The first of the weekly X-Files features is here! To read the (spoiler-laden) review, click on the “Read More” link below.
Yesterday’s episode was neither fantastic nor particularly flawed. While it advanced the relationship between Scully and Doggett, the case itself was not particularly earth-shattering.
Scully finds herself investigating a murder in a sparsely populated region of Utah. She has begun investigating the case without Doggett’s assistance, but is forced to phone him to track down a similar case in the X-Files.
While Doggett tracks down the information she requires, Scully finds herself in a remote town that doesn’t even appear on the map. They sabotage her vehicle and the local telephones, ensuring her visit will be a long one.
We soon learn that the locals, who killed one man and kidnapped another during the episode’s teaser, have trapped her here to give medical help to the kidnapped man. He has some sort of parasite attached to his spine, which Scully is unable to safely remove outside of a hospital.
As Scully continues searching for a way out of town, Doggett tries to send her the information she requested via a local police department. When he learns she never made it to her appointment, he launches a search and flies to Utah.
In the minutes before the final commercial break, Scully learns the kidnapped man has been working with his captors, and she has been set up to become the new host for the parasite. The kidnapped man allows the locals to smash his head in, as they did to the previous victim, to release the parasite for its new host.
In the final portion of the episode, we see Doggett’s instincts and resourcefulness when he locates the town, hears the locals lie about seeing Scully, pretends to believe them, and then sneak back into town on foot. He finds Scully, gets her out of the house she was held in, and follows Scully’s directions to a bus owned by the locals, which is the closest vehicle.
As Doggett tries to hotwire the bus, the locals start to swarm around the vehicle, preparing to protect the parasite. Before he can start the bus, Scully convinces him (using a whole lot of screaming) to remove the parasite before it reaches her brain. He cuts it out with a pocket knife, throws it across the bus, and shoots it a few times. As soon as the parasite dies, the locals simply walk away.
In the final minutes of the episode, we learn the people involved believe the parasite was the second coming of Christ, and are using religious persecution as their defense in court. Scully also apologizes to Doggett for leaving him out of the case, and promises it won’t happen again.
While the episode was well written overall, there were a few moments that I found hard to swallow. The only key moment was at the end, where the locals simply cease their attack after Doggett kills their religious icon. Imagine if you will that you believe so strongly that your god was reincarnated, that you had killed people to keep it alive and healthy, and then somebody killed it. How would you react? Would you ask “why did you do that?” and then stand there, doing nothing, or would you lose your temper, and try to retaliate? In a group of 20 or 30 people, do you think that at least one would retaliate, or at least try to prevent the escape of the killer? That moment, for me, simply didn’t work. I would have found it more believable if they had escaped the crowd in the bus before removing the parasite.
As far as the rest of the episode is concerned, the writing worked. We see that Doggett is just as resourceful as he was last week, when he found the article on the man bat. This time, he found the X-File, and also located several other cases with the same MO. We also learn he is capable of hotwiring a bus. (Do the Boy Scouts have a patch for that?) Doggett may not believe what he reads in the X-Files (yet), but he still investigates it as though he did. Unlike some of the officers Mulder and Scully have dealt with (see Squeeze, for one example), he can recognize a connection when he sees one.
The acting and directing in Roadrunners was capable, but not astounding. This episode seems to be nothing but a vessel to forward the relationship between Doggett and Scully, and for that, it works. The visual effects on the parasite were well done, but not a lot better than what we’ve already seen in the first few seasons, in episodes like F. Emasculati and The War of the Coprophages.
Overall, this was not a horrible episode, but not spectacular either. The writing has only one moment that didn’t work for me, and the rest of the episode was adequate, if not spectacular. Overall, I give it two stars out of four: