Post Modern Prometheus part 1 | The K Files | The X Files Podcast | Case File 209 | #TheXFiles201Episodes
Other agents working for The X Files 201 Days have dismissed the case file on Post Modern Prometheus, but partners Moeller and Lopez were compelled to search for the truth even deeper into rural Indiana.
One of Chris Carter’s finest hours of writing and directing, PMP is a modern myth story, a new fairy tale, which hints at one of the most profound truths hidden in the special world of The X-Files: You are the author of your happiness. Don’t believe their lies.
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“The Post-Modern Prometheus” is the fifth episode of the fifth season of the American science fiction television series The X-Files and originally aired on the Fox network on November 30, 1997. Written and directed by series creator Chris Carter, “The Post-Modern Prometheus” is a “Monster-of-the-Week” episode, a stand-alone plot which is unconnected to the overarching mythology of The X-Files. “The Post-Modern Prometheus” earned a Nielsen household rating of 11.5, being watched by 18.68 million viewers upon its initial broadcast. The episode was nominated for seven awards at the 1998 Emmys and won one. The entry generally received positive reviews; some reviewers called it a classic, with others calling it the most striking stand-alone episode of the show’s fifth season.
The show centers on FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. Mulder is a believer in the paranormal, while the skeptical Scully was initially assigned to debunk his work. In this episode, Mulder and Scully investigate reports of a mysterious creature that has impregnated a middle-aged woman. They find that the “monster”, nicknamed The Great Mutato, is the genetic creation of a Frankenstein-like doctor. The Great Mutato is at first ostracized, but later accepted, by his community.
Carter’s story draws heavily on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and particularly on James Whale’s 1931 film version of the story. The script had been written specifically with singer Cher and actress Roseanne Barr in mind, but both were unavailable at the time of shooting. Talk-show host Jerry Springer appeared as himself, and Chris Owens—who appeared in later episodes as FBI agent Jeffrey Spender—played The Great Mutato. The episode was filmed in black-and-white, with a sky backdrop created to imitate the style of old Frankenstein films. Owens wore makeup and prosthetics that took several hours to apply.
The episode begins in the guise of a comic book; FBI special agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) receives a letter from Shaineh Berkowitz (Pattie Tierce), a single mother who claims to have been mysteriously impregnated, while unconscious, by an unknown presence 18 years ago, resulting in the birth of her son, Izzy (Stewart Gale). Now, following a similarly unexplained attack, she is pregnant again. She has heard about Mulder’s expertise in the paranormal from The Jerry Springer Show and wants him to investigate. Mulder and his partner, special agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), travel to rural Albion, Indiana. They meet Shaineh and her son Izzy and learn that the description of the creature that attacked her, with a lumpy head and two mouths, is very similar to a comic book character invented by Izzy. His monstrous creation, called The Great Mutato, is inspired by a mysterious creature that has been seen by many of the locals. Izzy and his friends take the agents to a wooded area where they see Mutato (Chris Owens) from a distance.
They meet an old man who angrily tells them that there are no monsters and sends them to see his son, a geneticist named Francis Pollidori (John O’Hurley). Dr. Pollidori shows them his experiments studying the Hox gene using the fruit fly Drosophila. This presentation includes images of a fly with legs growing out of its mouth. He tells the agents that the same kind of experiment could, in theory, be performed on humans. Afterward, Mulder tells Scully that he believes that Dr. Pollidori, acting as a modern-day Victor Frankenstein, has created The Great Mutato. Later, Dr. Pollidori’s wife Elizabeth (Miriam Smith) is knocked unconscious and is attacked in the same manner as Shaineh. At the crime scene, Mulder and Scully find a chemical residue from an agricultural agent used to anesthetize animals, which leads them to suspect Dr. Pollidori’s father, who is a farmer. Dr. Pollidori comes to his father’s house, angrily confronts him, and murders him. Later, Mutato, who lives with Pollidori Sr., finds his dead body and tearfully buries it in a barn.
Mulder and Scully go looking for Pollidori Sr. and find a shallow grave and photographs of the dead man with Mutato. Meanwhile, Dr. Pollidori leads an angry mob of townspeople to his father’s house, demanding that Mulder and Scully turn the alleged murderer over to them. The agents find Mutato hiding in the basement as the crowd gathers upstairs. Someone accidentally sets the barn alight and in the ensuing confusion, the mob realize that the agents are protecting the monster in the basement. Mutato speaks to the crowd and explains that he was created 25 years before, and that he is the result of a genetic experiment by Dr. Pollidori. Unbeknownst to his son, Pollidori Sr. rescued Mutato and cared for him, but was unable to provide a friend or a mate for the boy. The old man attempted to emulate his scientist son’s experiments, and tried to create hybrids from his farm animals. Mutato asks Dr. Pollidori to create a female companion for him, but the scientist says that he cannot—that Mutato was a mistake. The townspeople realize that The Great Mutato is not a monster after all and Dr. Pollidori is arrested for the murder of his father. Mulder feels that it is unjust for Mutato not to get a mate and so he demands to see the writer: Izzy. In a fanciful, if not imagined, scene, Mulder and Scully take matters into their own hands and take Mutato, along with the townspeople, to a Cher concert. The episode ends with a shot of Mulder and Scully dancing, which slowly turns back into the comic book seen at the beginning of the episode.
The Truth is Already Here.