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11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Wed 24 Jan - 18:46

‘The X-Files’: The best quotes from ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’



Mulder (David Duchovny), Reggie Something (Brian Huskey) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) tackle the Mandela Effect in the "The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat." (Fox)

By Caitlin O'Conner
Published: January 24, 2018
Updated: January 24, 2018 at 09:10 PM

Tonight on The X-Files, things got a little crazy. Season 11, Episode 4, "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" is one of those zany episodes that can only come to you from the mind of Darin Morgan, like other noteworthy parody-fests like "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" and last season's "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster."

It would be impossible to recap this episode in the vein of other episodes, if only because all Darin Morgan episodes defies explanation in text — you have to watch it to comprehend and believe the tale of a conspiracy nut who may or may not have created the X-Files, been involved with finding an alien in Grenada in the '80s and blames the Mandela Effect (or Mingle Effect) on a maybe real figure named Dr. They.

So aside from saying Mulder is repeatedly called "Foxy" as a name, not an adjective, and Scully seems super concerned about dinner (undoubtedly A DATE after last week's episode), I will leave it to that and instead present you with the best quotes from the episode.


Mulder (David Duchovny) goes “squatchin” in this episode of The X-Files. (Fox)

"I was out 'squatchin'. … Bigfoot hunting. I had my phone turned off." – Mulder

"I just had to get away from the madness for a little while. It seems all I've done this past year is watch the news and worry that the country's gone insane. I had to get out to nature, where it's simple and uncomplicated, where it's just you and the elements and possibly a cryptozoological simian-like humanoid with enormous, hairy feet." – Mulder

"I think you just like saying 'squatchin'." – Scully

"Who are they?" – Mulder
"They are why you don't remember. Why aren't people getting probed by aliens anymore? You used to know, but they made you forget, so you wouldn't remember me." – Reggie

"Confuse The Twilight Zone with The Outer Limits? DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME?" – Mulder to Scully

"How did you know it was me?" – Reggie
"He mentioned the forehead sweat." – Scully

"Let me get this straight — when it cools, it forms into three different layers with three different textures, all from the same mix? How has this not been an X-File?" – Mulder on a knock-off of Jell-O 123

"It's the Mandela effect. When someone has a memory of something that's not shared by the majority or the factual record. For instance, there are some people that have a memory of seeing a movie called Shazam starring Sinbad as an irrepressible genie. Even after it's pointed out to them they're probably thinking of a movie called Kazaam starring Shaquille O'Neil as an irrepressible genie. Especially because a movie named Shazam was never made."
"But what if I don't remember either movie?"
"You win!" – Mulder and Scully

"Come on, it'll be like a date." – Mulder taking Scully to a rendezvous with Reggie

"That's something somebody might actually want, so no." – shop owner when asked if he had Dr. Wuzzle books

"The government always knows more than they let on." -shop owner

"The Mandela effect … is simply people misremembering stuff." -Scully
"Maybe this is actually evidence of a parallel universe." -Mulder
"Wait, what?" -Scully and Reggie
"So maybe these differences in collective memory are actually evidence of our universe somehow becoming intertwined with another if not identical then very similar universe so people's memories are correct, they're just remembering something that happened in another dimension. Hence the discrepancies. That's science, Scully." -Mulder

"We're not going to do this parallel universe, sci-fi gobbledygook, nerd boy." – Reggie

"IT'S NOT PARALLEL UNIVERSES!" – everybody who is not Mulder

"We were made of stronger stuff back then, Scully." – Mulder

"You know what? A conspiracy nut is right twice a day." – Reggie

"They want you to think all conspiracies are nutty so that you ignore the ones that are true." – Reggie

"The alien had been sent to earth to warn us about holes in the ozone layer. He said one of his people would return in 35 years to see if we managed to avoid environmental catastrophe." – Reggie

"What you've told us is theoretically possible. More likely in another universe." – Mulder

"The one thing I didn't forget was the telepathic screams of that alien. I wanted to know where the men from the government took him. That's when I dropped out of med school, joined the FBI. And that's how I started the X-Files." – Reggie

Reggie Something's entire X-Files opening sequence recreation and case files.

"Guys, if this turns out to be killer cats, I'm going to be very disappointed." – Reggie

"Do you know who I am? I'm Fox Mulder. I was fighting the power and breaking conspiracies before you saw your first chem trail, you punks. I'M FOX FREAKING MULDER, YOU PUNKS."

"I'm right back to parallel universes again. It's true Scully, I've lost the plot. I can't find the hidden connections between things anymore. The world has become too crazy for even my conspiratorial powers." – Mulder "Maybe you've just lost your taste for it after all this birther stuff." – Scully

"When's the last time someone admitted doing something they were ashamed of? Even caught on tape, they just say, 'Well, that was taken out of context.'"

"Who's hiding? I'm in the phone book. But nobody knows what's a phone book anymore." – Dr. They

"They don't care if the truth gets out. Because the public no longer knows what is meant by the truth." – Dr. They
"Believe what you want to believe. That's what everybody does nowadays anyways." – Dr. They

"Take care, guys, stay sane. And good luck with the rest of your cases." – Reggie

The entire sequence with the alien. "And Scully drove."

"We are building a wall. … We can't allow your kind to infiltrate the rest of the cosmos. You're not sending us your best people. You're bringing drugs, you're bringing crime, you're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But we have no choice, believe me. For although the rest of the galaxies all have their share of these problems, we fear you could infect the rest with the one trait that is unique to earthlings: You lie." – the alien

"Good luck. And good riddance." – the alien

"So that's the truth? We're not alone in the universe? But nobody likes us?" – Mulder

"Don't worry, Mulder. There will always be more X-Files." – Scully

"No, they gave us the answers to everything. Even Sasquatch. NO! NO! IT'S NOT TRUE! IT CAN'T BE." – Mulder before pitching a fit

"It's time to face the facts, guys. This is the end of the X-Files. But maybe the point wasn't to find the truth but to find each other." – Reggie, in a line that may as well have been aimed at the whole fanbase since this seems to be the final season of the show

"I want to remember how it was. I want to remember how it all was." – Scully not eating the Jell-O, in another line seemingly aimed at the fanbase

"Where the hell are they taking Reggie?" – Skinner


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Wed 24 Jan - 18:53



[TV Review] “The X-Files” Season 11 Episode 4: “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”

   by Daniel Kurland
   January 24, 2018

Darin Morgan delivers another comedic home run of an episode as he tackles the perception of memory and the fascinating “Mandela Effect”

“Submitted for your approval…”

Now this is my kind of X-Files!

Darin Morgan’s season ten offering, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” is not only the best episode of the season, but it’s arguably one of the strongest episodes from the show’s entire run. Morgan might have expressed his extreme anxiety over writing more X-Files episodes and his concerns over running out of ideas and not being able to deliver, but thankfully he is back and his writing is just as sharp and unusual as ever. “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is an episode that’s as Darin Morgan as they come. It makes for a strong addition to the writer’s collection of episodes, but it’s also without a doubt the best entry of the season.

“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is all about memory, especially when it comes to its giant faults and blind spots. Morgan’s inventive, frenetic episode is basically the closest The X-Files comes to playing with a storyline and concept catered to Community, which is frankly the very best sort of mash-up possible (it also makes me deeply curious about the idea of the show recruiting Dan Harmon to write an episode, since people like Vince Gilligan don’t have the time to return). Community gets creative with its dissection of memory by putting together a “fake” clip show full of moments from adventures that the audience has never seen before. Morgan’s script does something similar by taking a number of previous X-Files episodes and memories and then it injects Reggie Something (Brian Huskey) into them. The fun here is in how Mulder and Scully—and the audience—obviously have no recollection of Reggie being apart of their past cases, which is where the sticky topic of memory begins to see examination.

This episode bases itself around the amazing reveal that Reggie was apparently not only Mulder and Scully’s former partner, but that he also started the X-Files with ol’ Foxy and Sculs’! Morgan’s episode does some inspired wok by (sloppily) editing Reggie into a bunch of old X-Files memories (including the theme song) and it makes for some pretty delicious fan service. I bet there are a whole lot of fans that would prefer Reggie’s rendition of the events from the final X-Files more than what actually happens in “The Truth.”

All of this is apparently the result of a phenomenon known as the Mandela Effect (or the Mengele Effect, depending on who you ask) where people have a tendency to collectively remember events incorrectly. It’s name stems from the idea that many people are positive that they heard that Nelson Mandela died while he was in prison during the ‘80s, when he actually died as a free man in 2013. This is a fascinating little social experiment to dissect and Morgan attempts to attack it from as many recognizable angles as possible. As much as the characters in this episode receive a lesson about the Mandela Effect, so does the audience, and that’s part of the beauty of this entry. Morgan also digs through a cornucopia of pop culture to help prove his episode’s point, like how people misremember if it’s the “Bearenstein” or “Berenstain” Bears and if that movie about a genie in a boom box is Kazaam with Shaq or Shazaam with Sinbad. These niche topics are Morgan’s bread and butter and rambling on about these things are a clear strength for the script.



Even though this episode covers a lot of ground, it’s actually an installment where there’s very little action that goes down. Instead, the episode is interested in Mulder, Scully, and Reggie getting into a debate over what exactly is going on here. Is the existential anguish that Reggie finds himself in proof of parallel universes? A hypno ray gun? Or is he just misremembering Occam’s Razor?

Most of the installment is spent in a parking garage as the three of them come up with various theories and then try to hash them all out. This might not seem very exciting, but Morgan’s winning dialogue actually turns the episode’s verbose structure into an asset. Duchovny and Anderson always seem to particularly come alive in Darin Morgan’s episodes. Maybe they’re just happier when they get to do comedic installments, but the “sleepwalking” effect that sometimes happens is never present in Morgan’s episodes. Additionally, Brian Huskey is a delight here and the perfect person for the role of Reggie. He’s got wonderful chemistry with Duchovny and Anderson and Huskey makes for a fine addition to Darin Morgan’s incorporation of comedic actors Rhys Darby and Kumail Nanjiani in his episode last season. Here’s hoping that his next entry puts someone like Jason Mantzoukas or Brett Gelman in the spotlight.

Reggie’s ramblings point Mulder and Scully in the direction of Dr. Thaddeus They, a radical doctor who nobody knows about because he’s erased all traces of himself (including his Kazaam knockoff). The episode posits that this “mad scientist” is essentially responsible for every major decision in the “free” world, Trump included. Morgan presents this absurd idea via documentary-esque footage that continues to have fun with the myth of Dr. They. This creepy man who looks a little too much like Klaus Kinski in Nosferatu has apparently erased Mulder, Scully, and Reggie’s minds of each other because they’re the only ones who are capable of stopping him.

These radical theories all broach the bigger idea that nobody knows what’s real and what’s fake news anymore. There’s no longer a “truth” to get out there because everything is so warped and why even bother when we’ll never know the facts behind it all? Collective consciousness and uncertainty is enough to forever plant seeds of doubt and let lies and misinformation fester and grow. Dr. They points out that the proliferation of the Internet makes it impossible to get to the truth of anything anymore, even without his additional brainwashing.



At this point, this is certainly the standout episode of the season, but in some ways it feels like one of Darin Morgan’s weaker entries. Granted, something like this looks a whole lot better in comparison when the rest of the condensed season is so dour and overly serious. It’s clear that Morgan’s done a ton of research for this episode and it looks like he’s had a lot of fun in the process. That being said, certain elements of this episode feel “easy” or that they’re able to coast by simply because everyone has such a fun time with the material. For instance, that gag where a young Mulder has adult Mulder’s head is a bizarre, amusing visual, but I’m not sure if it exactly “works.” At the same time, Morgan gets a little too silly with all of this and by the end of the episode his message feels a little less precise. So all of this was just a big Trump allegory in the end? The aliens build a space wall in order to keep us away from them and secure their safety? That’s the kind of conclusion that I can see Darin Morgan finding to be absolutely hilarious, but Trump is a figure that’s already come up a few times this season and he yields diminishing returns.

These minor criticisms don’t stop “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” from being a delirious, good time. It’s outrageous in the best way possible and in spite of any missteps that The X-Files may take as a whole, it’s episodes like this that continue to justify its existence. If nothing else, they act as proof that Darin Morgan deserves his own vehicle where he can turn out unpredictable, supernaturally fueled stories. Viewers shouldn’t have to wallow through melodramatic plans of colonization and genocide in order to get to gems like Mulder’s hunt for a lost episode of The Twilight Zone.

If the audience does too much of that then they’re bound to find themselves locked up in Spotnitz Sanitarium just like dear old Reg’.



“The X-Files’” 11th season will continue Wednesdays at 8pm (ET) on FOX




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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Wed 24 Jan - 19:07

'The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat' is my X-Files series finale


Shane Harvey/FOX

Darren Franich January 24, 2018 AT 09:15 PM EST

“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is the best X-Files episode so far this season. It’s a mess, no doubt, built on a self-destructing narrative. I understand if you hate it. I loved it, but it has problems. More than anything: It is a lot. There are fantasies, flashbacks that never were, metafiction, the argument that reality itself is metafiction, the phrase “phony fake news.” It is sort of a clip show, and sort of a parody, an attempt toward Trumpian art, and — maybe — a final statement.

The episode’s written by Darin Morgan, whose previous scripts pushed the show to its own outer limits of comedy and tragedy, surrealism, cockroaches, and Alex Trebek. “Forehead Sweat” breaks through the last Great Barrier of sanity. You think of that old Warner Bros. cartoon, where Daffy Duck runs into white space and begs the animator to paint him a background. Or—more recent, less classy, much weirder—you think of the end of The Hills, when it turned out the fake real people were really fake all along.

There’s a scene where Mulder meets the most evil man in the world, creator of the conspiracy to end all conspiracies. They have a long conversation about the nature of everything. Our hero declares, uneasy, that there is “still an objective truth, an objective reality.” Sure, but also: They’re walking through an outdoor art installation, statues of men whose silent laughter seems to taunt Mulder. This Yue Minjun sculpture series is called A-maze-ing Laughter, and it’s in Vancouver. X-Files has mostly shot in Vancouver, of course, but usually the show hides that reality, filming on nondescript steet corners, repeating that establishing shot of FBI HQ. So this obvious location shooting feels like a wink from Morgan, who also directed this episode. You halfway expect Mulder to look around, eyes wide open for the first time: “Dear god, I’m in Canada!”

The tone is set by the prologue. It’s a scene from “The Lost Martian,” a Twilight Zone episode that Mulder remembers the way Proust remembered Aunt Léonie’s spongecake. We see a guy tell a bartender that aliens have already invaded. The guy sees a Martian outside a window; he points toward the window, to us, through the fourth wall. But the window is a mirror. And when the guy looks in the mirror…he sees an alien! Or maybe it’s not a mirror, and did I mention the bartender was an alien, too? Cut to Fox Mulder, eight years old, a moment of epiphany: “Now I get it!”

“The Lost Martian” matters to Mulder. But it’s not important because it’s important. “It’s about my memory of seeing my first Twilight Zone,” he tries to explain, a legendary TV character worshipping legendary TV. And now “The Lost Martian” has gone missing, like it never happened, canceled from history. Mulder checks the internet, scans through his DVD boxed set, pages through his episode guidebooks. This is a quest through bygone ages of fandom: You imagine Mulder clicking through wikias, grabbing DVDs off a dusty bookshelf, pulling guidebooks out of boxes no next of kin will ever bother opening. His final recourse is digging through his own videotapes, a personal archive leftover from the ancient period when everyone wasn’t an archivist.

This quest begins with a mystery man. Reggie Something (Brian Huskey) meets Mulder in a parking lot. This is a double reference, of course: Mulder used to meet shadowy informants like Steven Williams’ Mr. X in a parking lot, because the creators of X-Files were obsessed with Watergate the way modern TV creators are obsessed with OJ, and Watergate informant Deep Throat met journalist Bob Woodward in a parking lot. Reggie tells Mulder a strange story about erased memories. And he seems to know Mulder, well enough to tell him his favorite Twilight Zone episode never existed.

He knows Scully, too. Enough to call her “Sculls,” enough to give her an old snack from long-ago, something called a Goop-O. “I have such wonderful memories associated with it,” says Scully. “I remember family vacations over the summer holidays, and Fourth of July, fireworks, America, God, love.” Gillian Anderson reads those words like she’s scenesetting the great American novel, and David Duchovny cuts her off with perfect snarky wonder: “That’s some Jello!”

“Forehead Sweat” has big ambitions. It wants to talk about the Mandela Effect, the theory that mass misremembrance is proof of some existential conspiracy. And it wants to talk about alternate realities, a science-fiction concept gone so mainstream that it’s peddled by bloated reactionary gasbags and dramedy billboards and every fan theory about every TV show. “Forehead Sweat” is so specific in its politics that it features a Martian direct-quoting Donald Trump, and so absurd in its politics that Martian Donald rides a Segway.

Like Morgan’s splendidly goofball 2016 outing “Mulder and Scully and the Were-Monster,” this episode takes a tough look at Mulder’s legacy, which doubles for the very explicit legacy of The X-Files. At one point, our sly Fox declares that the world has simply become too crazy for his, ahem, “conspiratorial powers.” Scully has her own theory about that. “Maybe you’ve just lost your taste for it,” she says, “especially after all this birther stuff.” That’s right: The Big Man in the White House got there because he peddled his own conspiracy theory. Mulder = Trump: Discuss? But why take things so seriously? Morgan has a fascinating perspective on the show’s resident paranoiac. He pushes Mulder’s renegade-believer act to the point of spaghetti-western absurdity—I could hear Duchovny say the word “Squatchin’ ” all day—and yet there is something quite sad in the silliness. At one point, insulted by some young feds, he positively squeals with declining self-regard:

Do you know who I am? I’m Fox Mulder! I was fighting the power and breaking conspiracies before you saw your first chemtrail, you punks! I’m Fox Freaking Mulder, you punks! I’m Fox Mulder! Fox Mulder!

This is the “I’m the Goddamn Batman!” of X-Files, except definitely funny and unquestionably sad. I cherish Morgan’s cockeyed vision of what this show can be, admire how he can make Mulder seem so much weirder than usual and so terribly human. His peacocking is egotistical (FOX FREAKING MULDER) but also sounds like the chestbeating of a dying animal. Credit to Duchovny, for really going for it. (Credit, too, to Chris Carter, the producer who still sees something marvelously essential in the Darin Morgan version of X-Files.)

All this in one episode— plus, a brief chronicle of the downward moral spiral of the federal government in the past few decades, told via montage within a single office cubicle? Witness poor everydud Reggie descending through recent history, from cheerful Postal Service employee to bored “enhanced interrogation” waterboarding torturer to drone pilot accidentally blowing up another wedding. That’s some Jello!



Morgan is a brilliant writer. He has the peculiar ability to craft what you might call “bleak introspective philosophical spoofs,” a subgenre peculiar to Thomas Pynchon novels and Rick & Morty and a couple episodes of Atlanta. His X-Files corpus constitutes a strange miniseries, the tones silly but incisive but heartfelt, self-parody-as-criticism-as-tragedy. This is only his sixth X-Files script. But he also carries one earlier “story by” credit. And he played two monsters of weeks past, fearsome Flukeman and shapeshifting Eddie Van Blundht. By my fake math, that makes “Forehead Sweat” Darin Morgan’s eighth-and-a-half episode, the same number that led Federico Fellini to title his autobiographical 8 1/2.

And, if you’ll indulge overthinking, this episode has trace elements of autobiography. Morgan’s actually onscreen for a moment, in a phony flashback. We see Mulder transform into Eddie, an actual moment from “Small Potatoes.” But this memory has been Forrest Gump‘d, and Reggie shoots Eddie. Is this an act of self-immolation? Reggie himself feels like a Darin Morgan analogue. He claims he’s always been a part of the team, that he actually created the X-Files. In another memory—fake?—we see Scully arrive in the X-Files office for the first time. It’s the pilot episode, 1993, so Mulder’s there…but so is Reggie. “Move along, sugarboobs!” he says. “This is the X-Files! No women allowed!” This is a half-funny line that feels all-the-way true, given Anderson’s own complaints about the show’s all-male writing staff.

I admire the spirit, self-reflective, self-recriminating. But as a director, Morgan’s choices are strange, even bland. There are nifty visual ideas—that cubicle montage!—but too much of “Forehead Sweat” is one long conversation between Mulder, Scully, and Reggie, standing stolid inside a parking lot. That garage gets so much attention that this could almost be a bottle episode, except for the montages that play out over long walls of exposition. (This was a minor problem with “Were-Monster,” too, which became a long Rhys Darby narration for most of its middle act.)

You have to remember that, on top of every other reason to love it, The X-Files used to look [screamingly desperate Duchovny voice] freaking COOL. Shadows sliced by flashlight beams; budgets big enough to build convincing weekly Thing From Another World riffs. Morgan’s finest episode, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” was directed by Rob Bowman, one of the series’ stable of steady pros. And so part of the gag was how “Jose Chung’s” mostly looked like a regular eerie mythology episode. So the dissonance was mindbending when, say, Jesse Ventura showed up, or the foulmouthed local lawman kept saying “Bleep!”

This decade’s X-Files can’t match the original show’s visual flair. Actually, this current season just looks stale, especially next to all the smallscreen visual experimentation that the original X-Files helped to influence. That Mr. Robot “single-shot” episode came almost 20 years after Chris Carter did his own long-take wonder, “Triangle.” But Mr. Robot pushed the form forward, achieving a new pinnacle of breathtaking realtime-thriller imagination. Meanwhile, Carter opened this season with narratin’ Mulder on a never-ending drive somewhere important.

Morgan’s flat staging gives “Forehead Sweat” its own peculiar magic, though. The strange men who keep appearing to chase Reggie aren’t remotely scary. The long conversation feels leisurely: You feel you’re watching Mulder, Scully, and Reggie talk about an X-Files episode, like they’re the robots from Mystery Science Theater 3000.  And in the climax of the episode, Reggie conjures up a false(?) memory of the team’s final case. The scene is clearly synthetic—surf-rock soundtrack, rear-projection driving, convertible red as Mulder’s speedo once was. But it’s exactly as synthetic as the rest of the episode. They spend so long in that damned garage that you feel you’re watching actors on a stage, complete with distant police-siren sound effects.

The problems of 2018 X-Files are all over this episode. There’s not enough Scully, and even within the goofery, there’s a feeling of the Mulder legend being printed. Those nefarious young feds insult him by saying: “You start out a rebel, but then you get fat, and the next thing you know, you’re Deep State. Sad!” Again with the presidential tweet-quoting, ho ho. But something that’s bothered me this season: Was Mulder ever actually a rebel?

Here’s a second-generation federal agent twice over—his supposed father and his actual biological father were both members of the world-devouring conspiracy. Oh, the FBI gave Mulder a crappy office, sure, but those travel expenses, that badge opening every door! The phrase “cult hit” gets tossed around with the show, but it was also just an actual hit—a big hit, huge— earning more than 20 million viewers at its peak. This is a larger conversation, I guess, one we’ll be addressing in the next couple years as the network that shares Mulder’s first name works out a post-Disney future. (Will history recall Fox as a bold outlier, or the cultural tip of Rupert Murdoch’s spear?)

There’s a version of The X-Files that reckons with that legacy, connecting the dots between Mulder’s renegade act and the cheap conspiracy cynicism of today. “Forehead Sweat” comes closer than the revival ever has. Witness Stuart Margolin as “Dr. They,” the man behind the curtain. Except there’s no curtain. He’s in the phone book, if anyone still knew how to use a phone book. Dr. They is technically a mad scientist who invented “a ray of some kind” to change people’s memories. Is this science-fiction? Or just typical propaganda: Is his “ray of some kind” like Ted Stevens’ “series of tubes,” the very internet itself? Dr. They is a YouTuber, just like Logan Paul. (The first comment under his YouTube video: “I think the editing could have been a little tighter.”) And his greatest trick was convincing the world that his existence was too unbelievable to believe, just like the Devil and Logan Paul.

He quotes Trump, too: “Nobody knows for sure,” a line that needs no context because it could fit into any context. You can plumb the depths of “Forehead Sweat” for political relevance, but I loved how Morgan used Trump as a metaphor, a way of rethinking The X-Files. And ending it? Reggie’s tale of the team’s final mission has so many symbols of a fading generation, of cultural memory that only time will erase. A Voyager space probe brought home, like the one in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. A great big alien ship rising into the sky, its exhaust lighting up the face of staring humans, like the earthlings left behind in Close Encounters of the Third King and E.T. That red convertible, straight out of American Graffiti, the ’70s myth of the ’60s. And the Martian Donald wore Elvis’ old cape. (Theory: He was Elvis?) The alien even handed Mulder a book with all the answers—even the truth about Bigfoot, the first urban legend everyone learns about the remaining un-urban America.

This is my X-Files series finale. Not the last episode I’ll ever watch: I’m in for this season, and maybe there will be more. Maybe someday the Disney subsidiary that America will become can open up a whole X-Files Land, converting a whole neighborhood of Washington DC into a facsimile of Vancouver pretending to be DC. But after an awful 2002 series finale, a listless 2008 movie, and now a couple seasons of strange alien-baby-obsessed meandering, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” feels like the strange, awkward, transcendent ending I always wanted for the show. It takes me back to my memory of my first X-Files episode, the one where the green flies attack the lumberjacks, the dark forest, the couch in my pal’s living room, a Friday night sleepover, pizza delivery, Sega Genesis, ToeJam & Earl, Friday nights, Saturday mornings, youth, America!

I loved The X-Files and remembered loving some episodes especially, like Carter’s own black-and-white “The Post-Modern Prometheus.” In memory that episode was everything I admired about the show, everything I believed television could accomplish. I remembered specifically how Cher had a cameo, as herself, in the wonderful and romantic final scene. When I rewatched it again a couple years ago, it was like someone refilmed a fake version of “The Post-Modern Prometheus,” like Netflix edited the episode or rewrote new bad scenes. Still funny, sure, but wait, was the episode always about forced impregnation, isn’t this a rather tone-deaf treatment of this material, did I just not notice this when I was younger, did I really not care? At least there was still Cher at the end, except it wasn’t Cher, just some body double, and actually I guess that last scene never happened at all, it was an illusion.

Where was I? Oh, so “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” final thoughts: The editing really could have been a little tighter. But I loved this episode’s screwball spirit, the way it chewed up its own scenery. I loved the hat-tip to The Twilight Zone—and the hat-tip to the knockoff shows that followed The Twilight Zone, a proud legacy from Outer Limits to X-Files itself to Black Mirror and beyond. I will ponder this episode’s deeper meanings forever. I already want to argue about its place in the canon. Having proved decisively that everything Reggie said was a lie, the episode threw a final wrench in its own fake reality. Reggie’s carried away to the Spotnitz Sanitarium, tied up in the back of a crazyhouse ambulance. Mitch Pileggi’s crusty Director Skinner walks into the parking lot as he’s driven away. “Where the hell they taking Reggie?” he asks, the last man on Earth who remembers the man who wasn’t there.

And that ending: Tears! Mulder solves the episode’s first and most important mystery. The missing Twilight Zone wasn’t a Twilight Zone at all. “The Lost Martian” was an episode of Dusky Realm, some knockoff so lost to history that CBS won’t even reboot it. (Further referentiality here, wheels within wheels within worlds: Carter created a shortlived series called Harsh Realm, about a digital alternate reality.) Mulder watches the episode, which come to think of it isn’t good at all. The tape collapses when Mulder ejects it from his VCR. Soon the VCR will break down, too, and will our children remember videotapes, and will anyone remember Blu-Rays?

But the final lines belong to Scully: The voice of reason, and we need her now more than ever. She cooks up her own private Proustian spongecake, a Goop-o shaped like a sasquatch foot. But she can’t bring herself to actually eat this fantasy fruit. “I want to remember how it was,” she says. “I want to remember how it all was.”

It’s a happy line, a sad one, thought-provoking, ambiguous, conclusive. Optimistic read: She doesn’t want the thing, she wants her happy memory of how the thing seemed to be, because those happy memories make the world more magical than our world ever was.

Pessimistic read: In an episode so focused on the imperfection of memory, is this a moment of sad realization, not waving but drowning, a way of saying “I want to remember, but will I? And for how long?”

Deep, series-wrapping read: Is the line “I want to remember” a requiem for the show’s eternal tagline “I want to believe”? A way of suggesting that belief in The X-Files itself is just a kind of memory now, nostalgia for a show that was a time that ended long ago?

Morgan’s camera rises up from the couch to the night sky. We see the stars. Or rather, we see the light from distant stars, a visual echo from a light source centuries past. We’ll never see the stars up close, but they do exist. And Mulder and Scully still exist, real as any fake memory. Their truth is out there, where it never was and ever shall be.

The X-Files airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.


EW.com

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Wed 24 Jan - 19:15

X-Files writer breaks down his Trump-inspired episode 'about truth and lying'


Shane Harvey/FOX

Devan Coggan January 24, 2018 AT 09:00 PM EST

WARNING! Spoilers are out there. This post discusses plot points from the X-Files episode “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.”

There are X-Files episodes that are scary. There are X-Files episodes that are funny. There are X-Files episodes concerning aliens and sewer monsters and Mothman, and there are X-Files that dig into heavy themes of truth and humanity and the very nature of good and evil.

And then there are X-Files episodes like “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” which is about 5,000 things all at once. Part Twilight Zone homage, part rebuke of “fake news,” part parody, and part meta-commentary on the very existence of the show, the fourth episode of the season 11 revival is a delight, following Mulder and Scully as they come face to face with a mysterious conspiracy theorist they know as Reggie Something (Brian Huskey).

If nothing else, it’s an episode that is distinctively Darin Morgan. The longtime X-Files veteran wrote and directed “Forehead Sweat,” and he’s responsible for penning some of the most thoughtful and idiosyncratic hours in the show’s 25-year run, including “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” and “José Chung’s ‘From Outer Space.'” (He also appeared over the years as memorable monsters the Flukeman and the shapeshifter Eddie Van Blundht.) “Forehead Sweat” has all the hallmarks of a Morgan special, from one-liners and fantasy sequences to fourth-wall breaks that poke fun at the show’s 11-season legacy. Like the show’s FBI protagonists, this is an episode that questions everything, but the questions it raises can’t be answered and wrapped up neatly in 45 minutes. 

EW caught up with Morgan to talk about “Forehead Sweat” and reveal a few of the episode’s secrets. (He talks in general, less spoiler-y terms about the episode here.) Below, he breaks down some of the hour’s biggest moments, from the Twilight Zone references to that scene-stealing alien on a scooter. 

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You previously mentioned how in 2018, the show is so informed by the current political climate. There are a lot of references in this episode to Trump —  like aliens building walls around Earth, for example. How did you find the right balance in talking about the political stuff? Were you ever hesitant to inject it too much?
DARIN MORGAN: Oh no, I wasn’t hesitant … that was kind of the main purpose behind [writing this episode]. And it’s sort of another tie-in to The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling created the show. He wasn’t really into sci-fi, but his original purpose was because he was writing stories that had a political message and he felt they were being censored. So he figured if he took a sci-fi setting, then maybe it’ll get his messages across. And I felt that this is kind of a similar opportunity, although obviously I did it in a much sillier way.

But that was a thing that The Twilight Zone often did. They made people look at a different perspective than a person was used to looking at. And I thought, people who support Trump or who support the wall, what would they think if an alien came down and flipped it on them? How would they regard it? I’m not a political writer, per se, and you don’t want to offend anyone. You don’t want people to just turn everything off because they don’t share your political viewpoint, but you’re making sort of a general comment about people’s perspectives and about the truth and lying. And that seems like everybody can understand it and relate to it.

Which is not to say that everyone’s going to like the episode! Some people I’m sure will be offended by it. But that’s the price you pay, I guess.

I think this episode raises such fascinating questions about a person’s personal relationship with the truth and how you can convince yourself that something is true, regardless of whether it actually is.
Yeah, we seem to be at a stage now where nobody knows what’s true and what’s not, and I believe that’s another definition of insanity. [Laughs] It’s the feeling that the world’s gone mad. That’s what it feels like.

I have to ask about the scene where Mulder is remembering his childhood, and you’ve got young Fox Mulder with adult David Duchovny’s head. Where did that come from?
Well, there was a speech afterwards that Scully gave about memory and how we can change and shape our memories. They’re not recorded bits of information. Which I had to lose for time. But the idea there is, when we think back on our memories from our youth, we have a tendency — or at least I do — to imagine my current mindset. Whenever I think about my youth, I’m like, “Why didn’t I do this? Why didn’t I do that?” And then you drive by high school students and you go, “Oh, that’s why I didn’t do it. Because I was a kid.” You tend to think of your adult consciousness, and you take that with you when you’re thinking back on your memories and things you’ve done in the past. Our memories are sometimes not quite accurate. That’s one of the reasons of many, I guess. So that’s that idea, and of course, it’s just a funny way of doing it.

Along those same lines, I also wanted to ask about the ending, where Scully decides not to eat the Goop-o ABC and not revisit that beloved memory. Instead, she chooses to remember things as they were. Why did you decide to end on that note?
Oh. [Laughs] I don’t want to be a jerk, but I’m going to leave that ambiguous. One of the things I actually kind of like about the episode is it’s about a lot of things, but it’s actually kind of hard to pinpoint exactly what it’s about or what it’s saying. And there are certain things that are hard to pinpoint or explain. That ambiguity, I kind of like that about the episode. And I think that’s part of what the ending is. So I’ll leave it there. I’m sorry!

You don’t have to apologize! I think it’s a perfect ending. I also love the fantastic montage of old episodes, re-edited to include Brian Huskey as Reggie. How did you decide which old episodes or scenes to include?
Well, that was the last thing I wrote. My script was due, so at like 3 in the morning, I was going through old episodes. [Laughs] I thought it would be much easier than it turned out to be. Some of the episodes that I thought I was going to use, or certain scenes that I wanted to use that were famous for fans, the problem was those scenes, I remembered them incorrectly. Which I guess is in keeping with the theme of the episode. [Laughs] But so many of the important scenes are played out in tight close-ups between Mulder and Scully. There was no place to fit Reggie in. So I ended up [choosing] certain episodes, and how I could fit Reggie into a particular shot sort of dictated it. And like I said, it was like 4 in the morning, so I ended up picking a handful and letting it go at that.

Eddie Van Blundht makes an appearance, which made me laugh.
I get a residual. I’m no dummy.

The last thing I wanted to ask you about was that final scene with the alien on the Segway, where you reference the Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man.” That’s where the episode goes into full farce. Walk me through how that scene came together.
The most interesting thing with that was that it was not intended to be on the little scooter. The actor [who played the alien] was in full makeup and costume when we started setting up the lighting and stuff, and that’s his own little scooter. That’s how he gets around. He was riding around on that thing, and it just looked hysterical. I grabbed the DP, Greg, and I go, “Greg, we gotta use this. It just looks too funny.” So that was sort of an unexpected special treat. When we were shooting that, I couldn’t stop laughing. Fortunately, the alien speaks telepathically, so it didn’t matter that I was ruining takes by laughing. That made it all worth it, just to shoot that thing. Usually shooting this stuff is really hard, but shooting that scene… I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

The X-Files airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.


EW.com

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Wed 24 Jan - 19:23

The X-Files: Every Episode Referenced in THAT Scene

   By Zak Wojnar 1 hour ago



SPOILERS for The X-Files below!

Darin Morgan’s latest episode of The X-Files, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” is a surreal dive into the psyche of 2018 America and a thoughtfully absurd deconstruction of the very concept of truth, belief, memory, and The X-Files itself. Among so many hilarious and bizarre moments, one that stands out is a prolonged flashback scene to many of The X-Files‘ greatest hits.

The mysterious guest character, Reggie “Somebody,” played by Brian Huskey, claims to have been a victim (or perhaps everybody else is) of The Mandela Effect, which has altered collective memories of past events. He even claims to have created The X-Files in an effort to get to the truth behind the USA’s invasion of Grenada, which he posits was part of an alien cover-up.

To illustrate this lore-breaking “revelation,” the show plays an altered version of the classic X-Files opening theme, only with the character names (Fox Mulder and Dana Scully) instead of their actors, followed by a title for “Reggie Somebody.” The episode then breaks into a wild montage of classic X-Files moments, only with Reggie added in, usually via fancy computer effects, reminiscent of when the cast of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine interacted with the cast of the original series in the episode, ‘Trials and Tribble-Ations.’
Here are all of the episodes referenced in that crazy scene.



Unusual Suspects: The first clip shown in the extended flashback sequence is a peculiar one since it doesn’t actually edit any footage from the original episode. Set in 1989, ‘Unusual Suspects’ is a prequel episode which explores the origins of The Lone Gunmen and how they first met Agent Mulder. In the episode, Mulder gets a call on his oversized 1980s cell phone and says, “Hey Reggie, what’s up?” At the time, this was a reference to Reggie Purdue, Mulder’s old FBI partner (as seen in the Season 1 episode, “Young at Heart”), but now it’s changed to the Reggie from this episode, who giddily informs Mulder that he bought a new decoration for their office, offering a dubious origin to the famous “I Want to Believe” poster.

Pilot: Next, the montage segues to Scully’s first meeting with Mulder, from the first-ever episode of The X-Files. She knocks on the door and is greeted by Mulder, and then the camera cuts to Reggie, filing papers in the corner of the office, and is dismissive of the young female agent, saying, “Move along, sugar boobs. This is the X-Files; no women allowed.

Tooms: This season one episode guest-starred Doug Hutchison (Punisher: War Zone) as the vicious serial killer, Eugene Victor Tooms. To this day, his role as the extremely flexible murderer is fondly remembered as one of The X-Files‘ most disturbing creatures. As Tooms walks by Mulder and Scully, having just secured his release from the mental hospital, Reggie – digitally superimposed into the scene – astutely remarks, “That guy is so creepy.



Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose: Although Darin Morgan had written for The X-Files before, this season three episode was the one which really put his name on the map, and won him an Emmy for his excellent writing prowess. Actor Peter Boyle (Everybody Loves Raymond) also won a coveted award for his guest-starring role in the episode. In the montage, Boyle is delivering one of his famous monologues, musing about the impossibly complex implications of predestination, free will, and even time travel, briefly mentioning the possibility of undoing the US’s invasion of Grenada… At which point Reggie interrupts him, saying, “Wait… What’s this about Grenada?

Teso Dos Bichos: Unlike most of the episodes featured in the montage, “Teso Dos Bichos” is not a nostalgic classic, but is instead remembered as one of the weakest episodes of the show’s early seasons. The episode has a strong start but loses all momentum during its underwhelming ending, in which Mulder and Scully are attacked by a stampede of adorable cats. In a nod to fan disapproval over that particular choice, Reggie stands next to the agents and remarks, “Guys, if this turns out to be killer cats, I’m going to be very disappointed.

Home: One of the scariest X-Files ever, season four’s ‘Home’ doesn’t actually deal with aliens or monsters, but a family of inbred killer creeps, deformed to the point of being mutants. In the episode, Mulder and Scully find the woman of the house, strapped to a board and hidden under the bed, and conclude that she’s the mother of the boys, but also their sister. Reggie is confused, and asks, “Wait, if she’s their mother, how can she be their…?” The realization strikes him, and he can only sheepishly exclaim, “…Oh boy.

Small Potatoes: The final episode in the montage is “Small Potatoes,” a season four episode written by Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad), the finale of which sees a shape-shifting mutant taking over Mulder’s identity in an attempt to seduce Scully. The two are sitting on a couch and “Mulder” tries to lean in for a kiss but is thwarted when the real Mulder busts down the door. Defeated, the imposter reverts back to his natural state. In this reinterpretation of events, it’s not Mulder, but Reggie who breaks in and saves Scully from the Mulder doppelganger, and when he transforms back to his original form, Reggie promptly executes him with a single gunshot. The joke here is that the mutant is played by none other than Darin Morgan, who wrote and directed “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.”

Reggie’s Truth




Obviously, none of this transpired the way Reggie recalls, and Scully proves as much by the end of the episode, deducing that Reggie became obsessed with The X-Files during his time at the NSA, illegally listening to Mulder and Scully’s conversations, and that he concocted a fantasy around being intimately involved with the FBI. Of course, Scully’s airtight case is thrown for a loop when Reggie is being escorted away by Spotnitz Sanitarium staff… Assistant Director Skinner sees the vehicle and asks the agents, “Where the hell are they taking Reggie?

Indeed, there’s further evidence suggesting that Reggie was actually telling the truth, or at least some form of it; in episode two of this current season, “This“, when Skinner shows the agents the online database of The X-Files, Reggie’s image briefly flashes on the screen, indicating that he did, in fact, work at the FBI, and even within The X-Files.

…Either that, or Mulder and Scully are actually from a different universe and the world of this current iteration of The X-Files is different from the one of the original series.

The X-Files season 11 airs Wednesdays @ 8 pm on FOX.


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 4:00



Exclusive: The X-Files' Darin Morgan reflects on false memories and 'The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat'

Tara Bennett
@TaraDBennett
Jan 24, 2018

The X-Files universe may be one full of mystery and uncertainty, but there's at least one thing about it that is crystal clear: When writer, and now, director Darin Morgan's name is on an episode, audiences can always expect a weird and wonderful ride.

Morgan's first contribution to the series was the story for Season 2 episode, "Blood," and since then he's written ace installments like Season 3 episodes, "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," and "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space,'" and arguably the best episode of Season 10, "Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster".

Morgan's episodes have a tendency to meld pathos, very quirky humor, and character introspection into a memorable mélange that even the actors find refreshing. As David Duchovny conveyed to me in a separate, recent interview about the joy of Darin Morgan episodes, he said "I always appreciate Darin Morgan's character assassinations. I'm always trying to figure out how to do that. I love his writing and I love working with him."

With "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," Morgan goes down the meta rabbit hole as Mulder and Scully explore the concept of The Mandela Effect, where humans are susceptible to the phenomena of remembering something as real when it never happened. An example being the bizarre cumulative belief of some that the comedian Sinbad played the genie in the movie, Shazaam (it was Shaquille O’Neal in Kazaam, people!). In this episode, the concept is explored via Reggie (Brian Huskey), who asserts to them that he's been their partner in the X-Files department for their entire career at the FBI.

It's bonkers, it's brilliant, and needs to be explained. As such, a Letterman-esque bearded Morgan sat down with us to explain how his brain conceived of this piece.

With the renewal of The X-Files for a Season 11 and your call back to write another episode, did it start with asking yourself, "What do I want to explore?"

Darin Morgan: Well, you know my last episode ["Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster"] was kind of about coming back to the show, and reflecting back on what did it all mean and how did I feel about that?



I have to say, it was a unique exploration of those themes via comedian Rhys Darby's out-of-sorts monster.

Yeah, Rhys was great. So this one was more of like, 'Okay, you've reflected, so what's going on now with the world?" And the whole idea of, if this show's main thing has been 'The truth is out there' and we have a president who...

For him there is no truth.

Right. Or you have Mulder, who's been a conspiracy nut from the get-go, and now you have essentially his boss [President Trump] is even a bigger conspiracy nut.

Mulder actually looks sane for the first time compared to where the world is right now.

Exactly. So that was the main approach. How would Mulder respond to all that's going on around him?

David and I talked about that too, in that over the 25-year span of the show, the world has achieved peak surreal. As a writer, how do you distill that into this world?

Good question. I don't know. This may not directly answer you, but I found the hardest thing was in terms of Trump, every day he does something that you go, "I can't believe he said that. I want to address that." But a week later, no one remembers that thing. There were so many things when I first started writing that if I had referenced it I don't think people would have remembered it now. So I ended up focusing on the wall and his lying. Those two things will always be around as long as he's president. I sort of focused on those two things.

Having Reggie as the third partner is fantastic. Where did that idea come from, and also Brian's casting?

Brian was great. He's a lot of fun. I came across the... I was going to say the Mengele Effect, but it's The Mandela Effect. (Laughs) From that it was figuring out what I was going to do with that. It's this idea -- and I think this is where the third partner idea came in -- was like if someone has never had an experience, like I don't have a memory other people do, the only way to make them understand what that might feel like is if someone was watching the show, The X-Files, and the someone goes, "There was always another character." And you go, "Wait, no, no. It was just Mulder and Scully." And they say, "No, no. There was Mulder and Scully and Reggie something." That would put them in a position of going, "Oh, how would I react if a memory I have that I cherished of my past, suddenly nobody else believes me?" So that was the way to do it.

Did you come out of the other end of it feeling like the phenomena is something more?

No.

No?

I still think it's just people misremembering. I have a really bad memory myself. It's interesting to go, "Oh, try to come up with some theory to explain it." But it's just people not remembering. I guess that's why I probably didn't do as thorough and in-depth exploration of that phenomenon, because, to me, there wasn't a lot to run with. Other than that, I get parallel universes, which is one explanation.

As a director, you get a lot a looseness out of David and Gillian that is just so much fun. Do they immediately respond to your writing with a sense of play?

David and Gillian now know what my stuff is, so that's great because that's the biggest hurdle. They know what they're doing. And you know David's really good at contributing ideas. Gillian was all into it. It's like there's nothing they won't really try, even though this is probably not what they would normally do, so that's all easy. The hardest thing actually, in a weird sort of way, is with Rhys last time, and Brian, because they're joining The X-Files, they are more serious to begin with. We have to go, "No, no, no. This episode you use the comedy thing." This time I actually told Brian, straight out, right from the beginning, this is a comedy. But even then, they're still reluctant. You really have to push them. By the time you're done shooting, they're there. I've just learned, like I tried to do with Brian this time, is right from the get-go, explain this is what we're doing, and he was all into it.



Is there are sequence or scene from this episode that pleased you the most in execution and outcome?

I have a strange fondness for the scene with Mulder and Dr. They (Stuart Margolin) and the statue. It's hard to explain, but it has to do with sometimes when you're doing my episodes, you get a sense that the actors are like, "Oh, this is kind of fun." They're into it. Doing that scene, I got that same sense from the crew. You could tell Craig (Wrobleski), our DP, and our the camera guys were really going, "Oh, this is going to be interesting." They were really into it. Stuart Margolin, who played Dr. They, is also great. Just him and David and that whole scene, I I don't know if anyone will get it, but I just really love that scene.

And after we shot the scene, I was talking to Craig after this going, "We don't have a bad shot. Every shot in the scene is kind of interesting." And it cut together. I'm proud of that scene.

Are you doing any episodes in the back part of the season?
No. Once is enough.

After all these years, do you feel like new X-Files stories still come to you easily?

Oh, God no. No. It's always tough. Writing for the show is so hard because you have to come up with a completely different story and it's not in an anthology show, which in some ways makes it easier. But it's also difficult because you have to do Mulder and Scully investigating a story on something completely different. It's just always difficult. I've never had an episode where, "Oh, that one was easy."

The X-Files airs Wednesday nights on Fox.


SYFY WIRE

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 4:08

January 24, 2018 9:00 pm

The X-Files Recap: All the Answers

By Brian Tallerico



The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat
Season 11 Episode 4

Editor's Rating 5/5

The legendary Darin Morgan returns for one of the best episodes of The X-Files ever made. Much as Morgan did last season with “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” he flips viewer’s expectations, but this time he does so through the filter of the Trump administration and the battle over fake news. How can somebody believe that “the truth is out there” when no one agrees upon the truth? It’s funny, smart, irreverent, and, in keeping with a theme of this season, it playfully comments on the X-Files fanbase, who probably remember an episode or two differently than they actually played out.

“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is about gaps in collective memory, a phenomenon known as the “Mandela effect.” (Not the “Mengele effect,” despite what one of the characters says in the episode, for the record.) The Mandela effect refers to what are essentially shared mistakes in memory. Memory is a pliable, funny thing: People can be convinced they saw movies they didn’t see, such as the Kazaam issue Mulder references in the episode, or that more people attended an inauguration than actually did. It often happens with movie quotes, too: What if I told you Darth Vader never said “Luke, I am your father” or the Queen in Snow White never said, “Mirror, mirror on the wall”? This episode applies this fascinating concept to the history of The X-Files.

We’re introduced to the Mandela effect through the story of Reggie Something, played by Brian Huskey. We meet him in full Deep Throat mode, chewing sunflower seeds in a parking garage, having a clandestine meeting with Mulder. He knows he’s going to seem crazy, so he gives Mulder a very personal example of the Mandela effect, revealing to him that his favorite episode of The Twilight Zone, “The Lost Martian,” doesn’t really exist. Of course, we know it doesn’t, but Mulder is convinced that he saw it when he was a kid. He rummages through his belongings to find it, leading to the great line when Scully suggests it might be a different series: “Confuse The Twilight Zone with The Outer Limits?! Do you even KNOW ME?!?!”

Now it’s Scully’s time to meet with Reggie and learn what her Mandela Effect is. It’s a Jello knock-off called Goop-o ABC, which Reggie hands her before yelling “Just prove that I’m real!” Of course, his fingerprints on the box don’t match anyone’s in the system.

Now Mulder and Scully decide to talk to Reggie together, and we learn his trigger that allowed him to see the falsity of his memory, his “Lost Martian” or his Goop-o ABC. When he was moving his mother, he came across a book by Dr. Wuzzle. The only problem? He remembered his favorite childhood author being named Dr. Wussle. Eager to investigate, he found his way to a nostalgia shop and saw a cartoon drawn by, of course, Dr. Wuzzle. He explains to Mulder and Scully that the Mandela effect is being controlled by someone, quoting George Orwell when he says, “He who controls the past controls the future.” (There’s even a brilliant edit in which Reggie talks about companies controlling their image and it’s meant to appear like a modern brand name got cut out.) There’s a wonderful comedic energy to the scene, as the three characters argue over whether Reggie’s problems are due to government conspiracy (Reggie), faulty memory (Scully), or alternate universes (Mulder). Reggie points out that “they” want you to think all conspiracies are silly. And Darin Morgan has an answer for just who “they” is.

Meet Dr. Thaddeus Q. They, the man who figured out who to manipulate collective memory. While working on Operation Soy Bomb, he made astronauts forget home and was fired for making them think they were chimpanzees. He works for “unknown, mysterious clients,” he was in a movie called Ka-Blaam, and he was last seen at the 2017 inauguration. Reggie latches onto the fact that Dr. They worked in Grenada, where Reggie claims he saw alien land almost four decades ago. Reggie remembers seeing the alien being taken away by mysterious men in black. Then he drops the biggest bomb yet: He started The X-Files. In an amazing montage, we see Reggie cut into old episodes of the show from its original run. It’s a meta reference, telling us, the fans, that we remember these classic episodes differently than they actually played out. It’s an episode about manipulating history that manipulates the history of itself. Brilliant.

While Mulder tries to figure out an answer without coming back to alternate universes, he gets a call from Dr. They. In another clandestine meeting, the good doctor of “phony fake news” castigates Mulder for not finding him sooner, telling him that his time has passed. We’re in an era in which powerful leaders don’t need to keep secrets anymore because no one believes or cares when they’re revealed. As he says, “We’re living in a post-cover-up, post-conspiracy age.” The “poco” age, as he calls it, doesn’t need conspiracies if people can’t tell the difference between real and fake — if people only believe what they want to believe. This is an episode that’s about the spread of disinformation, and how it’s going to be a defining characteristic of our time when historians write it.

When we get our final parking garage meeting with Reggie, Scully drops the bomb: She found out about his past: He was just a government employee, a guy who rose the ranks from USPS to IRS to SEC to DOJ to CIA to DOD to NSA, and he was committed to a mental institution a year ago. Is Reggie just a disillusioned employee imagining he still fights for truth and justice? He willingly puts on a straitjacket, but Mulder asks about their last case before he goes.

It turns out that Reggie, Mulder, and Scully did find the truth. The alien from Grenada came back, as he promised he would, and gave them a book called All the Answers, but only after telling them never to come to outer space again. Lest anyone think there wasn’t already Trump commentary in this episode, the alien in this flashback quotes him deliberately, saying that the Earth isn’t sending outer space “your best people” and that the rest of the universe is going to build a wall to keep humanity out. Mulder throws a tantrum in response. He doesn’t want all the answers. He wants to keep searching.

Back in the present day, Skinner asks where they’re taking Reggie before Scully and Mulder settle in for some TV and snacks. It turns out “The Lost Martian” was on a show called The Dusky Realm and Goop-o ABC looks gross. And that’s when Scully hits us with a melancholy line: “I want to remember how it all was.” We all do, Sculls.

Other Notes


• We’ll get to the other Easter eggs and references in a minute, but here’s a huge one for that you might have missed. Two weeks ago, in “This,” as Scully and Mulder were flipping through the electronic X-Files, an ID badge for someone else went by. Guess who? Reggie! Does this mean his story about working with Mulder and Scully is true? Why else would his badge be in the X-Files?

• I love how Reggie calls them Foxy and Sculls.

• Just for the record, Scully says “leprechaun taint” in this episode and I’m willing to bet those two words had never before been put together on television.

• The Mulder flashback with an eight-year-old body and David Duchovny’s head was brilliant.

• Soy Bomb Conspiracy is a real thing.

• The Grenada UFO Stamp is also real.

• Reggie is shown a political cartoon from WWII drawn by Dr. Wuzzle. If you’re wondering, Dr. Seuss drew political cartoons in that era, although I doubt anyone remembers his name as Dr. Seuzz. Maybe they will now.

• Dr. They is played by TV legend Stuart Margolin, who won two Emmys for The Rockford Files.

• Two great quotes: “I’m Fox freaking Mulder, you punks!” and “We’re not alone in the universe, but nobody likes us.”

• There are several classic episodes in the montage of Reggie being in The X-Files, including “Squeeze,” “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” “Home” (with a shot of last week’s guest star Karin Konoval), and “Small Potatoes.”


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 4:14

A delightful X-Files plays with memory, lawn darts

Zack Handlen
Yesterday 8:03pm



“I’ve stumbled on the conspiracy to end all conspiracies,” says the guy, and even though he’s arguably right, it’s also funny, because we’ve heard this before. At the heart of most of Darin Morgan’s writing for The X-Files is a man rolling his eyes through tears, and “The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat” is no exception. It’s goofy as hell, maybe even goofier than “Mulder And Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” and if there’s any conclusion to draw between the two episodes it’s that things are terrible, but maybe that’s okay. Or if it isn’t okay, it’s at least hilarious. There’s a little pathos by the end of the hour, and a little death, but the tears have mostly dried up. In a straighter faced version of this story, Reggie Something’s fate would be, if not horrifying, than at least tragic. Here, what can you do, really, but shrug and hope he was grateful for the exercise.

"The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat"
A

It’s episodes like this when I most miss trading back and forth with Tam Van Der Werff on the series proper. Because he got this kind of thing; he wrote maybe a billion words on “Jose Chung’s ‘From Other Space’” and “Post-Modern Prometheus” (in which Chris Cardinal did his best Darin Morgan impression, with fascinating results), and I’m sure if you pressed him he could write a billion more. Whereas I’m stumped. When I review, I usually fall back on character and story, but I’m not sure trying to understand Reggie Something’s “motivations” or how Dr. They’s plans figure into the larger mythology is really going to capture anything. It’s comedy, and comedy is a pain in the ass to critique, but it’s also comedy that’s centered on a theme, and that makes it somehow worse.

I know, I know. Cry me a river, etc. But this is a weird job, and one of the ways it’s weird is watching something that is exceptionally good, knowing it’s exceptionally good, and also knowing that pretty much anything you have to say about it is behind the point. I’m not going to do a listicle of all the references here (there are several, although Morgan’s script does a perfectly fine job of pointing them out; I was impressed with myself for catching the “Soy Bomb” nod about five minutes before Mulder explained it), and I’m not sure a deep tissue textual analysis is going to improve anyone’s appreciation for a thing that is silly, playful, and often weirdly familiar.

Here’s something: I could’ve sworn it was called 3-2-1 Jell-O. I’m not even joking here. Mulder has his “The Lost Martian” missing Twilight Zone, and Scully has “Goop-O A-B-C,” a knock off of a Jell-O product that she remembers eating as a girl. When Mulder says “Jell-O 1-2-3,” I legitimately thought it was a gag—a joke buried inside a joke, to refuse you the comfort of being sure about anything. (This is part of the reason Morgan’s work is often so funny; there are great punchlines, but so much of the time is spent in this heightened state of nervy uncertainty that everything becomes hilarious.) And yet when I looked it up after watching the episode, I discovered I’d misremembered.

It’s more than a little suspicious that I’d experience the Mandela effect while watching an episode about the Mandela effect, but really, that’s the point: misremembering the past is a universal experience, because human memory is influenced by factors like emotion and ego which are largely beyond our control. The true novelty of this age isn’t that we disagree on minutiae; it’s how the Internet had made those disagreements into potential weapons. As we struggle to maintain our sense of self in a sea of information and disparate identity, we cling to the only real evidence we have of our own existence—our idea of what happened, and how events, even the smallest ones, have shaped us. No, “3-2-1 Jell-O” didn’t make me the man I am today, but that one small mistake leaves me vulnerable to the predations of anyone looking to dispute me on a larger point. If I can get something so simple wrong, what does that mean about anything I say? And if I’m vulnerable, shouldn’t I defend myself—and in that defense, insist that my own version of events is correct, and that the world is wrong?

This is, in part, the subject of “Forehead Sweat.” Morgan, clever bastard that he is, uses that subject as an excuse to go all out, suggesting an alternate timeline for the series in which Mulder and Scully were actually working alongside Reggie Something the whole time. The episode’s comic highlight gives us a glimpse of what that must of been like, shoe-horning Reggie into some of the show’s most iconic entries (as well as a few not so great ones). The screeners have been watching for these reviews have been full of unfinished f/x work, and this episode is no exception; but I really hope the montage you get is as awkwardly sloppy as the one I saw. The crummy effects really add to the hilarity of the whole thing.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Morgan episode if this was only about misremembering our past. Reggie Something has a theory that the Mengele Effect was created by Dr. They, a mad scientist hellbent on manipulating the minds of America for his own fell purposes, and before the episode’s over, Dr. They has made contact with Mulder in the flesh. He’s creepy looking but cheerful, and entirely open about his contributions to society. He’s even responsible for a YouTube video detailing his plans. Why not? As he explains to Mulder, the whole search for “the Truth” has come and gone. What evidence could Mulder uncover that would even matter anymore? Who’s left to care?

It’s a bleak worldview that calls back to the season’s central theme: can the X-Files even exist at this point? It seems entirely possible for some race from beyond the stars to find us, make contact, and then disappear into the ether without leaving much more of an impression than your average viral tweet. (In fact, wasn’t there something suspicious, like, a month ago? Something about alloys. It all moves so fast now.) The truly dark heart of all conspiracy stories is the unspoken admission that the most likely answer is: nothing at all. A search for deeper meaning and hidden secrets requires some sort of basic universal standard, a currency we can all agree still has value. Without that, it’s just tap-dancing on the Titania until the icy water swallows us whole.

“Forehead Sweat” doesn’t shy away from this, but then, the fundamental absurdity that drives the show has been a concern of Morgan’s from the start. Again and again he reminds us: no matter what we say, we never want all the answers. The climax of the episode has Reggie retelling his final case with Mulder and Scully, and it’s about as clear as Morgan ever gets: an alien on a Segway whose coming was foretold tells our heroes that the universe has decided it wants no contact with humanity; they’re building a wall (get it? Get it?), and leaving us forever. But before they go, they have one final gift: a book the explains everything. Even sasquatch.

Can you imagine anything more horrible? Thankfully, we don’t end there. After a cameo of Skinner seems to at least confirm that Randy Something was a presence at the Bureau, Mulder and Scully go back to Mulder’s house, where Mulder finally tracks down “The Lost Martian” (it was from a knock off series) and Scully makes some goo. The two settle in to enjoy a little piece of her childhood, but she ultimately decides not to indulge. “I want to remember how it was,” she says. “I want to remember how it all was.”

It is a surprisingly heartfelt moment in a charming but light-on-its-feet hour. And since Scully is always the sensible one in Morgan episodes, it’s as close as “Forehead Sweat” gets to a moral. Maybe the Berenstein Bears and Shazam and all of it is just the way we try to hold on to what we know is forever slipping away from us; because if we can take back this one little piece of our past, if we can push back logic and time and just manage to be right about this one little thing, then we can believe our lives are more than just impressions on the closed eyelids of the universe.

Seriously though, 3-2-1 Jell-O just sounds better.

Stray observations


  • At the beginning of the episode (after the delightful left field cold open), Mulder comes back home from a busy day of “‘squatchin’.”
  • “They’d kill us if they had the chance.” -Reggie (A reference to The Conversation?)
  • Reggie’s played by Brian Huskey, who does an excellent job of keeping the character on the right side of twerpily endearing. (Stuart Margolin is also quite good as Dr. They.)
  • “Confuse The Twilight Zone with The Outer Limits? Do you even know me?” -Mulder
  • Okay, the flashback with adult Mulder’s head superimposed on a child’s body was a bit much.
  • At the the junk shop where Reggie first learns about the Amygdala Effect, there’s a Nixon campaign poster I desperately wish was real. (“They Can’t Lick Our Dick!”) I mean, it can’t be real, but I also am not going to Google it? (I have been informed that this was, in fact, a real campaign slogan, and I have never been more proud to be an American.)
  • Mulder stans very hard for a parallel universe theory.
  • “Guys, if this turns out to be killer cats, I’m going to be very disappointed.” We all were, Remmie. We all were.
  • Dr. They attributes a George Orwell quote to Orson Welles. If someone else had mentioned Mark Twain (or Morgan Freeman) we could’ve had a hat trip.
  • “Believe what you want to believe. That’s what everyone does now anyways.” -Dr. They
  • There are no mistakes in this review.


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 4:18

24 Jan 2018

The X-Files: "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" Review

"The Memory Remains" by Megadeth.

By Matt Fowler

Warning: Full spoilers for the episode below.

"I'm Fox freakin' Mulder, you punks!"

Perhaps one of the reasons that X-Files' modern-era mythology episodes don't land well (aside from them also being a turgid mess) is that the show, now decades removed from its heyday, works best when it's lovingly skewering itself and presenting us with parody.

Season 10's "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster," was arguably (though I have a fairly strong argument) the best chapter of that 2016 run, and a big part of its success rested with the stars, their chemistry, and how much fun it seemed like they were having cutting loose, free from the usual bump-in-the-night dourness. As we've witnessed with latter day X-Files, there are definitely moments where it feels like Duchovny and Anderson "show up" more than others. Such was the case, this year, with "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" - an outrageously funny, outside-looking-in chapter that explored/skewered the phenomenon known as the Mandela Effect (or is it the Mengele Effect? or am having a Mengele Effect about the Mandela Effect?)

Chipping a few nano-points off "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," unfortunately, is an on-the-nose timeliness that won't really allow this chapter to age well, all things considered, but I get it. The messaging that began a few weeks back about how no one (whether it's the American public or actual viewers of The X-Files) cares about shadowy government conspiracies anymore because everything is terrible and nothing is scared sort of all funneled into a joke this week as Mulder and Scully found themselves in an absurdist adventure all about collective acceptance of lies. Or false memories. Or whatever you want to call it when no one's ever really on the same page about the truth, which is supposed to be an objective construct.

But that Trump alien talking about building a wall around our solar system? The idea of "fake news" creating a landscape of perpetual doubt and, basically, killing everything The X-Files stands for in its fight for the future? These are very of-the/in-the-moment topics that only worked to box the episode in more than I would have liked. "Were-Monster" managed to be hilarious while working with universal themes while "Forehead Sweat" very much relied on a news cycle that's already exhausted us.

That being said, this was still a wonderful and outrageous outing. Written and directed by Darin Morgan, this romp featured all-rounder Brian Huskey as Reggie, a man on the brink of mental collapse who tries to convince Mulder and Scully (aka "Muldy" and "Sculls") that the infamous Dr. They has been systematically changing the population's collective memory - touching on everything from innocuous old toys, TV shows, and Jell-O products to illegal government operations. In fact, Reggie will tell you he invented the X-Files division itself - and even hung up the "I Want to Believe" poster!

No, this silly and surreal installment didn't add up to anything important (except to, once again, poke fun at how the show's premise is outdated) but - man oh man - seeing little kid Mulder with his adult head watching (what he thought was) an episode of The Twilight Zone? Seeing Reggie's wise-cracking self crudely inserted into past classics like "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" and "Home" ("Oh boy")? Mulder coming back from a long day of "Squatching?" His insistence that the Mandela Effect was fallout from a parallel universe (and how much Scully hated that theory)? A few really dark jokes about waterboarding and wedding bombings? This was finely tuned hilarity dosed out by a cast and crew who, you could feel, relished the opportunity. What a ride.

I suppose, with this level of absurdist humor, and the underlying message that The X-Files are kind of dumb and defunct in 2018, you could make a case for this almost being a good final episode of the series (you know, if you didn't want to go out on something super-serious and sullen), but it's enough for me that it's airing in what'll probably turn out to be the final season.

The Verdict

The quirky and quick-witted "Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" may have contained a few news cycle-y elements that won't age gracefully, but overall it was a masterful, and loving, lampooning of the series featuring hilarious performances from both Anderson and Duchovny.

9.3

Amazing
In a rambunctiously funny X-Files, Mulder and Scully were approached by a man who insisted he used to be their partner.
24 Jan 2018


IGN

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 4:23



THE X-FILES Was Weird, Funny, and Timely All At Once

Posted by Kyle Anderson on January 24, 2018

The following contains major plot spoilers for The X-Files episode “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.” If you have not yet seen this episode, we encourage you to do so before reading the below. If you have, then proceed, because the truth is out there…or below!

The six episodes that made up The X-Files‘ revived 10th season were a mixed bag of terrible, fine, and pretty good, but the one truly standout episode was “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” written and directed by Darin Morgan. Morgan’s episodes were the highlights of the series’ third season back in 1996, and his episode “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” won him and guest star Peter Boyle an Emmy. “Were-Monster” was a hilarious and weird episode, but Morgan’s episode in season 11, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” hearkened back to episodes like “Bruckman” and “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” meaning it was damn near perfect.

Morgan–brother of X-Files producer/writer/director Glen Morgan–has always taken the Mickey out of The X-Files and Mulder as a character. The show certainly had a tendency to be hyper-serious at times, and Mulder could be a huge doofus. “Forehead Sweat” called everything we thought we knew about about The X-Files into question in the best way possible using conspiracy theorist nut Reggie, played perfectly by Brian Huskey. What bigger conspiracy is there right now than whether things we think are true are really true? Can we even really trust the collective memory? The “Mandela Effect” (or is it the Mengele Effect?) makes us all question what we truly remember…and maybe we don’t remember anything.



This season has mentioned what’s really going on in the country a fair amount, especially as it pertains to the president’s vendetta against the FBI. “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” tackles the idea of what is or is not “truth” in the age of accusations of “Fake News.” Morgan brings in versions of the simple collective misremembering of things like KaZam vs. Shazam, and BerenSTEIN vs. BerenSTAIN and mixes it with larger-scale perpetration of incorrect information and the show’s usual brand of paranoia and government cover-up. What if the government is trying to make people forget stuff? Or what if it’s a parallel universe?



The show’s centerpiece moment comes at the introduction of a mysterious scientist named, appropriately, “Dr. They” (played by special guest star Stuart Margolin). The internet video about Dr. They comes across like the best Douglas Adams-y short film ever made. Morgan layers real events with their fictitious counterparts–They makes astronauts believe they’re chimpanzees; he was last seen at the last presidential inauguration amid “hundreds of millions of people”–to create the perfect conspiracy theory video you might find on YouTube. This becomes even more outstanding once Mulder actually has a meeting with the doctor himself…or did he?



While the end of the episode makes us realize the Occam’s Razor truth of the matter–that Reggie is just a lunatic with knowledge of the X-Files through paper-pushing jobs–we’re still never sure if Dr. They is real or just another crazy person who seems credible through coincidence. Reggie’s extreme knowledge of Mulder and Scully’s history, to the point that he’s inserted hilariously into some of the show’s most famous episodes, comes not from firsthand knowledge but third; he, like us, has nostalgia for The X-Files‘ good ol’ days, and maybe he remembers them differently than we do.



Tying all of these shared delusions to the show itself is a genius touch, as is making the titular alien from the never-was-a-Twilight Zone episode “The Lost Martian” look exactly like the alien Dr. They found and the alien Reggie saw in Granada. Childhood memories are the most powerful (Scully’s not-Jello memory is the same way) and yet are the most likely to be remembered inaccurately. On the best of days our memories are questionable, and nostalgia clouds that even further. What we feel like we remember is usually not what actually happened.



“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is a sci-fi farce for the ages, and will go down as one of the best episodes of a show that many (including me, I admit) thought had passed its prime 18 years ago. But maybe it didn’t. Skinner seemed to remember Reggie, so maybe The X-Files never passed its prime and never dipped in quality, and Mulder never left the show for the last two seasons, and there was never a gap between seasons nine and 10, and aliens exist and the president isn’t a lying bigot. Only Dr. They and Darin Morgan know for sure.

Images: Fox


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 4:32

‘The X-Files’ Review: A Very Meta Episode Lacks Real Heft

Darin Morgan's episode of the season, as predicted, proves to be great but light.

Liz Shannon Miller
Jan 24, 2018 10:22 pm
@lizlet


Shane Harvey/FOX

[Editor’s note: Spoilers follow for “The X-Files” Season 11, Episode 4, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.”]

Previously, on “The X-Files”…


FBI Agents Mulder and Scully make a living investigating weird phenomena for the FBI. Sometimes, the cases they investigate are super-serious and sad. And then sometimes, they’re just a bit wackadoo.

This Week’s Dossier


Mulder and Scully, just living their lives, are confronted by a stranger (played by erstwhile TV guest star Brian Huskey) who literally likes being led off in a straightjacket because he crazy. But he also might be onto the fact that the X-Files have been a conspiracy, this whole time, to suppress the truth about…him, at least. But is Reggie Something — okay, nee Reginald Murgatroid — actually a former soldier, CIA operative, and FBI agent who worked on the X-Files in its earliest days? Or is he a crackpot who just happens to have evidence of the X-Files tapping into the idea that the Mandela Effect (or the Mengele Effect) is a real thing manipulating our memories of not just the world, but this television show? There’s no official answer. But Scully ultimately chooses her memories of the past over the present reality — as we all might.

Wait, Explain It to Me Like I’m Five


Ummmmm… Internet memes take on more life than usual for Mulder and Scully. But true to the nature of Internet memes, it ultimately had no real impact over reality.

Some Deep and Relevant Thoughts About Hair


This section (from our last season’s reviews) has been dormant until now, but hell, it’s worth noting that Gillian Anderson’s wig has held up well, the last few weeks, and if it’s not going to be her real hair at least it’s good hair. Based on upcoming publicity photos, we know that things on this count may be about to change, so we’re choosing to embrace the status quo while we can.

Nostalgia Alert!


One of “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’s” most intriguing attributes is its look back at past episodes — specifically using archival footage from Season 5’s “Unusual Suspects,” the pilot, Season 1’s “Tooms,” Season 3’s “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” and “Teso dos Bichos,” and Season 4’s “Home” and “Small Potatoes.”

Here are the important nerd facts related to all of those choices:

  • “Unusual Suspects” was a flashback episode to 1989, hence it being the first invoked

  • Reggie calling Tooms, played by Doug Hutchison, creepy may be an inside joke given that Hutchison has been a bit creepy in his personal life.

  • “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” was written by Darin Morgan (and he was nominated for an Emmy for it).

  • “Small Potatoes” starred Darin Morgan, as the shapeshifter. (His character’s creepy lack of consent is a whole other post.



Makeout Watch


Beyond Scully getting pissy that Mulder blew off their date, there’s…. no, there’s nothing else. Except of course for the ongoing evidence that Mulder and Scully are longtime partners, united in their investigation of the truth… even when some Reggie Somebody tries to interfere.
“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.” (Most Awkward Quote)

“Move along sugar boobs — this is the X-Files. No women allowed.”

— Reggie Something

Oh good, explicit sexism instead of implicit sexism. Perhaps amusing in context, but still sad when you consider what Agent Scully in the fictional world and Gillian Anderson in the real world have had to deal with. Technically a funny joke — but doesn’t exactly hold up. That’s right, we’re social justice warriors here,

“Dear Diary: Today my heart lept when Agent Scully suggested ‘spontaneous human combustion.'” (Best Quote)

“I want to remember how it was. I want to remember how it all was.”

— Scully

This honestly reflects the attitudes of “X-Files” fans when it comes to the revival more potently than additional words can say. The last few weeks have been good…But there’s something to be said about preserving our memories of the past.

Final Report


On the one hand, this is technically one of the best episodes of the season. On the other hand, when evaluated up close, the actual plot is so slight that the entire episode fails to really hold up after you watch it — it lacks the depth and resonance it could. While incredibly entertaining to watch, it lacks the substance necessary for deep analysis beyond its core themes, the danger of nostalgia in particular. Darin Morgan made an incredibly full episode of television, but thanks to its lack of an actual plotline, all we can say is that we liked it. Call it the Mandela Effect. When we first watched it, we thought there was a lot more here. Maybe don’t watch it again.

Grade: B+



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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 4:48

The X-Files Takes On Trump And Fake News

   By Zak Wojnar 10 hours ago



Warning: SPOILERS ahead for The X-Files, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”

The X-Files is back for a new – and possibly final – season. The series first began in 1993, and a lot has changed since then. In addition to stories about monsters and aliens, the core mythology of the series hinged on its portrayal of the deep state of the US government; inspired by conspiracy films of the 1970s, which were in turn inspired by President Richard Nixon and the Watergate conspiracy that ultimately forced him to resign his office, The X-Files featured shadowy cabals who operated in secret and would go to extreme lengths to keep the truth hidden from the public.

Today, the world is different, and The X-Files has changed to offer perspective on the breakneck, nausea-inducing pace of Donald Trump’s America. This new season has had winks and nods towards the current administration, beginning with the season premiere, “My Struggle III,” in which The Cigarette Smoking Man utters the phrase “fake news,” and then grew bolder with episode two, “This,” and has finally reached a fever pitch with the latest episode, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.”

“This”




The main plot of “This” throws shade at the current US President by showing the Executive Branch (the office of The President) hindering an FBI investigation into a private contractor, Purlieu Services. The episode pulls no punches and outright states that Purlieu is an American company, though headquartered in Moscow, and its operations have ascendancy over those of the FBI, through direct (and classified) order of the Executive Branch. Elsewhere in the episode, an operative of Purlieu utters the provocative line, “Americans would have been just fine losing the Cold War if they could only make a little money off of it.” Some would argue that such a scenario has actually come to pass, depending on the results of the pending investigation into the Trump campaign’s knowledge of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The text at the end of the opening credits, rather than the traditional “The Truth is Out There,” instead reads, “Accuse Your Enemies Of That Which You Are Guilty.” This quote is generally attributed to Joseph Goebbels, the infamous architect of Nazi propaganda, whom the Trump campaign was often accused of emulating. After all, Trump was a businessman, a member of the wealthiest 1%, who ran with the promise of “draining the swamp” of corporate interests and appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton for her supposed crimes.

Ultimately, the swamp was not drained. Trump’s Presidential Cabinet is full of wealthy billionaires with no experience in the fields to which they were appointed, and a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, is currently knee-deep into an investigation of potential crimes committed by, and on the behalf of, Donald Trump.

“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”




The X-Files‘s anti-Trump sentiment really came to a head in the latest episode, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” written and directed by series veteran Darin Morgan (“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Response,” “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space”). The episode, through the pretense of The Mandela Effect, manages to become a scathing indictment of the president and his supporters, as well as their anti-thought rallying cry of “Fake News.”

Reggie “Somebody” drops into Mulder and Scully’s lives and claims to know of a vast conspiracy involving shared memory alteration by a mysterious Doctor Thaddeus Q. They. Like most of Morgan’s episodes, the plot is a self-aware farce which subverts the holy cornerstones of X-Files lore and pulls them apart for maximum comedic effect, but this one boldly points its finger directly at Donald Trump.

The Mandela Effect is when a large group of people remember things differently from the way they actually happened, and is named after the curious phenomenon of people mistakenly believing that Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s. Other examples include vivid recollections of a non-existent movie called Shazaam starring Sinbad as an ‘irrepressible genie’ (likely confused with Kazaam, starring Shaquille O’Neal as an ‘irrepressible genie’), and the spelling and pronounciation of the Berenstain Bears book series (parodied here with Dr. Wuzzle… Or is it Wussle?)

The episode first makes the connection when it makes fleeting reference to the crowd at the president’s inauguration, claiming that Doctor They (wearing one of those gaudy “Make America Great Again” hats) was seated atop the Washington Monument during the event. It was “the last remaining seat available,” due to the “hundreds of millions who attended,” making it impossible to observe the ceremony from anywhere else.

This, of course, is a reference to the underwhelming crowd size at the 2017 inauguration, which was infamously misreported by then-press secretary Sean Spicer, as well as the president himself. In defending Trump and Spicer’s remarks about crowd size, Trump surrogate Kellyanne Conway coined the term, “Alternative Facts,” which is where The X-Files comes in.

I Want To Believe?




Near the end of the episode, when Mulder finally meets Doctor They face to face, the eccentric old man immediately opens up with a monologue about the shameless nature of powerful people in the 21st century.

“When’s the last time someone admitted doing something they’re ashamed of? Even if they’re caught on tape, they just say, “That was taken out of context.” …Your time, Agent Mulder, has passed. When people of power thought they could keep their secrets secret and were willing to do anything to keep it that way. Those days are gone. We’re living in a post-coverup, post-conspiracy age.”

He jokingly calls this era PoCo.

“No one will care whether the truth gets out, because the public no longer knows what’s meant by the truth. No one can tell the difference anymore between what’s real and what’s fake. Take this Mandela Effect. In the old days, I never would have come out and admitted to you that yes, I can change people’s collective memories.”

And that’s the truth of this particular X-File. A man who is happy to share his terrible secret because nobody believes him – or, if they do, they just don’t care.

Nobody Knows For Sure


Trump’s many scandals while in office include his failure to immediately condemn the Unite the Right race riot in Charlottesville, during which a white nationalist drove a car through a crowd of protestors, killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others. Trump’s initial response? That “both sides” shared blame. When asked why he didn’t directly denounce the alt-right, the president responded, “What about the alt-left?”

False equivalencies like this stem from a lack of moral leadership. This is one way to proliferate disinformation, and it’s one method of, as Doctor They puts it, “Sowing the seeds of uncertainty.” After all, half the comments on any given story that even mentions Donald Trump will resort to bringing up his political opponent during the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton, despite the fact that she is not in power and no longer holds any office in the government.

As to the truth of Trump and any of the numerous lies and dubious claims made by Trump or on his behalf (most recently, that he is 6’3″ and weighs 239 lbs), Doctor They had something to say on the matter:

“Our current president once said something truly profound. He said, ‘Nobody knows for sure.'”

As he says this, They raises his right hand and makes a particular gesture, a stilted hand signal which looks like an “OK” sign, but more deliberate. It’s a gesture which has been adopted by the alt-right and Neo-Nazi circles as a white power slogan (because the three raised fingers look kind of like the letter ‘W,’ for white). Every time a known Neo-Nazi white supremacist flashes the “OK” sign, is it a racial dog whistle? Well… Nobody knows for sure.

Donald Trump, But An Alien




As if the episode wasn’t obvious enough with its opinion of the 45th President of the United States, the grand finale of the episode makes its feelings crystal clear. Throughout the episode, the mysterious Reggie claims to be a victim, or perhaps everybody else is a victim, of memory manipulation or The Mandela Effect (or, as he believes, The Mengela Effect, but that’s just The Mandela Effect at work). He even claims to have founded the X-Files, a statement which directly contradicts the lore of the series (the first case dates back to J. Edgar Hoover directly, and Arthur Dales, played by Darren McGavin, was responsible for them in the 1950s, before they fell into obscurity and were eventually picked up by Fox Mulder), but that’s arguably the point of that particular revelation.

Earlier in the episode, Reggie alludes to the game-changing final case he ever solved with Mulder and Scully, which, as far as the two agents know, is a complete and utter fabrication. However, as Reggie is being loaded into a car headed for the Spotnitz Sanitarium (a nod to producer Frank Spotnitz; the same mental hospital also appeared in Darin Morgan’s Millennium episode, “Jose Chung’s Doomsday Defense”), Mulder takes pity on Reggie and asks him what happened on their fateful final case.

According to Reggie, they met an ambassador from outer space, decked out like a 1950s B-Movie alien, who had some bad news for Earth. He makes his entrance by awkwardly riding an escalator down from his ship, an image obviously evoking Donald Trump’s often-mocked escalator ride at the very start of his presidential campaign (not to be confused with this, much different, escalator ride). The alien then follows this subtle parody with something a bit more overt, declaring that the “Intergalactic Union of Sentient Beings from all Known Universes and Beyond” are building a wall to keep humans from escaping their solar system.

According to the alien, the wall will be “beautiful, albeit invisible,” and will incinerate any probe attempting to venture beyond the celestial border. The alien rationalizes this decision by paraphrasing Donald Trump, stating that Earth is “not sending us your best people. You’re bringing drugs, you’re bringing crime, you’re rapists,” which is extremely close to what the president said – out loud and in public – of Mexican immigrants. As the alien returns to his ship and begins the escalator ride back up into the craft, he pantomimes pressing buttons and proclaims, in a direct quote of President Trump, “Bing bing, bong bong bing.”

We’re Not Alone In The Universe… But Nobody Likes Us




As the episode comes to a close, Agent Scully, when confronted with the opportunity to return to the nostalgia of her childhood, in the form of a package of long-lost Goop-O ABC (not to be confused with Jell-O 123), she opts not to tarnish the memories of her youth, musing, “I want to remember how it was. I want to remember how it all was.” Good and bad, the past is in the past, and it can’t be recaptured or made new again. Scully can’t recapture her childhood by eating a carcinogenic dessert snack, just like there’s no way to “Make America Great Again” by electing a reality TV show host to the highest office in the country.

Perhaps Scully’s contentedness in leaving her Goop-O uneaten is a subtle nod to Gillian Anderson’s decision to retire from The X-Files for good, and a commentary on season 11’s controversial storyline involving William’s true father, which shocked many fans and caused some to declare The X-Files ruined forever.

The Mandela Effect is rooted in nostalgia, and Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” promise is rooted in a similar wistful melancholy over days gone by, but The X-Files managed to sum it all up in one of the best hours of television the series has yet produced. Simultaneously jolly and grim, cynically defeatist and yet brimming with the possibilities of an unwritten future, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is a bittersweet episode which encapsulates the sorry state of America in 2018 and her incompetent, possibly criminal leader, while also offering a dash of optimism towards the future – and indulging in just a little bit of crowd-pleasing nostalgia to remember the past.


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 4:57

The X-Files Truly Belongs to Darin Morgan

"The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" is another classic episode for the archives

by Michael Roffman
on January 24, 2018, 11:39pm



Shocker: Darin Morgan delivered another classic episode of The X-Files.

With “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”, the veteran writer is officially six for six, and before you scoff at that (admittedly) slim number, look at his outstanding run: “Humbug”, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”, “War of the Coprophages”, “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space“, and “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”. Even passing fans of The X-Files should be able to recognize those titles, if only for how they redefined the way the series approached the standalone format altogether.

Save for Vince Gilligan, who went on to do some pretty great things for himself, Morgan is arguably the savviest guy that ever walked through the doors of Chris Carter’s Ten Thirteen Productions. He’s the kind of sci-fi writer you think about when you see the words “sci-fi writer”, delivering top-notch work that speaks to his heady ingenuity. You know, the kind that could only come from someone who grew up reading the stuff under the covers with a flashlight while his parents were sound asleep.


Isn’t that why we’ve always loved The X-Files? Isn’t that passion why we tuned into the show every Friday (and then every Sunday, and now every Wednesday)? Yes and yes. Fortunately for the series — and, by proxy, us — that passion and creativity hasn’t wavered for Morgan. Because, like 2016’s “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is a shocking, if not relieving, reminder that this show can still feel like the smartest thing on television.

Much of this has to do with Morgan’s enduring passion for the series and the medium it affords him in his writing. Look back at every one of his episodes and you’ll be able to chisel each one down to some sort of topic or subculture that clearly piqued his interest at any given time. Whereas most writers were invested in scaring viewers, Morgan has always been more interested in challenging them existentially. Hell, he won a goddamn Emmy for it (see: “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”).


With “Forehead Sweat”, he has some fun chewing on the Mandela Effect, which more recently put everyone into a tailspin when the Internet started debating on the spelling of the Berenstein Bears (or is Berenstain?). As per tradition, the episode’s quirky, funny, subversive, and does all sorts of things aesthetically, be it black and white footage or schlocky CGI. Brian Huskey delivers another outstanding performance as a rattled nutbar. Mulder even wears a tree suit to hunt for Sasquatch.

Above all else, the episode makes you think, and that’s always been the strongest suit for The X-Files. Think about how often we used to get exchanges like Mulder’s incredible third-act discussion with the man behind history’s greatest follies. Now, it’s a rare high-brow moment in a series that values Bourne-style fighting and ludicrous plotting over any semblance of patience and complexity. When the man tells Mulder, “You’re dead, your time has past,” he might as well be talking about the show.


Okay, maybe that’s a little too maudlin of a statement. After all, Season 11 has been a major improvement over its ramshackle predecessor. Carter managed to toss us a curveball last week with the highly entertaining “Plus One”, while James Wong will give us the closest thing to an old-school mythology episode next week with “Ghouli”. So, it’s not all bad, but it’s not all great, either. At least not as great as “Forehead Sweat”, another magical hour that reminds us when the series was at its best.

In other words, back when Morgan was the story editor.

Line of the Week: Mulder speaks for everyone right now when he tells Scully, “I can’t find the hidden connections between things anymore. The world has become too crazy for even my conspiratorial powers.” Preach.

MVP: We’re apt to go with Huskey, whose certainly the centerpiece for this episode, but really, this is David Duchovny’s hour to shine. He gets all the best lines and that exchange with guest star Stuart Margolin is filled with timeless quotes.


Consequence of Sound

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 7:16

The X-Files Season 11 Episode 4 Review: The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

In a comedy episode, memory is under attack. Oh, and Mulder and Scully meet an old partner.



Chris Longo
Jan 24, 2018

This X-Files review contains spoilers.

The X-Files Season 11 Episode 4


For a show that spent ample time attempting to uncover the truth, the past often took a backseat to fighting the future in The X-Files. You know the drill. Evidence goes missing. Unsubstantiated reports are filed. Multiple accounts of the same event are unreliable at best. At worst? Someone or something could be running interference with a witness’s memory. If the series dwelled on unsolved phenomena instead of moving along to bigger, more important subject matter, Mulder and Scully would still be in the woods hunting for the Jersey Devil. 

By definition, the truth has to be out there, but there’s no official explanation for why it’s been so damn hard to nail down. In the season three episode “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” Scully asks the titular character if he’s trying to record the truth for his “non-fiction science-fiction” novel. He responds: “How can I possibly do that? Everybody there had a different version of what happened. Truth is as subjective as reality.” 

Was Jose Chung foreshadowing things to come? The writer of that episode, Darin Morgan, also happens to be the writer/director for The X-Files fourth episode of season 11, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.” Almost 22 years after “Jose Chung” first aired, as a sign of the times, Morgan has no concreate answer for the abject loss of grip on the truth and what that means for The X-Files going forward.

Even something as textbook as the past is vulnerable to attack in an episode that literally asks us to question everything. “The Lost Art” may have a cynical outlook on our current cultural and political climate, but intentionally or not, Morgan gives a compelling thesis statement for why the hunt for the truth is more important than ever, and delivers it with his trademark wit and charm. Morgan is known for penning offbeat, light-hearted episodes that are not just fan favorites, but they’re also considered by critics to be some of the series best episodes – “Humbug,” “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” “Jose Chung” and season 10’s “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” among them. “The Lost Art” is another worthy addition to a group of classic episodes. 

From the outset, we’re met with dripping paranoia of what feels like a Twilight Zone episode, paying homage to an undeniable influence to The X-Files, and genre televisions as a whole (shoutout to the X-Files costume department for the opening and closing scenes). Rod Serling does not appear, though, because it’s not actually an episode of The Twilight Zone. When Mulder is summoned by a strange, sweaty man named “Reggie Something” (played by comedian Brian Huskey), a larger conspiracy comes into play. Someone is using the Mandela Effect, or the incorrect memory of a certain fact, to manipulate the public. It could slightly throw people off, as we see Mulder dig through his Twilight Zone collection like a madman only to realize “The Lost Martian” was actually from a knockoff sci-fi series and Scully misremember the contents of a gelletine snack. 

Reggie Something warns that the Mandela Effect is being used for far more nefariously purposes. Borrowing from George Orwell, he says “who controls the past controls the future.” And yes, those were Orwell’s words from 1984, you are remembering correctly! 

In trying to justify his case, Reggie Something helps deconstruct The X-Files in an amusing fashion, calling Scully “little miss skeptic” and outright dismissing Mulder’s “sci-fi nerdboy” parallel universe theory. The banter between Huskey, David Duchovny, and Gillian Anderson is the kind of on-point comedic timing you’d expect from TV’s best comedies, let alone The X-Files. In the best scene of the episode (and potentially of the season), a clearly delusional Reggie reveals he was an original member of The X-Files team. Cue the opening credits with “Reggie Something” and clips from some iconic moments in the series with Reggie digitally placed in. 

The broader point Reggie is trying to make is that the people in power want you to think all conspiracies are nutty because it makes it easier to hide the truth. That might always have been the case, but it takes on a new wrinkle when Reggie shows Mulder and Scully a video of Dr. They, the man who is responsible for the memory manipulation. 

In a timely and overtly political sequence, we see how the narrative is being controlled. As Dr. They later explains to Mulder when they meet up, people in power would once do anything to keep their secrets from getting out. Now? Fake news. We’re living in a “post-conspiracy age,” which causes Mulder to lose the plot: “The world has become too crazy for my conspiratorial powers!”

Truthfully, an alien abduction could be a pleasant vacation from this world right about now. There’s no clear answer in how to combat the spread of misinformation. The rift between the FBI and White House already muddied a previous episode and nearly got Mulder and Scully killed. They are no arrests to be made. No Scully voiceover while she’s writing a case report. Much like the writings of Rod Serling, man is the monster this week. 

“The Lost Art” is a well-executed, laugh-out-loud funny, and perfectly cast episode. And once again, The X-Files has something meaningful to say about the world. As these things usually go, it’s more effective when it’s viewed through the lens of comedy. 

Something I’ve come back to in interviewing cast and crew and writing these season 11 reviews is: What is the role of The X-Files in 2018? Like the statues where Mulder meets Dr. They, the episode ends with a shrug on solving any conspiracy on memory manipulation. How could you prove Dr. They right or wrong? It’s a clouded and dark path to bring these criminal actions to light. But be assured, Jose Chung was wrong. There is an objective truth and reality. And we still need people like Mulder and Scully (and Reggie Something), a team that will fight to the end to preserve the truth. If we don’t? Let’s hope we’re not so insufferable that aliens block us off from the rest of the solar system. 

X-Files Xtras

- Mulder ends his first interaction with Reggie Something with “submitted for your approval,” a phrase used in a handful of Rod Serling’s opening monologues. 

- Reggie is taken away in a Spotnitz Sanatorium car, an ode to former executive producer Frank Spotnitz. It also appeared in one of Morgan’s Millennium episodes. 

- The beat up gold record is a reference to The Voyager. It contains sounds and images of life on earth. 

5/5


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 7:24

The X-Files Just Proved Why Comedy Is So Important In Season 11

By Laura Hurley
13 hours ago



Warning: major spoilers ahead for the fourth episode of The X-Files Season 11, "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat."

The X-Files is primarily known for its serious elements, ranging from aliens and conspiracies to Monsters of the Week that can scare the pants off of viewers everywhere. That said, the show has also turned out some truly hilarious hours of television that poke fun at what The X-Files usually takes so seriously. Each season has contained at least one funny episode, and Season 11 is no exception. "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" -- as penned by veteran X-Files comedy writer Darin Morgan -- is weird and wild and worth a rewatch to catch all the jokes and Easter eggs.



In "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," Mulder and Scully encountered a bizarre man by the name of Reggie who claimed to have connections to the X-Files, UFOs, and a conspiracy dating all the way back to the U.S. invasion of Grenada. There was bickering over the Mandela effect vs. the Mengele effect, the validity (or invalidity, if you ask Scully) of a parallel universe leaking into our universe, and whether or not the mysterious Dr. They had influence over everything. By the end of the episode, it seemed clear that the whole conspiracy was in the mind of an unstable man, but Mulder and Scully had reason to doubt when Skinner (who will soon get an origin story) emerged from the FBI building to demand where the hell the mental hospital orderlies were taking Reggie.

"The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" is by far the most overtly comedic episode of Season 11 so far, and its tonal differences from the previous three episodes and what we've seen of the next batch of episodes set it apart. Funny episodes are a breath of fresh air and provide a break from the heaviness that's really trademark of The X-Files. Series creator Chris Carter spoke with CinemaBlend about "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," and he had this to say about why The X-Files can go funny:

That's a signature quality of Darin Morgan episodes. All his episodes are parodies of the show and take tremendous license with the tone of the show. That's actually for me one of the amazing things about this show is it can withstand all of these big tonal changes. It can go from, if you saw Episode 3, that's kind of a dark comedy, to Episode 4 which is kind of a ridiculous take on the show and on the characters right back to a serious episode like Episode 5, which is partly monster and partly mythology episode, that it can snap back and forth into those shapes to me is one of the most amazing things about this show.

All things considered, "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" is an hour of television that really couldn't have been pulled off by an X-Files writer other than Darin Morgan, who penned the classic episodes "Humbug," "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," and "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space,'" to name a few. His episodes take the premise of the show in a direction not usually explored and mine the stories for laughs. Not many shows could pull off switching tone abruptly from Monster of the Week to comedy to mythology, but The X-Files does it, and the comedy provides a break from the seriousness that could otherwise overwhelm.

Next week's episode promises to deliver some answers fans have been waiting for since the show ended its original run back in in 2002 with the return of William. The trailer makes it clear that we'll be getting a brand new monster as well as Scully and (maybe) Mulder's long-lost son. Be sure to tune in on Wednesday, January 31 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox for the next new episode of The X-Files. For more viewing options, swing by our midseason TV premiere guide.


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 7:31


Courtesy of Fox

The X-Files' Darin Morgan Discusses Berenstain Bears and Classic Clips, Names His Biggest Critic: 'Duchovny'

By Kimberly Roots / January 24 2018, 6:00 PM PST

Ladies and flukemen, The X-Files‘ Darin Morgan has done it again.

The sci-fi drama scribe/director/producer’s latest alien offering, Wednesday’s “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” episode, takes on the concept of manipulated memories — remember the whole Berenstein/Berenstain Bears parallel universe thing a few years back? — and skewers the existence of a post-truth society, all while managing to slot in some very funny (and wildly altered) clips from the series’ original run.

We couldn’t wait to break down the hour with the Guy man himself, but first, a brief recap:



A mysterious man contacts Mulder and says he’s stumbled on the “conspiracy to end all conspiracies,” hinting that Mulder should look into the Twilight Zone episode “The Lost Martian.” Fox is well acquainted with the sci-fi classic… but when he goes hunting for it later, it’s as though it never existed, which confounds Mulder, because he has clear memories of watching it as a child. The man later appears to Scully and hands her a box of Goop-O A-B-C, a product similar to Jell-O 1-2-3, before running off and yelling “Just prove I’m real!”

Scully is intrigued, telling Mulder that though she has fond memories of making the dessert with her family as a child, she hasn’t been able to find it in decades —everyone she asks about it insists that she’s thinking of Jell-O 1-2-3 instead. That’s when Mulder brings up the Mandela Effect, a phenomenon “when someone has a memory that doesn’t coincide with everyone else’s or the facts.”

The mysterious man, who thinks his name is Reggie (but is really played by Veep‘s Brian Huskey), says he uncovered a similar phenomenon when looking for children’s books he remembered as being written by Dr. Wussle… only when he found them, the author’s name was spelled Dr. Wuzzle. An exasperated Scully says it’s merely a case of “people misremembering stuff!” Mulder thinks it’s evidence of parallel universes. And Reggie is convinced that now that he’s figure out what “they” are up to, he’s being expunged from everyone’s memory.

Oh, and he helped Mulder start the X-Files (or so he claims), an assertion that tees up a very funny remix of several clips featuring series icons Eugene Tooms, Clyde Bruckman and Mrs. Peacock, only with Reggie digitally inserted to look as though he’s investigating alongside the FBI’s Most Unwanted.

There are a lot more turns and twists — including Mulder’s face-to-face meeting with Dr. They, the man Reggie claims invented mass memory manipulation — before Scully figures out that Reggie is really just a mentally unstable government employee who knows so much about them because he’s been listening in via illegal wiretap for years. And just before he’s carted off in a straitjacket, Reggie tells Mulder and Scully that their last case together involved an alien descending to Earth, handing them a book called All the Answers, and then leaving for good: No one in the universe wants to hang out with humans, the creature says, because they lie.

At the end of the hour, Mulder locates his missing episode — turns out, it was “a knockoff show called The Dusky Realm” — and Scully makes the Goop-O 1-2-3 but decides not to eat it. “I want to remember how it was. I want to remember how it all was,” she says, as Mulder nods knowingly.

Read on for Morgan’s take on the episode, which may be his final for the franchise.

TVLINE | The first I had ever heard of the Mandela Effect was in relationship to the Berenstain Bears debacle of a few years ago. Were you aware of it before that?
That was one of the things that I’d heard. In one script, I had a Berenstain Bears line. I had to cut the scene out. Although I don’t know how many people know — well, obviously a lot of people know the Berenstain Bears, but I don’t know if that’s a generational thing? Like, my father wouldn’t know who the Berenstain Bears are. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted it to be Dr. Seuss in the episode. We couldn’t get clearance from Seuss estate, so that’s why I had to change it to Dr. Wuzzle.



TVLINE | Tell me a bit about shooting Brian Huskey for the footage you inserted into the flashbacks.
Well, I had sent him all the clips we were using. I don’t know if he’d really seen the episodes. I don’t know how big of an X-Files fan he was, if at all. So he at least knew what the seed was, and I would try to explain it if I had to, what was going on. The the tricky part is really more for the camera guys to get the lighting, to match the lighting and the camera angles. That was a bit of a challenge.

TVLINE | How did you pick which moments to revisit? Were there any that you picked that didn’t make the final cut?
Initially but I thought I was going to be using different episodes or scenes, but then when I went back and looked at those things, there was no place to put Reggie. They were all tight close-ups, usually Mulder and Scully. That was all sort of last-minute, that was the last thing I wrote in the script. It was like 3 in the morning. I was watching like DVD episodes and sort of fast-forwarding through them. “No, he could fit in there.” I tried to pick episodes that at least bigger fans of the show would remember, and I think the ones that I picked most people know.

TVLINE | What came first: calling the character Reggie so that it would fit in the clip? Or just having him be Reggie and realizing that it would fit, thanks to the Reggie Purdue character?
I knew Mulder called him something. I remember that gag from, it was from a Vince Gilligan episode, and I remember the gag of the cell phone, the big cell phone. I knew he called the guy something but I couldn’t remember what so we had to look in that episode, and then he became Reggie. [Laughs] So whatever he called him, that’s what his name was going to be. And then Chris [Carter, series creator] pointed out there was actually a Reggie character that we saw in the first season. He was another FBI agent, but I just ignored that.

TVLINE | I saw an unfinished cut of the episode, so I have to ask you if this was on purpose or just a hiccup: When Reggie is going on about how memories can be redacted to get rid of corporate misdeeds, he mentions a company, but there’s a blip and you can’t hear the name. That’s on purpose, yes?
Yes.

TVLINE | Amazing.
In the original, in the script, the first draft of the script, I actually named the company, and I was asked to rewrite that.

TVLINE | I don’t suppose you’d tell me which company it was?
No. [Pause] I’ll tell you that they were sponsors of the show. [Laughs]

TVLINE | I know you’ve said you sometimes take heat from fans for presenting Mulder with all his foibles, for pointing out how absurd it would be for Scully to stick around for all this time.
I don’t know if I get it from fans. I think I might get it from [David] Duchovny. [Laughs]



TVLINE | What has been his biggest pet peeve?
You know it’s a weird question. It’s a trick question, because although Duchovny complains about me making fun of Mulder, I actually think he likes it. He has never said, “Oh Mulder wouldn’t do that” or “Come on!” He’s always been a very good sport about it.

TVLINE | Going back for a second: I do love that one of the clips you chose was from “Small Potatoes,” an episode you guest-starred in. Was that a must-have? Did you always know that was going to be one of them?
Well it’s a must-have because I get paid. [Laughs]


TVLine

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 7:39

Writer Darin Morgan Talks About This Week’s Strange, Funny Episode Of ‘The X-Files’

Alan Sepinwall 01.24.18


FOX

A Darin Morgan episode of The X-Files is an event, and tonight was no exception, as I’ll explain — with spoilers for it, followed by a conversation with Morgan himself — just as soon as I have a Mengele Effect about the Mandela Effect…

“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” was only the seventh X-Files script with Morgan’s name on it, which is half of his total TV output in a career dating back to the mid-‘90s. He is not prolific, but when he writes — particularly when he writes episodes like “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” or “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space,’” which are as much commentary on the series as they are great episodes of it — it’s with a level of artistry and thought to which few other TV writers can aspire. (Across the whole run of the original series, Vince Gilligan was the only guy in Morgan’s neighborhood.)

“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” fit the mold of Morgan’s most famous ‘90s installments, as well as “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” the primary highlight of the 2016 season. It initially feels like a parody of the show — our first glimpse of Fox Mulder is him wearing a Bigfoot costume, and much of the hour is told from the point of view of Reggie (Brian Huskey), who claims to be the forgotten third member of the team, with Huskey inserted in deliberately clumsy fashion into old episode footage — but it’s really a tragedy, in this case commenting on an America where conspiracy theories have a very different connotation from Mulder’s heyday, and where the President of the United Stated has no qualms about openly feuding with the FBI or telling obvious lies in public.

By the time Mulder has gotten to know the episode’s villain, Dr. They (played by Emmy-winning Rockford Files alum Stuart Margolin), it’s enough to leave him and the audience wondering what the point of the X-Files — both the FBI unit and the show itself — is in 2018. It’s funny, it’s sad, and in its homage to Mulder’s love of The Twilight Zone, it’s also profoundly sweet.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Morgan about the inspiration for the episode, why he still finds writing scripts so difficult after all these years, whether he thinks his episodes fit into the continuity of the series, and more.

Do you remember the first Twilight Zone episode that you saw?

Yeah, I do. And I actually rewatched it this weekend, for some strange reason. It was ”The Jungle,” which isn’t really all that great of one, but that was the first one I ever saw.

The series as a whole clearly made an impression on you. Were you a big fan of it back then?

Oh yeah, Twilight Zone was my X-Files. The way some people regard The X-Files, that’s how I felt about The Twilight Zone.

Had you thought about integrating the two shows before now?

No, I hadn’t. One of the reasons Rod Serling created it was because of stuff he was writing for other shows had political messages that were being censored, and so he figured if he did a sci-fi show, he could get away with some of his more political stories without being censored. And because I was doing more political stuff in this one, it sort of makes sense to pay tribute to that show while I was doing a similar thing.

Your episode is definitely the most political of the ones I’ve seen from this season, but there are a number of references laced throughout some of the others about President Trump’s problems with the FBI and other things going on. When you guys got back together again to do this batch, how much did you wind up talking about the current political landscape in America?

Well, we talked about it a lot when we weren’t working on stories, and some of the stories have it, some of them don’t. My own personal feeling was if we’re gonna do these episodes again, we kind of have to. The last revival, we came back and I was looking back on the show, what it all meant, and being kind of reflective. For me the only reason to do it this time is to make some comment as to what’s going on currently. The whole idea that I felt, you have a series whose whole premise is “the truth is out there.” Current president, his relationship with the truth is a bit iffy, at best. That needed to be addressed in some way. I went full-bore for that. Everybody else, did whatever they wanted to.

The episode in general, and particularly the scene with Stuart Margolin, makes a pretty strong argument for the idea that Fox Mulder’s time has passed, if you have people in power like Donald Trump who have no problem with just lying out in the open, not apologizing for the things they do, not even bothering to conceal things. How do you feel about that? Is there a role for a guy like Mulder anymore in popular culture?

I don’t know, to be honest with you. If Mulder found whatever the truth is out there, and if it wasn’t in accord with whatever Trump’s political stance is, would anyone believe it? You know what I’m saying? We’re in a state now where if it’s not in agreement with your political position, people just refuse to believe it. I don’t know where we go from here. I never quite understood what exactly the specific truth that Mulder was looking for, but like I said, if he did find it, I don’t know what he would do with it now. What would you do with it? Where would you go?

There’s a really striking line at one point in the episode where Mulder says he’s lost his taste for conspiracies ever since the birther stuff. The whole idea of conspiracy theories really has a different connotation and feeling to it now versus in 1994.

Yeah. I hadn’t done a conspiracy episode yet. Now’s a good time. Back in the day, Mulder was considered crazy, and now he’s quite sane in comparison to a lot of the people he would either work for, or alternately, the president. It sounds funny, but it’s true. Mulder would never believe that… jeez, just take your pickof any of the current conspiracy theories that are out there, whether it’s Ted Cruz’s father, or the tragedy in Newtown was a false flag operation, all that stupid shit. Mulder would never buy into that. But people do. What’s a guy like Mulder supposed to do?

Your episode for the previous season was something you’d written years ago for The Night Stalker, and rewrote. This, you had to write from whole cloth for this season. How different of an experience was it to be conjuring up an entirely brand new X-Files story and material for Mulder and Scully all these years later?

It really wasn’t all that much different, to be honest with you. It’s always hard. I don’t know why. Just adapting an old story, I had to adapt it and it’s still difficult. It was difficult back in the day, it’s difficult now. I don’t know why. I know the stories, don’t seem like they should be that difficult, or they should take that long. There’s just lot of things you have to deal with, in terms of a standalone episode for a series like this. It’s just always difficult. It’s not just me, every writer who’s worked on the show has never had an easy time of it. I don’t know why, but that’s just the way it is. There wasn’t that much difference between old episodes and this one, had equal amounts of problems.

What was the toughest thing to crack in this one?

Oh, boy. Nothing leaps out. I had certain problems with building up to the Dr. They scene, ’cause you think that’s gonna be easy, and then you get there and you go, “How the hell am I gonna explain what he’s doing? In four pages?” That seems kind of hard. Good question, but it’s all merged together. For the longest time, I didn’t know what the teaser was gonna be. I had no idea what I was gonna do for the teaser. I was halfway through writing it at least, when I go, “Oh, no. It’s a Twilight Zone episode.” Once I figured it out, that’s easy, it was easy writing it. But for the longest time, I didn’t have any idea what I was gonna have the teaser be.

A lot of your episodes have a very different feeling from what the show usually does. I’ve always wondered whether you view something like this, like “Jose Chung,” like “Clyde Bruckman,” as existing within the continuity of the rest of the series. Like, if you were to go up to Fox Mulder or Dana Scully during the event of any other episode and say “Hey, remember that time Clyde Bruckman showed up?” Would they remember it? Is that something you’ve ever thought about or discussed with Chris or anybody else?

I’ve never discussed it. My own personal feeling is that, yeah, of course it’s part of the show. It’s part of the tapestry. I know that some people think that my episodes are parodies of the show, or just sort of comic relief. I don’t feel that that’s their role. I feel it’s part of the show, it’s one aspect of the show. I’m sticking to it.

I don’t know how you could look at these and say they’re just comic relief. They’re funny, but they’re also very tragic.

Yeah, true. But some people just regard them as filler, or palate cleansers, or just a breath of fresh air before you get into the more serious episodes. Just how some fans look at them. There’s nothing I can do.

I’m curious: You did, early on, write a few slightly more traditional X-Files episodes, but at what point did you start looking at the show in a way where you see, oh, it’s a vehicle, like, this is the kind of story I want to tell in the world of the X-Files?

Well, I think I’ve always done that. The things that I will point out, your previous question was that my episodes are very different from the normal, or average, episode, which I understand and agree with. But I feel that each one of my episodes are very different from each other in both tone, just how they’re done. I feel like each one has been my attempt to go, “Okay, I want to do a story about this, and then whatever that story is kinda dictates how you tell it. “Clyde Bruckman” is a story about a guy whose life is kind of consumed with death. Although it’s a comedy, it has that more somber, depressing tone, I guess, whereas “Were-Monster” or even this one is a bit sillier, I guess you could say. That’s just the nature of the story you’re telling, kinda dictates how you’re telling it.

To me, that was always the best thing about working on the show. You didn’t have to do an episode that was exactly like all the other ones. I know it drives current viewers crazy, because everything is serialized now and everyone expects each episode to be, other than the plot twists, to be exactly the same as the preceding episode. I watch those kind of shows, I understand why people like them, I watch them too. But in terms of writing, that kind of stuff drives me crazy.

So to your mind, it’s all part of the same continuity and I love that about it, but that means, for instance, in Clyde Bruckman, you tease the idea that Scully is immortal. Was that something you were expecting either yourself or Chris to ever have to pay off at some point in the run of the show?

No. Not at all. I wrote it as a joke line. A way for that character to be friendly to Scully. I believe it was Vince Gilligan who wrangled that idea to do an episode after I was gone about a guy who lives forever or something. Pass it along to Scully or something. That’s one of the weird things about working on a TV show. After you leave, or you can still be there, the story goes off on ways that you don’t control. You just have to accept that. I used to use an analogy that they could have established that Mulder was actually a serial killer. People would go back and look at each previous episode in the past, they would find things that seemed like they were clues to that. It would completely change the nature of the episode, even though while we were doing them we had no intention that Mulder would one day be revealed to be a serial killer or something. It’s just a weird part of being on a television staff. A story, as it continues, can change, and you have no control over that.

So if there’s another iteration at some point and someone says, “I’m gonna do an episode that Reggie is in,” that’s just something you have to let go of?

Yeah, what are you gonna do? What am I gonna do about it? Beat you up? You know what I mean? It’s not my show, and if someone wants to take something and go off on it, what can you do?


UPROXX

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 7:48

Trump-Like Alien Vows 'Beautiful' Wall to Keep Out 'Lying,' 'Rapist' Earthlings on Latest 'X-Files'

By Lindsay Kornick | January 25, 2018 1:48 AM EST



Fox’s The X-Files has been working overtime on their anti-Trump agenda this season, but they’ve truly outdone themselves with this latest episode. In a fictional world full of conspiracy theories - even parallel universes - where people seem to reject objective truth, one thing never changes: Donald Trump must be mocked at all costs.

The January 24 episode “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” kicks off with a mysterious man named Reggie (Brian Huskey) who claims to know FBI Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) despite the latter not remembering him at all. After Reggie perfectly recalls Mulder's memory of the first episode of The Twilight Zone he saw as a boy, an episode that does not actually exist, and gives Scully a box of gelatin she remembered but was told by others didn't exist, both Mulder and Agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) begin questioning their collective memories of the past and exploring a phenomenon known as the Mandela Effect.

It turns out there may be a reason for these memory discrepancies besides a parallel universe or people just being, you know, wrong - Reggie tells them about a dubious character known as Dr. They (Stuart Margolin) who is an expert in memory manipulation of the masses. They watch a "phony fake news" video about him - phony fake news, Dr. They explains, is "a presentation of real facts, but in a way that assures no one will believe any of it" - and of course the curious case of President Trump's inauguration crowd size is brought up, because the left still cares about that.


 
Narrator: This is the story of a man named They. Dr. Thaddeus Q. They, a neuroscientist who has discovered a way to manipulate collective memory. Most people have never heard of him, or rather, they have, but he has manipulated their memories to make them forget that they ever have. While working on NASA's top secret Operation Soy Bomb, involving future, one-way space flights beyond our realm, Dr. They devised a technique to change specific memories, which would allow astronauts to complete their mission without being weighed down by thoughts of life back on Earth. However, Dr. They was fired for also making the astronauts think that they were chimpanzees. He perfected his research while at the U.S. University hospital in Grenada, and now applies his method for a number of unknown, mysterious clients. His memory manipulations have run the gamut from Holocaust denial to corporate product recognition to making people forget he, himself, once starred as an irrepressible genie in a movie called Ka-blaam! Dr. They has not been heard of for many years, but rumors swirled that he was at the last presidential inauguration, where, amongst the hundreds of millions who attended, he was seen occupying the last remaining seat available. And as to his motivations for being there, and what exactly he is up to now, we have no way of knowing. Or perhaps we once did, but have since been made to forget.

Moving on, Reggie becomes more concerned about their memory loss as he reveals in true Twilight Zone-fashion that he was the one who created the X-Files in the first place and there are flashbacks of him being present in every major milestone in the series.

After learning about this potential mind manipulator, Dr. They, Mulder and Scully try to connect the dots and we are treated to a scene of Mulder puzzling over a bulletin board, pointing at a picture of Senator Ted Cruz and mumbling to himself, "So this moron's father is somehow connected there," indicating a picture of President John F. Kennedy - alluding to the conspiracy theory recklessly promoted by Trump that Ted Cruz's father, Rafael, was somehow involved in the plot to assassinate JFK. They also fit in a birther mention, another Trump-repeated conspiracy theory.


 


Mulder: So this moron's father is somehow connected there. Reggie...(Muttering indistinctly) to Bob Dylan, whose '98 Grammy performance is remembered by millions because a half naked man with the words "Soy bomb" written on his chest jumped onstage and started dancing like a spaz. But no official video of the incident exists. Did it even happen? Seven years later, the band Eels releases a song, "Whatever Happened to Soy Bomb?" A coded message? Especially because the band's lead singer, the son of Hugh Everett III, who originated the many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics-- and I'm right back to parallel universes again. It's true, Scully, I've lost the plot. I can't find the hidden connections between things anymore. The world has become too crazy for even my conspiratorial powers.

Scully: Maybe you've just lost your taste for it, especially after all this "Birther" stuff.

Eventually, Mulder meets personally with Dr. They who tells him the world is in a “post-cover up, post-conspiracy age” where no one cares about the truth or even knows what it means anymore. Apparently, even in The X-Files world, the greatest enemy is not a malevolent extraterrestrial but any blogger on the Internet because people are stupid and will believe anything to the point of electing Trump as president.


 
Mulder: As long as the truth gets out...

They: They don't really care whether the truth gets out, because the public no longer knows what's meant by "the truth."

Mulder: What do you mean?

They: Well, I mean, no one can tell the difference anymore between what's real and what's fake.

Mulder: There's still an objective truth, an objective reality.

They: So what? I mean, you take this Mandela Effect. Well, in the old days, I would never have come out and admitted to you that, yes, I can change people's collective memories. And that would have meant that I could control the past. And if that's true-- well, as Orson Welles once said, "He who controls the past, controls the future."

Mulder: It was George Orwell that said that.

They: Well, for now maybe. Anyway, the point is, I can tell you all of this, right out in the open, because it doesn't matter who knows about it. They won't know whether to believe it or not.

Mulder: To be honest, I'm not believing any of this.

They: Well, believe what you want to believe-- that's what everybody does nowadays anyway. You're only proving my point, you twit. But, full disclosure, you're right. I can't control people's minds. Although it turns out you don't really have to. All you need is some people to think it's possible. And then you've sown the seeds of uncertainty. All you really need is a laptop. 

Mulder: So that's what this has all been about? The spread of online disinformation? 

They: Maybe. You know, our current president once said something truly profound. He said, "Nobody knows for sure." 

Mulder: What was he referring to? 

They: What does it matter?

But the real low point of the episode, the part that is truly unmatched in its stupidity, comes near the end. After find out that Reggie has escaped from a mental institution, Mulder and Scully nevertheless let him describe “their” last X-File together. In Reggie’s depiction of an X-Files finale, the three come across an alien who gives the rundown on Earth’s status in the universe. After a while, the alien begins to sound oddly familiar.


 
Alien: I come before you as a representative of the Intergalactic Union of Sentient Beings from All Known Universes and Beyond. We have been observing your species for many, what you call, "Years." Our study is now complete. We no longer wish to have any further contact with you. We have returned your music sampler but will no longer tolerate any further efforts on your part to venture beyond your realm. We are building a wall. It will be a beautiful, albeit invisible, electromagnetic wall that will subatomically incinerate any probes you attempt to send beyond your solar system. You're free to explore Uranus all you want. But we can't allow your kind to infiltrate the rest of the cosmos. You're not sending us your best people. You're bringing drugs. You're bringing crime. You're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people, but we have no choice. Believe me. For although the rest of the galaxies all have their share of these same problems, we fear you could infect us with the one trait that is unique to Earthlings. You lie. To show there are no hard feelings, we've compiled a compendium of answers to any questions you might still have regarding... Anything. Good luck, and good riddance. 

It's set up just like a Twilight Zone episode with a strange situation (collective memory alteration) and an alien appearing at the very end of the episode. But instead of using it to push a theme or a profound message like the Twilight Zone usually would, they use it as a platform to mock Trump and bemoan a "post-truth" society.

It’s this precise scene that just proves their full-blown Trump Derangement Syndrome. The world has given up on truth since Trump. Everything Trump does must be mocked even if it has nothing to do with the plot. We cannot go even one hour without being told how bad Republicans are or that Trump is connected to the Russians.

It’s at this point I have to ask, why? Why create an entire scene that’s meant for nothing but mocking Trump and the wall? Why needlessly bend over backwards to mock ideas held by half of the nation? And most importantly, why do you have to drag The Twilight Zone, one of my favorite shows, down with you?

But we already know the answer to those questions. It’s because they’re liberals and don’t care what comes between them and promoting their agenda, even if beloved television series get dragged in the process.


NewsBusters

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 7:58

The X-Files Season 11: 10 Biggest Reveals From 'The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat'

It's another fun Darin Murray episode for The X-Files. Wait, Darin Morgan? Are you sure?



Darin Morgan is beloved by X-Files fans. He's the genius scribe behind Humbug, Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose, and last season's absolutely brilliant Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster. As an actor, he played Eddie Van Blundht in another light-hearted outing, Small Potatoes. And he was the guy in the Flukeman suit. For enduring that (which generated a lot more than forehead sweat), he deserves a medal.

Morgan (yes, we're sure it's Morgan) is back with the fourth outing of The X-Files Season 11, The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat. It's an episode that tackles the nature of truth by way of the Mandela Effect. Long story short, that's collective false memory. Remember the Berenstein Bears? No, you don't, because they were the Berenstain Bears. You just think you remember it as Berenstein.

But maybe you do. Maybe it's a conspiracy. Or maybe, at some point, you fell into a parallel dimension, and where you used to exist, it really was the Berenstein Bears.

The Mandela Effect dates back to a shared collective memory, held by some, of Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 80s. With the rise of the Internet, and everyone being more connected than ever before, collective memories (false or otherwise) have greater impact than ever.

And so we come to The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat, which unveils Mulder's old partner, Reggie. Don't remember him? You're not alone. Neither does Mulder. Here's ten other things we learned (at least, we think we learned them - it's hard to be sure!)

10. Maybe It's The Mandela Effect, Because That Wasn't Chuck




Dr. Charles Burke, a.k.a. Chuck, was a sort of jack-of-all-trades science expert, and buddy of Fox Mulder, on the original run of The X-Files. He was the guy you turned to when you wanted to know about ghosts appearing in photographs. In six guest appearances spanning 1995 to 2001, he was portrayed by actor Bill Dow.

Dow, like many other X-Files guest stars, also turned up in other roles on the show, in bit parts. Yet Chuck became regular enough to have a name, and a bit of personality. He would have fit right in as one of The Lone Gunmen.

If you watched The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat (and you should, though it's not nearly as good as Morgan's last effort, Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster), you might have caught a glimpse of Chuck. Only you'd be wrong. Call it the Mandela Effect.

Or call it the show going back to the well and casting some old friends. In this week's episode, Dow plays "Pangborn" - clerk at a curiosity shop, and one who isn't long for this world. Adding Dow to the episode, given the theme of this particular story, is quite fitting. It's a shame we don't get Chuck back, but it's still a nod to the fans.

9. No Tagline Modificatin This Week - Sort Of




For three straight weeks, the returned X-Files has played with the opening title sequence. Specifically, "the truth is out there" tagline at the end. "I want to believe" became "I want to lie" to start the season, and things ran from there. Each week, a little change.

Not so this week in The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat. At least, not during the opening sequence.

However, a modified opening credits runs partway through the episode. In it, we get the addition of Reggie to the opening sequence, as if he were another character on the show. It's a bit of an odd choice, sort of playing with the audience, pointing out how we should have remembered Reggie all along. However, he's credited as "Reggie Somebody" and really, the whole sequence feels out of place.

It ends with a slightly modified tagline — "the truth is out there?"

So what have we learned? Besides that the producers opted not to modify the tagline four weeks running, we learned that they should have. And that a little editing goes a long way. Cutting the whole fake intro, and throwing the question mark at the end of the opening credits tagline would have been perfect.

Sometimes, less is more.

8. Spotnitz Sanatorium




One thing we've learned, and that has been wonderful about season 11 of The X-Files thus far, is just how many Easter Eggs there are. You'll find another one this week, right towards the end of the episode, where Reggie is hauled off to the nuthouse. The old school ambulance that comes and drags him away (that looks and sounds enough like Ecto-1 from the original Ghostbusters as two give you a double shot of nostalgia) has "Spotnitz Sanatorium" emblazoned on the back.

Now where have we seen that name before?

Spotnitz is, of course, a reference to former X-Files writer and producer Frank Spotnitz. While Spotnitz hasn't returned to take part in the revival of The X-Files (at least not yet - he last took part in the second movie, I Want to Believe, in 2008), he has stayed busy since the series' original run. He's the creator and executive producer of The Man in the High Castle for Amazon, based on the Phillip K. Dick novel of the same name.

Spotnitz is also responsible for The Indian Detective, starring comedian Russell Peters, which you can find on Netflix.

Interestingly, between the end of the original series and the second feature film, Spotnitz tried launching a remake of The Night Stalker, the very show that inspired The X-Files.

7. There Really Was A Reggie




Hold on to your hats. It's not just the Mandela effect. There really was a Reggie.

Bonus points go to Darin Morgan for naming Mulder's "partner" Reggie, especially since he really did have a partner named Reggie. It's another way of playing with the idea of memory, and seeing how many X-Files fans are up on their trivia.

Lets jump back into The X-Files of old. Before he dedicated himself to the FBI's unexplained, unsolvable X-Files, Mulder was partnered with Reggie Purdue. Purdue appeared in the season one episode Young At Heart, where he was killed by an old nemesis of Mulder's. The old friend of 'Spooky' is also referenced in a couple of later episodes, Paper Hearts and Unusual Suspects.

He's not the same Reggie we meet in season 11, of course. Brian Huskey plays the Reggie we meet this week, and does an admirable job.

Still, borrowing an old and nearly forgotten name was a moment of genius. Later in The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat, a clip from Unusual Suspects, where Mulder answers a cell phone call and mentions Reggie by name, is aired. It's the perfect flashback. Not overdubbed, no editing required. Yet it's likely that at least a few fans will believe it was faked. Fake, real, the nature of truth is a very big part of this episode.

6. Seeing Flashbacks Including Doug Hutchinson And Peter Boyle Is A Trip




While the unedited clip of Mulder talking to "Reggie" on the phone was the perfect flashback, there are a number of others in The Lost Art of Forehead sweat. Each of these, like the modified opening credits, employs Reggie (actor Brian Huskey) being digitally inserted into footage from old episodes.

From a technical standpoint, the majority of these work surprisingly well. In some cases, the joke wears a little thing. And there was really no reason to have Reggie refer to Scully as "Sugartits" other than to troll feminists upset at the lack of female voices on the writing staff (an asinine argument, given the whole point of the revival was to get the old gang back together again, and given that old gang gave the world Dana Scully, one of the strongest female leads on television for much of the 90s). Getting back to what we really learned from these flashbacks, however, is what a trip it was to see Doug Hutchinson and Peter Boyle again.

Sure, you can go back and watch the episodes they appeared in, but seeing them in this context — highlight clips, really — reminds us of how good they were. Sadly, Boyle, who won an Emmy for his guest spot on the show, has passed on. And Hutchinson is better known for marrying teenage bombshell Courtney Stodden.

Yet both did incredible work on The X-Files, and were deservedly singled out here.

5. Trump Is An Easy Target




The X-Files has become more political than ever before in Season 11. In fact, for all its talk of government conspiracies, it mostly stayed out of partisan politics in the past. Perhaps the only acknowledgement in years past of any political bias was a brief playing of the show's theme over George W. Bush's portrait in 2008's I Want to Believe. However you interpreted that, it was at the least subtle.

In 2018, however, the show is tackling Donald Trump head on. Aliens, Reggie eventually tells Mulder and Scully, returned to Earth and even met with the agents. They simply don't remember. And the truth is, those aliens no longer want anything to do with Earth. They're concerned those Earth is sending into space aren't "your best people." They can't allow our kind to infiltrate the cosmos. And so they're building a wall. It's invisible, but it'll stop us from sending any more probes.

Sound familiar? In riffing on Trump's infamous speech about Mexico not sending its best people, The X-Files has drawn a line in the sand. Mulder bemoans "We're not alone in the universe, but nobody likes us."

We're not even sure he's talking about Earth anymore. Maybe just America's political climate.

In any case, Trump is an easy target. Almost too easy. The show can get away with it under the guise of this being a comedy episode, but it also feels as if this particular outing will become dated quickly as a result.

4. Darin Morgan May Be The X-Files' Secret Weapon




When it comes time to give The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat a grade, let's give it a solid B. The episode was sent to critics weeks in advance, and many have raved about it. However, it falls short of the finish line; as an episode with lofty aspirations and a lot to say about the nature of truth and memory, we'd hoped for more. Where it failed, quite noticeably, was in coming up with a coherent ending that wrapped everything up and finished off with some sort of moral. Instead, things devolved into the silly and nonsensical.

That said, much of The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat is entertaining. The premise is sound, it's the execution that is flawed. The acting is some of the best yet of the season, and if we're being honest, the best since sometime around season six of the original series. David Duchovny seems particularly rejuvenated this time out (and that's not just because his head is digitally glued onto the body of an eight-year old boy at one point!).

Ultimately, the praise goes (along with the criticism) to Darin Morgan. He may in fact be The X-Files secret weapon. When you need an episode to lighten the mood, which is capable of bringing fans from all ends of the spectrum together, you turn to him.

3. The Show Needs To Bounce Back With Something Dark And Scary




Having praised The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat a fair bit, now it's time to point out the obvious: the show can't continue to straddle the line between comedy and the paranormal. Otherwise, The X-Files becomes Ghosted. And that's not what the show ever was (except for a brief period in season seven, went it completely went off the rails).

One of the many things we learned from this week's outing is that as much as we enjoy it when the show makes us laugh, it can't happen too often. For two straight weeks, the show has dabbled in the comically absurd. Plus One was a tad more reserved, but there were still humorous elements to it. The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat bordered on self-parody. There were hokey alien outfits, and lines right out of old sci-fi pulp stories. It worked, in context, but let's not overdo it.

Next time out, it's time to go dark and scary. Bring in a flukeman, a shape-shifting alien bounty hunter, something, anything terrifying. Go back to the bread and butter of the show.

With this week's outing being the only Darin Morgan episode announced for the season, it's likely the show will do just that. Although it's a shame we won't see more of Mulder out sasquatchin'.

2. Skinner Gets The Best Line Of The Episode




Despite appearing for all of a minute in The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat, Walter Skinner gets the best line of the episode. Just after the climax, with Reggie being hauled off to the nuthouse (sorry, the Spotnitz Sanatorium), Skinner arrives on the scene. He takes one look through the rear window of the departing ambulance, and exclaims "hey, where are they taking Reggie!?"

It's a line that throws the episode on its head. Because Skinner, unlike Mulder and Scully themselves, clearly remembers Reggie as actually having worked for the FBI. He knows who the man is, when Reggie himself isn't sure for much of the episode.

It's also one of the most comical lines of the episode, coming from the straight-man, and delivered with perfection by Mitch Pileggi.

Eagle-eyed X-Philes will have noticed, a few weeks back in This, that Reggie briefly appears in some FBI files pertaining to The X-Files. So maybe there's something to him having worked with Mulder and Scully after all.

Heck, maybe there's something to the Berenstein Bears and Shazzam, too! Then again, maybe it's just evidence of a parallel universe.

1. The Episode Is As Much About The Nature Of Truth As It Is About Memory




The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat has a lot to say about memory. The Mandela Effect is just a small part of that. Yes, the episode tackles the Berenstein/Berenstain Bears, and Shazzam (a movie many people remember starring comedian Sinbad, which doesn't actually exist). It also tackles how we remember things, often with a hint of nostalgia. Mulder remembers watching a Twilight Zone episode that turns out to be a knock-off. Scully reacts with joy when she finds an old Jello-style dessert she remembers from her youth — yet she wisely decides against eating it again. "I want to remember how it was" she tells Mulder.

We always remember things better than they were. That's the great thing about memories: the good ones get better, the bad ones fade.

Yet beyond memory, The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat is about truth, and what it means in a world where what is true is as flimsy and easy to manipulate as memory. "The public no longer knows what's meant by truth" the villain of the piece, Dr. They, tells Mulder. Mulder, of course, insists that "there's still an objective truth, still an objective reality." And he's right, but how important are they when the masses can be manipulated into believing, for lack of a better term, fake news?

In the end, you don't need to control people's memories. As Dr. They explains, "all you need is for some people to think it's possible. Then you sow the seeds of uncertainty."

Add your thoughts on The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat below!


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 8:05

The X-Files 11.4 Review – ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’

January 24, 2018 | Posted by Wednesday Lee Friday



9.5 The 411 Rating

It may sound odd to declare that tonight’s X-Files episode was crafted with Twilight Zone fans in mind—but it clearly was. Lots of talk of current events and the political climate, though Morgan was careful not to use anyone’s name. As Alec Baldwin was not involved, we’re not sure how this is gonna be tweeted about in the morning. LOL. Watch for mentions of that Shazam movie people swear they’ve seen but doesn’t actually exist, the Mandela Effect, Occam’s Razor, and how easy it is to confuse George Orwell with Orson Welles. As always, expect spoilers for “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.”

This week begins with a scene highly reminiscent of “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” But because it’s campy to the point of absurdity, we presume it’s not real. But is it? That (My Favorite) Martian seemed like a cross between a Kanamit and the Great Gazoo from The Flintstones. We come upon Mulder, who has just returned home from ‘Squatchin. I’m sorry to tell you, that Yeti enthusiasts actually do call it that. * sigh *



Morgan gives us tons of funny dialogue tonight, and asks so many huge questions that it’s not gonna be possible to mention them all in this review. Chances are, you’ll want to watch tonight’s episode more than once just because there’s so much to see and think about. Before long we meet a guy: Reggie Something. Mr. Something is convinced that “they” are trying to erase his memory, and he can’t remember everything he doesn’t remember anymore.

This episode hit me kinda hard, because I had one of those experiences last year. I was sure that the kid who solved mysteries in 70s books was ‘Cyclopedia Brown (with no E on the front). I could have sworn that’s how it was on all the books. I said this during an interview, and the interviewer told me he couldn’t find any evidence of this. Then I couldn’t either. It was unnerving. So hearing the antique toy dealer discussing the phenomenon was…a little creepy. Mulder has a similar experience when it turns out that his favorite TZ episode—the first one he ever saw–doesn’t actually exist. Ditto Reggie’s favorite childhood books, a whimsical “Doctor” Wuzzle whose name is spelled differently too.



Reggie pleads with Mulder for help, then Scully, all the while being pursued by mysterious dudes who vanish whenever one of our heroes goes in for a closer look. Is someone trying to erase Reggie? How do people still know that an X on the window means to meet Mulder in a spooky parking garage? How creepy was Duchovny’s adult head shopped onto that tiny kid body? These are among the big questions the show is asking tonight. Orwell says that ‘he who controls the past controls the future.’ If you control what people remember, you can manipulate how they’ll feel about future events. It can lead to practically limitless power if used correctly. Anyone who follows current politics even a little already knows this…unless the loss of net neutrality is already slowing down your streaming and you couldn’t see the episode. My TV blipped during Reggie’s explanation of this, and I couldn’t tell if they were bleeping out a brand name, or it was legit interference, or part of the episode made to make us wonder.

So what’s causing all this misremembering? Is it parallel universes? A hypo-ray gun? The Mandela/Mengele Effect? Drugs? Scully’s childhood medication comes into play, just a little. Was Occam’s Razor really Ozzie’s Razor the whole time? I’ve never seen the Osborne patriarch with a beard. Have you? Also watch for the colorful description of lime cough meds tasting like “leprechaun taint.” Mmmm…not. Not for nothing, but TK Carter also played an irrepressible Djinn in the 80s on a TV show with Richard Gilliland.



We eventually learn that the “they” plaguing Reggie Something is one Doctor Thaddeus Q They, a neurosurgeon and nutter who figured out how to alter memories to help astronauts focus on work instead of their lives back home. But can he really erase or change memories organically? Does it even matter? The task of making people misremember the past is more about repetition and exposure than verifiable facts or biological science. We’re led to see They’s involvement in Ted Cruz’s dad and the Kennedy assassination, the famous ‘Alien Autopsy’ video, and watch as the torture of a captured extraterrestrial is played for slapstick laughs. Well, it’s a black comedy episode, so that was bound to happen. Making the alien talk like Snagglepuss certainly chills out the terror, doesn’t it?

“Foxy” gets schooled by some younger FBI agents in his parking garage. They call him “fat” and “old” and imply outright obsolesces. His retort, that he’s “Fox freakin’ Mulder” seems to fall on deaf ears. Whatever did happen to the Soy Bomb guy anyway? #Mysterious

When Mulder finally meets this mysterious Dr. They, they’re in a quad full of statues. Where the heck are those located? What are they in reference to? They’re all the same dude, a creepy looking mascot-like dude. Can someone please explain this to me? A great place to shoot this scene, but how does that even happen? Dr. They seems to revel in the doubt surrounding all facts these days, referring to the “hundreds of millions of people at the last inaugural,” which is contrary to every reality I’m aware of. Oh, and They tells Mulder that he’s well past his prime, “dead” if you will. That just feeds the rumors that this is the last season of X-Files unless Miller and Einstein take over, that is. Anyway, it turns out that Dr. They made his own hilarious video about his life and work. He extols the virtues of giving people the truth in a way that makes them doubt it. It works, because Mulder doesn’t believe most of what They tells him. Meanwhile, Scully stops listening once we learn there may be recovered memories.



Reggie’s claims become increasingly outlandish until he finally reveals that he used to be Mulder’s partner in the X-Files. According to him, the “I want to believe” poster was his all along. Reggie is the one who stopped Scully from kissing Mulder’s doppelganger, and he was there when they discovered the family in “Home.” We even get a sec with Peter Boyle. Neat! And yeah, Reggie tells us that he once called Scully “sugar boobs” and lived to tell the tale. It was super fun, like that time Jack Black was on an episode of Community as if he’d been there all along. But Jack Black didn’t get an a capella version of the theme song like we got tonight. That was cool.

Mulder was especially hilarious in the reenactments tonight. His little move before taking off after the aliens was awesome, right out of Scooby Doo. Ditto Scully’s “driving” as they sped off to meet the returning alien—who absolutely talks like a Kanamit. The alien’s final speech about why aliens are building a wall, using well-known words from our Commander-in-Chief? Yikes, that’s going to enrage a few people for sure. More hilarity ensues when the alien informs us that we’re “free to explore Uranus,” which is apparently funny on every planet. The result is that the world has become so conspiracy-riddled and insane that even Mulder can’t get his head around it. That’s kinda funny, but also a little sad and more than a little worrisome. That’s why “may you live in interesting times” is a curse. And something about Grenada…Oh, and if you aren’t aware of what The Voyager Gold Record is, you can read about it here.



Are tonight’s events “real” in that they’re now canon? I can’t imagine how. Scully really loved Reggie all along? With Mulder standing right there? I’m not seeing it. The good news is we got to spend a split-second with our main men Byers and Frohike. That’s lucky, because I was totally complaining about that when we got the earlier episode with Langley. Turns out, Reggie is Reginald Mergatroid, local mental patient. But as Scully reads from his file, it sounds absurd that one person could work for so many different government departments. Surely you can’t to work for the NSA if you’ve water-boarded someone? Anyway, the docs load Reggie into a straight-jacket and haul him back to the asylum. Take care and good luck to you too, Reggie.

The lesson: We’re not alone in the universe, but nobody likes us. Honestly, that’s so accurate it’s got to be true. As Reggie is hauled away, Skinner shows up and asks, “Hey, where are they taking Reggie?” Um, WHAT?!? * shakes head briskly to clear it *

Next week, we’re no doubt back to the William subplot (or is that the main plot now?) and the seriousness we’re used to. Can’t wait!

See you’s next week!a

9.5

The final score:  review Amazing
The 411
Longtime X-Files fans are no doubt stoked that this season's Darin Morgan episode is finally upon us. The guy who gave us characters like Jose Chung, Clyde Bruckman, and last season's WereMonster has crafted for us a hilarious and mind-bending vignette that questions the very nature of truth. And does, Scully really let someone get away with calling her "sugar boobs?"


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 8:20



The X-Files Recap: Mulder and Scully take on fake news

Alyse Wax
@alysewax
Jan 24, 2018

Spoiler alert! What follows is an obsessive breakdown of The X-Files episode 1104, "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat." Do not read until you have watched the episode. Need to catch up? Check out our recap of last week's The X-Files.

The Gist:


A strange man named Reggie reaches out to Mulder. He suggests that he is being erased, and that the government is controlling how people remember things. Mulder thinks he is suffering from the Mandela Effect, in which a person or people remember things differently than the majority of the public, and despite what facts say. It is a hilarious commentary about our culture's newfound belief in "fake news." Reggie also believes that he originally started the X-Files, and has been around since the very first episode. Scully discovers that he is a mental patient who used to work for a dozen different federal agencies, including the NSA.

Analysis:

Darin Morgan has consistently written some of the best episodes of The X-Files of all time: "Humbug," "War of the Coprophages," "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space,'" and last season's brilliantly funny "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster." This season he brings back the weird, the silly, and the hilarious with "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat."

Interestingly, this is the most political episode so far this season, and yet it never gets preachy. Previous episodes have made off-hand reference to the president hating the FBI, but it never went farther than that. Tonight's episode goes way, way further. The overall theme of this week's episode, the Mandela Effect, is a phenomenon in which people remember things differently than the general public does, and in defiance of facts. (Sound familiar?) It is so-named because there are people who swear that Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s, instead of as a free man in 2013, which is what actually happened.

The entire episode seems to be a dig at President Trump, suggesting that he is suffering from the Mandela Effect. I believe it was the Washington Post who estimated that Trump has told an average of five untruths per day since his inauguration. This episode could be seen as being sympathetic towards Trump, giving him an excuse for his distortion of facts. The scene in which Dr. They is at the inauguration, perched atop the Washington Monument wearing a "Make America Great Again" cap, seems to suggest that he manipulated the public into believing that there were far fewer attendees. However, this feels like a sarcastic, backhanded "compliment" that shouldn't be taken as a defense at all -- particularly with some of the other scenes in this episode. For example, when Mulder complains that the world has gotten too nutty and conspiratorial for him, Scully suggests he has lost his taste for it after the "Birther movement."

Then, of course, there is Reggie's "last case" with Mulder and Scully, where they meet the alien who gives, word for word, the Trump speech where he compares Mexicans to rapists and says other countries are "not sending their best people." Instead, the alien puts humans into that horrible comparison. Perhaps this is Morgan's way of trying to show Trump supporters how that kind of talk hurts. Maybe it was his way of saying Trump represents beliefs that are alien to most Americans. Or maybe Morgan just meant it to be funny as hell.  

I absolutely love how "bat-crap crazy" Reggie's memories are. I watched this episode as a screener with unfinished effects, so this might change, but in the version I saw, the inserts of Reggie into old episodes are laughably terrible -- and I hope they remain that way. It feels totally on-point with Reggie's insane worldview.

What was the deal with Dr. They? While his appearance was amusing, it didn't feel like it added anything to the plot. Was he supposed to be there to suggest that maybe, just maybe, Reggie wasn't nuts? Skinner did recognize Reggie, which would lend credence to that theory, but that could have been from one of his many, many government jobs.

Interestingly, one of the final speeches Reggie gives to Mulder and Scully in this episode seems to be a direct message to X-Philes everywhere: "Time to face it folks - this is the end of the X-Files. Maybe the point isn't to find the truth, but to find each other. We will always have the memories of what we did together. No one can take them away or alter them." Maybe I am reading too much into that.


Shane Harvey/FOX
 
The obsessive recap (complete with snark):

Mulder has been out "squatching" -- dressed like a sasquatch, hunting sasquatch -- when he sees an X on his window. But he doesn't meet Mr. X; he instead meets up with an unsuspecting man who, yes, has a lot of forehead sweat. This guy, who will later tell us his name is Reggie... Something, knows Mulder and in a fit of mania begs Mulder to believe that they know each other, and that he has "stumbled onto the conspiracy to end all conspiracies." Mulder is about to leave when Reggie insists that he knows the first episode of The Twilight Zone Mulder ever saw, called "The Lost Martian," doesn't exist. In a panic, Mulder goes home and searches for evidence of the episode, but can't. When Scully finds him, he is maniacally looking through his old VHS tapes -- with DVDs, episode guides, and the internet all failing him. Scully is more concerned with how Reggie knew how to contact Mulder, and suggests that they discuss it over dinner. ('Shipper alert: they had plans to have dinner tonight.) Mulder is too far down the rabbit hole, so Scully goes and gets takeout.

As she is returning to her car (for some reason, parked in the FBI parking structure), Reggie finds her. More disturbing, he calls her Sculls -- and she never calls him on it! He begs her to help prove he exists and gives her a small box that has his fingerprints on it. Looking at the box, she sees it is Goop-O ABC, a gelatin dessert that sets into three different layers with three different textures.

In the office the next day, Scully relates her encounter with Reggie to Mulder, and how much she loved Goop-O as a child. Mulder can't understand how Goop-O has never been an X-File. She had been looking for Goop-O for decades, and everyone told her it was Jell-O 123 she was looking for. Mulder chalks this up to the Mandela Effect. He has already left a marker for Reggie to meet, and invites Scully to come along. ('Shipper alert: "It'll be like a date.")


Shane Harvey/FOX
 
The agents meet Reggie, and he reveals that he realized things were "wrong" when he found some of his childhood books. Written by a guy named Dr. Wuzzle, Reggie goes bonkers, insisting his name used to be spelled Dr. Wussle. I have to imagine that this is based on an internet conspiracy that involved the Berenstain Bears books, which I wrote about almost three years ago. Anyway, Reggie went to an antique store looking for answers, and he found nothing proving he was right -- just artwork signed by Dr. Wuzzle. The shop owner explains the Mandela Effect to Reggie, except that in his telling of the story, it is actually called the Mengele Effect (named after people remembering Josef Mengele being arrested in Ohio in the 1970s, when in reality he died in Brazil under an assumed name in 1979). The shop owner also tells him that the government knows about the Mengele/Mandela Effect, and may have a hand in spreading it. Reggie seems to think that the government decided to "silence" the shop owner, for when he went back, the shop-keep was dead, a lawn dart through his neck. Reggie doesn't mention the half-empty bottle of bourbon in the dead man's hand.

Despite this "proof," Mulder and Scully both insist this proves nothing. "They want you to think all conspiracy theories are crazy so you will ignore the ones that are true," he insists. "Take it from a fellow nut: eventually you have to prove who 'they' is," says Mulder. But Reggie knows who "they" is: Dr. Thadeus Q. They, a neuroscientist who can manipulate collective memory. Reggie shows them a video of Dr. They, which suggests he has been involved in holocaust denials and was at the most recent presidential inauguration.

Reggie then explains the "most important part" of the video: the American invasion of Grenada. According to Reggie, he was going to medical school there when a UFO crashed and an alien was brought into the hospital. Dr. They was tasked with taking care of the alien, who said he was sent to warn them about the holes in the ozone layer. Someone would return in 35 years to see if we managed to avoid environmental catastrophe. The government showed up and took the alien. Repressed memory is where Scully draws the line, and that seems to be what Reggie is suggesting. She's out. Mulder follows her, until Reggie drops another bombshell on them. After the alien incident, he dropped out of med school, joined the FBI, and started the X-Files. "That's right! We used to be partners!"


Shane Harvey/FOX
 
When we return from break, we get the traditional The X-Files opening credits scene, but with "Reggie Something" added in. Reggie is also blatantly inserted into a few old episodes, including the pilot episode, "Squeeze," "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," "Home," and "Small Potatoes."

Anyway, a couple of men chase Reggie out of the parking structure, and a couple of FBI agents catch up with Mulder and Scully. The younger agents are dismissive of the two veterans. "The legend I've heard so much about would have already figured this out," he tells Mulder. "You start as a rebel. Then you get fat and the next thing you know, you are deep state. It's sad." Mulder then starts yelling at the agents like an old man yelling at kids on his lawn. "I'm Fox freaking Mulder, you punks!" Scully has to drag him away.

Back in the office, Mulder is hard at work at his conspiracy board. He gets frustrated because he can't find the hidden connections like he used to. Luckily a phone call interrupts his rant. Dr. They wants to meet him. What follows is a fun, but ultimately pointless scene in which Dr. They is marketing "phony fake news," the presentation of real facts in a way that ensures no one will believe any of it.

Mulder pulls into the FBI parking structure, and Reggie is waiting for him. He wants to hear about his meeting with Dr. They. Scully appears from the shadows with all the details about Reggie. Real name: Reginal Murgatroyd. After getting his GED he joined the Army and was part of the Grenada invasion. While there, he was hit on the head with a shovel and sent to the hospital where he "claimed" he was a med student. After that, he had a series of bureaucratic jobs at various federal agencies. A great montage follows in which Reggie is working in the same nondescript cubicle. Only the age of the computer and the seal of the department he is working in changes. He went from the postal service to the IRS, SEC, and the DOJ. After 9/11 he joined the CIA (where he is waterboarding a prisoner in his cubicle), then the Department of Defense. His longest stint was at the NSA, listening to warrantless phone taps -- including Mulder and Scully's sasquatch conversation similar to the one from the start of this episode. A year ago, Reggie was committed to a mental institution.

His "ride" arrives, an old ambulance that looks suspiciously like Ecto-1. He makes the attendants put him into a straightjacket, but before he goes, Mulder can't help but ask about their last case together. And this gets hilariously bonkers.

According to Reggie, the three of them followed Mulder's "intuition" to find the alien that was coming back to check on the humans. A space ship lands, an alien comes out (down an escalator) and announces himself as a representative of sentient beings from all known universes. He alerts them that they no longer want to have any further contact with Earthlings. He then launches into, word for word, Trump's speech about how they are building a "big, beautiful wall" and that Earth is "not sending your best people;" they are sending criminals and rapists. The alien fears that Earthlings could infect them with their lies. But, to show there are no hard feelings, the alien gives Mulder a book that is literally called "All the Answers." The alien leaves, and Mulder is upset at having all the answers just handed to him. He throws the book down and throws himself on the ground for a full temper tantrum, complete with kicking.

Returning to the here and now, Reggie assures them that they all lived happily ever after, and says his goodbyes. As his ambulance rolls away, Skinner comes into the garage and watches Reggie leave. "Where the hell are they taking Reggie?" he asks.

As dénouement, Mulder and Scully are back home. (Is it just Mulder's home still? Can I pretend they live together again?) Mulder found The Twilight Zone episode, except it wasn't The Twilight Zone -- it was a "knockoff show" called The Dusky Realm. Scully brings out her Goop-O dessert and eagerly digs in for a big spoonful. But she stops, and puts it down. She would rather remember how special it was, than risk discovering it doesn't live up to her hype.

Stand-Out Lines:

Scully: "The lemon-lime [Goop-O] tasted like leprechaun taint."

Mulder: "The world has become too complicated for even my conspiratorial powers!"

Mulder, explaining the Mandela Effect: "People think they saw Shazam!, a movie with Sinbad as an irrepressible genie, when they are really thinking of Kazam! with Shaquille O'Neal as an irrepressible genie."

Scully: "What if I don't remember either movie?"

Mulder - "Then you win!!"


SYFY WIRE

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 8:32

The X-Files season 11 episode 4 recap and review: The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

by Sarah Crocker
34 minutes ago
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This week, we learned about unstable memories and what aliens really think of humans. All was revealed in “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” on The X-Files.

What’s perception, anyway? No, this isn’t some undergraduate philosophy course where you totally get it, now. Instead, we’re watching The X-Files.

While that shift in perspective can be fun, the modern world has to invade the concept. After all, the flip side of “awe-inspiring questions about reality” is “fake news”. What happens when reality shifts not just inside a classroom, but in a newsroom — or the Oval Office? Our species has always had the knack for fooling itself, to both our comfort and ruin.

Think I’m getting a little too meta? Darin Morgan, the writer, and director for “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” directly linked his work on this episode to the unreality lurching out of the White House.

“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” opens in throwback black and white, in a similarly vintage diner. An unidentified man is sitting at the diner counter, loudly freaking out about “the Martians.” “They have a ray of some kind that makes us forget,” he exclaims.



When we return from commercial, it’s to see a huge, shaggy beast. It bursts through a doorway, picks up a phone, and starts to speak to Scully. It’s Mulder. “I was out squatchin’, ” he explains.

Scully hangs up on Mulder when he starts to wax a little too poetic about his time squatching in British Columbia. He then tries to relax on the couch but is revived by the sight of a masking tape X on his window.

Where else to go but to a parking garage? There, Mulder finds a stranger who claims to know him. Never mind that Mulder doesn’t recognize this frantic, sweaty man. “They’ve already gotten to you” the stranger groans.

Before he runs away, this man has to tell Mulder: that episode of The Twilight Zone that Mulder loved so much? You know, the one about the Martians? It never existed.



The Lost Martian

Cut to Mulder, digging through a pile of old VHS tapes. He tells Scully that the episode, “The Lost Martian,” is nowhere to be found. If Mulder can’t find this episode, then could this parking garage stranger just be right?

Soon enough, the man reaches out to Scully. He hands her a box of something called “Goop-o A-B-C”. Later, Scully tells Mulder that “I have such wonderful memories associated with it.” She recalls her mother, the Fourth of July, “America, God, love.”

“That’s some jello,” concludes Mulder.

Mulder realizes that this must be related to the “Mandela effect”. That’s a social phenomenon wherein people remember the past very different. Consider the recent flap concerning the Berenstein Bears… or, wait, was it the Berenstain Bears?

The duo decides to meet with this man, who claims to be “Reggie… Reggie Something.”

It’s hardly a promising start, but Reggie claims to have extensive knowledge of the X-Files. He believes that this Mandela Effect is the result of intentional tampering.

“The ability to manipulate memory creates unlimited power,” he tells them. What company wouldn’t want that ability, especially if it can erase memories of their defective products? One can only imagine how useful that would be in politics, too.



Dr. They

We cut to a maybe-fake video exalting the history of “Dr. They,” the man from the photo. He was the one that developed this memory-tampering method for the government.

Reggie eventually recalls that he was a medical student in Grenada, where he witnessed a real-life Martian recovered by the government. “Now we’re dealing with recovered memories? I’m sorry, I’m out,” says Scully, who starts to retreat.

Oh, but that’s not all. See, Reggie later joined the FBI. “That’s how I started the X-Files. That’s right: we used to be partners!” he shouts.

We then revisit the X-Files of days past. Now, however, Reggie is there. He’s installing a new poster, being sexist to Scully, and commenting on liver-loving Eugene Tooms. The X-Files now has a Cousin Oliver, it seems.



“I’m Fox freaking Mulder!”

Scully and Mulder still don’t believe it — but then Dr. They’s henchmen show up. They’re followed by other FBI agents, who stop to sass Mulder and Scully. “I guess that’s how things go,” says one, looking Mulder up and down. “You start out a rebel. But then, you get fat. And the next thing you know, you’re deep state. Sad.”

“I’m Fox freaking Mulder!” he yells at them, but it’s no use.

How does Mulder unwind after such a mind-bending, soul-crushing assault? With a crazy conspiracy theory board, of course. It’s not enough, unfortunately. “The world has become too crazy for even my conspiratorial powers,” he moans.

Thankfully, Dr. They himself calls at that very moment. At his meeting with Mulder, Dr. They says that Mulder’s time has passed. He was at his peak “when people in power thought they could keep their secrets secret”. Alas, times are different now. “We’re now living in a post-coverup, post-conspiracy age.”

Isn’t it enough that the truth gets out? Of course not! No one knows what “truth” is anymore. “Believe what you want to believe,” Dr. They tells him. “That’s just what everybody does nowadays, anyway”.




Reginald Murgatroyd

If that weren’t enough, Reggie isn’t all that he seems. “His name is Reginald Murgatroyd,” Scully reveals. According to her research, Reggie received a head injury in Grenada while in the Army.

He later joined the CIA and waterboarded people in his cubicle. If that wasn’t dark enough, he later joins the Department of Defense. There, he bombs people with a video game stick, lamely whining when he discovers that he has torched yet another wedding. It’s like Office Space from hell.

Eventually, he dully works his way through the NSA, where he monitors Mulder and Scully. It all leads to a nervous breakdown, quickly followed by institutionalization for poor, complicit Reggie.

Reggie calmly goes with the mental asylum crew that’s tracked him down. But, before Reggie goes, Mulder needs to know: what was their last case together? “We found the truth that’s out there,” Reggie tells him.

Don’t get too excited, though.




A beautiful wall

It turns out that the trio — Scully, Mulder and Reggie — meet up with a Martian. “Our study is complete. We no longer wish to have any contact with you” says the alien.

The alien claims that they will be building a “beautiful” wall to keep the humans out of the rest of the galaxy. Oof.

Why the exile? “You’re not sending us your best people. You’re bringing drugs”. We’re also “bringing crime… And some, I assume, are good people”.

Mulder is crestfallen. “So, that’s the truth? We’re not alone in the universe? But nobody likes us?”

After Mulder falls to the ground in despair, the trio hug like a strange family. In the “real” world, Reggie motors off in the ambulance and out of their lives.

Skinner appears out of a nearby stairwell, looking in confusion at the ambulance. “Where the hell are they taking Reggie?” he asks. Perhaps that’s a mystery best left for another time, Skinner.

Later, Mulder has apparently found “The Lost Martian” episode. It was actually an installment from another show called “The Dusky Realm”. She serves him her not-jello, which she molded with Mulder’s treasured Sasquatch foot impression. May we all have this beautiful relationship.

But then she sets down her spoon, gelatin left quivering and uneaten. “I want to remember how it was. I want to remember how it all was,” she says.



The verdict

This is, so far, the best episode of season 11. “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” balances the craziness of the best standalone episodes with the world-weary empathy of Clyde Bruckman.

What of the politics? This episode was willing to go for the political jugular in a way that “My Struggle III” could only grasp at. The first episode of season 11 subsisted on mere flashes of news footage. Here, Dr. They wears a MAGA hat at Trump’s inauguration while clutching to the Washington Monument. It’s both ominous and ridiculous — just like current news.

This feels relevant but in a thoughtful, substantial way. It’s not so topical so that it just skims the surface, like so many news photos or catchphrases. Instead, this episode all speaks to the large, tides turning in our society. Even better, however, is the way in which it’s all thrown back in our face with equal measures of harshness and absurdity.

Somehow, it’s easier to take a joke about that terrible wall when it’s coming from a 1950s sci-fi alien. Is that because it is only the next step up from the Dadaist political experiment cluttering our newsfeeds?

Are there shaky elements? Sure. Maybe the alien’s “wall” speech was a little on-the-nose. Meanwhile, we could have gotten a little more interaction with Dr. They. It might have worked a little better to interact with him on a couple of occasions, instead of one strange encounter in a public park.

Ultimately, though, these are quibbles. “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” manages to balance modern fears and post-modern humor with grace. It’s an hour well spent.


Culturess

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 8:44

The X-Files: The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat and the brilliant Darin Morgan

by Susan Leighton
1 hour ago
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What do the Mandela Effect, the Mengele Effect and leprechaun taint have to do with each other? According to the X-Files, Darin Morgan, “Nobody knows for sure.”

“The world’s gone mad.” – The Lost Martian **SPOILER ALERT**

Darin Morgan Is the Funny Rod Serling



I have a confession to make. The X-Files have been a part of my world for 25 years now. In the past, I was never really enamored with the humorous episodes that everyone enjoyed. I preferred the mythology oriented ones and the serious monster of the week shows.

However, tonight made a convert out of me. This Darin Morgan penned and directed episode had me in stitches. I never laughed so hard. The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat pulled out all the stops and should be held up as a creative, well written script.

This is the kind of effort that Hollywood needs more of and is sorely missing. Morgan is living proof that original thinking within a familiar format is alive and kicking. It is possible to take some of the more troubling aspects of our current socio-political climate and turn it into laughter.

After all, some of the situations we find ourselves in today are absurd and Darin Morgan knows exactly where to shine the light in all those dark places. From the opening with a pseudo Twilight Zone vibe to the Day the Earth Stood Still encounter, I found myself marveling at how well executed this entire episode was because of the words on the page.

The Mandela Effect



It always starts there. Morgan crafted a believable premise, based around the Mandela Effect. I know, I didn’t hear of it until tonight myself but according to Snopes, “In simplest terms, the Mandela Effect is an instance of collective misremembering.”

“Examples include lines from famous movies that everyone gets wrong (e.g., Humphrey Bogart’s saying “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca), erroneous dates and numbers (apparently many people answer “52” when asked how many states there are in the U.S.), and historical misconceptions (are you among those who recall learning in school that cotton gin inventor Eli Whitney was black?).”

In the case of the X-Files the example they used was the fact that people thought that the comedian Sinbad starred in a movie called Shazam when in actuality it was Shaquille O’Neal in the film, Kazaam. What an obscure film but such a funny reference!

Indeed, if you look up Sinbad’s film credits in IMDB, Shazam isn’t among them. How does this even happen? Looking at Snopes again, sliding through parallel universes might be the answer. In tonight’s episode, Mulder mentions this concept several times.

Enter Reggie Something played by the wonderfully comedic actor, Brian Huskey. Reggie enlists Mulder and Scully’s help (or as he refers to them, Foxy and Sculls) to prove that he is real. After several crazy meetings in a dimly lit, spooky parking garage, we find out that he was involved in the war in Grenada and that his memory and even his very existence has been erased because he witnessed a crashed UFO.

Nerdboy, Sci-Fi Gobbledygook



If that isn’t X-Filesy enough, every time he starts to reveal more details, men dressed as Rod Serling pop up out of nowhere and attempt to abduct him. Clearly, he is a fugitive from an alternate realm who is currently stuck in another place or time but he refuses to believe it calling it “nerdboy sci-fi gobbledygook.”

Or is he another victim of the Mandela Effect? In Reggie’s mind, it is the Mengele Effect. To drive this point home let’s take Scully’s love of Goop-O which according to her, the lemon-lime flavor tastes like “leprechaun taint.” I don’t even want to know how you arrived at that conclusion, Dana.

Apparently, what she remembered was replaced by Jell-O 123.  Then there is Mulder’s remembering of the Lost Martian episode of the Twilight Zone which he can’t seem to find in his videotape collection. Scully (Gillian Anderson) remarks that maybe he is thinking of the Outer Limits.

In complete consternation, Mulder (David Duchovny) bellows, “Confuse the Twilight Zone with the Outer Limits? Do you even know me?!” But maybe he did if we go along with the theory at hand and the concept of parallel universes.

The mystery deepens when the duo hears about Dr. Thaddeus Q. They. For all of you television trivia buffs out there, Dr. They was portrayed by none other than Stuart Margolin who played Jim Rockford’s con friend, Angel in the Rockford Files! Dr. They is the originator of the Mengele Effect in Reggie Something’s universe.

More Mind F**ks, Courtesy of Dr. They, Please



In a hilarious promotional video, we see the “effects” of Dr. They’s manipulations of the general public up to the election of Donald Trump in 2016 which he orchestrated. They was also the mastermind behind future one-way space flight known as “Operation Soy Bomb,” which was about using collective memory manipulations to help astronauts cope with long term space travel.

They was also the purveyor of fake news and that entire concept which is another way to control the general public’s conventions. In his words, “you believe what you want to believe and what that is, nobody knows for sure.”

In another twist of fate or another instance of even Mulder and Scully being victims of the Mandela Effect, Reggie drops a bombshell stating that he founded the X-Files. He also claims that they were all partners.

Then in a hysterical series of clips, lifted from the original series, Reggie is thrust into various familiar episodes offering wry commentary. In the memorable “Home” sequence (with the equally brilliant Karin Konoval) Scully reveals that Mama Peacock is actually having sexual relations with her boys prompting Reggie to utter, “Ew!”

He also interrupts Mulder and Scully attempting to make out on a couch in the episode, “Small Potatoes.” As Reggie watches incredulously in the doorway, the duo pull away embarrassed at being caught only for Scully to realize that she hasn’t been swapping spit with Mulder but she has been doing it with Eddie Van Blundht.

For those of you that remember that particular show, Eddie was a shapeshifter who would use his abilities to impregnate women. The character was portrayed by none other than Darin Morgan!

The Day the Earth Stood Still?



Finally, Scully growing weary of listening to Reggie’s irrational beliefs, finds out his true identity. He is former government drone, Reginald Murgatroyd. Murgatroyd had a complete mental breakdown and was confined to a mental institution.

After that reveal, the men in suits do come for Reggie to take him back to the Spotnitz Sanitarium (which is an homage to ex-executive producer, Frank Spotnitz). However, before he goes, Mulder asks him what happens in their last case together.

Reggie recounts how they found the crashed remnants of Voyager only to have an alien land in his spacecraft. Said visitor from another world departs his ship looking resplendent in an Elvis cape. He proceeds to tell Mulder and Scully that his people are disgusted with Earth and wish no further contact with them.

The alien then launches into Donald Trump’s speech almost verbatim on why a wall should be built in America. Oh, the irony and the richness of having an extraterrestrial or alien deliver that message. Hysterical!
In order to avoid any relationships with humans, Klaatu Barada Nikto hands Mulder a book entitled, All the Answers! Mulder than proceeds to have a tantrum because what purpose does he serve now that all the X-Files are explained. This has to be the best bit of comedic acting ever featured on this show!

The Verdict


Thus far, hands down, this is the best X-Files episode in a long time. From the clever writing, to the masterful direction and the brilliant tongue-in-cheek performances from Duchovny, Anderson and Huskey, this show is a keeper.



This is the reason why the X-Files has captured our hearts and our viewership for a quarter of a century. At the heart of it, we want the truth to be out there. We want to believe that everything will work out no matter what universe we exist in.


1428 Elm

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 9:28




justholdinghandsok:
2,945,002…2,945,003… #bts from Gillian Anderson’s phone

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 9:32






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