The Mandela Effect… Am I remembering this correctly?
Let’s back it up for a second.
Previously on the X-Files, Agents Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) investigated a pair of weird, telepathically linked twins. This week, though, they tackle something a bit more out of this world.
The X-Files have always been about “The Truth is out there.” In this week’s episode, The Truth comes into question when Mulder and Scully are confronted by a stranger (Brian Huskey) who only knows his first name, Reggie. Reggie Something, as he becomes known throughout the episode, seems like a bit of a whack job, suggesting that the X-Files have been a conspiracy to suppress the truth about him. He claims to be Mulder and Scully’s partner, having been erased using the Mandela Effect (or as he calls it, the Mengele Effect), a.k.a. the incorrect memory of a certain fact used to manipulate the public. Reggie Something warns that the Mandela Effect is being used for far more nefariously purposes. Borrowing from George Orwell, he says “who controls the past controls the future.”
Throughout “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat”, we’re led to believe that The Truth has been altered from the beginning by Dr. They (Stuart Margolin), especially after he arranges a meeting with Mulder and basically explains to him that people in power would once do anything to keep their secrets from getting out. Now? Fake news.
By the end of the episode, it becomes clear that Reggie, actually Reginald Murgatroid, is actually a whack job who literally likes being led off in a straightjacket. Where does that leave us? Well, unfortunately, there is no answer, especially when Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) asks “Where are they taking Reggie?”
So, what do I think?
On the surface, this was probably one of the best episodes of The X-Files this season. You had mystery, manipulation, intrigue, and a bit of craziness (especially when Mulder suggested that Reggie might be from a parallel universe). But, the deeper you look into it, the more holes you find. There really isn’t much of a plot beyond the themes presented and lacks any form of substance necessary for a deeper analysis. Darin Morgan managed to make a great episode, but the lack of plot was its downfall.
“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” was one of those episodes I could only watch once because it left me feeling underwhelmed. While it was plenty funny, it lacked depth and resonance.
I’d give this episode a solid B.
Photo Credit: Shane Harvey/FOX