It's Raining Weenies
"Detour" Plot Summary:
In Leon County, Florida, a team of surveyors gets a piece of equipment stuck in the ground; when one of the men tries to free it, a pair of red eyes pop up and he vanishes, as does his fleeing partner. A father hunting with his son in the same woods hears something, sends his son out of the trees, and never comes back. Mulder, travelling with Scully and two other agents to a communications seminar, gets out to stretch his legs at a roadblock and learns of the mystery, which he takes as an excuse to blow off the seminar and investigate.
Mulder believes that the predator they're chasing is not human. Though its tracks don't match any known animal's, the creature walks on the balls of its feet and pursues stronger rather than weaker aggressors. Scully thinks he's putting her on, but the police officer in charge agrees with Mulder's assessment. She goes into the woods with Mulder, Scully, and a local technician with an infrared scanner, but two creatures appear and separate the men from the women. The police officer vanishes.
On their return trip to get help, the group finds that the stones the policewoman placed are missing. The technician flees in fear. Mulder is attacked by the creature after he and Scully both attempt unsuccessfully to shoot it; he is injured, and cannot travel before night falls.
In the dark woods, Scully tries to light a campfire with gunpowder while Mulder cracks jokes about wishing it would rain weenies. He recalls being told that the best way to keep warm is to get naked and crawl into a sleeping bag with another naked person; Scully tells him that if it starts raining sleeping bags, maybe he'll get lucky. She asks him if he's afraid of dying and talks about her thoughts on having cancer, but Mulder cracks jokes and shivers, and at his request she sings him to sleep. In the morning, she has wandered a few feet away in search of food, and vanishes before Mulder's eyes into a hole.
Inside the pit, Scully finds the barely-living hunter and policewoman, as well as many dead bodies. She realizes that one of the creatures is with her, and that she doesn't have her weapon. Mulder drops his gun down to her, then jumps in himself, realizing that he's unarmed and alone in the woods. Scully shoots the creature, and is rescued along with Mulder by their F.B.I. colleagues.
Mulder, who has hypothesized that the creatures may have had to hide since Ponce De Leon first entered the forests of Florida seeking the Fountain of Youth, sees the words "Ad Noctum" carved on a tree and recalls that that was a warning to Spanish explorers: "Into Darkness." He realizes that the creatures have attacked every interloper into their territory, from the developers who want to tear down the woods to the boy hunting with his father, and races to the hotel to rescue Scully. She's fine...but the creature is hiding under her bed, in possibly the same form it has taken since those early infractions into its woods.
This episode wasn't terribly original, but it was a lot of fun until the let-down ending. The opening scenes generated suspense, and the one-liners were terrific from the moment Mulder appeared. Listening to his smart-ass responses to the pair of agents he and Scully were carpooling with was a scream, especially when Mulder announced that communication seminars gave him a hemmorhoidal condition right after one of the agents described an exercise in which no one was allowed to use any negative remarks. That early discussion created several themes which carried through the episode, almost as if the writers wished to demonstrate that, unlike the arc stories, they can use and wrap up every loose end when they want to.
I liked some of the horror movie conventions - the kid watching Invisible Man when there was one in his house, the girls and guys getting separated in the woods - but I did not like Scully having to play the damsel in distress yet again. I much prefer it when she rescues Mulder. She mostly got to debate him unsuccessfully in the early part of this episode and comfort him in the later part, which was fine, and a lot of fun when she sang "Joy To the World" - I was half-expecting to hear choruses of bullfrogs erupt during the song, there had been so much joking beforehand, from Mulder's asking Scully whether she identified with Wilma Flinstone or Betty Rubble to Scully's suggestive remarks to Mulder. Lots of fun...just a little hollow.
The biggest problem was that the mystery was not solved - and there's a creature loose which is probably going to kill again. Mulder made suggestions that the tree-men hibernate like ticks and may have appeared in the West Virginia woods decades earlier. We were given possible connections to Ponce De Leon's mission, but never anything conclusive. Since it seems unlikely that these creatures are going to have consequence for the rest of the series, I expected either a better explanation or a complex moral, something less blatant than stop overdeveloping the woods and always work with your partner - Mulder and Scully could have gotten beaten over the head with the latter slogan at that seminar they avoided just as well as the audience did during this episode.
It's particularly interesting that the togetherness theme popped up so often in this episode, considering Mulder's dismissal of any serious discussion of Scully's feelings about facing death - the biggest letdown of all, as far as I was concerned. OK, he was injured and exhausted at the time, but his joking nonchalance when she talked about cancer and the meaninglessness of life seemed callous to me. She was mostly kidding when she told him that maybe he could use a communication seminar, but she certainly had a point.
Overall, I enjoyed this episode; it was suspenseful, it had terrific comic repartee, and it had a lovely, subtle Mulder/Scully hurt/comfort scene which should delight relationshippers and anti-relationshippers alike. But it felt very anticlimactic. I fear the X Files writers have painted themselves into a corner: obviously they can't do arc stories every week or they'll burn it out too quickly, but when they don't do arc stories, the shows seem fairly inconsequential. The fact that this one was also reminiscent of several other episodes with monster-in-the-woods themes didn't help. Last week I missed Scully; this week I missed Skinner. The X Files is not the same two-person show as it was a couple of seasons ago, and when it tries to be, it falls a little flat.
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