In the 90’s, I saw an incredibly clever sketch from “The Kids in the Hall”, where Mark McKinney walks into a laundromat, and tells the first person he see’s that he’s never done his own laundry before, and asks how he washes his clothes. That person tells him “The instructions are under the lid of the washing machine.” So Mark McKinney follows the instructions point by point. He puts the soap into the washing machine, and then the clothes, and then he shuts the lid, and just stands there, because that’s the last instruction that he saw before he shut the lid. Other sketches go on, but once in a while, we go back to him, just standing there, not knowing what to do, until the ending credits roll by him. It’s such a clever sketch, and I remembered it so vividly, and watched to watch it again a couple years ago. So I went looking for it, and I couldn’t find it. I spent my time searching, and searching everywhere, and my mind was boggled by the fact that I couldn’t find it, because it was so memorable to me. So I binged the entire show, just to find it. While I had a great time watching the show, because it’s great, the sketch in question wasn’t there!
Turns out that it wasn’t Kids in the Hall… It was a group called “The Vestibules”, from their half hour CBC Comics special… I think… I don’t know, I can’t find it again for the life of me right now.
So this is an X-Files review…
I know Doctor They, I know, I’m getting to the review now! (Picture Source: FOX, gifs.com)
Mulder and Scully are taking it easy with their adventures, with Mulder taking some personal time looking for bigfoot. He comes home to find an X on his window, which usually means that someone wants to meet him. In the parking lot of the FBI headquarters, he meets a man named Reggie Something (name may not be accurate, as he doesn’t quite remember), and he tell Mulder that people are making people forget things, and that his favorite Twilight Zone episode doesn’t exists. In a panic, Mulder tries to find the episode anyway he can (Scully suggests that maybe it wasn’t a “Twilight Zone” episode, maybe it was “Outer Limits”, to which Mulder correctly says “Mix Twilight Zone with The Outer Limits… DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME?”).
Reggie then gets to Scully, and shows her a knock off Jell-O that she’s been looking for since she was a kid, and that people kept telling her didn’t exist.. That’s when we know that we’re into the Mandela effect episode, something that I’ve been fascinated with for years.
It’s hard to write a review of this episode without constantly saying that this episode is weird. It goes all over the place with what story it wants to tell, it seems like it’s several attempts of explaining the Mandela (I’m not calling it the Mengele) effect, and it’s need, but it doesn’t quite work plot wise, not like “Mulder And Scully Meet the Were-Monster” did (which this episode feels like, because it was written by the same guy), but god damn this is a fun episode.
“The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat” works best the way a sketch show, or a stand up comedian does. The comedy is all over the place, but it mostly works. I’d say that the only bits that annoyed me a little are the constant insistence that the Mandela effect is actually called the Mengele effect, and a couple jokes when a bit too broad, but for the most part, I was just having fun seeing the places this episode was willing to go!
I love Reggie’s craziness, Mulder’s ability to try to care about what Reggie is trying to say, and Scully is mostly just done with all of this. I love the scene where Mulder see’s his first Twilight Zone episode (in the weirdest effect you’ve ever scene, which I couldn’t stop laughing about). The aliens that appear multiple times in this episode are very humorous. Casual waterboarding is… funnier than it should be. But there are three segments that rise to the top for me.
When we find out that Reggie Something use to be in the X-Files is one. Having put Reggie in previous X-Files episodes is a very sitcom thing to do (it reminded me of Jack Black in “Community”), but it works! It’s basically a compilation of the best of scenes of the series, but with how Reggie would react in those situations. Reggie shooting a shape-shifting doppelganger, and his reactions during the episode “Home” is especially humorous.
Another scene that works super well for me is when Mulder meets Dr. They. Who is Dr. They? They is the person who is in control of making us remember and forget things. Or is he? It doesn’t matter. Or does it? This scene pretty much provides the thesis of this episode, in that while there is objective truth, people will just believe what they want to believe. The best moment is when Dr. They says that Mulder’s time is over… because it is. In this time of fake news, the X-Files is basically irrelevant. The information you do, or do not get online is the information that sticks in your head, whether its true or not. Even if we believe something, a slight suggestion that the opposite is true will make us question, which sometimes is healthy, and sometimes isn’t.
The third is the X-Files final mission scene, which is brimming with wonderful, fever dream like weird humor. Every thing in this scene is top of its class in comedy, from the rear projected driving, to the over the top performances, to the Trump like alien, to Mulder’s reaction to finding out the truth about everything (God I could watch that on loop). This scene is just so funny, that it makes up for any real short comings of the episode.
I remember saying I would take a whole season of comedy episode over the first episode of this season, and while that’s true, I’m good with this one. Maybe one more humorous one, but I feel like the reason this episode works is that it parodies the fact that the X-Files are irrelevant in this age of information. I kind of don’t want that, because Mulder and Scully are seekers of the truth, and honestly, those are the type of heroes we need. I want them to discover (their universe’s version of ) the truth, and have it mean something. And they can do it too!
Because they are Scully and friggen Mulder you punks!