The X-Files: Season 9, Episode 3

Dæmonicus (2 Dec. 2001)
"The X Files" Dæmonicus (original title)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama | Mystery | Sci-Fi
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 689 users  
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A professor/inmate in a psychiatric ward may be influencing other men to kill ritualistically. Though Doggett sees it as pure manipulation, Reyes can't help but suspect none else but the devil himself possessing the professor's body.

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Andi Chapman ...
Dr. Monique Sampson
Sarah Benoit ...
Evelyn Mountjoy
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Darren Mountjoy
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A professor/inmate in a psychiatric ward may be influencing other men to kill ritualistically. Though Doggett sees it as pure manipulation, Reyes can't help but suspect none else but the devil himself possessing the professor's body.

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2 December 2001 (USA)  »

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Trivia

Doggett suggests to Reyes the killer might use human flesh to fertilise his garden - an in-joke referencing the movie The Last Supper (1995), which starred Annabeth Gish. See more »

Quotes

Scully: Dr Dana Scully. I have just been assigned to the Academy as a forensic investigator. For the past eight years I was part of a unit known as the X-Files. Some of you may have heard of it.
FBI Cadet: You ever slay a vampire?
Scully: Sorry to disappoint you, but this is a course in forensic pathology. Hard science. An X-File is a case that has been deemed unsolvable by the Bureau, because such a case cannot be solved it may beg other explanations... a vampire, perhaps. Science, however, tells us that evil comes not ...
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Crazy Credits

In the main title for the ninth season, a piece of paper flashes across the screen listing "FBI Contacts: Witnesses and Contributors." The names on the list are screen names of the series' on-line fans. For episodes #9.01-#9.11, the names were randomly picked from various X-Files message boards. For episodes #9.12-#9.19, the names came from contest entries. See more »

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References The Exorcist (1973) See more »

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So-so episode with a terrible finish
14 January 2014 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

I'm actually a fan of the ninth season of this show, but this episode was a mediocre outing. It reminded me of one of the less successful episodes of "Millennium", with Robert Patrick standing in for Lance Henriksen, and it even contains a reference to that show's ouroboros icon. And hey, I'm as down as anyone for a possible reuse of a leftover "Millennium" script, but not an unfinished one.

Since I'm free to spoil things in this review, I'll point out that the main paranormal or super-normal aspect of the episode - Kobold's ability to get people to do exactly what he wants, to extreme lengths - isn't only left unexplained; in fact, the episode never even begins to explain before it's suddenly over. Even worse, it's a bored rehash of a concept used in one of the show's best and best-remembered episodes, "Pusher" (which already got its own so-so sequel episode earlier in the series). "Pusher" was ultimately about its subject's fears rather than his abilities, and the semi-explanation for those abilities reflected that; in "Dæmonicus", the script's demands that we consider a deeper cause for the episode's events ring hollow, because the narrative plays too loose to explain what's happened and moves too fast to linger on the characters who drive it.

We're given absolutely nothing to go on in "Dæmonicus". Evidence appears and disappears from scene to scene without ever being addressed; in the most glaring example, a mysterious liquid sample goes to a lab for testing and is promptly forgotten, even though the episode continues to suggest that the results might be very relevant to the audience (and to the heroes) all the way to the end credits. That is a cardinal sin for a show like this one. "The X-Files" routinely depends on enlisting the viewer's aid in resolving stories that often remain mysterious from the point of view of the show's heroes. When the creators give us nothing to work with at all, they're cheating. The ending to "Dæmonicus" isn't David-Lynch-ian ambiguity; it's Ed-Wood-esque floundering, and it doesn't even bother to explain the identity of all of the victims, which is all it really tries to do in the first place.

If we accept the supernatural explanation, that Kobold was somehow in touch with elemental, Satanic evil and that's how he controlled his victims, then the supposed intricacy of his plan - the entire heft of the episode's events - isn't impressive at all. It means Kobold just put the whammy on his victims and had them do back-flips for no reason when his goals, even his goals to hurt and manipulate, could have been met much more simply, albeit not in a way that would fill out the length of the episode. That makes "Dæmonicus" just a "Pusher" rip-off, only without that episode's character-driven depths and with an unnecessarily convoluted evil plan.

If we accept the creepy-crawly mundane explanation, that Kobold's just that great of a manipulator, then the show doesn't add up, because off- camera, Kobold drives people to do absolutely ludicrous things, even for mental patients (or their totally sane guards), things that benefit only Kobold and that far outclass the game he plays with the show's main characters or the couple in the cold open. But we're never once given a scene suggesting how he carries out those manipulations, since nothing in Kobold's "manipulative" scenes with Doggett lead us to believe that Kobold would be able to talk somebody into shooting a stranger, shooting themselves or putting on Kobold's clothes to take a bullet for him while he flees a crime scene. All we ever get goes is an explanation (very early in the episode) that Kobold was committed to the asylum in the first place after a successful past attempt at manipulating others to kill for him, which raises questions rather than answering them.

"Dæmonicus" is disappointing, because the episode, while far from original, moves along at a very rapid pace, if less like an X-file and more like a contemporary procedural from the 2010s. The dialogue between Reyes and Scully gives some decent insight into the balances and imbalances of the new, Mulder-less trinity of the show while never losing sight of the action. Doggett is given the bulk of said action, and as a hard-charging cop matching wits with a killer, the character's perfect for it. Given the not-great script, the cast acquits itself well, including the guest star (sharp-eyed viewers will enjoy James Remar, aka Dexter's dead dad, in this 2001 role as a serial killer). An ending that filled even some of the plot's holes would have made the episode a measured success. As it stands, it's fun enough to watch "Dæmonicus" while binging on Season Nine, but the ending will make you frown.


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