Vince Gilligan delivers a very comedic entry in The X-Files with Bad Blood, which first aired on 22 February, 1998. A riff on not only classic vampire beliefs as well as the classic he said/she said trope.
The episode opens with a shocking moment, a young man, Ronnie (Patrick Renna) is being chased, and ends up being staked through the heart by Mulder (David Duchovny) before we see that Ronnie has on a pair of false fangs…
This means that Mulder and Scully (Gillian Anderson) have to give a report (I was drugged!) to Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) about what happened in the small town of (Lon) Chaney, Texas. We see the case from the perspective of both agents, and therein comes some pretty fantastic comedy,as they tell their stories,which, while similar, are tainted by their own beliefs, experiences and how they see themselves and one another.
Luke Wilson gets stars as the local sheriff, whom Scully develops a crush on, and Mulder characterises with huge buck teeth, and then there’s the interpretation of the evidence, and the events that lead to Ronnie being staked.
There are so many great lines, moments, reactions. This is a brilliantly funny episode, and lets the characters revel in who they are, and the world they exist in.
It also provides a nice bit of a breather before we plunge into another pair of mythology episodes that delve into the conspiracy, and confronts whether Mulder believes anymore.
The magic fingers, stealing Scully’s pizza, eye rolls, Brent Butt showing up again, the way the characters behave around each other, and the perfect cuts around Mulder’s swearing. Such a great episode. And yet, I seem to forget about it until it comes along. Of course, then it’s always a joy to rediscover it and laugh, and laugh.
Patient X lets you know that this is going to be a big episode, conspiracy-wise, just by watching the guest star credits, John Neville (The Well Manicured Man), Brian Thompson (the Alien Bounty Hunter), Nicholas Lea (Krycek), Laurie Holden (Marita Covarrubias) are all listed as well as Veronica Cartwright who plays Cassandra Spender, who claims she’s a multiple abductee, and Chris Owens makes his first appearance as Agent Spender.
While Mulder wrestles with his beliefs and whether alien colonisation is a thing, the Syndicate appears to be worried that the E.B.E.s are accelerating their time table to assume control. This troubles them because the Syndicate is years away from developing a vaccine against the black oil, which also makes an appearance, and the Bounty Hunter and some others have a new appearance.
With callbacks to the Duane Barry episodes, this episode demands the viewer’s attention, and offers clues as to what may be going on, and has some truly disturbing moments.
All of it circles around Cassandra and her experiences, as well as others who are being drawn together, ‘gatherings’ as the Syndicate calls them, that serves as an overture for something more insidious. And as we race to the cliffhanger conclusion of the episode, which sees Scully, Cassandra and others being drawn to a remote bridge… where they are attacked by bounty hunters that have their eyes and mouths sealed shut who are intent on setting every one alight!
The truth is out there, but will we recognise it when we see it, and will Mulder and Scully? There are so many more questions, but we’ll just see what answers the show gives us next week.