The X-Files Review by John Keegan

The X-Files 11.05: Ghouli

The X-Files 11.05: Ghouli

Written By:
James Wong
Directed By:
James Wong

The series has been using William as a McGuffin for so long that I wasn’t actually expecting them to reveal the boy (now a teenager).  This episode actually pulls it off without making the entire idea of William and his alien-DNA-derived abilities too far from the usual X-Files mark.  In fact, James Wong continues the tradition of understanding the mythology and its implications far better than Chris Carter ever seemed to, like so many of the veterans of the original writers’ room.

 


 

At the heart of the episode is a commentary on how today’s internet-driven urban legends and “monsters” don’t have the depth and pathos of yesteryear.  Quite frankly, a lot of the “monsters” of the current age couldn’t hold a candle to the conflicted natures of a Dracula or Frankenstein’s Monster, or even a good number of the urban legends that X-Files used to explore (and Supernatural and Fringe after it).  What resonance does something like a “ghouli” possess?

 

Enter William, who is in fact a fairly sympathetic “monster” of sorts.  Not only that, but as hinted so often (going back to the eighth season!), William is possibly the epitome of the human/alien hybrids that have been the result of experimentation for decades.  It’s nice to have the writers finally state what I thought was such an obvious extension of the mythology; if Purity and alien DNA has been present on Earth for millennia, and then the Syndicate purposefully experimented with the effects of combining the genetics further, it just about explains everything that has ever been encountered over the course of the series.

 


 

The episode doesn’t shy away from the fact that we are practically programmed to be sympathetic to William and his plight, yet what we see on-screen suggests someone that has a lot more control over his abilities than he contends.  How much of the harm that he inflicts is truly accidental?  That’s at the heart of the “sympathetic monster”, though.  They can do horrible and questionable things, yet you still want them to get away with it.

 

At least the red herring of William’s death was just that; it began to bring back the awful memories of the ninth season when all the promise and potential of Doggett’s character arc came crashing down.  Or for that matter, when the writers chose to end the mystery of Samantha’s fate by simply killing her off.  It was all too possible that the writers would play that game, but they took a much better approach by forcing Mulder and Scully (and the audience) to contemplate that letting William go is a more fitting resolutiion.

 


 

 

As such, having William actually front and center also underscores the feeling that the saga is coming to a legitimate close.  William is meant to be the culmination of every other “key to everything” we’ve seen to date, and this episode practically beats the audience about the head regarding how long and fruitless Mulder and Scully’s search for the truth has been.  The moment at the end of the episode, with William saying a few kind words to his mother before sneaking away, is about as close to closure as one could ask for at this point.  It feels like it’s setting up the rest of the season as a “victory lap”, which makes the likelihood of Carter delivering another rage-inducing cliffhanger all the more galling.


Our Grade:
B
The Good:
  • This feels like it’s setting up the end of the saga in the way it should end
  • It’s nice to actually see William for once
The Bad:
  • The red herring that William might be dead is a bit irritating

John Keegan aka "criticalmyth", is one of the hosts of the "Critical Myth" podcast heard here on VOG Network's radio feed Monday, Wednesday & Friday. You can follow him on twitter at @criticalmyth

The X-Files by - 2/2/2018 5:53 AM161 views

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