For a series based upon the unusual, the paranormal, and the supernatural, the earlier “X-Files” episodes seem unusually afraid of depicting monsters, if the fifth episode of the First season, “The Jersey Devil” is any indicator.
It begins in 1947, with a family driving down a dark country road. They get a blowout , and the dad pulls over to repair it. His flashlight rolls away from him, and he goes into the woods that neighbor the woods to retrieve it. Finding it, he heads back to the car to ask his wife for assistance before something grabs him, and pulls him into the woods.
A posse, complete with blood hounds and much righteous anger, finds him dead, with his leg eaten off. The posse soon discovers a cave, which they head toward. They notice something heading toward them out of the darkness, and begin firing.
In the present, Scully reports that a body has been found in New Jersey missing various body parts, and Mulder tells her of the cases we had just seen from 1947. Upon arriving in New Jersey, they go visit the State pathologist, where the body is held. Soon they meet Detective Thompson (Wayne Tippit) who let’s Mulder know right off that the FBI hasn’t been called in, and has no jurisdiction in this case.
Mulder ends up staying in New Jersey to look around, while Scully heads back to DC, to attend a birthday party. What most interesting about this episode is the way that it links the Jersey Devil – reduced to a primitive human, as opposed to an actual “creature” – to a sizable homeless population in New Jersey.
Detective Thompson (as well as the rest of the New Jersey Police Department) may be aware of this creature, but are doing nothing because it seems to be affecting the homeless population of the city and they don’t want to do anything to threaten all the money coming in from all the people that are bussed in to go to casinos.
Despite the “X-Files,” begin directly inspired by “Kolchak, The Night Stalker” (to such a degree that Darren McGavin actually appears in later episodes of the X-Files) ‘Night Stalker,’ ironically enough, wasn’t nearly as tentative as this show is to show a monster whenever they thought that it was necessary.