Season 5, Episode 9
Director: Ralph Hemecker
Writer: Jessica Scott, Mike Wollaeger
The very real and serious topic of child abuse is saddled with an unbelievably awful “monster of the week” in the shape of killer trees. Yup, you read that right – killer trees. And not just killer trees, but killer mud too. The homicidal plant life ultimately becomes the extension of a heavily abused girl with significant daddy issues, but what it all amounts to is a bunch of garbage. “Schizogeny” is one of the weakest X-Files episodes I’ve ever seen.
It begins in something emotionally akin to a Beastie Boys video. A stepfather comes home and finds that his stepson never completed a project he was asked to do. Of course, the son is upstairs playing video games and listening to rock music (the nerve), and the stepfather accuses him of never amounting to anything. Outside, Bobby, the young boy played by Chad Lindberg of Ghost Stalkers fame, threatens to hit his stepfather with a shovel but runs into a nearby orchard instead. His stepfather chases him and eventually trips on a branch only to be sucked into the mud below. Bobby’s mother runs on the scene to see what appears to be Bobby trying to pull his stepfather out of the muck without success. For some unexplained reason, Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate the crime which, on the surface, bears no connection to an X-file or to anything resembling federal jurisdiction.
Mulder and Scully meet with Bobby’s therapist, Karin Matthews (Sarah-Jane Redmond). She explains that Bobby was significantly abused by his stepfather and insinuates that, if Bobby did indeed commit a crime, it was completely justified. There are some high school scenes where Bobby is picked on and threatens to kill a classmate (something that would have him arrested immediately today) in front of his crush Lisa (Katharine Isabelle). Lisa’s own father is later ripped from a window and plummets to his death after he yells at her for being Bobby’s friend. After examining the evidence, Mulder begins to wonder if the foliage isn’t responsible for the deaths, and Gillian Anderson manages to pull out one more “What the actual fuck are you talking about?” look from Scully. In the end, after a few more tree-related incidents, the real culprit is revealed to be therapist Karin who has assumed the persona of her father, stashed his body in the cellar, and learned how to control plant life.
If you’re looking for a critical appraisal of this psychobabble / horticultural mess known as “Schizogeny,” then you can look elsewhere. I don’t have it in me. What I do have is a heaping mass of contempt for the 45 minutes The X-Files wasted of my evening. So, I’m supposed to believe that Karin’s grief and rage gave her the ability to control plant life? I’m also supposed to believe that she’s secretly lurking around nearby houses waiting for parents to become angry with their kids in order to kill them? I’m also supposed to believe Karin summoned the roots to bring her father’s skeleton into her cellar? For what purpose?
And there’s all that Psycho stuff that just feels completely unnecessary. I’m not even getting to the terrible performances by the teen actors or the trees that seemingly bled real blood or the guy that hulks around the backdrop, wandering through scene after scene, carrying a massive axe that no one questions? It’s all just an awful, horrible mess of an episode.
And, in cases like this, sometimes it’s just best to cut your losses. That’s all I have to say about that.