The X-Files: Ghouli
January 31, 2018 11:06 PM - Season 11, Episode 5 - Subscribe

When a pair of teenage girls attack one another, each believing the other to be a monster, Mulder and Scully find that their investigation could possibly lead back to their long-lost son, William.
posted by potrzebie (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Well, this exceeded my expectations drastically, but I'll admit my expectations were SUPER low. My reaction to the preview last week was along the lines of "are you kidding me with another got damn William episode, I can't do this anymore," and my reaction to the pre-credits sequence was "ugh it's seriously got damn Slenderman, I hate the internet," but the episode turned out to be really tightly written and directed and that kinda made all the difference for me?

The pacing was just right. The mythology element of the episode was never allowed to get too annoying. William's superpower was a pretty classic MotW ability - to the point where I'm trying to figure out what X-Files characters from the past had similar abilities because I feel SO sure I've seen this sort of "visual projection" monster before. Gillian Anderson convincingly ugly cried at her long lost teenage son's corpse for a painfully long time on camera. I was thoroughly entertained throughout! And I feel like Scully got some kind of pathetic excuse for closure at the end. More than I was expecting this sadistic show to give her, at least.

Charmed that the kid has a Look straight out of the pilot episode. That boy could show up in Vancouver in 1993 and nobody would ask a single question.
posted by potrzebie at 11:31 PM on January 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

The last three episodes have been way better than I anticipated coming off the first two episodes.

Nice callback to previous scenes with CSM smoking in Skinner's office.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 2:03 AM on February 1, 2018

William's superpower was a pretty classic MotW ability - to the point where I'm trying to figure out what X-Files characters from the past had similar abilities because I feel SO sure I've seen this sort of "visual projection" monster before.

I immediately thought of Pusher.
posted by AndrewInDC at 7:15 AM on February 1, 2018

I did too, AndrewInDC. But it's not quite the same, Robert Modell's power was in his voice and that fact was pretty key to the plot. And also it wasn't necessarily visual, remember how he talked that guy's heart into stopping over the phone?

I don't think a closer monster exists in the first 5 or 6 seasons, but the last 3 I remember much less well since I seldom rewatched them. Hmmmm
posted by potrzebie at 8:46 AM on February 1, 2018

There's also shades of Eddie van Blundht because he uses the power to disguise himself so often.
posted by potrzebie at 8:47 AM on February 1, 2018

Once again, this was pretty good.

It also "solved" a problem that kind of soured me on the original run of the x-files when it got too mytharc - don't make the whole episode about it, advance it on tiny bits along the MotW. Fringe did that perfectly (until the red light was on, the orchestra playing and had to finish the story), but I think this was one of the rare times X Files managed to avoid making a slog of a mytharc ep.
posted by lmfsilva at 9:44 AM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite] is an active website about, you guessed it, ghouli -- created 2017-07-06 -- good job, production team!
posted by filthy light thief at 10:52 AM on February 1, 2018

this was one of the rare times X Files managed to avoid making a slog of a mytharc ep

Absolutely! It was a very solid episode and managed to not make finally-meeting-William a total letdown after all the hype.

Really the only thing that partly soured me on this episode was that William's kind of a sleazeball. Dates two girls simultaneously, almost gets them both killed while terrifying them and probably traumatizing them for life, and his reaction was just sort of like, lol oops, my bad.

I honestly wouldn't mind that, as an intentional twist - I feel like there's a lot of relationship/emotional potential to mine there, by having Mulder and Scully have to recognize that their kid who've they've been longing and chasing after for so long is a mess of neuroses and hangups and honestly kind of a little shit - but at least in this episode none of that really happened, the episode just kind of shrugged off how actually monstrous William was as the MotW the same way he himself did.

I was also basically positive that François Chau had been in the X-Files before, back in the day, but I couldn't place the episode, and I was a bit distracted by that, but apparently I was just confusing it with one of the other dozen or so shows I've seen him on.
posted by mstokes650 at 10:59 AM on February 1, 2018

I actually liked that William turned out to be a dirtbag! I'm sure the temptation was to make him a sort of super sweet angelic presence, and bet you $10 that if Chris Carter wrote this episode he would have been, but if I were a teenage boy with a superpower like William's I'm pretty confident I would be a complete dick who abused it constantly. I don't think of myself as an unusually bad person, but teenagers are terrible and I feel like teenagers with special abilities are often especially terrible. It felt delightfully realistic to me.
posted by potrzebie at 11:32 AM on February 1, 2018

Okay, you have scenes at:

- a crime scene
- an autopsy lab
- an active hospital

posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:47 AM on February 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

Theory: X-Files actually takes place in the Star Trek Mirror Universe, where all the humans, as we now know thanks to Star Trek Discovery, only differ from humans in our universe in that they are very sensitive to light. All the characters on X-files actually think those locations are brightly lit.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:18 PM on February 1, 2018 [5 favorites]

Yep - another, "This season has really exceeded my expectations," but those were pretty damned low, and shattered by the season premiere.

This was an interesting twist and take on the "boats passing in the night" trope. Also a hard reset and (a possibility to) splinter. Not that I want that. I want closure.

I approve of (the post-premiere) X-Files S11 (so far).
posted by porpoise at 11:08 PM on February 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm pretty sure the last three episodes are just setting us up to curse loudly at the TV while watching the finale.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:41 AM on February 2, 2018 [3 favorites]

This was the best non-Darin-Morgan episode of the season so far. Though I seem to have forgotten why William murdered his adoptive parents? I remember Scully saying that “Justin Van de Camp” must have been alienated from his own identity and all that. But Scully’s warm fuzzies at having talked to William at the gas station seems a little weird in light of him having just committed patri- and matricide.

Scully’s soliloquy to William’s corpse was amazing to watch. Gillian Anderson needs to work more. The Fall is over, Hannibal is over, she quit American Gods, and she’s not coming back to the X-Files... When the heck are we going to see her again?

I felt bad for the director for having to film that scene of Scully connecting the tablet to the Ford’s hotspot. Still preferable to the endless Mustang chase in the premiere, though.
posted by ejs at 4:48 PM on February 2, 2018

William didn't murder his adoptive parents. This was explicitly explained in the episode. A couple of intruders murdered his parents and then arranged the bodies to make it look like William had murdered them.
posted by orange swan at 8:49 PM on February 2, 2018 [4 favorites]

Oh, the DoD guys? Thanks for reminding me. I guess I was zoning out for a bit! I blame Ghouli.
posted by ejs at 9:32 PM on February 2, 2018

I think the funniest line in this episode is in the cold open when one of the teens says "I'm not Ghouli" and the other one responds, "that's what Ghouli would say!" I keep thinking of it at random times and cracking up.
posted by potrzebie at 2:42 PM on February 4, 2018

Not a bad episode. It is, as others have said, a surprisingly good one for a mythology arc episode, but then it was really a Monster of the Week episode with elements of the mytharc.

William doesn't look anything like he did as a baby -- Baby William had Scully's colouring, and Teenage William has dark hair and eyes. I really, really hate that they changed narratives in mid-stream on this one.
posted by orange swan at 5:56 PM on October 19, 2020

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