In the aftermath of Scully’s abduction by the alien Bounty Hunter (her second one just this season), Mulder’s investigative instincts finally start kicking in and he begins to question Samantha’s story. According to her, the clones are aliens. Clones of two original aliens who came to this planet some years back. They’re waiting out human beings so they can possess the planet. Meanwhile, they’re forced to separate themselves because 50 people who look exactly the same living in close proximity to each other would be sure to attract notice. In order to differentiate themselves physically, they’ve been working to hybridize their DNA with human DNA. If it works, they’ll be able to live together as a colony. The Bounty Hunter comes from the original alien race who considers mixing alien DNA with sub-par human DNA anathema.
An interesting story, one that I’m pretty sure we can disregard in its entirety. Moving on… to earlier in the episode…
Y’all have to pray for me. I enjoy watching fake Mulder beat up Scully way too much. I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to give me the thrill it does. That can’t be healthy.
Interesting how Scully knows which Mulder is the fake Mulder. You would think, skeptic that she is, she would assume the Mulder standing in front of her is real since a voice is easier to fake than an entire body. And even though she realizes there are identical men running around, the clones, she has no idea about the shape-shifting alien. That she instinctively realizes the man in front of her is not Mulder and acts accordingly reveals something about her character. She may not always understand what’s going on and she may not believe it, but Scully follows the evidence to wherever it leads her. This must be what Mulder was talking about back in “Squeeze” (1×2) when he says that she “respect[s] the journey.”
For all her bravery in that scene, Scully is obviously afraid. Check out her body language in that scene on the bridge and, in particular, the way she sinks into the seat after she’s released and goes to the car. Vulnerable Scully has made a brief reappearance. And why shouldn’t she? She’s been held hostage by a very large shape-shifting alien.
Here’s the real kicker. Mulder is willing to risk Samantha’s life to get Scully back. Samantha, the younger sister whose disappearance all those years ago tore a part his family and continues to tear at his sanity. This is where my theory comes in. Ready? Let’s go.
After Scully’s abduction, Scully went from being Mulder’s closest friend and ally to being a surrogate Samantha to him. Both women were taken from him and he was helpless to stop it. Both were idolized in his mind, Samantha because she was taken so young, before she was able to do anything truly wrong or to tarnish herself in her brother’s eyes and Scully because she became even more valuable to him once they had been separated through the closure of the X-Files. If in doubt, check the way they moon over the loss of each other for about the first half of the season. There are too many moments in too many episodes to cite. Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder. Furthermore, now that Scully’s been returned Mulder is noticeably more protective and affectionate. But why brotherly affection? Can’t this just be a budding romance, you say?
Doubtful. Or should I say, starting a romance would take their relationship off of the pedestal that both Mulder and Scully seem to have put it on. They both suffer from idealization of the other to the extreme until we reach Season 3. That’s when the writers decide that they’ve had enough of this honeymoon. But I digress. Suffice it to say that Scully is still too lofty in Mulder’s mind for him to downgrade her to dateable material. It’s true that Mulder occasionally mentions her looks, but in such a benign way that I’m reminded of the things close male friends and relatives say about the women in their lives. No, Mulder ain’t shippin’, he’s trippin’.
My whole, long-winded point is that Mulder is willing to trade Samantha for Scully because the women are of equal worth to him. You might even argue that Scully already means more to him whereas Samantha is a stranger outside of his imagination seeing as how she’s been gone so long, but I won’t be so bold. Again, it’s interesting that while Mulder is upset over losing Samantha he doesn’t show any real regret over his choice and he’s certainly not the angry wreck he was over Scully in “One Breath” (2×8). Part of the reason has to be that deep down he was suspicious of Samantha, her story, and her motives.
But let’s get to the real star of this episode, shall we? The Skin Man. You could have narrowed down the entire episode to two scenes, when Mulder beats up Scully and when Skinner and X beat up each other, and I still would have been happy. There are a lot of fisticuffs flying on The X-Files these days. Anyway, how can you not love a man who takes, and dishes, a beating for Mulder? And with such radical coolness?? Skinner is officially one of the good guys. Welcome to the team, dude.
…And the verdict is:
I daresay it’s this episode arc that actually created the mythology. Before this, the conspiracy was disjointed and far too varied. Any and every strange happening could be and was the result of a government cover-up, often without much rhyme or reason. Scully’s abduction arc hinted at what was possible, but here the show delivers.
Are there any flaws? A few. The scene when Mulder breaks the news about Samantha to his father doesn’t read quite right. I see the sadness in Mulders eyes but I don’t hear it in his voice. Also, Mulder has to break tragic news like that and he makes his dad come to him? Stranger than that, Mulder tells Mr. Mulder that Samantha was demanded in return for a hostage and he doesn’t question that at all.
Then there’s the fact that as much as I enjoy watching Scully hover over Mulder’s hospital bed, the ending feels a bit like a tacked on excuse to put Mulder in danger and have Scully run after him. It’s as if they came up with the idea for the beginning of “Colony” (2×16) and then had to figure out a way to get Mulder in that situation. But that’s only if you watch closely, and I’m not really complaining.
This episode also closes a character arc that’s been haunting Mulder since “Little Green Men” (1×1); he has to decide whether or not to believe that his memories of Samantha’s abduction are real and if looking for the truth is even worth the cost. As of that final line, he’s decided that it is… yet again. In case you miss all this angst, don’t worry, Mulder’s doubts will be back. It’s like his own personal game of whack-a-mole.
What is Scully thinking as she hears Mulder yell out “Samantha?” She can’t possibly assume it’s his long lost sister. But I bet she wondered.
If the only way to kill both the Bounty Hunter and the clones is with a wound to the back of the neck, why did the fake Samantha die when she fell off the bridge? I guess we have to accept that the Bounty Hunter stabbed her in the water or on the way down.
If the green, alien blood infects people with a deadly virus, why wasn’t Mulder affected by it back in “The Erlenmeyer Flask”? They left him on the floor, they didn’t put him in cold storage. I can only retroactively assume that he was infected but that he was treated before he was returned.
Why do the clones darkly hint that Mulder has to help them? Why do we never find out what it is they know? And don’t say it’s that Samantha is alive. How can you trust the word of a man who shape-shifts for a living?
The Bounty Hunter even cracks a joke like Mulder… as Mulder. Impressive.
The virus goes dormant at cold temperatures. Fast forward to Fight the Future and we can applaud 1013 Productions on their consistency.
Why does the government try to keep the Bounty Hunter from leaving when they’re the ones using him to stop the experiments from being successful? Are Chris Carter & Co. trying to hint that this Alien Bounty Hunter isn’t a part of the government conspiracy but is a lone wolf of sorts? Thinking forward to Season 4, I take back what I said about being consistent.
Please, please, for the love of all that’s lovely in this world, give Scully an excuse to smile more!
Mulder: Why does he want to kill you?
Samantha Mulder: Because I know how to kill him.
Samantha Mulder: By piercing the base of the skull.
Mulder: That would kill anybody.
Samantha Mulder: Yes, but this is the only way to kill him and it must be precise. I’m fairly sure it will work.
Mulder: Fairly sure?
Mulder: Make yourself at home.
Skinner: What’s going on here, Agent Mulder? Why are all the lights out?
Mulder: Orders from my ophthalmologist.
Mr. X: You wanted to see me?
Mulder: How was the opera?
Mr. X: Wonderful. I’ve never slept better. I don’t like these hasty public meetings, Agent Mulder.
Mulder: I’m sorry. I need your help.
Mr. X: It’s over. The fat lady is singing.
Mulder: I need to know what you know.
Mr. X.: OK. They’re all dead.
Bounty Hunter: If I wanted to I could have killed you many times before.
Mulder: Where is she?
Bounty Hunter: Is the answer to your question worth dying for? Is that what you want?
Mulder: Where is she? Just tell me where she is.
Bounty Hunter: She’s alive. Can you die now?
Scully: Hey. How you feeling?
Mulder: Like I got a bad case of freezer burn. How did I get here?
Scully: A Naval reconnaissance squad found you and choppered you Eisenhower Field. Thanks for ditching me.
Mulder: I’m sorry. I couldn’t let you risk your life on this.
Scully: Did you find what you were looking for?
Mulder: No. No, but I found something I’d thought I’d lost. Faith to keep looking.