Oh look, Darren McGavin’s Arthur Dales is back! There’s also a deputy played by Joel McKinnon Miller. Miller plays a cop on Brooklyn 99, so you can guess how confident I felt that he was here to help.
The Case: Tentacle Monster!
The Rest: Honestly, I have no idea what Arthur Dales is doing here. Ostensibly, he’s here to call Mulder and Scully to look into some missing friends of his, a family where the parents were marine biologists, seen during the cold open baracading different parts of the house until some tentacles swept in and pulled the mother and teenage son away. The father was apparently already dead, and the family cat managed to live.
As a cat owner, yeah…that tracks. Those critters are really good at surviving stuff.
OK, let’s ask about the elephant in the room: the tentacle monster. I can guess how much some people might make assumptions about tentacle monsters in this day and age, assumptions I might not have made myself in 1999 but will apparently gladly think of today. I blame the Internet.
But here’s the thing: I was concerned the show might do some half-assed, late 90s CGI, but they were practical effects and actually looked pretty good. The tentacles were thin, kinda opaque-looking. I think I’ve seen the show use stuff like these before, and they’ve never done a bad job with those things. Plus, when Mulder and Scully both separately figured out what these things were, they really worked.
As it is, Mulder and Scully are not in time to save the Shipleys…wait, they named marine biologists the Shipleys? A little too on-the-nose there. But the cat was hiding in the washing machine that mother and teenage son were fruitlessly trying to tip over for reasons unknown. Mulder and Scully are then temporarily slowed down by an incompetent cop before they all end up at a nearby condo complex because…well, this is all happening during a hurricane, and after the deputy is attacked, Mulder has to round up the other people in the building while Scully tries to keep the cop alive. Said people were a couple with thick Latino accents–the woman was pregnant and would give birth before the episode was over–a looter, and a paranoid survivalist type who only joined the group after he fails to scare the tentacle monster away after shooting it.
The cop and the looter would both die, but the looter had it comin’. Mulder gets infected too, so the survivalist locks him out the bathroom where the deputy’s body basically just disappeared. And that’s when the agents figure things out. See, the creature doesn’t so much live in water as it is water, specifically salt water. Fresh water kills it. Mulder is saved when he sees the cat sitting out in the rain perfectly fine, making this a rare instance where a cat saved someone’s life in a work of fiction. Scully realizes it when she realizes the deputy only got taken away when someone knocked Epsom salts into the water. She even delivers a baby and directs the child’s father to shoot a sprinkler system to save everyone’s life in that room.
By the by, I hope for that cat’s sake that Scully didn’t take him home. She has a bad track record for rescuing pets at the end of these cases.
Anyway, storm’s gone, the survivors are fine, and that means checking in on Dales, who refuses to believe Mulder figured anything out on his own and Scully deserves all the credit.
Huh. Has he been reading these write-ups that I am sending out 30 or so years after the fact? I mean, he’s right about how Scully is usually a lot more capable…
Up next, I think it’s Groundhog Day!