‘The X-Files’ Episode 3 Recap: How Mulder Got His Groove Back

The X-Files Recap Fox
Courtesy of Fox

Spoiler alert: This recap contains plot details for the third episode of “The X-Files” revival, titled “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Beast.”

Building on the momentum of the second episode, Monday’s third installment of “The X-Files” reboot is one of the funniest, sweetest, most character-driven entries in the series to date. Joining classics like “José Chung’s From Outer Space” and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” in terms of humor and imagination, this memorable hour of television is a gift to fans who’ve waited years to add a new favorite to their lists.

Charmingly titled “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Beast,” the show opens on a (purposefully) stereotypical moonlit night deep in the Oregon woods. A blood-curdling scream interrupts a couple of stoners who are busy huffing paint fumes. In the first of several in-jokes, fans might recognize these two burnouts from their appearances in the similarly themed 1996 episodes “Quagmire” and “War of the Coprophages.”

Within seconds, the pair comes face-to-face with a man-size lizard monster who appears to have killed a victim and injured an Animal Control Officer.

Back at the FBI, Mulder is struggling with a crisis of faith, or as Scully delicately refers to it later in the episode “a questioning phase of some sort.” Either way, he’s feeling disillusioned and a bit embarrassed at his life’s quest. Seems one can only hunt jackalopes and Sasquatches for so long before it’s time to grow up.

“Since we’ve been away, much of the unexplained has been explained,” he moans sadly.

Luckily, Scully offers him a fresh case. “It has a monster in it,” she teases.

At the woodsy crime scene, Mulder and Scully search the area for evidence. Or rather, Scully searches while Mulder complains. This reversal in character forms the crux of the episode. Watching Scully lure Mulder out of his morose funk by pointing out the strange inconsistencies of the case is a wonderful inversion of their classic dynamic. There’s a generosity and warmth to Scully’s attempts at waking him out of his stupor that hints at the deep personal bond they share.

Later that night at a local truck stop, Mulder and Scully interview a transgender prostitute who claims that the lizard monster tried to attack her. According to the witness, it was dressed in tighty-whitey underwear. “Same kind I used to wear,” she adds helpfully.

They also speak with the Animal Control Officer who survived the attack in the woods. But a sudden reappearance of the monster interrupts their conversation, leading to the discovery of another victim, and kicking off a wild foot chase with Mulder desperately trying to capture an image of the creature on video. Thinking they have it trapped in a porta-potty, Mulder and Scully throw open the door to reveal… a pudgy Australian cellphone salesman?

“A bit of privacy please!” he shouts, as Mulder snaps a quick photo of him on the bowl.

Three interesting things about this guy: First, his name is Guy Mann. Second, he’s dressed almost identically to Carl Kolchak from the classic ‘70s horror series “The Night Stalker.” Third, there appears to be a set of horns protruding discreetly from the back of his head.

At the very least, he’s a suspect.

In the morgue, Scully examines the latest corpse while Mulder tries unsuccessfully to convince her that his blurry photos depict an actual monster. Happy to have her old friend back once again, Scully admits “I forgot how much fun these cases can be.” We couldn’t agree more, Scully.

Woken in the night by the sound of a scream, Mulder learns that the motel he and Scully are staying at is a bit kinkier than expected. A secret passage allows the sleazy manager to spy on his guests, Norman Bates-style. Pressed for info, the manager confesses that he saw Guy Mann turn into a lizard monster and destroy his room. A quick flashback reveals the truth, along with a brief glimpse of Mulder sleeping in a pair of red bikini briefs.

This all leads to an amazing scene where Mulder brings Scully up to speed on his recent discoveries. Anticipating each of her comebacks, he argues the merits of the case for both of them. It’s a bravura piece of comedy acting from Duchovny, who runs through a litany of potential scenarios, all based on episodes from the past. Yet its Scully’s bemused facial reactions that truly sell the joke. With nothing more than a slyly raised eyebrow, Gillian Anderson speaks volumes.

The case eventually leads Mulder to Mann’s oddball psychiatrist, then to a lonely cemetery where he comes face to face with the seemingly harmless suspect.   

Before continuing any further, we need to address the tombstone prominently bearing the name “Kim Manners.” Fans who’ve been watching the show from the very beginning should recognize Manners as the four-time Emmy nominated producer of “The X-Files.” Having worked on 132 episodes, and directed dozens of classics like “Die Hand die verletzt,” “Humbug” and the unforgettable “Home,” Manners’ importance to the series is immeasurable. For those who are curious, the dates on the stone reflect Manners’ actual birth and death, and the inscription, which reads “Let’s Kick It In The Ass,” was his trademark phrase before shooting a scene.

Also of interest is another nearby stone which bears the name of the late Jack Hardy, First Assistant Director on the 2008 feature “The X-Files: I Want to Believe.”

At this point, the episode switches gears and becomes something much richer than a cleverly comedic monster-of-the-week romp. The conversation that follows between Mulder and Mann blossoms into a lengthy flashback that does more than just explain how a peaceful, insect-eating monster transformed into a pot-bellied salesman. Instead, it illustrates the often confusing nature of the human condition by poking gentle fun at our collective fears, worries and self-doubt.

That’s a surprisingly existential theme for a story about a lizard-man who sprays blood from his eyes, but leave it to “The X-Files” to pull it off with style!

New Zealand-born actor/comedian Rhys Darby deserves special mention here for his brilliant portrayal of Mann, whose misadventures in human form bring to mind the work of Peter Sellers.

Highlights from this sequence include Mann waking up naked in the woods “overcome by some irrational need to cover up,” then adopting a puppy and naming it Dagoo. Proving to be an unreliable narrator, he even tosses in a gratuitous sex scene between himself and Scully.

“That did not happen,” says Mulder, clearly unamused.

“Ever since I became human I can’t help but lie about my sex life,” Mann apologizes.

Meanwhile, Scully discovers that the real killer is actually the Animal Control Officer, played in a bit of dream casting by comedian Kumail Nanjiani, who moonlights as a real-life X-Files podcaster when not co-starring in HBO’s “Silicon Valley.”

After catching the murderer, Scully rewards herself by stealing Mann’s adorable dog Dagoo, who reminds her of her old Pomeranian Queequeg, who was eaten by an alligator in the 1996 episode “Quagmire.”

The show ends with Mulder allowing Mann to escape back into the woods from whence he came. Or did he? Our FBI hero still isn’t entirely convinced. He’s been burned too many times in the past by false leads, misdirection and a desperate desire to believe in the impossible. Is Mann really an otherworldly creature, or merely a depressed salesman with a bad mustache who happens to like getting naked in front of strangers?

The final reveal, and the smile on Mulder’s face, answers the question beautifully.

“The X-Files” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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  1. Peter says:

    A wonderful episode of TV’s best ever series because it has something for everyone.

    – for the critics – the fact that if you were coming to it with no background of loving this quirky series over the decades, you were watching total televisual junk and could really slam it;

    – for the true believers, this was such a wonderful use of beloved characters and packed in more in-jokes and back-references than seems theoretically possible;

    – for the pedants like me, you could note that even an apparently knowledgeable reviewer could mis-spell Daggoo: c’mon, let’s not miss the Moby Dick references as our heroine replaces Queequeg …

    [hope I’ve not mis-spelled the hard words myself!]

  2. Carlos says:

    Were-Beast and Trash Man are the worst episodes ever!!!

  3. Scott says:

    I am a big X-Files fan and excited it was coming back. After Were-Beast and Trash Man, I am officially done. Worst writing ever.

  4. Kate Raynes-Goldie says:

    Rhys Darby (Guy Mann) is a Kiwi, not an Australian. How dare you!

  5. Steve says:

    Shockingly bad! Why include this in a short 6 part series?!

    I had high hopes of the episodes expanding on what went before but this was a wasted hour of crap acting, poor costumes and abysmal storyline that contributes nothing to the previous 2 shows! Perhaps the producers thought the introduction of a foreign actor might improve ratings and interest at the distinct lack of any storyline!

    We all have memorable episodes that stand out and some can be slow/cheesy etc but not at the expense of a full series. Feels like a total sell out.

  6. Actually there never was a monster. It was all inside their heads. The first two witnesses are high on spray, the trans was high on crack, the guy in the motel was drunk and the monster himself (Guy) keeps drinking from a green bottle. Guy then handles a green bottle to Mulder in the end which he drinks causing him to see Guy turn into a monster in the end. Its probably one of the governments experiments with drugs that is causing a hallucination. Also the real murderer never sees the monster.

  7. chris says:

    I feel like Mugatu in Zoolander after watching this episode.

  8. It is now one of my top five episodes. I absolutely love it. It could not have been more perfect. Full time fans will recognize all of the gifts given to them in this episode. Thanks to all involved in this episode.

  9. David Rivera says:

    I can see why some people don’t understand what this episode was about. True X-Files fans know there were 3 types of episodes, mythology, scary, and funny/satire. This was a comic episode and was announced as such. It’s not supposed to make any sense (remember the hunted house episode?), it’s supposed to be funny and ridiculous. That being said, it was excellent. My daughter and I had a great laugh.

    I recommend people go back and watch the entire series on Netflix. Then you will see how this episode brought back some great memories to those who were loyal to the show and watched the entire series back in the day.

  10. Xtienne says:

    Oh, yeah. The transgender prostitute trope yet again. Outstanding. (Sarcasm font)

  11. Lolly says:

    If we got 20-24 episodes, I would be happy to see two more of these episodes. In a mini-season it just seems like a waste. I want all canon, no MOTW shows if we only get six episodes.

  12. Gina says:

    awful. Rushed lines, lack of character …mulder looking stupid, and scully?? what the hell was that imagined sex scene?? Her lines were so out of what she would normally say it was crazy.!! They need to re-develop the characters again…it’s been a while ..maybe they did change during the years but don’t just assume we all figured that out!… The first two were good… but I think they’re trying to recapture that wonderful natural magic the show had. ugh. I’m sad.

  13. sosrcountry says:

    I am never disappointed with these two acting together. I enjoyed it very much and am glad Scilly got her voice back, not monotone but with emotion…the Gillian I remember!

  14. LookingUp says:

    It started off good, but then I thought it was a waste of our limited six episodes. If we only get six episodes, “ideally” I was hoping they’d all be WOW, DARN, HOW AWESOME WAS THAT plots. Why not, after waiting all these years?

  15. Paul Riley says:

    Dont believe what I just saw it was so bad I was actually thinking about being at work, yes rather being at work than watching nonsense like Episode 3. The last 2 were so good as well.

  16. Australian? Rhys Darby is from New Zealand.

  17. Ken Carbone says:

    I see Mostly positive comments – some were negative – which is my sentiment.
    I guess I just can’t remember this sort of garbage episode in the original series (either too many years ago or I just turned off the ones I didn’t like)
    I like comedy mixed with mystery, intrigue, violence and clever plots.
    This 3rd episode didn’t give me any of that – it was like a bad “B” movie to me – but that’s just my opinion.

  18. Cheryl says:

    Great show — I laughed so hard — Loved this show!!! Happy to see guest character actor Rhys Darby. I loved him in Flight of the Conchords.

  19. When “The X-Files” first aired, I was ten years old. I was hooked on the show even though I was too young to comprehend the deeper concepts of the overall plot of the series. Watching the series over again (thanks to both my obsession with the VCR in the 90’s, and Netflix) enabled me to see the series all over again and enjoy it as an adult; to see it a third time as an adult as it aired even added a third bout of enjoyment and a way of seeing the characters in a whole new light. Mulder for instance, isn’t the same old Mulder. He isn’t as easily fooled and is more of a skeptic than Scully was in Season One. He’s only willing to believe with evidence and isn’t so easily led by his theoretical side (no longer the man that will paint an orange “X” on the road and see it as “aliens” if he loses track of a few minutes on the same spot) and more apt to take his old talents and compare it with Scully’s methods of analyzing the “how and why”. The New Mulder is more likely to kick butt than to be the man to have his butt kicked. I like it.

  20. dawnmkelley says:

    I loved getting back to this sort of episode. Mulder’s debate with himself over the logistics of the monster as Scully just raised an eyebrow, hilarious. The only way X-Files pops the bubble of all the drama and insanity of it’s own way-too-out-there conspiracy (which, lets admit, will never make ANY sense) is light hearted episodes like this one. I was superhappy to leave the land of cloned babies and aliens for awhile and just see Mulder and Scully play as Mulder and Scully in a weird town on a weird case. In it’s reboot, X-Files has not skipped a beat in reclaiming all it’s former glory, including “silly monster” episodes. I personally loved it, down to the cheesy monster.

  21. Great. Just great! It didn’t have any of that government conspiracy stuff. It was just fun to watch. A nice departure and breakaway from the main story line. Delightful and funny and magical, but very human too.

  22. Marie says:

    I wondered if the monster was a nod to Doctor Who’s Silurians, the man lizards from the dawn of time who live and sleep under the earth. With his ten thousand year hibernation cycle it seemed interesting.

  23. PalmLine says:

    I liked how in every scene where the monster is seen, the witnesses were in some way or another intoxicated. Paint-sniffing, Alcohol, some weird drink in the white bottle… etc

  24. John says:

    The worst thing I have seen on Tv for years

    • I says:

      I’m glad I see other people share my thoughts.
      I’m calling it quits on the series. This episode was a complete mockup… I guess they plan to win the “worst series of 2016” award, honestly, I hope they do while audience plummets.

  25. Joe Runciter says:

    This was a clever, and moderately amusing episode – entirely inappropriate for this series.

    • Dan says:

      Um, you apparently have never actually seen The X-Files during its original run. They always had a sprinkling of comedic and bizarre/gonzo episodes.

  26. Reuben Seldo says:

    Oh my gosh! What a wonderful, wonderful episode. Reminiscent of older episodes such as “Clyde Bruckman’s…” and “Jose Chung’s…” This is the kind of episode that makes us fall in love with the series in the first place. And just like Mulder, we were in need of some kind of a push to make us ‘believe again’ after the rather lackluster first two episodes, and this episode did just that. Darin Morgan never fails to deliver and boy, did he deliver fulfilling-ly. And all those easter eggs; from the tombstones to Mulder’s ringtone, such sweet, sweet callbacks. Ah! It is indeed a great time to be an X-Phile. Keep up the good work, team X-files. We still want to believe!

  27. PJ says:

    “It worked for me…..”
    If only more shows were as good as The X-FILES. Episode 3 was pure fun and thoroughly entertaining. More, please!

  28. sow says:

    Woaw what a turnoff episode…. I’m disappointed about this episode 3. It has no suspense, no outside the box thinking…. Before X-Files used to be 40-70% of real unclassified cases. This episode has lost all concepts of the mysteries built up from the past series.The story wasn’t well delivered too much full shots of the creatures running around like nothing was… Anyway, I’ll always stay a true Fan of the X-files, and I hope episode 4 will have better to offer with a suspicious case that will grab my attention!

  29. John Cosmo says:

    I loved this episode! After the disappointing first episode, this was a real return to form and funny on multiple levels. (I feel the lizard character was also a good-natured teasing of the GEICO gecko.)

    The ending was a clever, delightful and unexpected, (but still plausible) twist. It was harked back to some of the best episodes of “The Twilight Zone.”

  30. This is where the herd of “fans” gets culled. The separation of true fans and wannabes, the chaff from the wheat. X-Files wasn’t just about aliens, conspiracies and fluke monsters. It was also the goofiness of Fox screaming in the forest, vampires who take their teeth out, wistful ghosts in mansions. The crazy humor was what endeared us to the characters, the ridiculous to the downright silliness of it all. Even in the most absurdly disturbing of episodes (I’m thinking of the Peacock Family “Home”) there was an element of humor and weirdness. I LOVED “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Beast,” I loved the nods to past episodes and characters, all the Easter Eggs and especially the part where Mulder is trying to figure out how to use a cell phone camera. I especially loved the ending where Mulder says, “Likewise.” His faith in all things unexplainable has been restored and the world makes sense to him again. Deceive, inveigle, obfuscate. Keep it up. We get it and we’re still watching.

    • James Moses says:

      …..in short, Michele, they tried way too hard, and too FAST, to recapture the essence of those eps and “Bad Blood”, failing considerably in certain instances – as Rob Weaver characterizes it below, I too felt embarrassed – for Scully most, weirded out by her vamping even IF just a figment of Guy’s tortured fib…..

    • Tony Forrest says:

      Exactly, Michele McKian. This episode revisited the comedy episodes that were scattered throughout the original 9 seasons. Did not know these were all from the same writer director before this article.

  31. Rob weaver says:

    Seriously ? I felt both embarrassed , and bewildered watching this episode… If you can call it that an episode ….

    I mean seriously !!!! sERIOUSLy !!!! Chris carter, duchovny and co. This is 2016!!! I don’t think there were “episodes” of this kind of c@@p this bad back in 1994. I get it, that back in the 90’s there was this wonderfully weird show called the X files!! But tonight’s great ” single hour time burgler- extraordinaire made everyone else other than me weirded out… Right before they left the room to hide elsewhere in the house. Ughhh!!!

    There is this show out now…been on for a decade or twelve years now…it’s largely considered a cult hit phenomenon ….it’s called Supernateral, and while it’s mostly a serious effort on two supercool protagonists investigating the weirdly, and sinister happenings of a “Supernateral” sort… It from time to time delves into a comedic groove… But the difference is between tonight’s x-files “wtf” variety of wtf…the always on target Supernatural can actually pull off being funny, clever, and sinister/ mysterious at the same time.

    I, as a televisionaholic (Not actually a word…yes) feel I have the absolute right to vent my frustrations and vehemence at this being the 3rd offering in a proposed, revamp series broadcast of a once beloved show from 20 years ago.

    Chris Carter/Glen Morgan/ Darin Morgan??? wtf??

    …in that “clever” scene in the graveyard…your propmaster may as well have had a third tombstone with “RIP x-files 2016” written on it beside that Kelly Manner’s one and that other guys beside his. That’s what’s in store for this series if there are any more clunker-missteps like this third offering

    Geez!!😒

    • Josh says:

      Lol your comment is like saying “Kanye is going to make Paul McCarthy a star” where do you think supernatural stole the comical episodes from? Do yourself a favor and watch every episode of the Xfiles before making uneducated comments like this. From a true fan of the series, this episode was just like the old ones in this genre of the series and that’s a fact.

    • Dani says:

      The worst part about your comment is that Kim Manners was also a producer on Supernatural before his untimely death. Which means that X-files had a big influence on the episode structure of Supernatural, namely the comedic episodes to balance out the dark themes. I’ve watched and loved both shows and seen their worst episodes and their best episodes and this latest showing of the X-files will go down as one of my favorites.

      • Ken Carbone says:

        I couldn’t agree more – this was absolute garbage – NOT clever at all – just intelligence insulting. The Sopranos could be funny and yet brutal all in the same episode – this offering was enough to cancel my interest in the entire resurection – like I say – I couldn’t agree mere with your opinion.

    • Helen says:

      Really? The funny, satirical episodes were some of my very favorites of the old episodes. I adored this episode and even my mother who isn’t a huge x-files fan loved it. It (in an obviously purposeful way) reminded me of the episode “Quagmire,” and had a similar feeling to “Bad Blood” in its comedy and its flashbacks to reveal extra bits on scenes we’d already watched through the lens of Mulder and Scully’s and other minor characters’ perspectives. The weirdness of it also was similar to “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space.” All of those episodes are rightfully well-known fan favorites, and I think this episode will be added to that list, easily.

      Of course, you’re free to have your opinion. I can’t say I expect everyone to like The X-Files just because I do, but if you’re looking for the show to be similar to how it used to be, I can’t see how you’d be disappointed by any of the three episodes that have aired thus far. This show has always been a mix of serious monster of the week episodes, even more serious mythology episodes, and a tiny dash of absurd satirical episodes.

      It’s “Kim Manners,” by the way, not Kelly.

  32. CC says:

    Loved this episode. Funny on so many levels, especially for fans of the original series. What a treat!

  33. Kerry says:

    This recap is spot on! I loved this episode. Very amusing and charming. It had me smiling throughout and afterwards.

  34. Nanny Mo says:

    The writing was descent but the directing and pacing was off. It was iffy, better than #1 but not as good as #2. Anderson was better than Mulder, but only because the editor mis-cut him. Comedy is as much cutting as it is acting.

  35. Leigh says:

    Damn, Anderson is the best! More comedy for her pls!

  36. Wil'Da Beast says:

    ‘The X-Files’ Episode 3 Recap: How Mulder Got His Groove Black’ Or how Molder fell in luv wit Queenatifah! She Da’na Da’Keen D’Owens! Were U deer, ween Moldy met dat Where-beast???

  37. sosrcountry says:

    *Scully

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