Family Ties - "Humbug"




Sometimes, especially at this point in The X•Files, an episode with wit and dark humor could be welcome. Mulder and Scully had endured quite a bit so a case which includes carnival acts "taking vacation" and a crawling "disappointed twin" seeking "a new brother" could be just what was needed to wind down from the intensity of losing loved ones, battling governmental forces creating road blocks from discovering the truth of possible extraterrestrial life, and contending with those truly wanting the x files to be closed for good. So the Alligator Man is attacked while swimming in his pool. A dwarf hotel manager is attacked after receiving payment while his dog barks. Michael J Anderson of Twin Peaks fame is the manager and his monologue towards Mulder about seeing him as a stereotype circus performer and then "insulting" him by describing how he resembles an FBI agent is one of the best scenes in an episode chock full of them. Mulder is out morning jogging and spots a tattooed man ferociously gnawing away at a fish is teethed from the nearby lake. The local artist who designs grotesque characters for a funhouse close by soon is also the victim of an attack. Vincent Schiavelli (Ghost (1990)) resides in the Florida town of Gibsonton after serving as a sideshow act himself for years, a "twin" attached to his side provided enough freakish curiosity to support him until Anderson's Mr Nutt convinced him that it was degrading and beneath him. So Schiavelli decided carrying visitor's luggage would be more meaningful! The irony. Schiavelli's Lanny heavily drinks and is suffering a failing liver. The development of his brother Leonard "disengaging himself" from Lanny​, in the hopes of finding another to "attach to" offers quite a macabre twist to the proceedings. "Blockhead" (Jim Rose), a performer infamous for nailing objects into various parts of his body and escaping from Houdini acts and "Conundrum" (the Enigma), the tattooed man who eats everything and anything are also inhabitants of Gibsonton during an "offseason". Rose is especially a treat due to his seemingly high intellect and healthy vocabulary. Scully pretending to eat a bug as Mulder is convinced she does is quite a moment as is Blockhead's critique of how sad the world would be if society looked "normal" like Mulder (Duchovny's pose while looking off is hilarious). Scully's visit to a local "human curiosities" tourist spot, whose proprietor (Alex Diakun) provides historical anecdotes is a hoot if just because of how the direction creatively uses objects to distort and hide his face from explicit plain sight...also a human "abnormality", his speech and demeanor are anything but menacing or lacking in normalcy. Mulder finding Nutt under Scully's room and insinuating voyeurism instead of a plumbing fix and the true intentions of Leonard, responsible for something like 28 attacks explore the theme of misinterpretation and falling prey to misunderstanding human nature in those considered outside what society might consider normal. This is quite brilliant, really. And the development involving the sheriff's link to a "dog boy" is the icing on the donut. Couldn't forget to mention Scully in a funhouse and Blockhead bursting from the earth of the cemetery during Alligator Man's funeral, shaking his coffin and causing quite a scene!

"You really shouldn't complain about banality, Scully, when your main suspect is the human blockhead." - Mulder.

"Now you know how I feel..." Mulder says in passing as the sheriff is opinionated in his disbelief and skepticism in Scully's theory of Leonard.

When looking at Conundrum, Mulder is concerned about his condition, which turns out to be indigestion after gobbling up Leonard (!), commenting, "I hope it's nothing serious..." For which Conundrum replies, "Probably something I ate"!!!

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