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11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

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Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 10:10

One of X-Files' Funniest Episodes in Years Examined the Thin Lines Between Memory, Nostalgia, and 'Fake News'

Cheryl Eddy
Today 10:00am


All images: Shane Harvey/FOX

Written and directed by boundary-pushing fan favorite Darin Morgan, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” has a rip-roaring time taking the Trump administration—already the subject of some unsubtle digs this season—to task. But it also has great fun turning some of The X-Files’ classic touchstones inside out.



The fact that “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is so fast-moving and entertaining is pretty incredible, considering how talky it is, and the fact that probably 80 percent of it takes place in an FBI parking garage. There, a nervous man named Reggie (Brian Huskey of Veep and People of Earth) lurks at all hours, popping out to jabber at “Foxy” and “Sculls” about “the conspiracy to end all conspiracies.” Essentially, he believes that the Mandela Effect, the internet-spawned phenomenon whereby masses of people share the same incorrect memory, is actually a plot to manipulate memories launched by the US government. Adding to the malevolence of this idea, Reggie keeps referring to it as “the Mengele Effect,” attributing it to a widely-believed falsehood about the notorious Nazi, rather than the South African freedom fighter... which is sort of a Mandela Effect within the Mandela Effect. Mulder, of course, is inclined to suspect that parallel universes are the cause.



There’s a lot more to “Forehead Sweat” than that—aliens are involved, of course, as is a master manipulator literally named “Dr. They” (played with jovial zeal by The Rockford Files’ Stuart Margolin). Plus, we get the sight of Mulder returning from an evening of Bigfoot-hunting (or, ah, “Squatchin’”); a junk shop with a “political shame” section; and a murder-by-lawn-dart that’s never really investigated or explained. In fact, a lot is left unexplained as the chockablock episode progresses at its breakneck pace, but somehow its teetering construction ends up being part of its appeal. You can’t look away or you’ll miss something hilarious.

Also key is the episode’s enthusiastic embrace of multimedia. Its pre-credits scene is a black-and-white segment from Mulder’s beloved scifi TV show from when he was a child, with li’l Mulder freakishly depicted as a kid with adult Mulder’s face. (His favorite episode is about aliens with memory-wiping technology, as it happens.) “Forehead Sweat” is stuffed with similarly bizarre moments, winks, and asides inserted into the action, including a “jump cut” perfectly timed to obscure the name of a big company Reggie claims is involved in perpetuating the “Mengele Effect.” But its best creative meander is when it inserts Reggie into a series of vintage X-Files episodes, as well as the show’s iconic opening credits, illustrating the character’s faux (or are they?) memories of being an FBI agent, and affording some in-jokes for fans of Morgan’s past work on the show. At last, that Grenada reference in “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” paid off!



And since this is a Morgan-conceived episode, deeper themes soon surface amid the nuttiness. Last season’s “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster” cleverly flipped the expected man-becomes-a-monster narrative; meeting the title creature also renewed Mulder’s belief in the unexplained after a crisis of faith and a lot of fumblings involving his cellphone camera. In “Forehead Sweat,” Mulder comes face-to-face with young-gun FBI agents with the gall to think they’re spookier than he is—and indeed, when he meets the mysterious Dr. They, the older man bluntly informs him that his time has passed.

People in power no longer think they can keep their secrets, and are therefore no longer interested in doing whatever they can to protect themselves. We’re in a “post cover-up, post conspiracy age,” he tells Mulder, reminding him that “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.” That goes for an online video styled as a Dr. They exposé (self-made, as it turns out, as deliberately “phony fake news”—real facts presented in such a way that nobody would believe any of it), as well as his parting words to Mulder: “Nobody knows for sure,” which he attributes to the current president. Regarding what? Well, “what does it matter?” (Trump is never named, but Dr. They is definitely seen wearing a MAGA hat at one point.)

The specter of the Trump administration looms throughout “Forehead Sweat,” even beyond Dr. They’s canny take on the current age of carefully curated disinformation. There are more subtle jabs, as when Scully dryly references the all-too-recent “birther” conspiracy movement. And then there’s the almost painfully overt moment when an alien informs Reggie, Scully, and Mulder—former FBI teammates—at least in Reggie’s apparently mixed-up mind—that intergalactic beings are planning to “build a wall” so that vile, lying Earthlings can’t explore beyond their solar system and contaminate what’s out there.



Truth and memory don’t always align, even without Dr. They-style meddling. The episode constantly toys with the show’s long-held idea that “the truth is out there,” especially once the alien gives Mulder a book titled All the Answers (again, as Reggie recalls it), which resolves every X-Files case well beyond the existence of extraterrestrials. But there’s also a deep nostalgia for earlier times, be they childhood (as with Mulder’s TV show and Scully’s “Goop-o” gelatin); the X-Files’ 1990s heyday; or even simply anything prior to the Trumpian hellscape we’re now living in.

There’s a protectiveness and a realization of how powerful those kinds of memories can be. “I want to remember how it was,” Scully decides, placing her spoon back down before ruining the memory of how Goop-o (recently rediscovered, thanks to Reggie) tasted when she was a kid. It’s a funny moment, considering the bright-red, wriggly dessert is shaped like Mulder’s cast of a Sasquatch footprint. But it’s a poignant and oddly universal one, too—and it helps ensure that “Forehead Sweat” will be on any list of the greatest X-Files episodes of all time.


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 10:12

The X-Files Season 11 Episode 4 Review – ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’

January 25, 2018 by Matt Rodgers Leave a Comment

Matt Rodgers reviews the fourth episode of The X-Files season 11…



At the heart of Darin Morgan’s X-Files episode ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ is the theory of Mandela effect; fondly remembering something from the past that was just a little off. It’s a notion that could be easily attributed to not only the most recent runs of Chris Carter’s TV phenomenon, but the final few seasons of the show in its pomp.

Thankfully, it is not applicable in this case, because ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ is up there with Morgan’s own ‘Jose Chung ‘from Other Space’ (Season 3 episode 20) as being a hilariously funny, utterly stupid, classic, yes, classic episode of The X-Files.

The forehead sweat in question belongs to Brian Huskey’s Reggie (excellent), who appears intermittently in the garage below FBI headquarters to corner Mulder or Scully, who he delightfully refers to as “Sculls”, in order to convince them that they used to be a team. That The X-Files were never just Mulder and Scully, but Mulder, Scully, and Reggie, their memory of the cases they used to investigate having been removed by ‘They’. Not the subject of the “Who are They?” question that has become a Mulder sound bite over the years, but the mysterious Dr. They.



If it all sounds bonkers, that’s because it is, in the most gloriously enjoyable fashion imaginable. An episode that begins with Duchovny decked out in a Yeti outfit because he’s been trying to get away from the madness of the world by “Squatching” is only ever going to go one way on the quality spectrum.

So we get a wonderful flashback to a young Mulder misremembering his favourite episode of The Twilight Zone, Scully reminiscing about a tri-flavoured jello mixture that doesn’t seem to exist, and best of all, a sequence in which Reggie is involved in some of the shows most iconic episodes, that will have you bent double in a fashion that only Eugene Victor Tooms could achieve.

Morgan doesn’t abandon the series social commentary though, which has successfully permeated this most recent iteration of the show from the off, all for the sake of silly giggles. Which means we get a great Trump inauguration gag, one of many about the current administration, and a nod towards sexism in the workplace, all in a post-modern, post conspiracy, “poco” classic episode of a series few thought could capture the magic once again.



Matt Rodgers


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 10:18

The X-Files: How Fan Comments Led To Darin Morgan's Episode Idea

Writer/director Darin Morgan on Twilight Zone influences, fake news, and Mulder's midlife crisis.



Chris Longo
Jan 25, 2018

Darin Morgan did it again. The elusive writer, who’s only penned six of what will eventually be 216 episodes of The X-Files, is considered amongst fans and critics to be one of the series’ best writers. Hallowed ground indeed for a show that has writing credits like Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz, Howard Gordon, and Vince Gilligan, just to name a few.

Just as Morgan did last season with “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” the writer/director provides a meta, humorous deconstruction of The X-Files in “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.” Commentating on our political climate, the spread of fake news and disinformation, and fan culture, the episode asks what does “The Truth is Out There” mean today when it seems no one can agree on what is fact and what is fiction.

We spoke with Morgan ahead of the episode airing to discuss the Mandela Effect, taking tonal risks, and the Twilight Zone influences of “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.”

Den of Geek: Have you personally experienced the Mandela Effect? 

Darin Morgan: Last season after my episode aired people online had reactions like “X-Files has never done a comedy before.” I said “what?” That was my whole career! On the opposite side of the Mandela Effect, I haven’t experienced the main ones online. I have a really bad memory in general. My whole life has been one long Mandela Effect I guess. 

So there’s a pretty good running commentary on the episode about fan culture and the state of television revivals. So you were inspired by the fan reaction to season 10? 

More the thing was you get criticism when you bring something back and people say “why?” or “let it rest.” I thought for this episode at least, the current political climate gave it a reason for doing this episode. It wasn’t just an act of pure nostalgia. 

In the last two episodes you wrote, you really deconstructed Mulder, Scully, and what The X-Files is all about. Generally speaking, genre fans can be picky when it comes to taking big tonal risks like that. There’s been a tremendous love for your episodes over the years. Why has it worked out so well for this franchise?

From the early days, the show started off as a cult hit on Friday nights. Not everybody had the Fox channel. Chris did some weird stuff that fans appreciated and from that it gave everyone confidence. Maybe the premise of the show with supernatural phenomenon made audiences more open to weirdness in general? So you could do episodes with completely different tones from all the others without people being so closed minded about it. 

The Twilight Zone was another show that broke a lot of norms on television at the time and you paid homage to it in the episode. Was young Mulder watching “The Lost Martian” based on your personal Twilight Zone experience?

Oh yeah. The Twilight Zone was my X-Files. I didn’t see it until it was in syndication. Younger people have no idea what it was like when you watched old shows. There were no episode guides. You couldn’t go online. You didn’t know what you were going to see. It was the thrill of not knowing what you were about to watch. It made it even more mysterious. Now even with this episode, you have previews and people online are already talking about it. The press has seen it. Everyone already sort of knows what the episode is about. It’s just a different experience. 

Is that part of the reason why you enjoy writing standalone episodes more than the alternative? 

Yeah. I had no intention of being a television writer. I wanted to make films even though I grew up watching TV. I’m more into doing self-contained stories that have a beginning and ending and you can say whether you liked it or not once it’s over. That’s the appeal to me. I watch shows that are serialized but I don’t like writing them. 

You reference George Orwell’s 1984 line, “who controls the past controls the future” in the episode. Are we past the point of no return with the spread of disinformation online? Or is that the point of the episode, that we need to fight harder than ever to expose the truth?

I’m a bit more cynical than I thought I was. I don’t think it has to do with the spread of disinformation, I think people in general are pretty stupid [laughs]. I don’t know what is going to help them. I don’t know the solution. I think people are always going to be idiots and do dumb things. There’s nothing we can do but try to survive. I’m being kind of serious. With all the disinformation stuff, who are these idiots who read this stuff online and then don’t bother to check if it’s true? They just swallow it whole. How are you going to prevent people from doing that? We’re all doomed, that’s my answer [laughs]. 

What exactly is the role of The X-Files in the post-conspiracy age?

I hate to tell you, the shrug is my answer. It’s ambiguous on purpose. I don’t know what the role is. Like I said, we’re all doomed. That was the idea behind the episode. You have a show whose catchphrase is “The Truth Is Out There” and what does that mean today? 

Mulder seems to have had his faith in his job restored since he had a midlife crisis in your last episode, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.” In your mind, what evolution has the character undergone from then to now? 

I made a lot of fun of Mulder in the past. What’s different in these past two is that I’m also older as well. I can kind of relate to some of the stuff that Mulder has gone through. I tried to give him a midlife crisis in “Were-Monster.” Sort of: What was the purpose of his life? That’s something I can relate to. With this episode, I feel like I’m doing the same stuff Mulder is doing. He’s questioning has the world gone mad. What does it matter if you’re trying to discover the truth or as a writer trying to write what is true when it doesn’t seem like anyone cares. I’m giving him my own self-doubts and concerns. 

How did you land on casting Brian Huskey as Reggie?

I have been aware of Brian for awhile and I’ve always liked what I’ve seen him in. I always thought he was really funny in Childrens Hospital. He had the look of the part and I thought he could pull it off. I think he’s great in it. 

At the end, Mulder gets the book of All The Answers. If an alien came down to earth and handed you that book, what chapter would you first open up to?

[Laughs]. Oh wow. That’s a good question and I’m not going to tell you. I am in possession of the prop book. I actually have one and it’s my bedside reading. I’ll get to a particular chapter that speaks to me then I can answer you.


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 11:58

6 Reasons We're Excited Darin Morgan Is Writing for 'The X-Files' Again in 'The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat'

Thursday, January 25, 2018
TylerVendetti
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV



When I first heard that The X-Files was getting a reboot, my first thought was not "Will this new version redeem the 2008 movie's sad attempt at continuing Mulder and Scully's story?" or even "Will we find out if The Smoking Man is actually dead this time?" (We do -- he isn't.) No, my first thought was "Is Darin Morgan going to write any of the new episodes?" Every true X-Files fan knows that Darin Morgan is the backbone of what makes the show so special, even more than the creator himself.

From "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" to "Jose Chung's from Outer Space," Morgan's episodes exemplified the wacky, darkly funny tone that fans of the show came to know and love. You can spot his writing from a mile away, and this episode, "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," is no exception. This episode of The X-Files contained many of the "Darin Morgan" staples that once made the show so great.

He Uses Flashbacks ... Again and Again and Again

Remember "Jose Chung's from Outer Space"? Where the titular Jose attempted to convince a skeptical Scully that the alien abduction he writes about in his book is real through a series of absurdist flashbacks involving Mulder, Scully and a man in black that looks eerily like Alex Trebek? Well, this episode follows in Jose's footsteps. The plot centers around Reggie Something, a self-claimed conspiracy theorist who claims the government is orchestrating a mass manipulation of history by programming the nation to "misremember" major events. He proceeds to tell Mulder and Scully how he realized this fact by launching into a memory of a thrift shop and the odd man who owned it. Oh, and Mulder also has a flashback where his child body was blended with his human adult head in a way that doesn't make the viewer feel uncomfortable at all. Which brings me to my next point ...

He Experiments with Style and Structure

If there's one thing that can be said about Darin Morgan, it's that he will never settle for a regular narrative structure. It's not in his nature. As a writer and director, he is known for utilizing unique approaches to storytelling, which we can see right away from the episode's opening scene, which places us inside a black and white TV show reminiscent of The Twilight Zone. Later, Mulder has a flashback in which he remembers the moment he saw his favorite Twilight Zone episode. Instead of showing us a young Mulder in this flashback, Morgan instead CGIs Mulder's adult head onto his child body, making a creature that is worthy of its own X-File. The most interesting style manipulation, though, came towards the end of the episode, when Reggie Something claims that he started the X-Files and was once a member of Mulder and Scully's team. This revelation sparks a montage of clips from the original X-Files, but with Reggie photoshopped into every scene (including, hilariously, the opening theme song.) 

He Features Cartoonish Aliens

The humans in Darin Morgan's stories are not the only ones that are a bit over the top -- so are his aliens. In "Jose Chung's from Outer Space," a group of little grey men descend a spaceship and encounter a human couple, who promptly faint at the sight of them. Before the aliens can respond, a larger creature appears behind them, causing one of the aliens to turn to the other and ask "What is that?" In "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat," another alien, one that looks like it's been plucked straight out of an old Star Trek episode, addresses the group during one of Reggie's flashbacks. He begins loosely quoting the President and blaming humans for their irresponsible behavior before jumping on a segway and gliding back up into his spaceship. Yes, a segway.

He Has Meta Jokes Within Meta Jokes

Last season, in "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster," Mulder has a bit of a mid-life crisis that causes him to swear off monsters for good. It is at this point that he meets the "Were-Lizard": a monster trapped inside a man's body. This joke is funny, not just because it defies our normal expectations (a man trapped inside a monster's body) but because it almost mocks Mulder's previous concerns by revealing to us that humans can be just as "monstrous" as monsters. This is a classic Darin Morgan meta-twist, one that he brings back in "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat." Not only does he comment on larger themes of politics by not-so-subtly barraging our current President and the McCarthy-esque atmosphere of distrust he has created, but he also slips in smaller meta jokes about the nature of memory, naming the conspiracy theorist who claims the government is trying to erase him "Reggie Something." His last name is literally Something, the term we use when we can't remember someone's last name and we need a placeholder.

He Uses Screwball Humor

Mulder walking into his office in a Sasquatch outfit? The constant bickering about the Mandela/Mengele effect? Dr. They imitating President 45? Fox Mulder screaming his own name at a bunch of young FBI agents who insult him? Nothing beats this kind of X-Files humor.

He Nails the Sad-but-Touching Ending

At the beginning of "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose," when Clyde cheekily tells Scully that he pictures them in bed together soon, we all laughed at his confidence. Forty minutes later, when Clyde dies in bed with Scully holding his hand, we all cried at the ending's perfection and our own inability to write twists that beautiful. Morgan brings this trademark nostalgic flare to the end of this episode as well. When Scully finds an old Goop-O pack, a food she used to eat as a child, she and Mulder mix it up and prepare to chow down, only for Scully to abruptly drop the spoon and announce that she wants to remember the food as it used to be. 

Is this a simple nostalgic yearning for the past? A jab at the nature of memory and how we remember things as we want to remember them instead of how they are? Or is it a deeper reference to how we all want to preserve the memory of The X-Files as it used to be 20 years ago? A Morgan-esque commentary on his own work? Tell us what you think in the comments down below.

The X-Files airs on Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX. Like this article? Follow BuddyTV on Facebook for more!

(Image courtesy of FOX)


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 12:05

January 25, 2018 1:46 pm

Every Easter Egg in The X-Files Episode ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’

By Brian Tallerico


Photo: Shane Harvey/FOX

As written and directed by X-Files vet Darin Morgan, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is fully loaded with references and Easter eggs. Were you able to spot them all? Wednesday night’s episode particularly played with real-life history, but cleverly filtered it all through the show’s conspiratorial lens. The result is a funny send-up of The Twilight Zone that also takes a few stabs at President Trump and fake news, as well as the nature of remembering The X-Files with a nostalgic optimism. Let’s count down the best Easter eggs.

Haven’t we seen Reggie already?


Photo: Fox

First, let’s get a pre-Easter egg (an Ash Wednesday egg?) out of the way. In the second episode of season 11, “This,” Mulder, Scully, and Skinner were looking at the now-digitized X-Files when an unusual photo flipped by. It wasn’t Fox, Dana, or even Doggett (where the heck is Doggett?), but Reggie! Does this mean that Reggie’s rant about being forgotten in “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is true? What other explanation could there be for his ID being on file? Also, if you’re wondering if this little visual nugget will reveal Reggie Something’s last name, keep dreaming. Maybe he never had one.

The X-Files gets meta


Most Easter eggs in The X-Files are subtle details — a name on a tombstone or a building, for example — but “Forehead Sweat” literally cut into a half-dozen episodes from the show’s past to reimagine them with Reggie involved. Of course, Morgan didn’t pick the stinkers. Reggie is there, Forrest Gump–style, during some of the biggest moments in X-Files history, including:

“Unusual Suspects”
In a truly meta way, the first episode in which we see Reggie was itself a flashback episode — a memory within a memory — season five’s “Unusual Suspects.” That Lone Gunman–heavy chapter flashed back to 1989, and this version imagines that Reggie bought the famous “I Want to Believe” poster way back then. (And was already calling his FBI partner Foxy.) Fun fact: “Unusual Suspects” was written by the now-legendary Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad fame.

“The Pilot”
In the next shot, we go back to the beginning of the show with that TV-altering moment when Dana Scully knocked on Fox Mulder’s door. Of course, this time, Reggie is there! He waves her away with a curt dismissal: “Move along, sugar-boobs, this is the X-Files. No women allowed.” Is this a reference to Gillian Anderson’s disappointment about the show’s lack of female writers?

“Tooms”
“That guy is soooooo creepy,” says Reggie, and anyone who saw this season one episode agrees. A sequel to “Squeeze” from earlier in the same season, “Tooms” takes its name from its title character, Eugene Victor Tooms, played unforgettably by Doug Hutchison. Not only a great stand-alone episode, “Tooms” is memorable for marking the first appearance of Walter Skinner.

“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”
It wouldn’t be an Easter egg episode without at least one reference to this season-three classic, a fan and production favorite that won Darin Morgan his only Emmy. But this nod feels almost essential to the plot of “Forehead Sweat,” too: It’s a clip of the late, great Peter Boyle imagining a world in which major events didn’t happen, including Columbus sailing to America, the moon landing, and the U.S. invasion of Grenada. That last one gets Reggie’s attention, naturally.

“Teso Dos Bichos”
Wondering where Reggie’s “killer cats” line comes from? It’s this third-season episode, another monster-of-the-week chapter. It’s hard to say why Morgan picked this particular one, but here’s some interesting trivia: Most of the crew and even Kim Manners, the director, hated this episode (and critics weren’t much kinder). Manners even made T-shirts that read “Tesos Dos Bichos Survivor.” Maybe Morgan is trying to reclaim a bad chapter in the show’s history with a bit of Reggie levity.

“Home”
It’s funny that the modern reboot of The X-Files keeps going back to this episode, given how much Fox once wanted to erase it from history. But there’s Karin Konoval (also in last week’s episode, “Plus One”) as Mrs. Peacock, the matriarch of the incestuous, murderous family that horrified audiences in “Home.” It’s kind of amazing that Reggie ever made it out of that house alive.

“Small Potatoes”
This Easter egg is one of the best in X-Files history because it works on so many levels. A season-four episode, “Small Potatoes” was about a shape-shifter named Eddie, who we see in Mulder form about to kiss Scully. In “Forehead Sweat,” Reggie bursts through the door instead of Fox, and Eddie returns to his original form. But instead of just being a sideline player as he is in the other clips, Reggie shoots him. The meta aspect of referencing an episode in which someone pretends to be a member of the X-Files is great, but consider this little fact: Darin Morgan is playing Eddie. That’s the writer being shot by his own delusional creation!

Spotnitz Sanitarium
When Reggie is being taken away, the vehicle bears the name Spotnitz Sanitarium, a recurring reference to X-Files legend Frank Spotnitz, a producer on most of the original run of the series and writer of a stunning 44 episodes, as well as the film, The X-Files: I Want to Believe.

The historical Easter eggs


This episode drops several references to actual events, including the Soy Bomb crasher, the Grenada UFO stamp, and the fact that Dr. Seuss drew political cartoons during WWII. It also allows Morgan a few jabs at President Trump, especially the idea that more people attended the inauguration than actually did. Fake news indeed.

The Twilight Zone
Of course, the whole episode is an homage to The Twilight Zone, with Mulder even doing his best Rod Serling impression. No, Mulder’s favorite episode, “The Lost Martian,” isn’t a real one, but Serling’s show never shied away from imagining life on other planets. And the flashback to the alien giving Mulder a book called “All the Answers” brings to mind the classic episode “To Serve Man,” which also took its title from a volume brought to Earth from outer space. That episode ended with the classic twist that the verb in that title wasn’t being interpreted the right way, which could be a nod to no one really having all the answers, even on The X-Files. (If you’re wondering about Mulder’s discovery of The Dusty Realm in the final act, sorry, it’s not a real show. But The Outer Limits totally is.)

The Shazaam Fantasy
When he’s explaining “the Mandela Effect,” Mulder references the idea that many people swear they saw a movie from the ’90s in which Sinbad played a genie named Shazaam. This is a real, and totally bizarre occurrence, but Shazaam doesn’t exist. They’re thinking of Kazaam with Shaquille O’Neal.

Is that Canada?
It’s not exactly an Easter egg, but we have to mention that weird scene with Dr. They at the art installation in the park. The X-Files producers famously try to hide the fact that they actually shoot in Vancouver, but not so much this week. Instead of a nondescript park or garage, “Forehead Sweat” set this conversation amid a very identifiable art piece by Yue Minjun called “A-maze-ing Laughter.” Is this a reference to an episode that’s deconstructing the show itself? Seems like it.


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 12:10

THE X-FILES Review: “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”

January 25, 2018



If somehow I could manage to get the rest of The X-Files’ eleventh season pulled from the air, I would do it. “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is the episode that Fox has chosen to tout as “the best” of this season and they’re trying to treat it like another “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” or “Bad Blood.” Unfortunately, this episode is not actually funny nor is it an intelligent political commentary or even a coherent narrative. On top of which it’s the second week in a row that mental illness has been treated, not just insensitively, but outright offensively. Watching the revival episodes of this show is an unsettling combination of sad, infuriating, and disturbing.

First of all, there isn’t really a plot to this episode. I know it’s trying to be humorous but all of the humor falls flat and beyond that there isn’t much substance. The premise is that it’s unclear if this guy lived an alternate life with Mulder and Scully or if he’s just crazy. Either option isn’t that interesting. It would be unwise to rewrite all of this show to add a jerk character and insensitive to have a character be so mentally ill that his instability puts others in “funny” danger. Every thread that looks like it’s going somewhere is dropped or quickly becomes a tired joke.



The worst part of this episode by far is that it seems to think its dismissive political commentary is sly and intelligent. It was one thing in the previous season that this show didn’t realize that conspiracy theories swinging from left-wing to right-wing in the time the series was off the air also came with a huge shift in context. Right-wing conspiracy theories are not “charming” and “zany”; they are deliberately calculated to harm others and to forcefully maintain the socioeconomic status quo. It’s not funny to create a mythical character who is responsible for the actual, real-life occurrences that have brought an authoritarian, kleptocratic regime to power in the United States. To do so absolves people of responsibility for their actions in a way that is uncomfortable, not humorous. It simply creates yet another harmful fiction in an information landscape that’s already impossibly complicated. On top of being severely tone-deaf, “Dr. They” doesn’t even have any motivations as a character. He doesn’t seem to be paid by anyone, doesn’t seem to have any goal, and comes off more like a trickster character than a shady conspiratorial figure. Basically, he’s like an old man turned internet troll, but walking around in the world. Honestly, it might have been a more interesting episode if that’s what truly had happened.

The corny Twilight Zone opening was actually a fantastic cold open and it hooked me immediately, but that wasn’t even what the episode was about and it was only tangentially related to the plot. Lame. On top of that, the guy who is following Mulder and Scully around is revealed to be an escaped mental patient who insists on being taken back to the asylum tied up in a straitjacket. That might be funny in a context that actually gives pathos to those suffering from mental illness, in the way that people who actually live with a disability are allowed to make really dark jokes about it. Here, it was just a lazy punchline. On top of that, the implication is that the man was living vicariously through Mulder and Scully for years, suggesting that they function in his life the way that they function in the lives of fans of the television show itself. That also could be cute, except–again–they end the episode by calling us all crazy and telling us to get a grip. On top of that, the last monster of the week and second-to-last episode of the original run, called “Sunshine Days,” is about a telekinetic man who grew up completely isolated and turned his entire life into a simulacrum of The Brady Bunch with his mind so that he wouldn’t feel so alone. That episode is still the best, sweetest, most respectful “finale” this series could hope for and it more generously addresses the same theme. Television characters can mean a lot to people and it’s completely okay if fictional characters are what help you get through life. Unfortunately, that’s not what this particular episode says.



This episode is completely disjointed and none of its disparate parts ever come together. Trying to mash right-wing conspiracy theories, political disinformation, the Mandela effect, and weird alternate versions of X-Files episodes together was way too much. I’d say you can have the parallel universe or the conspiracy theories. Trying to include all of that just made everything a big mess.

It’s weird that X-Files’ big revival is full of episodes that are either so problematic they are immediately stricken from the head canon of every fan or are just uninspired rehashes of material that this show itself has already done. Usually, it’s not just that they’ve already done it but that they did it so iconically that it’s difficult for anyone to make television episodes on the same themes now without them seeming pale in comparison. One would think that having X-Files back would be their opportunity to show us what they’re made of. I hoped we would get the absolute best material on offer. Instead, it’s pretty clear that this show continues to be some desperate attempt from Fox to recapture the ratings glory days of the 1990s by slapping the name of a show we all love on some uninspired trash and calling it a day.



Season 11, Episode 4 (S11E04)
The X-Files airs on FOX on Wednesdays at 8PM



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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 14:42

The X-Files S11E04 Review: The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat – Fake news and real memories

Posted on January 25, 2018 by Salome G

Did you grow up reading Berenstein Bears books? Learning a moral and daydreaming about living in their amazing tree house? If you did, how shook were you when you found out it was actually spelled Berenstain?

It didn’t feel right, did it? That’s not how you remembered it. You’re pretty sure you would have noticed. Right?

The Berenstein/Berenstain debate is part of a larger phenomenon known as the Mandela Effect, so named because there are apparently thousands of people out there who remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 80s. (All I can think is, didn’t they see Malcolm X?) Why exactly we experience these collective false memories is unclear. Some people believe it’s proof of the existence of parallel universes and not, you know, that as the song says, “our memories depend on a faulty camera in our minds.”



I love that this promo shot is in color, which made me question if the scene from the episode were really black and white like I remembered.

I’m talking about the Mandela Effect because this week’s episode has a lot to do with it. But before that, we begin the episode with a black-and-white sequence that seems like something out of The Twilight Zone, like a mashup between “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” and “The Howling Man.”

It turns out that it is an episode of The Twilight Zone, the first one Mulder ever saw. Or is it? You see, he gets signaled by Russell Something (Brian Huskey), whom he meets in a parking garage. Sidenote: I know the parking garage is the cool place ever since All the President’s Men, but…there are better places to have your clandestine meetings. Russell tells him that the episode, “The Lost Martian,” never actually existed. Mulder thinks this is crazy, but when he searches through his extensive Twilight Zone collection (of course he has one), it’s not there. Scully suggests that maybe he’s mixing it up with another series, like Outer Limits. Mulder reacts much like I would: “Confuse the Twilight Zone with Outer Limits? Do you even know me?!”

So maybe Mulder is experiencing the Mandela Effect. But what about Scully? She remembers her mom making a gelatin parfait treat called Goop-o ABC. No, not Jello 1-2-3. It’s her Mandela Effect, at least until Russell hands her a box of the Goop-o.

So then they both meet with Russell, who explains how he discovered the Mandela Effect, or as he calls it, the Mengele Effect. In his mother’s home, he found a book he’d loved as a child. However, instead of being authored by Dr. Wussle, as he remembered, the cover read Dr. Wuzzle. Confused, he sought out an antique shop, where the owner told him this sort of thing is quite common. Many people come in and find that the toys or whatever they loved as children are not quite as they remember. (“I remember the logo being racist in a different way.”)



Scully, Mulder, and Russell all have different explanations for why this. Unsurprisingly, Scully picks faulty memory. Mulder says parallel universes, much to Scully and Russell’s consternation. Russell has a different explanation. They want to confuse us, to make us think that conspiracy theories are crazy, to fudge the truth. Who is they?

Well, it’s Dr. They. Dr. Thaddeus Q. They, to be precise, who’s been manipulating collective memory for decades. Russell is struck by the doctor’s history in Grenada, where Russell saw an alien, who was later black-bagged and taken away by government men. That was why he started the X-Files, you see.

Wait, what? As the show is playing with the tenuous power of memory, it pulls a genius move: showing clips of past cases (from previous episodes) from the past with Russell now inserted. We are now inside the Mandela Effect. Mulder and Scully don’t think that version of the past is right, but at this point, they don’t know enough about the past to disagree. So we’re at an impasse, until Dr. They contacts Mulder.

It’s all true, he says. He used to stir-fry facts and memories, on behalf of powerful people, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Some people, like politicians (ahem), say outright obvious lies and people believe them. There’s no need to manipulate collective memory because people are doing it to themselves now. Conspiracies don’t matter because people don’t care what’s real or what’s fake. Like, we are living in an age in which it’s a meme that a sitting Senator was the Zodiac Killer. In the past, a politician might deny it, or more likely, ignore it, but we live in the dumbest timeline, where he leans into it.

It doesn’t matter. Facts don’t matter. Dr. They’s work is done.



So it also doesn’t really matter that Russell might not be who he says he is. Or that for their last X-file together, they met with that alien who visited Grenada. And he talked like Trump. I don’t mean the accent or whatever–I mean he was literally quoting Trump. Earth isn’t sending space its “best people,” so the aliens are going to build a wall. Do we deserve more? Will we even remember?

This episode could serve as a series finale. There’s a bittersweet quality to the ending, when Mulder and Scully sit down on the couch to watch “The Lost Martian.” It turns out it was from another series–The Dusky Realm. Scully’s made Goop-o ABC (in Mulder’s Bigfoot foot cast because she couldn’t find another mold), but she stops herself before she takes the first bite. You ever eaten something you loved as a kid, like Spaghetti-os, and been surprised that it wasn’t as good as you remember? That’s part of the feeling hitting Scully. Nostalgia. It’s a compound word whose second half literally means pain. That ache for something that no longer is. I’ve referred multiple times now to my fondness for the episode “Home.” I watched it for the first time at my grandparents’ house. They were both alive then. When I remember that experience, I remember the terror I felt–I got up and closed both closet doors and the bathroom door while I was watching–but I also remember the comfort of being with my grandparents. I miss them so much, I feel like I can’t breathe sometimes. And even if my memories aren’t completely true, I want to hold onto them. As Scully says, “I want to remember how it all was.”

9/10 – This is a moving meta episode of The X-Files, which for longtime fans will certainly bring up memories (ha) of “Jose Chung” and “Bad Blood,” among others. This episode is dense–with memory, with meaning–and unraveling it all would take some time, which…feel free to do in the comments. But it’s part of our collective memory now and the memories we share still matter. Even if we biff the details. 

For more on this episode, see this wonderful essay.


Cult of Whatever

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 14:46

Nostalgia Is the Enemy on a Comedic X-Files

By Nick Mangione 01.25.2018 :: 3:45PM EST


David Duchovny (Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX)

The X-Files is a weird show. If you’re reading this, you don’t need me to tell you that. Bringing it back for two final Event seasons was always going to be tricky. Even if it were an unequivocal return to the series’s glory days, it would always be compared to what came before. Worse, it would be compared to our memories of what came before. The idealized, nostalgia-tinted images of the best moments from the original run of the show. And memories lie to you. They convince you of a world that’s subtly different from the one that actually existed. The present forces you to deal with the reality, which is why it always looks worse than the idealized past. That’s what last night’s X-Files was about. It was a surreal, self-aware parody of the show you remember.

The tone is set immediately with a slapsticky black-and-white Twilight Zone imitation. A man runs into a diner, panicking about martians. He tells the waiter that a martian is right outside the window. The waiter says that’s not a window, it’s a mirror. The man inspects the mirror more closely, revealing that he is actually a six-armed martian. And so is the waiter. From there, we go back to color as Mulder returns home from “Squatchin’,” and all I could think of was how much I’d like to go Squatchin’ with Fox Mulder. But soon, he receives a message from an unknown informant and they meet in (where else?) a parking garage. The man, named Reggie, says he’s stumbled on the greatest conspiracy in history: a single man with the power to change peoples’ memories. His proof? That Martian sketch that opened the episode is supposedly the first episode of The Twilight Zone Mulder ever saw. It’s what got him hooked on the show and eventually led him to investigate the paranormal as an FBI agent. That’s how he remembers it anyway.


David Duchovny (Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX)

Except that episode never existed. Mulder searches through DVDs, episode guides, internet wikis, but still no evidence that the episode ever existed. When Scully comes to visit, she finds him buried in a pile of his old Twilight Zone VHS tapes. Much like many X-Files fans have done with their own recordings of this show. This entire episode is a delightfully meta-story about the legacy of The X-Files the show. How we remember it, how it actually was and how both versions of the show have changed. And for all the self-examination, the episode never falls up its own ass. It keeps things light and comedic, allowing for some blunt commentary on what a show about two FBI agents means in the Trump era. Multiple times in the episode, characters quote Trump directly. Scully even makes an uncomfortable parallel between Mulder and Trump when she mentions birtherism. Trump’s rise to power began with a conspiracy theory (that President Obama wasn’t born in the United States). Mulder is in a position of authority because he wants to believe in conspiracies, though his are less overtly racist.

This episode intertwines nostalgia with Fake News and the Mandela Effect. If you’re new to this whole internet business, the Mandela Effect is basically a bunch of people who misremember something in the same way, so they convince themselves that it’s evidence of either parallel universes or someone messing with their memories. It’s so named because a vocal group of people insists they remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s, when he really became the President of South Africa, had a long and impactful life and died at the age of 95 in 2013. For more about the Mandela Effect and the people who swear by it, read K. Thor Jensen’s Internet Gutter story about it. It’s fascinating. The show ties all three ideas into one, explaining why the Trump administration remember a historic turnout for his inauguration while the rest of us remember a sparsely attended affair. This is all the work of Dr. They. That’s who Reggie is talking about when he says “They” are trying to silence them.


Guest star Ryan Hesp, guest star Brian Huskey and guest star Shane Dean (Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX)

The man claims to be the former partner of Mulder and Scully, and we get a montage of an old episode, including the pilot, with Reggie poorly inserted into the scenes. It’s a reference to the show’s own habit of retconning itself by subtly changing lines and inserting characters into flashbacks of previous episodes. The premiere of this very season even did it during the Smoking Man’s revelation. What’s great is that the episode doesn’t try to tie itself to the grander mythology, but it’s not completely a throwaway gag either. Reggie is later revealed to be a mental patient. A former government employee working menial jobs for different agencies, each a greater perversion of democracy in the last. The cubical he’s sitting in doesn’t even change, just the sign on the wall. He goes from a postal worker to drone-bombing a wedding with the DOD, to waterboarding a man with the CIA, and finally listening in on Mulder and Scully’s phone conversations as a member of the NSA. That’s how he knows so much about Mulder and Scully’s past, and was able to insert himself into their old adventures.

But it’s not all fake. Dr. They exists. He and Mulder have a long conversation about how he’s manipulating people’s memories to control the future. But even this scene is filled with details that point out how unreal this all is. Dr. They quotes George Orwell, but attributes it to Orson Welles. The whole scene is filmed in front of a very recognizable art piece in Vancouver, with the statues appearing to laugh at Mulder for even trying to make sense of all these mismatched memories. It’s a fourth-wall breaking moment that tells you that nothing about The X-Files is real. It’s not even filmed in Washington D.C. And if the show isn’t real, what does that say about your memories of what it used to be?


Guest star Brian Huskey, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson (Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX)

When The X-Files was brought back for these two Event seasons, part of the goal was to tie up some loose plot threads from the original run. To give us some answers. This episode asked if we even want those answers. We came to this show for its scary monsters, its thoughtful sci-fi and its intriguing mysteries. But every mystery becomes less fun when you know the answer. That’s why, in Reggie’s retelling of their final mission together, a Segway-riding alien solves everything. And it sucks. The alien says they’ve been monitoring Earth for years and have decided they want nothing to do with humanity. So they’re going to build a big, beautiful, invisible space wall around our planet. Ha. The alien gives Mulder a book titled “All the Answers,” and he breaks down and cries. With all the answers, there’s nothing to investigate and the X-Files are meaningless. It’s a reminder that, as we search for the truth in the rest of the season, we should enjoy the mystery while we have it. And if the final episode comes and we still have questions, that’s probably a good thing. And in that spirit, the episode leaves us with one final question. As Reggie is being carried away to a mental hospital, Agent Skinner shows up. “Where are those guys taking Reggie?”


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 15:08



iva69s:
The X-Files Fox Instagram story

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 15:26

Review – X-FILES ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ Provides Perfect Social Commentary

Mulder and Scully discover some alternate history.

By Tom Chang - January 25, 2018



The X-Files rides The Mandela Effect from absurd comedy to providing an unapologetic view on contemporary media.

The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat focuses on Reggie (Brian Huskey), a man with a different “perspective” on the world around him. He bumps into Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) and talks about conspiracies and memories the two agents don’t follow.

There’s not really much of a story aside from how Reggie’s essentially living out every X-Files’ fan’s dream incorporating himself within the lore and cases, because of his alternate memories.

The show splices Reggie in random scenes during the show’s original nine season run similar to the film Forrest Gump where Forrest was digitally added into historic archived footage.

Huskey does a commendable job hamming it up while being the “third wheel” as he interjected himself during those cases  some meta moments.

The episode is more a testament about the current state of the information age of how people project their understanding of how events happened.

It’s as simple as Mulder’s recollection of a Twilight Zone episode that may or may not have existed to how some come to view certain stories as fake news.

Yes, it delves into the political, but more on the social level given our current media consumption predominantly through social media.

We see movements and conspiracies emerge simply because the narrative is attractive enough for those to accept as the truth. Truth is formed primarily from speculation, not necessarily from truth.

While we can laugh at a random auxiliary character being inserted to the world of the X-Files, it does help put into perspective about what it means to put in the work to get to the bottom of things. In most narratives on film and TV, there’s a definitive start, middle and finish. In a conspiracy, there’s a start, a middle to be interpreted, but never an end.

Today, we have 9/11 truthers, antivaxxers, and now the flat earth movement, despite the thousands of hours of research and evidence to reinforce and remind that the science is profoundly sound. There are official accept accounts on how 9/11 happened, the success and effect of vaccinations, and how the earth is a sphere. Rather than building on those existing ideas, we perpetually talk in circles.

The episode was written and directed by Darin Morgan, who wrote some of the most memorable episodes Humbug, Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’ and last season’s Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster. Creator Chris Carter and writers Brad Follmer and Benjamin Van Allen also contributed to writing.

What did you think of the episode?

Sound off in the comments below.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Acting 4/5

Directing 5/5

Story 5/5

SUMMARY

Making a bold prediction that is likely the goofiest and fun episode of the season and one for the ages. Directed by series vet Darin Morgan, the episode is a refreshing change of pace from the more action-oriented and intense plot development from earlier.

4.8
OVERALL SCORE


Monkeys Fighting Robots

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 15:50



becksndot5:

IG-Story The X-files fox

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 17:35

‘X-Files’ Recap: Mulder Is Offered All The Answers In The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat

January 25, 2018
Corrina



The X-Files is officially back. While hints of the show’s former greatness were present in the early episodes of the current season, this week’s instalment confirmed it with a funny, twisty plot that saw Scully, Mulder, and showrunner Chris Carter all at their best. Director Darin Morgan (the man behind last season’s standout ‘Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster’) returns to lead us through an episode that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, real news and fake news, this universe and a possible parallel one (shout out to Star Trek: Discovery).

When Mulder and Scully begin to have repeated parking garage run-ins with a strange, sweaty man who insists that there’s a mad-scientist-type going around erasing our collective memory of the past, they both come up with their own theories behind the phenomenon. Scully thinks there’s a scientific reason behind it while Mulder commits to a parallel universe theory but neither hypothesis explains why Mulder can’t find a copy of his favourite Twilight Zone episode (the one he remembers so clearly) and Scully has never been able to track down a packet of her favourite childhood gelatin dessert.



The agents’ sweaty new pal (or old pal, depending on which version of reality you decide to subscribe to—thank Skinner for that) says that “They” are behind the missing or altered memories. They, it turns out is Dr. Thaddeus Q. They, a scientist with an impossibly long career specializing in altering the truth and turning it into fake news or phony fake news (i.e. the truth dressed up as a conspiracy so that no one will buy it). They has been behind everything from the doctoring of our collective memories about Sinbad movies that never existed to our perception of how well-attended Donald Trump’s inauguration was. This collective misremembering is a real thing. It’s called the Mandela Effect.



But Reggie (Mr. Forehead Sweat) has an even crazier claim to make: telling Scully and Mulder (or Sculls and Foxy) that the three of them go way back—he founded the X-Files and was once their third wheel partner. Kudos to Morgan, the montage of classic X-Files episodes with Reggie pasted into them was a touch of genius (on par with the scene featuring an eight-year-old Mulder with a 57-year-old face). Not only was the truth out there, but the threesome found it in an encounter with an alien who handed Mulder a book containing all the answers (after co-opting Trump’s Mexico speech to tell the Earthlings that the rest of the universe had all agreed to build a wall to keep humans out—yeah, no hard feelings over that one).

The truth—or one version of it—comes when Scully finally manages to dig up Reggie’s file. He’s a former USPS/IRS/CIA/every other US agency with a familiar acronym employee who cracked up and was committed, which totally explains his catalogue of false memories… until Skinner recognizes him in the parking lot and throws everything right back into doubt. Is it possible we just misremembered the shaky 10th season of The X-Files? Because this show RULES.



Missed it on CTV? Watch the new season of The X-Files Fridays at 9e 6p right here on Space.


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 25 Jan - 19:10

The X-Files 11×04 Review: The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Posted by Tara Lynne On January 25, 2018



This week’s rollicking good time of an episode, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”, was another one in the vein of “Jose Chung’s from Outer Space” and season 10’s “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”…but as silly as it was, it also made some really good (if harsh) points about the current state of society.

So far this season has outpaced season 10 in almost every way, and while I’m still processing “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” (and trying to decide if it was in fact better than “Were-Monster”), it’s good to know that we’re four episodes in and the show is still going strong. Why? Well, it seems that the writers are doing a better job this season of embracing the fact that conspiracy theories are passé, and they really drive that point home in this episode. And I mean they really, *really* drive that point home.



My one complaint is that several times there were scene cuts that made little to no sense. I’m guessing it was on purpose, but it was still jarring, so much so that I believe it was over the top enough as to be unnecessary. In fact, it was via the first of these weird scene cuts/jumps that we met Reggie Somebody, whose sweaty forehead gave the episode its title. Reggie himself was jarring as well, at least at first…but he definitely grew on me enough that what happened to him at the end of the episode was actually kind of sad.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.



“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” was full of examples of the Mandela effect – or should I say Mengele effect? Regardless, there was Mulder’s favorite Twilight Zone episode (which turned out to be an episode of a knockoff show), Scully’s weird version of Jell-o (Goop-o might be the most unappetizing name I’ve ever heard), the Dr. Wussle books (though it was actually spelled Wuzzle), and Ozzie’s Razor (instead of Occam’s Razor, of course). Some of these examples were certainly better than others, and even though I’m pretty sure the only real one mentioned was that of Shazam, I enjoyed every last one of them…and it truly seemed like the actors were enjoying them as well. In fact, they seemed to be enjoying everything about the episode, and I think that’s one of the reasons it was so enjoyable in turn.



Unfortunately all of these different ‘memories’ led to one of those regular old Mulder/Scully disagreements. This time Mulder was insisting that Reggie was wrong, there was no one out there editing/changing people’s memories – it was parallel universes! Scully of course didn’t think either of them was right and insisted that people were just misremembering things…but that didn’t stop Mulder from putting together a Charlie Day-style bulletin board as he tried to prove his parallel universe argument. In the end, though, his conclusion was “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”…and this was just one of many quotable quotes in “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”.



We were also introduced to Dr. They, a man who supposedly came up with the memory manipulation that Reggie was blaming for, well, everything, and I’m not sure what was more hilarious – the conspiracy theory video about Dr. They, or Mulder’s meeting with him. The two had a long conversation, but it was so full of quips and pithy observations that I honestly didn’t want it to end; my favorites were probably “phony fake news” (a presentation of real facts but in a way that ensures no one will ever believe any of it) and Dr. They admitting that he can’t really control people’s minds but that it doesn’t matter, because all you need is for some people to think it’s possible and you’ve sown the seeds of uncertainty.

Of course their conversation *did* have to end, but thankfully Dr. They’s final tidbit really fit the bill. He told Mulder that the current president once said something profound: “Nobody knows for sure.” Mulder asked what he was referring to, and Dr. They simply replied, “It doesn’t matter.”

Now, as fun as it was to have Reggie claim he’d started the X-Files and had been Mulder and Scully’s partner – especially as it meant a slightly more cheery version of the theme followed by Reggie being inserted into several old X-Files clips – I have to admit that I assumed this didn’t matter…but perhaps it sort of did. As I mentioned earlier, Reggie’s fate was actually kind of sad. It turned out he was a patient from a mental hospital, and he was hauled away (albeit under some very strange circumstances – a very old car, a straight jacket, and an orderly with a NET?!)…but then Skinner showed up and asked where they were taking Reggie. Of course I doubt we’ll ever see Reggie again, and surely that’s for the best, but I also can’t say that I’d be distressed if he popped back up in some future episode.

Before I conclude this already wordy review, I have to give a shout out to Reggie’s story about what happened in the last case he worked with Mulder and Scully…because apparently they met an alien who told them that aliens had been studying humans for years but were done doing so…and they would no longer tolerate us trying to venture beyond our realm. In fact, the alien announced that they were building a wall (a beautiful, albeit invisible, one)…because we humans were bringing drugs and crime to them. And while some of us are surely good people, the aliens didn’t have a choice, because while other galaxies have their fair share of problems, they don’t want to be infected with our one unique trait: we lie. The alien did at least give Mulder a book containing All the Answers they could have possibly searched for, but unfortunately having all of the answers meant the end of the X-Files.

That was Reggie’s story, and he, at least, is sticking to it.

Did you enjoy “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” as much as I did? Share your thoughts on the episode in the comments!


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Sat 27 Jan - 13:28

The X-Files season 11: Sweaty foreheads and faulty memory

by Sarah Crocker
1 hour ago
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Revisionist history, fake news, relevancy and getting old. All this, plus some good old-fashioned squatchin’ in this week’s The X-Files.

Despite the name, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” isn’t just a ridiculous comedy episode. There’s quite a bit more to this episode than Mulder cosplaying Swamp Thing.

Don’t get me wrong. Mulder does show up in a shaggy Bigfoot hunting suit, while a Martian straight out of a 1950s B-movie stalks around. There are plenty of laughs in this episode, but they aren’t without heft. “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is parts silliness and dark satire, with just an edge of sadness. That’s a pretty good accomplishment for an episode with a new character named Reggie, the man with the eponymous forehead sweat.

At the end of the episode, Reggie is revealed to be an inmate of a mental asylum. He likely never went adventuring with Mulder and Scully, at least if we choose to believe that standard narrative. Either way, Mulder asks what their last adventure as a trio was. Reggie obliges, telling him that they finally met a real, honest-to-goodness alien.

However, it’s not a cordial meeting. “Our study is complete. We no longer wish to have any contact with you” says the alien. Instead, humanity will be quarantined from all other life by a “beautiful” wall. A little on the nose, sure, but enough to make you laugh and wince at the same time.

Don’t you feel a little sad, thinking that a vast, exciting cosmos has exiled us? The aforementioned Martian abruptly tells Mulder, Scully, and Reggie that humans are awful. Instead of accepting them into a galactic society, the aliens are just going to build a wall around us, even if “some, I assume, are good people”. At least we’ll still get to visit Uranus.



Mulder can’t handle it

So, it’s easy to get why Mulder — well, Reggie’s version of Mulder — might fling himself to the ground in a dramatic tantrum. Sure, it’s all more than a little silly. For one, the dictum is delivered by a Martian Donald Trump on a Segway. Still, you can’t help but feel the sting.

Or think about that scene where two young FBI agents berate Mulder (at least they had the good sense to leave Scully alone). One looks Mulder up and down, tells him that he’s gotten fat and, even worse, that he’s now “deep state.” Mulder’s assertion that he’s “Fox freakin’ Mulder” does little to change their perception.

It’s in part about growing old, about forgetting and being forgotten. Dr. They embodies that most of all. He’s made a career out of twisting people’s memories, to such a degree that you wonder how he keeps getting work if everyone forgets him. He spends much of his appearance in this episode complaining about the changing face of reality, especially the rise of “fake news.” That’s not even to mention the rise of conspiracies so open that they can hardly be called as such.

Perhaps Scully is the wisest of the group when she declines not to eat the dubiously tasty “Goop-o A-B-C.” She knows that it’s in order to maintain a memory clouded over by recollections of her mom and the fourth of July — the actual gelatin couldn’t stand up to the childhood ideal. Also, according to one junk shop owner, the stuff is basically powdered cancer. Just as well Scully chooses to be sentimental.



Emotional bedrock

That’s why Darin Morgan’s work stands out. It has an emotional bedrock that comes through at opportune moments. In earlier episodes of The X-Files, he’s written characters who are kind of beaten down by the world. They’re not spectacular heroes or villains. Instead, they’re just schmucks trying to make their way through a strange and often hostile world.

The fact that these one-off characters are psychic (“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”) or may have been abducted by aliens (“Jose Chung’s From Outer Space”) only serves to underscore their fatalism. They foresee their own death and shrug a little, perhaps with a wistful look on their faces.

Few people died in this episode, thankfully, but Reggie did accept his ambulance ride back to the asylum with a similar resignation.

What about all of the political references in this episode? Unlike the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flashes of White House denizens in “My Struggle III”, this story dove into the matter. Dr. They (professional perception and memory bender for the U.S. government) claims that he had a hand in doctoring the 2017 presidential inauguration numbers. He supposedly had to climb to the top of the Washington Monument, as it was the only available seat. Of course, he was wearing a MAGA hat at the time.



Political references

Tying your story to current politics is a risky move, to say the least. On the one hand, your story could end up looking dated in just a few years. Even now, there’s a whole generation rising that will only understand Dubya jokes in the vaguest sense.

Or, you could dive a little too deep and sacrifice the story on the altar of political pontification. Think about some of the worst episodes of South Park, where Matt Stone and Trey Parker practically jump out of the screen and bludgeon you with A Very Important Message.

So, to successfully engage with current events in a story, you have to walk a fine line. Don’t be too relevant, or you might as well put polyester bell bottoms and blue cream eyeshadow on all your characters. But pull back too much, and it feels like a weak, flailing attempt at a vague sense of timeliness (looking at you, “My Struggle III”).
But it all works in “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”. You’d think that a phrase like “fake news” is enough to make you roll your eyes forever, but it works surprisingly well with the story. Dr. They is a fake news-maker of the highest order, you know.

Going further

There were a few bumpy spots, though I hesitate to call them more than minor issues. It might have been nice to have spent a little more time with Dr. They. He appears in one scene, complains about kids and their fake news, and then exits. Of course, maybe Dr. They works best with this mystique. That’s the tightrope again — maybe some parts of your story shouldn’t be examined too much.

Perhaps, too, this episode could have dug its teeth in even a little further. We briefly see Reggie work his way through a series of government jobs, seemingly in the same cubicle. In some very dark humor, he waterboards someone, whines when he realizes he’s bombed yet another wedding party, and eventually eavesdrops on Mulder and Scully. His nervous breakdown is convenient, but maybe we shouldn’t let Reggie off the hook so easily.

And maybe “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” could have benefited from a bigger dose of melancholy. It worked well in “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”. Maybe that odd scene where the younger FBI agents berate Mulder could have been expanded or explored more.

Still, this is a fun episode with enough intelligence and emotional heft to make it worth rewatching. It may be too self-aware for some, but it remains a smart take on the entire idea of The X-Files.

Up next week, we’ll dive back into the William storyline with “Ghouli”, written and directed by James Wong. Somehow, a story wherein two teenage girls believe one another to be monsters will connect to Scully and Mulder’s long-absent and maybe part-alien (or part-government conspiracist) son.


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Sun 28 Jan - 8:43

The X-Files 11×04 Review: “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”

Katey Stoetzel
January 28, 2018



With each new season of The X-Files, the episode I’m most excited about is the one written by Darin Morgan. In the past, his episodes have been odd, funny, and profound, telling the more unusual X-files stories through quirk and parody. “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” definitely fits the Darin Morgan mold and is easily the best episode of this new season. I’m not sure where it fits into the cannon of The X-Files, or even the cannon of Darin Morgan-written episodes, but the episode hits themes relevant to today, unlike the universality of “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” or “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose.” Whether that ultimately deters it from being great remains to be seen, but I certainly had a fun time watching it.

Like “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” deals with lost memories, but not through hypnosis. It’s the loss of collective memories, the objects, television shows and food that we remember fondly, but only seem to exist in our memories. The Mandela Effect, or is it actually the Mengele Effect, means one’s recollections of something aren’t quite in line with recollections of the majority, so named because of the reported death of Nelson Mandela in the 1980s when he actually died in 2013. In Mulder’s case, his favorite episode of The Twilight Zone, “The Lost Martian,” no longer exists.

“Forehead Sweat” actually opens with a scene from the episode — a guy walks into a diner, terrified of the Martians he’s been seeing on the street. He keeps pointing out the window whenever he sees one, trying to prove it to the guy behind the counter. But the guy behind the counter tells him that’s not a window, but a mirror. The paranoid guy walks up to the mirror/window and sees a martian looking back at him. Also, the diner guy is a martian. The episode is only important because it’s the first episode of Twilight Zone that Mulder saw. But it seems it no longer exists, not on the internet, episode guides, nor on any tapes he’s been rifling through. For Scully, it’s a box of jello called Goop-O, a desert her mother used to make for any kind of holiday gathering. Though she remembers it fondly, she hasn’t been able to find it in stores, and when she asks other people, they think she’s maybe confusing it with a different brand of jello of a similar name. (Sort of like the real Mandela Effect where people seem to remember a movie called “Shazam” starring Sinbad as a genie, and are adamant they are not confusing it with the movie Kazaam staring Shaquille O’Neal as a genie, something that’s referenced by Mulder.)

Since this is The X-Files, the Mandela Effect must be real, right? According to Reggie Something (Brian Huskey), it is, although he’s sure it’s called the Mengele Effect and tells Mulder he’s probably just having a Mengele Effect about the Mandela Effect, and “they” are attempting to erase Reggie from the collective memories of those who knew him best. He refers to Mulder and Scully as “Muldy” and “Sculls,” as if he knows them personally. Turns out, he does. He’s been their partner since 1993. Cue a montage of old scenes of X-Files episodes in which Reggie is inserted into X-Files history like he’s Forest Gump. Mulder thinks maybe Reggie really was their partner, but in a different universe. The idea of it being parallel universes is a successful gag that runs through the episode, despite being a real theory about where the Mandela Effect comes from. A lot of the conversations between Mulder, Scully, and Reggie occur in the parking garage of FBI headquarters, a callback to Mulder’s many secretive meetings with Deep Throat and Mr. X. In fact, we’re in the parking garage so much that it almost feels like a bottle episode, but we spend enough time in other places that it’s just shy of being one.

“Forehead Sweat” ventures into politics with wild abandon, making blantant references to Donald Trump that pretty much solidifies the episode as a relic of its time. But the idea that someone’s deliberately messing with people’s minds plays into today’s politics really well. When Mulder questions Reggie about who “they” is, Reggie has an answer. He talks of a Dr. They who ran tests on a martian in Granada before the government stole the alien away. Since then, Dr. They has been crafting the art of making people forget he existed, while also helping big companies erase their mistakes with certain products (so if something is recalled because of health effects, Dr. They would make society forget the recall). This plays into the fake news rhetoric Trump has been touting since the election. If no one can decide what’s real and what’s fake, then what the hell are we even fighting about anymore? Dr. They explains to Mulder objective truth no longer exists, not when certain people control the narrative.

But in the end, Reggie is just an escaped mental patient, someone who created this false fantasy of working for the greater good alongside the best FBI team. It’s theorized he went mad after a series of boring government jobs. There’s a delightful sequence of the various jobs Reggie held, all told in the space of the same cubicle. It should be noted Darin Morgan also directed the episode, the cubicle montage being one of the better parts in terms of Morgan’s directing. In true X-Files form, there’s just a hint at the end that makes us wonder, though. As Reggie is being loaded into the ambulance, Skinner walks into the parking garage, sees Reggie being taken away, and asks Mulder and Scully, “Where the hell are they taking Reggie?” Was Reggie really there the whole time? Probably not, but that’s what’s great about The X-Files. We never really know. In a final flashback of Reggie, Mulder, and Scully’s last case, an alien dressed like Elvis and quoting Donald Trump (“Earthlings, we’ve decided we want no further contact with your species. We will build a wall…”) hands Mulder a book that “has all the answers.” In a fit of despair, Mulder collapses to the ground, lamenting that his search for the truth is worthless now.

In a way, the episode is a reflection on The X-Files itself. We’ll never have “all the answers.” There will always be more truths to unfold, more conspiracies to investigate, if that’s your sort of thing. There will always be more X-files, even if there’s no more X-Files. In that regard, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is universal, in that we trust our memories to hold our own truth. Like Scully says, “I want to remember how it was.”

Stray Thoughts

  • The episode that opens “Forehead Sweat” turns out to actually be from an off-brand Twilight Zone episode of a show I can’t remember the name of. Mulder gets it confused with the actual Twilight Zone episode “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”

  • “Believe what you want to believe. That’s what everybody does nowadays anyways.”

  • Because I have to…”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.”


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by Duchovny on Mon 29 Jan - 0:55

great epi
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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Mon 29 Jan - 13:36

The X-Files Season 11, episode 4 review: The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

by Nick Chandler
31 minutes ago
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Season 11 of The X-Files continues its very strong run in its fourth episode, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.” Written and directed by fan-favorite Darin Morgan, the episode delves into the world of secrets, conspiracies and things not being what they seem, all filtered through the weird and hilarious. So just like any other Darin Morgan X-Files episode.

***SPOILERS AHEAD***

I am going to sound like a broken record again. Basically, I have been going over and over in my head as to where this episode falls within the grander scheme of Season 11. And like the other three that have aired, it seems as though a recurring theme of each of these episodes is to take a part of the show and figure out where it stands in today’s world.

In “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” it comes across as though Darin Morgan uses the character of Reggie to poke fun at the conspiracies and the “search for truth.” At one point after being handed a book of answers, Mulder throws it to the ground in fit of anger and proceeds to have a hissy fit. He doesn’t want the answers handed to him, and therefore the audience doesn’t want the answers handed to us. Where would the search for truth end up?

After the much talked over “hookup” between Mulder and Scully (Why was there such excitement? It was implied for a long time that William was Fox’s son), we get to see them at the start of their “relationship.” Dana and Fox on a date. Which for Fox means hiding in a car park awaiting for an informant to show up ala Deep Throat. How romantic. Morgan here is poking fun at the audience, wanting us to be frustrated at the fact we want to see these two end up together.

As per any Darin Morgan episode, there are intertexual references, weird surreal visuals, at one point we get David Duchovny’s head on an 8-year old boy, and an underlying wry humor that David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and Brian Huskey (Reggie Something) relish in delivering.

We are introduced to the Mandela Effect, or Mengele Effect, which provides the episode the impetus to go into the idea of false memories, delusions, and paranoia. Is there a grand conspiracy questioning every thought and memory we hold dear? The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon where a persons memory of an event is questioned due to facts of the contrary. This phenomenon should be intertwined with The X-Files, an idea that Morgan plays with throughout the episode. He presents the question, are we altering our perception of something by revisting it?

The audience is being made to question their memories, much like Reggie Something. Darin Morgan ends up putting Reggie Something into classic X-Files moments, seeing him recreate the X-Files intro, interact with Tooms, cockblock Mulder, and poke fun at one of series low points (“Guys, if this turns out to be killer cats, I’m going to be very disappointed.”)

A whole book can be written on how good some of the quotes are and how much they subvert the show. A couple of favourites: “I’M FOX FREAKING MULDER, YOU PUNKS.”, “So that’s the truth? We’re not alone in the universe? But nobody likes us?”, and finally this interaction between Mulder and Scully:

Mulder: “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 after all this birther stuff.”

If Reggie should be known for something is to help us fans come to peace with The X-Files coming to an end. He says, “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.” After 11 seasons, 2 movies, a couple of video games, comics, and countless books, we should be happy at what The X-Files has brought us.


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Tue 30 Jan - 11:10



‘X-Files’ 11×04 “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”

By Mel Perez - January 30, 2018 19

This is a Darin Morgan episode which means we’re in for a ride. He’s responsible for bringing the surreal and the humor to the X-Files with his episodes “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space,” “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” and last season’s standout episode “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.” Tonight’s episode, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” is the spiritual successor of those episodes delivering an hour filled with mystery, runarounds, and telepathic aliens in sparkly clothing. What happened in this episode? Or more accurately, what didn’t happen in this episode? Truth, lies, conspiracies and false memories.


Fox

In a role reversal, an X — Mulder’s secret rendezvous sign — on his window sends him to his secret rendezvous spot where he finds a man eating sunflower seeds. The man, Reggie, begins talking about a conspiracy. A secluded parking garage and a mysterious man talking frantically about a conspiracy, this is right up Mulder’s alley. But Reggie is coming in a little strong even for Mulder. Reggie claims to know Mulder but Mulder doesn’t know him. He references an episode of The Twilight Zone, Mulder’s first episode, to prove he’s right about the conspiracy. The episode doesn’t exist, he tells Mulder and despite a later exhaustive search through his collection, he can’t find it. It’s not about the episode, it’s about the memory, Mulder tells Scully. In the flashback, we see Mulder’s adult head superimposed on a child’s body. An oddly funny sight that perfectly illustrates how we as adults often shape our childhood memories. That’s what this entire episode is about — memory and how it can fail us.


Fox

The same man gives Scully a package of Goop-O ABC, something she remembers fondly from her childhood which brings her into the case. Mulder tells her about the Mandela effect. It’s when you have a memory of something that can’t be backed up by fact. Like me remembering that time I hung out with Beyoncé. Can’t be backed up by fact and consensus will call me a liar.  I said this episode was about memory. Mulder, Scully and Reggie are all suffering from the Mandela effect in one way or another. This is part of the conspiracy, Reggie tells them. A conspiracy that involves aliens, memories being collectively altered and a mysterious “They.” They have orchestrated the memory wipes to further their own schemes and are in the process of erasing Reggie from memory which includes his relationship with Mulder and Scully. More on that relationship later.

“At some point, you’re going to have to explain who ‘they’ are. You keep on referring to this omnipresent, mysterious ‘they’ to give intentionality to random events, or external explanations for psychological ones,” Mulder tells Reggie. Mulder, you’ve made a career out of doing this. See the hypocrisy?

Reggie then drops an even bigger bombshell. After Grenada, he joined the FBI and founded the X-files. “We used to be partners,” he tells them dramatically. What follows is an alternate version of scenes from The X-Files with Reggie inserted. Beginning with the opening credits with the character names instead of the actors and Reggie Something appearing after Scully. They flash through a number of episodes with the three of them solving cases together. In case you’re wondering, the episodes they reference are: “Unusual Suspects,” the “Pilot,” “Tooms,” “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” “Teso Dos Bichos,” “Home” and “Small Potatoes.”


Fox

Neither Scully nor Mulder believes him. Why would they? Reggie is essentially trying to rewrite their history. But Mulder can’t let it go. He’s still trying to figure the mystery of Reggie and the missing Twilight Zone episode when he gets a call from “They” who turns out to be an actual person. Dr. They to be exact. A man who perfected memory manipulation …Or did he? Has he been shaping the way we remember our own history or has he only suggested it, letting the conspiracy nuts run wild with the possibility of it being true? Honestly, either is possible after his talk with Mulder. He drives home that truth has become subjective in this climate of fake news. People like Mulder, who seek the truth in a world where governments murder to hide their secrets, are out of date. Not when governments secrets like corruption, covert affairs, election manipulation and illegal wiretapping are free for anyone with an internet connection to find. Facts are presented in a way that leaves it up to the individual whether or not to believe them.

While Mulder was talking to They, Scully was looking into who Reggie is. He’s a government worker who suffered a breakdown and was committed. His knowledge of Mulder and Scully comes from his time at the NSA where he followed them through wiretapping. 

Reggie kept referring to their last case together. Before he’s taken back to the psychiatric hospital, Mulder asks him what it was. This is when things get really strange. It involved a meeting with an alien similar to the one Reggie saw in Grenada. An alien wearing an Elvis cape and platform shoes. The aliens have been watching humanity and have found them wanting. They’re building a wall to keep humans from leaving the solar system.
“You’re not sending us your best people. You bringing drugs. You’re bringing crime. You’re rapists,” the alien says. Sound familiar? This season has been heavy-handed with the political allegories. As a parting gift, the alien hands Mulder a compendium containing answers to any question they may have. In one of my favorite parts of this episode, because it was just so ridiculous, Mulder throws himself on the ground in defeat. With all of the answers, the X-files are over. What is there left for him to live for? Reggie gives a speech about finding each other. They all hug.


Fox

The X-Files has weird episodes and episodes with moments of levity in them. Darin Morgan writes episodes with both that also make you think. This episode has us asking what is truth? While Reggie was being driven away, Skinner walked into the parking garage and recognized him. Was there some truth in what he said or was it really only a fake reality created by a mentally ill man? The episode doesn’t give us the answer which ultimately isn’t necessary.

This episode wasn’t perfect, I would rather not have them play torture and drone strikes against civilians for laughs. And Scully’s ending speech about wanting to remember her Goop-O ABC as it was when she was a child rather than trying it as an adult makes me think of the problems with this X-Files reboot. Episodes have ranged from good to what were you thinking? Though I’ve mostly enjoyed it, I can’t help but wish sometimes that I could remember it as it was without having those memories clouded by experiencing them now.


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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Thu 1 Feb - 10:14

The X-Files episode 4: The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat takes on the fears, comedic insanity of fake news

by Robert DiLauro
6 days ago

Did this latest review of The X-Files actually occur, or is it all in your head?

The latest season of The X-Files has touched on some serious and present day issues. It has been very adamant in showing the writers department’s disdain for the latest administration, and the most recently aired episode, titled “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” is absolutely no exception.

I have seen a great divide throughout the thread of this entire season with the fanbase, and that back and forth continues with this particular take on the harmful wordage of president Trump, along with the latest phenomena that plagued many throughout 2017 called “The Mandela Effect.” If you are not familiar with this mental event, it is when someone remembers something from their past memory like a certain film title or book, only to find that certain things apparently never existed, or they were completely incorrect about what their eyes and mind trained them to believe their entire life. The greatest examples would be a film that supposedly existed called Sha-zaam starring Sinbad, and of course, the proper spelling of the creators of the beloved children’s series The Berenstain Bears. See, that is strange, I always recall it being Berenstein. Anyway, these strange occurrences are addressed with tongue in cheek in the latest episode.

So, let us unpack this surprisingly comedic and wild ride written and directed by longtime alum Darin Morgan.

It begins with a black and white scene where a man in a suit explains to a diner owner the existence of a multiple-armed race of aliens. The man behind the counter is not buying what he is selling, until the frightened gentleman looks out the window and discovers that one of these beings is after him. It turns out that pane of glass is a mirror, and he is looking at the form of his true self. The diner owner begins to cackle maniacally, and as he pulls off his hat it is revealed that he has devilish, goofy horns and the scene cuts into the famed series introduction.

We are transported to Mulder’s home, and he walks into the door covered in what appears to be fur. After he receives a call from Scully it is revealed that he was “Squatchin’,” or searching for Bigfoot, one of his apparent hobbies. When Dana becomes annoyed, the phone is hung up, which prompts Fox to sit on his couch and stare at his front window, which reveals a message that tells him someone is wanting to meet with him at his secret spot. Fox follows the clue to the parking lot numbered P2 (was curious if that was somehow a reference to the underrated horror film) and is introduced to a shaky guy with a bombshell conspiracy theory played by comedic actor Bryan Huskey, who steals the show the entire episode. He tells Mulder that there is a plot that causes people to remember certain things that do not exist in actuality, and that it is happening to Fox. Mulder tells him it is just the “Mandela Effect,” which the man corrects with his belief in the name of the mental phenomena, “The Mengele Effect”. He then tells Mulder about his first supposed encounter with The Twilight Zone as a child, a particular episode that Fox recalls in deep detail. He is then instructed that this chapter of the classic series that changed his life never happened.

Mulder goes back to his home and pulls apart his entire Twilight Zone collection, and discovers that the episode “The Lost Martian” is nowhere to be found. Dana witnesses this intense hunt and states he could have possibly mistaken it for an Outer Limits episode, which incenses Mulder. He later receives another message from the mysterious stranger and invites Scully along for the ride, almost “like a date.” She agrees, and the man steps from behind the parking pillar again, only this time he instructs the two of them that things were so off kilter with some of his belongings from his past that he had to seek answers from a collector of historic memorabilia, only to be thrust into a greater conspiratorial paradox where even the poor store owner was killed with a lawn dart to the skull. Scully is then handed her favorite memory from her own childhood, a box of multi-layered jello called “Goop-O-ABC” (I am definitely paraphrasing the name which escapes me). In any event, she also discovers the treat she loved as a little girl is not the actual name. Could it possibly be “Jell-O 1 2 3”? Who knows? Fox uses his ultimate conspirator powers, which are proved too much for him when his idea of a parallel universe is shut down. It is revealed by the man now named Reggie Something that the supposed “Mandela,” or “Mengele Effect,” is the nefarious plot of a man named Dr. They, involving brain manipulation beginning with astronauts who are told they are monkeys, all the way to the present day houses of power where nothing is what it seems, and no one quite believes any truth but their own. It is also revealed by Reggie that he knows so much about our beloved agents because he was … wait for it … their partner on all of their former cases.

Cue the intro, and there is another introduced with the names of the real agents in the crawl, along with Reggie. The Truth Is Out There? Then we cut to an impressive montage of classic Files with a very young Fox and Dana, with Reggie in tow. These cases include” Unusual Suspects,” “Clyde Buckman’s Final Repose,” the controversial “Home” and “Small Potatoes.” This is a very meta story, but the comedy is full tilt in almost every scene.

Fox later receives a message to meet with Dr. They, and he ends up in a surreal garden with goofy and terrifying looking statues. The strange older man has no problem walking around during the day, because no one would believe he was around anyway. “Fake news” is so rampant in our world that anyone can just do the exact opposite of the cover story and be right as rain. No one cares, and once again, everyone believes what they want to. There is also a blatant and out in the open YouTube video detailing They’s plot, which includes a hilarious scene that made me almost fall off of my couch. The moment involved Donald Trump’s inauguration supposedly being so crowded with adoring supporters that he had to stand on the top of the Washington Monument to watch the historic moment.

*Upcoming Spoiler Alert* *Do Not Read Ahead Unless You Desire The Truth*

Fox heads back to the parking structure, and Scully releases some wild information on the reality of who Reggie truly is. It is revealed that he is a man that was so in love with his country that he moved on to a slew of government jobs, including the post office, the C.I.A. (where he casually waterboards someone at his cubicle), and the N.S.A., where he was introduced to Fox and Dana through illegal wiretaps. Apparently, he had concocted the entire story of his involvement after going mad. The individuals hunting him are in actuality are the mental institution workers, with strait-jacket and butterfly net at the ready. After his realization, he willingly puts on the jacket and is strapped onto a gurney, when Mulder asks him about the last case they had took on together.

The scene cuts to a Tarantino-esque greenscreen ride in a classic car to a spaceship where a goofy classic Star Trek-era looking alien on a segway (not kidding about that) talk to the three about how awful our planet is. The alien tells the trio that they are building an invisible wall, quoting Trump’s rant about Mexico almost verbatim, and that Earth will be blocked off from the rest of the galaxy because, “We are not bringing our best, that we are drug dealers, and we are rapists.” In return for our blockade, Mulder is handed all of the answers we could ever have in a book aptly titled, The Answers to Everything. The visitor departs, and Fox has a fit when he discovers that whatever he believes about Sasquatch isn’t true. It is also revealed that Scully always had a deep love for Reggie. But of course!

After Reggie is carted away, Agent Skinner exits into the parking development and asks where he went. Did this story actually exist, or is it really “fake news”?

At the end of the episode, Dana is sitting down with Fox, preparing to eat her favorite jello she molded with the actual foot of the elusive beast man Mulder is obsessed with. She is preparing to take a deep bite of nostalgia, when she puts the spoon down and utters a deep and important sentiment, about the series itself, about the possibilities of the timeline, and more importantly, the era we now live in, “I just want to remember what it once was.”

The latest episode of the series is another achievement by writer Darin Morgan, and was absolutely a delight. But at the same time, it was frightening in context. We live in a world where news and events that happen in front of our eyes could be fabrications to scrub the truth. We are told certain news reporters and journalists are the enemy, when others who spread lies thrive and have the capability to gaslight a nation.

I guess the point of this episode, and the blatant necessity for utilizing humor within our actual modern fear in this storyline is quite simply because it is to laugh, or it is cry. Or maybe, I never wrote this article at all.

Until next time, X-Files fans, the case is closed.


FanSided

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Wed 28 Feb - 4:32

TV Review: The X-Files (Season 11, Episode 4)

Sophie McEvoy at Southampton, University of
27th February 2018

4/5

The initial advent of the internet and its boom in the 1990s made for some interesting X-Files episodes. From the pre-Tinder dating sites featured in season three’s ‘2Shy’ to the Lone Gunmen hacking into the Defence Department’s computer network in season five’s ‘Unusual Suspects’.

To see a series so affected by the sudden growth in technology re-emerge twenty or so years later makes for some fascinating evolution, and ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ is a fantastic example of this.



Written by X-Files legend Darin Morgan, ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ plummets both Mulder, Scully and the audience into a realm of existential crisis. Sauntering around a dinner date that never fully happens (eventually the duo digs into some Jell-O in a Sasquatch ‘foot’ mould), Mulder is contacted by the mysterious Reggie ‘Something’; a man who believes he is being erased from the world’s collective memory due to his knowledge of a governmental conspiracy behind the Mandala Effect, or as he calls it, the ‘Mengele effect’.

Surrounding the ambiguous narrative and continuously mind-numbing theories presented is Mulder slowly falling into a bout of manic depression over one of his favourite Twilight Zone episodes falling victim to the Mandela Effect. From being surrounded by DVDs, videotapes and episode guides to trying to connect all the theories presented together, Mulder’s obsessions surrounding finding answers certainly demonstrates life imitating art of die-hard X-Files fans (yes, myself included) trying to piece the mythology together.

We don’t just feel for Mulder either -  both Mulder and Scully spend the entire episode reminiscing about certain aspects of their childhood. The gleeful excitement that Scully has for her beloved Jell-O is contagious, and even if Mulder’s flashbacks included an image of Duchovny’s 57-year-old head morphed onto an eight-year-old head (which I’d rather forget), the elation is contagious.

What is also contagious is the innate paranoia this episode creates. Morgan may be a pro at combining goofy comedy with dramatic elements, but there’s something about combining a recent and well-known theory into the confines of a show like The X-Files, where theories thrive and can be explored, no matter how farfetched it may seem. In this case, that the Mandela/Mengele effect was curated by a strange scientist named Dr. They, who has the ability to change collective and specific memories of the American public.

Morgan really flourishes off the whole Twilight Zone set up of the episode, combining a painstakingly confusing narrative with exaggerated performances, leaving the audience to wonder whether what they are seeing is actually happening. Which is the whole point of the episode, really. To have that doubt regarding the truth and the need for answers, and that when we get those answers, the thrill of it all is lost.

Even though the sequence in which Mulder is given ‘all the answers’ is a fantasy (or is it), and his overdramatized reaction is ultimately what we’d all be like. What else is there to find out after that? And where would The X-Files fit in a world where the truth has been answered?

Parallel universes, fake news and a world where Dr. Thing explains how ‘they want you to think all conspiracies are nutty, so you’ll ignore the ones that are true’ is pretty terrifying. If that sentence - or the episode as a whole - does not lull you into the depths of an existential crisis or into creating a pin-board such as Mulder, then I don’t know what will.

‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat' and its multitude of posed questions (and ultimately strange answers) is where a theory such as The Mandala Effect fully comes into play; we’re reaching a point in humanity where we no longer care – or know – the truth or lies, that we have decided to cling onto false truths from our past to feel a weird sense of safety?

Both Mulder and Scully’s experiences with the effect include aspects of their childhood they found comforting, and it’s the same for those stuck on the case of the Berenstein/Berenstain bears or the void that is 1994 in which Shazaam! Starring Sinbad did or did not come out in theatres across America.

As Scully says when she decides to not to taste the Jell-O she so fondly remembers, ‘I wanna remember how it was. I wanna remember how it all was.’ And we all know that the last line has some Mulder/Scully connotations to it … I think I’ve got some Jell-O in my eye.

Overall, 'The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat' completes this seasons' quota as the 'funny' episode, but also provides a deep (maybe too deep) analysis into the depths of Internet memes, conspiracy theories and the idea that one day a Trump-esque alien will visit Earth and ban us from the rest of the cosmos for our inability, to tell the truth.

Sounds about right.

The X-Files airs on Mondays at 9pm on Channel 5. 




The National Student

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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by Duchovny on Wed 28 Feb - 6:01

great epi
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Re: 11x04 - The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Post by jade1013 on Wed 11 Apr - 8:18

‘The X-Files’ Recap: ” The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”

1 hour ago



Alejandra Zimmermann ‘19 / Staff Writer

The X-Files takes a step away from hard drama to satire in the fourth episode of the series, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.” Directed and written by Darin Morgan, audiences get a chance to experience an X-Files episode that strays away from the dark undertones set inplace for the series.

Opening up, the scene is set in black and white, already setting the tone to be different from what we have seen so far. The dialogue is playful and mocks the idea of aliens, which is funny considering the show’s obsession around the existence of extraterrestrials. Continuing the comedic element, we see a green-covered Mulder arriving home only to answer the phone to a worried Scully. He tells her that he was out Bigfoot-hunting, or as he calls it, “squatchin’.” Once he finishes talking to his partner, he lays down in the dark and in the window and viewers see the iconic taping of an ‘X’. Bringing back an iconic symbol is nostalgic and gives the longtime fans something to reminisce on. For new viewers, the ‘X’ means summoning an informant. In this case, someone is calling out to Mulder. How Mulder knows where the undisclosed location is exactly is not revealed, but in this case, it leads him to a parking lot.

Sunflower seeds fall on the ground as a sweaty man calls out to Mulder. “Mulder, it’s me.” The paranoid man tells Mulder that they know each other, even though Mulder doesn’t know him. He tells Mulder that “They” are messing with him to make him forget everything, but Mulder plays skeptic. The man reminds Mulder of a Twilight Zone episode Mulder watched as a kid to prove that the man knows him and disappears when footsteps approach. A curious Mulder is now scrambling to find the episode the man told him about while an annoyed Scully watches Mulder turn his room upside down. As he rambles on about the Twilight Zone episode he suddenly now can’t find, we get shown a flashback to a young Mulder on a couch watching the episode. The memorable element in this scene was a young Mulder’s body with the head of adult Mulder. Wanting to find the episode, he cancels on dinner with Scully, breaking the hearts of many Mulder and Scully fans. Now, it is Scully’s turn to meet the mystery man with the forehead sweat. The man goes off on the same rant about “they” wanting to erase him and Scully, like Mulder, has trouble believing him. That is, of course, until he brings up something about her childhood, a gelatin Scully would used to make when she was younger.


Mulder and Scully meet with an old pal on a new episode of The X-Files. Photo Courtesy: FOX

Mulder and Scully are surprised about the small details the mystery man knows about them and decide to connect with him again to find out who he really is. Meeting in the parking lot one more time, they finally get some information out of him. Reggie Something (Brian Huskey) starts to tell a story about the time he experienced the Mandela Effect, or as he calls it the Mengele Effect. Reggie then goes off to explain how the government is repressing his memory to erase his existence. Scully tries to make some sense, but Mulder suggests it could be a parallel universe. The Agents are ready to walk away from Reggie, but he finally caves in and tells them about Dr. They. In The X-Files world, Dr. They manipulates individuals’ collective memory. In the montage explaining who he is, the show pokes fun at the crowd size of the 2017 Presidential Inauguration, clearly encompassing some real-world connections. The show even goes to showing Dr. They wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, making some views question if this Dr. They is representing President Trump. Reggie then goes off once again talking about his own alien experience. In this case, the alien shown is funny and is meant to poke fun at Reggie’s story.

The episode suddenly starts playing The X-Files opening credits in an acapella tone. Everyone gets re-introduced again, but this time using their character name. Bonus: Reggie is also included in the opening. We then are taken back to 1993 with old X-Files scenes playing, but this time, with Reggie in the picture. Props to the editing department, because it actually does look like Reggie was in the scenes!

Back to reality, the Agents get some visitors that eventually scare Reggie away. There is more funny dialogue for Mulder, which is not common for Morgan to write, but it is refreshing for viewers. Mulder is now with Dr. They, who by this point, resembles and mentions President Trump with the comments that he makes to Mulder. “Phony Fake News.” Back at the parking lot again, Mulder and Scully confront Reggie after finding files about him. Reggie, as it turns out, worked in various government agencies from the CIA to the FBI, until he was committed to a mental institution after having a nervous breakdown. They call the medics on him, but Mulder wanted him to at least continue finish the story about the three of them working their last case together. In an alternative universe, Mulder, Scully, and Reggie meet an Alien that doesn’t want anything to do with the human race. The alien talks about building a wall, “not sending us your best people,” and even “bing, bongs” back into the spacecraft on his hoverboard. Trump reference number three did not hold back what so ever. Back to reality, Reggie is taken away and the episode ends on a sad, but funny note.

Overall Grade: B-


Emertainment Monthly

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