February 23, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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The X-Files “Hell Money”

Mulder and Scully deal with famous faces in San Francisco's Chinatown.

Once again, The X-Files pops up some famous faces.  For a trip to San Francisco’s Chinatown, there’s B.D. Wong as a local detective, Lucy Liu (billed in the credits as “Lucy Alexis Liu”) as a sick young girl, and character actor James Hong as the bad guy, referred to as the “Hard Faced Man” which made me wonder if he was a member of the Syndicate given that group’s complete inability to give any of their drab old men names and all.

The Case:  Um, Chinese Lotteries?

The Rest:  So…there’s nothing really supernatural or anything along those lines about this episode, is there?

OK, let me see:  Scully and Mulder go out to Chinatown to look into a case where a guy was found being burned to death in a funeral home’s crematorium by a surprised night watchman.  There’s a Chinese word written on the ceiling of the chamber, and I would think there’d be something about how some ghosts or monsters or something put the guy in there.  But aside from some guys in masks, there doesn’t seem to be much of that.

OK, let me back up:  Wong’s Detective Chao is coming along to act as a translator because, in one of those moments where I am mildly impressed, a lot of the guest stars are speaking Chinese with subtitles in English.  Lucy Lui needs a new kidney or something, and her poor single dad joined some weird underground lottery to raise money, but the loser has to give up organs.  Hong is the doctor who does the removing and seems to be running the show.  But, in the end, it turns out Chao was in on it, the lottery was rigged, and aside from Scully, during an autopsy, finding a live frog where the guy’s heart should be, it’s mostly just weird.  Liu’s father is saved in the nick of time, Chao disappears, and the Hard Faced Man probably won’t see any prison time because none of the room full of witnesses will testify against him.

So…it’s basically an organ harvesting operation, and that’s creepy and weird, but there’s nothing really unexplainable about anything that’s happening.  Even when Chao wakes up inside a crematorium at episode’s end, I didn’t get any indication that anything that was happening couldn’t have been the work of ordinary people.

Was…was this an X-Files case because the people who made the episode thought that having a somewhat creepy guy killing people is weird if the guy is doing it in accordance with some non-Western customs and religious practices?  I mean, I can assume that the people making this episode at least did some cursory research, if for no other reason than all the Chinese language in the episode (Liu’s character speaks a lot of it, and I am pretty sure she’s fluent in Chinese), so why was this an X-File?  This could have just been a somewhat more gruesome than usual episode of Law & Order.

I am probably overthinking this.

Up next, a very special episode.