Syzygy 3×13: Sure. Fine. Whatever.


The X-Files meets Carrie

I confess, this is a tough one to analyze for me. Mainly because I’m not sure what to make of it myself. It’s like a cross between the broad clichés of “Die Hand Die Verletz” (2×14) and the humor of “War of the Coprophages” (3×12). But since it’s neither as frightening as the Morgan & Wong penned “DHDV” or as funny as the Darin Morgan outing “WOTC” it’s difficult to digest in parts. Not to say that it’s horrible. It certainly has some memorably funny moments. And one thing Chris Carter could always do better than any other writer on the show was Mulder/Scully banter. Their digs at each other are the highlight of the episode.

But they’re also the lowlight. By that I mean that the comedy in “Syzygy” relies almost solely on exaggeration. Scully isn’t just a skeptic she’s purposefully obtuse. Mulder doesn’t just wonder at Scully skepticism he berates her for it. It’s as if he found a new friend on the playground in the blonde detective and together they started making fun of his old pal. It’s funny because it’s absurd that these two people who are so close end up nearly hating each other for an episode. But at times it’s hard to watch them be so disrespectful of each other, even through the laughs.

Because of that I’m not sure if coming off of “WOTC” helps or hinders the plot. In defense of it helping, the tension between Mulder and Scully picks up where it left off. However, that only lends this fight more credibility, as if the damn has snapped and Mulder and Scully are letting loose on each other some long held resentments. If so, some of those resentments are pretty serious and that’s part of why “Syzygy” is hard to watch at moments.

That said, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me laugh. Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny have incredible comedic timing that The X-Files has only had a few chances to exploit so far in the series. Part of me enjoys hating Mulder so much. Truly, Mulder deserves to be shot in this episode, not because he unwittingly (for the most part) seduces Detective White but because of the snide remarks he makes at Scully’s expense.

Moving away from Mulder and Scully, Margi and Terri aren’t exactly the most compelling Monsters of the Week. And, frankly, their absurd characterization is what throws the episode off at points. Whose idea was it to name these girls “Margi” and “Terri”? From their names to their clothes to the words that come out of their mouths, it’s as if someone who didn’t know any teenage girls in real life took an 80’s stereotype, electrocuted it and threw it in front of the camera.

…And the Verdict is:

I don’t take this episode as seriously as I used to. It’s an aberration. A fluke. If it weren’t, Mulder and Scully could have potentially caused an irreparable rift in their relationship. While I enjoy the contention in the spirit of comedy, past a point the hurt feelings exposed and generated would have to be addressed and dealt with. Instead, when the clock strikes 12 and the syzygy is over, Mulder and Scully turn back into regular old mice; they’re in sync again and all is right with the world. Well, mostly. There’s still that little argument in the car on the way back.

If, however, we keep “Syzygy” within the context of the series, then the tension that began at the end of “WOTC” continues through this episode even to “Grotesque” (3×14); Mulder and Scully are in a state of chronic miscommunication. This is not Season 2’s Mulder and Scully. There are times when that tension is particularly unpleasant to watch, but the end result is Season 4’s Mulder and Scully so all is forgiven.

This episode attempts something similar to “WOTC” but less successfully; its tone isn’t always consistent. I think it’s clear by the end, though, that the content of this episode is meant to be enjoyed and then forgotten. Nothing Mulder or Scully say or do in this episode should be held against them in the long run. It’s an astrological anomaly.

By the by, I do believe that moment in the hallway after Mulder sniffed Scully was the closest he ever came to death.

B

P.S. Is Scully jealous? That’s easy. Yes. But in her defense, any woman whose partner ditched her for a leggy blonde and made jokes at her expense to impress said leggy blonde would have a similar reaction.

Superfluous Questions:

Are the stars to blame for why none of the investigating officers picked up on Margi and Terri’s fake tears and inconsistent affects? They weren’t even convincing sociopaths.

Wasn’t Mulder drunk not a few minutes before he drove away from the motel? I take it the look of barely restrained fury on Scully’s face sobered him up?

Superfluous Comments:

The absurd opening funeral scene is reminiscent of “Humbug” (2×20), no?

This is where I learned what a “screwdriver” was. I remember walking out into the family room to ask dear old Dad what Mulder was doing with that orange juice.

Detective White is Mulder’s second potential love interest in a row. Is Season 3 his season or what?

I can’t decide whether the funniest moment in the episode is Mulder desperately pressing “0” for the operator in a drunken attempt to evade Detective White’s advances or the expression on Scully’s face when Mulder says, “It must be Detective White.”

Zirinka the Astrologist almost steals the show.

Best Quotes:

Scully: And you have physical evidence of these rituals being conducted?
Detective White: No. No, just the murder victims.
Scully: So you have nothing concrete to connect these things to Satanists?
Detective White: [Shakes head]
Mulder: If, uh, you detect a hint of skepticism or incredulity in Agent Scully’s voice it’s because of the overwhelming evidence gathered by the FBI debunking virtually all claims of physical abuse by satanic cults.
Detective White: [to Scully] Is that true?
Scully: [Starts to speak]
Mulder: Don’t ask me.

———————
Scully: Let me guess. They told you about a wild beast entering in on a black mass, the drinking of blood, the sacrifice of an infant… or a blonde virgin.
Detective White: Yeah. That’s right. Excuse me.
Scully: Where’s she going?
Mulder: You don’t suppose she’s a virgin, do you?
Scully: I doubt she’s even a blonde.

———————

Mulder: Let me drive.
Scully: I’m driving.
Mulder: Scully, it’s not what you think.
Scully: I didn’t see anything anyway.
Mulder: Will you let me drive?
Scully: I’m driving. Why do you always have to drive anyway? Because you’re the guy? Because you’re the big, macho man?
Mulder: No, I was just never sure your little feet could reach the pedals.

———————

Mulder: When we were here before…
Zirinka: I’m just waiting for authorization.
Mulder: I’m a Federal Agent!
Zirinka: Last I heard, the federal government couldn’t pay its bills. Okay, you’re good for up to 300 bucks.
Mulder: All right.
Zirinka: How can I help you?

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23 responses to “Syzygy 3×13: Sure. Fine. Whatever.

  1. marian mulder 79

    when I first saw the episode, did not see him with critical eyes as I saw it much later ..
    the way they treated me very surprised, because there is always respect in both, but here downloaded many things that have been saved.
    There are certain scenes that made ​​me grace and despite all that you want to, scully is jealous, he has demonstrated on several occasions when mulder flirts with who are involved in the police investigation or charge the same and is much more palpable when the agent appears Fowley later ..
    good thing is that there is always a balance between the two, when one is angry, the other calms, as shown here mulder lamb meek ​​behavior while scully looks like a caged lion and that’s what surprises me about the series, as can reverse the roles, as she always has the cool head and not mulder …
    all in all, I like the episode, because, who does not pull out your dark side when someone makes you angry? scully goes through the same situation

  2. I’ve never known what to make of this one (plus I’ve never been able to pronounce the title), truthfully it’s funny, very funny in places, yet the tone is all over the show, the violence is quite dark and yet while Humbug managed to mix dark horror and comedy to wonderful effect, Syzygy is just all over the place.

  3. We all seem to kindof agree that the balance was off on this one.

    Personally, I wish they would have tipped the scale a little towards the comedy end. If it was clear that the characters were all trapped in some sort of cosmic vortex that made them behave like juveniles, then we, the audience, have license to enjoy the ride.

    As it stands, it’s hard for me to enjoy these characters I like so much rip on each other for an entire episode.

    About halfway through, I just made up my mind that it was supposed to be fun, and I enjoyed the rest pretty well.

    • “If it was clear that the characters were all trapped in some sort of cosmic vortex that made them behave like juveniles, then we, the audience, have license to enjoy the ride. As it stands, it’s hard for me to enjoy these characters I like so much rip on each other for an entire episode.”

      I couldn’t have summed it up better. The venom coming out of Mulder and Scully is a little hard to take unless it’s clear that this whole episode is absurd. That this is pure comedy isn’t obvious until about halfway through and by then the audience is already uncomfortable.

  4. Interesting to compare and contrast the comedy/venom to that of what we see somewhat similarly ( although not nearly as venomous) in Bad Blood. Only with that one, we knew we were allowed to laugh from the very start.

    • Ooo, what a great comparison! Bad Blood makes the parameters clear from the beginning and you’re right, Mulder and Scully’s images of each other are grossly exaggerated but not mean.

  5. Just watched Syzygy and – like always- I didn’t know whether to laugh or to wince. In comparison with Bad Blood this episode feels like a dress rehearsal that’s gone wrong. But if Syzygy had been better, maybe there never would’ve been a Bad Blood.
    For me, Zirinka does steal the show in this one.

  6. This episode upsets me – Season 3, what are you doing to me? Two episodes in a row of Mulder having other love interests, and Mulder and Scully at each other’s throats? I find it almost painful to watch.

  7. I’m not going to say I loved this episode, but I didn’t disliked it either. I agree that Zirinka is stealing the show. I agree about blank characters – especially Detective White. I mean – she’s talking and acting the way we are expecting her to – except the motel part of course. And if we are supposed to believe that there’s happening something really weird and unusual, she should be at least characteristic in some way. We should be able to see the difference in her behavior when it’s all over, after the midnight. And I really don’t see any differences, she’s just blank, blank, blank. If she wouldn’t climb on top of Mulder, I wouldn’t remember her at all.
    I agree that the nastiness on M/S part are somewhat harsh, too harsh here – sometimes it’s really out of the character, especially Mulder. Yes, it was needed to show how the astrological phenomenon influenced all of the lasting *cough* relationships in the town, but I cringed a little.
    I loved the cheap portrayal of the teens in this episode – especially two villains. It suits the overall atmosphere of the episode. But the crimes are a bit to heavy here. The cruelty of the episode killed the lightness of the humour for me a bit.

  8. “Mulder deserves to be shot in this episode” haha this is a typical woman’s point of view 😀
    Scully is really annoying too in this episode, acting like a straight b*tch from the very beginning ! But this episode is really funny, and bizarre. The plot is irrelevant. If it wasn’t for the humor of this episode, it would have been a really bad episode.

  9. Agent Venkman

    The first example of Chris Carter trying and failing at comedic a episode. Give me another The Host or Irrisistible, or a mythology episode, please Mr. Carter.

  10. Pingback: Season 3 Episode 13 – Syzygy | The X-Files Truth Podcast

  11. i love the end of this episode….were mulder and scully really under the astrological efect or not?? the end always keeps me guessing that.

  12. The balance is off, but I almost think that’s exactly the point. After all, the episode is all about imbalance, isn’t it? I personally love this episode; I never take it seriously and I think their banter is at its best here. Plus, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are brilliant in this one. I never get tired of watching the scene where Mulder sniffs Scully’s hair. The change of expression on Scully’s face is one of Gillian’s best acting moments. She says “I’m going to kill you” with one slight change in eye movement. PRICELESS.

  13. You missed the point of the episode. The bickering is influenced by the syzygy or planetary alignment making everyone act crazy.

    That’s why Fox gets drunk and Scully is smoking. The influence of Satan or the scientific planet alignment are affecting both as well the townsfolk and the creepy girls.

    • Hmm? I didn’t miss it. Though I confess I only addressed it briefly.

      My main point was that I wasn’t sure how successful the overall episode was.

    • I am so sorry, I tried to give you a thumbs up, but must have tapped wrong & it won’t let me undo. Argh!! I agree with your post!!

  14. Pingback: Fight Club 7×20: It’s better just to avoid these encounters altogether and at all costs. | Musings of an X-Phile

  15. I’m surprised no one mentioned baby Ryan Reynolds as Boom.

    I agree- not a great episode, and strangely influenced by the 80’s, but entertaining nonetheless.

    • I actually used to like it a whole lot more. I think the juvenile antics read better when you’re still a juvenile. It *does* have several memorable moments and you won’t hear me say it isn’t fun.

      But I can’t believe none of us mentioned Ryan Reynolds.

  16. I like this episode. It isn’t on my greatest hits list, but in my rewatching, I found more humor in it than when I was younger. However, I have always felt that it was somehow supposed to be funnier than what we ended up seeing.

    One moment I particularly enjoy is Mulder’s response denying he ditched Scully. The genuine irritation that he displays is pretty damn near perfect. Considering some of what we know now as viewers regarding the actual tension b/n the actors during this time period, I almost wonder if it was written to allow some of everyone’s frustration & tension to be utilized, with the hopeful intention it might release some of it.

    And, of course, loved seeing the astrologist…who also played the woman taking Donnie Pfaster’s application for work in Irresistible.

    • Whether it was real or really good acting, you could feel the tension radiating off of them at points. My favorite – when Mulder sniffs Scully and then says it must’ve been Det. White whose perfume he smelled. Ooooh, I thought she was going to kill him.

  17. I just watched this episode tonight – I haven’t seen it probably since it aired the first time around.

    While I think it isn’t the show’s finest hour, there is something I really like about how brutal Mulder and Scully’s exchanges are here. We all have our moments with our close friends and significant others where – because we know them so well – we can say some most hurtful things. In fact, there is probably a parallel we’re supposed to draw between Mulder and Scully – friends, partners, trusted confidantes – and Margi and Terri and the tension they experience near the end of the episode.

    Mulder and Scully have this unshakeable bond but their behavior here is something to which I can relate. In fact, there are times where I can relate more to their bickering in this episode more than I can their undying faith in each other.

    All of that being said, the line Mulder says about Scully “snapping on the latex” really is, IMO, his lowest moment of the entire series. Scully is more forgiving than I am because I really would have thrown something at him and left him there.

    PS – I’ve been reading your reviews during my rewatch and they are great!

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