“Darkness Falls” is the twentieth episode of the first season of The X-Flies, and despite its ‘monster of the week’ nature, is a favorite of mine. The story takes place in Olympic National Forest, in Northwest Washington State (though I am reasonably sure that it really doesn’t).
A logging crew vanishes without a trace, though it isn’t the first time that such an event happened. That would have been1934, also when an entire crew in the same area vanished without a trace (one hand on the ground, one hand in space!).
It’s later determined that the cause of the disappearance of the most recent group of loggers – and probably those from the 1930’s as well – was an insect that had somehow survived living within old growth trees for hundreds of years, which in the present time were being cut illegally.
As I said, the episode itself is pretty suspenseful, with ample amounts of tension. The only problem is that the insect antagonist plays like something out of a Doctor Who episode. Instead of being based on anything resembling logic, Chris Carter (creator of The X-Flies and the writer of this episode) created an insect that glows like a firefly, captures it’s prey in a cocoon like a spider, swarms like hornets, wasps, or Africanized bees, and looks like a mite under the microscope.
In other words, an uber-insect that is only redeemed by the whip-smart directing of Joe Napolitano.
As I said implied earlier, the episode itself is actually pretty enjoyable as Mulder and Scully try to stay neural between people that represent logging interests, and those that fall on the side of supporting the environment (which includes not cutting down old growth trees).
The insects only come out at night, which means that everyone has to either stay in the light (like in the movie “Darkness Falls,” which had nothing to do with insects), or get out of the forest before nightfall.
One of the stars of this episode is Jason Beghe, who’s probably best known for being part of the exodus from Scientology, as opposed to his acting (which is really effective).