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The X-Files 11.3 Review – ‘Plus One’

January 17, 2018 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
The X-Files - Plus One THE X-FILES: L-R: Gillian Anderson, guest star Denise Dowse and David Duchovny in the "Plus One" episode of THE X-FILES airing Wednesday, Jan. 3 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX
6.5
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The X-Files 11.3 Review – ‘Plus One’  

Tonight’s episode, Plus One is a standard monster-of-the-week episode. It’s not about a wedding, as the name sort of implies. That should have been amazing. But I found myself getting sidetracked by Scully’s ageist laments and Mulder’s surprising response. Who are these people? What is Chris Carter trying to tell us about them with this nonsense? Is he just setting us up for a series finale where we never see Mulder or Scully again? I’m not sure; but I don’t love it. Spoilers abound for Plus One.

We begin E3 with a rocking club scene and a dude named Arkie—who looks like what would happen if DJ Qualls and Evan Peters combined their DNA. Arkie is having a swell time until he sees his doppelganger. He follows, leading to a scene where his speeding, unseatbelted person lands on the hood of his destroyed car. Shockingly, Arkie lives.

When Arkie tells Mulder and Scully what happened, we’re treated to the usual X-Files rundown of what might be causing this latest crazy thing. Is Arkie lying? Is it a rare form of schizophrenia? What about mass hysteria? It seems like many people have had this happen in recent months, and all but Arkie are dead now. A doc suggests that they might have become mentally ill where they weren’t before. Really? The investigation introduces us to “Little” Judy, a psyche-ward inmate who claims to play telepathic hangman with her twin brother. Riiiight. But wait, she does. Chucky, Judy’s twin, may be even more eccentric and off-putting.

When our favorite FBI agents show up to rent rooms for the night, we’re treated to the overplayed awkwardness about how they couldn’t possibly share a room. Surprise surprise, they end up sharing a room. Mulder wakes Scully when Arkie dies, and she seems uncomfortable to see Mulder in the room. Days later, Arkie’s lawyer has a similar problem. He was, as Simon Pegg would say, decaffeinated. Seems that all the victims of this phenom are criminals, or criminal adjacent. When Mulder wakes Scully to tell her about this death, we see that he’s sleeveless and super friggin’ buff. Maybe that’s inappropriate for me to point out—but you know Mulder would be fine about women ogling his physique.

There’s some humor to be had this week. Scully getting poo flung at her by a smarty-pants “Demon Judy” was amusing, if disgusting. Mulder quipping “No Sugar, Sherlock” was funny to me, mainly because saying “sugar” instead of [expletive] is ridiculous. Dean the lawyer trying to rid his home of weapons seemed smart—until we saw his enormous collection of katanas. Scully’s explanation for why people think they see ghosts was also delightful, if debatable on a few counts. I enjoyed that the lawyers last name was “Cavalier.” What criminal lawyer isn’t, right?

Around the halfway point of Plus One, Scully and Mulder agree that the siblings are affecting their insane personalities, and are lying about most things—if not everything. It’s hinted at that the twins used their malevolent telepathy powers to kill their parents. The evil game of hangman they play is causing the spate of doppelganger murders, though we’re not exactly sure how it all works. The twins play the game, and the person whose name is the answer is the one who dies. That must mean Chucky is picking them, or do they take turns? Either way, we see a new hangman board that tells us either Scully or Mulder (the game suddenly switches to last names even though Judy was introduced to the team as “Dana” and “Fox”—which must mean Chucky is choosing them as victims).

By the end of the ep, it’s all wrapped up pretty neatly. The nefarious twins use their powers to kill each other. That’s a little sad, as I sort of enjoyed their childish name calling. Judy didn’t seem like a “miserable slut” to me. As expected, neither Mulder nor Scully is injured by their own dopppels, though they both had occasion to see them and be afraid. No word from Skinner, Mr. Y, Barbara Hershey, Miller and Einstein, or anyone else aside from the mains this week. We did get to meet two hilarious nurses and some claptrap about ‘pills’ made out of smooshed bread. This claptrap never actually goes anywhere though, which I found annoying. If they’re going to tell us that the nurses ate the bread pills made by a patient, they really have to follow that up.

When Dana speaks to Demon Judy, we’re startled to see how upset Scully is at being called “old.” Ladies, once you hit 40, you’re not a young chick anymore. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact. One would think someone as science-minded as Scully would know that, and wouldn’t get all sad about this realization. I half expected her to start googling makeup tips for older women. She laments not having more children, and worries aloud about how she would feel if Mulder met a younger woman who wanted to have kids. He says she could do the same thing. There’s so much wrong with this, I barely know where to begin.

I have no problem with Scully and Mulder having more sex, which they did this week. But I do take issue with all the pains she takes to keep things professional and appropriate, only to pop over in the middle of the night to ask him to hold her. While I appreciate that they have a long and nuanced relationship—that seems perilously close to a mind-game to me. Either be appropriate and professional, or admit that you’re not adhering to those standards. This somewhere-in-the-middle line is uncomfortable, even though we all know a sexual harassment claim between these two is highly unlikely.

Why does Scully even care that she’s getting old? Given how they talk about it, her main concerns seem to be physical attractiveness and her ability to procreate. She knows perfectly well that older women do have babies. At the same time, Mulder speaks as if he doesn’t know the difference between an older man having a kid with a young woman, versus the opposite. It is much less likely that Scully could get pregnant at her age. Not impossible, but not a “just do it” thing. So all of that came across as mishandled and a little dishonest all around. Even though I enjoyed the rest of the episode, I’m taking off two whole points for that. We’ve spent far too much time with these characters to be cool with seeing them treated like this.

After Chuck and Judy die, and we affirm that Dana and Fox are safe, we see two old hangman puzzles confirming that Chuck and Judy did use their powers to kill their parents. I could do with a prequel ep telling us why. That sounds a lot more interesting than siblings squabbling over who has a crush on who. Still, they were fun is not especially deep.

Good news! Next week, according to the previews, is the black comedy episode. It’s supposed to be the stand-out gem of the season, according to critics well-connected enough to get the episodes early. I’m super stoked!

See you’s next week!

6.5
The final score: review Average
The 411
Strong, intelligent female leads are a rarity on TV—but Dana Scully has always been one of the best. Maybe that's why I found it off-putting to hear her whining about getting older, lamenting not having more kids, and hopping into bed with you-know-who.
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