The Camera Doesn't Tell The Whole Story
"X-Cops" Plot Summary:
A live-action cop show set in Hollywood opens with L.A. Sheriff's Deputy Keith Wertzel chasing a hooker and reflecting on the bad behavior that seems to be triggered by the full moon. Responding to a call about a prowler, he chases an unseen suspect, then screams and tries to flee. At the scene a few minutes later, an officer named Paula and several others study Wertzel's trashed vehicle. Then they rush out after potential suspects, who turn out to be two FBI agents conducting an independent investigation. Mulder introduces himself by way of his badge while his hands are over his head.
One of the cameras sticks with Mulder and Scully as Mulder asks the deputy what he saw. Though Wertzel says he never got a good look, he appears to have bite marks from a werewolf on his hand. Scully warns Mulder that they are on national television. "You don't want me looking foolish," Mulder says, telling his partner that this time he's sure they can prove the paranormal in front of everyone. But Scully's agenda is slightly different: "I don't want ME looking foolish." She agrees to drive Wertzel to the hospital, but warns Mulder that she's going to ask Skinner's opinion about the cameras.
Mulder shows Paula a police sketch of a werewolf seen in Los Angeles during the last full moon. She is dubious, and the whole squad cracks up when a potential witness describes Freddy Krueger to another sketch artist. Yet the sketch artist is killed shortly afterwards. The police discover his body after a 911 call from a local male couple, Steve and Edie, who strut flamboyantly for the cameras, then lament their personal problems. Scully retrieves a fake fingernail near the sketch artist's body and suggests that they need to find its owner rather than a werewolf. Edie recognizes the color as belonging to Chantara Gomez, a local streetwalker with hair the same bubblegum pink as her nails. On camera, Mulder announces that Scully would look good in that color.
When the cops and the camera catch up with Gomez, they blur her face so she can't be identified by viewers. But it ends up being irrelevant, because after the police assure Gomez's safety from her pimp Munoz, they leave her alone while chasing a potential suspect. Gomez is murdered inside a police car in just the manner she had feared Munoz would kill her. "It was here," gasps Wertzel, finally ready to confess to Mulder what he would not say earlier: the creature that attacked him looked like the wasp man of his childhood nightmares. Since Scully identifies his "bite marks" as insect wounds, Mulder begins to see a pattern: people are attacked and killed by a creature that takes the form of their worst nightmares, which might be a werewolf for one, a wasp for another, and Freddy Krueger for a third.
Scully wants to perform an autopsy on Gomez, and takes her to the local morgue, where a nervous assistant is afraid of possible contagion. Scully snaps that the prostitute died of trauma, not the Hanta virus. "The Hanta virus?" asks the terrified assistant, who promptly has a nosebleed and keels over. "Call 911!" Scully barks to the cameraman, who does not want to stop filming. When the live action resumes, Scully insists that the other woman could not have died of Hanta virus so quickly, yet Mulder is certain that she did - the virus was her worst fear, and Gomez somehow did transmit it to her. Scully was immune because she had no mortal fear, just as Steve and Edie were immune because their fears were more domestic. Paula bleeps curses at Mulder's inanity, but he thinks the creature preys on high-crime areas because so many people are already afraid for their lives.
Meanwhile, Keith Wertzel enters a crack house, hears shots, and calls for backup in a panic. At the scene, Mulder and Scully race around the back and find the deputy trapped in a room screaming while police try to break down the front door. "Don't be afraid!" Mulder shouts to Wertzel. "You're a sheriff's deputy, and you're on f[BLEEP]ing national television!" Scully helps him break down the door to find Wertzel alive but injured. The sun has come up. Mulder wonders where the creature might appear next, in a world full of fear, and whether Fox will air the footage considering the lack of resolution in solving the crime.
Last week, Mulder lost his entire world - his mother, his hope of finding his sister, his mission in life. This week Mulder chased a werewolf in front of video cameras - ostensibly to prove the existence of the paranormal on national television, but he must have been as aware as his audience that the show was a cheap ratings ploy. I'm not saying that the episode wasn't funny. Mulder had his moments, advising Scully to dye her hair bubblegum pink and trying not to crack up when Edie complained Steve wouldn't make love to him.
Even so, "X-Cops" felt more like a cheap sweeps month ploy even than Star Trek Voyager's WWF crossover "Tsunkatse," because Voyager hasn't taken itself seriously in years. The X-Files until recently had integrity seldom seen on television. No more, apparently.
Since the plug for Harsh Realm at the start of "Sein Und Zeit," the writers haven't appeared interested in seriously addressing the issues that have kept viewers tuned in for more than six years. They threw out the Samantha mystery - and the character of Mulder's mother - in a scant few minutes, offering the suggestion that Cancer Man isn't long for the show (or the world) either. Now they have Scully playing straight woman to Mulder's appealing zaniness. Oh, she was adorable ranting that the Hanta virus was as fake here as in Fight the Future, just as Mulder was charming commiserating with Wertzel about how hard it is to be a good cop and save lives when everyone thinks you're crazy, but they look like caricatures of themselves rather than people who have been to hell and back together.
Clever or not, "X-Cops" offers clear proof that The X-Files is running out of steam. Supposedly this is the week when we'll hear whether Duchovny and Carter have agreed to terms for another season. I'm hoping not. If the show is no longer willing to take its premises seriously, then its time to retire it. A Lone Gunmen-Cops crossover would be hilarious indeed.
The X-Files Reviews