The Field Where I Died 4×5: I could’ve lived without that just fine.


Well, at least the shots were gorgeous.

You have no idea how I had to brace myself for this one. I seriously considered breaking my own cardinal rule and jumping ahead to “Sanguinarium” (4×6). Then I briefly considered skipping this one altogether in the hope that no one would notice, and if they did notice, that they probably wouldn’t miss it. My obsessive compulsiveness has prevailed, however, so let’s get this over with…

When writers Morgan and Wong left in Season 2, Mulder and Scully were close partners. Nearly two seasons later when Morgan and Wong come back on board, Mulder and Scully’s relationship has taken on epic proportions, both within the show itself and even more so in the minds of the viewers. When they left, there had been no ultimate trade in “End Game” (2×17), no psychic connection in “The Blessing Way” (3×1), no sacrifice of the Holy Grail in “Paper Clip” (3×2), no “Pusher” (3×17), no “Wetwired” (3×23), etc. etc.

This may be blasphemous, but I think the justly praised writing team who helped shaped The X-Files into greatness had lost touch to an extent. Maybe they’d spent too much time away. All four episodes they would write for this season seemed to be forcing new ground on the audience rather than breaking it. A couple did it successfully, like the glorious “Home” (4×3), while others did not.

For this outing, I think it’s clear where Morgan and Wong stood on the topic of Mulder and Scully. Not that there’s anything wrong with their Noromo position. Heck, that was the 1013 party line at the time. But I think what they failed to take into account, maybe because they had been working on other things and didn’t understand it, was the current state of the fandom and the pseudo-sanctity of the Mulder and Scully relationship.

I’m going to set all Shipperhood aside for this one. I don’t even need it. Even under the premise that Mulder and Scully are and should remain perfectly platonic, I have to have reason to believe that Mulder has suddenly made a connection that has a gravitational pull more powerful than or at least equal to the one he has with Scully in order for this episode to work. That doesn’t happen.

Kristen Cloke, the actress who plays Melissa Reidal and who happened to be engaged to Glen Morgan at the time, called the episode “a love letter from Glen Morgan to me” and indeed that’s what it feels like; a personal exploration of themes more so than an X-File. Darin Morgan used to do this except that somehow his themes always added to rather than subtracted from the series as a whole. He gave new dimensions and flavors to something that was already familiar.

This episode is barely connected to the rest of the series either in tone or content. As such, it feels like a personal indulgence. It fails to consider the ramifications of what it’s proposing and it fails to consider the context of the series at large. Take, for instance, this issue of continuity: In one of Mulder’s past lives CSM was a Nazi Gestapo Officer. Yet CSM would already have been alive in WWII, a fact that you would think couldn’t have escaped Mulder once he was no longer hypnotized. How could he be in both lives at the same time? Hmmm?

It’s moments like this that prove the episode doesn’t really serve the characters either. It reduces Mulder to a fool and Scully to a sidekick. “The Field Where I Died” takes place in an episodic vacuum where the events don’t make sense and it doesn’t matter anyway because the emotional ramifications of these revelations will never be dealt with. Mulder’s supposed past life and the loss of his soulmate are issues never to be seen or spoken of again.

Issues of context and continuity aside, even without that problem and taken just by itself, this episode is almost as boring as “Space” (1×9), and it would be if it didn’t get my adrenaline fired up through irritation. I tried to imagine as I watched what I would be thinking if I were watching this and it were just another TV show, not The X-Files at all. Would I have responded more favorably? I think so, but only by about 20% more. Reincarnation is a hard sell to a Western audience and the advertisements here aren’t appealing. It’s a concept that really has to be done well to be engaging, a feat that’s rarely achieved outside of anime.

Melissa’s voices are too goofy to take seriously so the performance is comical instead of affecting. Sidney in particular is way over the top. And since he’s the first voice we’re introduced to, it’s hard to climb back up from there. Then in a chain reaction, since what draws Mulder to her character is something that I find ridiculous, I find Mulder ridiculous. And if I find both Mulder and his X-File ridiculous there’s little left to enjoy. Ah, those hypnosis scenes are like pulling teeth.

Worse than anything is Mulder who is more caught up in himself than we’ve ever seen him. In fact, he’s a selfish bastard in this one. According to Morgan, in the 20 minutes of footage that had to be cut from the episode were some scenes that supported Scully’s point of view, that Mulder’s past as dredged up under hypnosis was false, a result of mixed-up memories and wishful thinking. It’s too bad they weren’t able to fit more of that plot in to balance the story out. Mulder needed a little undermining here.

Once again, he’s out to save a lost young woman who the world would rather forget than help. I’d like to love him for this, I really would, but he’s drawn to women who have already given up on life, who’d prefer to sink than struggle for air. Watching him try to save women who don’t want to be helped, knowing that his mission is doomed, is not television for the faint of heart. I’d rather watch “Oubliette” (3×8) and you know that’s saying something.

What glimpses of magic this episode does have are largely due to consummate director Rob Bowman, who makes it beautiful to watch if nothing else. In fact, I highly recommend just turning the sound off and letting it play. Oh, but then you’d miss a luscious score from Mark Snow so that won’t do. I guess you either just grit and bear it or you don’t.

As I don my Shipper cap again for a moment, let me just say that this episode feels slightly mean-spirited (an unintended slight, I’m sure). Like pouring cold water over a fresh hot meal so that no one will be able to eat it.

Just as uniting Mulder and Scully in a cloud of romance would have drained tension from the show, so too would have building an unequivocal “No” into the narrative. It would have taken away the hope of many. Indeed, I remember feeling rising panic after I first saw this episode (it was already in reruns and nobody warned me), but the fact that Season 5 had already begun to air and there was no trace of the ghost of Melissa Reidal buoyed my spirits.

“The Field Where I Died” takes itself too seriously, bloated on its own weight and import. Overwrought is a word that comes to mind and it’s probably the one episode in The X-Files’ cannon that I would willingly erase, yet…

Entertainment Weekly once famously called this episode “Stultifyingly awful.” In retrospect, I wouldn’t go quite that far. The production value is too high. All in all, it certainly has the best of intentions and you can tell a lot of effort went into this one on everyone’s part. But when I ask myself if I’ll ever watch it again… I get queasy.

It’s Over at Last:

There is that one, brief moment of lightness and joy…

Mulder: Dana, if, um, early in the four years we’ve been working together… an event occurred that suggested or somebody told you that… we’d been friends together, in other lifetimes… always… wouldn’t it have changed some of the ways we looked at one another?
Scully: Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn’t change a day. Well… maybe that Flukeman thing. I could’ve lived without that just fine.

But then…

“I wanted to sum up Mulder and Scully’s entire relationship with that question Mulder asks Scully afterwards, if we had known from the beginning that we had lived all these lives, would it change anything, how would you feel?’ ” Morgan said. “I just wanted to raise that question between the two of them. I’m not sure what the answer is. My feeling is that she is holding on to some skepticism. Her answer in the episode — “I wouldn’t change a day” – might be a little ‘tee-vee.’

Way to quench it, dude.

D+

Keeping it Brief:

John Mark wasn’t the writer of The Book of Revelations. It was another John.

Exactly which version of Mulder was a soulmate of Sidney’s??

The quote from Kristen Cloke is nabbed from here:
http://www.littlereview.com/getcritical/interviews/cloke.htm

The quote from Glen Morgan is shamelessly lifted from here:
http://etc1013.wordpress.com/1997/10/01/cinefantastique-4/

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69 responses to “The Field Where I Died 4×5: I could’ve lived without that just fine.

  1. Hear-hear. Nail on the head!

    I loved the concept of a past life episode, and exploring the civil war was very cool. Outside of that it was lame, lame, lame. That past life Sidney was like nails on a chalkboard, and Mulder’s regression comical. Gah!

  2. Hi there. I don’t know you, but I agree with every single syllable of this post. This episode has long been a thorn in my side, and not because of OH NOES ANTI-SHIPPY (something I felt concerns raised at the time were dismissed as) but because it’s wrong, it’s just not RIGHT for there to be some rando that Mulder is a “pair” with that isn’t Scully. Mulder and Scully are a pair. The resonance of the show is built on this, more than I think anything else, and if you throw it off balance the show ceases to work. The SHOW, not the episode. You don’t have to go out and say that Mulder and Scully have been a pair since the beginning of time, in a cosmic sense, and will be a pair eternally. No one is asking you do that. But what you can’t do is introduce universes, the beginning and end of time, cosmic whatever, soulmates — and then say that Mulder is that with someone else. Who’s a one-episode guest star. And then go back to business as usual. The idea of them having dumped water on our hot meal, for no good reason, is exactly right. (And the whole “Scully was also there and stuff!”, I’m sorry, is bullshit.)

    And I agree that it feels mean-spirited, and that it’s probably not intentional, but what it is is thoughtless and off-key and out of touch. I honestly do not understand how people who obviously know how to write could have looked at this episode and looked at the themes of it and the show overall and decided that it made sense and they should go with it. It’s hard for me to understand it without coming to the conclusion that they simply did not give a shit about Mulder and Scully anymore, Morgan wanted to write about his girlfriend and give her a sweet role, and that’s it. It felt like a slap in the face, like a guest who comes to your house and starts using it to run his telemarketing business. OK, I’m being melodramatic, but you get the idea. (I also have a theory that they were MUCH more heavily edited in their first stint, and as the returning heroes, they were pretty much given free rein. Mulder was originally supposed to sleep with Melissa in One Breath, apparently, among other flourishes that were probably best pruned.)

    Morgan and Wong’s early episodes are so fantastic (One Breath is still my number one of all time, I think), and I was so excited for them to return in season 4, and I was so disappointed with what felt to me like their overriding, obvious agenda and shoulder chip (their show had failed; they came back to X-Files and started writing whatever they wanted and putting in their Space people with little to no regard for established storylines). I like many things about Never Again, but it’s never an episode that I will love, and not because of the M/S friction — I LOVE M/S friction. Because it seems like a detour, because so much of the story is about Ed Jerse, because I’d be more interested in a seemingly “out of character” moment for Scully if I trusted that the writers knew who Scully was. Plus, in that episode they have an issue of Entertainment Weekly (which had recently given them the F for TFWID) prominently at the bottom of a birdcage. I wanted to yell through the screen at them to grow up and do the goddamn job they were being paid to do. With the characters they helped to develop. Instead of writing whatever Mary Sue fic crossed their minds.

    Well! Clearly I still have a lot of leftover ire about this. I also have only managed to watch this episode once, I think. And I was never so relieved to see a stupid MOTW with bloody FX and barely any character interaction than I was with the relative breath of fresh air that was Sanguinarium. Nor was I ever so glad for a lack of continuity, since, indeed, they never addressed anything in this episode again.

    I came across this post by chance, and I’ll definitely be checking out the rest of your blog. If I comment further I promise they won’t be novel-length. 😛

    • Hi there. I don’t know you, but I agree with every single syllable of this post.

      Hi there! I don’t know you either but I’m pretty sure we’re kindred spirits.

      …not because of OH NOES ANTI-SHIPPY (something I felt concerns raised at the time were dismissed as) but because it’s wrong, it’s just not RIGHT for there to be some rando that Mulder is a “pair” with that isn’t Scully. Mulder and Scully are a pair. The resonance of the show is built on this, more than I think anything else, and if you throw it off balance the show ceases to work. The SHOW, not the episode.

      That’s a fabulous point right there. They ended up stretching Mulder and Scully almost to their relationship’s breaking point in Season 4, but they didn’t quite crush it and instead brought them back together soon thereafter. If you read that interview with Glen Morgan, you’ll find that they originally planned for Scully to betray Mulder by the season’s end, creating a breach in the relationship. I daresay it might have been good drama, but it would have been the death knell of the show.

      You don’t have to go out and say that Mulder and Scully have been a pair since the beginning of time, in a cosmic sense, and will be a pair eternally. No one is asking you do that. But what you can’t do is introduce universes, the beginning and end of time, cosmic whatever, soulmates — and then say that Mulder is that with someone else. Who’s a one-episode guest star. And then go back to business as usual.

      It’s just such a stretch to believe that this unstable mouse of a woman has a powerful connection with Mulder. It’s both hard to accept as a stand-alone and hard to mentally place in the larger whole. This should rock Mulder’s world to the point that he’s never the same. Either that, or it should end with some sense that none of what he remembered really happened and chalk it up to a powerful memory. They did a much better job of giving Mulder a one time connection later on in Mind’s Eye, and it wasn’t some life altering experience either.

      And the whole “Scully was also there and stuff!”, I’m sorry, is bullshit.

      YES.

      what it is is thoughtless and off-key and out of touch.

      “Off-key” in particular rings resonant.

      I also have a theory that they were MUCH more heavily edited in their first stint, and as the returning heroes, they were pretty much given free rein. Mulder was originally supposed to sleep with Melissa in One Breath, apparently, among other flourishes that were probably best pruned.

      I had no idea about that plot point and I shudder at the thought. But if it’s true, you’re theory may be right. I had thought that this desire to drive a “realistic” wedge between the two main characters was something brought on by the then state of Morgan’s love life (he was in the middle of divorcing his wife and his romance with Kristen Cloke was fresh) and the fact that Morgan and Wong had been working so long on their baby, Space: Above and Beyond, only for it to be canceled prematurely. They came back to The X-Files, but judging from his interview, their hearts weren’t that into it. And if they had gotten to kill off Frohike like they had planned…

      Morgan and Wong’s early episodes are so fantastic

      Most definitely!

      I like many things about Never Again, but it’s never an episode that I will love, and not because of the M/S friction — I LOVE M/S friction. Because it seems like a detour, because so much of the story is about Ed Jerse, because I’d be more interested in a seemingly “out of character” moment for Scully if I trusted that the writers knew who Scully was.

      We must be drinking the same milk.

      I came across this post by chance, and I’ll definitely be checking out the rest of your blog. If I comment further I promise they won’t be novel-length. 😛

      Novels are fun! I read them while I should be concentrating on my job. 😉

  3. I was really interested to see what you had to say about this one, as someone who has been watching the series since the beginning and knows all about the controversies about this one I could not wait to hear what you had to say about it. I wouldn’t agree totally with you on it, but I do understand where you are coming from. I was thirteen when I first watched this one and I adored it I have to say, I thought it was beautiful and sublime and yet rewatching it nowadays, I can only see the faults and flaws. I loved Kristen Cloke’s performance back then, now I don’t, it really is hammy and over the top, not to mention the issues with the continuity and timeline, issues that would be furthered with Morgan and Wong’s next episode.

    Allegedly Morgan and Wong had stipulations when they came back to the series, one was that they used their Space people in the show (nothing necessarily against that idea, they’re all talented people), but they didn’t want to rewrite other people’s episodes and they wanted to do their own thing, and it shows a little.

    I don’t hate this one as much as you do, in fact I can see the wood through the trees and adore Mark Snow’s music and the photography which is lush and beautiful, but it’s funny how time passes and opinions change. If I were a teenager now, I’d probably be disagreeing with you wholeheartedly, but now I’m a little older and wiser and I can’t help but see your point.

    Great write up as always by the way, I’m glad you didn’t skip it.

    • No, in the end I just couldn’t skip it. Oh the sacrifices one must make for an obsession!

      I’m still trying to come up with conditions under which it might have worked. And I’ve trolled the internet and found some fairly reasonable people who have enjoyed it and they mainly seem to be those who enjoyed the acting and the premise, two issues I still can’t resolve in my own mind.

      I think it might have worked if more evidence had been given that this was all a psychological drama of Mulder’s own making… that would have allowed me to not take the results of his hypnosis so seriously and also discount some of the high drama as just an emotional escape. He and Melissa are taking part in a shared delusion. Come to think of it, that could have been a great way to explore some of the darker aspects of his character.

      But without that being realized, it’s hard to swallow an eternal team of Mulder, Scully, Samantha and CSM that has this random character of Melissa at its core. She’d have to be more significant than she is.

      For what it’s worth, I found one of the deleted scenes:

      INT. CAR – DAY

      Mulder and Scully’s car barrel at TOP SPEED toward the compound. Mulder’s expression is intent as he races toward the compound. Scully is intense. Something catches her attention O.S.

      SCULLY’S POV – ROAD SIGN

      As it quickly streaks past FRAME, a large wooden road sign indicateds “KAVANAUGH Road”

      Scully considers, looks about, seeing, O.S. …

      SCULLY’S POV – ANOTHER SIGN

      “Temple of the Seven Starts/ SULLIVAN Field – 1 mile.”

      WIDER

      Scully considers, turns to Mulder, shouting above the car’s ROAR.

      SCULLY: Mulder, this road is called “Kavanaugh”. The field is marked Sullivan Field.

      Mulder continues to drive, not hearing her.

      SCULLY (cont’d): They’re obviously named after those people. You subconsciously processed the names. that’s how you “knew” of their past existence.

      Like he cares. As Mulder PUNCHES the engine…

  4. Precisely. I love the idea that the lead characters of the series are souls connected through time, but this can only work I feel if it’s a substantial part of the show as a whole, but it’s not, it’s essentially just a part of a stand alone and they’ve merely filtered it through this week’s guest character.

    As for Morgan and Wong, they were still writing for the series as if they’ve come back to the middle of season two, that the key developments in the relationship and the mythology have not happened. They’ve made the soul of the CSM a Gestapo in World War II, yet in Apocrypha he was already working as the man that we know and love and hate in a 1953 flashback, which of course will be contradicted yet again in Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man.

    Nice find with the deleted scene by the way.

    • That’s such a perfect summary right there.

      I’ve been obsessively reading through that Morgan and Wong interview and I’ll get into MOCSM in a couple of days, but I think their timeline issues to an extent are a result of their disconnect from the show. CSM’s history in this episode doesn’t even match the the history they set up for him two episodes later! Let alone Apocrypha. And it’s a history that they apparently planned to be cannon.

      Sigh.

  5. Where was Chris Carter when this mess was written? He is the one that should be checking the context/continuity of the story within the XF universe.

    I did like the premise of the story, but obviously the soul-mates should be Mulder and Scully.

    • That was Morgan’s comment about the CSM backstory mix-up in the upcoming Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man. Someone more familiar with the mythology on the staff should’ve caught it. But we’ll get to that!

    • After Season 10, I think it’s perfectly safe to say that Carter has no interest in the context/continuity of the stories within the XF universe…

  6. A right on-the-spot analysis.
    I roll my eyes every time Scully says “I wouldn’t change a day. Well maybe that flukeman thing.” I would expect her to say, “Except for the death of my sister”, as it was work-related. But then I might just be too dramatic, whatever.
    Well, as you said, at least there were some nice shots.

  7. I like the idea of past lives, but this one was just like, what?! I’m always left semi-confused by what I just saw. For once I can say I didn’t like the purple prose in this one. Not when Mulder is waxing poetic over someone else. Blah!

    • In their defense, the poem in the teaser is real and legitimately purple. But the whole thing is overwrought and melodramatic and 19th Century poetry just adds to that effect. It’s really hard to buy Mulder distraught over this woman. In fact, it’s impossible.

  8. So, my re-watch of The X-Files takes place primarily via HuluPlus on my phone at the gym. I watch at least one episode almost every morning — sometimes more, depending on how much time I have. It’s great; I’m always excited to get out of bed and head to the gym even when it’s still dark outside and I know I’ll probably be at work for 14 hours that day (woe is me, am I right?).

    Anyway, after “Unruhe,” I saw this episode was next, and I was like, “Ugh please no.” And I just couldn’t do it right away. I had to go and watch 3 episodes of Lost in between. A 3-day break! Insanity! But then I put on my big-girl pants and finally got it done.

    I’ll be interested to see how many episodes of Lost I have to watch before I can sit through “Never Again.” That episode is to me what this episode is to you.

    • “But then I put on my big-girl pants and finally got it done.”

      That’s it. That’s it exactly. That’s the only way I made it through The Field Where I Died… and Never Again for that matter.

      P.S. 14 hours? No wonder you have to start the day with The X-Files!

    • Whoa. X-Files while working out? Me thinks you’re brilliant.

    • God bless the first world. The idea of watching something online (let alone via your phone, not a computer) is laughable where I live (in South Africa). Then again, it’s probably healthier for me and my obsessive streak that I can only watch old episodes on DVD at home.

      • Healthier, yes. The convenience and options I have in terms of having access to everything related to this show – well, it’s just dangerous.

  9. I have to say that being the first time watching the episode I really love the fact that nobody likes this epidose except me. I really love this episode!!! Ignoring the weird and poor parts to it I think I like it just based on how Maulder’s and Scully’s portray themselves in it. The stroy isnt the strongest but the characterization they portray is the key. The dumb story was just needed to get this across.

    Granted this is coming from someone who hasnt seen the series before and doesnt know how it all ends but it brings about something of my own beliefs and I truely think the episode does more then the regular episode.

    Granted ive always liked the odd (That Jose Chung episode was dirt IMO), so yeah im not suprised but I think the episode was one of the better ones. One that makesw you think and is different for the regular episode. I appreciate that. Plus I find the ignorable, ignorable.

    I do have to say thanks to everyone else, its great to see the feedback people have. I love reading this stuff 😀

  10. You are a better person than I. I skipped this episode because I couldn’t bear to watch it again. Reading through all the comments though really got my wheels turning. Where ~was~ Chris Carter for this hot mess? It was brutal (from a hardcore shipper perspective, that is), and even from the noromo perspective, I just don’t think in general it was a true testament to their partnership. Meh.

  11. Funny, that you would want to skip over this episode too; I thought I was the only one who hated it. During my recent marathon, I forced myself to watch it due to… well I don’t know. OCD? Respect for the show to watch EACH one in succession, regardless, it was forty-eight minutes of my life (or any previous ones) I’ll never get back.

    • It’s funny how respect for such a great show prompts one to play even episodes you know aren’t worth it. There’s something about seeing the whole big picture.

      But this one… once is enough.

  12. I thought I am the only one who finds that episode boring, unnecessary and wrong on many levels. I didn’t like Duchovny’s acting in this one, he gets overemotional, it looks forced, and accidentally funny sometimes. I find the idea of a random character put into the story like that ridiculous. Absurd. It’s like the writers were disrespecting towards not only the storyline, but also the audience. I never knew there was a story about one of the writer’s girlfriend behind this, that would explain a lot.

    • Maybe it’s forced because the material doesn’t make sense and his performance can’t naturally flow from that? I’m speculating because I agree. And he’s so good, so subtle otherwise. *Look what you did to David!*

      It’s amazing that so many fans feel insulted or slightly disrespected watching this one. That can’t be a coincidence.

    • Explains SO much!

  13. The worst Morgan & Wong episode. The whole premise is ridiculous, and annoying. Not just to shippers, to anyone. Mulder had cried in the past, but here, Duchovny makes the funniest faces while crying. The only highlight for me (aside of Snow’s music and Bowman’s directing) is the first act with the Waco/Jonestown like scenario. Wish they had done something different with that.
    Just to put things in perspective, I’ve come to like “Never Again” despite hating it when it first aired, and for years after that. I think “Never Again” actually works, “TFWID” will never work for me.

    • Same here. I don’t know if I like “Never Again” but I have much more respect for what it was doing now. This one gets worse, not better as the years go by. That says something.

  14. The sad thing is that “The Field Where I Died” is actually my favorite title of any X Files episode. I don’t know why I like the sound of it so much. Maybe it’s because it sounds like a book title…if only the episode had thrilled me as much as the title did 🙂

  15. The two good parts of this episode, in my opinion:
    1. The music. The chant at the end was chilling and the horn solo was beautiful. Maybe I should just watch with my eyes closed.
    2. The first part of the scene in the field. I liked the description of the American Civil War and all the horror that came with it, and the Southern accent was a nice touch. This was the actress’s highlight. I wish they’d used the Civil War theme in another (better) episode. And a Revolutionary War one would have been nice.
    Other than that…blagh.

    • The poignancy of the war could have worked with The X-Files… say, what was with Morgan & Wong and the Civil War this season? First “Home”, now this. Were they watching The History Channel?

  16. I don’t know of any other show that is, at times, physically painful for me to watch.

    Also, I love this blog. I never dreamed I would find a voice that so perfectly matched the “musings” in my own head. I’m a blogger by trade, and I really can’t express how impressive your posts are, not just because they feature a topic I consider mythic in essence, but because you write for the Internet so well and so simultaneously beautifully. I have spent precious sleeping hours just reading your summaries and gone to work a zombie just to consume one more delicious post. It’s validating and incredibly exciting to find such an intelligent voice in the conversation(s) around something I will never be able to control my obsession with. Thank you.

    Sorry my message of deep appreciation appears below your review of an episode that quite seriously gives me a stomach ache and distorts my facial expressions (when I’m not covering my eyes or simply unable to force myself to look at the screen). I doubt I’ve seen this one more than once.

    • Oh my goodness, I don’t deserve all that. Really. This was an exercise in indulgence and is sometimes highly awkward. But what makes me so happy is finding like minds! There are people who were watching the same thing and feeling the same way! I feel like The X-Files does something to people. They aren’t just sentimental about it, they fall permanently in love with it.

      And… This one upsets my stomach too.

      Messages of deep appreciation are deeply appreciated wherever and whenever they come.

      Happy New Year!!

      • “Exactly which version of Mulder was a soulmate of Sidney’s??”

        See, this is what I keep thinking about, too. This episode seems to rely on the distinct ideas of multiple personalities and past lives simultaneously. I just re-watched it and re-read your review and the comments here. I think I’ve come to believe that the “souls” Mulder is chasing are like, transient. I would buy there is a soul floating around the universe that is mated to another soul and these souls come to hang out with Melissa and Mulder for the duration of this case because of Mulder’s proximity to it and his heightened sensitivity to the paranormal … Maybe what we’re dealing with here isn’t so much a case about reincarnation as it is about possession — something very much part of X-Files canon and a phenomenon Mulder has been susceptible to in the past. Souls possessing Melissa and Mulder, but not necessarily latent and eternal. Of course, there’s the hypnosis stuff, but false memories brought to life via hypnosis aren’t unprecedented on The X-Files, either, and if these can be implanted via human means, I’m fully ready to accept these star-crossed eternal lovers as capable of the same. I think Melissa might be sort of a repository for multiple souls, hence her multiple “personalities.” Sarah is one of them. And Mulder’s Sullivan is acting through Mulder to get back to Sarah. Why Mulder? Because Ephesian is a lunatic and Mulder is … Mulder. The perfect vessel for an angsty self-righteous soldier-lover who is in love with a woman in the medical “field” and believes fiercely and to-the-death that he’s fighting for the right side.

        Whew. I’m feeling ok about this episode now … Thanks for indulging my own “musings.”

        • I would buy there is a soul floating around the universe that is mated to another soul and these souls come to hang out with Melissa and Mulder for the duration of this case because of Mulder’s proximity to it and his heightened sensitivity to the paranormal … Maybe what we’re dealing with here isn’t so much a case about reincarnation as it is about possession — something very much part of X-Files canon and a phenomenon Mulder has been susceptible to in the past. Souls possessing Melissa and Mulder, but not necessarily latent and eternal.

          I would much sooner buy Mulder as a temporary house or vehicle. That’s much more palatable.

          Mulder. The perfect vessel for an angsty self-righteous soldier-lover who is in love with a woman in the medical “field” and believes fiercely and to-the-death that he’s fighting for the right side.

          I see what you did there.

          Whatever you have to do to be able to watch this episode and sleep at night.

  17. Pingback: Hellbound 9×4: I just know I need to solve this. | Musings of an X-Phile

  18. I’m still only in Season One of my re-watch of the series (I won’t say of the entire series, because I am selectively skipping a few), but I had to check out your take on this one. And I have to say, I agree with you pretty much every step of the way. The only thing that made this episode even remotely watchable is the atmosphere. And thankfully, that’s mostly what I remember. It’s beautiful and eerie and melancholy, like an old gothic novel.

    Sort of makes me think of the setting for the movie Crimson Peak. The visuals were gorgeous and transporting; the script sucked.

    I was also intrigued by the theme of things being hidden underground — y’know, like past lives… weapons caches, those sorts of things. The promise of what this episode could have been makes it even more disappointing, along with the fact that it was a mere vanity piece. It FEELS like it’s saying something significant, but in the end, it’s just a whole lot of nothing.

    P. S., the song “Ghost of Freedom” by Iced Earth contains the line ‘in the field where I died,’ and it always makes me think of this episode, for better or worse.

    • Agreed! TFWID looks and feels beauiful… then what the heck?? It actually heightens the disappointment.

      I was also intrigued by the theme of things being hidden underground — y’know, like past lives… weapons caches, those sorts of things.

      That’s a great observation. I didn’t catch that, but if I ever watch TFWID again in life, I’m going to look out for it.

      P.S. I wonder if the song came before or after this episode? Or maybe it was a reference to the original poem? Interesting.

  19. Sorry for the extra comment, but reading through the others made me think a bit more about this episode…

    Not like it more, mind you.

    Mulder, being a narcissist, is always trying to find things that make him feel special, and to validate his own perception of being a special person. Because, of course, he IS special. His sister was abducted, he’s a (tortured) genius, he’s a lone-wolf (ha! he wishes) FBI agent on a religious crusade, and no one understands him. Not to mention he looks good in a suit.

    So, again, he tends to latch onto things that feed his narcissism, and make them part of his identity. Past lives? Star-crossed lovers? How tragically awesome. One thing that Morgan and Wong got right in this unfortunate outing was Mulder’s attitude toward himself.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I’m a shipper through and through, and I love the Mulder character, but he IS a narcissist. Of COURSE this whole thing is about him, because that’s how he sees the world. EVERYTHING is about him and his quest. It’s HIS story. Shunting Scully off as the eternal sidekick means that she is always with him, supporting him. He’s already conquered her, so she fits quite nicely in the background. In fact he HAS to keep her in the background. Otherwise she might realize that she deserves better than his sorry tail, and leave. At the same time, she’s just loyal, dependable Scully. She’s already on his hook, and so is uninteresting.

    Whereas the Melissa character was doomed from the start, and he knew it. She’s unattainable, and so she IS interesting.

    Happiness is boring, right? There’s nothing creative in happiness. Passion flows from tragedy, and Mulder can’t afford to be bogged down in contentment.

    Besides, if he was content, then Scully might decide he doesn’t need her anymore, and since he’s already made her part of his identity, she can’t possibly be allowed to leave.

    • Mmm… I can’t read Mulder as a narcissist. True, he has narcissistic moments and can be incredibly self-centered like all of humanity. But as early as “One Breath” he sacrifices his quest just to be at a dying Scully’s bedside. And then in “End Game” he trades the woman he thought was his long lost sister Samantha for Scully. And again in “Paper Clip” he physically hands over all the answers he’s been searching for in exchange for Scully being able to visit a dying Melissa. This is all before TFWID and the cancer arc that bonded them further. And, of course, isn’t including all the little moments in between where Mulder risks his own safety for Scully’s. A true narcissist isn’t capable of that kind of self-sacrifice.

      I read Mulder as consumed by his own loss, not as trying to constantly recreate that loss so as to validate himself. I think he really believes he can redeem that loss and find some sort of peace if he gets to the answers.

      He *DOES*, though, tend to forget, because of her own loyalty and devotion, that Scully isn’t as invested in this thing as he is. Then again, other times he remembers and either tells her to get away and save herself, or like in “End Game” he knows she’ll try to help him and refuses to let her take that risk – he ran off without telling her for that express reason.

      And I do think that Morgan & Wong, also Darin Morgan episodes, liked to highlight that self-absorbed aspect of Mulder’s character… which makes me slightly frightened about some aspects of the revival.

      • All very valid points, and looking over what I wrote, it sounds kind of mean. But I think Mulder is a narcissist in a very childlike kind of way, not a malicious way. Scully is good for him precisely because she challenges him. I don’t think he would have given up the things he did for anyone else. But there are plenty of times that he overlooks the greater good (HER greater good) for the sake of his quest.

        Also, how many times did he blame himself for dragging her into something, when she went along of her own volition? Wallowing in guilt and self-pity is another form of narcissism.

        I do think the times that he gave up the quest for her were the moments when he was able to look past himself, past her image as an aspect of his own reflection, and saw her as a separate person that was worth more than the quest.

        And maybe what I’m seeing as narcissism is really just an extremely single-minded focus that she is occasionally able to jolt him out of, forcing him to recognize that there is a world outside of his head.

        Or maybe I’m just over-romanticizing it. 😛

        • That wasn’t mean. I’ve read much meaner things about Mulder, believe me.

          But there are plenty of times that he overlooks the greater good (HER greater good) for the sake of his quest.

          He does. Mulder is, at heart, a religious man. Which is why nothing in life is more important that finding the Truth with a capital “T.” His life has no meaning without the answers that will redeem his loss and his broken family. Because he sees the key to all life in this quest of his, he sometimes either forgets or ignores the fact that Scully isn’t always all that interested.

          Wallowing in guilt and self-pity is another form of narcissism.

          You’ll get no argument from me! And he certainly does that in “Gethsemane”. Though, playing devil’s advocate again, he had ample reason to feel stupid and guilty at that point.

          And maybe what I’m seeing as narcissism is really just an extremely single-minded focus that she is occasionally able to jolt him out of, forcing him to recognize that there is a world outside of his head.

          *nods* I may be over-romanticizing it too, but that’s what I see.

  20. Pingback: I Want to Believe: I don’t think I’m the one who’s changed. | Musings of an X-Phile

  21. I’m like you, when I get on a rewatch marathon, i’m always tempted to skip this one.
    And yet I still force myself to watch, and every time I fall asleep.

    There was, like you said, a production, value. Now that I watch the episodes in HD (1080p), the shots in the field really are beautiful. So is the score.

    But the episode is so boring, the story so uninteresting, the “personnalities” of Melissa so lame (Sidney = lmfao) that you only have one wish half-way through the episode : it’s end.

  22. Yes, the concept was interesting, but poorly executed. Not to mention like you said the lack of continuity of this episode, as well as the temporal problem (CSM past life…)
    Maybe the story was too long to be developped into 40 minutes. Those cuts the director did were deadly to the episode and increased the lack of believability of the story.

    Really nice review you did there by the way.

  23. Number One: I think it’s funny that so many people have commented (and re-commented *ahem*) on this episode, since it’s so well-loathed.

    Number Two: Aside from the awful script and the bad acting, what I most dislike about this episode is that it was kind of like … asking your parents for a pony. You’ve been asking them for a pony for a really long time. And they keep telling you “No.” But you keep asking anyway, because you really, really want a pony, and you think maybe one morning when you wake up (or perhaps, one Friday night when you turn on your television), there’s going to be a pony waiting for you outside.

    Well, this episode was like when your parents tell you “No” for the last time, and you know that the answer really is “NO.”

    No, you’re NOT going to ever get a pony.

    No, Mulder and Scully are NOT going to ever be in a romantic relationship.

    Even though that actually isn’t what wound up happening in the end, that’s what it felt like at the time, breaking my poor 15 year old heart. And even though I continued to watch it all the way up to the seventh season, I felt a bit of detachment begin. They were never going to give me what I wanted, so I was not able to enjoy or anticipate it quite as much as I had before that episode. The beginning of the end, for me.

    Til now, of course. 🙂

  24. Omg I didn’t know you hated TFWID that much 😀 Ok, it’s not the best episode of season 4 which is my favourite season of all but not that bad either. The opening is beautiful with amazing music. And I just love this http://xfphotos.fredfarm.com/season4/tfwid/cap119.jpg

    Yes I’m shipper a big time. Still this episode doesn’t bother me.

    I don’t know if I’m understanding this all wrong because my english is not that good BUT when Mulder says to Scully: “Dana, if, um, early in the four years we’ve been working together… an event occurred that suggested or somebody told you that… we’d been friends together, in other lifetimes… always… wouldn’t it have changed some of the ways we looked at one another?” I think by saying that Mulder means that they are MORE than friends. And nothing can’t change that. Even though they have been friends in other lifetimes in this life they are more than that.

    And when Scully says “Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn’t change a day.” I think she means the same. Even if she knew their destiny is to be friends it wouldn’t change her feelings. She would stil love Mulder.

    Am I totally wrong? I think there are many beautiful Mulder/Scully moments here. And I’m alway happy when episode somehow deals with their relationship. That is always interesting and gets my heart racing. Like Never Again. I love that episode because there is so much going on with Mulder and Scully. I rather watch that kind of episodes.

    • Oooo. I won’t say you’re wrong, and it’s certainly a more palatable interpretation. But Morgan & Wong were pretty open about trying to make the platonic nature of Mulder and Scully’s relationship clear, which was exactly what Chris Carter used to insist on. If I ever bother to watch it again, though, I’m going at it from your angle. LOL

      Your English is excellent, by the way!

      • Thank you 🙂 I found your blog just recently and I love it so much!

        I’m also thinking that Mulder became obsessed with the case. That’s pretty typical Mulder. For a moment this case was his whole life and that’s why he felt so connected with Melissa. And when time passed he probably forgot Melissa and all hypnosis crap 😀 We have seen it before.

        It’s been actually a few years since I watched TFWID. I have to admit that it’s one of those episodes I subconsciously avoid. But when I’m going to watch it I will be wearing rose-tinted shipper spectacles. That’s my coping strategy.

  25. I watched this for the 1st time last night and as I shipper I feel disgusted. How to get over it???

    • Inspirational Mulder and Scully fanvids on YouTube.

    • I like to wash out my eyes with Shipper Soap, like “The Post-Modern Prometheus”.

    • Thanks guys! I watched Post-Modern Prometheus today and tbh I found it a little disturbing… although the dance scene was certainly nice. However the previous episode, Detour, was truly a gift!

      As for The Field Where I Died, after some thought I decided to stick to the belief that his regression was in fact BS. I think the contradiction of established canon regarding CSM is enough evidence, right?

  26. At least this episode has a a good dose of Skinner. I cling to that.

  27. Something that always bugged me. Why do all Melissa’s past personalities in her regression have accents and none of Mulder’s do? Aside from maybe that DD can’t do accents. I suppose it’s just more proof that Mulder’s regression is BS.

    I give this ep props for the cinematography which is lovely. And Skinner is LOVELY (duh).

    That’s all I’ve got.

    • I agree with you that Mulder’s regression was BS 😀 I think it was just vivid imagination of a obsessed man who wants to believe so badly talking (no offence 😀 I love Mulder so much but this episode makes me look things differently to make sense…)

  28. Well, I stumbled across your blog just recently (shame on me) since my X-Files fire was heavily sparked off again with the airing of season 10 here in Germany, and I was not aware of how much I missed these two characters since 2008. So I started my own little X-Files marathon from ep 1 a few weeks ago …and yesterday it was TFWID-time.

    Upon first watching in my younger years I didn´t notice how bad acted this episode really was, When re-watching now (“older Budweiser” – sorry for the pun) I found the over-acting by Kristen Cloke really awful. Also David Duchovny´s performance in act 3 is quite embarrassing. The expression on his face is a bit like of a child whose lollipop has been stolen. Don´t get me wrong, I love David Duchovny and when it comes to playing a smart, sexy, wisecracking FBI agent (or his evil twin Hank Moody) he´s first choice. But in comparison to Gillian Anderson, his acting is a bit limited (to put it politely – pretty sure we´ll never see him in an adaption of Charles Dickens…) Of course it´s a poor script too, so not only Double-D is to blame.

    Anyway, what I really wanted to say: I love your blog (some deep story analysis here – makes me look like a XF newbie) and I´m looking forward to read the rest of the reviews up to unholy season 9 And sorry for my poor English.

  29. I love your blog and thoroughly have enjoyed all that I’ve read so far.
    Thank you for doing so 🙂

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