The X-Files (1997) – Detour, and The Post-Modern Prometheus

Detour, written by Frank Spotnitz gives us our first monster-of-the-week episode of season five of The X-Files. First airing on 23 November, 1997, the episode sees Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) in Florida on their way to a team-building/communication seminar held by the bureau, when a forest search and rescue holds up their transit.

With stories of invisible attackers with red eyes catching Mulder’s interest, he plunges into the trees and the investigation, and becomes mired in what he thinks may be a connection to the mothman case of Point Pleasant, Virginia.

It’s not.

There is something in the woods fighting back against the encroaching development, and it is merciless, and can blend with its environment. Scully and Mulder go hunting for it with the help of a forest ranger, Michele Fazekas (Colleen Flynn) and Jeff Glaser (Anthony Rapp).

Soon, they find themselves at the mercy of the elements (as did the production when shooting ran for nineteen days instead of the usual eight) and find themselves the target of the hunters (predators?). And Scully subjects Mulder to her off-key singing.

This is a very fun episode, and makes a nice break from the mythology heavy opening of the season. We also are treated to some wonderful banter between the two agents that shows the flirtation is rea!

It’s a very entertaining story, and the possibilities that are hinted at by Mulder, and the end of the episode make you think. At least for a moment or two. The reason why these creatures exist is nowhere near as fun as the events of the episode itself.

The Post-Modern Prometheus as the title suggests is a bit of a riff on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and even a nod to the old Universal monster movies, being shot in black and white. Series creator Chris Carter, wrote and directed the episode, for which he won an Emmy for Outstanding Direction.

First airing on 30 November, 1997, The Post-Modern Prometheus remains a delightful episode soaked in Cher songs (and an appearance by an impersonator, which caused Cher some regret – she later thought she should have done the episode) as well as Jerry Springer.

Mulder and Scully arrive in a small strange town in response to stories of a strange creature, unexplained pregnancies, and a mad scientist.

As they delve into the eccentric case, they learn there is more going on here than just a search for something called Mutato (played by Chris Owens in heavy prosthetics), but will they all get a happy ending? Will justice be served? And how many Cher songs can we fit into a forty-five minute episode?

Filled with comedic moments, plays on the tropes of the classic Frankenstein story, as well as a number of nods to its creation (both literary and cinematic) this episode came out of nowhere for me when it originally aired, and now delights me any time I come across it.

The series has grown, developed, and is at ease telling all manner of stories. And there’s more to come, because the truth is out there…

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