Beyond the Sea 1×12: I tore this off my New York Knicks t-shirt.

'sup witchoo?

What modern TV doesn’t allow for anymore is the chance for a show to grow into its own. Either you’re a hit right out of the gate or you’re canceled. Series no longer have the luxury of discovering themselves as they go and this is a shame. It used to be that you could count on any Season 1 to be rather rough, but you knew whether or not it was going to be a good show based on the gems you found hidden in the briars. “Beyond the Sea” is one of those gems. This is the first teaser that features one of our stars, so you already know this is set up to be a special episode. In fact, it’s Masterpiece Theater care of Messrs. Morgan and Wong.

I think between this episode and “Fire” (1×11) we can officially say that Mulder and Scully are friends, buddies even. Of course, this is a fairly recent development in their relationship and there are splendid moments of awkwardness sprinkled throughout this episode that let you know Mulder and Scully are still working on this newfound intimacy. Mulder calls Scully “Dana” three times and three times I get a cold chill. Ironically, what would be a sign of closeness between two normal people sounds like misplaced formality between Mulder and Scully. Scully agrees with me, but her initial sardonic dismissal of Mulder’s attempt at overt friendship doesn’t deter him from trying.

Mulder is the instigator (isn’t he always?). Scully doesn’t turn to Mulder for emotional support so much as he sticks his foot in the door and refuses to move. Scully, for better and for worse, is more closed off than Mulder. He’s the one in touch with his instincts, who obeys his emotions, and he does so here regardless of whether or not Scully reciprocates them. She does reciprocate them, of course, she just takes a little longer to become comfortable with her own feelings.

Would it be sacrilegious if I say that the chemistry wasn’t quite there in every scene? As I said, Mulder and Scully don’t look like they’re used to this (and neither to David and Gillian for that matter). I might be the only X-Phile in the world that finds Mulder’s ministrations somewhat awkward. However, I don’t think their being awkward is wrong. In fact, it makes sense. This is new territory in their relationship.

It’s not that their scenes together don’t feel real, it’s that they don’t feel natural, not until that wonderful, gorgeous scene it Scully’s motel room: The Great Sit Down. Was there a moment, any moment throughout the series that you could pin down as the point where Agents Mulder and Scully became Mulder and Scully? You could argue that there was or wasn’t. But if you were to argue that there was a moment, a place where they became more than partners, more than just buddies in a police procedural, it’s safe to say that this one gesture would make the short list for consideration. Not only are they completely in sync, there’s nothing strange, unnatural, invasive, or dare I say, even sexual in this moment. It’s as if they’re in their own Mulder/Scully universe.

Why does the personal space bubble exist? Because I am me and you are you and the twain should never completely meet. Why don’t Mulder and Scully practice the personal space bubble with each other? They don’t exist separately. Oh, sure, they’re different people, but they’re kind of like spiritually conjoined twins; separate yet always together. At Scully’s saddest and most vulnerable, having Mulder glued to her side is as natural as it gets.

But enough about Mulder and Scully. Brad Dourif gives a superb performance as Boggs without which the entire episode would have fallen apart. The perfectly timed tears… I almost want to salute in admiration. Sheila Larken shows up in her first guest spot as Margaret Scully. Here she’s so wrapped up in her own grief that she barely acknowledges her daughter’s. That’s why it feels so right.

Then there’s the biggest guest star of all: Bobby Darin. Who could forget him? The song Beyond the Sea is the perfect backdrop to the emotions of this episode. My own father played it often when I was a kid as it’s still one of his favorites. I wonder if everyone’s dad is a Bobby Darin fan? Maybe that’s why Scully feels like the every-daughter in this episode; almost every child will face a crossroad where they have to disappoint the parents they love to do what they feel is right for them. Scully’s meticulous science may be hard for many to understand, but at last, in this, she becomes relatable.

And the Verdict is…

This episode was so successful that it can serve as the cornerstone of Scully’s psychology for the rest of the series.  If the writers knew what the show would become, would they have killed Scully’s father off so soon? It would probably still be the wisest decision. For one thing, watching Scully lose her father allows us to see a depth of emotion in her that was only hinted at in the “Pilot “(1×79). Vulnerable Scully now makes an encore appearance and she’s a welcome departure from the slightly cocky Scully we’ve been exposed to thus far. Not only that, but when Scully’s penchant for following older, wiser men is revealed later on in the series we can better understand why she so willingly followed Mulder into madness. And that element of her personality only makes sense in light of her relationship with her father.

Scully believes… and then she takes it back. Why make it easy? But now we know that Scully is capable of believing even when Mulder doesn’t, as long as she has a personal stake in the matter, that is.

More than that, now we know that The X-Files is capable of being a great, great show.


It Doesn’t Make Sense:

Here’s an angle to Scully’s history that I’ve never, ever understood: Why are her parents so disappointed with her becoming an FBI agent? Is it less prestigious working for the FBI? If anything, they could say their daughter was a doctor and an investigator. Talk about bragging rights. It just feels like a stretch to think that this would be a point of contention within the family.

How did Mulder’s blood splatter so high up on the white cross? He’s not 8 feet tall.

Here and There:

His name is Luther Lee Boggs. That’s our first clue. Only southern boys or serial killers go by all three names: John Wayne Gacy, Lee Harvey Oswald, Henry Lee Lucas, etc.

Boggs channels a Mafioso? Here it works. In “The Field Where I Died” (4×5)? Not so much.

Boggs’ red jumpsuit is a great touch. Hot orange would have done horrible things for his complexion.

Not until about my tenth time watching this episode did I catch the fact that in the face of Scully’s obvious lie, Mulder intuitively knows that Scully has experienced an “extreme possibility” in regards to her father. Scully gives him a look of mild surprise when she realizes he’s guessed. In tune much?

Best Quotes:

Scully: Did Boggs confess?
Mulder: No, no, it was five hours of Boggs’ channelling. After three hours I asked him to summon up the soul of Jimi Hendrix, and requested All Along The Watchtower. You know, the guy’s been dead twenty years, but he still hasn’t lost his edge.


Mulder: Dana, after all you’ve seen, after all the evidence, why can’t you believe?
Scully: I’m afraid. I’m afraid to believe.
Mulder: You couldn’t face that fear? Even if it meant never knowing what your father wanted to tell you?
Scully: But I do know.
Mulder: How?
Scully: He was my father.

19 responses to “Beyond the Sea 1×12: I tore this off my New York Knicks t-shirt.

  1. Emily Michelle

    Do you know, I’d never seen this episode until a month ago; someone how I missed it every time it came on TV. And I was definitely missing out. The Boggs plot, and Brad Dourif’s performance, are chilling, and we get incredible insight into Scully’s character and why she does the things she does. And it’s interesting to see Mulder take on a new role as he tries to comfort Scully.

    I agree, though, what’s so dreadful about joining the FBI?

  2. Brad Dourif is one of those guys who makes anything he’s a part of at least 75% better. His performance here has to be one of the top five all-time for the show. I love Mulder’s trick with his Knicks shirt and I love Boggs’ reaction to it even more. As far as what’s so dreadful about the FBI, I don’t think anything is. A lot of people get their minds made up that things are going to be a certain way, even with other people, and once they aren’t, they aren’t well-equipped to adjust their way of thinking. Maybe it all just stems from those that care about Scully worrying about her safety in that line of work.

  3. I’m probably in the minority here, but I found Brad Dourif rather obnoxious. I’ve been told that yeah, yeah, that’s how his character is supposed to be, he’s supposed to always be putting on a show for everyone, but I just found his scenery-chewing to get annoying. That’s not to say I don’t like Brad Dourif. I like him quite a lot. I liked him in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Lord of the Rings, etc, but not in this.

  4. I just love your posts, simply love it! I’ve watched X-files numerous times, but after reading your blog I run and watch it again. Thank you! I agree with your analysis every single time.

  5. Best Scully line (ever?): “I came here to tell you that if he dies because of what you’ve done, four days from now, no one will be able to stop me from being the one that will throw the switch and gas you out of this life for good, you son of a bitch!”
    I think it’s one of the few times she really loses her stuff. She rarely swears at all and here she is cursing & screaming. It’s awesome!

  6. Rosemary Zimmermann

    I love this episode lots. I just re-watched it, though, and need to vent to someone else who actually cares: ANNOYING MEDICAL ERRORS. The X-Files generally makes these at least once during any hospital scene, and I can forgive one per scene. Plus, if it’s weird technology or aliens, whatever, they have creative license. This episode is particularly annoying, though — a doctor’s partner is shot in the thigh, and instead of immediately applying pressure to what is clearly the SPURTING ARTERIAL BLOOD (how else could it get up on the cross) she instead PUTS HER COAT ON HIM?!? Also, yes, you’d hang NS while waiting for the blood to be prepared, but the whole point of infusing O neg is so you don’t HAVE to wait for the type and screen to come back. Oh, and further, it clearly isn’t a T&T to the FEMUR, because that’s a BONE; a bullet to it would require major surgery, at least a week in the hospital, maybe inpatient rehab after, and weeks after THAT of impaired mobility. The writers are guilty of a blatantly ignoring continuity or medical stupidity or both.

    But I still love it lots.

  7. Sheila Larken hurts my heart in this episode – it might be the fact that I watched it on Father’s Day, but the first inklings of Margaret Scully’s noble suffering in this episode just make me cry. I love her character and I hope she appears in the new series!

  8. I hate to take it in this direction, but I got a little impression that maybe the Captain was a traditional man (as our elders always seem to be in relation to our own relatively progressive views), and perhaps didn’t think that “criminal investigator” was an appropriate job for a woman. After all, Dana Scully was pursuing a career, instead of marrying and giving her parents a litter of grandparents to dote on. I don’t agree with that sentimentality, but I could see it coming from an older generation.

    • But he was all for her having a career as a doctor, wasn’t he? I just don’t get the logic.

    • I think you’re half right. My theory (and it is just a theory) is that he didn’t want his little girl in a job where she’d be carrying a gun and putting herself in dangerous situations. It’s not that he objected to her having a career – in fact, he seems to have been all for it. But as a military man he may have felt he’d seen enough violence for one lifetime and didn’t want it for his daughter.

      Slight bit of support for this: Notice that Capt. Scully rejects a funeral at Arlington with full honours, instead opting to be buried in a private ceremony to the song he proposed to his wife to. This may suggest that, later in life, he became somewhat disillusioned with armed service and didn’t want his daughter getting involved in it.

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  11. So many callbacks in Home Again to this episode. I’m more impressed the more I think about it.

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  13. Just watched this again last night- it had been a few years. And like yer all time favourite albums, or those best mates from teenagehood that grow with you in life as days roll ahead, Im so glad that episodes like this seem to best and better themselves with age, be it seen from newer angles,and perspectives with some nostalgia and remembrance of first viewings in there as well of course.

    Simply put, this episode is ‘effing brilliant. Like the other eternal classic from season 1, Ice, Beyond the Sea brilliantly harnesses some influence here an there – in this case, Silence of the Lambs- and spins it into its own terrific tale. The episode is laden and layered with bravery and grief, of pathos and psychology- and its all driven by a memorable appearance from Brad Dourif,- but ladies and gentlemen, take a bow for the outstanding GA in this.

    Her grief is caught up in the will to succeed in the case- the show must go on, and all Mulder can do is watch and accompany her, whilst not letting her down Boggs’ paths.

    The scene when she explodes into the room and her words of warning to Boggs go from an almost calm assured sternness – then raising and rising to a tempest of anger- is outstanding. That whole scene- a vicious psychological power play of words is one of my favourite scenes of the whole season. Like Ice again, its fantastic to see Scully get so much to do here with tension and so much other emotion going on. It is outstanding!!!

    The ending- I was thinking about it quite a bit, following the final credits.

    Scully doesnt show up at Bogg’s execution, despite part of her wanting to believe in his abilities. He could indeed have said her Dad’s final words to her- but she seems to be afraid to believe. If she believes in all this- its from the emotional response to her grief and loss- almost like Mulder’s drive in his work all the time. Yet had she attended Bogg’s execution, she may have in fact heard her Dad’s farewell to her, and that would have acted as a final goodbye. Shes afraid to believe – in this case anyway- as it would see her let go of her Dad forever, just like Mulders need to believe sees him afraid to let go of Samantha.

    Incredible episode, gets better and better over the years. Ten out of Ten.

  14. “I might be the only X-Phile in the world that finds Mulder’s ministrations somewhat awkward.”

    I also find them awkward – and, like you, I think that’s the point. Mulder is trying to connect with Scully in a new way, and of course it won’t always be easy. But he’s trying. That in itself means something.

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