Unruhe 4×2: Ich habe keine Unruhe.


Scully and the Beanstalk.

The main thing that occurred to me as I sat down to watch this one is that I’m unlikely to watch anything like it again. “Unruhe”, “Tithonus” (6×9), heck, One Hour Photo… Short of finding a period piece, with the advent of digital cameras, the underlying creepiness of photography may be gone for good. Point and click cameras don’t give you that same eerie sound as they capture an image (or is it someone’s soul?). Gone is the sinister subtext of the dark room, where creepy men leer creepily at ghost like images forming on slick pieces of paper. And the Ye Olde One Hour Photo Shoppe has all but gone extinct. Instead of delivering your most personal memories to be ogled by a 40 year old man who still lives with his mother, you can print them out in the privacy of your home, should you decide to print them out at all.

Progress though this may be, it terms of entertainment, it’s a sad loss. This episode is part of the last dying gasp of film.

Fortunately for us, Vince Gilligan wrote this episode before the Revolution was complete. If Darin Morgan owned Season 3, Vince Gilligan is the stand out star of Season 4. His humor isn’t as poignant, but it’s memorable. And more than that, he could give us a classic thriller just as easily as a psychological study or a fantasy romp. He was always, always cinematic. And with “Unruhe”, true to his form, while the characters are exceptionally well written, you could squint your eyes and almost pretend you’re at you’re local theater. This story was built for Mulder and Scully and it serves them well, but you can see how they could be replaced and the story expanded to serve other needs. It’s barely contained at a 43 minute running time.

What they do manage to squeeze in is memorable and engaging. It’s amazing how an X-File really doesn’t need much fuss to be successful; A creepy idea, a villain with three names, a few memorable images, Mulder posing something ridiculous and Scully countering. It’s magic in a can. I don’t think lobotomies have been this frightening since One Few Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Nowadays, when we think of serial killers we mostly think of men who brutalize prostitutes and crack whores. It’s a concept far more removed from the minds of everyday people than it was in the mid-90s when the collective memory of men like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer was still fresh and constantly refreshed in the media by news reports and movies like Silence of the Lambs. Gone are the days when single women watched their backs in the grocery store parking lot, but watching Schnauz stab a hypodermic needle into the flesh of an unsuspecting victim brings it all back.

Gerald Thomas Schnauz, Jr. isn’t one of my all-time favorite X-Files villains, probably because he doesn’t recognize or relish his own evil, but he more than does the job here. And for once, Scully is identifying with the victims and the killer rather than Mulder, our resident criminal profiler. It becomes more and more obvious that the case is wearing on Scully and I like that Vince Gilligan weaves in a little discomfort between her and Mulder throughout the episode, it makes the payoff of Mulder frantically trying to save her that much more satisfying.

And while I’m on the topic of Scully, did you notice the vague foreshadowing of what would come later in her Season 4 arc? It’s so quiet that it might be almost impossible to catch for the first time viewer, but that’s part of what’s so satisfying about rewatching The X-Files, being able to savor the subtleties.

I was able to make out one single word in German: Angst. Funny how that would become the theme of the season.

A

P.S. And as to Scully playing the damsel in distress, which complaints occasionally come up, I don’t even want to hear it. She just rescued Mulder in Distress the previous episode.

P.P.S. This is not the episode to watch if you’re trying to get over a fear of Dentists.

Questions:

Tsk. Tsk. Isn’t Scully supposed to ask if there are any sharp objects she should know about before she pats down somebody?

Comments:

This is the second closing field report/voiceover we’ve had in a row. I rather like that they’re trying hard to pretend that The X-Files isn’t leaving it’s early years far behind in the rearview mirror. And I missed those field reports.

More masterwork from the School of Rob Bowman. The tension in Scully and Schnauz’s first meeting is all in the way he shot it. And don’t even get me started on the glories of all that plastic tarp.

Six fingers = six headstones is rather a stretch, don’t you think?

Howard Unruh, part of the inspiration for this episode, was the first modern mass murderer. How’s that for a legacy?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Stand back, Scully. It’s loaded.

——————-

Scully: She’s been given what’s called a trans-orbital lobotomy. It used to be called an ice pick lobotomy. It involves inserting a leucotome through the eye sockets.
Mulder: So we’re looking for a doctor? Someone with training?
ER Doctor: Not judging by this?
Scully: Whoever did this, Mulder, did it wrong.

——————-

Mulder: So… which one of us gets to use the stun gun on Bruno Hauptmann back there?

——————-

Schnauz: Great. Now they’ve got you talking like Sigmund Freud.

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32 responses to “Unruhe 4×2: Ich habe keine Unruhe.

  1. Wow, I never thought of that whole sub-genre of horror involving cameras as such, that’s a good catch. I agree with you totally here, I thought this was a great tale and very cinematic. It’s also the first of two episodes back to back where Scully brings Mulder to book for putting his exploration of the paranormal in front of real people. I love that she gets annoyed with him for pursuing the photographs as opposed to the victim who is danger. It’s almost as if the fantasy of The X Files is actually clashing with the realistic crimes at the heart of some of the episode’s storylines.

    • Oh, nice catch! I hadn’t even thought about that but you’re right, she keeps calling him on it. And you know what? Early Season 4 Mulder is kind of a jackass.

      • Early season 4 Mulder is a jackass? I hope you don’t mind me saying that he’s a jackass all season. Herrenvolk, Unruhe, plus we’ve got his attitude in the next episode and the issues I have with some of the things he does in Tunguska, Terma, Never Again, Demons and Gethsemane, but we’ll get to that.

  2. This is without a doubt one of my favorite episodes and Vince is my fave XF writer. I love the characters of Mulder and Scully and he just writes them so well I adore him. My 2 favorites episodes this season are his- this and Small Potatoes. 🙂

    This episode is chilling and I can just relate to Scullys disgust on many levels. I get almost quesy when I see the scene with Mulder running after the SUV. So good.

  3. This is my favorite episode. Everything about it is just well timed and full of angst. Schnauz is all the more creepy because he thinks he’s doing his victims a favor, and I love how we are figure out he’s the creeper when Scully does. I’d be banging at an RV with a pole too…gosh. Lol

    • LOVE that moment. But then, I love pretty much any moment when Mulder is frantically yelling Scully’s name. It usually means high adrenaline.

  4. Devin VIctoria

    Just passing through, Miss Salome…I’d say I’ve probably only watched about 25% of the X-Files. One of these days…

    • Devinnaise!!!!

      I was just thinking about you on Saturday because I picked up a book I want to send you… one that hopefully won’t get lost in the Atlantic Ocean this time.

      It’s never too late. People have been known to spontaneously combust into X-Philes. You have the proper genetics and have been exposed to the right environmental factors. Netflix is only a click away.

      <3<3<3

  5. I was not a fan of this story before, but re-watching it changed my mind. Nice, dark episode by Vince Gilligan and Rob Bowman. It reminds me a bit about chasing monsters in Grotesque (3×14).

    Early on, this looked like another S3 ep where Mulder runs off in one direction and Scully goes another. This time, however, Scully is really pissed at Mulder for going back to DC. Mulder knows this is an X-File and does what he thinks is right. He leaves Scully behind, not because he wants to, but because she will not believe in his theory.

    Scully’s attitude in her field report at the end is telling. She claims that she has gained insight into monsters like Gerald. Clearly, she has doubts though. Her Science cannot explain the photographs that are at the heart of the story. You can see that her doubts are troubling her more and more. At some point the battle between her core beliefs and the X-Files will come to a head. We will see how this plays out in the future.

  6. I have a little anecdote to tell about “Unruhe”: I had the pleasure to watch “Home” during a visit to a friend in the US in 1996 and there was the preview of “Unruhe” afterwards. We were both like “Oh my god, they’re talking German!!” Unfortunately I was back in Europe by the time it aired and had to wait a whole year to see the entire story. That was definitely the longest preview/teaser of my life.
    Don’t know if it’s true but I heard once that the word “Angst” was brought into the English language through Sigmund Freud’s works. And here Schnauz mentions Freud…..

  7. I always wondered about the scene when Mulder rescues Scully nearly at the last minute too. Scully just gets up and leaves, she does not say much to Mulder at all, funny her attitude when she left. I guess she was still angry at whatever it was they were fighting about.

    • I always assumed she was just shaken by the experience. *shrug*

    • I don’t think they were fighting about anything. I think she was just really freaked out at having almost been lobotomized. She found the case really frustrating and having to have just empathized with someone who was rendering women helpless victims took a lot out of her so she staggered numbly out of the trailer and will process the experience later or maybe never.

  8. I love this episode. I think the scene in the interrogation room is a perfect example of how this show is vastly superior to any other show that has been inspired by or tried to imitate it. The acting is understated yet powerful, and the tension is almost palpable.

    You left off two important questions, though! 1) How on earth did the actor playing Schnauz do that with his eyes? Is that, like, a thing that people can do? Seriously creepy. And, 2) Does anyone else think Scully says “science” really strangely?

    • Come to think of it, she does. But it’s nothing compared to the way Marita Covarrubias pronounces her own name.

      • You mean the slight hiss/whistle sound when she enunciates the letter S. I thought it added a bit of sultriness to her character in that she seems exotic somehow (or maybe it’s just my male reaction to Laurie Holden and the way she played that scene).

    • Does anyone else think Scully says “science” really strangely?
      —-

      Mmm…Scully/Gillian and the letter S. I love the way she enunciates every word and especially words like “science” as the “s” sounds leave her succulent tongue, past her glorious overbite and out those lucious lips. It’s why I always loved it when Scully does long narrations. What Mulder does for Salome, Scully does for me (what’s the masculine equivalent for swoon?).

      I’m not sure if the way speech is recorded in the show (the mic picking up every subtlety) is why it may sounds strange but I love it nonetheless.

    • It looks like the actor has a natural horizontal nystagmus, that’s what makes his eyes do that. I have seen it in children with special needs mostly, but I also know an attorney who has it as well. The eyes involuntarily move like that. All people will do it when their blood alcohol level is at a certain point & they are asked to track a finger with their eyes when they hit the 45 degree mark.

      That nystagmus made this actor just a perfect casting choice. As it isn’t something we see that often, if ever, in someone else in our lives, it helps up the believability of his damaged mental state. (Although. a nystagmus bears no relation to psychological issues, just to be clear. It’s neurological immature & often causes poor eyesight & perception, as you can imagine.)

    • Scully often pronounces the s sound as an sh. I don’t know if it’s a phonological processing issue (i.e. speech impediment), if it’s b/c of her being..hmmm… I wonder what it’s called, she’s bi-accented (??!) growing up in England, or if it’s just an affectation that GA developed as part of Scully’s character along with the deeper tone of voice & slower, softer cadence. She does it more in some episodes than others. Or, maybe she just really admires Sean Connery. 😉

      No one, NO ONE, however, can ever beat Marita Covarrubias for most annoying, affected, ridiculous, over pronunciation of every word with that stupid expression on her face. Is that suppose to be sexy? It makes me want to give myself a lobotomy with an ice pick. Or at the least use it to poke my eardrums out. (Can you tell how much I really, REALLY, hate Marita Covarrubias?! Bad, bad actor! Go ‘way!! 😡)

  9. Passing through on a reread of your blog. I just have to say that Mulder’s ” stand back Scully, it’s loaded” can carry some interesting connotations when taken out of context. 😉

  10. I laugh at the Marita comment every time!

  11. Scully is not at all a damsel in distress in this episode. She totally holds her own.

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