The X-Files: Small Potatoes   Rewatch 
October 25, 2015 8:14 PM - Season 4, Episode 20 - Subscribe

A town celebrates a surprising number of births in a short span of time, only all the newborns have tails...
posted by town of cats (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I actually watched this episode back-to-back with Never Again because I knew I had a few busy weeks coming up and wanted to get ahead. They make a really interesting combination, I guess because we so rarely see a side of Scully that's even slightly open to romantic overtures and seeing them right next to each other is just strange.

Watching this one back-to-back with next week's episode, Post-Modern Prometheus, might also be instructive because these are two of the creepiest X-Files episodes ever made, to me. Not in a "gah what a scary monster that was that just jumped out at me" kind of way, but in a "how messed up is it that within a dozen episodes of each other there are two story lines that hinge on a guy impregnating a whole bunch of women without their consent?" kind of way. It's strange that this didn't seem to register with the maybe wait a full season before you have another "women bearing children of people they didn't have consensual sex with" episode? At least in Small Potatoes he goes to jail. One of the recurring motifs of the show is that of powerful men interfering with Scully's reproductive agency, though, so I guess it shouldn't surprise me as much as it does. Still, eugh. I hope if the show were made today they would've thought this through more carefully.

This episode has many delights, though. David Duchovny does an AMAZING job playing Eddie Van Blundht masquerading as Mulder. Seriously didn't know he had the comedic range to pull it off. I love Mitch Pileggi's delivery of his one laugh line of the episode; Skinner so rarely gets a chance to say anything funny. I like the fact that Darin Morgan plays the son of a retired sideshow freak, a cute callback to Humbug. And my friends and I joked about buying one another Superstar Hats for years.

I don't know, I know this is a fan favorite. It's one of the funnier episodes of the series, don't get me wrong. But when I meet someone who says this is their favorite episode I feel a little let down, since it seems like such a "safe" choice and one that doesn't seem that well thought through. Funny and not too dark. Quirky but approachable. And yet, that weird shoved-aside fact that this guy did something SUPER rapey to a bunch of women and definitely did rape his high school girlfriend while masquerading as Luke Skywalker, and hid his dad's corpse in the attic, and is pretty much about to attempt sex with Scully under a false pretext when he's interrupted and arrested, and yet we're clearly meant to sympathize with this sadsack of an everyman and his life of occasional escapism?

Maybe it's more fun if you ship M/S and I never have? Without that, it's just...small potatoes. In my opinion.
posted by town of cats at 8:28 PM on October 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh, and! I feel I should note that this is the last episode for which there is an MotW strip to post, because Shaenon Garrity stopped making them at the end of season 4. If you'd like her to keep going, which I very much would because they are fucking delightful, she has a Patreon here you can give to.
posted by town of cats at 8:31 PM on October 25, 2015

This reminded me that I should up my monthly Patreon pledge to Garrity. So I did.
posted by jwgh at 6:44 AM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's weird that these were both comedic episodes too. It's weird that they would go for the "sympathetic loser rapist" thing at all, it's weird that they would do it twice (and in episodes so close together, as town of cats points out) and it's weird that both times it was supposed to be funny.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:06 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

The superstar hat bit never gets old, I quote it (with Morgan's inflection) frequently, but yeah, the rape factor is glossed over too facilely.
posted by Flannery Culp at 2:37 PM on October 27, 2015

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