The X-Files (1996) – War of the Coprophages, and Syzygy

Darin Morgan delivers another fun episode for Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) with War of the Coprophages, which first aired on 5 January, 1996.

Mulder, investigating UFO sightings in a place called Miller’s Grove (a play on the Orson Welles’ broadcast of War of the Worlds which took place in Grover’s Mill, when he finds himself involved in an investigation of a growing number of deaths involving cockroaches.

Except these cockroaches seem to have metallic exoskeletons.

Frequent calls to Scully happen through the night, while she spends the night at home with the Pomeranian from the Clyde Bruckman episode, until Mulder mentions meeting an entomologist named Bambi (Bobbie Phillips) and then, a little jealous, she’s on her way, only to find a town in full panic.

We learn that the town is filled with scientists doing all manner of research, fuel, intelligence, robotics, insects, and while there have been no UFO sightings since the night before, it’s postulated by Dr. Ivanov (Ken Kramer in another X-files appearance) that preliminary probes and exploration would be conducted by mechanical devices, much like insects… is that what is happening here?

There are lots of laughs, a wonderful breaking of the fourth wall when it appears that a cockroach walks across the viewer’s television screen, and features Bill Dow, not as Charles Burke, and introduces a pair of stoner kids (Tyler Labine and Nicole Parker) who will make a few appearances during the series.

And it makes some great references to Plant of the Apes.

All in all, Morgan pens another fantastic episode.

Syzygy was written by series creator Chris Carter, and while it’s a little funny, Carter lacks Morgan’s sense of humour. This episode first aired on 26 January, 1996, and sees the agents investigating a series of murders that have satanic overtures.

What we learn watching the episode (which includes a brief, and early role for Ryan Reynolds) is that an unusual planetary alignment gives a pair of girls, Terri (Lisa Robin Kelly) and Margi (Wendy Benson-Landes) who seem to be more than a little homicidal, strange abilities. Throw in some teenage hormones, and you know we’re going to have problems.

The planetary alignment is causing things to fall out of synch, and is causing increasing hostility between Mulder and Scully, who snipe at each other throughout the episode – sometimes these lines are hysterical, and other they come across as just mean. We also get a rare scene of Scully smoking, no doubt caused by the alignment, and Mulder drinking.

Problems are exacerbated between the agents when Mulder finds himself attracted to the local detective working the case, Angela White (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson).

It’s a sharp episode, but coming right on the heels of a Morgan episode, this one doesn’t quite pop as much as it could. It also features another appearance by Gabrielle Miller.

There are more investigations to follow as I delve deeper into The X-Files because the truth is out there…

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