"Lord of the Flies"


"You say you found this tape in Mulder's...hey, check that out!"

Over the course of the series, there have been a lot of attempts to meld humor with the unknown. In particular, we all might remember the truly excellent Darin Morgan episodes of the third season. After that, there were still some other attempts that did particularly well. “Small Potatoes” and “Bad Blood” come to mind almost immediately.

But then there was the sixth season. Every other episode, it seemed, was yet another attempt at melding the growing romantic overtones between Mulder and Scully with some ridiculous notion. I present “Rain King” as perhaps the most idiotic example of this, though there are plenty of others. Some episodes worked, but most didn’t. And in the process, there were episodes like “Terms of Endearment” that could have been scary, but just turned out a little bland and ultimately unfulfilling.

Unfortunately, despite the moments of genuine humor in this episode, in the end, it ranks right in the mediocre range.

Don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t stop laughing at Doggett’s wisecracks, if only because they were picture perfect for the character. Similarly, Scully’s patience of a saint while dealing with “Rocky” was equally sidesplitting. But in the end, what was this about? A rather obvious parallel between teenage puberty and the blight of Bug Boy?

Like the demon in “Terms of Endearment”, once you understand what is happening, it becomes a bit of an exercise for the rest of the hour. There is nothing new or exciting here. The only thing that is different in this situation is Doggett and Reyes, and for the most part, they had nothing to do with resolving the case. Stuff happened, they figured out what was going on, and that’s about it. Sure, it was funny, but it was also weightless.

More than just presenting a highly humorous situation, the classic funny episodes of the “X-Files” had substance. Episodes like “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” told us something about the characters, while giving us a reason to laugh. Similarly, it’s the differences in point of view in “Bad Blood” that makes the episode work as well as it does.

In the course of this investigation, such as it is, we get no insight whatsoever about the characters that matter. Doggett is the same as ever, just a little more amused and therefore willing to toss out the one-liners more often. Reyes...well, what exactly does she do here, that any other character couldn’t? As for Scully, most of her time is spent playing second fiddle to “Rocky”, but what did that say about her?

Instead, the story is centered on the star-crossed love between Hot Chick and Bug Boy.

I realize it might be a pet peeve of mine. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again...the greatest weakness of the sixth and seventh seasons were the amazing number of episodes where Mulder and Scully were incidental to the resolution of the plot. The worst episodes of the eighth season shared that same quality; Doggett and Scully were just reacting to what happened around them in episodes like “Surekill” and “Salvage”. Those episodes are considered the worst of last season, almost universally, and rightfully so.

By the same criteria, I cannot say that this episode does much for me. Yes, it’s funny, and there are some classic moments. But in many ways, my ratings are rough measure of how likely I am to want to watch the episode again and again. And in this case, I find that while I might want to see some scenes again, I have very little desire to watch the whole thing more than a couple times.

In the end, that says it all.

Some other thoughts:

- It might help, if 1013 wants to be more topical, to air an episode a little sooner than several months after the “cutting edge” concept becomes completely irrelevant.

- That said, those kids *were* dumb-asses...

- Oh, and I want to heartily thank 1013 for picking New Jersey as the home of these morons. Really. Because we can never give the world enough reason to think we live in the shallow end of the gene pool.

- Call me a dirty old man, but I remember chasing a girl who looked like Michelle in high school! Turned out about as well, too...

- The distorted head was a nice effect, but how did the really hard bones of the skull suddenly implode like rubber? And are we really supposed to believe that the flies ate Captain Dare’s gray matter that frickin’ fast?

- As wonderful as Doggett’s comments were throughout this entire episode, that look on his face while he was watching the “Dumb-Ass” tape was priceless!

- Also priceless was the expression on the agents’ faces upon meeting “Rocky”...especially the horror reflected in Scully’s eyes.

- Speaking of horror, what the hell did they do to Scully’s hair? Granted, she finally looks like a new mother would look, but that kind of realism I could do without!

- And of course, I once again wish I had the Ma Scully Daycare Service. Was there an actual reason for Scully to be on this case, other than the need for Gillian to be in every episode?

- If Bug Boy was supposed to control flies, then what was the deal with the lice?

- Great line: “Besides the fact that those bugs can spell better than most of the students...”

- Nice touch having Bug Boy be a fan of Syd Barrett, given the insect motif on the poster of one his album covers. Though I was getting the feeling that there was supposed to be a deeper meaning to the musical selection...

- Another great moment: “The bugs are all gone...the bugs are gone...the bugs...(shrug)...”

- And who could forget Scully and “Rocky” staring up into space for the massive pheromone source, while Bug Boy rides idly by in the background?

- I thought of “Believers” when the actual “ bug part” was revealed, but since the one surviving member of the experiment seemed to die in that episode, I doubt that this is a follow-up to that concept.

- Bug Boy kills his competition, but when he’s threatened, all he does is cause a mildly annoying car accident? I was expecting something a little more vicious at that point.

- Once again, I have to wonder what kind of doctor Scully is, if she is trying to perform CPR on someone with a pulse, breathing, and conscious! Then again, maybe she *did* know what could happen...

- What the hell was with that last voiceover, anyway? Worse than the one at the end of “First Person Shooter”, and matched only by the sugary mess with those fireflies...yeech...

Overall, this episode did very little for me. I’m sure that the writing staff could have come up with something better than a bad sixth season plot when the idea of a humorous ninth season episode came to the table. Is there any hope that there might be a truly memorable episode where Doggett is allowed to be amused?

I give it a 5/10.

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