X-Files Flashback: ‘Elegy’

Elegy

Season 4, Episode 22
Director: James Charleston
Writer: John Shiban

With “Elegy,” the X-Files writers clearly had a great idea for continuing the Scully cancer plot. By dropping hints and sinister omens, they seem to like to insinuate Scully’s pending death, something we clearly know isn’t going to happen. But the plot on which they hung the storyline was exceedingly… well… Honestly, it’s incredibly dumb, something The X-Files rarely traffics in.

“Elegy” opens in a bowling alley where autistic employee Harold (Steven M. Porter) is trying to wrap up re-arranging the shoes. The owner, Angie (Alex Bruhanski) tells him to go home, but Harold quickly lapses into a fit. Later, as Angie tries to close down the alley, one of the lanes begins to act strangely. Upon investigation, he discovers blood dripping from the top of the pin return and a seemingly dead body looking down at him. When he hears sirens outside, he runs out to find the police responding to another distress call, the discovery of a dead body with her throat slashed from ear to ear. The body is the same person that Angie recently saw inside the alley. Mulder and Scully begin to investigate and discover the words “She is me” scratched into the bowling alley floor.

All eyes look to Harold as the likely killer, but Mulder doesn’t agree. While washing in the restroom after a new nosebleed, Scully sees a girl standing behind her, also bleeding from the neck. The same girl was found dead nearby. Disturbed, Scully visits her psychiatrist and struggles with the dead girl vision. In the end of the episode, it is revealed that people who are near death are seeing recently deceased ghosts, including Harold. When it is revealed that Harold’s nurse (due to some bizarre medicine issue) actually killed the girls, the nurse attacks Scully, nearly killing her. Scully shoots the nurse just as Harold’s dead body is found nearby. We close with a deep conversation between Mulder and Scully as they struggle with the implications of the episode – that Scully is likely near death.

The openness and personal exchange between Mulder and Scully is hands-down the best component of “Elegy,” and it’s clear that the writers had this central nugget of an idea and wanted to pursue it. How to tie it into an X-file though? Well, the choice they made was a poor one. The story as it stands is confusing, random, and meaningless. The final wrap-up is exceptionally mishandled given the subplot about Harold refusing to take his meds, allowing the nurse to take them instead which, in turn, makes her crazy and homicidal. Of course it does. That section of the story, I could do without, but the brief, cancer-based scenes between Mulder and Scully as she faces death are classic material. I especially loved the line where Mulder admits that they’re both afraid of the same thing.

The closing scene shows Scully crying silently in her car as she glimpses a dead man in the rear-view mirror. She is frightened, but the man is not there. It’s the right kind of mixture between emotional content and old-fashioned scares. Too bad the rest of “Elegy” doesn’t follow suit.

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