This largely ignored episode may never be completely forgotten if only for one reason: We delve into our favorite agents’ social lives… or gross lack thereof. While neither Mulder nor Scully have much of a life outside of the FBI, Scully seems to be faring better than Mulder. Still, her weekend highlight is little more than a kid’s birthday party. I suppose she’s making an effort.
Speaking of the party, Scully’s knee-jerk, “He’s a jerk” in response to her girlfriend’s suggestion of Mulder as a potential love interest shows just how thoroughly she’s ruled him out as a prospect. OK, as Scully concedes, he’s not a jerk. He’s definitely not boyfriend material either. Case in point, the way he ditched her earlier that day.
But might not there be hope? After all, she’s clearly thought about the possibility! Before we shippers tip ourselves into over-excitement, we can’t read too much into this. She considered the possibility of dating Mulder, yes. Most girls consider their prospects in regards to the men in their lives if only in passing, not necessarily with any seriousness. And Scully wisely comes to the conclusion that Mulder is in no shape for marriage or any other serious relationship. Remember that porn fixation of his?
Meanwhile, Mulder blasts Detective Thompson, with all indignation, for protecting the city’s financial interests and keeping this Jersey Devil thing under wraps. But even if that’s exactly what the detective is doing, is he supposed to cause a mass panic by claiming there’s a monster on the loose? Should he have let the Jersey Devil live to kill again or be studied in a glass cage? The Detective Thompson character is deliciously malicious, but it’s a little wasted on such a relatively benign conspiracy. I only wish his motivations had been more sinister and less pragmatic.
As for Mulder’s character evolution, we see an expansion on what we glimpsed in him during Conduit (1×3). Here is the Mulder that empathizes with monsters and outcasts, particularly the female ones. We see more of this identification in later episodes like Oubliette (3×8), yet even here he expresses fascination for this cannibalistic cave woman as if she were a piece of art in the Louvre. Nevermind the fact that she’s killing innocent strangers, why quibble over trifles? What’s a modern human or two compared to the survival of Captain Cave-man? At least Mulder’s psychology is consistent if not altogether reasonable.
Scully brings in a scientist, an anthropologist, to lecture Mulder. It’s nice to delve into the character’s history a little bit. But just like Scully’s godson, her professor goes the way of the dinosaur after this episode. Things get a little expositional at this point, but isn’t the point of The X-Files to force the audience to ponder the possibilities?
Now for one of the best parts, Scully ditches her date. For all her talk about wanting to have a life, Scully apparently isn’t as interested in a normal family life as her friend expects her to be. She enjoys her career. She displays no hankering after children, no biological clock ticking like the Tell-Tale Heart, merely a mild regret at not having time to explore the possibility of having a family. Her friend pounces on it.
Even her date seems to be entered into with some reluctance. She’s just going through the motions with this incredibly interesting accountant. And despite her statement to Mulder earlier, she’s not at all bothered when he calls and interrupts her evening. At the end of the episode, she easily turns down a domesticated day of bliss with her date and his son in order to continue her investigation with Mulder. I said it for the Pilot and I’ll say it again: Mulder, and by extension the X-Files, is the most interesting thing that’s ever come into Dana Scully’s life. At this point, she’s loathe to give it up. Ethans, accountants… they can’t compare. I’m not saying she has a thing for Mulder, I just think Scully’s more of a glutton for excitement than she would even admit to herself.
And the Verdict is…
This is as close as the series ever got to Big Foot. As the show progressed, they steered further away from urban myths and more toward the straight-up paranormal. Quagmire (3×22) is the only real exception I can think of.
Like in “Quagmire”, here we see Scully questioning the trajectory of her life and whether or not her partner needs a psychological intervention. If she doesn’t come to an ultimate conclusion, she does make a decision and happily trails after Mulder by the end of the episode. Mulder, for his part, is busy as ever writing the book on how to not make friends and alienate people. His hunches hold up, his emotions are on his sleeve. In short, it’s comforting to know that he’s quintessentially Mulder this early on in the series. He even ditches Scully with practiced aplomb.
The Jersey Devil is definitely good for some Mulder/Scully funny. Mulder lands himself in some rather amusing trouble and Scully rescues him with a self-satisfied smirk. Later on, Scully feigns innocent as she mentions her date while Mulder doesn’t feign his inability to care when he assumes she’d want to cancel.
The ending is as vague and open-ended as we come to expect from the first season. Are these Devils truly Neanderthals or a relatively modern family that happened to get lost in the forest a really, really long time ago?
All in all, it’s a little disappointing to find that The Jersey Devil is just a human. Primitively human, maybe, but merely human.
Why is Mulder willing to infest himself with lice based on nothing more than the crude drawing of a man? Considering this is a homeless colony in a big city, what’s so strange about a wild looking man digging in the trash for food?? No one else would have entertained the possibility of their being anything to it except for Mulder and his (in)famous intuition.
Why would a “carnivorous Neanderthal” occupy a space above us on the food chain? Wouldn’t our advanced intelligence win the day?
The Jersey Devil looks distinctly Caucasian. Yet, supposedly, they’ve been hiding out from the evolutionary chain in these American woods for thousands of years. I smell inconsistency.
Even if the Jersey Devil was killing to protect her young, why cannibalize? And how does that explain the unprovoked killing of the father in the 1940s?
Somebody catch me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is our first glimpse into Mulder’s porn fetish.
Mulder: Hey, what do you say we grab a hotel, take in a floor show, drop a few quarters in the slots… Do a little digging on this case?
Scully: You’re kidding, right?
Mulder: OK, we can skip the floor show.
Mulder: Don’t you have a life, Scully?
Scully: Keep that up, Mulder, and I’ll hurt you like that beast-woman.