*Editor’s Note: Nina is a long time X-Phile and shipper extraordinaire. (Seriously. You guys thought I was rabid.) You can find more of her humorous insights into The X-Files, Supernatural, 24 and other fandoms on her tumblr at myspecialhell.tumblr.com. Here’s the final installment of her Season 1 analysis. You can check out parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 here, here, here and here. Agree/disagree with her observations? Duke it out in the comments section. We can’t wait to hear what you guys think!
And with that, take it away, Nina!
Biased, completely personal, with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
~ It’s amazing how things change, isn’t it?
– Mulder (Tooms)
Eugene Victor Tooms is one of the most beloved mutants among the Philes, and Tooms is the episode all the Philes recall for two things mostly: the introduction of Assistant Director Walter Skinner, a character who would become more and more important in the show, and for the infamous conversation in the car.
I remember when I first saw Tooms and the conversation in the car. I remember that my jaw hit the floor. For a moment I really thought they were going to go at it. I mean, usually, when a scene like that happened in another show, next we knew the two lead characters were kissing like there was no tomorrow.
How naive, uh?
Even before the scene in the car, it was clear that Mulder and Scully had truly become partners at work: there was trust, there was complicity. Scully didn’t hesitate to put herself on the line for Mulder, when talking to Skinner.
She was supposed to be the spy, she was supposed to be the tool to close the X-Files…and yet, there she was, defending Mulder.
Skinner had ordered Scully to make sure things were done by the book, and yet when she went to Mulder, while he was checking on Tooms, it wasn’t the job she was worried about. Do you remember Deep Throat? In the episode she was worried about what she was going to write in her report. She had come a long way from that night…and she showed it.
SCULLY: Mulder, you know that proper surveillance requires two pairs of agents, one pair relieving the other after twelve hours.
MULDER: Article 30, paragraph 8.7?
SCULLY: This isn’t about doing it by the book. This is about you not having slept for three days. Mulder, you’re going to get sloppy and you’re going to get hurt. It’s inevitable at this point.
MULDER: A request for other agents to stake-out Tooms would be denied. Then we have no grounds.
SCULLY: Well, then I’ll stay here. You go home.
I’ve always loved how Mulder seemed genuinely concerned about Scully’s career in the scene in the car. I think that was the first time Mulder actually voiced concern about Scully’s career. He had come a long way too from the pilot episode and the infamous lines:
“So, who did you tick off to get stuck with this detail, Scully”
“MULDER: That’s pretty good, Scully.
SCULLY: Better than you expected or better that you hoped?
MULDER: Well… I’ll let you know when we get past the easy part.”
When Scully was assigned to the X-Files, she had basically zero experience on the field, Mulder had seen her becoming a good agent, one whose career he felt the need to protect, feeling his was already in the crapper. The fact that he acknowledged that he had put Scully’s career and reputation and her possible future within the Bureau in jeopardy, spoke volumes of the depth of their bond at that point.
MULDER: They’re out to put an end to the X-Files, Scully. I don’t know why, but any excuse will do. Now, I don’t really care about my record, but you’d be in trouble just for sitting in this car and I’d hate to see you to carry an official reprimand in your file because of me.
After such an opening from Mulder, it was no surprise that Scully felt the need to do the same.
Why did she call him Fox?
Why was she embarrassed while she said his name?
They were venturing into an unknown territory. Mulder and Scully sucked at those kind of emotional displays, if we choose to consider the original timeline of the series, they had been working together for two years, yet, that was the first time either of them opened up that way. Mulder had just told Scully that he valued her work, that he valued her both as a person and an FBI agent and Scully wanted to…open up as well, by calling him Fox.
(Mulder laughs. Scully looks at him.)
MULDER: And I… I even made my parents call me Mulder. So… Mulder.
I think Mulder was panicking. He was surprised by Scully, by the shyness in her voice, and by the sudden turn that conversation was taking…so he panicked. It’s not a fanwank, it’s not fanon…it’s the only plausible explanation I’ve ever been able to give to what he said…
Although I think Mulder fell for Scully at first sight, I really don’t think he was ready to explore the feelings he had for his partner, he didn’t have the energies to focus on anything else that it wasn’t the X-Files.
I believe, I strongly believe that at the time the events of Tooms took place, Mulder was in full denial, as far as his feelings for Scully were concerned.
He had too much going on through his head, his life was devoted to a cause that was not only time consuming but demanding everything out of him. It took him a couple of tragic events to wake up and smell the coffee.
So Mulder panicked, and babbled about making even his parents call him Mulder. Scully, though, needed to tell her truth, for once.
SCULLY: Mulder, I wouldn’t put myself on the line for anybody but you.
Mulder’s look when Scully told him those words was priceless: he was floored by Scully’s admission.
In “Squeeze” Mulder had said that the need to mess with people outweighed the milestone of humiliation. While I think that he wasn’t lying to Scully when he told her that, I also believe that at that point, Mulder needed someone to trust…and needed someone to have faith in him, to trust him.
Mulder had been alone for quite some time, whether it was willingly or not, is not important…his work on the X-Files had slowly shaped into a crusade, I’d wager Mulder felt the loneliness, the frustration that came from being unheard. I don’t think he gave a damn about what people thought of him, but the human need to be believed, especially knowing that he was telling the truth, had to be quite a burden.
He had accepted the loneliness as one of the prices to pay, to sacrifice at the altar of his faith: the truth. He hadn’t lied to Scully when he had said he had a life…the X-files were his life. However, to hear such a line, bearing an implicit trust, a commitment, and mostly faith in him, I think it floored him.
Mulder had another proof that he wasn’t alone in his search, that there was someone who would look for the truth with him, someone who, finally, believed him, believed in him.
MULDER: If there’s an ice tea in that bag, could be love.
SCULLY: Must be fate, Mulder. Root beer.
(Mulder kiddingly sighs.)
You’re delirious. Go home and get some sleep.
He reacted with humor. That’s a coping mechanism Mulder used all the time. When things got difficult he eluded fear and panic with humor.
My God, how much I still love the guy!
I don’t think Scully was hurt by Mulder’s reaction. I mean…c’mon, she had eyes! And she could read him pretty well…she knew that he had gotten the message, and she knew it was appreciated.
Maybe that’s a fanwanking…but I’ve always loved how Mulder didn’t let Scully go after Tooms. On a practical reason, I know it was because of Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy, but to me that was other than a very sweet gesture, just another proof of how protective Mulder had become of Scully…especially if you compare this with such episodes as Ghost in the Machine.
The final scene let us understand that things were going to change very soon, for Mulder and Scully. Mulder watched a caterpillar cocoon and commented on how amazing it was how things changed.
He said a change was coming for them…
Of course he was talking about the X-Files…but the caterpillar cocoon symbolized their relationship as well.
The X-Files had to be shut down, their relationship had to die a little for it to really blossom.
The Erlenmeyer Flask
Aka: they’re shutting us down
~ I should know by now to trust your instincts.
Why? Nobody else does
– Mulder and Scully (The Erlenmeyer Flask)
The Erlenmeyer Flask was a painful episode for me to watch. It was the first mytharc episode, it was the episode where Deep throat died. Mulder and Scully had their first taste of hell…of the conspiracy in its glory, and they were burned by it, badly.
Scully came to a few important understandings concerning Mulder and his crusade. In the pilot episode he had told her that there were people who were trying to cover up the truth. I’ve always thought that she hadn’t really believed …not even when their motel rooms were burned down…but the episode showed Scully that there was indeed a conspiracy, that Mulder was nowhere near as paranoid as he appeared.
She witnessed things…for the first time and she felt the need to apologize to Mulder, who, on the other hand didn’t think apologies were necessary.
The look in Mulder’s eyes when Scully apologized to him, was priceless…in Tooms she had told him that she wouldn’t put herself on the line for anybody else…and in The Erlenmeyer flask, she told him she believed him, she told him that she trusted his instincts.
They had really come a long way from the pilot episode. In Ice, Mulder had told Scully that he wanted to trust her, but throughout the first season Scully had never really said anything about trust.
It was somewhat heart breaking to hear Mulder’s reply to Scully’s words: “Why? Nobody else does.”
I love how Mulder, who apparently brushed off Scully’s words, showed how he actually took them into consideration…he showed it when talking with Deep Throat and told him to cut the crap and talk already, to skip the whole Obi-wan kenobi routine…
It showed how Mulder valued Scully’s words, how important they were to him. She had been assigned to the X-Files to be a spy, but in the end she had become his only ally, the only one who would tell him the truth.
But Scully did more than telling Mulder that she trusted his instincts, she risked her career, her life, to save Mulder when he was kidnapped.
At the end of Tooms, Mulder had said he felt a change was near, and never truer words were spoken. The last scene of the first season finale…is heart breaking, the circle closed with two scenes similar to the final scenes of the pilot episode: Mulder called Scully to tell her that the X-Files had been shut down.
“They’re shutting us down”
There is a world in this line. As much as Chris Carter’s writing became sloppy in the latter seasons, as much as I still have issues with him, the final scene of the last episode of the first season is so powerful that it took my breath away and it still does. The scene is very dramatic, but in pure X-Files fashion is downplayed, to let the viewers absorb the blow.
“They’re shutting us down”
For Mulder, Scully had become part of the X-Files, for Mulder, Scully had become his partner. The X-Files were the core of Mulder’s life… for him to include Scully, to acknowledge her role in them, was a testament of how much she meant to him.
Scully was incredulous at the news: she had really come to love her job, she had really come to an understanding about her job, she knew that she would always be Mrs. Spooky, chasing little grey men, to people, but she knew as well that their job, was important. They had become partners and friends…and their new found strength was taken away from them.
The X-Files were closed, but their relationship was going to enter a new level very soon.
 Played by Mitch Pileggi
 Played by Jerry Hardin