[Invisible Week 2020] THE X-FILES ‘Je Souhaite’ Is A Comic Change of Pace

With the US release of Blumhouse’s THE INVISIBLE MAN this week, we’re going to take a look at films with characters that are hard to see. For this is…

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Iconic sci-fi/horror series The X-Files is known for its dynamic duo Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who tackle the FBI’s strangest cases, from aliens to flukemen. It is overall an intense and serious series, but certain episodes lean into the comedy and ridiculous nature of the show. ‘Je Souhaite,’ (or ‘I Wish’ in French) Season 7, episode 21, is one such episode. It involves a genie, wishes gone awry, and, of course, invisible man hijinks.

The X-Files episode Je Souhaite with Paul Hayes

This episode takes the format of a monster-of-the-week episode rather than delving into the show’s larger lore and conspiracy narrative. All you need to know about the show is that Mulder is the believer, Scully is the skeptic, and nothing is what it seems. It follows a young man named Anson (Kevin Weisman) who is tired of dealing with his annoying boss. While cleaning out a storage unit at work, he discovers a genie wrapped up in a giant ornate rug. Upon this discovery, he decides to wish for a boat, for his boss to shut up, and, eventually, to become invisible. However, this power of invisibility is wielded by an idiot.

The X-Files episode Je Souhaite with Kevin Weisman

In becoming invisible, he forgets that cars cannot see him when he crosses the street. Anson is subsequently hit by a truck, and his invisible body is brought into the FBI morgue for Scully to examine. The scientist in Scully is absolutely elated because this is a groundbreaking scientific discovery, something that no one has ever seen before. At first, she is her typical skeptic self, scoffing at the seemingly empty gurney. But, then her fingers hit something she cannot see. In a rather impressive sequence, Scully covers the invisible body in yellow powder to reveal the invisible man. As she drags the brush across space, a nose and cheeks appear. There is, in fact, a man on this gurney and that opens up massive possibilities for Scully.

The X-Files episode Je Souhaite with Gillian Anderson

This is a perfect episode to exemplify Scully’s infuriating desire to find a scientific explanation for everything. She invites guests from Harvard to view the body and she immediately wants to run tests and experiments, much to Mulder’s chagrin. Even with a certifiably invisible man in her lab, Scully will not fall to supernatural or extraterrestrial explanation; she’s come so far! Instead, she continues to make audiences everywhere collectively roll their eyes in exasperation at her dedication to the world of science.

The use of invisibility in this episode of The X-Files isn’t about fear, but about how the agents react to such a revelation. This is not the only episode to address invisibility, but it is perhaps the silliest and has the lowest stakes. By having such low stakes, ‘Je Souhaite’ can focus on comedy and the reactions of the agents themselves, rather than on the actions of the invisible man himself.

The X-Files episode Je Souhaite with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in another fine mess

‘Je Souhaite’ is the directorial debut of Vince Gilligan, who later went on to create and direct AMC’s hit series Breaking Bad. Gilligan got his start with The X-Files, often functioning as a producer or writer throughout the series’ 11 seasons. He graduated to director with this episode, which stands out in its tone from the rest of the show. Gilligan leans into comedy for ‘Je Souhaite’ through dialogue, performances, and even the episode’s music. Anderson especially hams it up in her role, breaking her normally scientific-and-serious facade in favor of a giddy and excitable tone.

The X-Files episode Je Souhaite with Paula Sorge

She and Mulder crack jokes and more smiles than is typically ever seen in The X-Files. There is so much joy injected into this episode, which alone makes it worth watching. This is not just another episode of self-serious sci-fi show about aliens and government cover-ups. It is about the weird world of the show and embracing that weirdness. In his directorial debut, Gilligan provides a break in the series tension with an entertaining episode about genies and invisible idiots.

Mary Beth McAndrews
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