Putting the Exley in X-Files

A couple of nights ago Sena was looking at some old X-Files episodes on the web. It was on the Dailymotion site. For some reason, we could see them without login registration. I think it’s usually required. We watched the full length, The Unnatural episode two nights in a row without ads. It was an inconsistent experience. We saw it in both HD and non-HD modes and got slammed by ads at times and other times couldn’t access the show at all unless you logged in.

The weird thing was that all the subtitles and captions, and even the scenes were shown in mirror image. It turns out this mirror issue is not uncommon. I googled it and others have noticed it on YouTube as well as Dailymotion. You can flip the video out of mirror mode—often for the price of software being peddled for that purpose. The most common reason I saw given for the videos being mirrored was to avoid copyright strikes.

OK, so other than that, a lot of the old X-Files shows were available and Sena watched a little of the brutal episode “Home.” Sena can do a hilarious mimic of part of Mrs. Peacock snarling “I can tell you don’t have no children. Maybe one day you’ll learn… the pride… the love… when you know your boy will do anything for his mother.” Sena always ad libbed “the joy” to the “the pride, the love” phrase.

We used to watch the X-Files regularly, making popcorn downstairs in the kitchen and getting upstairs to watch it in bed just in time.

Anyway, we could watch the mirror version of “The Unnatural,” comfortably despite the backwards captions. This is one of our favorite episodes. There are many obvious references to racism and identity. I looked all over for a simplified plot summary, but found a lot of them have glaring mistakes, are too long, and wouldn’t fit with my simple-minded geezer interpretation. So, I’m going to cobble together something from reading a number of them. I’m not saying it’ll be straightforward.

I have to call it a Monster-of-The-Week (MOTW) episode because that’s what a lot of writers do.  It refers to X-Files episodes that usually feature some paranormal creature or a criminal with a supernatural ability.

Here’s a tangent I can’t resist because we just watched Mountain Monsters Sunday night for the first time, and I think it was the first episode of the new season of this show which has been on for 8 seasons. It is surely a parody of several shows of the Bigfoot adventure type. It’s basically an ongoing MOTW series featuring a cast of characters who survive on sasquatch snacks and cryptid colas and stage uproarious, slapstick comedy searches for legendary creatures (some of which are apparently part of genuine local folklore) like Spear Finger, the Smoke Wolf, the Cherokee Death Cat, and a dozen others, some of which are unfortunately prone to violent attacks of diarrhea, which Wild Bill (arguably one of the funnies members of the cast) did a side-splitting impression of by hanging on to a couple of trees and sticking his butt way too far out in a stunningly hysterical pantomime of projectile Hershey squirts, all the while getting more and more bug-eyed, cursing a blue streak and brandishing a gun which looked like a kid’s toy you could find at Walmart. The camera angles are all too perfect. We laughed until we cried.

Anyway, getting back to The Unnatural, the show is basically the reminiscence of an ex-cop named Arthur Dales who was assigned to protect a black baseball player named Josh Exley from being killed by the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Actually, Josh is an alien who shape-shifted into a black man because he loves the game of baseball. He can also sing the old Negro Spiritual “Come and Go with Me to That Land” on the team bus so well that it was recorded on YouTube and one commenter said he’d pay $100 for a full version of it.

The episode starts with Fox Mulder finding an old newspaper clipping about a baseball game in 1947 in Roswell, New Mexico, the site of so many UFO crashes that the local landfill could not keep up with all the debris local ranchers were trucking in from the fields. He finds a story which shows a picture of an Alien Bounty Hunter in it. This is an executioner who also shape shifts and knocks off other aliens who misbehave by threatening to expose the alien colonization project going on at the time.

The KKK is threatening the team of black players and the head of the gang is the Alien Bounty Hunter. He’s after Exley because he threatens to expose the project simply because he loves to smack home runs and, even though Exley thinks the game of baseball is meaningless, it’s perfect because you can chew tobacco and get knocked out by wild pitches—which leads to him getting beaned and bleeding green blood on the catcher’s mitt. He wakes up speaking alien but because he remembers he’s from Macon, Georgia, everybody thinks he’s OK. The catcher’s mitt is sent to the lab guy for analysis.

Officer Dales finds out Exley is an alien after he breaks into his room and sees him in his alien form. After Dales wakes up from fainting a half dozen times, Exley tells him that he’s an alien; he’s forbidden from intermingling with humans, and he masquerades as a black baseball player because he loves the game and to escape notice. The way Exley puts it, “They don’t like for us to mingle with your people. The philosophy is we stick to ourselves; you stick to yourselves—everybody’s happy.”

Where have you heard this before? It sounds like Jim Crow to me.

The Bounty Hunter, masquerading as Exley, kills the lab guy and Exley is now fingered as the murderer.  Exley and Dales have a short talk while playing catch in the ball park in which Exley says it’s time for him to face the music and go back to his family. When Dales basically asks him why the human race can’t be his family, Exley takes either a surprisingly Green Supremacist attitude or just states the facts saying, “We may be able to look like y’all—but we ain’t y’all.”

In the end, the Alien Bounty Hunter executes Exley. But just before he kills Exley, he tells him to show his “true face” so he can die with dignity. Exley says simply, “This is my true face.”

 And while he dies in Dales’ arms, despite Exley telling him to get away because his green blood is poison to humans, Dales sees that it’s red and says “It’s just blood.”

I don’t know exactly what this means and some have called it ambiguous. I speculate that this might have been the culmination of a transformative process and it reminds me of Atticus Finch telling Scout (in To Kill a Mockingbird), “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

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