30 July, 2011

The Grand Inquisitor

Well, after that long post on the X-Files, I realized I hadn't even mentioned the episode that had inspired me to write about it in the first place. The finale of Season Three, "Talitha Cumi" is so very impressive. Unlike the rest of the episodes (which generally leave me entertained rather than impressed), this one kind of blew me away. Gah, it's so awesome I kept exclaiming to my preoccupied sister across the room something to that effect every five minutes or so.

Wait for it....

They draw on Dostoevsky's "Grand Inquisitor" scene from one of my favorite books, The Brothers Karamazov! Oh my goodness, it was so neat. Another testament (like the Moby Dick references) to the fact that some of the writers, at least, were decently educated. Again, like the last reference, it's actually made intelligently. Comes off very smoothly, makes sense in terms of the show we've seen up to this point, and does a fantastic job of helping us make sense of who the Syndicate is and what they're doing.

The one quibble I had with it is that it's a bit odd to put what I take is an alien hybrid in the "role" of Christ in the scene. Granted, he's being persecuted for his efforts to open Mulder's and Scully's eyes to "the truth", so it kind of works. The really compelling aspect, as I said, however, is what it reveals about the role of the "interrogator", or the "Cigarette Smoking Man". Yet another example of how much easier it is for human beings to make sense of the bad guy than the good guy. Especially when the bad guy is an archetype of human hostility to the "disappointing" savior, as Dostoevsky depicts his inquisitor, but the good guy is actually God incarnate. Bit of an imbalance there in what we're capable of comprehending.

On that note, it's perhaps natural that the heroes of X-Files come off as such compelling characters, while the nature of what they're searching for remains rather nebulous and unconvincing. The good guys we know how to portray are the searchers, the questors, the people who will give up anything to find the truth. When it comes to depicting what they are looking for, though, or to depicting one who actually has some answers, the producers are at a loss. I can hardly blame them much though. I personally think one has to move out of narrative into poetry at that point: after all, Dante and Eliot are some of the only artists to have really achieved any such depiction satisfactorily, and even then only towards the culminations of their artistic endeavors.

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