Previously on The X-Files, “Plus One”
This week’s episode began with a close-up of a disheveled, frantic middle-aged man who uttered a line read online far too often in this day and age: “I know you think I’m crazy, but it’s not me.” At any other time in our lives, a character like this addled, traumatized wouldn’t have been as relatable to our current predicament but that was the beauty of Darin Morgan’s gem of an episode this season. Never one to shy away from highlighting the darkest parts of humanity, Morgan penned a biting discourse on the current state of society and the deleterious repercussions of information manipulation and chiefly, the recent phenomenon known as The Mandela Effect.
Appearing to break the fourth wall spoke the truth about his reality no longer being what he believed – a statement we can wholly relate to given our own post-facts, post-trust, anti-intellectual Tide detergent pod eating existence. Everything this nameless schmoe (and us for this matter) had evaporated overnight when the crepuscule that bleed into our bright and hopeful world over and again had finally gained its edge and taken over. While this sap continued to whinge inside a malt shop about a martian invasion already in progress to a line cook (X-Files guest alum Alex Diakun) with a devilish secret of his own, Mulder and Scully are thrust into a confounding scenario of their own when a man they’ve never met appeared to know far too much about them – and the work they’ve accomplished in the last 25 years.
Like last season’s equally wacky yet poignant “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”, Morgan veiled heavy subject matter such as memory trace, our unreliable perception of reality and the warfare “possibly” implemented to control information within mass populations in “Forehead Sweat” within a wildly eccentric scenario. After a fulfilling night of “squatching” in his ghillie suit, Mulder recognized an old calling card affixed to his living room window – only to discover the source was some dude he doesn’t know. This restless figure that clung to the shadows believed his name to be Reggie Something (Brian Huskey) and would eventually garner the interest of Mulder and Scully after he revealed lasting childhood memories involving their favorite food and episode of The Twilight Zone were mysteriously (more like allegedly) erased from existence.
Naturally, Fox jumped into the deep end toot sweet while “Skulls” required evidence that Reggie wasn’t a genuine crackpot, and it arrived in the form of a Jell-O knock off Dana hadn’t seen since her summers in San Diego. Now with his foot in the proverbial door, Mr. Something kept Mulder and Scully affixed with his far-fetched story with snippets of info on past cases only Fox and Dana would know about. According to Reggie, he was involved with the X-Files from the beginning – as Mulder’s original partner – and they eventually learned the truth about aliens and their influence on humanity’s progression. Of course, all was struck from the group’s medial temporal lobes covert by the sinister Dr. Thaddeus Q. They (Stuart Margolin) a self-described mastermind that has covertly altered the memories of billions over and again thanks to his mythical ray gun doohickey.
This episode was as unhinged as The X-Files gets and boy, was it great fun. In a series that has taken the paranormal and otherworldly more seriously than not, these moments of sheer bedlam provide heaps of levity for the actors and viewers without an all-out self-imposed lampooning on the series narrative. It’s clear that all involved – especially Duchovny and Anderson – had great fun exploring the “innocence” of their characters whilst jumping headfirst into the bizarre rabbit hole Morgan crafted.
[bctt tweet=”“Believe what you want to believe. That’s what everybody does nowadays anyway.” #TheXFiles” username=”ProjectFandom”]
Ultimately, Fox and Dana’s new/old association with Reggie left them even more perplexed about their status in the FBI, their past investigations and even their perception of the world and universe at large. Mr. Something’s argument about the “Mengele Effect” and his insistence that what he recalled of his childhood must be attributed to Dr. They’s weaponization of alien technology. Due to Reggie’s interference and Mulder’s growing interest, Dr. They revealed himself and illuminated Fox on the ill-gotten gains of society disregard facts and evidence for the comfort of denial.
Dr. They further elucidated on the “post-secret post-conspiracy age” and how even if people admit their darkest, highly confidential intel, no one has any mind to believe it to be true, thanks to the glut of misinformation present in the world. There are little truths in everything now, but nothing is complete or uncorrupted.
Dejected by the idea of living in a ‘po-co’ world, Mulder entertained Reggie a final time to learn what happened to them during the case that ended all cases. In a nondescript field on a random night, Fox, Dana and Reggie encountered an emissary from a pan-galactic federation that provided the answers to every question humanity has about life so they would never feel compelled to explore the cosmos. Not that they could because a giant invisible wall was being constructed around Earth as they spoke; the telepathic visitor aped our current President – using his exact words during his infamous announcement speech – expressing a level of disdain for our species while remaining expressionless. Then off he went, off our “shithole” of a planet.
In the end, Reggie and Dr. They’s brief presence in the agents’ lives did little to affect their resolve. True, the lure of nostalgia piqued their interest but never were they swayed into the wave of disinformation that continues to erode the foundations of modern civilization. Never has the words on Mulder’s poster in his office been so substantial to life beyond the series. There are plenty who want to believe. As this episode alludes, we must do more than simply accept the “facts” as given and hack away at the misdirects, falsehoods and our own faulty, subjective recollections.
The X-Files S11E4 Review Score
"The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat"
The X-Files – S11E4 – The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat | David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi | Writer and Director: Darin Morgan