Friday, 31 October 2014

THE X-FILES, 1.5 – 'The Jersey Devil' • little miss mutation

Friday, 31 October 2014


Mulder and Scully travel to New Jersey to investigate a cannibalistic murder, which Mulder believes was perpetrated by an evolutionary relic...

After a run of surprisingly solid early episodes, The X-Files vomits its first dud with THE JERSEY DEVIL; a decidedly dull hour from creator Chris Carter, treading similar turf to the Sasquatch myth, but in a more absurd manner. However, there were elements of the story that worked okay, or were interesting in hindsight because the writers are still finding their way into these characters.

FBI agent Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) arrived in Atlantic City, with no jurisdiction, and attempted to solve an X File regardless, which gave the episode a different angle. Local law enforcement weren't deferential to the FBI's presence, so the agents had to deal with the gruff Detective Thompson (Wayne Tippit), who'd rather they leave town and made his feelings abundantly clear.

And while Mulder's dogged pursuit of the truth wasn't a surprise (although I loved his interaction with a homeless man who had information), it was good to see Dana Scully in a different light. The series is obviously very new at this point, so it's amusing to spot aspects of Scully's character the show won't touch too often in the future, or drop entirely.

Here, Scully left Mulder to his own devices because she had to attend her godson's birthday party back in Washington D.C, and part of the story splintered off to show Scully on a date with one of the young party-goer's father, Rob (Andrew Airlie). "The Jersey Devil" was partly designed to make Scully more accessible, by showing she has a normal life outside of work, and the same goals of an ordinary woman in her early-twenties looking for companionship. At some point, we know Scully will be sucked into Mulder's world to such an extent her own personal life will become similarly non-existence. In some ways, the seeds of that were already planted here—as Scully ended the episode refusing a second date, preferring to accompany Mulder to the Smithsonian to talk shop to an ethnobiologist. Fox knows how to show a girl a good time.
ELLEN: What about that guy you work with?
SCULLY: Mulder?
ELLEN: I thought you said he was cute.
SCULLY: He's a jerk. He's not a jerk. He's, um... he's obsessed with his work.
Unfortunately, everything involving the main storyline with the prehistoric killer didn't wash with me, and the narrative seemed to flat-line halfway through. It would have helped if the big reveal of "the beast" had been exciting and satisfying, but it turned out to be a beautiful young woman with a dirty face. The idea was to subvert expectations of a large monstrous Bigfoot-style primate, which I appreciate, but when you've been primed to expect a cannibalistic predator who feeds on city dwellers... a nude girl was always going to be a huge anti-climax.

  • Guest star Andrew Airlie may be familiar to fans of Final Destination 2, The 4400, Defying Gravity and Once Upon a Time. He'll next be seen playing Christian Grey's dad in the 50 Shades of Grey movie!
  • Anglo-German model, actress and fashion designer Claire Stansfield (playing the Jersey Devil) was cast at the behest of Duchovny, who had worked with her on erotic drama Red Shoe Diaries. She went on to recur in Xena: Warrior Princess as Alti.
written by Chris Carter • directed by Joe Napolitano • Fox • 8 October 1993