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"The X-Files" Excelsis Dei (1994)"The X Files" Excelsis Dei (original title)

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

"Good. Because I put it back in that drawer with all those other videos that aren't yours."

6/10
Author: D. Williams from United States
12 December 2010

"Excelsis Dei" is a better-than-average episode that could have easily been a season two gem if not for a muddling storyline. Dana Scully finds the case, creepy settings are abound, ghosts and invisible rapists are on the loose, and the script is rounded out by an excellent guest cast. Unfortunately, Paul Brown's story is a little too ambitious for these high spots to beggar the myriad plot strands that undermine them.

It doesn't help that this comes on the heels of a particularly confusing mythology episode. Like "Red Museum" before it, "Excelsis Dei" dabbles in a lot of unsettling social themes: rape, abuse of the elderly, abuse of women, the encroachment of immigrant cultures - and twists them into a bizarre knot of conjunction and happenstance. A nurse at the Excelsis Dei convalescent home (Teryl Rothery) is strapped to a bed and violated by an unseen presence. A male Asian nurse (Sab Shimono) dispenses presumably illicit pills to residents that have invigorating effects. A creepy mushroom garden is found in the facility's basement. An elderly woman wheels the corridors conversing with ghosts. But where does it all come together? As one might imagine, this episode makes for some great imagery. The drab grays and greens of the building's snaking corridors lends to the eerie quality of the script. The scene where Mulder and Nurse Charters hall-surf out of a flooded bathroom is particularly delightful. Also, Gillian Anderson has some great lines of dry humor. Although there aren't a whole lot of intimate character moments between the two agents, their chemistry continues to shine.

Unfortunately this episode leaves the viewer with too many questions and too few answers. We don't know whether or not Hal Arden traveled out of his corporeal boundaries to rape Nurse Charters. We don't know how the magic mushrooms evoke the presence of spirits (or are they simply hallucinations?). Where is Leo dragged off to in act four? Ambiguity can and has worked in plenty of episodes of The X-Files, but it's hard to excuse a script that fails to offer answers to any of its questions. Still, "Excelsis Dei" is creepy and enjoyable. 6 of 10.

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14 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Plot holes easier to see through than the "villains" themselves

1/10
Author: thepowell-1 from Canada
11 April 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Wow. So this is one dumb episode. I'll echo the previous review's complaint about the washroom, and add: who builds a 100% watertight bathroom? But the real reason I had to stop watching this episode (and I mean, I literally just didn't finish it) was one terrible, embarrassingly bad line of dialogue. Specifically: in answer to how the old man might head upstairs, Mulder is assured: "The elevators haven't worked in this place for years." Yes, I completely believe that in a home for the elderly, with numerous wheel-chair bound and otherwise handicapped residents, the building would have no working elevators. What, do they carry everyone up and down every set of stairs? Lazy writing (again) fells the X-Files.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Quite infuriating

7/10
Author: svh5 from Iceland
9 September 2008

I just want to talk a little bit about the orderlies' characters. What a horrible bunch of people in this episode.

I have personally worked in a nursing home. It's a thankless, badly paid job where you often have to work long hours. But I'm certain that if an orderly ever behaved as horribly toward the residents as the orderlies in this episode he or she would be fired on the spot. I shudder to think that in some places it must be like that.

I've been an X-Files fan since I was 12 years old. I used to have nightmares about it. No other show has given me the creeps like that. A milestone in TV history. Excelsis Dei is a solid episode from season 2. The problem with it is probably that the buildup is much better than the denouement. The climax is a bit of a letdown, it just peters out. Solid episode, none the less.

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14 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Innovative and creepy episode

8/10
Author: Halfang from London
18 October 2006

This is a refreshing chapter from the series. Since "Shadows" (1x05), any "invisible" monster has appeared.

In this chapter, Mulder and Scully have to investigate a nurse's rape, apparently made by an invisible being. Their investigations will lead to some deeply-saved secrets, involving some of the residents, and workers, too.

Apart from the main tagline, we can see Scully fully recovered from Duane Barry's series. In fact, she is leading the investigation, while Mulder is more reticent to do so.

It has great moments, panic scenes, and scary plot. Also, the typical paper exchange makes this chapter really a "almost" must see. Not the best one, but sure a great, worth watching episode.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Hot nurses and sex-starved wheezing geezers

7/10
Author: westside-surfer from Okinawa, Japan
10 August 2014

A nurse is raped, she claims, my an invisible horny old dude. Right off the bat, it's funny and disturbing. The X-files team investigates the old folks homes which kicks off a series of geezers kicking the bucket. Dark tones crammed into a claustrophobic, spooky setting reminded me of John Carpenter and Nightmare On Elm Street: The Dream Warriors.

The story nicely develops the traditional "haunted house" story by combining elements of alternative medicine and shamanism. Excelsis Dei seems to continue on the last episode's concern of using experimental substances on people; though, whereas the last episode is more science- fiction, this episode takes the paranormal route.

I'd mark this one as a "good episode." The only problem was that by trying to include the science fiction, while this was obviously a supernatural tale, the plot was spread a little thin. They should have concentrated on the fear brought on by the break down of logical reality and science. Luckily, the episode holds strong by interesting guest actors who were quite disturbing. (Wheelchair bound little old ladies talking to empty hallways will creep anyone out.)

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11 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Too confusing to be scary...

4/10
Author: Sanpaco13 from Sandy, UT, United States
12 March 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Excelsis Dei the Limerick:

Nursing home resident's rooms

Are now haunted due to them taking 'shrooms

A resident Hal

And Stan his room pal

Will be soon be the orderly's doom.

Ugh. I remember when I first saw this episode finding it somewhat scary mainly because I get easily freaked out by ghost stories. However, after watching this episode again and seeing all the plot holes I find it more irksome. I always knew that there was something that bothered me about it but had never thought about it too hard. I think the main problem I have is that the effect of the 'shrooms is never really explained at all. I mean they say that the 'shrooms are used to communicate with ancestors which explains why Dorothy could see the ghosts of the dead residents, but how does this explain Hal being invisible or Stan being extremely agile, or Leo being an overnight Picasso? None of this makes any sense.

Some other things I disliked about the episode were first of all, all of the orderlies were jerks other than Gung. None of them seemed to care about the residents at all. Even Nurse Charters. I mean seriously who cares if a couple of old guys want to stay up after 9 watching a fight? I do not condone rape in any sense at all but I don't think I was all that sympathetic to Nurse Charters because she did indeed seem like the type of person that would "concoct this story to get out of a job she hates". The other two, Upshaw and Tiernan, I don't really know what these guys were doing working there anyway. I mean they obviously hated it (and with good reason) but they were also only getting paid $5.50 an hour. I mean maybe if they were just putting in time so they could have something for their resumes to get something better later on that's the only good reason I can think of. And then you have Ms. Dawson who didn't seem to know anything about what was going on in the place that she was supposed to be in charge of. I mean she was never there during any of the attacks, she didn't even know about Upshaw not showing up for work, she insists, "No one is mistreated here". Well maybe not directly by you but sitting in your office, blind to the mistreatment by the orderlies around you is definitely a form of mistreatment which we like to call neglect. Another problem: Dorothy is incredibly annoying. Finally, it is never explained why the ghosts just suddenly disappear. In fact it makes it look almost as if Stan has something to do with it because as soon as he is sedated is when this happens.

Anyway, there were still a couple things I did like about this episode. First, I enjoy the fact that Scully is the one taking this case even though it just seems like she is doing so purely out of a we-girls-gotta-stick-together attitude. I think the only problem with this is that we never do find out exactly why Scully was drawn to this case and later on it ends up being Mulder who solves the case anyway. I also enjoy the final scenes where the outbreak of haunting goes on in the home. Very creepy. I like the water in the bathroom scene too but only because I have always wanted to try this. Also I think the 'shroom garden is pretty cool and surreal.

Anyway overall I think the episode is just too confusing and unclear to really enjoy. I give this episode a 4 out of 10.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It's OK

6/10
Author: odiaz-39079
25 January 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This episode had potential but fell short of expectations. As others have pointed out there are many things that go unexplained such as the invisible rape, mushroom effects, what awoke the spirits, why was the medicine so effective etc...

If you turn off your head you will find some sort of entertainment, but compared to other episodes this one was not very impressive. They should have worked more on answering questions rather than ignoring them as this negatively affected the plot.

I am taking away 4 stars for missing explanations and unsolved plot issues.

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Are you saying that the building's haunted? Because if you are, you've been working with me for too long, Scully.

Author: Alexander Cappelli
10 October 2015

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Are you saying that the building's haunted? Because if you are, you've been working with me for too long, Scully." - Fox Mulder.

Episode 11, 'Excelsis Dei', original air date December 16th, 1994. Written by Paul Brown, directed by Stephen Surjik. Monster of the week episode count, 23. Known mainly at the time for directing the 1993 film Wayne's World 2, Stephen Surjik requested to direct this episode as he was a fan of the series. Paul Brown, writer of 'Ascension' returns for his second and final episode with a MOTW that touches on a few different social issues while weaving a delicate path between comedy and horror. The outlandish subject matter in this episode could have easily pushed it into the realm of comically absurd. However I felt that Brown's script and Surjik's direction, in conjunction with some capable performances, managed to find just the right balance between creepy and corny. The horror aspects are handled well and there are some genuinely unnerving moments coupled with emotionally charged drama. On a side note, the episode's title is misprinted on the DVD box set and in the disc menu as 'Excelsius Dei'.

One night while on duty at the Excelsis Dei, a private nursing home in Worcester, Massachusetts, nurse Carters (Teryl Rothery) is viciously attacked and sexually assaulted by an invisible assailant. Contrary to custom, Scully is waiting for Mulder in the basement while she examines the video evidence documenting Nurse Carter's injuries that were sustained in the attack. Possibly due to subject matter of rape, she has appeared to take a personal interest in this case, which Mulder is quick to dismiss as another unsubstantiated phenomena involving spectral entity rape. Scully urges him to investigate with her further and they visit the nursing home. The residents of Excelsis Dei are all suffering from degenerative diseases such as alzheimer's and dementia, though thanks to their involvement with an experimental drug trial their symptoms seem to be steadily decreasing. It quickly becomes evident however that the pills we witness them taking are not the drug in question, rather they are being provided by an orderly named Gung Bituen (Sab Shimono). This traditional medicine, made from mushrooms and various herbs is having a remarkable effect on the resident's condition. People who were once unable to speak now appear lucid and full of life. However, the drug, which is used traditionally to allow the user to communicate with the dead, has somehow allowed some of these residents to develop super human strength and spirit-like powers. It's possible that the drug has created a bridge between the physical and spiritual world where the residents are able to cross over at will and cause havoc with the nursing staff. Nurse Carter's was raped by one of these residents, Hal Arden (David Fresco), though no one, not even Mulder at first believes her. As the episode continues and the chaos ensues it quickly becomes clear and undeniable to the agents that these mushrooms are causing some extraordinary side effects.

The mistreatment of the residents by the nurses and orderlies is a motivating factor in their ghostly attacks. As Gung says, we don't treat our elderly with respect in this country, referring to the United States, abandoning them at nursing homes. They are not given the emotional love and support they deserve from the community. This is one of the issues Brown is examining with this episode. The nursing home staff hold the residents in contempt and to some degree we're made to feel like the violence inflicted upon them by some of the elderly members is deserved. Mistreatment of patients and residents in elderly resting homes is a very real issue and certainly from an emotional point of view there is a moral grey area in the way many people 'commit' their elders to these places and relinquish responsibility for them to often underpaid and unappreciated medical staff that bare the brunt of (often Western) societies who do not respect the elderly. Certainly this is show exists within the realms of science fiction but the social issue is still relevant and helps to lend emotional weight to this ghost story.

Some reviewers have criticised the episode for its depiction of a rape case and the cavalier attitude that many of the characters have towards a woman who has clearly been brutally assaulted. Mulder in particular is quick to dismiss the case and if not for Scully he would have pursued it no further. Additionally, the nursing home management refuse to acknowledge the issue of rape, claiming that Nurse Carters simply concocted the story in order to take advantage of her employer's medical disability. Whether intentional or not, it's difficult to say what the writer's personal viewpoint on cases involving rape is, I actually feel like the representation and victimisation of the female character, while frustrating is nonetheless a generally accurate depiction of the reality rape survivors. It's a depressing truth that it's near impossible to build a case around sexual assault due to the common lack of conclusive evidence. Due to this, rape survivors are often dismissed by law enforcement and offered little in the way of compensation for their physical and emotional trauma. The fact that no one believes Carter's story or offers much sympathy for her is actually a fairly accurate portrayal of society's attitude towards sexual violence involving women. Consequently, I disagree with the criticisms that this subject matter was handled poorly. If an audience member feels a sense of frustration and disgust at the treatment and lack of care afforded to the character in this story, it's a reaction that I'd like to think writer Paul Brown was aiming for by tackling this social issue.

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7 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

Whatever tape you found in that VCR, it isn't mine.

5/10
Author: Muldernscully from Roy, Utah
24 April 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Excelsis Dei is an average, slightly confusing episode. What makes this episode unique though is that Scully is the one that finds this case, not Mulder. Another thing that makes this episode unique is that Scully is the one that wants to hang onto the case after Mulder has apparently given up. It's nice to see a reversal of roles from time to time for these two. The opening line by Mulder after the teaser as quoted above in the summary is classic. This episode has several good Mulder/Scully witty lines that makes this episode acceptable to watch. Now, a few pet peeves with episode. After the water in the bathroom spills into the hallway, there is way too much water flowing down the hallway. Later, Dorothy sees Leo getting dragged away by ghosts, but he is fine at the end of the episode and nothing is mentioned of it. Why show it then? Even though the x-files leaves a lot unexplained, I felt this episode left too much unexplained, even for an x-file. Was it the ghosts, or was it Hal and Stan? Anyway, this episode is still decent to view, at least for the Mulder/Scully dialog.

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0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The X-Files: Excelsis Dei

3/10
Author: Diamhea from United States
25 February 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Excelsis Dei is a seriously convoluted and misguided episode that marks one of the few low points early in The X Files' existence. Mulder and Scully travel to a Massachusetts convalescent home to investigate a case of entity rape after a nurse; in the words of one of the residents, gets "rogered by a ghost". The setup is simple enough and engaging early on, but soon gets in over its head after a story arc concerning medicinal mushrooms covertly being administered to the residents by an orderly rears its head.The viewer doesn't feel sorry for the residents as they start dropping one by one from overdosing on the mushrooms after stealing more than they can handle. Furthermore, the effects of the mushrooms are not explained satisfactorily. It makes Leo an overnight Picasso, Stan regains a measure of his mobility, and Dorothy just becomes incredibly annoying; spending the second half of the episode yelling nonsense at the ghosts that only she can somehow see. Don't even get me started on the watertight bathroom and the hilariously unbelievable lack of emotion from everybody when they realize Nurse Charters and Mulder are stuck inside during the episode's climax. Eventually and without explanation the ghosts just leave, the residents revert back to their normal selves and you are left to wonder what the point was to any of it all. Not recommended.

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