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Recap / The X-Files S07 E21 "Je Souhaite"

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Season 7, Episode 21:

Je Souhaite

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/thexfilesjesouhaite.png
"The only thing you people are cursed with is stupidity. All of you. Everybody. Mankind."
Written and directed by Vince Gilligan

"Jenn": So, finally, feeling very intelligent I spoke up and I said "Je souhaite un grand pouvoir et une longue vie". "I wish for great power and long life".
Mulder: And thus became a jinni yourself.
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Mulder and Scully investigate what happened to a man whose mouth suddenly disappeared from his face. They discover a cynical, word-twisting genie is involved, with three wishes being given to anyone seeking to change their fortunes.


Tropes:

  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Because you are going to get it. Lots of perfectly OK wishes went sour because of literal interpretations. Some wishes were just silly and their consequences proved lethal.
  • Becoming the Genie: Jenn's third wish was to have great power and a long life... The original genie turned her into a genie as well. She's powerful and immortal.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Mulder finds old footage of Jenn hanging out with Richard Nixon and Benito Mussolini, implying she's responsible for their rise to power (and possibly their downfall too).
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  • Black Comedy: The death of the two Stokes brothers is portrayed as funny. One of them finally comes up with a good and clever wish — a new pair of legs at that moment. Precisely at that moment their home blows up, and the legs land next to Mulder and Scully who are coming to question them.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah:
    Jenn: [reading a draft of Mulder's third wish] 'Whereas, I have one wish left and desire to use it most effectively for the good of all mankind...' Yada, yada, yada. 'Here on this plane of existence...' Hmm... Hmm-hmm. What, are you a lawyer?
  • Blessed with Suck: Invisibility might seem awesome and exciting, but it turns out it is not that cool because other people will not see the invisible at crucial and dangerous moments, like when an invisible person is crossing a road while they are driving a truck.
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  • Came Back Wrong: One of the Stokes brother wishes to be invisible and gets killed by a car when trying to cross the street. When his brother wishes for him to come back alive, he appears as a shivering necrotic corpse, unable to speak. His brother wishes for him to be able to talk in spite of the genie's warning, and he screams for minutes straight. After he's all screamed out, he attempts to light the stove to warm himself, complaining he "can't feel his blood." He fumbles the matches with the gas on full blast for many minutes, and when he finally does light one, the trailer explodes, killing both brothers permanently and ejecting the genie.
  • Chick Flick: Mulder invites Scully to his place to watch Caddyshack. She complains that it's a "guy movie", and Mulder responds that if she asks him over to her place they can watch Steel Magnolias.
  • Cultural Translation: In the Czech dub, John Travolta is mentioned instead of The Fonz.
  • Eye Scream: Discussed by Mulder in order to defy it. The idea of eyes growing on stalks is squicky enough.
    Mulder: I have to be [a lawyer] with you. [...] I'm not going to leave you any loopholes. I'm not going to let you interpret this as an edict to bring back the Third Reich or to make everyone's eyes grow on stalks.
  • Facepalm: Scully is embarrassed that she invited some scientists from Harvard to see proof of the paranormal which unfortunately disappeared. She face palms with both hands.
  • Foreign Language Title: "Je Souhaite" means "I Wish" in French.
  • Freeing the Genie: What Mulder realizes the perfect wish is. His last wish is to make Jenn the Genie a normal woman again.
  • Gag Penis: Jenn's last owner, according to Mulder, had Chronic Morbid Tumescence (Sch-Wing!) and when he was wheeled into the hospital they had to raise the door frame to get him in. They had problems closing the coffin lid.
  • Genie in a Bottle: Genie in a Carpet. Jenn is found in a rolled carpet in an old garage or a storage unit. She grants three wishes.
  • Gratuitous French: The episode has some French in it, mostly translated right away.
  • Invisibility: The last wish of the first Stokes brother is to be invisible. Jenn sees the potential for being perverse and how stupid this wish actually is.
  • Jackass Genie:
    • The original genie — Jenn wished to have power and a long life, and so he made her a genie, too.
    • Jenn was very mean but interpretation might differ whether she fits this trope. She did try to suggest that the crippled Stokes have his legs restored, but they're too thick to get the point until it's too late. It's implied that wishes always take the path of least resistance; Jenn can see the consequences, if only due to long experience, but her ability to actually shape the wishes is fairly limited. So she's a jerkass because of the wishes she must grant, not the other way around.
  • The Last Man Heard a Knock...: Mulder's first wish was to have "peace on Earth", only to find himself the only person left on a vacant planet. Fortunately, while there weren't any other humans, the genie was still around to hear him revoke his wish.
  • Literal Genie: Jenn interprets the wishes she must grant very literally. For instance, when one guy wished his boss would shut up, his lips were sealed together and his mouth basically disappeared from his face.
  • Mundane Wish: Two, both courtesy of Jenn.
    • She wished for a stout-hearted mule and a sack of turnips that would never be empty, as she was originally a French peasant woman from the Middle Ages.
    • After centuries of granting wishes and having to face stupidity, she cannot imagine anything better than enjoying life just as it is over a cup of coffee.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Mulder wishes for peace on Earth. Jenn vanishes the entire human race (except for them). However, Jenn does point out the logical and ethical complications of defining exactly what the word "peace" should mean.
    Jenn: You didn't say good will toward men.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: What Anson essentially comes back as, though he doesn't try to eat anyone's brain. He can't even talk until Jenn makes it possible, whereupon he immediately vents his unhappiness of his situation.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Anson wishes he was invisible, saying he could use it for spy stuff. Jenn suspects he's also interested in girl's locker rooms.
  • Rhetorical Request Blunder: Anson Stokes' first wish. He didn't know he had found a wish-granting genie yet. He wanted his boss to shut up.
  • See the Invisible: Scully uses yellow powder to tap it over an invisible body.
  • Shout-Out: Several historical and cultural allusions.
    • I Dream of Jeannie: Mulder hums the melody and does the arm cross and head boink.
    • Happy Days: Jenn claims a wish is often something like "make me cool like The Fonz" or whoever's the big name now.
  • Three Wishes: Jenn the genie grants three wishes to whomever finds her. That includes the Stokes brothers and Mulder.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Stokes brothers. One of them is in a wheelchair because he broke his back playing "mailbox baseball." (Smashing mailboxes with a baseball bat out of a moving car window, for our non-American friends.) They simply cannot come up with rational wishes and they are not smart enough to carefully word their wish to reverse the mess their original wish caused. They really had it coming.
  • Wasteful Wishing:
    • Anson Stokes' first wish was that his boss would shut the hell up. He did. Poor guy, his mouth got literally shut up.
    • Anson Stokes' second wish is a yacht, which gets plonked right next to his trailer with no means of moving it to the ocean.
    • Mulder has to waste his second wish to undo his first, because even a seemingly good wish like "peace on Earth" can backfire.
  • Wishing for More Wishes: The Stokes brothers find a genie rolled up in an old carpet and try to figure out a reasonable wish after the first two are used up by Wasteful Wishing. One of the suggestions is "an infinite number of wishes," but the genie tells them to settle down because she only can grant three.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Part of the reason Jenn is such a Jerkass Genie is her exasperation after centuries of granting stupid wishes to foolish and greedy people. It's implied to have happened to her predecessor as well, since she took advantage of Jenn's foolish wish to live forever to transform Jenn into her replacement. Mulder kindly uses his last wish so Jenn is freed and becomes a mortal again. She's clearly overjoyed, shown smiling happily while having coffee when last seen.
  • World of Silence: When Mulder wished for world peace from Jenn, every human in the world except him vanished, thus granting his wish through this trope. Mulder runs out of his office and sees deserted buildings and streets with only empty cars and buses. Jenn notes that he wished for something no one had ever achieved, and so this is the logical result: remove the people.

Mulder: I don't know if you noticed but, um, I never made the world a happier place.
Scully: Well, I'm fairly happy. That's something.
 
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