The X-Files

Season 5 Episode 5

The Post-Modern Prometheus

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Nov 30, 1997 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
395 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Filmed in glorious black and white with a comic book feel to it, this is a modern retelling of Frankenstein as Mulder and Scully get caught up in a town where the residents live on Jerry Springer episodes and fear a two-faced monster who has been impregnating the women.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

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  • I've got an idea

    They didn't just shake things up here, they completely threw the shaker at the wall. In the last episode it was cool to see "The Invisible Man" playing on the kid's tv set and this follow up episode literally went right into that world. A great looking black and white throwback to Universal's monster movies. You've got rioting townsfolk, the mad scientist played by J Peterman um I mean John O'Hurley, The Fly and even bits of The Elephant Man that kick things up into serious storytelling. Speaking of Elephant Man there was also a David Lynch esq thing going on here with the music choices, very strange stuff that did take the episode out of style with the old timey monster movie feel but hey what the hell. Its so obvious they were having fun, to just change the ending to have the disfigured man dancing with Cher.

    Like a break in the 4th wall and I love it for that.moreless
  • The Post-Modern Prometheus

    The Post-Modern Prometheus was a perfect episode of The X-Files and I really enjoyed watching because the style of the episode was refreshing, simple yet creative. The story was awesome and extremely well written. I was reminded of Pumpkinhead for some reason. I loved the black and white along with the classic horror movie feel. There was action, drama, intrigue and Cher. I liked how every thing played out and I knew the barn was going to catch fire. The ending was spectacular and it felt like the end of a season or something. I look forward to watching the next episode!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • If it were up to me, this episode would have been saved for the series finale.

    I'm not going to get into a complicated analysis of this episode. I'll just simply say that I loved every minute of it. The black and white. The music. And the slowdance at the end is my favorite X-Files moment of all time.

    I've always felt this would have been a perfect episode to end the series on. The series eventually concluded with the end of the conspiracy mytharch. But I feel a series finale should be one that stands apart from the rest of the series. To enjoy any mytharc episode you would almost have to have followed the series from the beginning. But an episode like this can be enjoyed by hardcore and casual fans alike. I would have opted to end the series on a monster of the week episode. Specifically this one.

    To close the show out with Mulder and Scully having one last dance and to have The End appear on screen would be the perfect ending for me. Why not wrap up the conspiracy mytharc in the second to last episode and save the last dance for the end.

    What a way to go out that would have been.moreless
  • interesting concept, poor realization...

    I mean, the idea of shooting an unusual X-files episode sounds like a good idea, after all, repeating the same formula week after week gets a little tiring for the audience and the cast.

    But that's not an excuse for this bad episode. I can't believe in the number of good reviews that this episode got, and the number of emmys it was nominated for.

    First of all, the plot is a mess. We don't know who is the fater of whom, who is the son, who created whom. Clearly the production was rushed. The characterization is lame, and the intended comic tone just fails. The portrait of the small town city is also too weird and the black and white is annoying. And surprisingly nothing apparently happens to the great Mutato, who after all, raped that woman.

    It doesn't feel like a X-files episode at all. Chris tried to hard on the comic situations and it feels overdone and artificial. I felt almost offended by the final scene, as it was ridiculous over belief seeing Fox Mulder dancing to Cher. I mean, I was just "WTF???" And if they had kissed it would have been the most ridiculous scene in the history of the series, it was like a Mad About You moment!

    I love the X-files, so nobody can accuse me of being a hater, but for me this episode didn't work att all...moreless
  • An eerie, goofy, sad and all-around great episode

    By the time this episode came to a close, with Mulder and Scully slow-dancing to a Cher song and the monster from the episode dancing with Cher as she sings the song, I honestly had no idea whether or no I had just watched a great episode of television or a complete trainwreck. Even thinking about it now, it reminds me of "Supernatural's" goofiest episodes, the ones that are stupid and annoying to watch. However, upon second thought, I'm extremely impressed with how Chris Carter basically took every element of this show that we've come to enjoy and mix it in one. It's an episode filled with several tones and plots, but boy.. it's a good one.

    The episode begins with a woman who loves watching the disfigured individuals on Jerry Springer sends a letter to Mulder, claiming she's twice been knocked up by some beast that knocks her out for a few days and leaves her pregnant when she wakes up. Scully expects it to be a hoax, but as usual, weird events begin happening and the duo find strange things in their investigation, including a Frankenstein-esque doctor who screws around with human and fly genetics and does things to them that no scientist should do. As a result, Mulder begins putting two and two together and realizes this individual knocking up women is a result of this doctor's experiments.

    That's perhaps the most basic way of explaining the episode. It's much more detailed and complex then I would lead you to believe. We have these strange moments where townsfolk admit that they heard about Mulder from the Jerry Springer show.. there's also these awkward and surreal moments when Mulder walks into a diner and gets these weird glares from everyone in the town, who seem to be about two steps back from reality. It felt like a Twilight Zone episode (which may have been what Carter was going for with the black and white and the music). And I'm saying this as if it's a bad thing.. but really, it was quite fun to watch everything resolve itself, even if the final moment nearly pulled me out of the show.

    Chris Carter definitely was able to create a unique episode of TV here, and I'm glad that they had Mulder, for once, doubting the existance of aliens (carrying on from the last myth-arc episodes). I truly hope that aliens do exist in this show, because otherwise, I'll feel as gyped as Mulder.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • The University of Ingolstadt, where Dr Pollidori is to deliver his lecture, was disbanded in 1800. The university is frequently mentioned in The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson.

    • When Scully picks up the paper that reads "FBI Hunts Hometown Monster", outside JJ's Country Diner. If you pause and look closely at the small print of the article, it repeats itself 3 times, making the 3 columns of the article.

  • QUOTES (13)

  • NOTES (11)

    • Mulder and Scully were originally supposed to kiss as they dance at the end of this episode. However, Chris Carter thought it was too much, so he cut it.

    • Three songs by Cher are heard in this episode, "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" during the teaser scene, "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" when Mulder and Scully arrive at the fumigated house and "Walking in Memphis" at the end of this episode (during the famous dance scene).

    • Doctor Pollidori shows Mulder and Scully the image of a fruit fly with legs growing out of its mouth, claiming that he created the mutant by genetic manipulation. In actual fact, it is a random mutation that does occur in nature without human intervention. Another type, Antennapedia, has legs growing where antenna should be. There are many similar variations.

    • Jerry Springer makes a cameo playing himself.

    • Chris Carter asked the hairstylist Anji Bemben to make certain people look like certain animals. The newspaper reporter had to look like a chicken, another one had to look like a goat, and yet another one like a pig.

    • The role of Cher was written for Cher herself, a major X-Files fan. She declined at the time as she thought that her appearance would be a bit tacky. She regretted this decision after viewing the episode when it aired.

    • An ad lib by David Duchovny was cut from the final version. After the waitress at J.J.'s County Dinner dumps coffee in his lap, he complains: "Why'd you go and do that for? Now my crotch is going to be up all night!".

    • Chris Owens, who plays the great Mutato in this episode, goes on to play the recurring character of Agent Spender in the series.

    • 'The Post-Modern Prometheus' was nominated for seven Emmy awards in 1998; Outstanding Writing, Directing, Art Direction, Cinematography, Single-Picture Editing, Makeup and Music Composition.
      Graeme Murray, Greg Lowren and Shirley Inget walked away with the award for Outstanding Art Direction.

    • The role of Shaineh Berkowitz was originally written for, and offered to, comedienne and actress Roseanne but she turned down the offer.

    • This episode was filmed between the 'Emily' 2 parter because David Duchovny was scheduled to be away from Vancouver while promoting his movie Playing God.


    • Name: Shaineh Berkowitz
      Shaineh Berkowitz was probably named after the serial killer David Berkowitz.
      David Richard Berkowitz (born June 1, 1953), also known as Son of Sam and the .44 Caliber Killer, is an American serial killer and arsonist whose crimes terrorized New York City from July 1976 until his arrest in August 1977.
      Shortly after his arrest in August 1977, Berkowitz confessed to killing six people and wounding seven others in the course of eight shootings in New York between 1976 and 1977; he has been imprisoned for these crimes since 1977. Berkowitz subsequently claimed that he was commanded to kill by a demon who possessed his neighbor's dog.

    • Movie Connection: Mulder: It's Alive
      This is a reference to a popular 1974 horror film of the same title, which became a popular catchphrase during the 1970s.
      Given the Frankenstein allusions throughout, it's also an obvious reference to the famous 1931 film directed by James Whale, in which Dr Frankenstein, on seeing his creation come to life, exclaims 'It's Alive!' eight times in a row.

    • Visual: Mask
      Mutato watches the 1985 movie Mask starring Cher. It is also another reference to Frankenstein, where the monster studied and related to John Milton's Paradise Lost, Mutato here can relate to the boy in the movie.

    • Literary Connection: Frankenstein
      Dr. Pollidori had to leave so he could deliver an address at the University of Ingolstadt. The Ingolstadt University is the institution where medical student Victor Frankenstein first had the idea of 'creating' a human.

    • Name: Elizabeth Pollidori
      Dr. Pollidori's wife, Elizabeth, was probably so-named because the infamous Dr. Frankenstein's wife was also named Elizabeth.

    • Name: Dr. Pollidori
      Dr. Pollidori was named for physician Dr. John Pollidori, who was the personal physician of Lord Byron. Lord Byron is the man who suggested the ghost story competition that inspired Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein.

    • Title: The Post-Modern Prometheus
      The title is a homage to Mary Shelley's famous book Frankenstein - which is actually titled Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus.
      From Greek mythology, Prometheus was a demi-god who made men out of clay, and is probably best remembered as being the one who stole fire from Olympus and taught mortal men how to use it - an act that got him punished by Zeus. His punishment was to be chained to a rock and to have an eagle eat his liver every day.