Wednesday, 20 March 2019

X-Files Rewatch | '2Shy'

credit: dvdbash/20th century fox

In hindsight '2Shy' is a pretty forgettable episode. But compared to the one that immediately follows it ('The Walk'), it's actually a pretty well-rounded standalone. This mainly revolves around Timothy Carhart's brilliant portrayal of monster-of-the-week Virgil Incanto and the way in which he hunts his prey through instant messaging. 

When I first got to rewatching this episode, I was quite wary as to whether or not the idea of a fat-sucking monster prowling internet chat rooms would come across as a little bit dated, but it actually demonstrated how innovative The X-Files was at the time. By utilising the foreign concept of instantly communicating with strangers online, writer Jeffrey Vlaming is able to hook the audience onto a relatively new fear that dangerous predatory behaviour even exists in the online world. Obviously the suspension of disbelief is somewhat of a comfort as it's pretty unlikely you'd be killed by having your fat sucked from your body, but the fear is planted nonetheless. 

However, it's through the specificity of Incanto's needs that fails the episode in a way, as it makes him less of a threat to the viewer as he specifically needs to feed on women who are overweight. And with that comes the strange take on women being body shamed and viewed as less than which can be uncomfortable to watch at points. 


This is compensated somewhat by Scully's empathy and her connection with the victims, regardless of the fact that she doesn't fit Incanto's criteria. '2Shy' is an episode where we get to see Scully as an individual rather than just part of a dip. It's Scully that leads the investigation here rather than Mulder, which also gives Scully the platform to demonstrate her assertiveness to the sexist Detective Cross with no intervention from Mulder. If Mulder were to take the lead in this episode, it wouldn't have nearly as much of an emotional impact as it does with Scully as she's able to emphasise and understand the victims on a deeper level than Mulder. Regardless of body type, Scully and the victims of Incanto's crimes are treated the same collectively as women. 

While I stand by the notion that this episode isn't so memorable, it's hard not to overlook how Scully steals the show in this episode, providing a much needed spotlight on sexism and body shaming even if the writing seems a little too 'on the nose' at points. 

• The episode title always reminds me of this song

• Mulder has such an array of sunglasses — Raybans, nice.

• Scully with the kid — she's so good with kids (*cries*)

• I've only just begun to notice, but it always seems to be men who are the monsters, at least when it comes to human-mutant monsters, anyway.

• Parkour Mulder

• Kerry Sandomirsky, who portrays Joanne in the episode, also starred in the season one episode 'Roland' as Tracy.

• The prostitute's name, Holly McLane, is in reference to John McLane's wife in Die Hard.

MULDER: It looks like she took her pound of flesh, huh?

SCULLY: Mulder, what do you think it is?
MULDER: A couple of months ago, a case came across my desk from the Mississippi office, four women from Aberdeen had disappeared in less than a month.
SCULLY: Disappeared?
MULDER: One of the victims was found, but her body was too decomposed to perform a viable autopsy.
SCULLY: Mulder, what we just saw was no decomposition.
MULDER: I know, that's why I want you to find out what this is while you're at the coroner's office.
SCULLY: What about you? Where are you going?
MULDER: I'm going to try and find out if Lauren MacKelvey was a lonely heart. Each of the Aberdeen victims had answered personal ads in the local papers. If this is the same killer he's just getting started.

SCULLY: It's a metacarpal from Lauren MacKelvey's hand. In life, bones have the tensile strength of forged iron. Even in death, they remain strong. But look at this [proceeds to basically crush the bone with force]
MULDER: [Referring to a vial of slime] What did this turn out to be?
SCULLY: It's organic. Mostly hydrochloric acid smaller to what is secreted by the gastric mucosa.
MULDER: It's similar to stomach acid?
SCULLY: Almost identical only twice as acidic. I also found trace amounts of pepsin which is a digestive enzyme.
MULDER: So, you're saying that this did that?
SCULLY: I don't know how else to explain such accelerated autolysis.
MULDER: What's in here, Scully? Theoretically it should contain the same cellular components as her various tissues — skin, muscle, blood...
SCULLY: In some broken-down form, yes.
MULDER: In the results of your chemical analysis did you find anything missing?
SCULLY: [Looks at Mulder] Missing?
SCULLY: I don't think so. All the body tissues were accounted for [...] except there were extremely low, almost trace amounts of adipose.
MULDER: Fatty tissue. That could explain the weight discrepancy.
SCULLY: What weight discrepancy?
MULDER: The M.E. recorded Lauren's weight at 122 but her driver's license had her at 165.
SCULLY: She probably lost weight since the license was issued.
MLUDER: No, actually Lauren's roomate said she was quite nervous about meeting this guy because she put on some weight recently.
SCULLY: What possible motivation could the killer have for removing his victim's fatty tissue? I mean, who do you think we're dealing with here?
MULDER: I don't know.

SCULLY: "The second sample contains no oils or essential fatty acid." Well, Mulder, there are any number of factors which could have caused that result. Where are you going with this?
MULDER: Okay, it's not yet the finely detailed insanity that you've come to expect from me. It's just a theory, but what if he's not doing this out of a psychotic impulse but rather out of physical hunger? Maybe he needs to replenish this chemical deficiency in order to survive.
SCULLY: From a dry skin sample you're concluding what? That he's some kind of fat-sucking vampire?
MULDER: I don't know hoe else to explain MacKalvey's missing adipose. And I bet if you checked the Aberdeen victims you'd find exactly the same thing. This killer secretes a digestive substance which renders the victims fat...
SCULLY: ...which he ingests before the rest of the body dissolves entirely.
MULDER: There are examples of that in nature, aren't there?
SCULLY: Yes, scorpions predigest their food outside of their body by regurgitating onto their prey, but I don't know too many scorpions who surf the internet.
MULDER: Okay, but if I'm right, we're not just looking for a serial murderer. We're looking for some kind of genetically different human being — a creature who may be responsible for who knows how many missing person cases throughout the United States.

• Okay, this is small but Mulder introduces Scully as his partner and my heart couldn't take it.

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