"Badlaa"

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(Once again, I apologize for being late with my review. The bigger, badder brother of the stomach virus I had two weeks ago came to visit. My wife and I got at almost the same time. Imagine the fun of playing "tag team" dry heavers...such joy! Thankfully, the baby has not shown any signs of coming down with it.)

Am I the only person who thought that this looked to be the absolute worst episode of the season? I mean, really, a "butt genie"? That, and the two episodes that preceeded it, convinced me that I was going to truly tear into this episode with a passion unheard of.

And perhaps that expectation is the reason why I found myself pleasantly surprised. Oh, the monster was ultimately silly, and had perhaps the most unsubstantiated motivation I have ever seen, but that was not what made the episode for me. What I found wonderful, beyond words, was the fashion in which Scully's uncharacteristic behavior since the premiere is directly addressed.

Throughout the episode, I was getting highly annoyed that Scully was just playing Mulder. It was an obvious assumption of role, down to the "I'm asking you to keep an open mind?" line. Not once, but about 172 times, Scully said this to Doggett.

On the other hand, Doggett was not even close to the Scully role. Doggett was full tilt Doggett, exposing every hole in Scully's theories with nothing even remotely resembling science. His reaction was perfectly in line with what his character was always meant to be, more so than in the last couple weeks.

The episode was disappointing right up until the moment that all of those interactions between Scully and Doggett came into focus. Scully finally cracks, admitting that she has been trying so hard to be Mulder and think like him. But ultimately, as she admits to herself and Doggett, she cannot be Mulder. Only Mulder can be Mulder.

This is a step in the right direction, and goes a long way towards explaining the character issues for Scully over this first half of the season. In the long run, for those watching the series some time from now, it may seem less arbitrary than it has for many watching the season week after week, wondering why Scully is suddenly acting very differently than she had for seven years.

On the other hand, there is still much to be corrected, for instance, some indication of why the search for Mulder seems to have fallen off the face of the planet. I'm anticipating that this will be addressed in the next episode, when the season begins ramping up towards the massive mythology offerings starting in February.

For all the good parts about the episode, however, I still have no clue why the Indian "butt genie" was choosing his victims the way that he was, why he was working at the school, why he was sitting on a squeeky cart, and how in the hell he was back in India at the end of the episode. It was a mess, period.

Scully might think that it somehow made sense, and that Mulder would have figured it out, but I'm fairly sure that even Mulder would have had a hard time making sense of this one.

Some other thoughts:

- Doggett really had some moments during this episode. In fact, there were some moments where he was drop dead funny. Considering how much nonsense surrounded this little investigation, he was completely justified.

- Speaking of the investigation, I have to ask yet again why this case was even in "Scully's in box". I suppose it was an unsolved murder with international implications, so maybe that works. But it still felt like a completely arbitrary case for them to be on, considering there was no evidence *before* they arrived that the case was "paranormal".

- Wouldn't the enlightened fakir know that a silent cart is far more effective when trying to sneak up on victims?

- The fakir was supposed to be able to change the sensory reactions of those around him...so how was he able to project an ongoing illusion in the police station hours after he left?

- Using Chuck was a great way to begin introducing the idea that Scully was trying to be Mulder...he just about came right out and said it.

- Now for "Scully's X-Ploitation List". Gotta mention the tight blue blouse, unbuttoned just enough to...ahem...tittilate, especially during the unauthorized autopsy scene.

- Speaking of which, let's think about that scene. I'm alone. I'm pregnant. I think that a little, living guy who crawls into people's orifices is sitting inside the corpse I'm staring at. So what do I do? I start performing an illegal autopsy, and then, when the little bugger rips out of the corpse, I chase after him by myself!

Well, if anything, Scully certainly has the "run into danger with no concern for my well-being" trait down. She's closer to Mulder than she thinks!

- Am I the only one who's really, really glad this is the last MOTW for a little while?

Overall, I give this episode a 5/10. Dead average. I loved the sudden and unexpected realizations about Mulder, but hated the entire case beyond that.


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