Hell Hath No Fury: The X-Files S11x8 “Familiar” Review

March 11, 2018 at 7:26 PM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This review contains major spoilers of The X-Files season 11. Read at your own risk!

 

The eighth episode of The X-Files season 11 titled “Familiar” feels like a “back to basics” sort of story as it deals with old supernatural horror, specifically witchcraft. The show has already dealt with this kind of story in its previous seasons. In fact, when I watched “Familiar,” I immediately thought of the show’s old episode “Die Hand Die Verletzt,” where it was also about a witch wreaking havoc in a small town.

“Familiar” treads on the same territory as we see Mulder and Scully investigate the killing of a young boy in a small town in Connecticut. A boy’s body is found in the woods with bite marks of an animal. Mulder suspects a hellhound is responsible for the killing. According to him, a hellhound is a wild dog that guards the gates of hell. Scully thinks it’s the child’s father who might be their suspect, and not a supernatural being.

Eventually though, Scully rules out the dead boy’s father and instead provides the town’s police chief with a profile of the suspect – an adult male with a possible previous criminal record. The dead boy’s father, who is also a cop later finds out about the profile of the suspect and sets out to find him. Mulder still thinks a supernatural being is at work.

What differentiates “Familiar” from “Die Hand Die Verletzt” is that it introduces a character that may possibly be the culprit. And it’s not a witch. It’s a character straight out of a children’s show – a cartoonish character named Mr. Chuckleteeth, who more or less look like a creepy clown. Mr. Chuckleteeth shows up in a scene shortly before someone is about to die.

Later, the cop dad finds the suspect and beat him to a pulp while an angry mob watches. The suspect claims he’s innocent of the boy’s killing but the cop dad and the crowd refuse to believe him. The suspect is shot dead by the cop dad.

THE X-FILES: L-R: David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in the “Familiar” episode of THE X-FILES airing Wednesday, March 7 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2018 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Shane Harvey/FOX

We later find out that the police chief’s wife has put a curse on him using witchcraft after she finds out he’s having an affair with the cop dad’s wife. But the spell backfires as the hellhound or “familiar” she unleashes into the town kills a little boy and even her own daughter. The spell has also summoned fictional characters like Mr. Chuckleteeth to stalk children and lure them into the woods. The police chief’s wife tries to correct her mistakes by casting another spell but it’s already too late.

The episode shows how mass hysteria could cloud people’s judgement and wrongfully accuse those who are actually innocent. While I do agree with Mulder’s argument that suspects should be treated as innocent before being proven guilty, I don’t think it’s unfair to think that a convicted felon will not commit the same crime again.

This episode just doesn’t work for me as it feels like it’s all been done before, which the show already did. The story isn’t new and frankly, witchcraft is a tired trope and the episode doesn’t even scare me at all.

 

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