"Subject: Desert Squid: Myth or Legend?" on Freakylinks
by Michelle Erica Green

Squish! Why Chloe's a Vegetarian

Subject: Desert Squid: Myth or Legend?
Airdate: November 3, 2000


Derek Barnes: Ethan Embry
Chloe Tanner: Lisa Sheridan
Jason Tatum: Karim Prince
Lan Williams: Lizette Carrion
Vince Elsing: Dennis Christopher
Falcon: W. Earl Brown
Rancher: Richardson Morse
Joe Taggert: John Billingsley
Man in Black: Brogan Roche
Night Clerk: Leslie Jordan

"Subject: Desert Squid: Myth or Legend?" Overview:

Derek, Chloe and Jason head to Texas to find out whether a mysterious creature or a corporate conspiracy should be blamed for slaughtered cattle.

Plot Summary:

While Lan takes a trip to Chicago, Derek, Jason, and Chloe take a road trip to East Texas to follow up on a report about mutilated cows. They have received a video featuring a guy named Falcon, who gives his address as 3450 Sex Road and asks them to come learn the truth. Most of the locals ridicule the legend of the desert squid that attacks livestock, though a few -- like diner owner Joe -- try to profit from it by working the tourist angle. In the dismal diner bathroom where none of the urinals work, Derek is about to pee in the sink when Vince Elsing accosts him, saying someone will get hurt if Freakylinks investigates further.

Undeterred, Derek rings Falcon's doorbell -- having learned that the address is really 3456 Road if one pronounces it without a Southern accent. Falcon isn't home, and the place has been trashed. Jason thinks they're being conned to promote the desert squid for tourism, but when Derek swerves to avoid a dog in the road, he hits something else, and finds a damaged tentacle-covered arm in the road. The three sneak it into a hotel, where the living squid arm escapes. Falcon finds them there, sneaks them out, and says they need to investigate multinational conglomerate De Santo, who created the desert squid.

Turns out Falcon used to work for De Santo, many years back in San Antonio. He took coffin-sized boxes and ditched them in the desert, never thinking to look inside until one day something was moving in one of them. He opened the box and realized he was trucking around humans who had been biologically altered by the corporation. Having quit his job and changed his name, Falcon now wants to warn everyone about the corporation. Derek says he doesn't understand why it took the squid so long to start menacing cattle, and privately he wants to know what Vince Elsing has to do with it all.

The group returns to the diner and discovers a bomb in the meat locker. Jason throws it out as the locker starts to move; it's really an elevator, which takes them to a secret underground laboratory. It's clear somebody still lives there, though none of the Freakylinks crew notices the tentacle swinging amidst the wires. When they get out, the dog from the road shows them a way out of the underground. As men in black study the burned diner, Falcon finds the gang and takes them back to his trailer. They watch a video Derek swiped from the lab, featuring Vince Elsing narrating about a scientific project. Chloe is furious Derek didn't tell them sooner of Vince's involvement.

In the midst of their argument, the trailer shakes and a tentacle comes through the roof, nearly killing Chloe. Jason insists that they return home and post what they have before someone gets killed. But as they prepare to upload, the power goes out and the men in black break into Derek's place. Then a tentacled arm comes siezes the thugs from De Santo, followed by the body to which it is attached -- Joe from the diner. He's fed up with the thugs and with his arm growing back no matter how many times it's cut off, but he still needs publicity for the new diner he plans to open, and he wants back the dog Chloe "rescued" after it led them out of the lab.

Joe admits that he mutilated the cows, partly for publicity and partly because he needed meat for his diner. Once he leaves, Jason wonders what will happen to the men in black. At the Desert Squid Diner, the burgers look unnaturally large. Vince leaves Joe a huge tip.


Cheesy as it is, this show sort of grows on a person, though the same can't be said for Derek Barnes, who needs a good kick in the head or at least a throttling by a giant squid. With Lan largely absent for the second week in a row, this episode got to play with Derek and Chloe's relationship -- they fight about how he doesn't tell the others anything, then she falls into his arms when the trailer shakes, then he's more interested in chasing the squid than making sure she's all right. In short, she's an adult while he's a teenage geek -- why in heck is she still hanging out with this guy?

The flashback technique for the episode doesn't work particularly well, since we saw the giant tentacle in the opening sequence, thus eradicating any chance we're going to believe in a corporate conspiracy killing cattle and trying to make it look like a giant squid to cover their tracks. At the end, we still have no idea why De Santo wanted to merge a man with an octopus, which is dopey -- we should have gotten more of a hint about what Vince was up to, and where his own powers come from. One could go cross-eyed from the uneven camera work -- lovely in the overhead scene in the desert with the trio around the severed squid arm, dreadful in the shaking video footage from the trailer. If Freakylinks wants to be a cheap X-Files, it needs to concentrate more on its visual storytelling technique.

The color-drained flashback of Falcon as a younger, thinner man who looks exactly the same is hilarious, proving that the filmmakers can get it right when they're not resorting to Blair Witch rehash. Falcon looks like he's reliving an experience from a Michael Laughlin film, and the box-in-the-desert stuff makes one remember that The X-Files can be ludicrous, too. The Eating Raoul cannibalistic ending has its own charm, though I'd like to know whether Joe redid the bathroom, or if his customers are still peeing in sinks.

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