Written by Jessica Scott & Mike Wollanger
Directed by Ralph Hemecker
Usually scripts by first-time writers, or in the case of this episode, their only scripts, are somewhat jumbled and don’t quite have the balance of either the nature of the X-Files or the idea behind the monsters. But you’d have to look long and hard to find an episode as confusing and bizarre as Schizogeny is.
First, there’s the fact that abused teenagers seem to be trying to fight back against the parents who are attacking them. Then it seems that somehow, the trees and the soil around a Michigan orchard are somehow responsible for the deaths. Then we learn that these same trees and dirt are somehow being controlled by the therapist for these same abused children, who was also abused as a child, and by the way, all of the abuse that they’re talking about, never actually happened. And just when it seems that Mulder is doomed to the same horrible death as the other victims, a deux ex machina appears in the form of an orchard worker, who pops up just in time to inexplicably walk up behind the therapist and chop her head off. One wonders at what points Chris Carter and company looked at this script, and thought “This doesn’t make any sense.”
This is a messy and utterly perplexing episode. It doesn’t help matter that it also chooses to be an episode centered around teenagers, something that the X-Files would never really handle with the greatest of ease. Which is something of a pity, because there actually happen to be some pretty good ideas surrounding this episode. It deals with an issue that has a great deal of pertinence, the idea of imagined accusations of abuse among youth. Karin Matthews only childhood was apparently a mess of horrors, and as a result of these horrors, she tried to center her aggression into the idea of therapy. However, rather than use it in a positive way, she seemed to see images of herself everywhere, and then tried to pour her abuse into vessels like Bobby Rich. There was clearly a hostile relationship between him and his stepfather, but Karin used a way to turn into something that it wasn’t. And as a result of her inability to deal with it, she took it to an extreme.
This is a powerful idea. Where it loses cohesion is having Karin’s father take over her body. Sarah-Jane Redmond is a very good actress (she had already played a version of benign evil on Millennium this same year) but when it becomes clear that Karin is using the voice of her own father as a split personality, it seems and added element to an episode that already had one too many. Redmond does a good of sounding male, but its way too much of a stretch for her to pull off.
The episode isn’t helped much by the fact that Mulder and Scully seem utterly out of place for the majority of it. The usually humorous back and forth just seems particularly discordant here, and it doesn’t help matters that even Scully’s ‘rational’ explanations seem even more ludicrous then usual (even she seems to admit as much). Mulder does a little better, but his attempt to connect with Bobby don’t seem particularly believable or sympathetic. He isn’t helped by the fact that Chad Lindberg seems to be doing his best to channel Nicholas Cage, and not doing a particularly good job at it, either. Just to add to the problems, the special effect in this episode aren’t particularly good. Then again, one assumes the tech people didn’t have much to work with. Trying to do an episode where it seems like the dirt and the trees are trying to kill is a little too close to what we came across in Detour, and at least then the attackers were human. Here the ideas would be laughable, if they weren’t being played relatively straight.
Schizogeny is another messy episode that robs what is potentially a powerful idea of much of its strength. One could see a writer like Spotnitz or Gilligan pulling it off, but not a couple of first-times. You get the feeling that one more draft might have been able to handle the problems with part of it, but there are so many other mixed elements that ultimately it just doesn’t work. It’s little wonder that Scott and Wollanger would disappear from the show after just this episode— this episode might have worked a little better had it been in the first couple of seasons. Even the people who admire it, would have to admit that this is a hard episode to love.
My Score: 2.5 stars.