Alejandra Zimmermann ‘19 / Staff Writer
The X-Files takes a step away from hard drama to satire in the fourth episode of the series, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.” Directed and written by Darin Morgan, audiences get a chance to experience an X-Files episode that strays away from the dark undertones set inplace for the series.
Opening up, the scene is set in black and white, already setting the tone to be different from what we have seen so far. The dialogue is playful and mocks the idea of aliens, which is funny considering the show’s obsession around the existence of extraterrestrials. Continuing the comedic element, we see a green-covered Mulder arriving home only to answer the phone to a worried Scully. He tells her that he was out Bigfoot-hunting, or as he calls it, “squatchin’.” Once he finishes talking to his partner, he lays down in the dark and in the window and viewers see the iconic taping of an ‘X’. Bringing back an iconic symbol is nostalgic and gives the longtime fans something to reminisce on. For new viewers, the ‘X’ means summoning an informant. In this case, someone is calling out to Mulder. How Mulder knows where the undisclosed location is exactly is not revealed, but in this case, it leads him to a parking lot.
Sunflower seeds fall on the ground as a sweaty man calls out to Mulder. “Mulder, it’s me.” The paranoid man tells Mulder that they know each other, even though Mulder doesn’t know him. He tells Mulder that “They” are messing with him to make him forget everything, but Mulder plays skeptic. The man reminds Mulder of a Twilight Zone episode Mulder watched as a kid to prove that the man knows him and disappears when footsteps approach. A curious Mulder is now scrambling to find the episode the man told him about while an annoyed Scully watches Mulder turn his room upside down. As he rambles on about the Twilight Zone episode he suddenly now can’t find, we get shown a flashback to a young Mulder on a couch watching the episode. The memorable element in this scene was a young Mulder’s body with the head of adult Mulder. Wanting to find the episode, he cancels on dinner with Scully, breaking the hearts of many Mulder and Scully fans. Now, it is Scully’s turn to meet the mystery man with the forehead sweat. The man goes off on the same rant about “they” wanting to erase him and Scully, like Mulder, has trouble believing him. That is, of course, until he brings up something about her childhood, a gelatin Scully would used to make when she was younger.
Mulder and Scully are surprised about the small details the mystery man knows about them and decide to connect with him again to find out who he really is. Meeting in the parking lot one more time, they finally get some information out of him. Reggie Something (Brian Huskey) starts to tell a story about the time he experienced the Mandela Effect, or as he calls it the Mengele Effect. Reggie then goes off to explain how the government is repressing his memory to erase his existence. Scully tries to make some sense, but Mulder suggests it could be a parallel universe. The Agents are ready to walk away from Reggie, but he finally caves in and tells them about Dr. They. In The X-Files world, Dr. They manipulates individuals’ collective memory. In the montage explaining who he is, the show pokes fun at the crowd size of the 2017 Presidential Inauguration, clearly encompassing some real-world connections. The show even goes to showing Dr. They wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, making some views question if this Dr. They is representing President Trump. Reggie then goes off once again talking about his own alien experience. In this case, the alien shown is funny and is meant to poke fun at Reggie’s story.
The episode suddenly starts playing The X-Files opening credits in an acapella tone. Everyone gets re-introduced again, but this time using their character name. Bonus: Reggie is also included in the opening. We then are taken back to 1993 with old X-Files scenes playing, but this time, with Reggie in the picture. Props to the editing department, because it actually does look like Reggie was in the scenes!
Back to reality, the Agents get some visitors that eventually scare Reggie away. There is more funny dialogue for Mulder, which is not common for Morgan to write, but it is refreshing for viewers. Mulder is now with Dr. They, who by this point, resembles and mentions President Trump with the comments that he makes to Mulder. “Phony Fake News.” Back at the parking lot again, Mulder and Scully confront Reggie after finding files about him. Reggie, as it turns out, worked in various government agencies from the CIA to the FBI, until he was committed to a mental institution after having a nervous breakdown. They call the medics on him, but Mulder wanted him to at least continue finish the story about the three of them working their last case together. In an alternative universe, Mulder, Scully, and Reggie meet an Alien that doesn’t want anything to do with the human race. The alien talks about building a wall, “not sending us your best people,” and even “bing, bongs” back into the spacecraft on his hoverboard. Trump reference number three did not hold back what so ever. Back to reality, Reggie is taken away and the episode ends on a sad, but funny note.
Overall Grade: B-