Leading up to The X-Files reboot/premiere (or a “re-miere,” for superfans of terrible portmanteaus) on January 24th, tvDownload’s Drew Grant and Vinnie Mancuso have challenged themselves to recap episodes of the original series from memory. (That’s right: no Googling! Because Google didn’t exist in the early 90’s! [Neither did Vinnie, but that’s beside the point.]) Then the other half of this paranormal investigation unit is charged with tracking down the episode and fact-checking our hazy fever dreams to the plot of the actual episode.
Previous episodes can be found here.
Today’s catch comes via Vinnie’s nightmares of the New Jersey poop monster.
Vinnie’s X-Filed Memory:
“The Shit Monster.”
When Drew told me we were going to attempt to recap X-Files episodes based on memory alone, literally the first three words to pop into my head were “The Shit Monster.” What do they mean? I don’t know! I’m only 24. My memories of The X-Files are spotty at best, and usually just mixed with other shows. Whenever someone says “The Truth Is Out There” I always bring up the time Mulder had sex with the middle-aged alien prostitute in a closet and only realize mid-conversation I’m referencing Californication again.
But I know there’s something involving a shit monster on The X-Files. Is it…made of shit? Live in it? Is it like a Frankenstein’s Shit Monster situation, where the real shit monster is actually mankind? I don’t know, but I’ve become pretty obsessed with wracking my memory to find out. At this point I’m basically Captain Ahab, and the shit monster is my white whale swimming in an ocean of feces.
Here’s what I DO remember:
–The episode takes place mostly in New Jersey. This is definitely true. I grew up in Jersey and clearly recall there being two major Jersey-centric X-Files episodes. The first was the Jersey Devil one, which I refused to watch because the great-aunt that used to host my family’s Thanksgivings lived in the Pine Barrens, and trying to play hide-and-seek with your cousins in the backwoods Jersey wilderness with the thought of an eight-foot-tall devil-beast sneaking up on you leaves deep-seeded emotional scars.
Anyway, the shit monster episode definitely starts on a human waste boat off the shore of Newark, because I remember learning that literal boat-loads of human excrement existed right off the Jersey coast put a lot of things about the state I grew up in into perspective.
–I am pretty sure the shit monster itself looked a whole lot like the Creature from the Black Lagoon, if the creature had a Fleshlight for a face and the black lagoon was filled with…well at this point I think you get it.
–At one point in the episode—and this is seared into my brain forever–the shit monster hides in a porta potty. What happens next? I have no idea but it is undoubtedly the reason to this day I’m absolutely terrified of all public restrooms, toilets, and music festivals.
–Scully vomits up a slug? Sure, Scully vomits up a slug. Or something very much like that. But it probably does nothing to shake her unflappable scientific resolve. Fucking Lucius Malfoy could hit Scully with the slug-vomiting charm fromHarry Potter and Scully would still be like “there’s a rational explanation for this, Mulder!” in between slug vomits.
–Oh! And there is some shady radioactive waste company leaking chemicals into a swamp, which is the reason the shit monster exists in the first place. That also may or may not be me remembering the origin stories to one of about 100 different Batman villains. Although Jim Gordon vs. The Shit Monster does sound like the greatest Gotham episode yet to be written.
–Meanwhile, Mulder is off yelling “Shit monsters?! You don’t know the half of it!” at a room filled with vaguely-FBI-looking men at a board meeting he wasn’t invited to. They all look at him skeptically, not getting it.
Mulder does save the day in the end, though, when he tracks the shit monster to a waste plant (probably in New Jersey), pulls a giant lever and basically flushes the shit monster into the ocean. Which means it’s gone, but not dead.
……….okay I’m not saying the shit monster is coming back for the new episodes but, like, you’re telling me the X-Files just cast Joel McHale and he’s NOT going to turn out to be the shit monster in disguise the whole time? Something to think about.
I remember this episode having to do less with shit monsters and New Jersey than it did about fluke worms. But it turns out…we were both right!
Okay, so this episode is innocuously called “The Host,” and begins with some bathroom issues onboard a Russian…ship. Some kind of cargo ship. Apparently their toilets aren’t flushing, and the youngest guy on the boat is tasked with being the plumber, even though he’s not a plumber. “Why me?” He asks. “Because you are the youngest,” says the Russian ship Activities Coordinator. Aren’t you SO glad we don’t live in Russia? Anyway, he dies, and his body washes up in a New Jersey storm drain. A disgruntled Mulder must fly to New Jersey and splash around in a gross sewer, which is just so BULLSHIT that he immediately flies back and yells at his boss for having to do this bullshit assignment. God, it must have been great when the government had money to afford this kind of travel!
But wuh-oh, it turns out Mulder’s inappropriate boss-reaming occurs during a board meeting where it’s decided to disband The X-Files. *sad trombone noise.* Now Mulder just has to solve regular monster problems, not involving aliens. He is bummed, and goes to hang out on a random DC bench. But at least he’s no longer in New Jersey!
Scully comes to visit Mulder on his bench (okay), but she’s less bummed about the X-Files closing than psyched about her recent graduation from John Hughes High.
“They don’t want us working together, Scully. And that’s the only reason I can think of to stay.” Mulder is three credits away from being the valedictorian at Say Anything U.
Scully hatches a plot where she’ll do the autopsy on Mulder’s case so they can still hang out. It becomes immediately clear that she’s a pro.
Just like really good at her job.
Now I didn’t work for the government in the 90, but my dad did. And one of his big gripes is how there is so much paperwork that even lateral moves require tons of red-tape and bureaucracy. But Scully can just become a coroner, no problem, because she’s Pretty in Pink (guts).
Then Scully, in the process of dismembering guy, just happens upon this big ass fluke worm. It’s a total fluke (worm), but that’s why they pay her the big bucks. To make adult faces.
Meanwhile a guy named Craig gets fluke wormed.
Which is sad, because his coworker just finished reading that part about name-repetition in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
He lives; however he has a bad taste in his mouth after getting attacked in a New Jersey sewer. “That will go away” says a lady doctor, failing to factor in Craig’s condition, occupation or state of residency. But what can you ask of this lady, really?
She’s as good a doctor as Scully is a mortician. Though she does note a strange wound on his back. But also accuses him of lying about his attack for disability? NJ is just mad weird.
Mulder would pay more attention to this wound, if he could stop getting random phone calls in the doctor’s office. One is from Scully, and one is from a rando who we don’t see but who says Mulder has a friend at the FBI.
Of course he doesn’t– not really–but that’s what estranged dads are for!
Scully’s “sources” (LOL) tell her that the first body could have been killed by a parasite. She also has the parasite that she found in the guy in a jar. Yet she concludes that this man was not killed by a parasite. “The weird thing,” she says, “is that nothing else makes sense.”
Mulder correctly cuts to the heart of the matter, asking Scully who his secret FBI friend might be.
Meanwhile Craig can’t stop brushing his teeth. Then he throws up blood. Then he takes a shower. Then he throws up a worm.
The worm goes down the drain, in a huge hurry to run for public office or something.
Luckily for Mulder, NJ septic systems run at the same pace as their public transit, and the fluke worm monster gets stuck in the bathroom equivalent of the Fort Lee express lane.
Okay, so now Scully has the worm, but gets distracted when someone slips a National Enquirer rag under her door, which has a story about the Russian boat death. She finally puts two and two together, I guess, I mean, they already caught the thing, who cares where it came from?
Oh. Because there are a lot of them. And they are genderless, but have primate reasoning skills.
Anyway, the big case already seems solved:
Scully tells Mulder if he quits the FBI it will be “more than a professional loss.” God, Scully, maybe stay away from the NJ water fountains, considering how thirsty you are. And you know, cuz the whole fluke worm thing.
And yet…we have 15 more minutes? Some of it is spent on Mulder getting a work evaluation and a debate about how to process the perp.
“This should have been an X File,” Skinner says, admitting that “we all take our orders from someone.” Someone like Mulder’s best friend/dad? What?
On the way of transferring a giant fluke worm monster to an institution in an ambulance (sure, sure), the ambulance worker pulls over and takes out a shotgun (NJ goes hard), and opens the back door, planning on killing the worm monster before he gets a fair trial/runs for comptroller. The gun goes off, but I don’t think the dude bags his prize, because we pan to this ironic-for-so-many-reasons sign.
Even though he’s at a lake, the fluke worm does indeed hide out in a porta-potty, like I did that time I had a bad trip at Coachella.
So rather than living in freshwater OR saltwater, this creature does seem to be a shit monster by preference, not design. Mulder almost catches it again, but gets distracted by another call from dad.
This conspiracy makes NO SENSE! Is Skinner’s boss the smoking man, and if so, why is he shutting down the X-files, if reinstatement is imperative?
Then there is literally a montage of Mulder waiting at a NJ septic processing facility. Scully calls and tells him that the parasite lays eggs in its victims, because it’s looking for hosts. Which, um, is how parasites work no d’uh? But okay doctor Scully. You are the boss.
Eventually the fluke worm does try to escape New Jersey, because…you know…gross. Mulder is apparently worried it will try to go back out to sea, where it can’t be processed because of maritime law. The monster attacks a NJ sewer employee, which seems like maybe that’s just the dangers of the job, no biggie, but Mulder jumps in the sewage water (gross) and kills the thing by having the sewer door slice it in half.
Then we are at the White House or Lincoln Memorial or somewhere from House of Cards opening.
After more discussion about Mulder’s possible friend, Scully reveals the fluke monster can regenerate limbs (wuh-oh!) and also its origin story.
Things you got right: New Jersey is disgusting, porta potties, worm vomiting.
Things You Missed: It’s less a “shit monster” than a “lives in shit” monster; the first appearance of The Smoking Man.