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The X-Files 11.4 Review – ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’

January 24, 2018 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday
The X-Files - Lost Art of Forehead Sweat THE X-FILES: L-R: Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in the "The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat" episode of THE X-FILES airing Wednesday, Jan. 24 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX
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The X-Files 11.4 Review – ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’  

It may sound odd to declare that tonight’s X-Files episode was crafted with Twilight Zone fans in mind—but it clearly was. Lots of talk of current events and the political climate, though Morgan was careful not to use anyone’s name. As Alec Baldwin was not involved, we’re not sure how this is gonna be tweeted about in the morning. LOL. Watch for mentions of that Shazam movie people swear they’ve seen but doesn’t actually exist, the Mandela Effect, Occam’s Razor, and how easy it is to confuse George Orwell with Orson Welles. As always, expect spoilers for “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.”

This week begins with a scene highly reminiscent of “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” But because it’s campy to the point of absurdity, we presume it’s not real. But is it? That (My Favorite) Martian seemed like a cross between a Kanamit and the Great Gazoo from The Flintstones. We come upon Mulder, who has just returned home from ‘Squatchin. I’m sorry to tell you, that Yeti enthusiasts actually do call it that. * sigh *

Morgan gives us tons of funny dialogue tonight, and asks so many huge questions that it’s not gonna be possible to mention them all in this review. Chances are, you’ll want to watch tonight’s episode more than once just because there’s so much to see and think about. Before long we meet a guy: Reggie Something. Mr. Something is convinced that “they” are trying to erase his memory, and he can’t remember everything he doesn’t remember anymore.

This episode hit me kinda hard, because I had one of those experiences last year. I was sure that the kid who solved mysteries in 70s books was ‘Cyclopedia Brown (with no E on the front). I could have sworn that’s how it was on all the books. I said this during an interview, and the interviewer told me he couldn’t find any evidence of this. Then I couldn’t either. It was unnerving. So hearing the antique toy dealer discussing the phenomenon was…a little creepy. Mulder has a similar experience when it turns out that his favorite TZ episode—the first one he ever saw–doesn’t actually exist. Ditto Reggie’s favorite childhood books, a whimsical “Doctor” Wuzzle whose name is spelled differently too.

Reggie pleads with Mulder for help, then Scully, all the while being pursued by mysterious dudes who vanish whenever one of our heroes goes in for a closer look. Is someone trying to erase Reggie? How do people still know that an X on the window means to meet Mulder in a spooky parking garage? How creepy was Duchovny’s adult head shopped onto that tiny kid body? These are among the big questions the show is asking tonight. Orwell says that ‘he who controls the past controls the future.’ If you control what people remember, you can manipulate how they’ll feel about future events. It can lead to practically limitless power if used correctly. Anyone who follows current politics even a little already knows this…unless the loss of net neutrality is already slowing down your streaming and you couldn’t see the episode. My TV blipped during Reggie’s explanation of this, and I couldn’t tell if they were bleeping out a brand name, or it was legit interference, or part of the episode made to make us wonder.

So what’s causing all this misremembering? Is it parallel universes? A hypo-ray gun? The Mandela/Mengele Effect? Drugs? Scully’s childhood medication comes into play, just a little. Was Occam’s Razor really Ozzie’s Razor the whole time? I’ve never seen the Osborne patriarch with a beard. Have you? Also watch for the colorful description of lime cough meds tasting like “leprechaun taint.” Mmmm…not. Not for nothing, but TK Carter also played an irrepressible Djinn in the 80s on a TV show with Richard Gilliland.

We eventually learn that the “they” plaguing Reggie Something is one Doctor Thaddeus Q They, a neurosurgeon and nutter who figured out how to alter memories to help astronauts focus on work instead of their lives back home. But can he really erase or change memories organically? Does it even matter? The task of making people misremember the past is more about repetition and exposure than verifiable facts or biological science. We’re led to see They’s involvement in Ted Cruz’s dad and the Kennedy assassination, the famous ‘Alien Autopsy’ video, and watch as the torture of a captured extraterrestrial is played for slapstick laughs. Well, it’s a black comedy episode, so that was bound to happen. Making the alien talk like Snagglepuss certainly chills out the terror, doesn’t it?

“Foxy” gets schooled by some younger FBI agents in his parking garage. They call him “fat” and “old” and imply outright obsolesces. His retort, that he’s “Fox freakin’ Mulder” seems to fall on deaf ears. Whatever did happen to the Soy Bomb guy anyway? #Mysterious

When Mulder finally meets this mysterious Dr. They, they’re in a quad full of statues. Where the heck are those located? What are they in reference to? They’re all the same dude, a creepy looking mascot-like dude. Can someone please explain this to me? A great place to shoot this scene, but how does that even happen? Dr. They seems to revel in the doubt surrounding all facts these days, referring to the “hundreds of millions of people at the last inaugural,” which is contrary to every reality I’m aware of. Oh, and They tells Mulder that he’s well past his prime, “dead” if you will. That just feeds the rumors that this is the last season of X-Files unless Miller and Einstein take over, that is. Anyway, it turns out that Dr. They made his own hilarious video about his life and work. He extols the virtues of giving people the truth in a way that makes them doubt it. It works, because Mulder doesn’t believe most of what They tells him. Meanwhile, Scully stops listening once we learn there may be recovered memories.

Reggie’s claims become increasingly outlandish until he finally reveals that he used to be Mulder’s partner in the X-Files. According to him, the “I want to believe” poster was his all along. Reggie is the one who stopped Scully from kissing Mulder’s doppelganger, and he was there when they discovered the family in “Home.” We even get a sec with Peter Boyle. Neat! And yeah, Reggie tells us that he once called Scully “sugar boobs” and lived to tell the tale. It was super fun, like that time Jack Black was on an episode of Community as if he’d been there all along. But Jack Black didn’t get an a capella version of the theme song like we got tonight. That was cool.

Mulder was especially hilarious in the reenactments tonight. His little move before taking off after the aliens was awesome, right out of Scooby Doo. Ditto Scully’s “driving” as they sped off to meet the returning alien—who absolutely talks like a Kanamit. The alien’s final speech about why aliens are building a wall, using well-known words from our Commander-in-Chief? Yikes, that’s going to enrage a few people for sure. More hilarity ensues when the alien informs us that we’re “free to explore Uranus,” which is apparently funny on every planet. The result is that the world has become so conspiracy-riddled and insane that even Mulder can’t get his head around it. That’s kinda funny, but also a little sad and more than a little worrisome. That’s why “may you live in interesting times” is a curse. And something about Grenada…Oh, and if you aren’t aware of what The Voyager Gold Record is, you can read about it here.

Are tonight’s events “real” in that they’re now canon? I can’t imagine how. Scully really loved Reggie all along? With Mulder standing right there? I’m not seeing it. The good news is we got to spend a split-second with our main men Byers and Frohike. That’s lucky, because I was totally complaining about that when we got the earlier episode with Langley. Turns out, Reggie is Reginald Mergatroid, local mental patient. But as Scully reads from his file, it sounds absurd that one person could work for so many different government departments. Surely you can’t to work for the NSA if you’ve water-boarded someone? Anyway, the docs load Reggie into a straight-jacket and haul him back to the asylum. Take care and good luck to you too, Reggie.

The lesson: We’re not alone in the universe, but nobody likes us. Honestly, that’s so accurate it’s got to be true. As Reggie is hauled away, Skinner shows up and asks, “Hey, where are they taking Reggie?” Um, WHAT?!? * shakes head briskly to clear it *

Next week, we’re no doubt back to the William subplot (or is that the main plot now?) and the seriousness we’re used to. Can’t wait!

See you’s next week!a

9.5
The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Longtime X-Files fans are no doubt stoked that this season's Darin Morgan episode is finally upon us. The guy who gave us characters like Jose Chung, Clyde Bruckman, and last season's WereMonster has crafted for us a hilarious and mind-bending vignette that questions the very nature of truth. And does, Scully really let someone get away with calling her "sugar boobs?"
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