Written by Jeffrey BellDirected by Kim Manners
One wants to give this episode props for finally daring to say what has been simmering under Season 6 – and indeed almost the entire past five years of The X-Files– about the obvious chemistry between the two leads of the show. To finally realize what has been going on between Mulder and Scully, put it into metaphor, and then demonstrate just how utterly unfit our poor heroes are to deal with even the concept of romance – that deserves points, especially considering it’s coming from a man writing his first script for the series. But the sad truth of the matter is, The Rain King suffers from two big problems: it is a first time script, and Jeffrey Bell is one of the weakest writers that will ever end up writing for the show in its entire run.
There are some interesting ideas floating in The Rain King. The idea that the weather can be controlled by a person’s emotions is an interesting one. The trouble is, we are led down one tow many blind alley. First it seems that Daryl Mootz is causing the drought in Kansas to make money for his rainmaking abilities. Then it seems that his ex-fiancée Sheila is causing the weird weather, due to emotional problems in her life. And then we are finally told that the problems are being caused by Holman Hardt, a meteorologist who has been dealing with unrequited love for Sheila basically his entire life. The problem is, if you believe the final theory, the two earlier incidents – Darryl’s causing it to rain at a farm, and the mini-twister that causes a cow to break the ceiling of Mulder’s motel room don’t make any logical sense. Why would Holman want to help Daryl? And because Sheila hasn’t admitted any kind of crush on Mulder, why would he want to attack the FBI agent? I’ll admit the cow coming in through the ceiling is the high point of the episode, but it still doesn’t hold up even to the often bizarre logic the series follows.
One could almost forgive Bell for overlooking that plothole – he is a first-time writer, and the episode, let’s be honest, isn’t really about that. It’s about Mulder and Scully, finally find themselves called upon to solve an X-File by resolving a romantic relationship. It’s a fine joke, considering just how utterly unsuited our heroes are to task. The problem is, it keeps getting hammered over and over again, from when they are introduced to the mayor as husband and wife, to the way the motel manager forced them to share a room by assuming that Mulder is Scully’s boyfriend, until Sheila admits that she’s fallen in love with Mulder. A joke is only funny if it isn’t done to death. Now I’ll admit it’s amusing that it takes two complete strangers to realize just how ridiculous it is that these two very attractive people haven’t been on any dates, or even considering looking at each other. But a joke like this only works if there’s a payoff, and unfortunately, the Holman-Sheila romance just isn’t worthy of it. And the longer the climax goes on, the less amusing it gets, because the audience knows they’re not going to get a response from the characters we want it to happen to. By the time Holman and Sheila’s kiss makes everybody but Mulder and Scully do the same thing, the joke has lost any pretense at being realistic.
Not to mention the fact that there are so many other problems with Rain King. For starters, when the heck is it taking place? We know Mulder and Scully aren’t investigating X-Files any more, but this episode doesn’t even offer a fake pretense for our heroes to come out here. And most of the acting in this episode isn’t worth the energy. Though Clayton Rohner does a pretty good hammy job as the fake rainmaker, he’s the only member of the cast who seems to understand that the material needs to be played a certain way David Manis is such a milquetoast as Holman that’s its easy to believe Sheila wouldn’t notice him – the audience certainly never does. And poor Victoria Jackson just plays the same ditzy blonde she played on Saturday Night Live for six season, without even really trying to come up with an original character.
There are some sweet and humorous moments in the Rain King, but they’re few and far between. It’s not a bad episode, per se – it’s just terribly bland. And its probably the best example of X-Files lite that so many of the fans of the earlier episodes could probably point out as Exhibit A of how detrimental the shift to Hollywood has been for the series. It clearly hasn’t been – episodes prior and after will testify to this – but it’s the first one in awhile that demonstrates that if the series is going to head in this direction, they damn well better follow through. And the sad truth is, they never really will.My score: 2 stars.
4 March 2016 | 9:26 pm
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