What a way to begin an episode! It’s shocking, disturbing, scary, and a great set up for a mystery. Two girls enter a derelict boat, separately, seemingly believing that the other one is a monster called Ghouli. They see each other, but that’s when Ghouli barges in! In a panic, the girls start stabbing at it, not realizing that they are stabbing each other.
This whole episode is about what we see, as apposed to what is actually there, and it’s smart about it. Scully has a weird sleep paralysis nightmare (which would be a great episode in itself) where a dark figure shows here that she needs to investigate this case. Mulder and Scully go to investigate, confounded about what, or why anything is happening, but a cop mentions that the girls were looking for Ghouli.
Ghouli on this show is basically treated as a creepy-pasta, with all the scariness… and admitted lameness that would be associated with most creepy-pastas. It looks like a man sized Cloverfield monster and is somewhat unimaginative in its design. That said, if what were to scream in your face, you would want to scream back and stab it as well!
The creepy-pasta portion of the episode quickly goes to the wayside as we find out that the girls (who are somehow still alive) have both had the same dream, telling them to go to the ship yard (similar to the one Scully had), and both had the same boyfriend, even though they don’t know each other.
It’s hard to go into this episode without mentioning every little bit, because it’s a super dense episode, with a lot happening. Basically, this eventually revolves around the boyfriend, who turns out that he may be Mulder and Scully’s son, and it’s far better handled than any mythology episode, at least within the few seasons. There’s a wonderful scene where William is thought to be dead, and Scully just lets out every thought and feeling she’s ever had. It’s heartbreaking seeing her in such a vulnerable state like this. You could feel the pathos just emanating from Gillian Anderson, and the feeling of lost and regret. There isn’t much happening in the terms of camera work, or score, except an excellent actor acting excellently, and it far more than enough. It’s certainly a highlight.
But it turns out that William is a trickster. He’s got reality bending powers, like 008 from “Stranger Things” where he makes people see what he wants people to see. Now, I really like this twist, and look forward to more interaction with him, but I have a few issues.
Firstly, William is a little shit. I know he’s a teenager, but he’s far more of a little shit than this episode gives him credit for. He makes his two girlfriends see the Ghouli as each other expecting them to run away, but they end up stabbing each other, which he was saying was just suppose to be a prank. I don’t feel like that’s much of a prank in as much as that’s just being evil! That’s almost a psychotic movie, and is definitely an abuse of power (of which he say’s he can’t fully control yet).
Secondly, forget about the powers! He’s got two girlfriends that don’t know about each other, which is bad itself, but he decides to prank both at the same time, and the same place? How do you mess that up? Why would you play with fire like that? I know he’s only a teenager, but are we suppose to root for this guy after this weird ass stunt that he pulled? This was just a dumb move in general.
That being said, William’s use of his power in the last act of the episode was almost cathartic. The D.O.D. are after William so they can cover up some bad experiments they did in the past and watching them get dispatched is its own reward. Real clever bits of imagination made for a thrilling action scene.
Beyond that… William being a little shit portion, this was a great episode! Little bit of trivia, this episode was written and directed by series vet James Wong (Not to be confused with Saw, The Conjuring, Insidious, and Furious 7 director, James Wan). Wong was also the director of the first and third entry of one of my favorite horror series of all time, Final Destination, which started out as an X-Files spec script (a script that is meant to show your talent, than it is to be produced) from Jeffery Reddick. Wong only directed a few movies, and produce some with his writing partner Glen Morgan (also of X-Files), but those movies include “Willard”, which was great. Jet Li’s “The One” which… was a movie, and the “Black Christmas” remake which I like to bring up with my room mate, because that movies annoys him to no end, because he is a big fan of the original.
Wong also Directed “Dragonball: Evolution” which doesn’t exist, because someone who made a movie as good as the original Final Destination, and who wrote some of the best X-Files episodes, couldn’t have possibly have directed something as horrendously bad as “Dragonball: Evolution”.