“Irresistible” is another incredibly intriguing episode of the X-Files. It is unusual in the sense it features no paranormal elements. Instead, it centers largely on Scully, as a case of particularly gruesome murders trigger post-traumatic stress in her from her recent kidnapping and near death experience. If nothing else, I would appreciate the continuity. But there is far more here to like.
Mulder and Scully are called to Minneapolis by a detective who is a UFO enthusiast. He has discovered a grave dug up with the corpse shaved and fingernails removed. He believes it is similar to cattle mutilations and assumes aliens were involved. They are not, and Mulder knew it all along. He traveled to Minnesota on the Fbi’s dime so he could take Scully to her first NFL game. Mulder advises the detective there is a fetishist on the loose collecting trophies from corpses, but such a case does not fall under FBI jurisdiction.
The guy strikes again, however. This time he kills a hooker for her hair and nails. The murderer is Donnie Pfaster, a former mortuary worker who was fired for desicrating corpses in his unique way. Now that he has moved onto the living and likely serially so, the agents join in the investigation. Scully is particularly disturbed by the crimes. He stated reason is how she considers mutilating the dead to be the worst violation imaginable. The truth is, she has done dealt with her own feelings of being violated.
Scully and Pfaster cross paths when he is arrested in the attempt to snatch his next victim. He spots her from his jail cell while the two agents are interviewing a suspect in the adjacent cell. Pfaster is enamored by her red, but just a little too red hair. If you did not see that coming within the first ten minutes of the episode, you are way too naïve. He learns her name through the other prisoner once they have left.
Scully returns to Washington to meet with a therapist to deal with her emotional issues regarding the case. It is established she has unresolved feelings about the recent events in her life, from her father’s death to her kidnapping by Duane Barry. She gets a call back to Minneapolis after discovering a fingerprint on evidence discovered found on the hooker’s corpse. It was Pfaster who called her back, not Mulder. He kidnaps her from the rental car place at the airport as soon as she lands.
It is inevitable when there is a female lead in a crime or action series that she is going to be the damsel in distress on occasion. There is too much appeal for the male audience to fantasize about being the swashbuckling hero rescuing the pretty girl for it not to happen. I am fine with it myself under two conditions. One, that it does not become a habit. Two, the character is not degraded. “Irresisible” marks the third time Scully has been kidnapped and the fourth she has been attacked by the villain of the week. This will not be the last time for either.
But it works here. Scully is missing for hours. Mulder and the detective take an unknown additional amount of time to trace the fingerprint and a paint blotch on the back of Scully’s rental car from where Pfaster ran into her to find his house. In that time, Scully, who is near nervous breakdown, manages to fight back through hallucinations Pfaster is a demon. There is a moment at which she overcomes her fear to fight him off, even though her hands are cuffed, until help arrives--not that she knew help would. She is not the entirely helpless victim here, but I am well aware her breaking down in Mulder’s arms after her rescue has the ’shippers all aflutter.
It is no secret I am Team Scully, so I am bound to like episodes centering on her. I think ’Irresistable” struck the right balance between the character’s toughness and her human frailty. Without any romantic undertones, either. Come on folks. Consoling a crying friend is not necessarily an act of romance. Neither is taking a friend to her first NFL game. Appreciate those things for what they are.
But “Irresistible” is good not just for Scully. Nick Chinlund plays Pfaster as an androgynous, very disturbed man. The genral assumption is the role solidified Chinlund as the go to guy for quietly psychotic villains. He has been playing such roles almost exclusively for the last fifteen years. I can see why, too. Pfaster is an ordinary guy who grew up in a house full of older sisters. He has built up a hatred of women with subtle hints of issues with his own sexuality. Originally, Pfaster was to be a necrophilia, but the network nixed the idea. I am glad they did. The Pfaster presented here is more terrifying. He will return in the seventh season to attempt murdering Scully again. He is one of only a handful of villains of the week to do so.
“Irresistable” is definitely one of the highlights of the second season in particular and series in general. So far, Scully-centric episode have been outperforming the Mulder-centrics. But, hey--I am Team Scully. How do you expect me to feel?
Rating: **** (out of 5)