Oh, “The Jersey Devil”. Nate laughs at me every time we watch it because I just cannot get behind 90% of this episode. I think it’s decently important for the personality traits it helps to establish, but otherwise it just feels silly to me.
I think my biggest fault with it is the huge discrepancy between what I’ve always read about The Jersey Devil — a legendary creature that is often described as having hooves, giant wings, and a serpent-like tail — and how they portrayed it — an evolutionary mutation that was a throwback to the Neanderthals. Carter’s inspiration for the episode — an essay he read by E.O. Wilson about whether or not mankind is hellbent on its own extinction — is fascinating, but I just wish they hadn’t given the creature a name that is already taken by something very different.
That being said, the episode was pretty funny at times, whether it was intentional or not. We got to see Mulder abandon Scully in pursuit of his own theories for the second of about a million times in the series (and his key toss onto the roof of the car was goddamn hilarious).
It showed, as the show often does, Mulder’s ability to get pretty extreme in his pursuit of the truth, as he gives his hotel room to a homeless man in exchange for info and a chance to sleep in an alleyway, all for a glimpse of The Jersey Devil (I mean, come on, that drawing is PRETTY HILARIOUS, right?).
The whole chasing the Devil scene was… kind of dumb. I guess part of my frustration is like, yo, it just looks like a naked homeless person! Sure, maybe it has reverted back to its Neanderthal ways, but it’s not some kind of mythical creature, it’s just a hungry, naked person. Comical. Though, at the end of his pursuit, we get to see THIS classic Mulder moment (which makes the entire episode worth it):
We get to see Mulder in jail, which is just… great.
And during his crazy ramblings in the diner after Scully bails him out, we almost have some tension between them as Scully reveals that she has to get back to DC again for a date… but instead Mulder just gets quiet for a minute before asking “… can you cancel?”.
Of course the most crucial aspect of this episode is showing how wrapped up both Mulder and Scully are in their work, which does a lot to establish both of their personalities and what they’re giving up for such involved careers. Scully starts the episode off by expressing a desire to have a life outside of the FBI, and not only attends a family gathering but goes on a date (albeit a very dull one). She fields some questions from her sister about “that guy you work with” and, amusingly enough, Scully writes him off as “obsessed with his work” shortly before she makes yet another trip down to Atlantic City to help Mulder in his search. She shows her true desires near the end, when the man she’d been on the date with asks her to spend time with him and his children and she almost considers it before going with Mulder instead.
While it was a pretty silly episode overall, it does a lot to humanize both of them, showing what they’re sacrificing in their personal lives in their neverending pursuit of the truth.
Rating: 5/10 | Director: Joe Napolitano | Writer: Chris Carter | Music: Mark Snow | Cinematography: John S. Bartley | Starring: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Claire Stansfield, Wayne Tippit, Andrew Airlie, Gregory Sierra, Michael MacRae