The X-Files: The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat and the brilliant Darin Morgan


What do the Mandela Effect, the Mengele Effect and leprechaun taint have to do with each other? According to the X-Files, Darin Morgan, “Nobody knows for sure.”

“The world’s gone mad.” – The Lost Martian **SPOILER ALERT**

Darin Morgan Is the Funny Rod Serling

The X-Files – The Lost Martian – Courtesy of Fox

I have a confession to make. The X-Files have been a part of my world for 25 years now. In the past, I was never really enamored with the humorous episodes that everyone enjoyed. I preferred the mythology oriented ones and the serious monster of the week shows.

However, tonight made a convert out of me. This Darin Morgan penned and directed episode had me in stitches. I never laughed so hard. The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat pulled out all the stops and should be held up as a creative, well written script.

This is the kind of effort that Hollywood needs more of and is sorely missing. Morgan is living proof that original thinking within a familiar format is alive and kicking. It is possible to take some of the more troubling aspects of our current socio-political climate and turn it into laughter.

After all, some of the situations we find ourselves in today are absurd and Darin Morgan knows exactly where to shine the light in all those dark places. From the opening with a pseudo Twilight Zone vibe to the Day the Earth Stood Still encounter, I found myself marveling at how well executed this entire episode was because of the words on the page.

The Mandela Effect

The X-Files – Brian Huskey and David Duchovny – Courtesy of Fox

It always starts there. Morgan crafted a believable premise, based around the Mandela Effect. I know, I didn’t hear of it until tonight myself but according to Snopes, “In simplest terms, the Mandela Effect is an instance of collective misremembering.”

“Examples include lines from famous movies that everyone gets wrong (e.g., Humphrey Bogart’s saying “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca), erroneous dates and numbers (apparently many people answer “52” when asked how many states there are in the U.S.), and historical misconceptions (are you among those who recall learning in school that cotton gin inventor Eli Whitney was black?).”

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In the case of the X-Files the example they used was the fact that people thought that the comedian Sinbad starred in a movie called Shazam when in actuality it was Shaquille O’Neal in the film, Kazaam. What an obscure film but such a funny reference!

Indeed, if you look up Sinbad’s film credits in IMDB, Shazam isn’t among them. How does this even happen? Looking at Snopes again, sliding through parallel universes might be the answer. In tonight’s episode, Mulder mentions this concept several times.

Enter Reggie Something played by the wonderfully comedic actor, Brian Huskey. Reggie enlists Mulder and Scully’s help (or as he refers to them, Foxy and Sculls) to prove that he is real. After several crazy meetings in a dimly lit, spooky parking garage, we find out that he was involved in the war in Grenada and that his memory and even his very existence has been erased because he witnessed a crashed UFO.

Nerdboy, Sci-Fi Gobbledygook

The X-Files – David Duchovny- Nerdboy Gobbledygook – Courtesy of Fox

If that isn’t X-Filesy enough, every time he starts to reveal more details, men dressed as Rod Serling pop up out of nowhere and attempt to abduct him. Clearly, he is a fugitive from an alternate realm who is currently stuck in another place or time but he refuses to believe it calling it “nerdboy sci-fi gobbledygook.”

Or is he another victim of the Mandela Effect? In Reggie’s mind, it is the Mengele Effect. To drive this point home let’s take Scully’s love of Goop-O which according to her, the lemon-lime flavor tastes like “leprechaun taint.” I don’t even want to know how you arrived at that conclusion, Dana.

Apparently, what she remembered was replaced by Jell-O 123.  Then there is Mulder’s remembering of the Lost Martian episode of the Twilight Zone which he can’t seem to find in his videotape collection. Scully (Gillian Anderson) remarks that maybe he is thinking of the Outer Limits.

In complete consternation, Mulder (David Duchovny) bellows, “Confuse the Twilight Zone with the Outer Limits? Do you even know me?!” But maybe he did if we go along with the theory at hand and the concept of parallel universes.

The mystery deepens when the duo hears about Dr. Thaddeus Q. They. For all of you television trivia buffs out there, Dr. They was portrayed by none other than Stuart Margolin who played Jim Rockford’s con friend, Angel in the Rockford Files! Dr. They is the originator of the Mengele Effect in Reggie Something’s universe.

More Mind F**ks, Courtesy of Dr. They, Please

The X-Files – Stuart Margolin – Dr Thaddeus Q They – Courtesy of Fox

In a hilarious promotional video, we see the “effects” of Dr. They’s manipulations of the general public up to the election of Donald Trump in 2016 which he orchestrated. They was also the mastermind behind future one-way space flight known as “Operation Soy Bomb,” which was about using collective memory manipulations to help astronauts cope with long term space travel.

They was also the purveyor of fake news and that entire concept which is another way to control the general public’s conventions. In his words, “you believe what you want to believe and what that is, nobody knows for sure.”

In another twist of fate or another instance of even Mulder and Scully being victims of the Mandela Effect, Reggie drops a bombshell stating that he founded the X-Files. He also claims that they were all partners.

Then in a hysterical series of clips, lifted from the original series, Reggie is thrust into various familiar episodes offering wry commentary. In the memorable Home sequence (with the equally brilliant Karin Konoval) Scully reveals that Mama Peacock is actually having sexual relations with her boys prompting Reggie to utter, “Ew!”

He also interrupts Mulder and Scully attempting to make out on a couch in the episode, Small Potatoes.” As Reggie watches incredulously in the doorway, the duo pull away embarrassed at being caught only for Scully to realize that she hasn’t been swapping spit with Mulder but she has been doing it with Eddie Van Blundht.

For those of you that remember that particular show, Eddie was a shapeshifter who would use his abilities to impregnate women. The character was portrayed by none other than Darin Morgan!

The Day the Earth Stood Still?

The X-Files – David Duchovny – Gillian Anderson – Make Out – Courtesy of Fox

Finally, Scully growing weary of listening to Reggie’s irrational beliefs, finds out his true identity. He is former government drone, Reginald Murgatroyd. Murgatroyd had a complete mental breakdown and was confined to a mental institution.

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After that reveal, the men in suits do come for Reggie to take him back to the Spotnitz Sanitarium (which is an homage to ex-executive producer, Frank Spotnitz). However, before he goes, Mulder asks him what happens in their last case together.

Reggie recounts how they found the crashed remnants of Voyager only to have an alien land in his spacecraft. Said visitor from another world departs his ship looking resplendent in an Elvis cape. He proceeds to tell Mulder and Scully that his people are disgusted with Earth and wish no further contact with them.

The alien then launches into Donald Trump’s speech almost verbatim on why a wall should be built in America. Oh, the irony and the richness of having an extraterrestrial or alien deliver that message. Hysterical!

In order to avoid any relationships with humans, Klaatu Barada Nikto hands Mulder a book entitled, All the Answers! Mulder than proceeds to have a tantrum because what purpose does he serve now that all the X-Files are explained. This has to be the best bit of comedic acting ever featured on this show!

The Verdict

Thus far, hands down, this is the best X-Files episode in a long time. From the clever writing, to the masterful direction and the brilliant tongue-in-cheek performances from Duchovny, Anderson and Huskey, this show is a keeper.

This is the reason why the X-Files has captured our hearts and our viewership for a quarter of a century. At the heart of it, we want the truth to be out there. We want to believe that everything will work out no matter what universe we exist in.

Next: The X-Files: Deep State jailbreak – escape to freedom

Did you ever hear of the Mandela Effect? How would rate this episode? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below. We want to hear from you.