Phantom Sway

The X Files: Episode 3 – Nostalgia, Stoners, Existentialism, and Weremonsters

The conversation between Guy Mann and Mulder in the cemetary, replete with a Scully porn fantasy, is all the reason you need to watch this episode.

Darin Morgan Darin Morgans

If die hard X-Philes couldn’t tell from the opening paint huffing scene that this was a Darin Morgan episode, they sure figured it out by the second act, as Vancouver favourite Alex Diakun returned in the guise of a pervy motel manager. This was a nostalgic trip back  to wacky fun X-Files in the spirit of “Humbug”, “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space'”, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”, & “Quagmire”.

We open to a pretty fantastic matte of the full moon in a forest sky, panning down to two hapless paint huffers imagining what it is like to be werewolves (high, mostly). They are interrupted by a blueish horned monster, one survivor, and one dead body.

Mulder and Scully are called to the case after a talky discussion in their office. Mulder was lamenting his ridiculous past and sounding much more like Old School Scully than himself. They interview a transgendered crack addict who looks suspiciously like Beyoncé, then accompany the local animal control officer on a chase of their horned, 3-eyed or 1-eyed suspect. They find another body and hear a lot of noise. Mulder chases after a figure with his phone out, flashing pic after pic because he doesn’t know how to use his app. This is no sexy millennial crime show; this is our X-Files, and it aged with us.

Mulder has a close encounter with the creature, which squirts blood out of its eyeballs at him. He and Scully then chase their suspect into a porta-potty. When they open the door, Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords, et al) is inside. Dejected, they return with the body to the lab.

As is tradition, they stay in a creepy, wood paneled motel. Gratuitous shirtless Mulder wakes to the sound of someone screaming “Monster!” He speaks to the manager and investigates a room with a broken mirror and a bottle of Clonopin on the bedside table. He notes a jackalope head on the ground and a hole in the wall where it used to be. Pulling on the hole reveals a door, and the door leads to a hallway where every room can be viewed and entered into behind creepy animal heads. This is why I don’t stay at wood paneled motels.

Mulder confronts the manager and he tells the tale of Rhys Darby shouting at his own reflection and throwing his alarm clock on the floor. Mulder wakes Scully and they have a little M&S back-and-forth where Mulder finally demonstrates empathy for Scully’s position on these cases. They resolve to learn more about the man with the Clonopin prescription.

Mulder talks to a psychiatrist, who tells a story of a dragon who can only be killed by jabbing a shard of green glass in its appendix, which is a metaphor for impotence. The now obviously Freudian doctor tells Mulder he advised his patient, Guy Mann, to walk in the cemetery to confront his mortality. He also writes Mulder a script for an anti-psychotic, which Mulder declines.

Meanwhile, Scully heads to the wireless store where Guy Mann works. By the time Mulder joins her, Mr. Mann has flipped out, quit, and run out the back. Mulder finds him in the cemetery, where he tries to get Mulder to kill him with green glass and reveals during a lengthy Darin Morgan expository sequence that he is not a man who turns into a horny toad lizard, but a horny toad lizard who started turning into a man after a man bit him. This is a magical intercut of dialogue and flashbacks about what it means to be human, reminding us all why we love Darin Morgan so much.

Mulder doesn’t believe Guy Mann, and the latter walks off in disgust, calling Mulder the monster. Mulder calls Scully, who is at animal control after learning that the killer is really the animal control officer. Finally, a more realistic lab result return time! As Scully discloses this info and waxes nostalgic about her dear departed Pomeranian, Queequeg, she is assaulted by the officer. Mulder and the cops show up in time to hear the officer begin his confession speech, which nobody wants to hear just then. Scully absconds with Guy Mann’s dog.

Mulder seeks out Guy Mann in the forest to tell him they caught the real killer. Mr. Mann thanks Mulder for listening to him, then says that his kind has to go hibernate. He strips out of his human clothes, then transforms into his true horny toad lizard form before Mulder’s eyes. Mulder is grateful to have a reason to believe once more.

The conversation between Guy Mann and Mulder in the cemetary, replete with a Scully porn fantasy, is all the reason you need to watch this episode. It is a wonderful existential bit of humour about what it means to be human, to love a dog, and to search for meaning. Rhys Darby is fantastic throughout, and you can tell Duchovny and Anderson are having a ball.

Some favourite lines:

Trans Beyoncé and Mulder:

“I told the officers it slithered off that way. But they think I’m on crack.”

“Are you?”

“Yeah.”

Scully:

“Maybe it was a mangy sasquatch.”

Mulder and Scully:

“So you’re agreeing with me?”

“NO! You’re bat crap crazy!”

Mulder:

“I assume Guy Mann is not a real name.”

Scully:

“I think I just found your horny toad lizard man.”

Guy Mann:

“I’m gonna kill you. You ready?”

Guy Mann:

“Now that I have a job, all I could think about was how much I hated my job!”

Mulder and Mann, on discussing gender reassignment:

“They cut off your genitals.”

“No. I’ll leave it. That’s a step too far.”

Guy Mann:

“Ever since I became a human, I can’t stop lying about my sex life.”

Guy Mann:

“There is nothing more human than the ability to BS.”

Guy Mann:

“I’m not a reptile! That’s racist!”

Some great moments:

Tyler Labine, X-Files’ go-to Stoner #1, makes his third appearance

-Mulder gave a Scully-style eyeroll when he saw his witnesses were paint huffers

-Mulder in a red mankini, though that wasn’t great so much as alarming

-Scully reveling in Mulder’s down- the-rabbit-hole-ramblings

-Scully’s impressive rack

-The callback to Queequeg, whom Scully acquired in “Clive Bruckman’s Repose” & lost tragically in “Quagmire”.

Kim Manners‘ grave. That was a beautiful, heart wrenching touch for die-hard X-Philes. He was absolutely essential to the original series and is missed by all of us.

This episode solidifies Darin Morgan’s place in X-Philes’ hearts as the wacky, slyly insightful uncle in the family. What a treat. Go watch it again!

Kellie Jane Adan

KJ Adan is a writer in Los Angeles. She likes cats and tea length party dresses and Jesus and hugs and coffee and music. Turn offs include sensible mid priced sedans, monkeys, and Tom Cruise.

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