Hey kids guess who’s back… that’s right, it’s me, Mrs. X, and in honor of Chris Carter’s (the almighty creator of the best show ever on television, period) birthday on Saturday October 13th, I’m going to give you a review of one of my top ten all time favorite X-Files episodes. “Post-Modern Prometheus” has everything you could need for Halloween: monsters, mad scientists, crazy townspeople, and, of course, a very shippy moment with Mulder and Scully. Click the pic to check it out.
Chris’s note: As Mrs. X’s writing will make clear, this article was supposed to have been published on Saturday, October 13th. It was not, and the fault is entirely mine. A lot of you out there don’t know this, but I write and edit this website entirely from work. True story. All of this is done between my duties at the office and on my lunch break. I don’t even have a PC at home. So when I got this article from Mrs. X late Friday night, I was just too tired to stay here and hunt for pictures. However, I have remedied this, and as of Thursday I will step boldly into the 21st century and have my high-speed internet activated at the old homestead. That’s right, loyal readers, no more missed deadlines or lack of weekend updates. Chris is finally getting the internet all up in his crib! I send out my sincere apologies to you readers, and especially to Mrs. X, on my delay in putting out this fantastic review. And now back to to Mrs. X…
The shippiness is definitely why this episode rates in my top ten all time favorites. Again if you are not familiar with the term shipper it is someone such as myself who believe that Mulder and Scully should/do have a romantic relationship beyond the X-Files. Anyone who watches the show knows that there is definitely some sexual tension going on, but we shippers like to take that one step further and look for any sign in any episode that points towards a real relationship between the two.
If you look closely at the earlier episodes you can find things, but it is definitely more prominent in the later episodes I would say starting with season 4 and 5, which puts “The Post-Modern Prometheus” right in the thick of things. I actually not only chose to review this episode because of the shippiness factor, but I also figured that because it is a Frankenstein’s monster type of story it would be perfect for the Halloween theme going on this month. But enough about shippiness… on with the birthday celebration review!
“The Post-Modern Prometheus” is a classic Frankenstein’s monster tale; ironically it was written and directed by the man himself Chris Carter, which again is fitting since I’m writing this for his birthday. If you listen to the commentary by Chris on this episode (if you have the DVD… if you don’t, you need to stop reading this and go out and buy it) he says that he always wanted to do a Frankenstein type episode and he was happy with the way it turned out. He also says that he always wanted to shoot an episode in black and white and that’s exactly what he does. The whole episode is in black and white, which really doesn’t detract at all from the quality of it. Hey it’s his show, baby, he can do what he wants.
The episode opens with a camera shot on a comic book opening up, this is only one of two color shots in the whole episode, the other is at the end when the comic book closes. We are first introduced to Shaineh Berkowitz (not sure why Chris chose that last name, but no one hears dogs telling them to kill people in this episode) and her son Izzy, who with his two other strange friends are getting ready to pile in a small car to go to a comic book convention. Ms. Berkowitz is yelling at Izzy and telling him he can’t go to the convention, but he tells her that he’s 18 and he can do what he wants. She concedes and off he and his friends go.
It cuts to night time and Shaineh is sitting in her bedroom watching the Jerry Springer show. Jerry makes a couple of appearances in this episode and is referenced several times. Chris puts in underlying theme in here about everyone wanting their two minutes of fame and people being obsessed with the tabloids and shows like Jerry Springer. As Jerry Springer is talking to a woman who has a “wolf baby” Shaineh is watching so intently that she doesn’t realize someone is throwing a fumigation tent over her house. She then realizes someone is in her house when she begins to her Cher and the room starts to fill with some type of gas. Just before she passes out she catches a glimpse of what appears to be a monster peering at her through the bedroom door.
After the opening credits we see Mulder and Scully riding in a car presumably to investigate what is going on in the town in which Ms. Berkowitz lives (the town is never named). Mulder is driving while Scully is reading a letter that was written to him from Ms. Berkowitz talking about her strange experiences. As Scully reads, we learn that Shaineh had a similar experience to what happened at the beginning of the episode years ago, and wound up having her son Izzy and it turns out that she is pregnant again. She is writing to Mulder because she saw a woman on the Jerry Springer show who mentioned that Mulder came to her house to investigate her “wolf baby”. As Scully reads the letter Mulder keeps giving her looks and rolling his eyes. He’s not sure why he’s going to investigate this case and we can tell that he thinks it’s a hoax.
Nonetheless Mulder and Scully continue on eventually ending up at Shaineh Berkowitz’s house. Once there they begin to interview her. She tells them about the most recent incident and how it is extremely similar the previous incident in which her son was conceived. She claims that before she passed out she saw a monster with a gross face and lumps all over his head. She then explains that she is pregnant again and isn’t sure how she could be at which point Mulder explains that she had a tubal ligation after her son was born. Ms. Berkowitz cleverly states that “You can’t plant a seed in a barren field.” She then proceeds to take them around the house to show them the evidence that someone(s) or something(s) had been there.
There is the frying pan which took her two days of scrubbing to get clean, a giant (Sam’s club size) empty jar of peanut butter and marks where someone had left a glass on a dresser without using a coaster. Scully asks if her son could have left a glass there, but Shaineh explains that the dresser is an antique and Izzy values his life enough to know better than that. Shaineh points out Izzy’s room, referring to it as a pig sty. As Scully goes to investigate Mulder stays behind and Shaineh says “You know what’s goin on don’t ya Mr. Mulder?” Mulder says, “why?” She says, “cause you’re bein all quite and stuff they said on Jerry Springer you’re like an expert.” She goes onto make a reference about alien abduction and Mulder states that he’s not sure if he believes in that stuff anymore.
Scully returns to the living room holding a copy of a comic book entitled The Great Mutato and on the cover is a cartoon of the monster Shaineh says she saw. She explains that Izzy created the comic. At this point Izzy comes through the front door. Ms. Berkowitz explains that this is Mulder and Scully from the FBI, to which Izzy quips “The Federal Bureau of Investigations?” Scully questions him about the comic book and he says that The Great Mutato is real and that many people in town have seen him, he then agrees to take Mulder and Scully out into a field so that they can possibly catch a glimpse of the creature.
Cut to the field where Izzy, his friends and Mulder and Scully are. It is obviously night time and Izzy unwraps a peanut butter sandwich and places it on a stump, stating that it works, he’s not sure why it works, but it does. While they are waiting Scully begins to question the validity of all of this and proceeds to provide a commentary on how people’s lives revolve around tabloids and wanting to be famous. Suddenly a wail interrupts Mulder and Scully’s conversation and everyone runs towards the sound. We see a figure run into the woods and Mulder quickly chases after it. Scully stops briefly to examine the peanut butter sandwich noticing that there are two bites out of it. Mulder loses whatever it was he was chasing and the rest of the group catches up. Catching sight of something on the hill above them he shines his flashlight on it only to find that it is a farmer who is pretty irritated that they are on his property. Mulder explains to him that they were chasing a monster and he tells them that there ain’t no monsters around here, he tells them that if they want to see a real monster they need to go visit Dr. Pollidori.
Dr. Pollidori (played by John O’Hurly, who many of you will recognize as J. Peterman from Seinfeld) represents the mad scientist Dr. Frankenstein character. He is obviously an arrogant jerk who is obsessed with winning a Nobel Prize. Of course when Mulder and Scully visit his lab it begins to thunder and lightning. They try to ask him questions about his work, but he tells them they wouldn’t understand. Scully then states she is a scientist and he lets up a little, explaining that he is working with genetics to manipulate and create new creatures. He shows them a picture of a fly that has legs growing out of its mouth. He tells them that he did it because he could. After some more back and forth about the morality of such experiments Mulder asks the doctor if he wants his research to end up as a footnote on the Jerry Springer show. The doctor quips “Jerry Springer show?,” obviously pondering and enjoying the possibility. Again the underlying theme of tabloid obsession and fame even with a scientist. Of course Mulder feels the need to say as they watch Dr. Pollidori leave “Good night Dr. Frankenstein”.
Cut to Dr. Pollidori’s house where he and his wife are arguing about children. She wants them and he doesn’t. He wants to get out of the hick town and win a Nobel Prize. She is just interested in having a baby. He leaves for a scientific conference and she is left wishing for a baby. As she lies on the bed we see the fumigation tents engulf the house, the gas envelopes the house and Cher is playing loudly. This is the first good glimpse we have of the monster as he ascends the stairs singing loudly as he goes.
Cut to Mulder walking into the town diner and everyone is staring at him as if he’s someone famous and or important. Keep in mind most of the townspeople look strange speaking to the types of people that are really into Jerry Springer and the tabloids, almost stereotyping if you will. Mulder sits down at the counter and the waitress asks him if Jerry Springer is coming to town and proceeds to bring him a giant breakfast, complements of JJ the owner of the diner as he says “that’s with two Js.” Mulder declines the giant breakfast in favor of just a cup of coffee. He also notices a reporter sitting next to him taking notes and looking and behaving strangely like a chicken when Scully comes in with the morning newspaper.
The headline in the paper reads FBI Hunts Hometown Monster or something to that effect I can’t remember right off the top of my head. Mulder realizes that’s why everyone is looking at him again playing with the underlying theme of Jerry Springer culture. Scully realizes that someone taped the conversation they had out in the woods and she has a pretty good idea who. They go to the Berkowitz’s house and ask if Izzy owns a tape recorder. Izzy kind of tries to sidestep the question and Shaineh says angrily, “Christmas, 1993.” He goes and gets the tape recorder, while they are listening to it the tape cuts into a Cher song and they hear a moaning similar to what they heard in the woods. Shaineh says that’s the song she heard playing the night she got knocked up.
Mulder and Scully leave the Berkowitz house, and as they are driving Mulder stops the car and backs up they both get out and notice the Pollidori’s house covered in fumigation tenting. They proceed into the house as “Gypsies, Tramps And Thieves” plays in the background. A side note here, Mark Snow composed some great music for this episode. It’s very circus like and fits really well with the episode. When they get in the house they begin to hack and cough due to the gas. They go different directions; Scully finally makes her way upstairs into the bedroom where Mulder is lying on the floor gasping for air. They both then collapse on the floor and we see the farmer standing over them wearing a ventilator saying I told you there ain’t no monsters. The screen then goes black. Mulder and Scully awake to find themselves being stared at by the police and Dr. Pollidori.
Dr. Pollidori asks what they are doing in his house. They go downstairs where they try and sort out what happened. Mulder and Scully sit at the kitchen table still looking groggy and confused. Mulder begins to accuse Dr. Pollidori of knowing something he is not telling them. He says that he thinks that Mrs. Pollidori may have been impregnated, which of course over joys her. They also find clues similar to the ones found in Shanieh’s house. A violated frying pan and a giant empty peanut butter jar. Another side note here in the gag reel for season 5, Mulder opens the garbage can to get the peanut butter jar and it isn’t there. He does a great tin man impression asking for the peanut butter jar out of the side of his mouth. Gillian retrieves it and tries to throw it to him to put in the garbage can, but it doesn’t really work it’s pretty funny.
Meanwhile we see the farmer taking a peanut butter sandwich down into the cellar where the monster is happily watching the movie Mask; you know the one with Cher as the mother of the boy with elephantitis. We get our first decent glimpse of the monster and can tell why he is obsessed with the movie, he has similar characteristics to the main character, it also explains his fascination with Cher. The monster is played by Chris Owens who also plays Jeffery Spender (Mulder’s half brother) in the later myth arc episodes. The farmer has obviously adopted the monster as his own son because as he gives him the sandwich he tells “enjoy your movie, but don’t stay up to late ok son.” The farmer then goes back into the farm house and pulls out a photo album, which contains pictures of the monster when he was younger; again it is obvious that the farmer has raised him from conception.
Dr. Pollidori shows up and it becomes clear that he is the farmer’s biological son and that he knows about the monster. They argue and Pollidori ends up strangling his father and killing him. The monster comes up into the farm house and finds his father dead. He cries and he carries him out to the barn and buries him. We get a really good look at the monster now, it is obvious that he has two mouths, I always found it impressive that the fx people were able to make it obvious that in the cold breathe was coming out of both mouths.
Mulder returns to the diner where for some reason now the townspeople seemed really pissed off at him. One guy tries to trip him, someone else flings oatmeal at him and JJ blatantly spits in his egg. Then to top it off the waitress dumps hot coffee in his lap, when she does this Mulder says “hey that’s not a place you want to burn a guy”. I’m pretty sure in the deleted scenes they show Duchovny ad-libbing this line, he says “great now my crotch is gonna be up all night.” It’s either in the deleted scenes or season 5’s gag reel. Scully comes in with the paper and they realize why everyone is being rude. The paper says that the FBI is calling the monster a hoax. But, before they can discuss anything everyone in town is running down the street.
Mulder and Scully follow everyone to the post office, where a postal worker is yelling asking if people want to see the monster. Of course the angry mob screams yes and he pulls Izzy out the door wearing a Great Mutato mask. Shaineh is there and is obviously fired up as she starts screaming at everyone to leave her son alone. The postal worker says that he intercepted a package and that the package contained the mask. I always had a problem with this scene because it sounds to me like the people who work at the post office in this town just randomly go around opening people’s mail. I mean maybe if the package was ticking, or leaking some kind of strange liquid I could see that they would open it. But, I don’t see how a rubber mask would set off any alarms. Keep in mind too that this was before 9/11 so there probably wasn’t any extra screening of mail going on. I just always found it weird that this guy would just happen to “intercept” the package.
Scully tells Mulder that the stuff in the frying pan was a chemical used to put herds of farm animals to sleep and that a farmer in town was registered to have the chemical. They high tail it out to the farm and begin to look around. They find the fresh grave and the chemical in the barn and for some reason the chicken lady reporter was hiding in the barn it was still never clear to me why she was there, but she tells them that the monster killed and buried the old man. About this time the townspeople show up with torches (classic Frankenstein) led by Dr. Pollidori who has got them riled up. Of course he wants to find the monster and kill it.
The angry mob starts to search the barn while they are searching Scully sees the monster poke its head out of the cellar. Mulder and Scully go down to investigate and find the monster hiding, obviously frightened. We also see that the monster has created a serious shrine to Cher. They realize that they have to get him out of there before he gets killed. Meanwhile the idiot townspeople have set the barn on fire. Just as they come up out of the cellar the chicken lady reporter screams “there it is!” Mulder, Scully, and the monster retreat back into the cellar as the angry mob descends on them.
Dr. Pollidori wants to immediately kill it, but Mulder holds him at bay and then the monster speaks. Dr. Pollidori claims it’s a trick, but Mulder is pissed by this point and the monster is allowed to continue. He explains that the farmer raised him on the farm and as he got older he wanted friends of his own and possibly a girlfriend. So the farmer set out to try and learn his son’s (Dr. Pollidori) science in order to try and make a mate for the monster. But he was a simple man and it was difficult for him. It becomes clear that many of the people in town are directly related to the animals on the farm due to the farmer’s genetic experimentation as they share very similar characteristics to chickens, goats, horses and pigs. The monster explains that they never meant to hurt anyone and that he learned so much of the world through people’s houses. He asks Dr. Pollidori if he can create a mate for him and Dr. Pollidori says “I don’t know how to recreate you, you were a mistake.” The angry mob realizes that the monster is not out to hurt anyone and Izzy says hey “he’s no monster.” They realize that Dr. Pollidori is the real monster.
Cut to Dr. Pollidori being taken away in a police cruiser and Mulder and Scully looking through the photo album in the farm house. Mulder says that it’s not supposed to end this way, Scully says that everything is good because Dr. Pollidori is going to jail, but Mulder says that’s not the way it’s supposed to end, Frankenstein is supposed to escape to go in search of his bride. Mulder then asks to speak to the writer as he is saying this Izzy walks into the farm house.
Cut to everyone in the town caravanning down the road, driving to…..we’re not sure where. Cher’s version of “Walking In Memphis” is playing in the background. The monster is riding in the backseat of Mulder and Scully’s car and he is obviously digging the music. We then see the back of what is obviously a Cher impersonator and it is clear that the townspeople have taken the monster to a drag club. Chris Carter wanted the real Cher to be in this episode, he is friends with her, but I think she had a conflict and couldn’t do it, so they got an impersonator (we never see the impersonator’s face). The monster is sitting at a table in the front row and is really getting down, he and Mulder exchange high fives.
It cuts briefly away from this scene to Jerry Springer interviewing Shaineh and Dr. Pollidori’s wife on his show. They are both holding babies that look like the monster (guess the farmer finally got it right) and Jerry asks “is it hard to love these babies?” and Shaineh says “what’s not to love?” and the audience cheers.
Cut back to the club. The Cher impersonator comes down off stage and pulls the monster up from the table, it is clear that he is elated by this. As he goes with her, Mulder stands up spins around and offers his hand to Scully. She sits there stunned for a second and then takes it as he pulls her up and they dance very close with big smiles gazing into each other’s eyes.
AHHHHHHHHHH shippy moment, you know I love it. There were a bunch of rumors going around that there was a kiss between them that was edited out of the episode. I’ve never seen the actually footage, but I have seen what are supposed to be pictures, which kinda look photo shopped. It’s my opinion that such a scene never existed, but if anyone has proof to the contrary send it my way. The episode ends with the live action turning into still animation and the comic book we saw at the beginning closing.
This is definitely a top ten episode for me. In fact it’s in the season that probably has most of my favorite episodes (season 5). This was the last season that the show was filmed in Vancouver, its right before the movie and I think David and Gillian look the best in this season. Overall the story telling in season 5 is some of my favorite; there is a great mix of stand alone and myth arch stuff. Plus, season 5 starts to get pretty shippy, which I’m all for. Anyway if you haven’t seen The Post-Modern Prometheus check it out along with the rest of the episodes from season 5 and HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRIS CARTER!!!!!!!!!!!!