“I heard you say, Agent Scully, I heard you tell a classroom full of FBI cadets — most evil in the world comes from men.” — John Doggett
“But I also said that once science fails, we have to consider extreme possibilities.” — Dana Scully
Three’s company when Doggett, Reyes and Scully investigate a series of killings that may be connected to demonic possession.
Radhika: So here we are at the first monster of the week episode of season nine. After a somewhat lackluster start to the season, I’m sorry to say that “Daemonicus,” while not completely awful, doesn’t do much to instill much confidence in the season. It does have a few positive elements — the dark imagery and themes are well suited to The X-Files and we’re treated to some pretty intense vomit sequences, but there’s the issue of a sometimes meandering plot and weird directing choices that make it more of a mixed bag for me.
Doggett and Reyes are on the case when a double murder with Satanic ritual elements takes place in West Virginia. Scully, who has now started teaching at Quantico, gets roped into doing an autopsy. Reyes becomes convinced that she can feel the presence of evil surrounding the case, while Doggett doubles down on his skeptic duties. Then they receive a tip that the murders could be connected to an escaped mental patient, Dr. Kenneth Richman, and a guard. Reyes and Doggett end up questioning Josef Kobold, another patient and killer at the institution, who tells them one of the perpetrators has killed again — a body is found at a location he specifies and when Scully autopsies the victim, it turns out to be the guard.
The agents persist on working with Kobold as weirder things keep happening: There are more deaths and Kobold seems to know all about Doggett’s personal life (and in a spectacularly creepy and disgusting moment, vomits for what seems like an infinite amount of time, causing Reyes to throw out the theory that it could be ectoplasm). Eventually, it ends up being an elaborate plot by Kobold to escape.
There are parts where connecting the dots doesn’t go as smoothly as I would like and ultimately, I think “Daemonicus” suffers for it. There are a lot of disturbing images that can stick with a viewer here — outside of the vomit I’ve mentioned a few times, there’s the delightful picture of snakes emerging from corpses and there are the demon masks worn by some killers. But weirdly, Kobold himself doesn’t do much to freak me out aside from that scene where he’s taunting Doggett with personal details before throwing up all over the place. And I feel like Reyes sort of uselessly offers up ideas of being afraid and of evil being around, but doesn’t do much as an investigator to spur the case along.
Also, I really have no idea what to think of some of the directing choices made here, but that one scene with the crossfade from a chessboard-like floor to the next setting makes me cringe a lot. This was apparently only the second time Executive Producer Frank Spotnitz directed an episode, which could be the explanation behind that choice. Ultimately though, outside of the the teaser, which at least held my attention, there isn’t much about this episode that feels particularly special to me.
Max: The show goes back to to the old Silence of the Lambs bit here with with someone in confinement helping our heroes out on a case, but as with most things over time, by this stage in the game we are dealing with ever decreasing dividends. It is telling that going into this episode, I didn’t really have any big reference points, and hell, I even forgot the big scene of gastrointestinal regurgitation until only a few moments before it happened.
It is fitting though that this is Reyes’ first truly official X-File after being nearly dragooned by Doggett to help him investigate corruption from within the Bureau stemming from Scully’s pregnancy and the looming threat of super soldiers. Her background in satanic ritual abuse is what brought her back to D.C. in last season’s “Empedocles,” and now with this episode we are riffing on similar thematic material, if only as a cover for Kobold’s plot to escape. Watching the episode, there is a marked difference between her willingness to believe and that of our dearly missed friend Fox Mulder. Here it is almost an instance of Reyes wanting to believe a little too much, putting undue weight on the feelings she gets throughout the episode.
I was slightly amused when Scully introduced herself to her new students at Quantico, and having to explain and basically defend her eight years of work in the basement to a group of cadets whose first thought that came to mind was that of vampires (Really kid? How quickly people seem to have forgotten “Spooky” and his obsession with all things extraterrestrial). Unfortunately, this is how we are going to get our dose of Scully for most of the rest of the season, being dragged in by Doggett and Reyes to do an autopsy or dole out some nugget of sage wisdom, with a dash of Scully-in-danger for old times’ sake.
There really isn’t that much else to say about this episode. The X-Files has done the long con better, it has done the whole demonic thing better, it has done a lot of things better. The novelty has worn off and we can’t even get excited here about the new character dynamics since the writing isn’t up to snuff. Maybe next time guys.
YES, IT’S THAT GUY
James Remar – Remar, who played Harry Morgan on Showtime’s Dexter, appears here as Professor Josef Kobold and has appeared in a variety of TV and movie roles over the years. Additional credits include 48 Hrs., The Vampire Diaries and Miracle on 34th Street. He has also done voice acting in The Legend of Korra, The Spectacular Spider-Man and Batman: The Brave and the Bold.