This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
That was a little bit silly, wasn’t it? This play on the monster-of-the-week trope was certainly a breath of fresh air after the horrific, Hitchcock-like second episode of the season. Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster is a fantastic title, bringing back the feel of the golden era of sci-fi: paperback and pulp fiction.
The episode sets its comedic tone from the moment we are greeted by the couple huffing paint in the forest – an opening that clearly reveals we are in for a ride. Of course we could not have expected any less from Darin Morgan, whose past work on the X-Files left an impression on its fan base. His last work was Jose Chung’s From Outer Space, the 20th episode Season 3. What makes Morgan’s episodes so good? Well, from this episode alone, Morgan brings the meta, conscious viewpoint the series needs. These episodes are proof that the series doesn’t take itself too seriously, and is an acknowledgement to the ridiculousness the mythos has dipped into within the last decade. It is satirical without insulting the show too much to the point that we detach from it, and brings enough self-awareness to its audience to prove that it is aware its own flaws. Furthermore, this episode does what X-Files does best: address the issues going on in our modern society by integrating it in the narrative of science fiction.
There are some pretty hilarious moments in this episode that’s truly worth noting. My favourite bit was watching Mulder try to capture a picture of the were-monster and only to end up taking blurry video that suffered under the vertical video syndrome. There’s the playful jab at the notion that everyone has a camera nowadays, and so not having a photo of the were-monster just seemed impossible. And yet we have Mulder, who comically puts the blame on the new app he downloaded for his inability to capture an image of the monster, delivering the scifi trope of our ongoing dependence on technology and the conflict that occurs when technology fails.
On a similar note, can we talk about the ridiculousness of the were-monster’s costume? It is so painfully obvious it’s a costume, which adds to the campy feel of the episode, and goes well with the equally ridiculous human name he had chosen for himself – Guy Man. Not to mention the silly psychotherapist, whose idea of grounding and calming himself is to take a walk in the graveyard.
Toilet humour was abound as well and we see this at our first introduction to the were-monster – presented in the form of an unassuming, proper British man caught unaware in a Porta Potty trying to do his business privately. The were-monster is of course, Guy Man, who, in a clever plot twist, was actually a monster who got bit by a human, and thus begins his journey into becoming one of us.
There was also the biblical bit where Guy Man first becomes aware of his own nakedness, a quality that is so unique to the human experience – very Adam and Eve / Garden of Eden like, in terms of character and setting, reminding us that this episode has something very important to say about our collective existence. The episode then takes on a deeper, more satirical approach to the daily issues of the human nature. Guy Man has to arduously go through the mediocrity of day to day societal living, finding a job, having no idea what he’s saying and instead bs’ing his way through everything, (which the were-monster says is better than camouflage) and in a final move, decides once and for all that the only way humans can find happiness is to spend their time with other non-humans – and so he adopts a dog, proposing the idea that the only way humans can be happy, is to have complete ownership and control over another living being.
No matter how hard Mulder tries to find logic in this case, Guy Man proclaims: There IS no logic! Throughout Man’s narration, Mulder keeps trying to spin and lead his story into violence- when did Man attack? When did he murder? Upon reaching the conclusion of the story, Mulder finds out that the real villain isn’t Guy Man, but Pasha – the animal control worker. Pasha tries to say a speech to justify his killings but Scully interrupts him, saying, “You’ve seen one serial killer, you’ve seen them all”.
This episode resonates with the premise of this season – in that we, ourselves, are the villain, the alien, and the monster. Just as Guy Man says, it is much easier to accept that monsters are real out there, instead of within us. The comedic approach this episode took is perhaps the only way to deliver this message without isolating its audience too much, because of the harshness of the message it is delivering. Personally, this is definitely going on my top list of favourite X-Files episodes, because it is one that truly unmasks the cruelty and reality of our day-to-day, by showing us what our lives are like, through the eyes of a monster.