The Beginning 6×1: I see your renowned arrogance has been left quite intact.


Puh Puh Puh Poker Face.

Fox Mulder is having a poopy day.

His boss sides against him, his former lover steals his job, and Scully… yes, Scully… leaves him blowing in the wind.

Don’t adjust your T.V. sets. That bright sunlight you see is meant to be there and you are still watching The X-Files. The crew at 1013 is taking advantage of their new filming environment by setting the first episode produced in L.A. in the bright desert of Arizona. If they can’t rely on the built-in atmosphere provided by the Vancouver weather, then they might as well make things interesting by taking the audience to places The X-Files couldn’t really go before, bright places.

Thankfully, the story isn’t any less dark than usual and we pick up right where we left off at the end of the movie, with the Syndicate running experiments on a pre-historic cache of the Black Oil, a version that turns humans into incubators. Unfortunately for one of their scientists, he has been infected with the Black Oil virus and accidentally turned himself into a one-man nursery for a very large, very dangerous alien baby.

But this is television we’ve returned to, not the big screen any longer, and the budget that the movie had for rubber alien suits has dried up. It’s a good thing then that The X-Files’ special talent is scaring its audience to death by showing them… nothing. And the alien attack scenes work all the better for us not being able to see the creature.

Death-by-alien moments aside, the best parts of this episode belong to the recently returned Gibson Praise, particularly when he protects Mulder and Scully from Cigarette-Smoking Man by luring him away from the scene of the alien attack and when he dramatically takes sanctuary in the back of Mulder and Scully’s car while they’re distracted. Although I must say he’s become a little too much the prophet for my taste, revealing to the people the truth of their sins. I’m not sure where he got the idea that countering everything someone says to you by telling them what they’re really thinking is a good way to win friends and influence people, but while he’s at it he should really pass a few chastisements Fox Mulder’s way.

Not that I blindly begrudge Mulder his attitude this episode since his world is falling apart like so many pieces of a burnt X-File.

First, Mulder gets spanked at the O.P.R. panel, a plot device recycled from the movie for the purposes of recycling the movie plot; summer was a long time ago and who knows what the audience doesn’t remember? While it makes for a convenient plot device as far as exposition goes and it also serves to push Mulder and Scully into the proverbial corner, the problem is that the seriousness of the panel belies the inherent silliness of the plot.

Everyone at the F.B.I. knows how crazy Mulder’s theories are and in the context of his working on the X-Files, it’s easier to believe that Mulder could go to Skinner, more his friend than his boss, with a working government conspiracy theory that involves corn, spaceships and bees without being laughed out of his office. But in front of a panel of humorless faces made up of strangers and superiors, it makes both Mulder and the plot of the entire mythology look foolish – more foolish than he’s already supposed to look. It’s hard to believe the F.B.I. would actually cut this man a paycheck.

If that wasn’t enough trouble, Scully has professionally bailed on him. Scully doesn’t remember most of what happened to her in Antarctica other than that Mulder saved the day, and the proof of the alien virus that was supposed to be inside the bee that stung Scully isn’t materializing. And you know Scully, she won’t believe anything until the lab results come in.

That’s who Scully is and she’s not about to change, but after everything they’ve been through Mulder is finally fed up with her denial and his frustration isn’t completely unmerited. He just bared his soul and begged this woman to stay by his side, trekked the frozen North to bring her back from the brink of death, and carried her away from danger as alien monsters snapped their spiky teeth at his heels. No doubt he feels a little entitled to some blind faith from her whether she actually witnessed anything or no. And after he’s finally seen the alien life he’s sought for so long with his own eyes, coming home to the same old act from Scully has to be grating.

Still, that’s no excuse for this:

Mulder: Agent Fowley took me to that plant at great risk to herself, where I saw something that you refuse to believe in, saw it again, Scully. And though it may not say it in her report, Diana saw it too. And no matter what you think, she’s certainly not going to go around saying that just because science can’t prove it, it isn’t true.

Or this:

Mulder: What does it take? For this thing to come up and bite you on the ass? I saw these creatures. I saw them burst to life. You would’ve seen them too, but you were infected with that virus. You were passed out over my shoulder.
Scully: Mulder, I know what you did. I know what happened to me, but without ignoring the science, I can’t… Listen, Mulder… [Grabs his hand] You told me that my science kept you honest, that it made you question your assumptions, that by it, I’d made you a whole person. If I change now… it wouldn’t be right… or honest.
Mulder: I’m talking about extraterrestrial life alive on this planet in our lifetime, forces that dwarf and precede all human history. I’m sorry, Scully, but this time your science is wrong. [Walks away]

Tell me, can you hear me dying from where you are?

Poor Scully. She’s so desperate to make Mulder understand that underneath her skepticism beats the heart of a wannabe believer that she tries to recreate “The Moment”… and Mulder shoots her down.

Coming from the high of the movie where Mulder and Scully were joined in an almost poetic unity a la the greats like Kirk and Spock, to this… Well, it’s like a splash of ice water to the face. I’d almost go back and rewatch Fight the Future to see if what I saw was really what I saw but I just watched it multiple times and I’m quite sure that what I saw was what I saw. I swear, if the events of the film hadn’t happened this would be less painful.

I know that for the sake of television drama Chris Carter couldn’t have Mulder and Scully continue on in such carefree, like-minded bliss. But I’m a closet sap and it’s not even the Shipper in me that this bothers so much, I just hate division between close characters of any kind. I love it when I see teamwork and unselfish love and idealism come through my television set in waves of red, green and blue light. Watching the trust between my favorite team of all wane cold, even temporarily, is like a knife through this grown geek’s heart. And for Mulder to compare Scully unfavorably with Fowley… Thrust the blade in deep and get it over with why don’t you, Chris Carter?

The only benefit to this painful rift I can see is how impressive Scully is throughout it. She behaves as a true friend, giving Mulder not what he asks for or what he wants, but what he truly needs. All along she works behind the scenes to get Mulder the proof that would validate his theories, and his very existence, really. That she does so despite Mulder’s coldness is a testament to her integrity.

I can safely say that Scully is in love with Mulder because if she wasn’t before Antarctica, she is now. You can call me “Mulder” but I don’t need scientific proof of that. It’s understood, woman to non-existent woman. But I love that she compartmentalizes that fact so well, even in the face of Mulder’s emotional rebuffs. It looks like the confidence she gained in their relationship through the events of the movie is still carrying her through, enough that she knows Mulder needs her even when he doesn’t realize it.

Meanwhile, Diana blindly accepts every word that proceeds out of Mulder’s mouth. What does that tell you?

I do like the fact that her character has become more of an enigma. Is Mulder right and she’s a closeted ally? Or is Scully wise to be suspicious of her loyalties? Last we saw her she was shot protecting Gibson, a fact that lends itself to Mulder’s point of view since if she were playing for the other team she would have handed them over. No need for a near death experience. But her coming onto the scene just as Gibson the Boy Wonder is revealed… you’d be crazy not to question her motives.

Her new partner on the X-Files, Agent Spender, is also becoming more interesting. He’s sold his soul to the devil, his own father, CSM. For doing his bidding and making Fox Mulder’s life miserable he probably expects to advance up the ranks in the F.B.I. However, he doesn’t appreciate daddy hovering over him and we can wonder at what point he’ll turn on CSM, career or no career. Meanwhile, Mulder’s greatest antagonist at the F.B.I. now has charge over his precious files.

Or maybe his greatest antagonist is his unsympathetic looking new boss, A.D. Kersh.

And the Verdict is…

I’ve been trying hard to understand why it is I don’t care for this episode even though it gives us so much information and so much drama and, no, it’s not because of anything to do with the Fowley-Mulder-Scully love triangle. Somehow, it’s all a little lackluster. In fact, it’s slow in parts and bogged down by (probably essential) exposition. The climactic hunt in the nuclear plant lacks urgency. Maybe if Mulder and Diana had any real chemistry or if they had done more than watch the alien through a window. Mulder is on the verge of finding all the answers he’s sought. Heck, he actually has tangible proof for once! And yet I find myself not particularly invested. Scully hands Mulder test results confirming alien life and still I find no reason for my butt to leave its comfortable spot on my chair, whereas the best episodes have me squirming in nerdy excitement.

In particular, the big reveal, that the alien monsters from the film and the little green men we’ve seen doubtful glimpses of before are one in the same, is disappointing. Clever, but disappointing. The alien monster is merely a gestational stage; probably its lethality is an evolutionary form of protection while the more vulnerable adult form continues to develop on the inside.  Me, I prefer the scary monster. Can you imagine if the earth were repopulated with those? But that’s a pipe dream. We’ll never see those well-manicured claws again.

I understand why this episode is titled “The Beginning” because there are a slew of changes here and with the pace that new revelations are coming at, it’s clear this is the beginning of the end as well. How Mulder copes with it all remains to be seen, but let’s hope he does what Scully asks and starts trusting her again because that’s not just the foundation of their partnership, it’s the foundation of the X-Files.

His boss secretly aids and abets him, his former lover takes him on a field trip to see an alien, and Scully… yes, Scully… gives him the proof he’s been searching for all these years.

Maybe things aren’t quite so bad after all.

B

Mind Reading:

Why do Mulder and Scully walk away from Gibson to talk as though he can’t read their minds from across the room?

This episode could be subtitled: How Scully Got Her Groove Back Only to Have Mulder Strip it Away Again

Whatever happened to Scully being assigned to Salt Lake City Utah? When she took back her resignation did that plot point just disappear? Did Skinner pull some strings?

Pardon me, but didn’t Scully confirm the existence of alien life in the form of bacteria back in “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (1×23)? Purity Control, anyone? Does switching it to a virus radically change anything?

What exactly did Mulder plan to do once he found the alien? Lasso it?

You know, the joy of having favorite fictional characters like Fox Mulder is that they live on in your mind and memory, timeless. But then there are moments like this, where Mulder openly compares Scully to Diana and finds Scully wanting, that indeed I wish he were real so that I could end his existence.

Even if the DNA from the virus, and from the claw and from Gibson all match normal, junk DNA, does that really prove that DNA is alien? Couldn’t it all just be perfectly human? What if the “aliens” came from us rather than the other way around?

In “The End” (5×20), Chris Carter was moving around his pieces, now he’s called checkmate on Mulder.

Best Quotes:

Assistant Director Bart: These spacelings, Agent Mulder, they weren’t something I saw in Men in Black?
Mulder: …I didn’t see Men in Black.
Assistant Director Bart: Well, a damn good movie.

———————–

Smoking Man: You can kill a man. But you can’t kill what he stands for… Not unless you first break his spirit. That’s a beautiful thing to see.

———————–

Mulder: It’d help if you’d shut the door. It would make it harder for them to see that I’m totally disregarding everything I was told.

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17 responses to “The Beginning 6×1: I see your renowned arrogance has been left quite intact.

  1. “But then there are moments like this, where Mulder openly compares Scully to Diana and finds Scully wanting, that indeed I wish he were real so that I could end his existence.”

    Oh man, Loved that! I love him, I do – buy this is one reason Scully was always my favorite character – her integrity. Mulder could be such a horse’s ass sometimes and this is a Grade A prime example!

    A lesser woman than Scully (namely me) would have clocked him upside the head and walked out for good. Scully’s so damn awesome.

    I loved this review! I need to go back and watch the painful mess of this episode again! You always bring up the best points! :)

    • I… hesitatingly… recommend that you go back and watch it. It really is a vital episode to the mythology, the Mulder/Scully dynamic, and really, it sets up all of Season 6. In those respects, it really does do right by us. It’s just frightfully uninteresting at times.

  2. Frightfully uninteresting? I see what you mean, I don’t know if I would totally agree with that sentiment, but The Beginning is a strange episode, describe the events of this one to somebody on paper and it sounds like a really great episode, the character interaction, the plotting and all that, but it just seems to…I don’t know…just be there and nothing more.

    As always, it was a joy to read your comments on all things Fowley. Yes, Mulder is a jackass to Scully, but I love jackass Mulder, I find him strangely funny. :D

    • Shameless hyperbole aside, it’s like you said, The Beginning sounds as though it should be incredibly exciting and instead it’s just there. I wonder if it’s a case of too much going on; it’s hard to become emotionally invested in any one plot point because there’s a barrage of new information. That’s my current theory, anyway.

  3. I always felt So. Bad. for Scully when she grabs his hand and essentially goes, “Remember that time that you said those ridiculously sweet things to me and then OH HEY we almost kissed?,” and Mulder just walks away.

    So, yes. I can hear you dying from where I am.

    • EXACTLY! Thank you!!

      Scully: Remember this powerful thing we have between us?
      Mulder: No.

      Oh, it’s just tragic. I was half tempted to go back and watch the movie again just to comfort myself.

  4. I love the X Files But I did not think this connected well from the movie. Chris knows he should have let them kiss or at least let us know we know they know they almost did! It was being carried on too long. Mulder expressed his feelings and then he goes shows affection for Diana! eck!

  5. “The show was backpedaling up a hill fast”.
    Sums it all up really. Scully had indeed remembered SOMETHING about the events of the film (i.e the conversation in the hallway) but conveniently not the spaceship bits …no surprise there! ;-} . Yes, that conversation between M & S really hurt. I usually cut Mulder loads of slack (cos he’s my favourite), but on this occasion I thought he was asking for A GOOD SLAAP! Oh, and he needs to wash his mouth out with some carbolic soap for even mentioning that awful Fowley woman in the same context as Scully – grr!

  6. You know, I barely remembered this episode from the last time I saw it – I am happy to be rewatching season 6 and on, there is so much I forgot. Hard to believe I even forgot my distinct distaste for one Diana Fowley. Ugh. It is just MINDBLOWING to me that Mulder cannot see that Diana straight up SET HIM UP.

    And god you’re so right, Scully recreates the FTF “moment” and he shuts her down. I think that is the most agonizing part of this whole episode. It’s like once Diana is back in the picture in some way, shape, or form, Mulder is unable to deal with reality.

    This episode is also a continuation of my distaste for how they handled the whole Gibson Praise storyline… that could have been an amazing thing, but it just… wasn’t.

    Also, the jury is still out on my feelings over CSM being Spender’s father. In a way, I think it’s a bit hokey, but in a way I kind of like the whole thing. Gah. Onward.

  7. After everything that happened in FTF, I don’t blame Mulder for being pissed at her. The good ship Dana Scully is still sailing down that river in Egypt!

    That said, Mulder can be such an ass sometimes.

  8. The scene when Scully grabes Mulder’s hand, the camera quickly goes to their hands. I think it moves to obvious. the camera movement should have been pulled back and the hands coming together more sublte. Something we happen to notice. It was too in your face. It did not seem personal or that Scully was trying to recreate the moment from the hallway. I know now because you told me. Had it been more subtle I would have pick up her intentions.

    • Usually, I’m with you in that I prefer television to err on the side of subtlety. But I get it in this case. That shot mirrors the shot at the end of the movie where Scully grabs Mulder’s hand exactly the same way – If they hadn’t used it, the parallel may have gone over our heads since it isn’t unheard of for Scully to grab Mulder’s hand in an emotional moment.

  9. Maybe that’s why Mulder shuts her down because she wont see the aliens.
    How can you not see. Ha ha. I just re watched that epi. it was almost as if she did it on purpose. Mulder point of view. I love them both.

  10. Agent Venkman

    This episode was a major disappointment, when it originally aired. After FTF and months of anticipation, The Beginning seemed to exist only to undo everything that happened in the movie. I really believed that FTF was going to be a “game-changer” for the series, but no. I was sure that after FTF Scully was going to become a “believer with a scientific pov”, a mistake I’d make again after Biogenesis and her finding that UFO in Africa (the biggest shock though, was learning she was a skeptic AGAIN in IWTB). I think this episode was as disappointing for shippers, as it was for those that held any hope that the mythology was going somewhere. After six years, I think that shaking up things a little, like having Scully stop being such a staunch skeptic, would’ve made the show better.

    • Scully as a skeptic in IWTB makes a hell of a lot more sense since even Mulder has always been skeptical of psychics. I’m rather surprised Mulder was so easily swayed by him bc there were so many overt religious overtones and we all know how Mulder balks at anything relating to religion.

      Scully is the same as Mulder in her beliefs. So much as Mulder wants to believe and refuses the otherwise, Scully defaults the same way in favor of science. To be honest, I have no idea how the hell they stayed partners for so damn long haha

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