The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat Plot Summary:
Mulder meets the mysterious Reggie Something (Brian Huskey), who seems to have information on a mass governmental conspiracy. Right up Mulder’s alley, right? Wrong. Reggie suggest that the Mandela Effect (or Mengele Effect as he puts it) has been placed upon the entire world in order to manipulate the masses. The main culprit behind could possibly be the equally mysterious Dr. They (Stuart Margolin).
The X-Files just produced an episode that you’re either going to love, or vehemently loath.
“The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” is an episode that is part comedy, part parody, part commentary on the current state of the world, and not-so-veiled commentary on the state of the series itself.
It’s an absolutely weird episode, and to say that about a series that focuses on conspiracies, monsters, aliens, and the super natural…that’s a pretty strong statement.
It’s completely understandable why anyone would hate this episode — it’s messy, it’s off-the-wall, and if you’re a diehard fan, it subverts a lot of things you know about the series.
If you love it it’s because it is messy, it is off the wall, and it does subvert things you know about the series.
Like I said, a weird episode.
For this reviewer, everything about this episode, even its imperfections, was amazing. This episode was one of the few episodes of television in recent memory that I watched once, and then actively wanted to re-watch. Here’s my take from my two viewings.
One first viewing: This is a straight up comedy. The inclusion of ’50s/’60s era sci-fi camp, the brilliant editing of Reggie into classic X-Files scenes, and that ending, my God, that ending. It’s so much fun to watch this episode. Do things get a little heavy-handed? No, they get majorly heavy-handed especially with all the jokes about Donald Trump. [Spoilers: If you love Donald Trump, you’re not going to like this episode.]
On second viewing: This episode is both a commentary on the state of the world, and a state of the series. The conversation between Dr. They and Mulder is a brutally honest take on how the world views information. How everyone believes what they want. How conspiracies can lie in the open, and they can be in the open because of the plethora of ways people can spin them. The single seed of doubt — whether planted by a corporation, or a president, or a random YouTuber, can influence how the entire world thinks. It’s a very honest, sober commentary on today’s society delivered by a weird old man with massive red circles around his eyes.
The episode also really questions the series, both in regards to shelf-life, and relevance. From Dr. They telling Mulder his time was over, to the FBI agents questioning his credibility, to Scully (in reference to her Jell-O 1-2-3 knock-off platter) wanting to remember “it for what it was” — all of this seems to meta commentary on the show itself. Is it relevant in today’s society given the proliferation of information (and everything Dr. They said to Mulder)? Has the series return, and that ill-fated 2008 film hurt the legacy, and we all should just remember the good times? Is this series passed its prime?
It’s all questions that think pieces around the world have discussed, and it’s intriguing to see a show openly question its own relevance and mortality.
This review cannot end without heaping immeasurable praise upon the performance of Brian Huskey. Hussey, a fixture on Adult Swim and guest star on innumerable shows, is utterly brilliant. He fuses sweaty, hang wringing paranoia with utter conviction and dynamite comedic timing. He’s able to make you and make you believe that all the insanity he’s spewing…might not be so insane at all. I would love to see him come back for one more episode.
At the end of the day, ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ is an episode you should watch. Whether you love or loathe this weird episode — it’s going to make you think, and question everything you know.
Rating: 9 out of 10