The X-Files: The Amazing Maleeni   Rewatch 
July 23, 2020 8:07 PM - Season 7, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Mulder and Scully investigate after a small-time stage magician performing in a Santa Monica carnival does a trick in which his head rotates 360 degrees, and is found dead shortly after the end of the show, with his head severed from his body.
posted by orange swan (5 comments total)
 
Ricky Jay! He’s just fantastic.
posted by Monochrome at 9:19 PM on July 23


The best part of this episode is that it made me read the New Yorker profile of Ricky Jay, which you all absolutely should too.

I did a full-series rewatch last year and I remember a lot of the visuals and moments from this episode, but basically nothing of the actual plot. And upon reading the Wikipedia summary... yeah, none of that EFT stuff stuck in my head at all.

For me this episode is perfectly watchable, but it falls in a weird zone that a lot of these midlate episodes fall into, where they are sort of self-consciously "doing The X-Files." Earlier seasons would experiment wildly with tone and structure, and then in this run, you see a lot of cases of them borrowing those formerly-novel tones and structures again.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:00 AM on July 24 [2 favorites]


I love that they cast actual magicians for the two lead guest roles -- one of whom is considered to be the best sleight-of-hand artist living -- and they actually can act as well. Jonathan Levit had the world's smarmiest face throughout, but it doesn't seem to be an expression he uses much in real life.

Props to Mulder for his sleight of hand with a quarter. I wonder if that's something Duchovny does, or if he learned it for this episode.

From the X-Files wikia entry for this episode:

Mulder wanted to know why did the two magicians put such elaborate plan in motion, and why they wanted FBI involved. He later deduced that they wanted to steal electronic funds using a FBI badge number and his fingerprint. However, the FBI only investigated because it Mulder thought it was an X-File, that is the only reason that the FBI got involved. Therefore, they could not have known that the FBI would be involved and stealing Electronic Funds would not have been their endgame.

If they knew that Fox Mulder specialized in unexplained/supernatural cases -- and this does seem to be something that is widely known in certain circles -- then yes, they knew the head turning trick would get his attention.

But this scheme of Pinchbeck and LaBonge's was a wildly unrealistic longshot. So many things might have gone other than as planned. For example, Mulder might not have left a fingerprint on that card. Some people don't leave fingerprints. I don't, for instance. I've been burgled twice, and the police found no fingerprints whatsoever when they dusted my place.

It is also highly unlikely that Mulder and Scully would have learned about this case and been able to fly to L.A. from Washington before that carnival garbage receptacle was emptied.

Bank manager to Pinchbeck: We gave you handicapped parking! We built you a ramp!

That top hat was a good look on Scully.
posted by orange swan at 5:25 PM on July 24


I thought that this was a delightful episode (if implausible), and another casting coup. Not surprised that he has acting chops, he's an entertainer through and through. He has a notable recurring character in 'Deadwood' and more recently in 'Sneaky Pete.' Jonathan Levit is great as a jerkface.

I wonder what their relationship was like, on set?

IMDB says David Blaine was the second choice; super glad they convinced Jay to clear up his schedule to shoot this episode instead.

That was a pretty good fake head.
posted by porpoise at 5:44 PM on July 25


One imagines given Ricky Jay's great affection for Max Malini, that the episode title/stage name of his character was his handiwork as well.
It's possible this is the only full episode of X-Files I've ever seen, because of Ricky Jay.
posted by ApathyGirl at 12:00 PM on July 27


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