by Lisdean Warner
Well, after two tanks of oxygen, and judicious use of a paper bag, I have
now stopped hyperventilating long enough to write this review. With War of
the Coprophages, the X-Files team has proven it's self-confidence. Only
the self confident can make fun of themselves this well.
The story line, from the beginning, smacks of 50s B-movies--Invasion of
the Ants and other such "insect thrillers" come to mind. Even the names
are made to amuse: Miller's Grove (or Grover's Mill [War of the Worlds,
G.O. Welles, 1939]), Die Flea Die, ...Bambi...
That the actors, director, and writer manage to maintain the level of
self-indulgence throughout the episode shows both self confidence and a
keen sense of reality. The writers are, no doubt, all too aware of how
often they write scenes wherein Scully is left with a dial tone,
frustratedly yelling "Mulder!" into her phone--as aware as Anderson and
Duchovny must be of the often unbearable tension written into their parts.
Darin Morgan's twisting of nearly every stock plot device used in this
two-and-a-half-year-old show is little short of brilliant. Scully's
logical hypotheses here turn out to be not only correct, but also accepted
by her partner; Mulder turns out to be only one of many with quite
off-the-wall ideas about both UFOs and cockroaches; the typical X-Files
dark warehouse scene here becomes a mad little set up for the expected
"crap" line--all become gentle-hearted parodies of themselves.
Even Mark Snow, whose eerie soundtracks are often tense and
frightening, seems joyfully to top the ridge of melodrama, subtly pushing
the audience toward a higher sense of giddy playfulness, as his normally
nerve-jangling warehouse music becomes a chaotic flourish designed to
heighten the amusingly unreal confrontation between Mulder and the
Meanwhile, the actors and director seem to revel in their chance to
play with what is normally the difficult task of producing a show whose
plotlines are usually both tense and terrifying. The phone scenes between
Mulder and Scully--particularly the wonderful "I hate bugs" speech--are
some of the finest self-parody this episode has to offer. The sheer
mundanity of Scully's pastimes, and her laconic "Who died this time?", are
a joking comment on just how normal the weirdness in their lives has
This show seems also to be a light-hearted tribute to the gregarious
internet "Xphiles," whose newsgroups and chat rooms are filled with wild
speculation about and intelligent ribbing of their favourite show.
Mulder's flirtation with Bambi is both a direct challenge--and an
oblique concession--to the fans who call themselves "relationshippers"
(those who are convinced that, regardless of official claims to the
contrary, Mulder and Scully belong together romantically). Mulder's
not-very-subtle glances at Bambi's anatomy and his brusqueness with his
cellular phone when interrupted, seem to say that there is nothing beyond
friendship between him and Scully. Hanging up on her is the act of a
friend trying desperately to get it on; one who doesn't need to be
bothered by his pals.
But if there's no relationship, then why is Scully so jealous?
On a less parody-driven note, this episode happily returns to something
which, to this writer's mind, has been sorely lacking in the tense
episodes of the second and early third season, namely the comfortable,
sometimes playful, banter between Mulder and Scully, which so cemented
their relationship in the first season. While the wonderfully crafted
Clyde Bruckman episode gave the energy between them a distinct chance to
lighten up, this is one of the few shows in recent months to allow that
almost-flirtatious flavour to be savoured again.
Both the X-Files crew and avid fans can be understandably proud of this
episode. For all the seriousness of the plotlines, the tension of the
conspiracies, it's nice to see that both crew and fans are happy to take a
little time to laugh at themselves.
> This show seems also to be a light-hearted tribute to the gregarious
> internet "Xphiles," whose newsgroups and chat rooms are filled with wild
> speculation about and intelligent ribbing of their favourite show.
I'm a little surprised someone hasn't mentioned the fact that
they did an episode exclusively tailored for all of those fans who
complain that Scully's never right. I thought it was a great
episode! You got to see Scully & Mulder interact while NOT on a
case together. We heard them bantering (w/o hostility). We learned
obscure facts about cockroaches... It was a fun episode.
I'm not sure I really thought Scully was jealous, though.
I can't speak for all females, but I know I have a lot of friends
that would automatically assume Bambi's a bimbo just based on
her name. It's not a fair assumption, but then who said life is
fair. Plus, let's face it, Mulder's a loner, and all of a sudden
he's hanging out with this Dr. Bambi? Even though it was sort
of related to the whole cockroach problem. Scully's no fool.
She might feel somewhat protective of Mulder (as someone else on
the list pointed out), but I think her reaction was more as an
amused observer. Just my opinion, of course...Risi