Friday, June 3, 2011

X-Files--"Sunshine Days"

“Sunshine Days” takes a break from wrapping up dangling plot threads to say good bye to loyal fans while lightly tweaking their--our--obsession with The X-Files. It features the third and final big connection with Lost, as Michael Emerson joins Terry O’Quinn and Alan Dale playing a character. In hindsight, his character is much like Ben Linus emotionally. David Faustino also plays a two act role in which he is essentially Bud Bundy. You have to love that, too.

Emerson plays Anthony, a man who uses his psychokinetic powers to recreate The Brady Bunch in his home. He is a very lonely man having grown up with no family. He creates the environment and Brady family for comfort. However, the sadder he gets, the less he can control his power. He accidentally killed two curiosity seekers with his powers. Their unexplainable deaths attracted the attention of the x-Files office.

Although Anthony has taken the name Oliver Martin, carol’s nephew who joined the cast in the final season, Scully discovers who Anthony really is. He used to work with a psychologist as a child. His powers slowly went away back then as his relationship with the doctor grew. They had watched The Brady Bunch together. When Anthony’s powers went away, the doctor found other patients with which to work, abandoning Anthony. Now the doctor has returned. He and Scully want to use Anthony’s power for the good of humanity until they discover it is killing him. Doggett puts all the pieces together to figure out Anthony will stop using his powers if the doctor resumes their relationship. Realizing he has been treating Anthony like a lab rat, he agrees to change while continuing to be a part of Anthony’s life.

I have to confess an ambivalence towards The Brady Bunch. The show does not mean enough to me for the homage to resonate. I can see how a fan would enjoy how Anthony has recreated the Brady house inside his, right down to key objects that were plot points in certain episodes. The kids are featured here and there in casual glances from onlookers peeping through windows and such. Judging by Scully and Reyes, both fans, it must be a hoot. I am with Dogget, however. It all seems like a short walk to the cliff’s edge. Anthony did kill two people. He should probably face two counts of manslaughter, but that is glossed over in favor of a happy ending.

A happy ending with a fair amount of self-reference. Scully was excited to find proof of the paranormal under the assumption the X-Files could never be shut down if such cogent proof were presented. It would validate Mulder’s legacy. She realizes it has slipped away when the threat to Anthony’s life is revealed, but she assures Doggett and Reyes the last decade of experience on the X-Files has benefited her in other ways. Doggett just hopes Anthony will cut off the television and appreciate the real world for once. We have our less than subtle marching orders, fellow X-Philes.

“Sunshine Days” is very similar to ”Je Souhaite“ the penultimate episode of the seventh season. You know, the one with the genie. It is not only similar to an old television series--I Dream of Jeanie-- but features a character with wish fulfillment powers who just wants to be normal. Genie was definitive proof of the paranormal for Mulder. Scully was thrilled about the invisible corpse. There were a lot of pratfalls all done with lighthearted humor and a touching ending. Doggett and Reyes are even hinted to wind up together as Mulder and Scully were then when they settled down to watch a movie together. “Je Souhaite” was once likely to be the penultimate episode of the series, the similarities are likely intentional. “Sunshine days” is the real penultimate episode of the series.

In spite of my lack of interest in The Brady Bunch, I appreciate the sentiment behind “Sunshine Days.” It is a weird, but sweet breather before the series finale. There is some dodgy CGI, but that is the time period and budget constraints. Anything with Michael Emerson is well appreciated, regardless of minor flaws. In a lot of ways, its message is a parting of ways with X-Philes in the show’s unique way. Speaking of, tomorrow the final two hour episode will be reviewed as one.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

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