April 1, 2023

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

The X-Files “Gender Bender”

A gender flipping killer seems to be running around, and it may connect to some off-brand Amish.

This episode marks the series’s first appearance by actor Nicholas Lea, who would go on to be the perennial thorn in the side of Mulder and Scully, one Alex Krycek.  He’s (theoretically) playing a different character here, a guy who thought he was getting lucky one way but really was getting lucky a different way since he didn’t die of a pheromone overdose.

But I can pretend it’s actually the same character if I want to.

The Case:  A Gender Flipping Killer!

The Rest:  It would perhaps be irresponsible of me, or at least out of character, to point out a couple things about this episode that have aged weirdly.  The obvious one is that a killer that changes gender from male to female and back again, and in this case, it isn’t a case where the show made some comments or plot points that don’t quite line up with the way a lot of people think today in regards to the trans community.  If anything, it seems more coincidental.  The episode never really says anything about transgender people at any point during the runtime, and that’s probably because no one would have really thought to do so on a network TV show in 1994.  That said, the episode likewise seems to suggest that heterosexuals are the only people who have one night stands after meeting someone at a night club.  Again, it’s 1994.  Openly gay characters weren’t exactly appearing everywhere.  Will & Grace was still a few years away.

Point is, I would think an episode like this made today would be done very differently.  For one, it might even acknowledge that gay and trans people exist.  That’s assuming the series would even try it given the things said about trans people in some corners.

That all said and out of the way, this one feels more like a traditional X-Files episode in that Mulder and Scully aren’t really invited or ordered to come investigate some odd deaths.  They just show up.  Who called them?  Who knows?  Mulder probably found a newspaper clipping or something somewhere and went to go look into it, and yes, there is a killer named Marty that switches back and forth between a male and female body.  The show even went all out and did some 90s-era morphing to show the transformation at one point, otherwise preferring to use shadows and clever edits to do the transformation.  However, oddly enough, most of the investigation is more of Mulder and Scully looking into the Kindred, an Amish-like community that keeps to itself and, after a contentious dinner, leads Mulder to believe the whole thing was a show put on for the agents benefit.

Oh, and one of them puts a whammy on Scully that comes in handy at various points.

Honestly, this one is a little weird in that Marty is killing people, but not directly.  The Kindred are long-lived, gender-flipping people who give off high amounts of pheromones that cause overdoses.  Marty’s not innocent.  He/she is fully aware what she/he is doing.  But Marty likes the physical contact of sex too much.  It just so happen none of Marty’s partners live to tell the tale afterwards, and the question of consent does come into play when you consider the pheromone angle.  Would Marty’s victims agree to the sex if the pheromones weren’t a factor?

Man, I just stopped to think about the pheromone angle.  Is this the sort of episode where, if I were chatting with Jimmy about it, I would suggest not thinking so hard about it?

Regardless, two things of note here.  First, this is the first episode to be directed by Rob Bowman, a fellow who would go on to be one of the series’ most prolific directors, even directing the first of the show’s feature films (and yes, I saw that first one in theaters).  The second is the episode ends with the Kindred themselves overwhelming Marty in a dark alley and taking him away (and he was a him at the time), and when Mulder and Scully return to the Kindred’s farm, they aren’t there.  The secret tunnels under the barn are filled in, and there’s a crop circle in the field.  The Kindred, and presumably their horses, are all gone.

So, they weren’t just the Amish.  They were the Space Amish!

Up next, after gender flipping, there’s body hopping.

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