The X-Files: Sanguinarium   Rewatch 
December 9, 2014 8:02 AM - Season 4, Episode 6 - Subscribe

A series of bizarre murders in a hospital's plastic surgery unit lead Mulder and Scully to believe that witchcraft is somehow involved.
posted by showbiz_liz (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've been going back through the X-Files, which I watched during the original run at what was probably far too young an age. I was just shy of nine when this one aired... but when I saw the episode description on Netflix, I immediately knew "oh shit, this is the one with the liposuction tube that gradually fills up with blood!" I had forgotten the entire plot, and most of the other gore, but that one image is one of the ones that has really stuck with me and fucked with my head, right up there with the girl cutting her own wrists while dissecting a pig in Die Hand Die Verletzt, or the guy getting crushed by bleachers in Syzygy.

I decided to post this one because I actually enjoyed it, and was somewhat surprised that it seems to have been very negatively received at the time it aired. Sure, the dialogue was a bit pat, but I liked the 'dueling witchcrafts' angle and the fact that the bad guy actually gets away with everything, and I thought the evil doctor and the not-evil nurse were both really good actors. So, what gives, exactly? Why so much hate for this one in particular?

Ok, so "There's magic going on here, Mulder. Only it's being done with silicone, collagen, and a well-placed scalpel" is a terrible line. But still.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:11 AM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Argh! That scene. Something about being stabbed to death from the inside has always pushed my body horror buttons.
posted by acanthous at 10:11 AM on December 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is definitely the goriest episode I've seen yet on this rewatch. I was actually pretty shocked that they got this on network TV in, what, 1996?
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:02 PM on December 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have never seen these comics before!
posted by Julnyes at 12:09 PM on December 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, and they (the comics) seem quite funny.

I have zero memory of this episode. I'll give it a rewatch tonight.
posted by Julnyes at 12:11 PM on December 10, 2014


MotW is fabulous. I can't wait until it starts updating again - the artist just had a baby, so it's on temporary hiatus. (Also, check out the note at the bottom of this one!)
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:12 PM on December 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I remember being very upset that David Duchovny mispronounced "Samhain".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:57 PM on August 5, 2015


The surgeon scrubbing his fingers till they bled caused me more distress than the liposuction, frankly. That he was wearing powdered gloves feels really wrong.

(huh, powdered gloves were frowned upon for a long time but weren't banned in the US until 2016)

Scully noting that for-profit elective surgeries support the rest of the hospital... but even with all the money in the world, they wouldn't have been able to procure a laser that powerful, much less that compact.

Speaking of Mulder's adherence to evidentiary protocol - drawing a pentagram in a victim's blood at a crime scene feels off. Sure, the evidence was probably all collected (? was it), but this feels a little disrespectful.

The writers making Mulder -plastycurious was cute.

The cosmetic surgery angle feels apt for the time; I graduated HS in '96 and some of my classmates got cosmetic surgery as graduation presents.

Is there a filter to apply to an image to make it appear to full colour spectrum seeing people the way something would appear to Mulder's particular variety of colour blindness? Has anyone done that for all of his ties?

I wonder who the prop master was for this season. Couple of eps ago there was a super fancy drywal awl. Here, we have a fancy-looking kris-style dagger; the pommel and crossguard kinda look like an actual tool rather than a mall-ninja toy.

Not sure what that foot long, thin, dildo-looking thing on the surgical tray is. It could very well be a vintage probe - the thing next to it looks like it could be an antique irrigator.

Not sure why there's a bottle of reagent grade phenol (commonly used for cleaning up protein and lipid contaminants from nucleic acid extractions from tissue for molecular biology) in an operating theatre - (dilute!) phenol (carbolic acid) as an antiseptic during surgery was first published in 1870, and discontinued use by the 1970s. Phenol is a major component to cosmetic chemical peels but they'd be in formulations and not dispensed from a bottle of pure reagent grade stuff.

As for the burns, ... if left on long enough it could do that, but not in the time frame depicted. Cause of death would be from neural toxicity through skin absorption into the bloodstream, though, far before the corrosive damage would cause death.

Nice detail having the extreme facelift leave a (temporary?) scar. That the doctor could present a body of work and be accepted under a different identity - even in 1996 - is highly implausible. Even with means, bulletproof fake identities were getting increasingly harder and even shady cosmetic surgery outfits are going to verify the veracity of the "past work" presented - if only to verify that it was indeed really the candidate's work and not plagiarism.
posted by porpoise at 9:41 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Witches are my favourite fantasy archetype, and this is one of the few witchcraft-related episodes in The X-Files oeuvre. This episode wasn't bad at all, if more than a little icky for my liking. The "dueling witchcrafts" plot was very creative and made for a suspenseful, complex plot.

It seems "Nurse Rebecca Waite" was a play on "Rebecca Nurse", a character in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" who is accused of witchcraft -- and at least in the play, Rebecca Nurse was a very kind, wise, good woman.

Submerging oneself in a bathtub of fake blood could not have been pleasant. The X-Files actors are such troopers.

Yes, totally not credible that the doctor could get a job as a plastic surgeon elsewhere so easily. The FBI would have alerted plastic surgery clinics to be on the lookout for such a man.

Also, wouldn't the government have shut that clinic the fuck down after the second death? Or their patients started cancelling their procedures? It's not like there wouldn't have been other such places they could go to.

Mulder giving himself a computer makeover was hilarious. David Duchovny has talked about how he's often wished his nose and lips were smaller, his eyes were larger, etc. He's one of those people whose atypical features accord well with their more conventionally attractive attributes and lend their total look character and distinction, but such people usually can't see that and go on about how they hate their nose or whatever.
posted by orange swan at 5:27 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


The "dueling witchcrafts" plot

It was done well and fed on stereotypes (good looking people = virtuous people); I liked that Nurse Waite tries to stick with "soft" influence rather than forceful influence.

Noticed that the female doctors were thinner than is healthy, no muscle tone, and gaunt-faced. "Interesting" casting decision for cosmetic plastic surgeons. The male doctors were on the old side - for a supposed money-making profession, wouldn't one opt for early retirement and live off passive income?

This is in contrast with say, specialist upper-echelon surgeons who have god-complexes and get off on performing difficult/ high-risk operations and stick around longer than they should.

One of my co-supervisors during my MSc was the head of the pediatric pathology department and once his youngest daughter graduated from HS and "went off to college," he promptly retired (ultra early, and ultra well) and skedaddled. Even in Canada.

shut that clinic the fuck down

Perhaps we, as humble Canadians, shouldn't comment aboot the governance over medical practices by our neighbours to the South, eh?
posted by porpoise at 7:02 PM on May 16


Wasn't it more than a trifle obvious of Dr. Franklyn to have a pentagram tiled into his foyer floor? And then to inscribe all the victim's names on it?
posted by orange swan at 2:39 PM on May 17


Yes, totally not credible that the doctor could get a job as a plastic surgeon elsewhere so easily. The FBI would have alerted plastic surgery clinics to be on the lookout for such a man.

To be fair, I think you can easily write that off as "he's a witch." Maybe he magicked himself up a new social security number etc. (This same problem plagues modern-day vampire stories too. Damn panopticon.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:08 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


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