Season 5, Episode 5: “The Post-Modern Prometheus”
I’ve actually read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley so when I first started this blog I always envisioned this review as this insightful, nerdy literary comparison between the novel and the episode. Well, I’m not going to do that, for several reasons: 1. I’m too lazy, 2. Nobody wants to read that, and 3. I don’t particularly remember enjoying Frankenstein that much so it’s been a good two years since I’ve actually dusted off my copy.
I hadn’t planned to publish this review so soon after “Detour,” simply because I wanted to put a lot of time and effort into it. But when I really thought about it, I realized that taking more time to review this wouldn’t make it any better. When it comes down to it, I’m not sure I can really put into words what makes this episode so good. I could give the usual reasons: it’s different, it’s artsy, the music is amazing, the dance scene, the acting, but none of those things is quite what makes “The Post-Modern Prometheus” great. I think it has to do with – well, not to make a habit out of quoting myself, but it’s what I said in my “Detour” review:
We’re at a point in The X-Files where everyone involved is secure in the writing, tone, and feel of the series. The days of finding its footing are long gone. This is unquestionably an episode of The X-Files and nothing else. I know that might sound strange to say seeing as we’re on the fifth season, but for a show with such a varied amount of topics and stories, tone is essential.
“The Post-Modern Prometheus” is such a frighteningly memorable episode that even if you’ve only seen it once, you remember it like the back of your hand. There’s a familiarity about it that reaches out to pretty much any viewer, diehard fan of The X-Files or no, and sticks with you. I remember being sixteen years old, on spring break vacation, and listening to the soundtrack over and over again in the car on road trips. I remember debating whether or not I should bring the episode up in my senior year English class when we were discussing Frankenstein. I feel like “The Post-Modern Prometheus” should live in the blood of any television lover, whether you’re an X-Phile or not.
Like “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” this episode is really the story of the guest characters but Mulder and Scully are what make it special. As frustrating as he can be sometimes, I’ve always liked that Chris Carter’s favorite moment in the series is the final scene, when Mulder and Scully dance. It’s a short, sweet, simple, unspoken moment – really, what The X-Files does best.
We also have an amazing guest performance from the incredibly underrated Chris Owens, who I swear was being thrown roles by 1013 at every chance they got. For newbies, Chris Owens played young CSM and will soon play another character you’ll be meeting soon. But my favorite performance of his is the Great Mutato – this deformed, kindhearted, Cher-obsessed, Frankenstein’s monster figure who likes peanut butter and wouldn’t harm a fly. Not even Drosophila.
As is typical of the artsier episodes, much of the storytelling is done through the music, cinematography, and silent moments, rather than spelling it all out for us in the dialogue. The emphatic lightning flashes, the black-and-white, the contrasting diner scenes, the subtle (or maybe not so subtle) comparisons of the townspeople to certain barnyard animals by camera shot, these are all so good and so wonderful and if he didn’t frustrate me all the time I’d send Chris Carter a thank you card and some roses.
“The Post-Modern Prometheus” is one of those highly praised episodes that I don’t think could ever be called overrated, because it’s just so wonderful. Still, I’m glad they only tried something like this once. They tried it and it worked and the result was outstanding, but had they gone for it a second time, I’m not so sure the outcome would have been as deliciously memorable. I can’t say that for sure, of course, but an episode as one-of-a-kind and supreme as this is hard to replicate. It deserves every bit of praise it’s been given.
And Chris Carter, if you’re reading this…thank you.
Final score for “The Post-Modern Prometheus” is 10/10. Though it may seem like I’m giving out perfect scores like Halloween candy, I want to remind you all of something I said very early on in this blog: I don’t give this score lightly. 10/10 is reserved for a truly amazing piece of television. It’s just that The X-Files has a lot of those. It’s a truly amazing show. ❤
A Notable Message
Rather than try and do the pointless task of listing notable nuggets from “The Post-Modern Prometheus” (the thought alone makes me laugh), I want to instead send an end-of-year message to you wonderful group of people: X-Files fans. Particularly the group I’ve met through Twitter, the #XFRewatchCrew. Don’t make me start getting misty-eyed.
But seriously. 2015 was a difficult year for me in a lot of ways, but damn if it wasn’t one of the most dynamic years of my short, almost 20-year-old life. I did something I never thought would happen, and found real friends on the Internet. I’ve even met up with some of them in “real life.” I’ve hosted rewatches, I’ve had discussions, I’ve ranted, flailed, cried, laughed so hard my sides hurt, and fangirled over the coming Revival with every one of you. Together as a fandom we fought against stupid, bonded over the power of the red speedo, and disproved that silly thing Chris Carter said. There was drama, there was hilarity, there were genuine heartwarming moments. My 2015 online was one for the books.
Bring it on, 2016. And bring it on, January 24th.