The X-Files: Hell Money   Rewatch 
May 4, 2020 7:55 PM - Season 3, Episode 19 - Subscribe

Mulder and Scully investigate a series of deaths in San Francisco's Chinatown that turn out to be linked to a gambling ring where losers have to forfeit their own body parts for organ transplantation.
posted by orange swan (9 comments total)
The X-Files was always super dodgy when it tried to do episodes centered on non-white people or folklore. See also: literally the episode right before this.

That said, this outside has BD Wong, Lucy Liu, and James! Hong! so I can't be too mad at it.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:38 PM on May 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

A super young BD Wong! Especially during the original airing, I really appreciated seeing a Chinese guy on tv who's capable and spoke English and Cantonese (mostly) with the respective predominant educated/ professional accent.

The opening scenes guys, I think that they had either absolutely terrible rural accents or they didn't actually speak the language fluently and memorized their lines phoenetically.

Lucy Liu's Cantonese accent is surprisingly good for someone who speaks Mandarin Chinese.

I'm ok with this episode. I thought that "shady lotteries" was the monster of the week, the other traditional medicine/ superstition stuff was secondary.

The detective being a dirty cop works, and is a rich trope in HK media.
posted by porpoise at 8:43 PM on May 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

In 1995 - a lot of those sets didn't need a lot of dressing; those were lived-in spaces. Vancouver's Chinatown is next door to the "DTES" and yeah parts of it was a run-down ghetto, especially for the "lo yeh"/ "oldtimers" who were typically multiply generation Canadians of low socio-economic status who could trace back to the railroad days and in-between.

At least this was before fucking Bob Rennie starting buying property; there (was, still?) a smarmy out-of-touch big-assed neon sign "EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT" that would have shown up in the background in the shot with the newspaper as wallpaper.

Today the area is entering high-gear gentrification... but still right next to the DTES. Lots of shiny towers going up, lots of chic new restaurants, and lots and lots of displaced residents (although, many aged out). Lots of family businesses economically forced to shut down, or just given up because of the DTES bleed-through into Chinatown.

Still; mounds of human poop in every other (un-24-hour-concierged) doorway every morning - and maybe several times over the course of the day.

Junkies and methheads and poverty pimps makes it so that nobody can have nice things. Crying shame.

But I guess there are people who want to live close to "downtown" but can't afford living in another downtown-adjacent neighbourhood.
posted by porpoise at 11:10 PM on May 4, 2020

Fun fact: David Duchovny and Lucy Liu were dating while this episode was filmed.

How are the masked thugs getting access to all those crematory ovens? The authorities would have sent out an alert to all the funeral home/crematorium owners after the first such death. And the organ procurement organization never noticed anything was up with all those Asian men coming in for typing and antigen work-ups, and then disappearing? There wasn't really any manifestation of the supernatural in this episode, for all the talk of evil spirits and hungry ghosts and dried frog charms. This was a matter that could have been resolved by plain old police work -- assuming, of course, that the police working the case weren't on the take.

I felt Mulder when he says, "One more string of firecrackers goes off, I'm going to get out of the car and shoot somebody." Fireworks are pretty but I've never been able to bear the noise of them. Back when I had a high-rise condo and enjoyed a near panoramic of the city, it was a nice bonus to be able to see firework displays going off all over Toronto every holiday weekend without having to hear them. I'd switch off the lights and sit and watch them in peace.
posted by orange swan at 9:43 AM on May 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

I think the underlying assumption is that minorities, in this case low socioeconomic class Chinese, are just ignored/ overlooked/ invisible.

Duchovny dating guest actresses is a pattern, one that keeps on happening too. I wonder if he just dated lots of different actresses and it was a coincidence, or if they started dating after working together, or that they're dating got the actresses cast?
posted by porpoise at 9:57 AM on May 5, 2020

"One more string of firecrackers goes off, I'm going to get out of the car and shoot somebody."

I actually like fireworks, aesthetically, but as an asthmatic who grew up with ridiculously over-the-top New Year's Eve fireworks shows in Hawaii I still relate. NYE 2000 particularly was a nightmare. So much smoke.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:21 AM on May 5, 2020

I read somewhere that David Duchovny suggested that Jennifer Beals, who was a friend of his from their days at Yale, be cast in the Scully role, so it makes sense that he might have proposed other names of friends/girlfriends during the run of the show as well. There are at least two more such casting decisions to come: Diana Fowley was played by his ex-girlfriend Mimi Rogers, and of course his then-wife Téa Leoni plays herself in "A.D. Hollywood", an episode he wrote himself.
posted by orange swan at 11:45 AM on May 5, 2020 [3 favorites]

Another thing I noticed in this episode is that The X-Files has a pattern of having their characters who are horrible people be smokers. James Hong's character, who seems to be the head of the gambling organization, smokes with a very CSM-like insouciance, and so does Michael McKean's character.
posted by orange swan at 11:58 AM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Heh. That's consistent with Scully smoking a couple of episodes ago while under the (astrological) influence...
posted by porpoise at 12:25 PM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

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