Best Line: “You think I don’t know what you are?”
There was a time when The X-Files was a really good show. An outstanding one, in fact. Really. By the time Jane Lynch made her appearance in The X-Files, the series, unfortunately, was limping on both legs towards its overdue finale. David Duchovny exited at the end of Season 8, and the creators (and Fox) stupidly tried to hand the torch off to another pair of investigators. The idea was, Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish would play new agents in the X-Files division and continue the investigations after Duchovny and Gillian Anderson left the show. Robert Patrick was supposed to play the skeptic. This was a mistake from the start, no doubt because everybody knows that he was totally a mighty morphing terminator, advanced model T-1000, sent from the future to the present in Terminator 2. Annabeth Gish was to play the believer, Monica. But, she was not well-received, and she has gone down in X-Files history as Moronica. We’ll leave it at that. So, sadly, even though it would have been totally awesome if Jane was Mrs. Paddock in Season One’s “Die Hand Der Verletz”, “Lord of the Flies” was what she was served. Hey, Piggy didn’t choose to be on the island either. Overall, she actually has a fairly sizable part, an integral piece to a (flat) story, and her dramatic/scary acting chops are solid.
The episode begins with two boys setting out to do dumbass things for entertainment. Guess what their cable tv show is called? That’s right, Jackass Dumbass! This is very unlike that episode where Mulder and Scully showed up on Cops, because, unlike Jackass, Cops is as timeless as quality jewelry. One of the two Dumbasses dies, the left side of his head caved in like a deflated basketball.
T-1000 and Moronica are called in by a panicky medical examiner who is too scared to do the autopsy for fear of being sued by the boy’s parents. Obviously, Thomas Noguchi was not one of his role models. And, although neither T-1000 nor Moronica are doctors, when the boy’s eyelid starts moving, Not-Noguchi still refuses to touch the boy. Moronica – because she’s down with the paranormal like that – pries open the eyelid and out come a bevy of flies! What to do?
Scully!! Scully is not afraid of aliens or lawsuits. This is how the FBI should function, generally. Leave tort reform to the professional lawyers-turned-legislators.
She autopsies. Apparently, the flies in his head laid so much crap and were feeding at such a high rate that his head caved in. Yes, that makes perfect sense, thank you Scully. A fly expert, Dr. Rocky Branzino, saunters in, and he is exactly what his name sounds like he is. He at once tells us all about the ordinary house fly that pooped Dumbass’ head. He hits on Scully. He is the audience’s proxy. We all want to hit on Scully.
THIS IS WHERE JANE LYNCH COMES IN: At school, a lonely boy who we’ll call Gregor (you’ll see why, but I’m going to assume that you already know where this is heading) sits at a lunch table by himself. You know, I don’t know where these schools get all these lunch tables. Is overcrowding and 35:1 teacher-student ratios uncommon in the rest of the country? At my high school, there was never ever a lunch table for anyone to sit by themselves in. Density brings people together. This is the mentality behind West Los Angeles, anyway.
The living Dumbass harasses him, after he harasses dead Dumbass’s girlfriend, who Gregor clearly is in love with. Before things get too far:
Thar she is! Jane Lynch is Principal Lokensgard (“Of course she had to have a super Norwegian-sounding name,” one of our friends pointed out.), and, luckily for Gregor, she saves him from getting beat up. Why? Because in addition to being the principal, she also happens to be his mom.
Suspicion falls naturally on living Dumbass, but the suspicion is dispelled quickly when he is attacked by bugs that spell “D-U-M-B-A-S-S” on his backside. Ouch, it’s as if Charlotte had spun “F-A-T-S-O” above Wilbur. Scully suggests that lice epidemics are prevalent in high school environments. Ok, I don’t say this often, because I “L-O-V-E” Scully, but, Don’t be a dumbass, Scully. I mean, really. These bugs are spelling bee-ing on this kid’s back. T-1000 says as much, and Moronica’s power of intuition tells her that Dumbass isn’t involved, but Gregor is, because he was present for most of the attacks.
In law school, I had the best Criminal Law and Procedure class with a great, great professor named Charles Whitebread (R.I.P.). In addition to teaching us that murder in the first degree indeed is a possibility in a game of Russian roulette (“Folks, if you do not understand that a gun with one bullet in it is a deadly weapon, you will have trouble in this class. You will have trouble on the bar exam. You will have trouble in life. You will not own a home.”), he also taught us not to ever sneeze, spit, lick, or otherwise leave any bodily residue on a tissue that is offered to you by the cops during an interrogation. Leave no DNA behind, people. Poor Gregor is too young to have had this class, and/or has never watched a Law and Order episode, because he totally accepts T-1000’s Kleenex and wipes his greasy, sweaty face during his interrogation. Jane Lynch interrupts the questioning – hey, aren’t you supposed to question minors with their parents present? – and deems the interrogation over: “Nobody questions my son in my office without my permission!” The arrogance she has as an authority figure in comedy situations translates very well as indignation in dramatic ones. The interrogation really stops when we find Gregor covered H-to-T (that’s head-to-toe in Tyra-speak, as in, you model, bugs or no bugs, from head to toe) in flies, as densely populated as a freshly laid dog turd.
Moronica insists that the whole H-to-T thing was staged. They bring Gregor’s tissue over to Scully, who in turn carries the tissue in a little loaf pan-looking receptacle straight to Dr. Rocky’s lab. The tissue causes Dr. Rocky’s fly-pheromone-o-meter (used to collect circumstantial evidence, I guess) to go haywire, and he is very, very excited at this “motherlode” of fly pheromone. The investigators tell him of their theory. “A boy is a boy. A bug is a bug. You can’t have it both ways,” Rocky exclaims in response to Mulder Moronica’s theory. Apparently, Dr. Rocky’s been reading so many anthropology books that he missed The Metamorphosis. He also missed the 1980s. Who hasn’t watched Jeff Goldblum’s finest performance as The Fly??
Meanwhile, Gregor’s crush is totally trying to make out with him. This has to be the shortest mourning period ever. Their kiss is unfortunately interrupted – Gregor’s mouth is some sort of bug weapon, and she leaves screaming and bloodied. Just as she’s running off, Dumbass and his crew roll up, take Gregor and demand to know how he killed dead Dumbass. Gregor obliges; now that his hormones are officially out of control, he’s going to skip the spelling lesson and go straight to the killing: he opens his mouth and some pretty nasty spider leg-type things crawl out. This is the scariest part of the whole episode, although not as scary as that one time a guy opened his mouth and grew another head.
Next thing you know, T-1000 finds Dumbass and his crew trapped in a cocoon-type thing. Despite their present circumstances, they can communicate very clearly and articulately, helpfully informing T-1000 that Gregor is, well, Gregor Samsa. T-1000 rings up Scully and asks what she’s doing. She’s cutting her toenails, idiot. I always hated this about the writers – for some reason, they could not have Mulder politely inform Scully that they have a situation and would she please come to the crime scene to render her expert opinion? Instead, you have Mulder calling up Scully and demanding, “What are you doing? You better get down here right now.” Infuriating. T-1000 pulls the same crap here, telling Scully that she better come over to take a look at the boys for herself.
We cut to the next scene involving Moronica trying to protect the crush before Gregor gets to her, so we don’t see Scully’s reaction to the cocooned car. If we did, I’d imagine it would have been something like, “Oh, T-1000, if only you were with Mulder and me that one time we were spun into a cocoon by carnivorous nocturnal bugs in a Season 1 episode that was similar to, but infinitely better than, this one.”
Meanwhile, back at Gregor’s home, Jane Lynch catches Dr. Rocky poking around her attic. Guess what! Oh, you probably guessed. Yeah, she’s Mama Fly! Like mother, like son: she opened her mouth real wide, and, well, see for yourself:
Heredity freak genes are often a theme in this show. If we ever, ever run into Jane Lynch, we are totally going to ask her about how they shoved a bug down her throat. She comes downstairs to find her son and his crush. Presumably, he kidnapped his crush from her home and returned home to, I don’t know, change his clothes? Replenish his bug serum? (Professor Whitebread: “What are the elements of a kidnapping? One, you need a kid. And two, you need a napping.”) (ok, another one, this time about the law on bestiality: “Don’t love them, don’t hate them, they don’t love you”). Gregor tries to pull some macho-fly-man shit on her (Jeff Goldblum never did this. You should mind your elders, kid.). Mama Fly is unnerved. Sauntering down the stairs, she asks, “You think I don’t know what you are?” It’s her sexiest line, and she does it well.
The episode concludes (finally!) with a classic Scully Narration: Mama Fly killed her husband to hide her secret; she and Gregor evade their captors and take off, seemingly never to be found again; and Dr. Rocky, “in his expert opinion,” concludes that the family were weird animal/human hybrids. Chris Carter via Scully continues with his classic Over Philosophizing About the Nature of Nature: blah something about the nature of man and bug and the fine line between chaos and nature blah the book was better blah.
The real take-away point: Scully and Jane Lynch share zero screen time together. Zilch. I haven’t been this disappointed since Jodie Foster guest starred on the show, but only in the haunting voice of Betty the Tattoo. Actually, the insane guy whose arm was branded with Betty ended up having sex with Scully, so even Jodie Foster-the-tat got more Scully action than Jane did. I guess I am going to have to watch all those L-Word episodes to see Jane get any. Ugh. Fine.
Jane Lynch was great in this – decent lines, good dramatic chops, and totally freaky when she had to be. It’s always so great, and too rare, when she has the opportunity to channel all her inner charm, mischief, and delusional arrogance into a creepy, disciplined freak. I mean, you almost didn’t see her metamorphosis coming. Almost.
Next up: no, not the L-Word just yet, but a small bit part in an episode of Married With Children. Thank God, if we had to watch any more seconds of canned laugh/whooping soundtracks, our ears would burn off.
JBCW5ES6H4EUTags: Jane Lynch, Lord of the Flies, scifi, X-Files