Saturday, December 18, 2010

X-Files--"Red Museum"

I did not remember much about this episode. Within the first few minutes, the plot looked to be revolving around a vegetarian cult, so I was afraid it might hover into a preachy animal rights screed. Fortunately, it did not. The episode wound up being a marginal part of the mythology. Much of “Red Museum” is an odd mess.

Several kids have gone missing in the cattle country of Wisconsin. They return sometime later in their underwear with, “He/She is one of them” in marker. The local sheriff calls in the FBI because he believes a local vegetarian cult named Red Museum is involved. His theory is the cult is kidnapping the kids to punish them for eating meat. The kids return full of hallucinogens describing what it is like to suffer as animals being slaughtered for meat do.

A couple other kids are kidnapped to suffer the same fate. One is a teenage girl. We got to see the hallucination as she sees it, but her case is never followed up on. One hopes she was thrown into the story so we could share her horrifying experience and not just to have a young girl trotting about in her underwear. The sheriff’s son is also kidnapped. He is the only one to die. That will be significant, of course.

Blaming the cult seems too obvious, but I think it a nice touch the cult leader is played by Mark Rolston in order to give Red Museum a sinister vibe. Rolston has made a career out of playing villains in poular action movies and on television. He was fresh off playing Boggs in The Shawshank Redemption at the time of “Red Museum.” He is still active in villainous roles, most recently on Supernatural and the Saw series. In the latter, he once co-starred with Shawnee Smith from yesterday’s episode, “Firewalker.” All that to say the cult is not to blame, but it is a fine red herring.

The truth is discovered when a local cattle rancher shows Mulder and Scully the cows have been injected with human growth hormone. Since that began, the townspeople have been more aggressive, causing the crime rate to rise. The agents soon discover the local doctor has been injecting the children with a substance since birth, too. An analysis determines it is the purity control substance from “The Erlenmeyer Flask.”

The Crew Cut Man makes an appearance to kill off everyone involved in what looks to be a controlled experiment by the Syndicate. Scully recognizes him with a brief glimpse as the man who murdered Deep Throat. Mulder plots to catch him alive, but when he is finally cornered, the sheriff kills him in revenge for his son. Crew Cut man’s death means all evidence of the experiment died with him.

I called this a muddled mess because there is a running plot about a peeping tom pedophile who the Syndicate is using to inject the cows, but he is also the guy who has been kidnapping the kids. He never sexually abused any of the kids, so what exactly was he up to? He claimed to be protecting them. Maybe we are supposed to assume in his screwed up mind he was in some way. Perhaps I am missing the obvious, but I did not get it. Any X-Philes out there want to enlighten me, please do.

“Red Museum’ is not a terrible episode, but it is not one of the better mythology tales. It feels kind of thrown together. I think it would have worked better as a monster of the week episode without any involvement of the Syndicate. At least the peeping tom kidnapper thing might have made more sense of he was acting acting of his own insanity and not as a fall guy for an international conspiracy. The implausibility is my biggest gripe. In a few days, you will see another reason why I am down on “Red Museum.” An upcoming episode called “Our Town” has a similar theme, much is done much scarier.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

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