Season 1, Episode 20: “Darkness Falls”
“Darkness Falls” is very much like “Ice” in that Mulder and Scully travel to a completely different environment and face some sort of creature that’s been buried for a few hundred or thousand years and has now been unleashed. In fact, it’s almost exactly like “Ice” in premise, except that the creature in this one isn’t quite as scary.
“Darkness Falls” is a good episode, but I rather prefer “Ice.” It’s much scarier, partially because worms are scarier than glowing green Matrix bugs, but mostly because we see the bugs from “Darkness Falls” in the teaser. That, I think, was a poor decision to make. A lot of suspense could have been added to this episode if we didn’t see the bugs until Mulder and Scully do. When Mulder and Scully find the gigantic webs up in the trees, for instance, I would have suspected a giant spider or some other huge insect and would be properly terrified. Although I suppose putting the glowing green bugs in afterward might have been a letdown.
Actually, now that I think about it, the green bugs may be the biggest problem with this episode. They just don’t look convincing enough to be that scary. They look like normal bugs underneath the microscope, but when they’re actually swarming you, they look more like a pixelated green cloud.
That being said, there’s something terrifying about being spun in a web, whether it’s by Matrix bugs or giant spiders. And the bugs are certainly original, even if they don’t look real enough to be scary.
Other than the unconvincing bugs, we have a solid episode. The suspense is still good, I love seeing Mulder and Scully out in the woods, I like their interactions in this episode, even if they aren’t all positive (see the quote box). Whatever “sanctimonious crap” Mulder wants Scully to cut, he’s still so concerned for her at the end of the episode, when he’s walking around with his metal crutch and white cap.
This episode doesn’t try to be too political, although it does bring up the conflict between environmentalists and loggers. Deforestation is a really big issue, and the episode seems to be conscious of the fact that cutting down ancient trees does have negative consequences. In this case, they just happened to take the form of glowing green swarms, but you see the point.
All in all, I like “Darkness Falls.” It’s a solid, engaging episode, if not dancing towards the fine line between good and mediocre. I wish the bugs had been scarier, but then again, maybe not. After all, as they say, you should be careful what you wish for.
Final score for “Darkness Falls” is 7/10. Although not quite up there with “Ice” in terms of suspense and scare factor, it’s still a good episode.
- I don’t know if it technically counts as an Awesome Mulderism, but I would be foolish to make no mention of the line “Anything strange, unexplainable, unlikely…a boyfriend”
- Also, I’ve always found it really sweet when Mulder says at the end, “I told her it was going to be a nice trip to the forest.”
- Mulder makes mistakes in this episode. That’s pretty good, for Season 1.