Trevor 6×17: I just wanted another chance.


Don't we all?

Scully: Spontaneous human combustion.
Mulder: Scully…!
Scully: Well, isn’t that where you’re going with this?
Mulder: Dear Diary, today my heart leapt when Agent Scully suggested spontaneous human combustion…
Scully: Mulder, there are one or two somewhat well-documented cases…
Mulder: [Makes an effort at a conciliatory expression]
Scully: Mulder, shut up!

And I could end this review right here.

Believe it or not, my favorite part of that moment isn’t the “Dear Diary” hilarity. It’s when Mulder says, “Scully,” like she just paid him the sweetest compliment he’s ever been given, or rather like she just surprised him with two front row tickets to the Knicks game. He’s inordinately touched.

From the inspired banter to a socially backward antagonist in charge of the forces of nature, “Trevor” is about as classic an X-File as you can get. I may even have to take the title of “Most Classic of Season 6” away from the well-intentioned but flawed “Agua Mala” (6×14) to give it to the more well-rounded “Trevor”.

Its success shouldn’t be a surprise since one half of its writing team is former X-Files production crew Property Master Ken Hawryliw. Having worked on the show in Vancouver for five years, if anyone is familiar with what constitutes an X-File, he is. We’ve scene this kind of behind-the-scenes to front of the class success before with Special Effects Supervisor Mat Beck’s “Wetwired” (3×23) and Executive Producer R.W. Goodwin’s “Demons” (4×23). All three episodes are among the best of their respective seasons, all three are underappreciated. For this one, Hawryliw teams up with writer Jim Guttridge so I can’t forget to spread the credit around, but I am again amazed by the multi-tasking talent on this show.

I’ve never loved Season 6 quite this much before. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed it. I was never a Season 6 hater. But I’m especially struck this rewatch by how frighteningly consistent it is in quality. Okay, there are some slight missteps as there are in every season, but there’s only one trip and fall – “Alpha” (6×16). Other than that, it’s one near perfect hour of television after another.

“Trevor” continues that trend though you may not guess it based just on how often episodes are discussed on the boards. Somehow, this little gem seems to slip under the radar of fans. I can only think that in a season full of more attention grabbing episodes like “Triangle” (6×3)  that it’s easy to get lost in the mix.

But I’m not one to talk because I don’t think I’ve ever fully appreciated “Trevor” before either. I thought about why for a minute and I figured it out: I had never watched it directly after “Alpha” before because I always (accidentally, I swear) skip “Alpha” and go straight to the next DVD and watch “Trevor” right after “Arcadia” (6×13). Watching the already weak “Alpha” crumble like a stale cookie at its climax leaves me with all the greater relief at the tension and emotional high stakes of “Trevor”. This climax delivers. Where I rolled my eyes at Scully’s look of pity for Karin at the end of “Alpha”, Mulder’s bittersweet empathy here for the doomed Pinker Rawls strikes a chord.

You see, Pinker is both the antagonist and the protagonist. He’s the villain and the hero, the victim of his own personal Greek tragedy. All Pinker wants is a second chance at life and the son that was stolen from him represents that possibility. Sure, he’s a cold-blooded psychopath, but psychopaths need love too.

I don’t think there’s ever any question that this man isn’t fit to be loose in society. But it’s hard to fault his desire for fatherhood and the normalcy that comes with it. In Trevor he imagines his chance to finally become the man a young boy would want as a father. It’s only when he sees Trevor’s terror at the end in that phone booth that he realizes he himself is destroying his own chances of experiencing real fatherhood.

On the other hand, June, his former lover whose family he terrorizes in an effort to find Trevor, is far less sympathetic than Pinker. Ostensibly, her only real crime is having hooked up with Pinker Rawls. She’s just a girl trying to make it out of the trailer park and onto Park Avenue. However, she hasn’t chosen to hand over the raising of Trevor to her sister out of some emotional aversion to mothering Pinker’s child but because it’s hard to catch a good man when you’re saddled with a kid.

She’s not trying to become something else so much as she’s trying to pretend she’s someone else. In contrast, Pinker knows he’s a killer and doesn’t attempt to suddenly reform now that he’s loose. But he’s a killer that wants to be more than just a killer and June ultimately takes that hope away from him, not once but twice, the last time for good. Nope, I can’t say I like June.

Verdict:

Please understand that if you’re ever randomly gifted with freaky “gods of Olympus” style powers you cannot use them to force someone to be with you. That’s a no-no. We’ve seen this type of situation go badly before.

There are echoes of “D.P.O.” (3×3) here, not only because we have an… er… less than morally adept gentleman who can control the forces of nature because he survived a freak storm, but because that same dude keeps chasing after someone he can’t have and leaves destruction in his wake. It’s that desperation for another human being who would be good for them but who they themselves are no good for that links Darren Peter Oswald and Wilson Pinker Rawls in spirit. They’re like X-Files blood brothers, both unsympathetic and yet tragic at the same time.

Yes, the look Mulder gives June at the end of the episode says it all: Killing Pinker Rawls was unnecessarily cruel. He had already let Trevor go. Then again, Pinker allows her to do it. I guess he realizes all his chances are gone.

Undeserving though Pinker is, in that moment you know he’s been robbed of something precious.

A

I want what’s mine:

Since when do people board up for tornadoes? Shouldn’t they be bunkered in a basement somewhere? And if a tornado is coming, who has time to pick a fight?

Is it supposed to be ironic that Pinker went to prison with so many condoms on hand meanwhile he had a kid he didn’t know about? Or am I finding things that aren’t there?

Wow. Scully knows the ICD9 billing code for c-sections. That’s ridiculous.

Shouldn’t Pinker have been able to reach his hand through the metal part of the phone booth?

Is Jackie dead?? Pinker seems to be able to touch people like a normal fella when he so chooses. Perhaps all that’s left of Jackie’s face is an ashen hole. Perhaps not.

Give me my son:

That’s a pretty O, Brother, Where Art Thou? style prison we open upon.

I love the way Scully reaches for Trevor’s hand right before they run for the phone booth.

If a naked man is chasing after you in the dark of the Mississippi night, it’s a good idea to run even if he can’t walk through walls.

Best Quotes:

Scully: Should we arrest David Copperfield?
Mulder: [Nods] Yes, we should. But not for this.

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10 responses to “Trevor 6×17: I just wanted another chance.

  1. Thank you Salome, it is so gratifying to see someone else out there that loves this episode as much as me, I read two star and three star reviews of this one leading me to believe I was deluded into thinking I was imagining a five star episode. Simply put, you know how much I love a good meat and potatoes X File with a great little story, and for me, Trevor is one of the best, it’s marvellous. It has this wonderful season one feel, from the story, to Mark Snow’s creepy music with the benefit of season six style banter between Mulder and Scully.

    For me this is the most underrated gem from the show.

    • Really? Two star and three star?? Let’s hope that wherever those reviews are they don’t have a comment box for me to leave a protest.

      I’m already mentally putting together my “10 that should be in your top 10 but aren’t” list and as of this moment, Trevor is in it.

  2. Have to agree about two things, that this episode is underrated (despite having many likeable moments, like the spontaneous combustion banter and Mulder waving the condom strip) and that season 6 is oddly consistent in quality. “Oddly”, because it is dismissed by having jumped the shark with the move to L.A., but I think that with closer examination of the episodes it’s clear that that statement is bull.

    Now, about this episode, I liked the premise, but I’ve never been quite able to like it due to the Pinker/June dynamic… It also probably doesn’t help that this episode is wedged between one whose existence I’d rather forget and one which I utterly love and am always ready to rewatch, but let’s save that for when you get the Milagro review up. :D

    • I can’t account for other people’s opinions since it’s largely a matter of taste, but whether or not “light” episodes are to your liking, I think we can safely put the “Season 6 jumped the shark” rumor to rest. Is it perfect? No. But the much beloved Season 4 had more actual duds than Season 6. And even if the style of many of the episodes is less preferable to some, you’d be hard pressed to deny that the quality of the writing is consistently high. The acting goes without saying and not even production quality suffered in the move to L.A. – though the aesthetic necessarily stretched a little.

      • Agent Venkman

        I’ve always liked Trevor, maybe because it has that classic X-Files feel to it, in a season that had way too many light-hearted episodes. Also, it was directed by Rob Bowman which always helps.

        When taken individually, most of the season 6 “light” shows are very good. The problem was that, at the time (1998-1999), it was overwhelming how much the tone of the show had changed, especially during the first half of the season, and coming right off from Fight the Future. Personally, I was expecting something different.

        As for “jumping the shark”, season 7 is where it happened. Not because of comedic episodes, they actually tried to be scary again, but the writing wasn’t quite as good anymore. Just the fact that season 7 has “Fight Club” and “First Person Shooter” plus “Sein und Seit/Closure” makes it the worst season (tie with season 9). Season 7 has a handful of EXCELLENT episodes, but even in those Duchovny is phoning-in his performance. Duchovny not caring anymore, which started during Season 6, really hurt the show, because Mulder became unlikable.

  3. So the banter in this episode is fantastic. The David Copperfield line is one of my favorites.

    That being said, this episode was just okay for me. Trevor is another episode I forgot about, so when I watched yesterday, it was like watching for the first time. I thought the thing with Rawls was pretty interesting (and funny that he passes through something and his clothes fall off), but there were elements of the whole thing that were pretty predictable (like the son being with the sister… as soon as it was brought up she had the kid, I was like “the sister has him.”)

    I dunno. Way better than Alpha, but just so-so for me.

  4. I find this episode quite enjoyable for several reasons, but one big thing for me is hearing Scully whisper “shit” when she’s got Trevor in the phone booth. :D

  5. Reblogged this on adhdjournal and commented:
    true story

  6. When I first saw this episode I thought the quality was actually really good. Though like others when I read the negative reviews I had to wonder if my own taste was off.

    After all the story is very simple if you strip away the X-Files connotation behind it. A man who is imprisoned, living in his personal hell with demons that taunt him. When he pleads in the middle of a simple act of god, a twister, he is heard and is granted a means to move heaven and earth so that he might receive his second chance by being a successful father to a son he desperately wanted to love and connect with. However the son is terrified of this man who, like the twister, is a force of nature on a determined mission that leaves wanton destruction in his wake. Yet, because of his very action of trying to move the earth and heavens to be with somebody in his pursuit, it only drove that person further away till his untimely death when he realizes not even his own son wanted him.

    Another tragic soul in the X-Files but touching story if you can try to understand what Pinkur might be thinking despite his swearing, destruction, insanity, and murdering.

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