Rush 7×6: Bear with us ‘cause we’re old and stupid.


The Temple of Doom.

“Rush” is another one of those Season 7 episodes the plot of which I only ever vaguely remember, never mind that I’ve seen it three or four times. Even now, thanks to the rewatch, that I’ve seen it five or six, I don’t expect that to change.

What I do remember from when this episode first aired was the nagging, gnawing worry in the pit of my stomach. We’re five episodes in and Season 7 has yet to produce an X-File that’s magic from start to finish. Are there magical moments? Of course! But they’re moments. I want to be excited for the whole episode.

But there I go complaining again when I’m actually still enjoying myself. “Rush” has nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a solid offering from writer David Amann who previously gave us “Terms of Endearment” (6×6) and “Agua Mala” (6×14). I have to say that this third script of his, though emotionally not my favorite of the three, is actually the best in terms of consistent storytelling.

“Rush” is the most recent installment in The X-Files’ Teenage Dirtbag tradition. The first and the best was, of course, “D.P.O.” (3×3). After that, things took a memorably downward turn in “Schizogeny” (5×9). But “Rush” is an upward turn in this genre’s trajectory. All the disparate elements that an X-File needs to succeed seem to be here: an unexplained phenomenon, a gruesome death and a couple of suspiciously well-dressed F.B.I. agents. Throw in an inexplicably and unreasonably ornery local law enforcement official and it’s borderline classic. There’s really nothing wrong with it, and the production is, as always, beautifully done.

If there’s a glitch in the Matrix, it’s that I have a tough time feeling either sympathetic toward or repulsed by the teenagers that make up the heart of this story. I was a teenager myself when I first watched this episode and I felt even more ambivalent about them back then. On the surface, they’re pitch perfect. Pseudo-villain Max Harden is especially well played by Scott Cooper.

But perhaps that’s the problem. These characters feel like a paint-by-numbers rendition of teenage angst. We have the bad boy who rebels because he’s bitter that the authority figures in his life overlook his potential. On his arm we have the gum-cracking, eye-rolling Moll. And then, of course, there’s the innocent new kid eager to be corrupted. If these roles had been something more than stereotypical I think it would have elevated this episode. As it stands, their characters service the job but nothing more.

The most interesting part of “Rush” isn’t the characters or The Matrix style special effects, it’s the focus on how painfully slow the progress of time is for the young. I was just reminiscing with someone recently about how wonderfully long summers used to drag. Remember when time moved slowly? When it took forever to get from your birthday to Christmas and back again? Now I wish Father Time would get back to hobbling and give up jogging.

I say all that to say that I wish “Rush” had spent a little more time focusing on why these kids were addicted to speed, how life at a normal pace is unbearable as it is when you’re that age, let alone after having a taste of the fast life.

Verdict:

Good. Solid. Standard. Those are the adjectives that come to mind when I think of “Rush”. I know that’s not very exciting sounding, but “Rush” isn’t a particularly exciting episode. Compared to its fellow teenage angst themed episodes, it’s much more coherent than “Schizogeny” but markedly less memorable than “D.P.O.” Don’t let it’s name fool you.

And this is the problem I remember having with Season 7 when it first aired and that I’m starting to have again. We’ve had a few solid episodes all in a row, but nothing that inspires my imagination to keep thinking about it afterward. I know I’m about to sound like a petulant child, but where’s the magic? “D.P.O” probably isn’t as good of an episode technically. But you’d be hard pressed to forget the way Jack Black’s character dies in that one. Images… emotional images like that stick with you and elevate a meat and potatoes, typical sort of episode into something worth watching again and again.

I’m not complaining… per se. Okay, maybe this is a complaint, which makes me feel bad because on the surface, The X-Files is doing everything right. Just please don’t make me start belting out “The Thrill is Gone.”

B+… again.

Lingering Questions:

Here’s something that puzzles me. When we get a glimpse of what these supercharged teenagers see when they’re “high”, the world seems to be moving in a painfully slow fashion. If anything, wouldn’t their super speed only serve to make the already slow world they move in seem slower than ever? You would think their ability would heighten the sense that time is running like molasses, not alleviate it. But the ending where a recovering Tony Reed watches the clock hand inch forward, doomed to spend the rest of his life slow-poking around now that the cave is gone, would indicate otherwise.

Lingering Comments:

I was also listening to The Doors at that age.

Is it just me or is Scully looking more and more uninterested with each passing episode?

For some reason I remembered that cute, flirty moment where Scully plays with Mulder’s tie as a lot cuter and flirtier than it actually is.

My new favorite moment of this episode is right at the end when Mulder says, “What if we’re too old?” to Scully and she makes the most pathetic face.

If Hardin had all those fractures and injuries he would have to have been treated long before the events of this episode and someone would already have been suspicious as to what he was up to or not. If he hadn’t, fast or slow, he wouldn’t have been able to move. Period.

The speed effect that’s used here looks an awful lot like the effect they’ll later use in “Requiem” (7×22).

Man, those The Matrix style special effects were ubiquitous a decade ago.

This is one of those rare cases where Mulder’s initial theory is completely off. I love it when that happens.

It seems that the character of Chuck Burke was missed. This marks his second appearance in six episodes after having been AWOL for a good long while.

Best Quotes:

Max Harden: [To Scully] You must have been a Betty back in the day. [He leaves]
Scully: A “Betty”?
Mulder: Back in the day.

——————–

Scully: Well, you and I were both in there and nothing happened to us. We’re still slow-poking around.
Mulder: What if we’re too old?
Scully: [Sad Face]

Millennium 7×5: See, you had me up until there.


All hail the Fangirl Flail.

Sadly, Chris Carter’s second born television baby Millennium didn’t last until the Millennium it was named after. In what I can only assume was a result of steadily dropping ratings, Millennium was canceled in the Spring of 1999, just in time to prevent hero Frank Black from stopping the coming apocalypse.

Back in the day, and up until the recent present, I was not a Millennium watcher. (I’m sorry, Chris.) It was one of those shows I intended to tune into eventually, but I never got around to it and then boom, it was gone. I told myself that this time, before I watched this episode I would complete the series so as to have a better sense of what’s really going on here. Well, I haven’t completed it yet, though I’m currently watching the final season, but my eyes have been opened to two things about The X-Files’ first crossover episode:

  1. Frank Black is pretty cool.
  2. You really don’t need to have seen five minutes of Millennium to get it.

I’m sure Carter must’ve been hard-pressed to both conclude Millennium in a way that stayed true to what that show was about and would please its loyal, disappointed fans and yet keep The X-Files’ aesthetic, focusing on giving an audience mostly comprised of people looking for The X-Files and not Millennium what they wanted.

It would be nearly impossible to tie up three years’ worth of Millennium in one hour of television solely dedicated to that purpose, let alone if that hour were shared with another series that had its own long history of story, character and aesthetic. That’s why I think it’s wise that Chris Carter didn’t even attempt it.

Oh, sure. He gives us an update on what’s happening in Frank Black’s life, where he’s at personally and professionally, etc. We learn a little bit more of what’s happened to the Millennium Group in the series’ absence. But what we really get in “Millennium” is an emotional coda rather than a resolution. It doesn’t conclude the plot of Millennium, but I think it allows fans to say goodbye knowing that Frank Black is going to be okay.

The only thing I have trouble with is that it’s hard to take the images that we’re seeing, independently compelling though they are, and mentally tie them to a worldwide apocalypse. Zombies in the basement are such a small-scale problem when compared to Armageddon.

Also, this episode is a perfect example of how Season 7 is, understandably, more self-conscious than any season before it. The show has been around for a long time at this point and while ratings may be falling, it’s still aware of its own status as a cultural phenomenon. When Frank, Mulder, and Scully stand together as a threesome perfectly framed by the camera, it’s with an awareness that two fictional worlds with a cult-like following are colliding. And when Mulder punctuates he and Scully’s hard earned first kiss with a, “The world didn’t end,” it’s with the knowledge that the audience at home is saying the same thing.

Alright. Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, let’s move on to what we’re all really here for, shall we? After seven long, very long, years of unresolved frustration… more so on the part of fans than Mulder and Scully themselves… The Kiss.

Oh, how do I even start? It was chaste but not dead, sweet but not sugary, self-conscious but still self-deprecating, too friendly to be lustful but too lingering to be friendly, open without spilling secrets, meaningful without digging too deep, loaded yet casual, joyful yet not manic. In short, it was so much all that it needed to be that Chris Carter is lucky I didn’t hunt down his place of residence and kiss him myself.

I won’t confess how many times I’ve watched this scene and out myself as a closet sentimentalist. Suffice it to say that Mulder and Scully bring out the inner girl buried somewhere underneath layers of Teenage Ninja Turtles and Mortal Kombat, and this is coming from the child who never cried at Bambi.

I just can’t with these two. The flailing. The flailing!

I said in the review for “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×4) that Mulder and Scully essentially said their vows at the end of the episode, that the only formal barrier left between them was the physical one and it was only a matter of time before that one dropped as well. If you weren’t sure then that they had an “understanding,” please pay close attention to the way this kiss goes down.

Mulder doesn’t look at Scully as if he’s just realizing how he feels about her, nor does he kiss her as if he’s declaring his feelings. I love (love) the way he looks at her and mischievously contemplates the kiss as if to say, “Why not?” Why not indeed, Mulder? Now is as good a time as any. What’s holding you back any longer? The conspiracy is dead. Diana is dead. Y2K never lived. Go on and kiss the girl.

And please notice that on Scully’s part, after Mulder kisses her, her face doesn’t say, “Mulder! Does this mean you have feelings for me? I never knew!” No, no, no, no, no. Her face says, “That was nice. What brought that on?” There’s only mild surprise at Mulder’s spontaneity. There’s no shock, no emotional breakthrough. They already know.

What I love about the fact that it’s taken so long for Mulder and Scully to get their romantic act together is that there’s almost no conscious choice involved. By the time it happens, it has already happened. It passed the point of possibility and crossed the Rubicon into inevitability some time ago while neither of them was paying attention. They don’t need a declaration, or fanfare, or even a hallway the walls of which must be painted with some sort of aphrodisiac it causes so much romantic yearning. At this point, they just are, and I can’t express in words how much I love that. You’d just have to count the flails.

Verdict:

I’ve tried to ask myself, “What would I think of this episode if there were no kiss in it?” Let me tell you, that question is harder to answer than it sounds. “Millennium” feels right, it looks right, it tastes right. And I’m especially glad that zombies finally took their rightful place in The X-Files’ repertoire. But I also must confess that while I’ve seen this episode multiple times over the years, I still failed to remember the general plot apart from the fact that it involved people coming back from the dead. Even without a kiss tacked onto the end it’s a solid episode, but in what may turn out to be my official lamentation for Season 7, it’s lost that lovin’ feelin’. Take the kiss away and I have no real reason to set my trigger finger to “Rewind.” “Hungry” (7×1) is good without being great and I’m afraid “Millennium” hasn’t broken that pattern.

But that’s okay. I don’t watch it for the actual episode anyway.

B+

Kosher Salt:

It’s interesting to note, this is the first of four episodes this season that deals with overtly religious themes. That’s right, I said “four.” On average there’s about one per season, if that, and while I doubt there was any conscious decision in the writers’ room to work things out this way, that fact struck me as I was watching this time.

I can’t help but think Chris Carter must’ve really enjoyed teaming up his three heroes, especially Mulder and Frank Black who, as Scully points out, share some similarities in character. It never happened, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if Frank Black had made another guest appearance in later years. Despite the differences in tone and theme between The X-Files and Millennium, he was a good fit on the show.

Frank Black still has his famous red Jeep. Three cheers for continuity.

I heard you throw in that Millennium music, Mark Snow!

Confession time – I make no secret about my love for this kiss, but a part of me still twinges in disappointment every time. Why? Well, it has nothing to do with unfulfilled expectations. No, it’s that there’s a moment after the kiss where Scully looks just a little too bored and I find myself wondering if Chris Carter wasn’t trying to drive home the point that the Mulder and Scully thing was never a big deal after all. And that makes me a little sad because it is a big deal. In the realm of television history and in the world of teenage girlhood it is a very big deal, my dears.

Am I the only one who finds John 11:25 being repeated over and over again incredibly relaxing?

Best Quotes:

Scully: Mulder, you been spreading rumors?
Mulder: Why? You hear any good ones lately?

———————

Scully: The year 2000 is just their artificial deadline and, besides, 2001 is actually the start of the new millennium.
Mulder: Nobody likes a math geek, Scully.

———————

Mulder: The world didn’t end.
Scully: No, it didn’t.
Mulder: Happy New Year, Scully.
Scully: Happy New Year, Mulder.

———————

Mike Johnson: I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead…
Frank Black: …yet shall he live. Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.

Hungry 7×1: I don’t believe in monsters.


The New Atkins Diet

Leave it to Vince Gilligan to give us a mutant with an eating disorder.

I swear, I don’t know how I watched unaware of these patterns back in the day, but this rewatch has gotten to the point where I can think ahead to episodes I haven’t even rewatched yet, the credits of which I’ve never before paid attention to, and successfully match up the writer to the story. Their signatures are that distinctive sometimes and Vince Gilligan is by far the quirkiest of them all. (Love you, Vince.) In “Hungry” he gives us something that The X-Files has been threatening to give us since “Leonard Betts” (4×5): A Monster of the Week episode from the Monster’s point of view.

“Leonard Betts” was the first episode to show us a reluctant mutant, with the camera occasionally choosing to follow the eponymous monster and his story instead of Mulder and Scully. Later on, “Terms of Endearment” (6×6) would half-heartedly attempt to make its audience identify with villain Wayne Weinseider. But the episode’s perspective waffled too much between Wayne’s point of view and, well, everyone else’s. That schizophrenia made it less successful than it could have been. Combine the reluctant killer of “Leonard Betts” with the decisive camera perspective that “Terms of Endearment” was looking for and voila, “Hungry”.

I have to take my proverbial hat off to Chad Donnella of the charming voice crack for being able to carry this episode all on his skinny shoulders as Rob Roberts. That’s a hard enough job when the fill-ins for Mulder and Scully are familiar and beloved characters like Skinner or the Lone Gunmen or even the Cigarette-Smoking Man. “Travelers” (5×15) is largely ignored by fans for daring to replace Mulder with his spiritual progenitor, Arthur Dales. For a stranger and a villain to fully take over the role of protagonist is unprecedented on this show and Donnella does a great job. I wonder if it’s merely a coincidence that he goes on to star in famous X-Files alumns Morgan and Wong’s Final Destination. Hmm.

And I must say, maybe it’s because of Vince Gilligan’s now infamous skill when it comes to characterization, but probably the best thing about this episode is how recognizable Mulder and Scully are even when viewing them from the outside. I get a smug satisfaction from being able to tell what they’re thinking, and successfully surmise what kind of conversations they’ve been having at the coroner’s office based purely on their expressions. If Season 7 has an angle, it’s that it openly celebrates the glorious routine of Mulder and Scully’s partnership. “Hungry” starts that trend in a quiet way by highlighting how by the numbers their investigations have become, and well it should because routine has its own charm.

Speaking of the way we see Mulder and Scully, I’ve never appreciated how frightening it must be to be on the wrong side of them. Mulder especially is more than a little intimidating and the camera highlights that fact. For instance, there’s a great moment in Rob’s apartment building when Mulder and Scully seem to gang up on him from either side of the stairs, one above and one below him. It has the effect of watching two Jack the Rippers slowly advance toward you – there’s no escape. And later on in the scene where Mulder and Scully interrogate Rob Roberts they’re shot from right over Roberts’ shoulder. I don’t know if we’ve ever seen both of them, in the same shot, head on like that before. It’s almost startling to see them so clearly from someone else’s point of view. Usually the audience is more of a fly on the wall, that is if we’re not seeing things clearly from Mulder and/or Scully’s perspective, so this is a fun departure for me.

I quite like this episode, but I can’t seem to love it as much as I do respect its uniqueness. Despite this episode’s best intentions and my best attempts to stay open minded, fifteen minutes into the action and the inevitable always happens. I can’t help it. I miss Mulder and Scully. I said above that Chad Donnella carries this episode well and I meant that but… I still miss them.

Really, The X-Files is just doing what it’s done for the last couple of seasons right after an emotional season premiere – it takes a step back from the Mulder and Scully dynamic, possibly to give the audience a breather. Since Season 5, we usually have to wait a couple of episodes until we get a sort of emotional coda to the events of the premiere. Season 5 it was “Detour” (5×4), Season 6 it was “Triangle” (6×3), and this season it’ll be “Millennium” (7×5). Me, personally, I don’t need a breather. Go ahead and suffocate me with Fangirl emotion.

Still, my viewing of “Hungry” would work out perfectly if not for one thing. Maybe if I could I could fully sympathize with Rob Roberts the way I’m supposed to. Maybe if he had shown enough control not to kill Sylvia, or even if he had struggled with it more, if he had cried right before he killed her instead of looking determined and unapologetic. Maybe then I could have felt bad for him when he died and I could love “Hungry” the way I want to.

Everyone he kills previous to Sylvia is a jerk so I don’t begrudge him those moral lapses. But Sylvia was warm, friendly, and relatively helpless. Outside of the therapist, she’s the only person we see show Rob some genuine kindness. And whereas the therapist is somewhat vapid in her Hallmark Card sweetness, Sylvia is engaging and somewhat vulnerable thanks to that hilarious little snippet she shares about her ex-husband. After that last kill, I agree with Mulder and with Rob himself. He can’t help himself. He has to go.

Verdict:

Ostensibly, this episode’s message is that you can’t be something you’re not. Ostensibly. Rob Roberts is what he is and nothing can change that. This makes Mulder almost villainous in his determination to stop this man who’s only following nature’s orders.

Yet in the end, doesn’t Rob prove that he’s more than merely his biological drive with his dying act, his suicide by cop? Whatever his instincts, his conscience, his humanity is what won out, causing him to prefer death to fighting a losing battle against his impulses. It’s more honorable to die a righteous man than live to be an evil one, right? If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better to enter heaven with one eye than sink down to hell with both.

Rob’s death is ultimately an act of self-control, ironically a character trait he’d been desperately seeking this entire episode. And if we do have sympathy for Rob, it’s for this reason. If he had accepted who he was from the beginning and relished his killer instinct a la Tooms, we wouldn’t be able to identify with him at all. “You can’t fight Bi-o-lo-gy,” he says. But it’s Bi-o-lo-gy he overcomes in the end.

I guess after all he’s his own man, and he controls everything he does.

B+

I’ll Have Fries with That:

I don’t know how it took me so many years to recognize this dude, but this rewatch my subconscious just wouldn’t let go until I Googled. The actor who plays Donald Pankow, the customer service nightmare who’s killed in the teaser, is Chase Hampton formerly of The Party fame. I know I’m not the only one here who was watching The All New Mickey Mouse Club back in the day. MMC like what.

Speaking of the teaser, this is one of my favorite openers of the season. I love that creepy Lucky Boy mascot.

Mulder’s intuition is in overdrive… again. A proboscis? Really?

I know I don’t usually go there, but Scully looks amazing this episode. I’m digging the longer hair after all this time. It makes me feel nostalgic for Season 3 Scully.

Meanwhile, does Scully always look this bored?

Lingering Questions:

Wouldn’t there have been surveillance cameras that captured the entire attack at Lucky Boy’s?

If Mulder knows Rob Roberts is the killer and he knows he kills out of compulsion, why in the heck does he keep putting himself in a position to be alone with him? Has Mulder gotten that cocky? I know he baited Tooms back in “Tooms” (1×20) but that was in public, not it the privacy of the killer’s apartment where he could take you without anyone seeing.

How much blood could Rob Roberts possibly have gotten on that shirt?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: What if this man’s brain was eaten? It’s not sociologically unheard of. There are certain tribes in New Guinea that consider human brains a delicacy.
Scully: Yeah, but Mulder, we’re in Orange County.
Mulder: Yeah, what’s your point?

———————–

Mulder: Oh. Hello. Look at this. Does that look like blood to you?
Scully: Yes, looks like it.
Mulder: What is that? Next to it. Is that, uh… oh my… ugh. Is that brain? Is that brain matter there?
Scully: No, I’d say that’s ground beef.

———————–

Derwood Spinks: Uh, since this is farewell, when nobody was looking… I used to dip my boys in the cole slaw. Bon appetit!

———————–

Rob Roberts: I’m sorry, but this is like good cop… insane cop.

———————–

Rob Roberts: I, I guess it’s the taste I respond to the most, salty and juicy… kind of buttery. The, the texture of it inside of your mouth… You know you, your teeth just sink into it like this juicy cloud, and it tastes so good you don’t, you don’t even want to swallow it. You just want to work it around your taste buds until your eyes roll right back into your head… Anyway, it’s a real problem.

———————–

Sylvia: He said I was too fat to ride in his sports car, that I’d just mess up the springs. So, I sat on the hood and I bounced. And I didn’t stop until the police showed up.

The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati 7×4: Don’t be so dramatic.


Scully's lost her hair and she doesn't know where to find it.

First off, I think we should walk into this mythology episode review well aware that this is only nominally a mythology episode at all. This is a long overdue character study of Mulder and the majority of it (or it feels like the majority) takes place within his own mind. Not much happens on the mythology side of things except that we learn Cigarette-Smoking Man is still holding out hope that he can turn himself into an alien-human hybrid and so withstand the coming apocalypse. Somehow his desire, Mulder’s condition and American Indian prophecy all come together in some clearly vague way – A connection which will become much clearer, and vaguer, a couple of seasons from now.

We start out with CSM scheming to get his hands on Mulder once and for all, the devilish snake ready to strike the heel of the messiah, and he chooses the most nefarious route possible: His mother. Why would Teena Mulder hand her son over to CSM? And why would CSM need her to hand him over? It’s not like his minions haven’t snuck into hospitals to do his dirty work before. If he wanted Mulder, I don’t see why he would need her permission to get him.

But, whatever. CSM finally gets him and then proceeds to cut his head open and empty the contents thereof, all the while praising him as his son and throwing suggestive grins in the direction of his son’s ex-lover.

This is one of my favorite episodes for the character of Cigarette-Smoking Man. He’s like a cat with a bowl of fresh milk. I strongly suspect we owe CSM’s newfound humor to Chris Carter’s newfound writing partner David Duchovny. CSM never cracked jokes like this before and his dismissiveness of Mulder’s self-important self-righteousness is telling – sounds a bit like the loving jabs taken at Mulder in “The Unnatural” (6×20). It’s also no secret that all this blatant symbolism is David Duchovny’s doing as well. That… I’m not quite as grateful for.

Now, I’m an English nerd and a recovering symbolism addict. I had to attend a long series of group therapy meetings post-college so it’s not like I’m immune to symbolism’s charms. (Hi, my name is Salome and I read too far into things.) But there’s so much symbolism here that at moments there isn’t much room left for story. CSM is randomly throwing out lines like, “The child becomes father to the man.” What does that even mean?? You’re not trying to hint that the repressed child deep down inside the man is going to teach him how life is really supposed to be lived in a sort of “from the mouths of babes” perspective altering catharsis, are you? Because I have no truck with that right now.

Not that my impatience affords me the right to ignore the famous Mulder dream sequence. I have to tell you, as a teenager watching this episode when it first aired I didn’t know The Last Temptation of Christ from Rocky & Bullwinkle. I’d heard of it, sure. But what was it to me? And I wonder how much of the viewing public was with me – a little lost as to what Mulder’s dream sequence, heavily inspired by the aforementioned book/film, was supposed to mean.

The whole thing is borderline esoteric, its symbolism only becoming clear as the reality of it unravels before Mulder’s eyes. But you don’t need any exposure to The Last Temptation of Christ to understand it, though I’m sure that helps (I wouldn’t know). All you have to do is go back and watch “One Son” (6×12) again. What happens in that episode? Oh, nothing. If you can call Diana helping to lure Mulder into soul-sacrificing complacency and Scully stirring him up from his sleepy defeatism “nothing.”

If “One Son” is the reality then “Amor Fati” is Mulder spiritually awakening to that reality. Both women have appeared at his bedside in “The Sixth Extinction”. Both women’s minds and hearts were completely open to him thanks to his new ability. He knows what Diana wants: For him to give in and save himself. And he knows what Scully wants: For him to hang on and fight.

I think the initial reaction a lot of fans had to this episode was horror over any scenario, dream or not, where Mulder would bed, even wed, Diana Fowley and seem to be happy about it. But while Mulder still may be attracted to her on some level, they had been lovers after all, I don’t think what we see here is any real indication that Mulder wants Diana so much as he’s tempted by what she represents. What she wants him to do, and what part of Mulder wants to do, is stop fighting, stop suffering, take the world off of his shoulders and let the inevitable happen – Would colonization be so bad if they could only be at peace? Therefore, the crux of Mulder’s dream isn’t that he chooses Scully over Fowley, it’s that he chooses courage over complacency.

Poor Diana Fowley, we barely knew ye. No sooner do you grow a conscience than it’s your time to go – That’s how The X-Files works. We can’t have you spilling secrets that would give Mulder too much help too soon, now can we?

Fowley’s motivations are becoming clearer to me now. Maybe I never really understood because I never really watch this set of episodes. (Telling, I know.) And so, if you don’t mind, I’m going to take some time out to dissect her because unless I’m much mistaken, she’s never mentioned ever again.

This isn’t cannon but as best I can understand it, Diana Fowley’s situation went down something like this:

Diana knew about the aliens, colonization, all of it. How or when or why she knew isn’t important, but somewhere along the line she went to work for the Syndicate and CSM in particular. Probably under their/his orders, she led Mulder to the X-Files as a way to both put out disinformation and to control what he knew. Once Mulder was established as a crank and he was no closer to the truth than he was to China, off she goes on her next assignment which was that of an international agent. What she probably didn’t count on was falling in love with Mulder, which she did. Although who knows but that seducing him was originally part of the assignment too?

However her affection for Mulder began, she didn’t forget him all those years she went away, a fact that CSM was probably aware of. So he gives her a new, very palatable assignment: Go back and befriend Fox Mulder again. He’s too close to the truth.

The problem is, despite their surface similarities, Diana and Mulder are incompatible. He’s an idealist, she’s a pragmatist. He wants to save the world, Diana wants to survive. She wants to survive with Mulder at her side and she’s clearly hoped that eventually he’d see that they had no other choice but to cooperate with the conspiracy and save themselves. That’s why she was willing to wait for him; they could never really be together, because they couldn’t survive the coming apocalypse, unless she helped the Syndicate succeed in creating an alien-human hybrid.

Another option is that Diana discovered the truth while she was working on the X-Files with Mulder, only she didn’t share everything she suspected, perhaps because she knew Mulder wouldn’t be comfortable with her pragmatic approach, and left to work for the Syndicate because she was sympathetic to their agenda. In some ways, that would make it worse. Her reasons are completely selfish. As long as she gets Mulder and they survive, that’s what matters.

But I’d still love to know, what exactly did CSM ever do to engender this kind of loyalty in Fowley? Or was she only going along with his agenda so that she and Mulder could be safe, and once his agenda conflicted with Mulder’s safety her surface loyalty evaporated? This mysterious confession she made in “The Sixth Extinction” (7×3) is tantalizing:

I know you know about me… That my loyalties aren’t just to you… but to a man you’ve grown to despise. You have your reasons, but as you look inside me now you know that I have mine.

I think deep down she realizes that Mulder isn’t going to be OK with her plans, which is why she hasn’t made a case for her position to him even after the eradication of the Syndicate. He already knows about the agenda of those men, surely she wouldn’t be threatening those plans now by spilling the beans, she’d only betray her own treachery and risk losing Mulder for good. Maybe that’s why she agrees to be complicit in CSM’s scheme to steal Mulder’s power – He could be putty in her hands. Fortunately, her long dormant conscience resurfaces before it’s too late, possibly pricked into action by guilt over Scully’s example of uncompromising loyalty to Mulder, and despite the fact that she knows it most likely means she’ll never have Mulder, she secretly gives up his location to Scully. Bravo?

By the end of this trilogy, I was sick of Diana Fowley, exhausted by the overarching plot, and not a little worried about the future of my show. I was hoping for answers in “Amor Fati”. Instead, I got Mulder making love to Diana Fowley, which, despite all my philosophically understanding prattle above, still makes me ill. I was tired of waiting for more news on the conspiracy, whether it was dead or alive. I was tired of waiting for information on Samantha’s whereabouts. And I was mostly tired of waiting on this unnecessary love triangle. By the time it was over, the superb ending was somewhat lost on me; sort of like pearls being cast before very impatient swine.

But it is superb. Truly.

Mulder: Scully, I was like you once — I didn’t know who to trust. Then I… I chose another path… another life, another fate, where I found my sister. In the end my world was unrecognizable and upside down. There was one thing that remained the same. You were my friend, and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant… my touchstone.
Scully: And you are mine.

As I watched this time, somewhere behind my teary eye (I can only watch this scene with one eye open) the Song of Solomon kept coming to mind: “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” I want to congratulate my subconscious for making the connection and at the same time berate it for making it so late – These are, in essence, Mulder and Scully’s wedding vows.

That sounds horrendously sappy, I know, but it’s true. They’re expressing, once and for all, before a television audience full of witnesses, their faith in and their commitment to each other. (Part of me twinges a little at the thought of making any mere, fallible mortal your constant and your touchstone. But, whatevs. I get what they’re giving.)

I remember the first time I watched it feeling slightly confused. (So they’re together now… right?) I wasn’t sure if I was witnessing their official coming together or what. After this are they a romantic pair? Well, there’s been a lot of debate over the years as to exactly when Mulder and Scully initiated the romantic stage of their relationship, with even Chris Carter & Co. inadvertently sending conflicting messages. Did Mulder pop up at Scully’s place the next day with red roses and a bottle of wine? Heck to the no. But, I do believe what we’re seeing here is the disintegration of all emotional, psychological and practical barriers between them. I said these were their “wedding vows”, right? Well, think of this moment as the ceremony – Everyone present knows the wedding night is coming but it’s not like there’s a bed waiting at the end of the aisle.

For once, both Mulder and Scully know exactly where they stand at exactly the same time and I think it’s clear that there will be no threat of any future “Diana Fowleys.” There’s only one barrier left, more of a technical formality really, and that’s the physical one, which Chris Carter will see fit to break not too long from now. After that, all bets will be off.

And to think! We were almost robbed of this episode’s redemption. This was not the original ending planned and in fact, was filmed much later after the rest of the episode – hence Scully’s noticeable haircut. I’ve read what is supposed to be the original ending and it in no way provided sufficient emotional closure between Mulder and Scully after all the angst of this episode. So hats off to whoever decided to change it – I don’t know who you are except that you’re my constant, my touchstone.

Verdict:

I know some fans wish that Mulder and Scully had kissed here, but I want to go on record as saying that for all my teenage confusion back in the day, I’m oh so glad they didn’t. Turning it sexual would have cheapened the moment because what they’re expressing here goes so much deeper than that. At the same time, it makes an eventual kiss inevitable. How do you love someone any more than that?? Where else are they supposed to go with it? Why do Mulder and Scully keep having their most significant moments in Mulder’s hallway?

So I’ll see you Shippers next time when Chris Carter finally lets Mulder kiss the bride.

B+

The Mystery Continues:

Just when you thought I was done, I’m about to wind it back. Remember “The End” (5×20)? Remember how Diana Fowley was guarding Gibson Praise while secretly working for CSM? Remember how shocked she looked when Gibson told her she was about to be shot? Yeah, why was that?

The Options -

  1. CSM didn’t tell whomever he sent to kidnap Gibson that Fowley was one of theirs – The left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing. Lingering resentment over the events of this episode also might explain why Fowley came to distrust CSM enough to betray him.
  2. They shot Fowley on purpose, surprising her, in order to ingratiate her to Mulder – How could he doubt her after she nearly died for the cause?
  3. Fowley was given orders by CSM to protect Gibson and genuinely thought that’s what he wanted – This would explain why anyone coming to get Gibson would have to attack Fowley to get to him and why she was so surprised.

The question remains, why didn’t Gibson hint at her disloyalty? He seemed comfortable enough with her. I guess he was too busy fanning the flames of the love triangle to warn Mulder and Scully that they had a traitor in their midst

And yet another question remains. Just how far did Fowley’s relationship with CSM go? Between the way they look at each other in “One Son” and CSM’s not so subtle leer in Fowley’s direction after delivering his, “I’ll carry the burden from here on in” line, I suspect that either they were sexually involved at some point or that their eventual sexual involvement was one of CSM’s secret goals. Talk about a Father-Son competition.

Bepuzzlements:

What’s still not clear is what in the Aunt Jemima Krycek is up to now. Why kill Kritschgau? Is he independently working toward hybridization? Working for the rebels? What? – Oh, and how about that digital Nick Lea impostor?

Why do women keep giving Mulder the Salt-n-Peppa, “I think I wanna have your baby” speech on this show? Is it because he’s a “mighty good man?” My man is smooth like Barry and his voice got base…

Okay, so Scully has a DOJ passkey. But how does she know where to go?

And I’m Done:

Notice how Mulder keeps flipping things back on Scully. “Mulder, help me”, becomes, “You help me.” “I know she was your friend”, becomes, “You were my friend… you were my constant, my touchstone.” Scully tries to comfort him at the loss of Diana, his first priority is to comfort her. Oh, the days I could go on with this stuff…

Best Quotes:

CSM: Your account is squared — with me, with God, with the IRS, with the FBI.

——————-

CSM: You’re not Christ. You’re not Prince Hamlet. You’re not even Ralph Nader. {Editor’s Note: HAHAHAHA.}

——————–

Scully: Bum a cigarette, Agent Fowley?
Diana Fowley: I don’t smoke.
Scully: Really? I could swear I smell cigarette smoke on you.
Diana Fowley: Let’s cut the crap, shall we?
Scully: Yes. Let’s.

The Sixth Extinction 7×3: Some truths are not for you.


Don't be subtle or anything, Mulder.

It’s tough being a middle child and “The Sixth Extinction” is the somewhat forgotten child sandwiched between two attention-hungry siblings. “Biogenesis” (6×22) is about the origins of the universe while “The Sixth Extinction: Amor Fati” (7×4) contemplates the coming of the messiah. (Grandiose much?) Bracketed by such life-altering concepts, what job is left for “The Sixth Extinction” to take over?

What I like about this one is that it’s more action oriented than either of the other episodes. Between the plagues, the apparitions, the zombie… Chris Carter was clearly trying to bring the show back to its creepy roots and I appreciate that.

I also wholeheartedly welcome the return of Michael Kritschgau. One wonders what his character must have felt when, after all Kritchgau did for him, giving up his job and his reputation to testify for Mulder, Mulder stops listening to him and turns back to his alien ways. Briefly the thought crosses my mind, “Since when was his character involved in Remote Viewing experiments and since when did Mulder know that?” but it’s quickly hushed. Maybe Mulder can read minds from across the city. I don’t care. What’s a plot point or two between friends?

And some might find his scenes in the hospital with Mulder and Skinner boring, but I think they’re a lot of fun. It’s always a treat to see Skinner get in on the action and I believe his heavy presence here is a harbinger of things to come this season. He doesn’t get his own episode, per se, but he comes out from behind his desk in a major way. I’m also surprised to hear him admit so freely his belief that Mulder’s disease is extra-terrestrial and I suddenly realize that while Skinner’s been involved in the mythology of The X-Files since Season 1, he’s always been on the human side of the plot. To my recollection, he’s never said one way or the other whether he believes the Syndicate’s conspiracy was hiding the truth about alien life, though I suppose his support of Mulder all these years is evidence to that effect.

As for Mulder, I’m dying to know what he’s thinking now that he knows what everybody else is thinking. Ultimately, mind reading is a power I wouldn’t want. Some things are better not to know. But I relish the chance to experience it vicariously and watch Mulder waste away in (mostly) silent angst.

I may even have to rethink my position on that cut scene from “Biogenesis” where Mulder confronts Diana Fowley. Yes, that knock-down, drag-out would have been awesome. But if it had happened in the previous episode I would have been robbed of the thrill of realizing that when Mulder says, “They’re coming,” it’s Diana he’s referring to. Oh, how vindicated I still feel to finally know once and for all that he’s onto her.

Now we come to what I think is the most interesting part of this episode, and not just because I’m a Shipper. Carter sets up two scenes of bedside vigil for the dying Mulder, one with Diana Fowley and one with Scully. We’re invited to compare and contrast their reactions to Mulder’s condition, to the answers that he’s found, and the knowledge that he has, even the knowledge of their own thoughts.

Fowley professes her love for Mulder, and since we know she knows that he knows what’s going on inside her head, she must be telling the truth. She also confesses her allegiance to the Cigarette-Smoking Man, which she defends, though at least she has the grace to look a little embarrassed about it. Most importantly of all, she reveals what sounds like her primary motivation: she and Mulder can be together now that he knows the truth.

Maybe it’s just me, but I get the impression that she’s wanted to tell Mulder all of this all along but couldn’t either because to do so would be to betray her mission within the Syndicate or because she knew how Mulder would react and that she’d lose him forever. Now she’s hopeful that since he can see into her motivations and her reasons, he’ll understand and agree and they can walk into colonization hand in hand, two alien-human hybrid lovers together forever.

Does this woman creep anyone else out?

Seriously. I was having flashbacks of Kathy Bates in Misery. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not so cold-hearted that I don’t feel bad for her. But it’s plain now that she’s doing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. She loves Mulder, yes, but it’s a selfish sort of love. She doesn’t want what’s best for him, she wants him for herself. All this time she’s been plotting and scheming, or going along with someone else’s plots and schemes, in hopes that one day she could have Mulder for good with out any pesky alien colonization getting in the way.

Since Mulder plays possum the entire time she’s in the room, I’m going to put it out there and say her chances are looking slim. It’s hard to say what Mulder’s thinking at that moment, but the fact that he masks his awareness in front of Fowley tells us all we need to know. However sincere her feelings may be, he can’t trust her; she’s still on the wrong side.

By contrast, we can see Mulder struggling to focus on Scully when he realizes she’s coming into his hospital room. And what does Scully do when she reaches him? Does she pounce on his silence as an open opportunity to confess her love? No. All she does, all she beautifully, perfectly does is beg him to live. That’s it. She just needs him to hang on.

I don’t even need to comment further – the selflessness speaks for itself.

Verdict:

I have to say that “The Sixth Extinction” is better than I remembered. I’m still not and never will be sold on the premise. (Was the aliens’ master plan to throw the world into confusion by inundating them with conflicting doctrines? Is this a Tower of Babel scenario? Create disunity so mankind can’t get up to too much mischief?) It feels absurd in a way that even alien abductions and a conglomerate of rich old men running de-humanizing tests on an unsuspecting public didn’t. Methinks the origin of life is too vast a topic to handle in primetime. But if you’re going to do something, do it well, and the scope of this production ultimately keeps my interest even if I’m not jumping up and down with excitement.

The focus is quickly shifting from God, aliens, and the origins of the universe to Mulder and the personal consequences of his quest. Early on in the episode, even in his tired state, he seems excited about what he is, happy despite all his suffering to have become the proof he’s been searching for all this time. And yet I start to wonder.

Kritschgau: How far should it go?! How far would Mulder go?!

He’s dying. Mulder has proven many times before that he’s willing to die in this fight, to die for his cause, but does he actually want to? Is it possible that even Mulder, trapped as he is in silent torture, has a limit?

Ah, but then just when I find myself ready to get excited at the emotional possibilities… This.

Dr. Ngebe: It is the word of God.

Oh, for the love of…

B+

Comments:

Hmm. Scully’s hair grew and Mulder’s hair shrank.

Mad props to David Duchovny for best performance of a mute paralytic ever.

Whatever else we get or don’t get from this episode, Scully wielding a machete is pretty cool.

Mulder wrote that note to Skinner awfully neatly for a psychotic man writing in his own blood.

I love that brief shot we get of Skinner from the POV of Mulder’s strapped down leg. It emphasizes how vulnerable Mulder currently is.

Scully looks awfully fresh for a woman who’s just come off of a 22-hour flight.

Scully’s continuing monologue in Mulder’s direction reminds me very much of “Memento Mori” (4×15), only this time Mulder’s the one that’s dying.

The last time Scully was confronted in a car by a supernatural apparition of a black man? “Fresh Bones” (2×15). I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that I can say, “The last time.”

Questions:

I wonder why Mulder attacks Skinner in order to give him the note. Perhaps he didn’t want the doctors, and therefore Diana, to know what he was thinking?

Why is Scully’s tent clean from the outside even though it’s a white tent and bugs are sticking to the inside of the material?

Kritschgau is no longer in the military so where did he find or how did he afford this equipment to test Mulder with? And how did they sneak it into the hospital?

When she threatens him with a machete, Dr. Barnes says to Scully, “Word is you’re under suspicion already!” Suspicion of what?? Killing Dr. Merkallen? He was dead before she came on the case. Killing Dr. Sandoz? She was back in D.C. by then. Is this just a haphazard attempt on Dr. Barnes’ part to deflect suspicion off of himself?

Why would Scully go all the way to the F.B.I. to find out if Mulder’s still at the hospital? You’re a doctor. Call the hospital.

Gibson Praise, well over a year ago, described what it feels like to read minds as hearing lots of different radio stations on at the same time in your head, which seems to be exactly what Mulder’s experiencing. I wonder then, why didn’t Gibson experience side effects? Was his body already used to it because he was born that way? Had his ability been triggered by something alien as well? CSM did brain surgery on Gibson back in the day much in the same way that he’s about to do it on Mulder. What would make this surgery a more successful attempt at hybridization? Is it because Mulder was previously infected with the black oil?

Best Quotes:

Scully: He’s not dying.
Skinner: I’m afraid it’s true.
Scully: He’s not dying. He is more alive than he has ever been. He’s more alive than his body can withstand and what’s causing it may be extraterrestrial in origin.
Skinner: I know. But there’s nothing to be done about it.
Scully: [Turns to leave]
Skinner: They’re going to deny you access.
Scully: Maybe as his partner… but not as his doctor.

Season 6 Wrap Up: Maybe I did want to be out there with you.


This is one of those seasons in terms of its popularity that gets polar opposite responses depending on which faction of the fandom you ask about it. It’s trying too hard to be funny, it’s not funny, it’s hilarious. Too much MSR, not enough MSR, just the right amount. I miss the Syndicate, I was sick of the Syndicate, what’s with this new mythology?

You can’t please all the people all the time, especially if your name is Chris Carter.

Personally, I adore Season 6. But I can understand why some fans don’t. If Season 5 would throw fans a knowing smile every so often, Season 6 is constantly, flirtatiously winking at us. The X-Files has become not only much more self-conscious and self-referential, it also acknowledges its fan base and fan expectations in a more direct way than before.

Previous episodes like “Small Potatoes” (4×20) have toyed with the ever-present subtext of Mulder and Scully’s burgeoning romantic relationship (MSR). But fast-forward to “The Rain King” (6×7) and it’s not a subtext, it’s the only text, and the characters around Mulder and Scully directly confront them with the feelings fans had been harboring for years.

I mean… you spend every day with Agent Scully, a beautiful, enchanting woman. And you two never, uh…? I… confess I find that shocking. I… I’ve seen how you two gaze at one another.

Not even a kiss?

Sorry, my NoRoMo friends. You’ll have to forgive me for indulging in some MSR talk. It’s a major, major component of Season 6 that can’t be ignored. In fact, I don’t think it’s a reach to say it’s the main component. Not only does it drive many stand-alone episodes, the Mulder-Scully-Fowley love triangle becomes such a major issue that it largely drives the mythology this season. You can’t discuss Season 6 without discussing MSR.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m about to plagiarize myself since I can think of no more effective way to explain my position.

Back in the not so distant day, a Shipper had to hunt for little romantic gems in an episode. A brief hand-hold here, a golden moment of banter there… it was a game looking for these affirmations of the Shipper faith since it wasn’t as though the writers were putting them there on purpose. We had to take what we could get. Now, however, the game has changed completely and after the events of the movie, Chris Carter & Co. could no longer believably ignore either the mounting anticipation of their audience or the romantic tension that they inadvertently created between their two lead characters. So, what to do, what to do? They had no choice, really, but to officially script the MSR subtext into the series. Now Shippers no longer have to hunt for sustenance like wild animals, it’s being fed to us in golden bowls like house pets.

If that sounds like a complaint, please know that it’s not. As I said, I don’t see how the show could have believably evolved any other way. What could Chris Carter have done? Turned back the clock and pretended that millions of people had never seen that scene outside of Mulder’s apartment? Or worse, should he have taken character development back a few seasons in order to halt the progression of this budding romance between his leads? Never. Looking back it was inevitable that the romantic undertone of the series would become more overt. And however people may complain that it made The X-Files look silly, it would have looked a heck of a lot sillier if they had stubbornly ignored the obvious.

And in the profound words of Mr. Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

The only check mark in the negative column against Season 6 is that while the great majority of episodes, as individual episodes, are great, on the whole it may be slightly unbalanced. Particularly in the beginning of the season, the scales are tipped toward the lighter side of things which is a disappointment, I’m sure, to the fans who prefer grittier Monster of the Week and Mythology episodes. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if episodes like “Tithonus” (6×9) had come along sooner rather than later if Season 6 would still have quite as featherweight a reputation. After all, for the shortest season ever (twenty episodes) Season 5 gave us its fair share of less than super serious material: “Unusual Suspects” (5×1), “The Post-Modern Prometheus” (5×6), “Detour” (5×4), “Bad Blood” (5×12), “Folie a Deux” (5×19). And that’s not even counting Mulder’s hilarious phone calls to Scully in “Chinga” (5×10).

I calculate Season 6 at 40% funny vs. Season 5’s 30%, give or take. Perhaps the team at 1013 wanted to leaven the heavy drama of the mythology episodes this season by giving the fans an emotional break during the stand-alone episodes. I still consider “Arcadia” (6×13) a humble apology for forcing us to watch Mulder and Scully nearly split up for good in “One Son” (6×12). That fight was so bad even the Lone Gunmen had to look away. And while we’re at it, maybe Chris Carter meant “Triangle” (6×3) to be a peace offering after he had Mulder nearly take back in “The Beginning” (6×1) everything he said to Scully in the hallway last summer. You bet your cheap weave Mulder owed Scully more than one “I love you” after that.

Speaking of “I love you’s”, somewhere along the way this season, probably without us even noticing, I believe Mulder and Scully passed the point where a love confession was even necessary.

I can safely say that by the events of “Biogenesis” (6×22) Mulder knows that Scully is in love with him and not just because he can conveniently read minds. I don’t know by what work of the Devil I didn’t talk about this in my “One Son” review, but Mulder knows. Even the first time I saw it, I was certain of it. It’s all in the way he says, “No. Actually, you hide your feelings very well.”

Now, I will often, in the heat of my Fangirl passion, yell things at Mulder and at my television screen and “Stupid” is an adjective I use for him regularly. However, Mulder is not actually stupid. He’s a very intuitive, very perceptive character. He couldn’t have helped but read the not so subtle subtext during Scully’s heated interchange with Fowley in the aforementioned episode. That wasn’t purely righteous indignation on Cassandra’s behalf that Scully was acting out there. And even before that, he was in that hallway too. He knew she was about to kiss him just as sure as he was about to kiss her, though judging by his somewhat nervous confession in “Triangle” I’d say he wasn’t confident as to whether she’d be willing to start a relationship or not.

But, I digress. Mulder knows and I believe that’s part of why Padgett’s “Agent Scully is already in love” pronouncement in “Milagro” (6×18) doesn’t elicit a major response from him. It also doesn’t elicit a response from Scully because she knows too. And, at this point, I think she knows that Mulder knows and that he knows that she knows. I think there’s mutual knowing all around. Mulder certainly didn’t wrap his arms around her in “The Unnatural” (6×20) like a man who thought his attentions might not be desirable.

A question less easy to answer is does Scully know how Mulder feels about her? To that I’d give a qualified “Yes.” She knows he loves her dearly; he did go to Antarctica to rescue her after all. She knows he’s attracted to her since he’s not too subtle with his looks in either “Two Fathers” (6×11) or “One Son”. There’s even something about the look on her face when Mulder tells his tall tale in “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” (6×8) that makes me think she knows she’s supposed to be “Lida”, the brooding yet heroic “Maurice’s” ethereal love. But, ah, that Fowley woman. I don’t think Scully’s going to pick up what Mulder’s puttin’ down as long as Fowley is around. Cue Season 7.

And on a final note, how awesomely amazing is Scully this season? She steals the show pretty much from beginning to end. From being boldly faithful to slapping suspects, from becoming open-minded to learning how to play baseball, my girl has been on fire. If we could say nothing else in favor of having a comedy-heavy season, I’m so glad it affords Scully the opportunity to show us all her different sides.

——————

Assuming your teeth aren’t already aching with sweetness, you tell me:

And the Awards go to….

“How could you do this to me, Chris Carter?”

The Beginning

“You’re forgiven, Chris Carter.”

Triangle

“Most Underrated”

Drive

AND

Trevor

“Most Overrated”

How the Ghosts Stole Christmas

“Not Rated”

Alpha

“Best Use of a Guest Star”

Dreamland/Dreamland II

“Scully for Queen”

Tithonus

“Coulda Been a Contender”

Agua Mala

“Don’t Judge Me”

The Rain King

“David Duchovny, why won’t you love me?”

The Unnatural

Biogenesis 6×22: Who had the audacity for such invention?


Say what now?

Disclaimer: I am in love with Chris Carter. I am in love with The X-Files. I would sooner lose a finger, in fact, let’s make it my thumb, than I would have missed out on watching this series – the whole series – all of it – including the nauseating moments. So please understand that when I complain, and I will complain, I complain with love. Kapish?

Good, because my complaints start right at the beginning. I am so sick of these self-important, perfunctory mytharc opening monologues I’m about ready to curse. And I don’t curse!! I get the idea. I know. This is epic. Epic, epic, epic. All of life is about to be explained. All of life is at stake. J’nough. Let’s move on.

Now, on the more diplomatic side of things, at least we know right out of the gate that the turn The X-Files is taking is grander and more fundamental than any conspiracy created by men merely to hide information. This is the mythology’s new beginning. The Syndicate is dead, the slate has been wiped clean, almost any plot is possible and this is the plot they choose: Aliens as God. The implications are… bottomless. And they’re making my brain hurt.

In its defense, this plot is only overtly going where The X-Files has already gone before. Mulder’s mission to prove the existence of alien life, his quest to find absolute truth, it’s all analogous to a man’s, and mankind’s, search for God. I get that. It’s subtle. It’s good. Sometimes it’s not so subtle. But it’s still good. It’s like a biblical parable; all the more effective for concealing the truth inside a fiction.

But in this bit of fiction, an alien spaceship has supposedly popped up, plain as day on the coast of a well-populated continent, yet no governments take notice. No spy satellites, no missiles are aimed in its direction. No soldiers are sent out to guard it or to confiscate it. Instead, a bunch of independent science nerds have free access to it without having to answer to anyone. The news of this discovery never leaks to the vigilant folks at MUFON. The media never takes notice.

Rubbish. Rubbish, I tell you.

To be honest, the very idea causes my eyes to roll so far into the back of my head they disappear. It took me a while to convince them to come back. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to ignore the mythology aspect of this mythology episode for most of this review.

On to our heroes… Scully is trying to convince Mulder that their job at the F.B.I. is done. After all, they’ve won, haven’t they? The conspiracy is kaput. Never mind that earth is still on the verge of being invaded and humanity is still scheduled to be destroyed, someone else can see to those details. Why can’t she and Mulder move on? Ah, but Scully has forgotten about the most important thing of all, the quest that predates Mulder’s mission to take down the Syndicate’s conspiracy: the search for Samantha. But who can blame her? I’d pretty much forgotten myself and I’m probably not the only one. Which is why this moment is not so covertly placed here, I suspect. Chris Carter needed to remind the audience that there’s a reason Mulder and Scully are still on the X-Files and therefore there’s a reason we’re still watching this show. Some truths have yet to be uncovered.

Meanwhile, some truths are never fully uncovered. Enter Diana Fowley.

We’ll get to more of the eternal mysteries surrounding her character come Season 7, but for now it’s enough just to figure out why, for the love of all that is watchable, Chris Carter felt it necessary to have her strip down in Mulder’s apartment and force us to watch. Since, logically, we can’t really expect that she was about to seduce a man barely well enough to hold a brief conversation, we can only assume that it was meant to get a rise out of the audience. And it certainly got a rise out of this audience. I remember rising to my feet in righteous indignation. (Chris Carter, don’t you make me come out there.)

Wait. Back up. What was she doing in Mulder’s apartment in the first place?

According to what Fowley says both to Cigarette-Smoking Man over the phone and Scully in person, Mulder called her after he collapsed in the stairwell. Not that I take as gospel a single word she tells Scully, I’m inclined to think that she has no reason to be dishonest with CSM. The puzzle then is why would Mulder call her? Well, he’s already figured out he can’t trust Skinner. Scully’s off hunting Dr. Sandoz. I’d give him the excuse of being out of friends, but where the Lone Gunmen unavailable?

Whatever. He calls her. If trusting her even after she miraculously survives the events of “One Son” (6×12) isn’t proof he’s earned the padded cell he’s finally given this episode, I don’t know what is. Or perhaps he has doubts we don’t get to see?

Now, please bear with me here because I’m about to force you to scroll. Below is a scene from the script of “Biogenesis” that was cut. (Darn those brief 43 minutes). And while I’ll cry along with the purists that since it didn’t air, it’s not canon, I think it helps illuminate some plot points that otherwise remain murky. I’ll go more into detail on my case for its inclusion afterward.

{Editor’s Note: I don’t make this stuff up. You can find my sources here: http://www.mitchpileggi.net/The_X-Files/Libby/ (Click on Season 6 episodes and scroll down to Biogenesis. This is the version I recommend.) And here: http://www.fortunecity.com/lavender/tombstone/178/6x22_cutscenes.html And here: http://members.tripod.com/cactus_ian/xf6x22.html}

FOWLEY: Fox?
A faint clatter from another room gets her attention. She turns to see… Mulder exiting the kitchen past her. He is pale, dazed, disheveled – markedly worse than when we last saw him. He shuffles into the living room, seemingly oblivious to her presence. Fowley watches him pass, shaken by his strung-out appearance.
FOWLEY: Fox..? Are you alright?
Mulder shuffles to the living room window, peers out through the closed blinds. He doesn’t look at her. Silence for a long, uncomfortable beat.
MULDER: Where did you go?
FOWLEY: You were asleep, and I…
She trails off, shrugs. Mulder is still staring out the window. Now, he finally looks to her – pins her with a look, actually.
MULDER: Where did you GO?!
FOWLEY: I… I went home. (Off his silence) Maybe I shouldn’t have.
MULDER: Were you alone?
Fowley eyes him, taken aback by the question.
MULDER: Were you by yourself?
FOWLEY: Yes. Of course. What kind of question is that?
CLOSE – MULDER
We creep in on him as once again we hear strange AUDIO HITS – the disjointed clamor of voices in his head. We recognize FOWLEY’S VOICE rising from the din. We make out words, fragments of phrases: “it’s starting…”, “the artifact…”, he doesn’t suspect…”
Mulder struggles to clear his head.
MULDER: You were talking. Who were you talking to?
By all outward signs, Fowley is puzzled by the question.
FOWLEY: To you. I’m talking to you.
Mulder presses his hand to his temple. The cacophony in his head grows louder. More snippets from Fowley: “not possible…”, “gain his trust…”, “I just left him…”
MULDER: You’re lying.
FOWLEY: I’m lying? (beat) What am I lying about?
Mulder says nothing. Wary, he watches as Fowley moves closer.
FOWLEY: Fox, you’re not well. I think I need to take you to a doctor.
MULDER: I’m not going anywhere with you.
FOWLEY: Fox, please…
She reaches for him. Increasingly paranoid, Mulder pulls away. Another quick AUDIO HIT: the voices rise in a muffled, incomprehensible crescendo.
MULDER: No. Uh-uh. First Skinner and now you. You’ve betrayed me. (louder) You’re here to spy on me aren’t you? AREN’T YOU?!
In a sudden frenzy, Mulder SWIPES everything off the top of his desk, hurling it across the room. Unnerved, Fowley takes a step back. Mulder upends the coffee table, sending books and papers flying.
FOWLEY: Fox, calm down –
Breathing faster now, Mulder turns on Fowley, approaches – angry eyes fixed on her.
MULDER: Tell me the truth…
Nervous, Fowley discreetly unbuttons her jacket. We catch a glimpse of her pistol tucked in its holster.
FOWLEY: You’re not making sense. You need help. (backing off) Please — calm down.
Mulder doesn’t. He keeps advancing.
MULDER: TELL ME! –
A LOUD ELECTRIC SNAP. Mulder winces. His legs give out.
FROM BEHIND MULDER
He collapses to the floor, revealing the STUN GUN in Fowley’s hand. She kneels into frame by his body. Despite what we know of her treachery toward Mulder, we see some glimmer of real concern for him on her face.

First of all, this is an emotional confrontation between Mulder and Fowley that, in my humble opinion, needed to happen. After his unwavering integrity, after remaining loyal to her to his own hurt and risking his relationship with Scully even because he refused to turn on a friend, this needed to happen. I actually consider it twice as necessary for the sake of closure than any confrontation between Fowley and Scully.

Second of all, this brief scene reveals a lot about Fowley’s character and I’ve been itching to get inside that woman’s head a little. She knows exactly what’s going with Mulder which means she’s way ahead of him as far as what he’s learned about the aliens/colonists/whomever. That tells me she’s reasonably high up on the conspiracy chain. This is also our first glimmer that she really does care about Mulder. Prior to this she’s been a blank femme fatale, all calculating action with no feeling. Now we see that she’s conflicted and I find it interesting that she’s still afraid to tell Mulder the truth even though she knows he can read her mind.

Third of all, this clears up how Mulder went from lying weakly in bed to winding up a raving maniac in a padded cell. It also explains Fowley’s efforts to keep Scully from seeing him once he’s in that cell, because God forbid he somehow communicated his suspicions about Fowley to Scully. It would have been on.

Fowley and Scully don’t exactly end this episode on the best terms as it is, and I can at the very least say I’m grateful that Season 6 Scully gets to close us out with a bang. She’s already shown us so many different sides of herself this season… Weasel-Me-This Scully, Slap-A-Pimp Scully, Bimbo!Scully, and now Ain’t-No-Holla-Back-Girl Scully. So what triggers this latest incarnation?

Diana throws a couple of digs Scully’s way by implying that she’s in Mulder’s “In Group” while Scully’s in the “Out Group.” “Thank you for coming,” and, “He was asking for you last night” make it sound almost as though Diana’s family and Scully’s just a friend. Yet, self-possessed as ever, Scully is able to ignore all that until…

Fowley: [Mulder] said I was the only one who’d believe him.

One. Lie. Too. Far. Someone must not have told Fowley to watch “Folie a Deux” (5×19). If she had, she would have learned that, “Nobody else on this whole damn planet does or ever will” believe Mulder like Scully. Might he have called Diana because he trusts her too? Sure. But would he have told her she was the only one? Never. And Scully calls her on it immediately in a moment that’s probably the highlight of the episode for me. Long gone is the uncertain, insecure Scully of “The End” (5×20). Good riddance.

And the Verdict is…

I’ve kvetched enough. Now it’s time for me to admit that this episode is actually a lot better than I remember it being. Parts of it I can even say I enjoyed. The action is suspenseful and continuous, the performances are spot on, the images, the music… on a surface level, we’ve had much, much worse.

But as much as I do like watching Mulder lose his mind, and as much as I love that he still calls out for Scully even from the bowels of insanity, it’s the basic premise of “Biogenesis” that’s hard for me to get past.

Are these life-giving aliens the same ones that are about to take human life away? It seems to me that if the alien colonists have had this much power all along, not only would the Syndicate have been pretty useless to them, the whole plan to colonize us is superfluous. They planted us, they can harvest us just as easily. Throw new genetic material into our atmosphere or something, I don’t know. But there’s no longer any need for elaborate machinations; if they have the power of God they can simply use it.

This was why it was better when The X-Files only asked the great questions and didn’t attempt to answer them.

B

Bepuzzlements:

I have a question. How do we know when these spaceships first appeared on the earth? Is there some reason everyone is assuming that these multi-cultural writings pre-date the cultures and religions they document? And in that vein, how do they know that the aliens didn’t copy that information from humans rather than give it? I can’t believe Scully never seriously suggests it. Her brief, “How did the aliens get it?” is a throw away line.

Languages evolve. The Navajo of a hundred years ago isn’t the Navajo of today. So, if I’m to understand this correctly, not only thousands, but billions of years before the Navajo existed the aliens phonetically wrote in their language? Did the aliens give us all our respective languages too?

If our progenitors were alien, if they put us here, why are we trying to thwart their plans? Surely they know better than we do. And, after all, they’re only taking back what’s rightfully theirs.

Why does everyone keep throwing the rubbing in Mulder’s face? He tells Scully he thinks it’s the cause of his dissonance, she opens it up and breaks it out. Chuck Burke clearly states that he believes Mulder when he says the rubbing is bothering him, so what does he do? Put it up on the big screen.

Mulder is affected by the rubbing because he was once infected with the Black Oil virus back in “Tunguska” (4×9) where he was also treated by a vaccine for the virus developed by the Russians. In the movie, Scully is also infected with the Black Oil virus and is later given a vaccine that was stolen by the Syndicate from the Russians. Will someone please explain to me why only Mulder is affected? Had the second vaccine been tweaked? Was Scully’s version more effective?

Peanut Gallery:

A room full of monkeys in cages where a scientist is murdered? “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (1×23) much?

Chuck Burke! It’s been a while.

Use of recycled movie music – Yes, we know. Again, this is epic.

Skinner just called Scully “Dana.” Somewhere the Skinner/Scully Shippers rejoice.

Clever – We cut directly from Mulder having an attack to Scully looking like she might be having an attack in the hospital in New Mexico. Then that close-up shot of Scully as she hears… what is it? The alarm? Or is she experiencing dissonance too? Ah, it’s the alarm. But, clever. Very clever.

Come to think of it, it might actually have been more fun to watch Scully lose her mind a la “Wetwired” (3×23).

I think I may have upped this episode’s grade just for the discovery of Dr. Merkallen’s body in the trash compactor.

Ah, Scully. I love your new fashion sense but it seems to me a linen suit isn’t going to serve you well on the beach.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I am just a hired gun for the F.B.I.