensely.  Jake’s interaction with his ex-wife Christy was brief, and his interaction with Sandy was also brief, but in watching those interactions, the show gave us some insight into who Jake is:  he may appear cold on the outside, but inside there is actually feeling and maybe even a little bit of passion.  Jake’s applause for his student Harry Dunning (another fine acting job on what I call a “major minor character”) when Harry obtains his GED also demonstrates that Jake is capable of caring, even if he doesn’t always communicate that to those he cares about (see part on why he is divorced).  Even in the first episode, we can see that the past is starting to have its effect on Jake, from the way he enjoys a piece of homemade apple pie (nothing can replace real butter.  NOTHING!), to his decision to head back to Maine, realizing that his presence is a danger to innocent people, to his decision to make a quick “pit stop” on his way back to Maine so that he may help his friend have a better life.  So far, so good.

I will say this much:  number 6.  As in, the mini series is doing really well in portraying the 1960’s, in both its glory and dark side.  The scene where Jake steps through the “rabbit-hole” back into 1960 is simply stunning.  There were the cars and the kids playing ball.  The milk truck was actually my favorite part of that scene.  There is just something about the truck itself and the shattering milk bottles that almost feels like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting, but also has an ominous feel to it.  Speaking of ominous, I also loved the scene where Jake finds the “colored restroom.”  This scene is powerful in the book, and powerful in the mini series as well.  It serves to remind that the 1960’s may have appeared idyllic, but were actually anything but that to many people.  History is not something that is objective, but something that can be influenced by mere observation.

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Oh, and as if I didn’t need more reminders that I was watching something based on a Stephen King book…

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Yes, I caught them.  Jake making the innocuous (well, not really) statement that he was Kennedy’s number one fan…uh huh…

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And the mention of Castle Rock made me squee a bit too.  Although I really hope Jake doesn’t get an urge to go shopping there…

Needful things 2


 

So that’s it for The Rabbit Hole.  Join me next week for the review and dissection of The Kill Floor, where we see Jake take on a formidable foe:  Mr.  Fergie er Josh Duhamel as Frank Dunning!

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

 

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The X Files Renewal: Episode 4 Recap and Review

Well, it happened.

It happens to the best of us, but that doesn’t mean it happens to me, right?  Right?  RIGHT?!

But it did happen, and I may as well admit it.  So here goes nothing:

My name is Leah McLaughlin, and I got trolled.

Whew, I feel a little better now.  And I’m among friends, so it’s cool, right?

It’s also cool because of who did the trolling…

internet troll 4

Nope, not him!  He’s a dildo anyway…

Fat-Green-Troll

No, I was trolled by none other than Chris Carter!

Yes, THAT Chris Carter…the creator!  Of one of my favorite shows, anyway.

Mulder and Scully 3

Let me explain, then.  I heard there was an episode titled Home Again, and that it would air as one of the episodes of The X Files renewal this year.

Of course, you can imagine where my mind (and probably a lot of other minds, great minds think alike, I hear) went:

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So I was excited.  Not only was I was to get a reunion with the hottest duo on TV, I was going to get a reunion with those lovable miscreants known as the Peacock family.  Had they managed to continue their family tree?  Well, not actually a family tree, unless maybe we are talking about a tree with no branches and one that is really more of a straight line.  Did they still have it in for Mulder and Scully?  Oh, the suspense!

Well, that dream got killed pretty quickly.  So now when I wake up at 3 AM and need something to wonder about, I can still think about this warm and loving family, along with the origins of the universe and whether or not penguins have knees.

But it’s ok, I ain’t mad, bro!  For one thing, it’s Chris Carter.  So I can easily forgive that.  And what I got instead of a good old fashioned family fun was actually a pretty good stand-in.  An excellent stand-in, as a matter of fact.  So no complaints here!

So, without any further ado, here is my recap and review of Home Again.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode begins with a man named Joseph Cutler who works for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development instructing the Philadelphia fire department to rid the streets of the city’s homeless population by blasting them with a firehouse.  Cutler literally washes his hands of the deed, and returns to his office.  A garbage truck then pulls up, and a tall shadowy figure climbs out of the truck.  The figure walks into Culter’s office, and Cutler senses its presence right away via his sense of smell.  Cutler attempts to shoot the creature, but the creature is immune to bullets.  The creature rips Cutler’s arms off and also decapitates him.  The creature then returns to the garbage truck with Cutler’s arms, and the truck rolls away from the scene.

Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully investigate the crime scene the next day, finding Cutler’s head in a waste paper basket.  However, Scully is forced to take leave, as she receives a call from her brother, William Jr, with the news that her mother has suffered a heart attack which may be fatal.  For a moment, Scully believes the call to be from her and Mulder’s son William, who was placed for adoption as an infant.

Mulder remains at the scene, and notices a graffiti stencil on a building across the street that was not there when he viewed the previous night’s surveillance footage.  A bloody footprint that lacks any identifying skin print and a band aid containing some material that is neither organic nor inorganic are also found on the scene.  The surveillance footage failed to actually record the murder, as the power was out in the building at the time of the murder.  When he walks the streets of the surrounding area, Mulder also meets a man and a woman who are bickering.  The man is named Darryl Landry, and he had been working with Culter to develop a 10 story apartment building in downtown Philadelphia, which would have forced the homeless population to relocate to a hospital turned shelter in nearby Bucks County.  The woman is named Nancy Huff.  She appears to motivated out of genuine concern for the homeless population, but really just does not want them anywhere near the high school that is two blocks away.  A homeless man lurking in a nearby dumpster tells Mulder than the Band-Aid Nose Man is the voice for the homeless (and presumably the killer).

In the meantime, Scully visits her mother, Margaret, in the hospital.  Scully is heart-broken to learn that Margaret has asked for her estranged son Charlie, instead of her or her brother William.  Scully is also devastated to learn that Margaret has changed her living will, indicating that she does not want to be placed on life-support indefinitely.  Scully also takes a look at the possessions her mother had on her when she entered the hospital, and finds out that Margaret was wearing a quarter on a silver chain.  Scully wonders just what secrets that her mother kept from her and the rest of the family.

Mulder arrives at the hospital, interrupting his work on the case, to offer his support to Scully.  Scully’s brother Charlie calls and speaks to Margaret via speaker-phone.  Margaret briefly regains consciousness, and tells Mulder that her son is also named William.  Margaret then slips back in a coma and subsequently passes away.  Scully is devastated, but insists on returning to work with Mulder.

The killer struck again in Mulder’s absence, killing a pair of hustlers who stole the billboard with the stencil.  Margaret Huff is also murdered by the same shadowy figure who murdered Cutler.  Mulder sees a man purchasing the particular brand of spray paint used on the stencil, and follow the man to a basement in a dilapidated tenement.

In the tenement, Mulder and Scully meet the man who claims to be responsible for the creation of The Band-Aid Nose Man.  He tells the agent that he trying to be the voice for the homeless, as no one else cares about their plight, and just ignores the issue, in the hopes that it will go away.  The man believes that his graffiti and wax sculptures have taken on a life of their own, and that if he doesn’t look them in the eye, they will leave him alone.  Scully tells the man that he is responsible, as he is the creator and therefore the problem originates with him.

Mulder and Scully realize that the Band-Aid Nose Man has one last target:  Darryl Landry.  However, they are powerless to stop the killer, who kills Landry and several other employees of the hospital turned shelter in Bucks County.  The artist flees the tenement, replacing his wax sculpture of the Band-Aid Nose Man with a happy face.  However, the stencil of the Band-Aid Nose Man watches him flee, implying that he may not be safe after all.

Mulder and Scully scatter Margaret’s ashes into the ocean.  Scully understands why Margaret wanted to speak to Charlie:  she felt he was her responsibility and wanted to make sure she was safe before she passed away.  Scully also believes that Margaret mentioned her and Mulder’s son William to make sure that he was safe as well.  Scully wonders about William, questioning whether he is secure and happy, even though she feels that she and Mulder treated him like trash, in much the same way that the city of Philadelphia treated its homeless population, and embraces Mulder for comfort.


 

My Thoughts

Well, I will say this much:  The X Files is all over the place.  And this has been evident with this renewal.  One week, I’m crying from laughter.  And the next week, I’m just crying…what a ride!  Never a dull moment when I am in the company of Mulder and Scully!

THE X-FILES: L-R: Mitch Pileggi, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and William B. Davis. The next mind-bending chapter of THE X-FILES debuts with a special two-night event beginning Sunday, Jan. 24 (10:00-11:00 PM ET/7:00-8:00 PM PT), following the NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, and continuing with its time period premiere on Monday, Jan. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT). ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Frank Ockenfels/FOX

While Home Again did have a bit of humor, and quite a few Easter eggs, its tone was in sharp contrast to last week’s Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.  Chris Carter and co. were not fooling around with this one and meant business!

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Now, I am going to classify this episode as a Monster of the Week episode.  Yes, this episode did have a monster, and an intriguing one at (more on this later).  But there was so much more to this episode.  Actually, there was almost too much packed into this episode, but Mr. Carter and co. pulled it off, if barely.

One of my favorite things about this episode was the fact that it was Scully-centric.  Like the monster, Mulder did have his place (again, more on that later), but here’s to Scully power!

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Scully has been seen, and rightfully so at times, as the cold, somewhat calculating scientist, who is able to pick apart things and put them under the microscope, all while keeping Mulder in line.  However, Scully is human just like the rest of us, and this episode did a wonderful of showing that side to her.  I also loved the fact that Scully realizes that she is human as well, and shows her vulnerability to Mulder, all while they are hunting down the monster of the week.

This episode also raised some interesting issues on the right to die with dignity, and making those final choices, along with the effect that those choices may have on those we love (i.e. Scully’s perplexity over her mother’s decision to amend her living will).  I also loved the fact that this episode dealt with someone’s final moments, even right down to his/her possessions that they bring with them on what turns on to be their final hospital visit.  When someone you love passes on, it can be the smallest of things that brings you close to him/her (i.e. the necklace with the quarter worn by Margaret), giving you something to tether you to him/her.  However, those last moments can sometimes come with more questions than the answers we so desperately seek (Margaret’s request to speak to her estranged son), making the grief that much more poignant.

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And the ‘ship made an appearance!  Who knew the words “I’m here” could make me swoon like that?  Well, Mulder uttering those words as he walked into the hospital to be with Scully when she needed him the most…that made me shiver, and in a good way!  And Mulder taking Margaret’s hand…not gonna lie, I wept a little!  The flashback to the episode One Breath, where Mulder is hoping against all hope to literally bring Scully back from the dead was a nice touch as well

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The episode even ended on a ‘shippy note, when Scully leaned into Mulder (after the discussion of their son, William), and he just held her as we faded out to the credits…perfect!

This episode also dealt with Mulder and Scully’s son, William (Scully sees him everywhere, even on her caller ID).  And I am wondering:  is this the last of William?  Or will he make an appearance later?  The show seems to be hinting at the latter, so we will find out soon, I hope.

X Files renewal 14

Ok, time to talk about the monster…

First of all, The Band-Aid Nose Man.  A unique name for a unique monster.  Or is this monster so unique?

Almost immediately, my mind went here:

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And his creator.  I kind of think of that guy as a cross between Banksy and Dr. Frankenstein, perhaps?

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And this monster is one of the more intriguing monsters that we have seen from this show, for a couple of reasons.

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First of all, this episode explored not only the effect that the artist has on his artist, but also the effect that art has on the artist.  And I may be a little biased (I do a bit of art myself), but I find this to be a fascinating topic.  How much a part of a piece of does the artist actually own?  Is a piece of art a separate entity, or is it an extension of the artist and under the control of the artist at all times?  How much responsibility does an artist have for the effect that his/her artwork may have on others?  It is true that most works of art don’t literally come to life and start killing douchebags (if only!), but art inspires people, and sometimes that inspiration is not good.

THE X-FILES: L-R: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the "Home Again" episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Feb. 8 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

I also loved how the episode managed to tie in the Monster of the Week to the show’s seemingly unrelated theme:  responsibility.  Where does it start and where does it end?  Just who (or what) are we responsible for?  Just because you can’t see someone or something, does your responsibility end?  The creator of the Band-Aid Nose Man tried to absolve himself of responsibility for his creation by shutting his eyes and later fleeing the scene.  Does that mean he is no longer responsible?  I would guess not, and it appeared that his creation would agree with me on that.  Margaret still felt responsible for her youngest son even though she had not seen him for years, and he became a “fifth business” of sorts, leaving Margaret unable to return “home” until that business was sorted out.  The city of Philadelphia refuses to accept any sort of responsibility for its most vulnerable citizens, and they also close their eyes and hope that the “problem” will just disappear, like the hope that the Bank-Aid Nose Man will disappear if ignored.  Mulder and Scully struggle with the responsibility towards their son William and their feelings of guilt and that they treated him like trash, just like the city of Philadelphia did with their homeless population.  Ultimately, none of us can ever escape responsibility, no matter how fast we run or how tightly we shut our eyes.

X Files renewal 28


 

So that’s it for Home Again.  Join me next week as we review and dissect the fifth episode of The X Files renewal, Babylon.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

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Every Gunslinger Needs a Companion: An Interview With Bev Vincent

In life, sometimes you take journeys.  Sometimes these are physical journeys (I have had a few myself).

Sometimes, there are other kinds of journeys as well…

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Well, I am sure most of us (me included) don’t take a journey like that often ever but that game last night sure was was ride, at any rate…whew!  And this little old blog sends you love, Ser Peyton!

Or, if you are more like me, you take literary journeys.  Oh, too nerdy for you!  Well, sorry, guess someone forgot what blog this was again!

And I have traveled alone, and I have traveled with others.  Now traveling alone is not a bad thing.  But sometimes, having a companion has its advantages.  A Sam Gamgee, maybe.  Or if you are Peyton Manning, a Von Miller (and it doesn’t hurt to perhaps throw in a Chris Harris, or maybe an Aquib Talib or two, for that matter).

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In other words, great journeys are not usually accomplished alone, whether they are to destroy a pesky ring, or to obtain a pesky second (Super Bowl) ring.  Even this guy can testify to that!

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Yes, you are definitely reading this blog and forgot to heed all the previous warnings!

Reading the Dark Tower series is a journey.  And I have taken that journey on my own.  And it was great, of course.

But I have taken it with friends, too.

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Well, I wasn’t talking about these guys, per se.  If I was relying on them for friendship, well that is a recipe for guaranteed heartbreak, and I will leave it at that.

Nor am I talking about the followers on my blog and social media account, who were with me every step of the way in my latest re-read and review of the entire series.  I do appreciate both all of you very much though, and much love to everyone!

Rather, I am talking about works such as this one:

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And this one:

DT Concordance 1

Well, they may be books, but to any Constant Reader who is also obsessed with the Dark Tower series, they are almost as invaluable as a Sam Gamgee or Vonn Miller.  They aid in the journey, so that journey becomes that much richer.  These books have also made me become a much better reader, as I have picked out some details I missed on previous re-reads, which made me feel like the kid who found the Easter Egg that everyone else missed because everyone else did not know where to look.

easter eggs 1

Recently, I have the please of talking to one of the creators of my companions, aka Bev Vincent.  I was curious as to what goes on when creating works like these to aid in this journey that I have taken so many times.  And Mr. Vincent was gracious enough to talk to me, and given me a little more insight into his work, the Stephen King universe in general and the world of our friendly neighborhood gunslinger.  So, read below for the complete interview.

cuthbert and alain

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


 

 

Please, tell us a little about yourself. This can be anything, including education, background, etc. Also, when did you first become a Stephen King fan and why?

I come from eastern Canada. I grew up in a small community in northern New Brunswick, where I lived until I was eighteen. I then went to Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where I studied chemistry. I got a B.Sc in 1983 and finished my PhD in X-ray crystallography in the fall of 1987. I did a postdoc at the ETH in Zurich and worked as a staff crystallographer until 1989, at which time I moved to Texas, where I’ve lived ever since.

crystallography 1

I started writing seriously at the end of the previous millennium and it has been part of my daily routine ever since, although I still have a day job.

Bev Vincent 1

I discovered Stephen King when I was living in Halifax. I picked up a copy of ‘Salem’s Lot in a used bookstore and I’ve been hooked ever since. I sought out his other books (there weren’t many in 1979!) and have followed along with him for over 35 years. I read a lot, and far more than just King’s books, but he’s been one of the constants. I guess you could call me a Constant Reader.

'Salem's Lot 1


 

What is your favorite Stephen King book, and why is it your favorite?

I have a hard time picking absolute favorites — I have affinities for certain books at different times for different reasons. I have a particular fondness for ‘Salem’s Lot because it was the first, the one that got me hooked. The book has a lot going for it, for a “second” novel (of course, we know it was not his second written book), and it stands up quite well.

Salem's lot 2

Bag of Bones is one that would appear in my top five list. It was the first of his books that I read in first draft manuscript long before it was published. That was a fascinating experience, and I especially appreciated the way he subsequently rewrote the book, layering in things that weren’t present in the first draft.

bag of bones 1

I used to like to tell people about The Gunslinger for a long time, when people didn’t know much about it. It was my entry point into the Dark Tower series, but for a long time it was the only book in the series for me. I loved its mood. I had no idea where the series was headed — or even that it was headed somewhere, but I reread that one a number of times. I could list others that are high on my list. But I’d have an easier time picking my two least favorites. No trouble there at all!

Roland 2


 

Oh, what is your least favorite SK book?

I have two: Needful Things and The Tommyknockers. I didn’t like any of the characters in the former and I liked Bobbi and Gard a lot in the latter and hated that King abandoned them for a huge chunk of the book when all I wanted to do was to get back and find out how they were doing.

Needful things 3


 

I am really excited about the upcoming Hulu adaptation for 11/22/63, and I have high hopes for the series. However, I know that movie adaptations of King’s books are mixed, at best. Some work, some don’t. Out of all the King movies, which one do you feel works the best, and why? Which one do you think does not work, and why?

I’ve already seen the entire miniseries of 11.22.63 and I think people are going to like it a lot. It is significantly different from the novel in many ways, yet it captures the sense of the book perfectly. The actress who plays Sadie is wonderful and it is her more than James Franco who gives this adaptation its heart. The production values are extremely high and the cast is terrific.

card-1963

I’ve never been someone who saw the adaptation as a necessary part of the life cycle of a book. Slavish adaptations aren’t always the best. The problem with Dreamcatcher, in my opinion, is that it tried to cram too much of a very big book into the movie, which made it almost incomprehensible to people to people unfamiliar with the novel.

Quality: Original. Film Title: Dreamcatcher (2003). Pictured: (L to R) DAMIAN LEWIS, THOMAS JANE, TIMOTHY OLYPHANT and JASON LEE in Castle Rock Entertainment's and Village Roadshow Pictures' science fiction/horror film Dreamcatcher distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. Photo Credit: Doane Gregory. Copyright: Warner Bros. Pictures 2002. For further information: please contact The Warner Bros. Press Office on 020 7984 5000.

On the other hand, the adaptation of Dolores Claiborne took significant liberties with the book, deleting characters, changing the emphasis on others, but it absolutely captured the novel.

Dolores C

A lot of the adaptations are forgettable or laughable. I have no use for The Mangler or Children of the Corn (I through XII) or any number of other B grade films.

Disney SK

I did like The Mist, despite the controversial change to the story–and I was thrilled to get to visit the set during production.

the-mist-mons__big

I also visited (the set of) Haven for a day with my daughter, which was great fun. There’s a case of an adaptation that took a core idea and then ran off in a vastly different direction from the source. The same people did the same thing with The Dead Zone TV series.

Haven TV series starring Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant, Eric Balfour, Richard Donat, John Dunsworth, Adam Copeland, Glenn Lefchak, Nicholas Campbell, Kate Kelton, Emma Lahana, Bree Williamson, Christopher Shore and Colin Ferguson - dvdbash.com

There are some great ones — Shawshank, Stand By Me — and some surprisingly effective ones, like 1408 — and a whole lot of turkeys.

ka caw


 

I have read your book, The Dark Tower Companion, and wow! Can you tell us how this book came to be, and exactly what went in to writing it and putting it together?

DT companion 1

I previously wrote The Road to the Dark Tower around the time King was finishing up the last three books in the series. People had frequently asked me when I was going to write a book about King and his work, but I had resisted the idea because it seemed like such a huge project.

the road to the DT 1

Then when I heard that King was going to write the final three Dark Tower books all at once, I had the idea that I could explore the series and, in doing so, say something about all of King’s work in general. King gave me the manuscripts for the final books a couple of years before they were published, which allowed me to have my book ready around the same time as Book 7 was published.

never just a book

The Road to the Dark Tower was written for people who had already read the entire series and wanted to revisit it with me. I would be the tour guide, and I would point out the things I had noticed while reading and rereading and studying the series.

Dark Tower 3

Then, a number of years later, the first serious indications that there would be a film adaptation emerged, with Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman. I thought it was time to update my book with all the things that had happened in the Dark Tower Universe since my first book was published. However, my publisher suggested that I do a new book, completely different from the first. So, The Dark Tower Companion was written for people who haven’t necessarily read the series. I thought there would be people who came to the Dark Tower via the movies or the Marvel graphic novels. People who might want to know more about something — a reference book. I had to read the series several times for each book, with different things in mind on each reading. My copies are marked up with so many different colored highlighters that they look like the Bends o’ the Rainbow!

Maerlyn's rainbow

I especially enjoyed getting to interview all these great people for the book, from King himself to Ron Howard (from the set of RUSH) and Akiva Goldsman, and then all of the creative people involved in the Marvel series. That was a series of terrific experiences. I also had a great time coming up with the two maps — the one that showed the known region of Mid-World, especially when certain details came together, and the one of the Dark Tower locations in Manhattan.

DT movie 3


 

It looks like we may finally get our Dark Tower movie(s). I know that if Roland doesn’t do the finger twirl in the movie, I will not watch it…at all! (Joking, joking.) All kidding aside, what do you need to see in the movie(s) from the books (since we all know that there will be changes, which are necessary) to make sure that the movie does not stray too far from the source material?

I’m open to a complete re-imagination of the series. If you’ve read my interviews with Howard and Goldsman, you’ll see that their ideas for the first movie are quite radical, and I was fine with that. I’m also fine with possibly having Idris Elba as Roland — in fact, I think that would be terrific.

Idris Elba 1

A movie isn’t made first and foremost for the readers of the source material, I believe. They are made for a movie-going audience, so a lot of accommodations have to be made, and can be made.

Some people have suggested that the movies should feature Roland’s NEXT version of his quest, the one where he starts of with the Horn of Eld. To my mind, that means that anything could happen. Anything. If Roland is a different person (arguably a slightly better one), then maybe he needs different companions to get the job done. I’m not saying I want to see that happen, but once that suggestion is made, it shows that people are open to change.

Roland and horn 1

I don’t know if the movie can work if it is too literal an adaptation. A lot of people were upset by how the series ended on the page — can you imagine going to see a handful of movies over a span of years only to end up back at the beginning again?

DT ending

I’m perfectly content for them to do whatever they see fit with the adaptation. There are some pretty smart people in the movie business. And if they end up making a hash of it, oh well.

Roland 1


So many thanks to Bev Vincent for this interview.  And remember, if you need a companion to help guide you on the Path of the Beam, whether it be be your first journey or your 19th journey, please check out The Road to the Dark Tower, The Dark Tower Companion and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Complete Concordance (written by the lovely Robin Furth).  These friends  works are available wherever books are sold.

And, as always, happy reading!

RoaldDahl

The X Files Renewal: Episode 3 Recap and Review

To both all who read this blog, I will have you know that I was treated to the best 45 minutes of my life last night…

And no, we are not talking about THAT!  THAT is a worthwhile activity, so maybe what I did last night isn’t quite on a par with THAT, although it is pretty close.  And like THAT actually lasts 45 minutes anyway…

innuendo

Nor am I talking about the activity that followed, which can best be described as fighting off a crackhead (although an adorable crackhead but still a crackhead nonetheless), who seemed intent on dismembering my fingers and leaving scratches on me that actually don’t require a cool explanation…seriously, remind me to call the dog food company and tell them that meth should not be their main ingredient in the dog food and that they need to go back to GMO’s already!

candy bar pie 010

No, I am referring to the x-perience (see what I did there) known as the third episode of The X Files renewal.  In other words, I watched Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.

And, as stated before, I don’t think I have ever had a more meaningful 45 minutes!

This episode had it all:  monsters, Mulder-isms, hi-jinks and Easter eggs galore.

Did I mention the Easter eggs?  Well, in case you missed it, they were everywhere!

easter eggs 1

And if you haven’t watched this treasure, then that must be remedied immediately…don’t make me send an enterprising blue heeler to come attack you for not doing so!

Duncan 4

So, anyway, without further ado, here is my recap and review of Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.

As always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode begins with a couple who are getting high from paint fumes in a forest in Oregon.  Their activities are interrupted when they encounter a giant, lizard-like creature who appears to have attacked someone, and an animal control officer is struggling with the creature himself.  The creature then runs off, and we are shown the body of its presumed victim.

The show switches over to the perspective of Mulder and Scully.  Mulder has become discouraged and feels foolish, as it seems that many of his “monsters” were not actually monsters at all, but rather hoaxes or could be explained away by science.  Scully then enters his office, telling him that there is a case in Oregon that needs their attention.

The agents investigate the forest where the murder occurred.  Mulder is skeptical, and thinks that the murder is not something worth investigating, as he believes the explanation to be a natural one.  Scully tries to bring him out of his depression, and tells him that regardless of what the explanation is, this case needs their attention before someone else is killed.

Mulder and Scully interview a transgender woman at a truck stop later that night, who states she was also attacked by a lizard like creature who wore men’s underwear.  The agents also speak with the animal control officer, who survived the attack in the woods.  The “monster” suddenly re-appears, and Mulder discovers the body of yet another victim.  Mulder chases the creature and attempts to capture proof of its existence on video, but is unsuccessful. Mulder and Scully believe that the creature has hidden in a port-potty, but the creature is not seen in the porta-potty.  Instead, the agents open the door to reveal a man who seems completely normal in appearance.  However, the man also appears to have horns, which disappear into his head.  The man’s name is Guy Mann.

Scully performs an autopsy at the morgue on the latest victim.  Mulder tries to convince her that he has captured evidence of the lizard man on video.  Scully is skeptical, but glad to see that her partner is acting like himself again.

Mulder is awakened by scream in the middle of the night at the hotel he and Scully are staying at.  Mulder speaks to the hotel manager, who confesses that he peeped on Guy Man and witnessed him transform in the lizard creature.  Mulder then speaks to Scully, and discusses several scenarios, all of which are based on supernatural explanations.  However, Scully is again skeptical, although she is once again glad to see that Mulder is acting more like himself.  Mulder also finds a bottle of prescription pills that belonged to Guy Mann.  Mulder speaks to Mann’s psychiatrist, and tracks Mann down to a graveyard.

In the meantime, Scully attempts to speak to Mann at the electronics store where he is employed.  She appears to have been unsuccessful, however, as Mann panics and leaves the store in chaos.

At the graveyard, Mulder finally catches up to Mann, and demands an explanation of why Mann transforms into a lizard creature.  Mann surprises Mulder, and tells him that he has always been a lizard creature, but was bitten by a human, which forces him to transform into a human at night.  Mann tells Mulder of his struggle to fit into society, which covers everything from finding clothes to finding viable employment and even adopting a puppy (Mann becomes quite distressed when he loses the puppy).  Mann laments his curse which forces him to transform into a human, and wishes death for himself.

Scully has realized that the animal control officer is actually the one who is the killer.  She apprehends the man at the animal shelter, and he is arrested and will stand trial for the murders.  Scully also adopts a puppy, which was actually the puppy lost by Mann.

Mulder meets Guy Mann in the forest later that night.  Mann tells him that he is going to hibernate for 10,000 years, and that hopefully he can sleep his curse off.  Mulder is still skeptical, but witnesses Mann transform into the lizard creature before his eyes.  Mann retreats back in to the forest, and Mulder’s belief that he is a part of something greater than himself is restored.


 

My Thoughts

I. AM.  FUCKING.  DYING!!!!

Psycho

Yes, I may have let my 500+ peeps on a certain social media network know that the other as I watched this particular episode…

I am given to hyperbole, but I think this statement was the truth…I am not exaggerating!

Trust me, trying to write up something like this while you still have a case of the giggles is not a job for the faint of heart…so take a moment to congratulate me, ok?

And, oh…where do I start?

First of all, the Lizard Man.  Even the words “Lizard Man” bring up images from movies like this one:

creature from the black lagoon 1

Good stuff, I tell you!  I loved the nod to vintage horror…Chris Carter certainly knows how to pay homage!

And that includes paying homage to…well, himself.

I know, I know.  I am sure that some may think that all of the self-references bring this to mind:

lion licking

But it wasn’t like that.  Not at all.  In fact, finding the Easter eggs became a game of sorts.

Easter eggs 2

I found quite a few, although I am sure I am slack and missed a few more.

Scully saying that she was immortal.

Clyde Bruckman 1

Scully adopting a dog.  Hopefully, this dog has a longer life than her previous dog.  RIP Queequeg, you are not forgotten.

Qeequeg 1

And let’s not forget the conversation between Mulder and Scully that seems to reference every single previous episode.  And that smirk from Scully…comedic gold right there!

I had to love Mulder’s ringtone as well.  It seems he could at least set up ringtones on his phone.

Mulder and Scully 3

The gravestone too.  I am sure Kim Manners is smiling down from that great UFO in the sky.  Again, gone but not forgotten.

 

THE X-FILES: David Duchovny in the "Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-monster" episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Feb. 1 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

 

And even when we are in The X Files universe, it has to hashtag itself,  Well, according to the McDonald’s sign where Mr. Lizard went to satisfy his craving for “meat”, at any rate.

As stated before, this episode was comedic gold.  And in countless ways.

In fact, the episode started with comedic gold.  Two people huffing paint fumes.  From spray paint cans, no less. How could you go wrong with that start?  Well, other than the fact they were using spray paint.  Sheesh, kids today.  Back in my day, we did it right and used gasoline to get that poor man’s high!

Oh, and poor Mulder’s attempts to use his cell phone for something…well you know…useful?  Useful for him at any rate, so that he could capture evidence of his “monster” and maybe create a You Tube channel and get a few subscribers.  Although I can kind of relate to Mulder:  It’s hard enough for me to get a good shot of my animals, let alone close up video of video a creature whose existence would change the face of the animal kingdom as we know it.  Nah, I would be more likely take a picture of my big toe instead.

X Files renewal 22

I just have to go back to that dialogue between Mulder and Scully in the hotel room, where we are treated to a recap of (seemingly) every other X Files episode.  Oh, the look on Mulder’s face.  Oh, the look on Scully’s face.  Scully says it best when she says nothing at all.

We also had the transvestite hooker who informed Mulder that she was “on the crack.”  ‘Nuff said!

X Files renewal 24

Luckily, David Duchovny has a fantastic sense of humor, and was not afraid to poke fun at himself a bit.  As an added bonus, we got to see Mulder red underwear.  So much sexier than a lizard man in boxer briefs!

X Files renewal 20

And speaking of sexy…

X Files renewal 26

How about that lizard man porno action, huh?  I tried to get #lizardmanporno trending, but I was unsuccessful, alas.  Social media just doesn’t know what’s up sometimes…

Although I could buy this guy getting in some sexy time with Scully much better than I could buy my ex getting the time of day from any living, breathing creature in a skirt.  Even hookers who are “on the crack.”

X Files renewal 27

Oh, and the lizard man.  I loved Mulder and Scully in this episode, but I think I need to nominate Mr. Lizard for some kind of award.  Do they have a category for best supporting lizard in a cult TV series?  If not, we need one, stat!

horned lizard 1

Not only did Mr. Lizard get to make it with Scully (at least in a fantasy sequence, which is way more than almost any man or woman could ever hope for), he helped Mulder out of a major existential crisis.  Again, the chances of that happening are about as likely as…say…the chances of making it with Scully, maybe?

THE X-FILES: David Duchovny and guest star Rhys Darby in the "Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-monster" episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Feb. 1 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

 

You see, poor Mulder had been struggling.  Like many of us, he had come to a crossroads, and was wondering what path he should take.  And he had begun to lose faith.  I think we’ve all been there.  Even the most faithful of us have trouble believing at times.  Sometimes, life can feel like you are shoveling shit into the tide, where it all just washed up on shore again, so what’s the point?

THE X-FILES: David Duchovny in the "Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-monster" episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Feb. 1 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

But sometimes, light comes from the most unexpected places.  Often, what appears to be the beast can be the most human of us all.

Johnny Cash 2

By offering Mulder that one, tiny glimpse, Mr. Lizard was able to accomplish something that no one else, not even Scully, could: he made Mulder believe again, at least a little.

X Files renewal 25

Virginia  Mulder was able to believe in Santa Claus  monsters again.  Or maybe not just monsters, but something greater than himself, that he wasn’t sure existed any more.

THE X-FILES: L-R: The Were-monster and David Duchovny in the "Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-monster" episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Feb. 1 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

Sometimes, miracles happen on places other than 34th Street.


 

So that’s it for Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.  Tune in next week for the recap and dissection of the 4th episode of The X Files renewal, Home Again.

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

batman and robin

 

The X Files Renewal: Episode 2 Recap and Review

Sometimes, you just need to get back to basics.

pumpkin spice meme 1

Well, not that kind of basic.  To each his own, but I think pumpkin spice lattes are basically disgusting!

No, I mean to kick it old school…

Mulder and Scully 3

Yes, I am that old that I can remember when those phones were considered to be cutting edge technology.  Nice thing was, you couldn’t crack the screen.  Although they were kind of limited, in that you couldn’t take those cute selfies with them.  Nor could you download endless kitty pics with those…

No, I am talking about getting back to what works.  What’s familiar.  Sure, there may be new twists on it (even most dinosaurs have smart phones in this day and age), but it is still recognizable for what it is:  old skool.

old skool 1

And that is exactly what were treated to with the second episode of The X Files Renewal, titled Founder’s Mutation.  Sure, Scully may have cracked wise about our dependency on Google (guilty as charged, doc!) and Mulder may have updated his cell phone just a bit. And Scully’s wardrobe may have been missing the shoulder pads that screamed 1995 and proud.  But really, those details were the only ones that reminded me that it was not, in fact, 1995 (I did get a few flashbacks, though.  I confess:  my criminal record is not completely clean.  I must admit, I have committed more than a few crimes against fashion.  Ah, well.  the 1990’s happened to the best of us).

X Files 5

In other words, I got to travel back to the 1990’s.  And I didn’t even have to subject myself to ESPN footage of the Dallas Cowboys to do it!  And it was grand!

Dallas 2

So, without further ado, here is my recap and review of Founder’s Mutation, the second episode of The X Files Renewal.

And, as always:

Homer spoiler


Synopsis

The episode begins with a scientist named Dr. Sanjay, who works for a man named Augustus Goldman, entering his place of employment.  Dr. Sanjay attends a morning meeting and begins to suffer from extreme auditory distress.  He also sees a large flock of birds outside the window.  Sanjay them locks himself in a server room, where he downloads files on to a portable drive.  However, the sounds become so unbearable that Sanja scrawls something on his palm, and commits suicide by stabbing himself with a letter opener, as his horrified colleagues look on.

Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully then arrive at the scene.  Scully debunks the incident as a psychotic break, and questions why the agents have been called to investigate it.  Mulder wants to examine the hard drive, but is told by a man who presumable works for the Department of Defense that the property contains classified information that the agents cannot access.  However, Mulder takes Sanjay’s cell phone, and schedules a meeting with a man named Gupta, in the hopes that he can learn what led Sanjay to commit suicide.

Mulder meets with Gupta.  Gupta mistakenly believes that Mulder wants to pay him for sex.  Mulder learns that Sanjay was homosexual, but lived his life in the closet.  Mulder also learns from Gupta that Sanjay seemed distressed, and stated that his “children” were dying, even though he was a single man with no biological children.

The agents then investigate Sanjay’s apartment.  There, they find pictures of children with terrible genetic mutations.  Mulder also hears the same piercing sound that Sanjay heard before his death.

The next day, Mulder and Scully meet with their boss, Walter Skinner.  Skinner tells them that all files having to do with Dr. Sanjay are classified and off limits.  However, Mulder has made copies so that he can continue to investigate Sanjay’s death anyway.  Scully also performs an autopsy on Sanjay, discovering that the area where the scientist stabbed himself when he committed suicide is actually the area of the brain that processes auditory information.  Scully also notices that Sanjay has written the words “Founder’s Mutation” on his palm before his death.

Scully also reviews the surveillance footage from the day of Sanjay’s death, looking for clues.  Mulder confesses that he has heard sounds that no one else seems to be able to detect, which worries Scully.

Mulder and Scully discover that Dr. Augustus Goldman is a donor to the hospital where Scully is employed, and Scully arranges a meeting with him.  When they visit the hospital, Mulder and Scully also meet a frightened, pregnant young woman who tells them that Dr. Goldman wants to take her baby and perform experiments on it.  The young woman scurries away, however, when she sees the hospital staff members coming her way.

As they leave the hospital, Mulder theorizes that Goldman is involved in The Project and using unborn fetuses on eugenics experiments.  This leads Scully and Mulder to discuss their son, William.  Scully has a daydream where she and William experience a normal childhood, but the normal childhood is interrupted when it is discovered that William is actually a mutant.

Mulder and Scully pay a visit to Dr. Goldman’s clinic.  The clinic houses several, parent-less children who suffer from horrible genetic mutations.  Dr Goldman is defensive, and tells the agents that he is working in the interests of the children.  The agents also notice that the clinic houses a girl named Molly, who does not seem to suffer from any visible mutations. Mulder does some of his own research, and finds out that Mr. Goldman’s wife has been committed to a mental hospital for killing their unborn second child.  Scully and Mulder also find out that the frightened young woman from the hospital has died in a suspicious hit and run accident, and that her unborn fetus is missing.

The agents visit Mrs. Goldman, who tells them of her husband’s experiments on unborn children.  She tells of an incident involving her daughter, Molly, who fell in a pool but did not drown because she appeared to have the ability to breathe underwater.  Mrs. Goldman also tells Mulder and Scully that her second child, a son, is not dead.  She claims to have attempted to escape from her husband and his experiments, and given birth to her son after a nearly fatal car accident.  However, she does not know the whereabouts of her son.

Scully reviews the surveillance footage and deduces that the janitor seen in the footage is actually the son of Mr. and Mrs. and Goldman.  The agents pay a visit to the boy, named Kyle Gilliam, and his adoptive mother.  Kyle’s mother is protective at first and does not want to disclose any information to Mulder and Scully.  Mulder begins to hear the noises again, and notices that birds are gather in large groups on the lawn.  Scully finds Kyle in the barn, and points a gun at him, telling him to desist.  Kyle obeys, and agrees to go with the agents to see Dr. Goldman.  Kyle tells Mulder and Scully that he never meant to use his abilities to hurt anyone and that he is actually looking for his sister.

Mulder and Scully arrive with Kyle at Dr. Goldman’s clinic.  Dr. Goldman takes a sample of Kyle’s blood, and Kyle inquires about his sister.  Dr. Goldman brings out a young girl, but Kyle sees through the ruse and knows that the young girl is not his sister.  Kyle then finds Molly, and it becomes evident that Molly possesses telekinetic abilities.  The two free Molly from her confines, and attack their father, Dr. Goldman, causing him to suffer from a massive hemorrhage.  Kyle and Molly then escape from the clinic, and quickly disappear.

The episode ends with Mulder also daydreaming about his son William, the son who he claimed that he did not think about earlier in the episode.  Mulder also daydreams about a normal childhood for William, but that childhood is again interrupted by the fear that William suffers from some kind of mutation.


My Thoughts

Well, this episode made me shiver…

And not just because I am married to the Penguin who insists on keeping our house at temperatures that have earned it the nickname “Arctic Zone.”

penguin 1

No, this was a good shiver.  A happy shiver…

THE X-FILES: L-R: David Duchovny, guest star Dough Savant and guest star Jonathan Whitesell in the "Founder's Mutation season premiere, part two, episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Jan. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

This episode was nostalgic.  I felt like I had come back to Grandma’s house for dinner after being away many years, and that she had remembered exactly what I like and how I like it.  And she was there to greet me with a big hug.

And this episode was chock-full of what I liked.  Grandma Chris Carter certainly has a good memory!

We had one of my favorite dishes, aka Mulder.  Mulder with his sense of humor that is so dry that it makes the Sahara Desert seem like Lake Michigan.  Mulder and his wild theories that refuse to be tamed by the rational mind known as Scully.  Mulder minus the scruff of the opening episode, even (don’t worry Mulder, I would still love you even if that beard grew out to ZZ Top length).

THE X-FILES: L-R: David Duchovny and Mitch Pileggi. The next mind-bending chapter of THE X-FILES debuts with a special two-night event beginning Sunday, Jan. 24 (10:00-11:00 PM ET/7:00-8:00 PM PT), following the NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME, and continuing with its time period premiere on Monday, Jan. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT). ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

And Scully performing an autopsy on her subject, and speaking her medical terms….talk about some shiver material right there!  Pure nostalgia at its finest!

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We were even treated to a dose of Skinner, telling Mulder and Scully that there was no way they would have access to any relevant info they would need to move forward an inch in this case, and oh by the way you did have the presence of mind to make copies of those top secret files, right, Mulder?  In other words, Skinner’s way of saying, “Oh, you kids!  Here’s the keys to my car, and try not to wake me up when you get back in, ok?”

The X-Files (Fox) season 9 Shown: Mitch Pileggi (as Assistant Director Walter Skinner)

The story line to Founder’s Mutation was pure 1995.  Classic.  It contained everything that made the series work in 1990’s, but still somehow stayed relevant to 2016.

One of the things that this episode contained was gore.  True, this is a network television show, but the ick factor in this episode was surprisingly high for prime time.  The episode even opened up with the ick factor…how do you get ickier than a close-up of a bloodshot eyeball?  Well, have your guy commit suicide in a gruesome manner about 30 seconds after showing the close-up of the bloodshot eyeball.   After all, you gotta set the tone, right?  And set it early on, too.

THE X-FILES: L-R: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the "Founder's Mutation season premiere, part two, episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Jan. 25 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

This episode not only contained ick and gore.  It also contained just overall freakish-ness.  For example, the kids. The X Files is no stranger to freaky kids.  Even Mulder and Scully conceived one (more on this in a minute).  But these kids…wow!  I felt a mixture of horror and sadness when I saw them, and I even felt some pity.  They reminded me a bit of Frankenstein’s monster:  they did not ask to be put on this Earth, but have to cope with their afflictions, and learn to survive in a world that is not ready for them, and likely never will be.

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I also loved the nod that this episode gave to old school horror.

For example, the birds that appeared when those super-sonic noises were made…

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Well, they were also positively Hitchockian…I am sure the man would have been proud!

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And kids with paranormal powers.  Nope, definitely something I have not seen before…

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But, as always, The X Files managed to throw us a curve ball, with this episode.

And that curve ball happens to go by the name of William.

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Well, I don’t want to think that he looks like that, actually.  After all, someone related to Mulder is still going to be ultra-cute, right?  Even if he does have that pesky alien DNA…

The discussion of William was a curve ball indeed, and a touching curve ball at that.  If you didn’t tear up at least a little at those daydreams (before alien William interrupted, at least), that  you have ice instead of blood running in your veins.  And you probably kick puppies, too!

Scully and William 1

And how could you not melt, when Mulder, aka Mr. I Don’t Give a Crap Oh Wait I Really Do You Can Totally See Through My Hardened Exterior, had his little daydream sequence, where he snuggled on the couch with William (who adorably mispronounced the word “monolith,” aww) and gave him a kiss on the cheek.  And built a model rocket with his son.  It was enough to melt even those of us living in the Arctic Zone, I tell you!

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Of course, I am sure this will make a nice arc into William’s story, and what exactly has happened to him over the years (I hope, at any rate), along with adding another layer of complexity to Mulder and Scully’s characters and their relationship.  So bravo, Mr. Carter!  You grossed me out a bit, but you also made me tear up!  But then again, you are the genius!

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So that’s it for Founder’s Mutation!  Join me next week for the recap and dissection of the third episode of The X Files Renewal, Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster

Tune in next week…same bat time, same bat channel!

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