season 3, episode 12, “war of the coprophages”
this is another gem from darin morgan. it’s got a lot of humor and camp, but it lacks the heart that makes “clyde bruckman” my favorite of morgan’s “x-files” scripts. it’s strange how a show that does creepy and scary so well can pull off funny episodes with equal aplomb. this is a day off in the life of our agents. scully stays home, cleans her gun, reads, gives her dog a bath, and takes phone call after phone call from her “crackpot, albeit brilliant partner.” mulder takes his down time to check out some colored lights that have been reported in a small town. i think mulder’s leisurly pursuits and career goals are one and the same. you know the old saying do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life. well, there you go. mulder is happy to hunt down aliens and conspiracies for work or play.
he doesn’t find the mysterious colored lights, but he does come across killer cockroaches. darin morgan uses campy elements so well. there’s a touch of it in “clyde bruckman” and there’s an entire episode of it later in “jose chung’s.” mulder, of course, gets caught up in the unexplained deaths. unexplained until he talks to the ever rational scully. she gives him perfectly plausible reasons for the deaths and they all turn out to be right. what was it mulder said about coincidences in “clyde bruckman?” “if coincidences are just coincidences, why do they feel so contrived?” indeed.
morgan plays with the relationship of mulder and scully in this episode. they are apart up until the end, but what he is able to extract out of mere phone conversations is brilliant. these two talk on the phone like they are BFFs. mulder wistfully excogitating on what’s out there in the great beyond and scully humoring him. he continues to call her as the death count grows. “who died now?” she answers instead of hello. “the medical examiner.” she knew it. he insists she come to help him, but when she’s able to determine the cause of death, there’s no reason. he apologizes for bothering her so much and she responds, “it’s no bother.” she likes that she’s the one he calls even on his trivial, extracurricular jaunts. it’s not until mulder mentions that he’s been discussing the roaches with a female entomologist that scully finally decides to go, bringing out some jealousy in scully. we saw a hint of jealousy in season one’s “fire,” but here it’s expanded. (and even more so in the next episode “syzygy,” but she wasn’t in full control of her mental faculties.) morgan loves to ridicule the character of mulder, but he usually leaves scully alone. it’s kind of nice to see him play with her a little bit. and jealous scully is always a riot (well, not during the diana fowley episodes. then it is just heartbreaking.) mulder painfully flirts with dr. bambi and, naturally, the stephen hawking-like scientist gets the girl in the end. of course darin morgan wouldn’t let mulder end up with the girl. he does get scully, covered in shit, mind you…
deep philosophies are explored and permeate throughout the episode’s events. another one of morgan’s signatures. mulder tells scully of his praying mantis epiphany where he first looked into the face of an “unknown monster” and the “mysteries of the natural world were revealed to him.” scully (unintentionally) quotes planet of the apes, “don’t look too hard, you might not like what you find.” a quote to literally describe his ultimate quest on the show. incorporating moments like this with campy humor and adding some self-deprecating jabs makes for a well rounded entertaining episode.
i love the beginning. the man is philosophizing and then is revealed as the exterminator. “look buddy, i just kill ’em.” morgan is really good at the ol’ bait and switch.
he refers to scully as his “drug dealer” and i laughed for a full five minutes at that thought.
the ‘die flea die’ and ‘die bug die’ products are well placed props. it’s in the details, people.
the cockroach on the toilet paper thing actually happened to me. when i was in costa rica i saw way, way too many roaches for a lifetime. i was going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and turned to look at the toilet paper and there was a gigantic cockroach just chilling there. but, it must have sensed i was aware of it now because right after i looked at it, his ridiculously long antennae slowly rotated towards me, like it was acknowledging my presence. this must be what mulder was talking about with his praying mantis epiphany. “the mysteries of the natural world were revealed to me that day, but instead of being astounded, I was… repulsed.” i hear you, brother. and, let me tell you, i did let out a girly scream.
the way mulder puts up his hands when he says “attack people” and then looks down to see how closely aligned his hands are with her chest and then quickly lowers them is subtle and perfectly executed.
i remember hearing that the x-files was going to do that roach on the screen effect. or i heard about it afterwards, i forget. “the x-files.” they are pioneering television, you guys.
fucking flawless scully eating the whopper. why is she so perfect?
what is he eating at the end there? banana bread?
i liked how they spoofed themselves on their end voice over monologue.
what the hell kind of roach is that at the end. i’ve never seen one like that and i hope to god i never do.
the ending score as it cuts to black has a tone of an insect sound.
did you know? behind the scenes facts:
corprophagia is the consumption of feces. bet you all wanted to know that.
frass is a specific term for insect feces. the sheriff’s name is frass.
scully is reading “breakfast at tiffany’s” when mulder calls her. this is a jab at duchovny for losing celebrity jeopardy because of this answer. he lost to stephen king.
the car crash outside the convenience store was real. gillian anderson reacted to it and then continued the scene. they kept it in the cut.
the way they talk on the phone on their day off?? *swoon*
“scully, what are you wearing?” she cracks up at this joke and probably internally blushed.
mulder asks scully, “can i confess something to you?” her uncertain ‘yes’ is filled with anxiety. is he going to tell her that something happened with dr. bambi? is she prepared to deal with this knowledge? but, she has to know and she wants him to be able to tell her anything.
jealous scully. she ships it whether she wants to or not.
m: “it appears that cockroaches are mortally attacking people.” s: “i’m not going to ask you if you just said what i think you just said, because i know it’s what you just said.”
dr. newton: “after talking with agent mulder here i suddenly feel slightly constipated.”
m: “what’s a woman like you doing in a place like this?” i feel like mulder has wanted to use this line his whole life.
m: “is it abnormal?” dr. bambi: “i’ll say. he’s hung like a club-tail dragonfly.
dr. bambi: “i don’t know if you know anything about UFOs…”
m: “not now.” hilarious.
s: “her name is bambi?” twice. haha.
s: “mulder, are you sure it wasn’t a girly scream?”
m: “greetings from planet earth.”
s: “i’m at a convenience store on the outskirts of… civilization.”
dr. eckerle: “how do i know you’re not a cockroach?” m: “i assure you i’m as human as you are, if not more so.”
s: “let me guess, bambi?”
s: “this is no place for an entomologist.”
sheriff frass: “you look pooped.”
s: “smart is sexy. look at it this way, mulder, by the time there’s another invasion of artificially intelligent, dung-eating, robotic probes from outer space, maybe their über-children will have devised a way to save our planet.” m: “you know, i never thought i’d say this to you, scully, but…you smell bad.”