Our summer binge is long over but The X-Files is a show that I never stop thinking about. While not perfect, it’s a groundbreaking show that’s influence can be felt and seen in so many shows that followed it. So, because of that and because I’ve had so much fun doing this rewatch, I’m keeping the fun going and will keep on going until I hit the final episode of the revival. This time I’m going to do things slightly differently though as some weeks we’ll be combining episodes and in time, when we reach the movies and spin offs I’ll get into those as well. This week, we’re looking at the first “monster of the week” episode of season 3, “D.P.O.” Let’s jump into this.
1. The Premise
“D.P.O.” begins in a small town in Oklahoma. Jack Hammond is playing an arcade game when Darin Peter Oswald comes up and says that he was playing that game. Jack gives Darin a hard time and Jack pushes him. Suddenly the lights go out and Jack goes out to his car. Jack’s car starts acting crazy and suddenly he’s killed by electrocution in the ignition. Mulder and Scully come to the town to investigate because this is the 4th death like this. Lightning has struck more than once in this town in a very short amount of time and it’s fishy. They start to investigate and realize this isn’t an act of nature but someone with slightly more power than the normal person and it leads them right to Darin Peter Oswald, D.P.O.
2. Guest Stars!
The X-Files is a show that’s had a ton of guest stars and next week’s episode has a big one too but this is still the early 90’s so seeing Giovanni Ribisi and Jack Black show up is kind of fun. They play to their strengths at this point with Black being comedic with Ribisi having this underlying evil that bubbles up more as the episode goes on. They also were very believable as best friends and are some of the most memorable guest stars on the show.
One of the things that we see a lot of in this particular episode that doesn’t really exist in every case of the week episode is the amount of pushback from local law enforcement. Sheriff Teller wants absolutely nothing to do with Mulder and Scully being here and goes very much out of his way to be unhelpful. He butts heads with Scully right off the bat and talks down to her from the get go which puts him on my naughty list immediately. He believes none of what Mulder and Scully are finding out about Oswald and maintains that these are just lightning strikes due to the facility that exists in town. He wants to preserve his town but he also does his town a disservice by not doing the work he’s hired to do, which is to serve and protect. Ultimately he becomes another victim in Oswald’s lashing out at the end of the episode.
4. Lost Youth
If you do a quick Google search about this episode you’ll find that the writers describe this episode as very Beavis and Butthead but I think it actually goes a little deeper than that. Oswald and his friend Zero are kind of lost young adults who didn’t really get many chances to be anything more than who they are in this small little town. It doesn’t excuse Oswald from what he does by any means but it’s easy to see why he gets drunk with power and lost in this delusion of romance that he thinks exists. His teachers never gave him a chance, his mother doesn’t show him love or attention and his peers treat him like garbage. He’s just kind of lost and I think in the music choices that comes through so much. This is a cool one off story but it touches upon something a little deeper with youth in the 90s.
5. Can’t Prove Everything
In the end, Oswald decides to go after the love of his life after he puts her husband in the hospital and it entirely backfires on him. He kills the sheriff and his best friend and is ultimately taken down. He ends up in psychiatric hospital because what he did was very hard to prove. If you watch this all unfold, yes, it’s easy to see and understand what he did but legally, you can’t prove any of it and that’s where Mulder and Scully leave things. Even in the hospital we see Oswald changing the tv with his power but they can’t really prove what he did. It’s hard. You have to prove a superpower is real. It’s the right ending for this that really ties up the themes the episode was dealing with.