Humbug | The K Files | The X Files Podcast | Case 316
The K Files returns with an investigation into second season darkly comedic story, Humbug. Humbug marks a new type of episode – it was the first explicitly comedic episode on the show. Darin Morgan later wrote three more scripts for the series that are all similarly toned, including miniseries entry Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.
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It’s one of the finest efforts on behalf of series-long director Kim Manners, featuring some avant-garde choices like in the sequence with the museum owner and the reveal of his deformed face. Special effects for the Leonard apparatus also gets top marks, though even in those early days the XF SFX team was head and shoulders above some shows that are out now.
Guest stars included real-life sideshow performers Jim Rose and The Enigma, as well as actors Michael J. Anderson and Vincent Schiavelli.
In the town of Gibsonton, Florida one night, two brothers are playing in their home outdoor swimming pool. A mysterious figure approaches them from the woods surrounding their home and jumps into the pool without them noticing. As the brothers play, they notice something is wrong and before they leave the pool, the figure emerges from the water. It’s revealed to be the boys’ father, “Alligator Man”, who scares his sons for fun. After some laughs in the pool, the “Alligator Man” tells his children to go back into the house as it is late and time for them to go to bed. The boys leave the pool and their father stays behind to swim. An unknown mysterious figure approaches the pool from the woods. It attacks and kills “Alligator Man” in his pool.
Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) travel to Gibsonton to investigate a 28-year series of attacks by an unknown assailant in a community of former circus sideshow performers. They attend the funeral of the “Alligator Man” (who suffered from Ichthyosis). Among the people they meet afterwards are “self-made freaks” human blockhead Dr. Blockhead (Jim Rose) (who interrupted the funeral by hammering a railroad spike into his own chest) and his “geek” sidekick The Conundrum (The Enigma), who will eat anything, but says nothing. The agents also meet former performer Jim Jim, the Dogface Boy, who later became the local sheriff after his face went through hair loss.
Mulder and Scully stay at the Gulf Breeze trailer court, whose name is a reference to the 1987 Gulf Breeze UFO incident, also mentioned in season 1 episode, “Fallen Angel“. Here, they meet the distrustful manager Mr. Nutt (Michael J. Anderson), and Lanny (Vincent Schiavelli), an alcoholic with an underdeveloped conjoined twin named Leonard. The agents hear a story about the legendary Fiji mermaid, a common sideshow act in the 19th century that generally turned out to be a monkey with a fish tail attached—the “humbug” referred to by the episode’s title. Despite Scully’s usual skepticism, Mulder is intrigued because of what look like simian tracks left by the mystery attacker.
One night, Mr. Nutt is fatally attacked by a creature. The agents eventually discover that the attacker is Lanny’s twin, Leonard, who is able to detach himself from Lanny’s body. According to Lanny, Leonard attacks people and attempts to burrow into them because he is looking for a new brother to replace Lanny, who is dying from liver failure due to years of alcohol abuse. Lanny voluntarily locks himself in the local jail in an effort to keep Leonard from escaping, but dies during the night, and Leonard is able to slip through the bars on the cell window and flee. Mulder and Scully try to capture Leonard, who goes inside a funhouse, but he manages to get away. Upon leaving the funhouse, they find The Conundrum lying on the ground, rubbing his stomach, apparently having eaten Leonard. As Dr. Blockhead prepares to leave town with The Conundrum the following morning, he comments to Scully that with modern science eradicating genetic anomalies, it will be up to self-made freaks like him to remind people that “nature abhors normality.” The Conundrum looks unwell and Mulder asks what the matter is. The Conundrum — in his only line of the episode — replies, “probably something I ate.” As Dr. Blockhead drives away with The Conundrum, Mulder and Scully turn to each other with confused and somewhat shocked expressions. – Wiki
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