“Wait, you’re not saying this guy has X-ray vision?” — John Doggett
“I am remarking that these wavelengths exist and the only thing that is stopping us from seeing them, if you will, is the biochemical structure of our eyes. I am conjecturing that if this structure was somehow different, we’d have he ability to see things we don’t.”
— Dana Scully
“Call in Clark Kent.” — John Doggett
When Doggett and Scully are called in to look into the case of a man who was fatally shot in a locked cinderblock room, they find themselves investigating a man with some superhuman skills.
Radhika: After a series of fairly excellent standalone episodes that frankly far outshine many of the outings in season seven, we hit a bit of a dull roadblock with “Surekill.” Frankly, I don’t think “Surekill” is as awful as some previous reviews would suggest, but there’s also nothing particularly special about it — and as I’ve suggested before, that can sometimes be a bit of a kiss of death for an X-Files episode.
The teaser introduces us to Carlton Chase, a man running from an unknown assailant who goes straight to the police — he’s placed in a locked room with cinderblock walls, only to get shot dead. When Doggett and Scully investigate, it looks like Chase was killed with a bullet that came through the air vent in the ceiling. This eventually leads us to Surekill, an exterminator company, where fraternal twins Dwight and Randall Cooper work alongside Tammi Peyton, who also has a bit of a thing with Dwight. One twin (Dwight) is legally blind; the other, has the ability to see through walls.
As the episode unfurls, we realize Randall has a crush on Tammi. We also realize that the brothers have been mixed up in some business messing with drug dealers and using Randall’s X-ray ability. But it all eventually devolves into a soap operatic end: Dwight realizes Tammi’s ripping him off and that Randall is sweet on her and killed Chase (another one of Tammi’s paramours) out of jealousy. He instructs his brother to kill Tammi and leaves, but Randall ultimately shoots through the wall and kills his own brother. Tammi seems to get away unscathed.
The general concept definitely has some potential, though elements of it are a little mundane (I mean, one twin has vision issues and the other has super vision? I’m stunned). But ultimately the episode is not particularly exciting and generally feels like old hat. It doesn’t help that the characters don’t feel particularly alive to me, either. There are a couple of things I like though: The simple, but noticeable motif in the episode’s score, as well as the solid teaser, which has an echo of that classic X-Files quality in it. It’s just a shame the rest of the episode doesn’t live up to that opener.
Max: I’ve been speaking a lot in these reviews this season about how the writers have been repurposing familiar tropes and story beats and making something new out of them, and I think this is where Radhika’s frustrations with the episode come into play. We’ve been through the ringer with twins (“Roland“), allegorically appropriate superpowers (many episodes), and a woman in distress at the center of everything (many many episodes) that “Surekill” just ends up as a merely serviceable entry that leaves only the faintest of impressions behind.
That is not to say that this episode is bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it is disappointing to have the momentum from this season come to a grinding halt. The revitalization of The X-Files has been a blessing for the show and for our rewatch, particularly after Radhika and I were very antsy having to slog through the previous season. At the very least, Kellie Waymire’s performance as Tammi took a thankless role and gave it a bit of juice — as much as could be expected given the paper thin characters we are given here.
By this point in the season, we are settling into a stretch of episodes that represents a bit of a stasis. We’ve gotten used to Doggett at Scully’s side and his eyes are open to new possibilities. Scully’s pregnancy looms large in the background, but aside from last episode at it coming up as a plot point in “Roadrunners,” it really hasn’t been a driver of the story since this season started. You could say that we are spinning the wheels at this point, and I wouldn’t argue with that. In a network standard episode order, there are bound to be ho-hum entries. This is one of them.
YES, IT’S THOSE GUYS
Kellie Waymire – Playing the role of Tammi in this episode, Waymire was an actress with many TV and stage credits to her name. Some of her most notable roles were on Six Feet Under and Star Trek: Enterprise. She died in 2003 of a previously undiagnosed cardiac condition.
Patrick Kilpatrick – Appearing here as Randall Cooper, Kilpatrick has appeared in more than 100 movies and TV shows, giving him a lot of potential to be a quintessential “that guy.”
Michael Bowen – Bowen plays Dwight Cooper in this episode, but he’s also had a few notable credits to his name including roles on Lost and Breaking Bad.
James Franco? – Not going to lie, we completely missed this, but the actor and famously stoned one-time Oscar co-host apparently played “second police officer” in this episode. It may be better worth your time to just watch a Freaks and Geeks episode or any comedy co-starring Seth Rogen to get a better glimpse of him.