Straight from the cold open, this week’s episode makes no bones about its “Monster of the Week” status; in fact, it seems to openly mock it throughout. We start with a paint-huffing hetero couple, getting zooted underneath the moonlight, dangerously close to an epiphany. “When you see the moon like that,” the woman says to the man, “you ever think about how life is so beautiful, maybe we shouldn’t waste it getting high all the time?” His reply is succint: “No.” It’s mere seconds into the episode when we meet the monster, fighting with an Animal Control agent whose name we later learn is Pasha (Kumail Nanjiani). When the monster sees the paint huffers, he literally throws his hands up and yells “RAAAWWRRR!!!” It’s cheeky B-movie fodder, and sets the tone for the entire episode.
Back in the sparsely decorated X-Files office, Mulder is throwing pencils at the iconic “I Want To Believe” poster, which apparently belongs to Scully. He’s frustrated by the modern age, in which the mysteries of the X-Files like the “hairy whatsit of Walla Walla” are easily explainable in the age of the Internet. “Is this how I want to spend the rest of my days, chasing after monsters?” he asks her. Scully tries to lure him in with the juicy monster case, but his frustration is manifesting as skepticism, so for a bit he plays the Scully role. Of course the victim didn’t see it coming, he says, “mountain lions always attack from behind.”
After arriving at a truck stop—the scene of the latest attack—Mulder interviews a trans woman dressed like she’s “working” the truck stop, but was dismissed by the first police on the scene. “They think I’m on crack,” she explains. “Are you?” Mulder asks. “Yes.” Ouch. They finally have a chance to redeem themselves for “Gender Bender” and this is what they came up with?
Mulder starts to survey the scene with Pasha, the Animal Control agent, roaming the parking lot with his phone camera flashing every few seconds, looking like a grandpa who just got his first iPhone. “It’s this new camera app, I’m not sure if it’s working right,” he explains. On cue, the monster attacks Mulder and Pasha, then runs away into a chemical toilet. When they open the door, they see Guy (Rhys Darby), as he’s referred to, and they give up. Even though they watched the monster go in. Mulder manages to snap a photo of Guy with his pants around his ankles, at least, with his “new camera app.”
Back at their motel, Mulder hears a scream “Aahhhhh a monster,” and finds the hotel manager drinking rubbing alcohol, clearly shaken. Mulder goes into the open room, finds a prescription bottle, and pockets it. A mounted jackalope head lies on the ground, with holes in its eyes, leading Mulder to discover the peep-hole portion of the hotel. “That’s a security feature,” the manager explains when Mulder returns to the office through the secret passage. “I had it put in after 9/11.” Mmhmm. The manager tells his story of watching Guy yelling at himself in his room, catching him change into the monster. When Mulder goes to Scully’s room to update her on it, he literally goes through the motions, doing both parts of their dialogue for them. He posits his own wild theories, only to play Scully’s role as the skeptic for her as she sits exasperated, waiting for him to finish. “To which I know you’re going to say, but Mulder, that sounds like the paranoid ravings of some lunatic madman.” Clearly.
Mulder meets with the psychologist he found from the prescription bottle, who gives him a mythology of the lizard man who needs to be stabbed through the appendix on green glass. He tells him that his patient would often stroll cemetaries, giving Mulder a new lead. But before he leaves, the doctor tries to prescribe Mulder himself an anti-psychotic. “Who is more in more need of an anti-psychotic? The man who believes himself to be a were-lizard? Or the man who believes that man?”
Scully finds Guy at a cell phone store, but before Mulder gets there, he’s fled, so Mulder follows him out the back alley to a nearby cemetery. Now bear with us here, because this is where it starts to go off the rails “Nothing makes any sense!” Guy soon explains. We agree. Guy is despondent, and tries to get Mulder to stab him in the appendix with green glass from a liquor bottle. After agreeing to help him, “OK, I’ll kill ya,” Mulder says. “Thanks mister, you’re like the nicest person I’ve ever met.” Before he does, Mulder wants to hear his story, so now we see the cold open from monster’s perspective.
To hear Guy tell it, it turns out he was just chilling in the woods, when Pasha came along, and started to eat a dude’s neck. Pasha attacks him, then he does the B-movie growl for the paint-huffers. He weaves a tale of waking up as a human, putting on clothes, and going to get a job.
At this point, the episode devolves into a silly Rhys Darby riff on humanity. It’s absurd, but he’s so goofy, it almost works. When Mulder and Scully had found him in the truck stop parking lot, he was actually looking for a lost puppy. Yup. He finds Pasha eating another person’s neck, flees into the truck stop parking lot, where me meets the trans prostitute on crack. “Man, she hit like a man,” Guy says. It gets weirder, as Mulder does his best to awkwardly explain transgender people to a lizard monster. “You can’t transform into a different sex, that’s nuts!” Sure, Mr. lizard monster guy. Again, he begs Mulder to end it. “Fox, you have to put me out of my misery, I don’t want to have to wake up tomorrow and go to work!” After a white lie about getting it on with Scully in the break room at work, Mulder’s skepticism is at an all-time high, and Guy leaves.
Scully calls Mulder (who has the show’s theme song as his ringtone) to tell him she knows the culprit. Pasha attacks her, but by the time Mulder gets there, she’s got him cuffed up. With the case solved, Mulder begins to believe again, and rushes out to look for Guy in the woods. When he finds him, he looks upon him with a sympathetic eye for the first time. After Guy strips nude, the pair share a touching moment before he runs off into the woods, with a little skip at the end for good measure, leaving Mulder holding his hand out, face full of wonder.