Back in the early 1900’s, while wholesome families sing wholesome songs during wholesome car rides and wholesome father’s dutifully fix tires while wholesomely cursing (“darn it!”), a decidedly unwholesome man-beast murders the wholesome father before being shot to death by a wholesome search party.
Years later, Mulder is not being very wholesome and is perusing some pornography at work. Mulder and Scully laugh it off despite this being a flagrantly egregious and immoral act from a Federal Government employee. Scully then brings to Mulder’s attention a cannibalized body in Atlantic City which gives Mulder the impetus to stop debasing himself and get to work.
Once there, the AC police are more interested in sweeping this man eating beast under the rug. Scully heads back to DC where she attends her godson’s birthday party, sighs wistfully at the idea of a life with kids, and accepts a date from a man who doesn’t bring Playboys to work. Mulder meanwhile attends a meeting with a grizzled park ranger, sighs wistfully at the idea of the Jersey Devil eating people, and heads to a homeless shelter looking for Jersey Devil porn. There he trades his hotel room to a homeless guy for a crudely drawn picture of a nude male Neanderthal. Mulder settles in to get aquainted with the picture but is interrupted by the actual Jersey Devil. Unfortunately for Mulder, before he can actually do anything, he is arrested by the cops for public indecency.
Admittedly, this is very hot
Scully heads back to AC to bail Mulder out and brag to him that she has a date and a life. Mulder claims he has a life even if that life involves passing himself off as a vagrant so as to spot a beast-man while harboring naughty Neanderthal drawings. Scully is amused and then, deciding to make this two consecutive work days wasted on field trips, drags Mulder to meet her hippy college professor where an entire three minutes is devoted to the professor laboriously explaining the nature of evolution while being prompted by cutting and insightful questions from Mulder such as “why” and “how come”.
Now back in DC after a remarkable string of unproductive work days, Scully goes on her date while Mulder goes back to the office to work. Of course, it isn’t really work to Mulder, because he is looking at nude Neanderthal porn again. After spending time with the poorly drawn nude male picture, Mulder enters into a whole new arena of depravity when he finds an equally poorly drawn nude female Neanderthal picture. Wanting to share this moment with another (and realizing how misogynistic it was to assume the beast was a man) he calls Scully during her date and implores her to help him find this exotic goddess of his dreams.
Back in AC, Mulder and Scully assemble a crack team consisting of the grizzled old Park Ranger who is there to tranquilize the beast-woman and the hippy professor who is there to….be a fourth member? The crack team begins to investigate some delapidated buildings at an unusually slow pace when the cops show up with one goal–to prevent Mulder from sullying the AC public with his perverted predilictions. So begins a tense, six minute cat and mouse chase which consists of Mulder and Scully slowwwwwwwly walking through the building, Scully losing Mulder when he jogs about ten feet ahead of her, and some fancy tuck and rolls from our heroes. Mulder spots the naked Jersey Devil and, anxious to finally lay eyes on some actual nudity, brazenly runs into a dark room. There he is assaulted by the she-beast, who is most likely looking for the naked pictures drawn of her and her mate without their consent.
Not very photogenic
Mulder is rescued by Scully and the Jersey Devil runs into the woods. Mulder proclaims that the she-beast was beautiful. Apparently, someone was jealous that Scully went on a date but Scully is having none of that. They re-assemble their crack team and race to capture the beast before the cops can kill her, though it’s up for debate whether death is really worse than being leered at by Mulder. Grizzled Park Ranger is able to tranquilize the Jersey Devil which slows her down enough to…allow her to be killed by the cops. At least he was trying; Hippy Professor added literally nothing to the team. Somehow this harrowing series of events brings our protagonists closer to one another as Scully rejects a second date with her normal suitor, instead choosing to fully invest in a life as the partner of a perverted lunatic. (Then again her alternative was to go on a double date with a guy, his son and her friend’s son so really, her options were both horrible).
Well this is a lackluster episode brought up by a few strong character moments for Mulder and Scully. We learn Mulder has a porn obsession, we get some insight into Scully’s personal life, and there is some good back and forth between the two, particularly regarding Scully having a date. That stuff is genuinely good, if a bit cliched.
That’s really it though because there is a complete lack of energy throughout the remainder of the episode. Scenes feel like they are being dragged out for no reason other than to pad the run-time. I’m talking about Mulder slowwwly walking through the homeless shelter or Mulder slowwwly getting the lowdown on the Jersey Devil from the cliched Park Ranger. And the coup de grace is the scene where our crack team investigates the warehouse. It is literally six minutes of four characters SLOWLY walking through a poorly lit warehouse followed by a poorly choreographed two minute chase that includes the cheesy shot of Mulder and Scully rolling in from out of frame. Really bad pacing and direction.
I swear, they repeat this shot for a full six minutes.
And what the hell is with the scene with Scully’s professor? The writing here is horrible and couldn’t have been more stiffly delivered. The blocking is amateurish with Mulder basically walking around the office and asking inane one-word questions while the professor rambles on about evolution and food-chains.
The X-File itself would have been more interesting if things felt a bit more dire. Yeah, there is a plot involving the AC police trying to cover things up which is supposed to add to the suspense but nothing actually feels threatening to Mulder and Scully. Even the scenes with the Jersey Devil are slow and ponderous. It feels like she hovers over Mulder for a good five minutes in the shadows during the climactic showdown.
Thankfully, other than the professor’s horrid lecture, there wasn’t anything egregiously bad in this episode. Its just mostly boring, slow, and forgettable. The character stuff between Mulder and Scully is great, for all five minutes that it is there. But the remaining 40 minutes is just a bunch of walking around.
Rating: 48 Jersies Deviled Out Of 100 (subpar but not quite awful)
Check out my other recaps for Season 1 of the X-Files!