OK, kids. It’s storytime! Today’s episode is called “Anasazi” AKA “The (First) Time Mulder Lost His Marbles” AKA “The Scully Show” AKA “This Chick is That Cool.”
Once upon a time, there was a lunatic named Fox Mulder…
I jest. But, no. Not really.
Mulder’s over-enthusiasm has always worried Scully but I think he’s scaring her for the first time. This is brilliant because Mulder forever lives on the edge of sanity and if it wasn’t that the difference between Normal Mulder and Crazy Mulder is so subtle, this episode wouldn’t work. If the same thing had happened to Scully, those around her would have caught on immediately. Not so with Agent Mulder. After all, it’s not like he hasn’t mouthed off to his boss before and it’s only a small step from there to going after him physically. (By the way, Skinner rocks that scene. Rocks it.)
This whole episode is about taking The X-Files over the top. Not only does David Duchovny finally get to play Mulder to the hilt, it’s confirmed that the conspiracy isn’t confined to the military or even to the Federal government for that matter. It’s multi-national. Well, it involves the Axis superpowers and the United States, anyway. You’ll notice no one invited Russia.
It looks like CSM and his cronies are behind yet another form of alien-human hybrid experiment, only this one is many years old. So old, in fact, that it goes back to when Bill Mulder worked for the State Department. “Bill Mulder?” you exclaim with naïve surprise. Why, yes. It turns out that Mulder’s own family is knee deep in mythology mud and not only because his sister was the victim of an alien abduction.
We learn that Bill Mulder was also involved in the conspiracy and that CSM has ties to the Mulder family. In fact, he claims to have been protecting Mulder all these years. This raises questions that haven’t come up in some time about why Mulder is allowed to investigate the paranormal in the first place. Is he a stooge for the conspiracy as he wonders briefly in episodes like “Little Green Men” (2×1) and “One Breath” (2×8)? Has CSM secretly been on his side?
That last part, at least, is doubtful. As we’ll see over the course of this three-parter, CSM is on no one’s side but his own. That said, there may be something to the idea that he has a certain amount of affection for Mulder. He said so himself in “One Breath”, not that we can trust anything that comes out of his mouth. Most think that he tries to kill Mulder at the end of this episode. Surely that’s not the action of a friend and in light of what we learn about his relationship to the Mulder family in later seasons, it’s rather abominable. But did he know that Mulder was in the boxcar? I personally don’t think so. In “The Blessing Way” (3×1) we’ll find out that his men tortured young Eric Hosteen, presumably to find out Mulder’s location.
That debate will come later. This episode is about my girl Scully. We’ve seen her take the lead in an investigation before, notably in “Beyond the Sea” (1×12) and less memorably in “Excelsis Dei” (2×11) but never like this. As Mulder falls apart she’s shown at her best: brave, loyal and smart. It sounds like I’m exaggerating, but Mulder really does nothing in this episode except rapidly degenerate. In terms of the plot, he’s completely passive; everything happens to him. He’s given a disc, he’s fed spiked water, he’s robbed of his father, he’s shot, he’s taken to a quarry, he’s firebombed. Notice a trend? Scully quarterbacks this episode and solves the case (as much as it can be solved in the first part of a three part story arc) without Mulder’s help. And she saves Mulder to boot!
I can’t say enough about their scenes together here, particularly the scene where he comes to her after his father is killed and when he wakes up after she shoots him. There’s so much obvious care between these two but they don’t force it down our throats with any effusive declarations. Check the minimalist dialogue:
Mulder: You’ve taken a big risk.
Scully: I was certain they would have killed you, Mulder.
Mulder: Thank you. Thank you for taking care of me.
Sounds dry in written form, doesn’t it? That’s because they don’t need much dialogue, dialogue would be redundant. Mulder and Scully express more emotion with their eyes than normal human beings are capable of. Gillian Anderson’s acting here is mad fantastic. The look she puts on Scully’s face as she says that line speaks mountains. She put her life, her job, her reputation at risk because she would have been broken-hearted if something had happened to Mulder. Scully gets to make good on that statement she made in “Tooms” (1×21). “I wouldn’t put myself on the line for anybody but you.”
By the way, don’t think I’m going all Shippy on you. (Though to my fellow Shippers, rock on.) It’s just that this is such an amazing friendship. No matter how mean and nasty Mulder gets she refuses to let him alienate her, she only works even harder to help him. [Insert “That’s What Friends are For” audio file here.] And really, isn’t that why we (the sane ones) ship Mulder and Scully anyway?
Chris Carter & Co. keep raising the mythology stakes ever higher. If we thought that “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (1×23) was new ground for Mulder and Scully, just look at what’s at risk for them here. Now Mulder’s family isn’t just a casualty of the conspiracy, his father himself was a perpetrator.
This episode does have an Achilles heel, though. But I have to cut it some slack as regards the 1990s fail-safe of working American Indian myth into the plot even when it doesn’t belong. But I’ll address that issue more in “The Blessing Way”.
I feel as though I’m about to enjoy the mythology episodes far more this time around, which is lovely.
P.S. Krycek’s back!!!
I don’t want to give undue glory, but the mythology episodes have taken a distinct turn for the better since David Duchovny joined the story process. I’m just sayin’.
The Lone Gunmen’s potential is finally being realized. They’re used so perfectly in that opening scene. And in a nice bit of continuity, The Thinker, who we were previously introduced to via computer in “One Breath”, makes it onto the screen in human form.
This episode marks Chris Carter’s first cameo appearance.
I understand that Scully has to go back to Mulder’s apartment to retrieve the bullet for ballistics testing, but why on earth does she have the blinds open? Being shot once in the head isn’t enough?
Mulder: I’m not feeling well. I didn’t sleep last night. Really not in the mood for The Three Stooges.
Frohike: I don’t think we’ve been followed.
Mulder: Oh? Who would follow you?
Byers: A Multinational Black Ops unit. Code named Garnet.
Langly: Trained killers. School of the Americas alumni.
Mulder: You boys been defacing library books again?
Kenneth Soona: I… I don’t want you to know my real name. I… I just don’t think it’s that important that you know.
Mulder: Sounds like a line I used in a bar once.
Bill Mulder: You’re a smart boy, Fox. You’re smarter than I ever was.
Mulder: About what?
Bill Mulder: Your politics are yours, you have never thrown in. The minute you do that, their doctrines become yours and you can be held responsible.
Scully: Your shoulder’s going to be fine. The round went through nice and clean.
Mulder: You shot me!
Scully: Yes, I did.
Albert Hosteen: You’re lucky she’s a good shot.
Mulder: Or a bad one.