Never Again 4×13: You’d break my heart over a cheap redhead?


Walking in Memphis.

Before we start, let’s take a moment to consider what could have been:

“They had long wanted to write a story about Lincoln’s ghost haunting the White House, and thought this would work splendidly on The X-Files; finally, Mulder and Scully go to the White House! But their disappointment over the changes they were forced to make ‘Musings of Cigarette Smoking Man’ caused them to withhold the ghost story and look for something else. ‘I had done a lot of research and I had always wanted to write a feature about Lincoln’s ghost,’ Morgan said, ‘But I felt they didn’t want my heart and soul anymore, so I wouldn’t give this one to them.’

Why cast pearls before swine? Instead of Lincoln’s ghost, we got Jodie Foster’s disembodied voice. It’s a pretty even trade.

I don’t like this episode. And I know that just as much as it was hated when it first aired it’s become something of a critic’s darling over the years. Even so, I still can’t see it. I think most of this praise stems from the fact that the episode and the content thereof is admittedly daring for The X-Files. But showing us a new side of Scully’s character, while a worthy goal, isn’t merit enough for me considering the side the side of Scully they decided to show.

I think the fairest way to look at this episode is the way that writers Morgan and Wong intended it, outside of the shadow of “Leonard Betts” (4×14). These two episodes were shown out of broadcast order because The Powers That Be felt that “Leonard Betts” would be a better episode to air directly after the Super Bowl. I have to say they were right. “Leonard Betts” is a better representation of what the show is all about. “Never Again” not only could potentially alienate a large segment of fans (the Shippers), but it could leave the new audience that Fox was trying to recruit a little confused. After all, unless you know the history of Mulder and Scully’s day-to-day relationship this episode loses a lot of its power.

So for the majority of this review, I’m going to consider the episode as written: Scully has no idea that she may have cancer. Her actions have no impetus or inspiration outside of her own psyche.

There’s an interesting assumption subtly put forth here in the beginning of the episode that Mulder and Scully have a lot more cases, most of them mundane and unfruitful, than we as the audience get to see. It’s actually a great idea and would explain why Scully’s skepticism still holds sway even in the face of all that she’s seen if she’s actually seen more that can be dismissed than that can be proved. The problem is, as late as “Teliko” (4×4) Scully is typing up case report #74, which is the same as the episode number give or take a combined abduction arc or two. That would mean that up to this point in the series, what we’ve seen is all there is to see. And if Scully’s seen exactly what we’ve seen, her petulant ennui seems rather misplaced. At the very least, she shouldn’t dismiss Mulder and his informant so easily. What was that she said to Mulder way back in “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (1×23)? “I should know by now to trust your instincts.”

Sometimes I think Morgan and Wong were reading from a completely new playbook.

Not that their unfortunate characterization of Mulder is completely out of left field. He is rather self-righteous and self-absorbed. But he’s certainly proven that he can be selfless when it comes to Scully. Episodes such as “End Game” (2×17) and “Paper Clip” (3×2) are evidence enough of this. Sure, when he says obnoxiously obtuse things like, “You don’t want it to be?,” in response to Scully’s complaint that his work has become her life, he’s rather asking for a slap. But then again, hasn’t she already affirmed in episodes like “Herrenvolk” (4×1) that they’re in this thing together? Hasn’t he given her escape routes that she refuses to take in episodes like “Tooms” (1×21) and “End Game”? If Mulder is presumptuous when it comes to Scully, it’s only because she’s set herself up for it by being so faithful.

What’s more, this line always raises my eyebrow:

Scully: Refusing an assignment? It makes it sound like you’re my superior.

Reality check, Scully. I believe he is.

Oh, I don’t know if he’s technically her superior, but he’s certainly the Senior Agent having graduated from Quantico 4 years before Scully even began at the Academy. Not to mention that he’s way ahead of her in this whole paranormal gig. And as far as her holding down the fort while Mulder’s on vacation, isn’t that her job? Is she even allowed to refuse an assignment except that her close relationship with Mulder gives her leave to do so?

Considering the nature of their working relationship and the precedents she herself has set, Mulder’s annoyance at Scully’s sudden shift in behavior is somewhat justified.

“I thought Scully gets jerked around a lot by Mulder, and this is time for her to stand up for herself,” Morgan said… Sometimes friends suddenly seem troubled and you don’t know why and they won’t tell you. I think he is concerned, even though they get into a little fight… Scully doesn’t do a good job at telling him what’s wrong. She’s inarticulate about it, and I don’t think he understands what she’s trying to say. Mulder should have said, ‘Well, what’s making you feel this way?’ or ‘I don’t understand.’ But in the case of a lot of friends, he just gets frustrated, and sort of blows out. He’s a psychologist, but when it comes to his own life, it’s a forest for the trees type situation. It’s just too close to him.”

Ah, yes. The fight.

The fact that Scully doesn’t have a desk makes Mulder look like a jackass. But frankly, “Why don’t I have a desk?” is a silly question. “Why haven’t I asked for a desk?” is a better one. I’m sure she can requisition one without Mulder’s assistance. (In Morgan and Wong’s defense, this argument was inspired by internet fans whose hawk-like eyes had noticed that Scully still hadn’t earned a place to sit in 4 years).

This sudden wedge between them feels slightly artificial, especially since we know that Scully takes over the desk any old time she pleases. Without the context that “Leonard Betts” gives, it seems as though the writers are looking for an excuse to drive a wedge between our two leads.

“My understanding at the beginning of the year was that we were going to drive to a point where Mulder and Scully didn’t trust each other,” Morgan said. His own scenario for plotting out the season was somewhat different from what Carter and the other writers came up with this year, but the fundamental issue was the same: trust. “I would have slowly split Mulder and Scully up over the course of the season, then in the last episode have Scully put Mulder away for his own good, which he would perceive as the ultimate betrayal,” Morgan said. “And then the next season, they would have had an entire year’s healing to go through.”

And there it is. Yet another example of why it was so important that Chris Carter hold tightly to the reigns of his own creation. It’s not that Morgan’s plan wouldn’t have made for a good drama. And certainly, the 1013 crew did create some tension between Mulder and Scully to keep the audience on their toes. But I dare say that if such a plan had come to fruition, The X-Files would have been The X-Files no longer but some kind of sci-fi soap opera (a fate that it wouldn’t teeter close to till much later in the series).

What if Morgan and Wong’s other plans had gone through? What if Melissa Scully had become Mulder’s love interest? What if CSM had killed Frohike? What if Scully had had sex with Ed Jerse, not just permanently altering her characterization but forever changing the tone of the series? Objectively, I can see why stories like that would be more fun to write. But as a fan, they potentially would have killed my love for the show.

Speaking of sex…

I’ve said before that Mulder and Scully are heroes in the Romantic literary tradition. Humanizing them is one thing. Even Odysseus had his faults. But there’s only so, well, “gritty” you can make a hero before they lose their status altogether. If we had witnessed the same Scully who once famously said, “Hard to imagine in this day and age someone having sex with a perfect stranger,” do the deed with a perfect stranger after only a few drinks to numb her inhibitions, she would have lost her dignity.

Look at the reaction the Detectives have to finding her in Ed Jerse’s apartment the morning after. Do they take her seriously in that disheveled condition? Hardly. And as a woman in the F.B.I., Scully would have had to work hard for her reputation and for respect. A woman with so much to lose would be more cautious. To not do so could put her career at risk.

“As to why it was cut, Morgan said that Carter and the other writers felt that every other woman on television was jumping into bed, and they had worked very hard to differentiate Scully from other female television characters. Morgan’s response: ‘She’s different, but the way she is now, she’s not human.’”

It’s not human to be celibate? Or to at least hold out for a while? Scully doesn’t have to be realistic a la The Sopranos to be believable. Besides, Scully is a sentimentalized vision, as is Mulder in his own way. Scully represents an ideal of intelligent, unexploited womanhood. Taint that at your own peril.

Scully: Sometimes I wish I were that impulsive.

Ed Jerse isn’t even Scully’s type. Judging by her past and future track record in episodes like “Lazarus” (1×14) and “all things” (7×17) she’s more into the intellectual sort as a rule. This is rebellion. Pure and simple. That said, unlike Mulder and Melissa in “The Field Where I Died” (4×5), their chemistry is believable, even if it’s not of the life long sort. Besides, he doesn’t seem to be bothered when he essentially tells him that he’s nothing more than a proverbial giant pack of cigarettes to her.

But, why Ed Jerse and why now? She sees the picture in his apartment with his face burned out. She knows this man is troubled. Such reckless behavior is unlike Scully who here-to-fore has been rational to a fault.

“My gut feeling is that Scully does see Mulder as a father figure,” Morgan said… “In ‘Never Again,’ I don’t know if she’s rejecting the message, but she’s rejecting the father. At times their relationship becomes so oppressive. When I was married and unhappy, I would just go through these things where things would build up, and then I would just do something stupid. And I’d go, ‘What the hell is that? That’s not even me.’”

I’ve already made an argument for why I don’t think the comparison between Bill Scully and Mulder is on point. The details are in my review for “Quagmire” (3×22), but to summarize, just because Scully called her father “Ahab” does not mean that he was actually an Ahab-like figure the way that Mulder is. Bill Scully was no post-modern Don Quixote, unlike Mulder who wears his hopeful neediness on his sleeve. Rather, I believe that Scully sees Mulder as this tragically heroic figure, one whose quest she’s drawn to at least partially out of her own sense of awe and adventure. Again, this is why stripping Mulder and/or Scully of the Romantic aura that surrounds them would disrupt the whole course of the show.

Scully: I’ve always gone around in this, uh… this circle. It usually starts when an authoritative or a controlling figure comes into my life.

Mulder? Authoritative? Controlling? “All consuming,” I’ll give you. But despite the fact that he has a very effective puppy dog face, Mulder is certainly no puppet master. And as far as authoritative, Scully’s consistently sarcastic remarks in response to his theories would say otherwise. This is hardly a teacher-pupil relationship. Scully brings just as much to the table as Mulder. And yet, here she is painted as that same, stupid little girl sucking poison into her lungs not because she likes cigarettes, but because some perverse part of her wants to piss off the father she loves and that she knows loves her. It’s rebellion at its silliest.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand that Scully wants to be her own person. That’s a natural desire and it can’t be discounted. Mulder’s right, they do need to spend some time apart so that Scully can remember who she is and what she wants. If this episode achieves anything, it forces both Mulder and Scully to recognize just how entrenched their relationship has become, such that both are unsure of their identities without it.

“I feel that Mulder had come to respect that there’s more to this than just him, that Scully is now a part of his life and he’s a part of hers. I think that she learned the danger of exploring the rebellious side, and that it has to be accompanied by responsibility. What she did almost got her killed.”

Their communication skills leave something to be desired. But since the very next episode leaves the events of “Never Again” all but forgotten, I think we can safely say that no permanent damage was done. Not that they didn’t come very, very close what with Mulder making cavalier jokes about Scully’s tattoo and all.

“’I hope we helped Chris out,’ Wong concluded. ‘I think we did a good job. It was a lot of work; we basically did a season’s work in half a season, but I hope that didn’t show in the quality of our X-Files and Millennium episodes. We have very fond thoughts of the people we worked with.’”

Morgan and Wong did do an awesome job, even if much of their work on Season 4 leaves me a little wary and grateful that they decided to move on when they did. Some seasons of life are good while they last, but they shouldn’t be artificially enjoyed past their expiration date. Besides, the quality of their work has never been in doubt. It’s their X-Files philosophy that I sometimes take issue with.

Oh, I know that Mulder and Scully aren’t perfect. And they don’t act perfectly toward each other. But imperfect doesn’t automatically translate to dysfunctional. Why do we have to believe that they’re together because of some twisted and unhealthy psychological need?

There’s a far more simple and compelling, if less melodramatic explanation: They’re friends.

Verdict:

Taking this episode as it was aired, after “Leonard Betts”, everything about it is much easier to accept. Scully doesn’t know how long she has to live, so why not throw off any and all constraints? There’s always a risk of infection and allergic reactions with tattoos, not to mention the risks involved in sex with a stranger, all things that Scully, as a doctor, would be more than aware of. But if she’s dying anyway, what’s the use in being the good girl? In the light of cancer, seeing Scully suddenly question the trajectory of her life makes perfect sense. What was satisfactory a week ago when you thought you had all the time in the world to find the things you want in life suddenly looks bland and meaningless.

Yet even considering that, there’s only so “grounded” these characters can be and still be able to function in a series where the fantastic happens on the regular. Like it or not, Mulder is the Indiana Jones of the F.B.I. We can’t hate Indy and cheer him on.

I confess I still don’t understand sending Scully to the dark side without rhyme, reason or impetus. It’s hard to reconcile this new image of Scully with the fact that her biggest rebellion on record is giving up medicine… to work for the government.

B

P.S. The excerpts are from an interview with Morgan and Wong that can be found here: http://etc1013.wordpress.com/1997/10/01/cinefantastique-4/

Running Commentary:

Scully has a fight scene for the second episode in a row. Rock on, Scully.

It’s always more believable when Mulder and Scully seek and discover an X-File rather than when an X-File stumbles upon them.

Scully pieces together that the blood with the strange toxicology found in the victim’s apartment is most likely Ed’s. Ergo, she must realize there’s a good chance he’s the killer, yet she unloads her suspicions on him without any precautions as though a trip to the doctor’s office is all that’s in order. Is she just taking “innocent until proven guilty” to a ridiculous extreme? Woman, you should have had your gun in hand.

It’s interesting to note that there were some reservations about the script of “Small Potatoes” (4×20) calling for a near kiss between “Mulder” and Scully after he plies her with some alcohol. After all, no one wanted Scully to appear easy…

“In December 1996 someone on the old AOL discussion group posted that they wished Scully would get a love interest. Glen Morgan emailed the person and told her that he was writing just that, and for ‘Shippers to be afraid … be very afraid.’ This caused a heated debate among Shippers/Non-Shippers/Shipper Haters and everyone else. As a result, Morgan posted something on AOL to defend himself: ‘Well, this is almost as embarrassing as the recent Chargers-Patriots game. I swear … I have nothing against either side. Mulder and Scully may love each other, they may not. But, as in any relationship, it should be challenged to see if it is strong. Long live the debate! I love this series. I love the fans. I *HATE* Entertainment Weekly (as long as we’re being honest). Jim and I would never write anything with the sole intention of making anyone angry. If that is a reaction to an episode, however, great! It’s better than being boring. The comment that was posted was a joke. And if it was meant to be a public joke, then it would have been. My apologies if anyone was upset. Never again — Glen.’” Source: http://cleigh6.tripod.com/CTP/CTP-neveragain.html

Best Quotes:

Scully: Your contact, while interesting in the context of science fiction was… at least in my memory, recounting a poorly veiled synopsis of an episode of Rocky & Bullwinkle.
Mulder: “Eenie Weenie Chili Beanie, the spirits are about to speak?”
Scully: Rocky and Bullwinkle are looking for an Upsidasian mine. Boris Badenov alters the road signs, which causes them to walk onto a secret military base, where they are picked up by a car with no windows and no door locks, and there are silent explosions from a compound called Hush-a-boom.
Mulder: So you’re refusing an assignment based on the adventures of… [Boris Badenov voice] “Moose and Squirrel?”

———————

Scully: Sometimes I wish I were more impulsive.
Ed Jerse: Careful what you wish for.

———————

Scully: Look, Mulder, I have to go.
Mulder: What? You got a date or something?
Scully: [Silence]
Mulder: You… you’re kidding.
Scully: I have everything under control. I will talk to you later.

———————-

Mulder: All this because I… because I didn’t get you a desk?
Scully: Not everything is about you, Mulder. This is my life.
Mulder: Yes, but it’s m…

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117 responses to “Never Again 4×13: You’d break my heart over a cheap redhead?

  1. I actually liked it a lot better as an interlude following ‘Leonard Betts.’ Your criticisms of it as a stand-alone are reasonable, but the length and veracity of the arguments reveal the author’s bias: Scully is a ‘sacred cow’ of sorts, and to see her act out or behave differently strikes a nerve!

    To just breed conflict for the sake of, as it seems Morgan and Wong wanted to, is certainly silly, and worthy of all admonishments here received. However, when(if) it’s function is to show how deeply troubled a character is (as is the case if we take ‘Never Again’ to follow ‘Leonard Betts’), I myself found it to be really effective.

    Plus Jodie Foster does a good job, and we got the visual that you used to open the post, both of which have value in and of themselves.

    • Oh, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that seeing Scully act out strikes a nerve. She’s pushed back against Mulder before and she’ll do so again, quite legitimately. In fact, like you, I think that this episode works when taken as aired, after Leonard Betts.

      But as originally intended, it’s not Scully’s behavior in and of itself that strikes a nerve, but her motivations that would prompt such a drastic change in behavior. I don’t think they gave Scully a legitimate reason to rebel, outside of the history of Leonard Betts, that is.

      P.S. Mulder’s pilgrimage to Graceland is hilarious.

  2. Seriously Salome, this is one of the best write ups on any X File I’ve ever read. I don’t necessarily agree with everything you say (on an entertainment level, I love Never Again, it’s one of my favourites of the season if I’m entirely honest), but the points you’ve made interspersed with interview quotes from Morgan and Wong is fantastic, this is a piece of work that you should be really proud off.

    I do have issues with Morgan and Wong’s attitude though to the series in general though during season four. They were Co-Executive Producers on seasons one and two. If they had stayed with the series it’s more than likely they would have become fully fledged Executive Producers from season three onwards, but they left to make Space and Howard Gordon and Frank Spotnitz became Chris’ right hand men and by season four Vince Gilligan was rising through the ranks as well. It seems to me that Morgan and Wong seemed to have thought that when they returned to the show that they would be back to their normal positions of power and be seemingly steering a large chunk of the creative course of the series but had to contend not only with Chris’s issues with some of their decisions, but those of the writers who had taken their place. At the end of the day they were ‘consulting producers’ on season four and were only being asked to contribute work, not steer a course for the series. I enjoyed their work this final year I won’t lie, but their frustrations at Fox and subsequently with Ten Thirteen themselves seems to give their work an acidic flavour that can be a little uncomfortable at times.

    • Aw, well isn’t that sweet of you!

      I hope I didn’t come across as too dour though. There are a lot of worthy things about this episode, mainly the performances, that keep me from downgrading it the way I did The Field Where I Died. And I can’t help feeling that Bowman did a better job than Tarantino could have. This way the episode belonged to the character rather than the director.

      I agree that there’s a slightly acerbic undertone to some of the Season 4 proceedings. Or maybe it’s a subtext that’s purely the result of knowing too much. I wasn’t even aware of that backstory, but I have read that Morgan and Wong’s contract with Fox required them to come back to The X-Files only if Space: Above and Beyond failed. Needless to say, they didn’t return crowned with laurels. I can’t really blame them for being a little disconnected. Even once they returned they were still working on a new pilot and eager to pursue their own project. Not only that, but Morgan was going through a difficult time personally and I think that came out in his work.

      None of that’s bad, it just made them strange bedfellows for a bit there.

      • I didn’t know that it was a contract thing that made them come back to The X Files, I always assumed that they came back to the series as a favour to Chris following the cancellation of Space. Well, well, isn’t that something.

  3. I’m glad Morgan and Wong’s plans didn’t go through…I don’t think I would have continued watching if they were going to be fighting the whole season. Especially if Scully had “put Mulder away for his own good.” What does that even mean?!

  4. I like this episode as a whole. Strike that. I really like Mulder’s trip to Graceland.
    I agree that Scully is a ‘sacred cow’ (it’s the whole madonna/whore thing, right?) but I was thrilled to see her shed her inhibitions (and her clothes), stop being a good girl, and get some. Huzzah to reckless behavior!
    But this is what bothers me about ‘Never Again’–I think it’s shitty that she gets punished for her promiscuity (how slasher film of them!) at the end. Well, at least they didn’t kill her.
    I think that in all the attempts to make Scully such a ‘strong female’ character the writers/creators forgot that she was a woman and made her completely de-sexualized. The only time we get to see her being sexual or thought of by another character as ‘sexy’ is when she’s under the influence of something (alcohol, hallucinogenic tattoo, or weird Amish dude) or when Mulder isn’t really Mulder (small potatoes and mckean).
    It sucks that Mulder gets to watch porn, flirt, and screw vampires while Scully had to be either duped or drugged to feel free enough to be feminine.
    This is what I recall. Please tell me if there are some instances where this isn’t the case. I know that there is Agent Pendrell (is that his name?) and her ex-flame much later in the series–but to me the first seems so benign and the other very pathetic.

    • I guess it’s just a matter of worldview, but I don’t see it as Scully getting punished for promiscuity as facing some dramatic results for her reckless behavior (it is The X-Files, after all). Honestly, in real life, Ed may not have tried to kill her, but it would have been a troubled relationship in the making.

      And I’ve always seen Scully as distinctly feminine. She’s not having sex but she’s decidedly sexy, just not in a “look at me” sort of way. There are passing comments over the years about her attractiveness, and a few other crushes pop up: scary writer dude in Milagro, creepy insect dude in Lord of the Flies, even the Sheriff in Bad Blood to a certain extent. Then there’s good old Eddie Van Blundht.

      It’s true that most of her crushes aren’t exactly romantic threats. But then again, even Mulder’s porn addiction is painted as benign. It hardly makes him sexual in any believable way. If anything, it emphasizes how de-sexualized he’s become because of his work. Same thing with his flirtations in episodes like War of the Coprophages and Syzygy, they just prove he’s hopeless as a Lothario. The only exception would be his relationship with Diana Fowley which is a rather different circumstance because of her relationship to the mythology. The whole vampire thing in 3 hasn’t been well received to put it mildly, which just goes to show that overall, The X-Files’ audience really didn’t want to see either character in overt or explicit sexual situations.

      • Oh! And how could I forget John Doggett? He was clearly in love with her for a while there.

        • I don’t know about the Doggett thing–I just started that season. Now I’ll keep an eye out for it. And I forgot about Luke Wilson but will never forget about Eddie Van Blundt (he is one of the Mulder but not Mulder instances and “small potatoes” is in my top 5 fave eps).

          I just remember that it was after the 2-episode switcheroo between DD & Michael McKean, which I believe was right around “Triangle” that I said to my bf something along the lines of “what’s with all the Scully being someone else or Mulder being someone else and the going undercover as a married couple…” blah blah blah.

          Huh. But now that I’m thinking of this again, perhaps I’m not so much bothered about Scully’s femininity (or lack thereof), but it seems that there were a good number of episodes that seemed as though they were written specifically for M&S to almost hook up or hint that there was something between them. Were these storylines all for the sake of those whose ship had sailed?

          Not to say that I didn’t enjoy the episodes. “Triangle” was a technical high-point and the waterbed did have a nice payoff. Whatever season that was it seemed forced.

          I will shut-up now.

          BTW, I think Scully is totally hot (well, once they got her out of the boxy jackets and the mom hair) and I am really impressed with your analysis. Did you study film/media?

          • I think you’ll like Doggett. He’s a good character. And thankfully, they didn’t play up that love triangle element too much.

            You’re completely right. What it was is that they were looking for ways to tease the audience without giving them too much of what they were begging for. Arcadia, Rain King, Dreamland, Triangle… I’m a sucker so I enjoyed it for the most part, but by Season 7 they needed to put up or shut up.

            My conscience forces me to keep mum on my background – there are a few professors out there I’m loath to shame. LOL!

        • Yep, agreed. Doggett totally loved him some Scully. But who can blame him?!

          • I was SHOCKED when I found out about that. Watching all of Season 8, I assumed Doggett became kind of a like a protector for her. He saw his new partner was pregnant and was dealing with losing someone close, so he respected her. Then Mulder came back and he felt like he wasn’t needed anymore…

            Afterwards, I heard in a commentary by Frank that he wanted to make Doggett have a crush on her. NO WAY JOSE! That would ruin the dynamic completely. Glad it wasn’t really part of the main plot…

            • I think it was Season 9’s Daemonicus that made his crush explicit, but thankfully, they didn’t take it any further. It would have turned into a soap opera faster than you can say “Reticulan.”

    • “It sucks that Mulder gets to watch porn, flirt, and screw vampires while Scully had to be either duped or drugged to feel free enough to be feminine.”

      I totally agree. We haven’t gotten to this episode yet (my husband and I are watching the whole series again and are on S3 now), but just the thought that Scully will finally get a love interest while Mulder’s been ditching her for so many other girls these last three seasons makes me look forward to rewatching this episode. From my recollection, I’m thinking I would have hoped she would have had a better love interest, one who was actually a healthy, “catch” kind of guy. It has sucked to see Mulder out pursuing all these other girls, coming back to flirt with Scully, then pursuing yet more girls. It’s no wonder Scully hasn’t made any romantic initiative with Mulder. Not with those mixed messages and all the competing love interests.

      Will probably have more to say after I see the episode, but just wanted to say I agree with what you said.

      • Sorry for those of who want Scully to get it on. She did not with Ed jerse. Scully is in love with Mulder she wouldn’t Chris carter said so Gilliam Anderson was dating the actor at the time Gillian wanted to have a fling but carter said no

  5. Yes! I totally agree with Emily! On all points! It excited me to no end to see Scully getting some actual male attention. Im a diehard shipper and love his innuendos, but let’s face it- we knew a lot of the Mulder flirting was in jest. I loved to see her getting some action, even if it was just a VERY shadowed, implied, makeout session. Because it made her that much more human. Granted, I would’ve liked to see her making out with a shirtless Mulder, but I digress…

    I adore this episode- from the interesting music to Jodi Fosters awesome voice performance. Hell, my first tattoo was an ouroborous in my own homage to my all-time favorite character and what the symbol itself represents.

    By the way, I LOVED your review on this. I may not back every point, but it was presented soo eloquently and the interview quotes were fabulous to read. So glad that a lot of what Morgan and wong wanted to do did not come to fruition.

    • Thanks a lot, Maureen! Wow! Now, a tattoo is some serious X-Files devotion.

    • Absolutely!…I agree 110%~ I adore this episode from start to finish and it remains one of my favorites. It was excellent to see Scully has normal human itches she wants to scratch (and I believe she DID scratch off camera as the original script intended) and to see that she is not superhuman afterall- that there are in fact some chinks in her armor… When I first saw this, I was struck by how incredibly dark it was…even disney to how it was shot and the cloistered camera angles that spin around in mimic if Scully’s own out of control feelings- just brilliant. Scully has a well established history of being drawn to the slightly to really dangerous and I guess that includes her men- even Mulder, her protector and endangerer. Scully does has her issues and they deepen and expand her character fir me’ without diminishing her strengths at all…just like real people, she is shades of grey , and to me this just makes her much less of a comic book type over idealized character. Go Scully!

  6. I have been waiting for your review of this episode. It is excellent – one of your best.

    There isn’t much to add to what you have written, so just a few thoughts:

    “Never Again” is not much of an X-File and I think Jodie Foster’s appearance was a bit wasted.

    Mulder goes off the deep end in “Paper Hearts”, so maybe this is Scully’s turn. They just have different ways of doing it.

    I love the last scene. Scully is still in her dark funk, not talking and Mulder is still clueless. His snide remarks are very biting, almost hurtful, but he is only trying to get her to open up. Scully just builds her walls higher, though. I wish this story arc had carried over into later episodes, but it is forgotten as the cancer arc picks up. Too bad.

    • Gracias, GG!

      You’re so right about this being Scully’s turn. Mulder gets, if I remember correctly, 3 “dark night of the soul” episodes this season. The Field Where I Died, Paper Hearts, and Demons. Scully gets 2, Never Again and Memento Mori. Okay… maybe 2 1/2 if you count bits of Elegy and the end of Leonard Betts.

      What you mentioned happens to all of what Morgan and Wong wrote for Season 4; significant events occur that are never followed up on. Honestly, by the very next episode it’s like Never Again Never Happened.

      • It would be very interesting to read Morgan and Wong’s ideas on how M/S would gradually split up during the course of S4 (this would be a great AU fanfic). As you say, it is probably for the best that their ideas weren’t followed. Shippers (like me) would have been tearing their hair out.

  7. Ok. Deep breath. This one’s been marinating in the ole brain, so it might be long. 🙂

    It’s interesting that this is one of the episodes that tends to alienate shippers. I, personally, have a much easier time digesting this one than any other shipper-alienating ep. It’s most definitely because, for the first time, it’s Scully who is getting some action – not Mulder. And Scully is my GIRL. Totally agree that while we would rather see her making out with Mulder, it’s just nice to see her doing it at all! When Mulder gets flirty, however, it just tends to annoy me.

    I also find it really refreshing, and completely believable, that Scully is pushing back against Mulder in this episode. Yes, we’ve seen it before slightly, but not to this degree. I think one of the things Morgan had completely right is his observation that Scully gets jerked around a lot. Sure, she lets it happen many times, but that doesn’t change the fact that Mulder tells her to jump and she’s expected to do so. It’s absolutely the dynamic of their relationship and Scully’s admiration for Mulder’s intellect and passion, but at times it can get out of control. Scully abandoned her medical career for the FBI and was pulled into Mulder’s quest – and I’m not saying she regrets those decisions necessarily. For the most part I think she’s pretty happy with them. But it makes perfect sense that she have a mini-career-crisis every now and then. I think the beginning of this episode, with Scully clumsily attempting to express her concerns to Mulder, is one of the most believable things we’ve seen from her character in quite some time.

    That being said, I agree that from here it gets a little sticky. Sure, Scully can rebel without too much question, but is it believable that it’s “Scully-like” to stay at the apartment of a strange man? To request a seedy bar over fancy dinner reservations? To get a tatoo?? If Scully’s monologue at the bar is to be believed, this could very well be part of the cycle she tells Ed about. 13 year old Scully sneaks cigarettes, and 33 year old Scully meets strange men and gets tattoos. Perhaps it seems unbelievable only because we haven’t seen it happen before. Scully said it herself – she wishes she could be more impulsive. Everyone does things that are out of character, especially at times in our lives when we’re feeling confused about what it is we’re doing and where we’re going.

    Still, I’ll concede that Scully’s shenanigans here are rightly up for debate. It’s a valid assertion that Morgan and Wong had been disconnected from the series and perhaps wanted to take it in a different, more soap-operatic direction. After thinking about this review and everyone’s comments for a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that how you perceive this episode is probably related to how you WANT to see Scully, and as Salome suggested, what your worldview is. I, for one, am thrilled to see Scully mix things up a bit, but that’s my personality, so it comes off as more believable to me. My worldview is also one where I’m annoyed that it’s acceptable for men to behave recklessly, especially in terms of sexual behavior, while women are condemned for the same actions. So this is probably more of why Mulder’s escapades make me roll my eyes and Scully’s get me chanting, ‘you go girl!’

    Disagreements aside, though, this was a FANTASTIC review, as others have noted. I didn’t know a lot of the Morgan & Wong backstory, so I really enjoyed that part. Well done, yet again, Salome.

    • After thinking about this review and everyone’s comments for a while, I’ve come to the conclusion that how you perceive this episode is probably related to how you WANT to see Scully, and as Salome suggested, what your worldview is.

      I love that and I wholeheartedly agree. So much of how we respond to these characters is personal, even as personal journeys informed the writing of them as was largely the case with Glen Morgan and his divorce. I have a mother who’s a scientist/physician, so growing up with her and her female physician friends informs to an absurd degree my view of Scully. I’ve known a lot of women with her linear thought process. Scully suddenly switching to an English Major’s way of thinking always throws me for a loop.

      Like you said, Scully’s inability to articulate to Mulder what she’s feeling is very effective and believable. And in another point of solidarity, why are all of Mulder’s flirtations irritating while Scully’s are cute? If she had treated Agent Pendrell to a date I would’ve had naught to say about it, whereas with Mulder it would have pissed me off. We girls are rather protective of Scully and territorial over Mulder, no?

      It’s forever a thorn in my side that men get away with all sorts of things when it comes to sexual promiscuity. But I’d still rather see Scully set the example than go down to their level, if you can understand what I’m saying.

      • Hello Salome,

        It seems like I’m very late for the boat here and I’m probably stranded alone on the dock, as you seem to not have replied or posted for a few years now. I’m really hoping that’s temporary.

        First things first, an introduction to this X-phile. I used to be a huge X-Files fan when it first came out. I was about 10-ish and watched it with my dad until my mum forbade me to watch it again after Excelsis Dei gave me nightmares. (I skipped the rewatch at night and watched it during the day… at the age of 30+… I’m still a little kid it seems). I secretly taped them and watched them anyway when no one was home, only adding to the scares and the (night)terrors. Angst. I love how that word has crept out of our language and ended up in yours. (I’m Flemish/Dutch speaking)
        Anyway… I never saw all the episodes and at some point lost track or interest. I don’t really remember. But I have always had this little soft spot for it in my heart… still whistling the X-Files tune whenever something creepy happens to one of my friends. Even in my 30s now.

        I started re-watching it just a few weeks ago. I never expected to absolutely love it again. I though it would strike some sort of nostalgic cord but not much more than that. In the meantime, I’m hooked again. Probably even more so than when I was a kid. I see the subtle nuances and the amazing interplay between M/S. Their acting was through the roof! I can’t believe how great it still is 20+ years later. Not many series would be able to stand the test of time that well.

        So… why am I here? Well, first of all, to tell you (even if you may never read it) how great your reviews are. I read it after every single episode, comment section and all. I hope that in the meantime you have not given up on writing (reviews), as you are cleary great at it.
        You have given me insight into the background which has helped me to see little details I would otherwise probably miss, seeing how I have never seen all episodes and the mythology is -in spite of what I believed to be the case- not less confusing when you do see all of the eps in a row in a very short timespan.

        Now… secondly… I have been wanting to reply a lot, but as this seems to feel a bit like shouting in an empty hall, you only hear your echo and nobody responds, I have kept myself from replying.
        But now, after seeing “Never Again” and reading your elaborate review, I feel I need to. Because… well I love, love, love Scully. Rarely have we seen a female character portrayed so strongly in a hard man-dominated environment without losing her femininity and taking over masculine traits to be able to survive or playing out her sexuality every single time she’s in a tough spot. Especially in 90s TV-show that is incredible.

        But after 3 seasons this started to bug me a little bit, she became too “one note” for me… I’ve never seen her really loose her cool for no apparent reason at all, and that level-headedness she has, is amazing and the only way that this partnership with Mulder can work. It balances a lot of (his) sh*t out.
        The fact that in this episode she kind of goes against herself, seemed as a breeze of fresh air to me.
        I obviously viewed it as a normal reaction after learning what she learned in Leonard Betts, but learning that this episode wasn’t supposed to follow that one, actually made me enjoy it even more.
        Hurray, she can be off her rocker, she can just let loose for a second. God knows anybody would have crashed and burned a lot earlier, seeing what she has been through these last few years. This episode made her so human for me, it made me love her more, it made me appreciate her level-headedness more. The fact that she can, for no obvious reason become a less likeable, even downright bitchy at a certain point in her conversation with Mulder at the start, just made me appreciate who she is most of the time even more. I love how they played with the dark side of her character and not give a good reason why. The reasons why could be plenty judging by all the events from past seasons and maybe she doesn’t even understand why herself. She doesn’t want a desk, that’s code. I’m not sure she knows herself why all of a sudden that’s the big issue. She’s just being cross and difficult. For me this episode is where she steps off the page and becomes a person. Heck, I wish I would know that person. I wish I could be at that bar with her and take some shots and just be the opposite of perfection for a night. Before she scared me, she was very intimidating in her almost flawlessness of never really acting out or reacting completely crazy to any of the mind-bogglingly weird situations she has been in.
        So I don’t fully agree when you say “But I’d still rather see Scully set the example than go down to their level.” I don’t think she is. I think that’s what society thinks of her, that’s what she believes herself that she has to constantly be striving for… aim for perfection. We women should be applauding that she comes down from that level, has a drink and a flirt and acts upon real human instinctive emotions, because God… it must be so tiring to be so damn perfect all the time. That level is exhausting. And it’s not completely human. And it’s a standard that we set up way too high. It’s great to aim for, it’s great to maintain it for a while, but we, and Scully as well, should be able to come down from it, sit, look up and recognize the hard work it is to balance on that thin thread of a standard all of the time.

        Now this was LONG. I feel a lot needed to come out and I’m only stopping because I’m already embarrassed of how long this reply became.

        But one last thing: PLEASE, COME BACK. You really upgraded my X-Files re-watch. You took it to an even higher level, might I say a standard of near-perfection. (see what I did there?)

        • Plz come back

        • Since we’ve already, joyfully, officially met, I’ll dispense with the pleasantries.

          First off, your first language isn’t English??? I’m in awe.

          Second, I was just discussing with someone recently how different our post-modern heroes are from the heroes of yesteryear. Now most people want their heroes to be flawed, relateable, and to have a backstory. I remember watching reruns of the old Superman show with George Reeves as a kid. Or even if I fast forward to the Superman of the Christopher Reeve era. The good guys were expected to do the right thing “just because.” No angst, to again borrow the term. No or minimal internal conflict. No distinctive flaws to flesh them out. There wasn’t this public consensus that people who always do right aren’t human enough. This last Superman movie I just couldn’t relate to. Superman doesn’t have angst! Reading your thoughtful post I don’t really have anything to add, it just strikes me that expectations have changed.

          I realize this is a generalization, of course. Humphrey Bogart style anti-heroes aren’t new either. But I think there’s a reason society now seems to gravitate toward characters with fleshly flaws.

          • Ha, I just saw this now. Thank you. No, English isn’t my first language. The reason we need to be good at it, is because once we leave our tiny country nobody would understand us if we only spoke our own language. 😉 (that and I’ve always loved English)

            But well. I absolutely agree here. I think I like my characters more like humans. But with Scully it’s probably more personal. I think I just like the idea of being able to be her friend -if she were real of course, I’m not some weird person that doesn’t live in reality… or am I? 😉 -and I think I needed her to be less intimidating. That’s what this episode gave me. That and the idea: see, Scully once fell for a really bad, crazy, creepy guy. It CAN happen to the best of us. 😉

  8. Can I just say how much I am loving the discourse? We need to get our butts over to Jezebel stat!

    Also, it’s odd that while on this blog we are having an intellectual, thoughtful discussion about Scully as a representative for the female X-File viewer, over on my blog a few days ago I went on a tangent involving David Duchovny’s sex addiction and how it affected his character. Weird.

    That being said, Salome = high-brow. Me = gutter.

    • ROFL! I know! I love it!! This is exactly what I wanted for the blog.

      But, you know, in light of DD’s problems, I’m sure an intellectual discussion can be had as to whether there’s anything “funny” or “little” about a porn addiction. I may end up rolling in the gutter right along with you.

  9. ha, love it. Jezebel should totally let us guest blog 🙂 One can wax philosophical so easily with this show. When you’re so connected to the characters, it’s hard not to, right?

    [“Connected to the characters” may or may not be a euphemism for “obsessed.”]

  10. Emily Michelle

    I think my favorite thing about this blog, besides the entertaining discussion in the comments, is the way you provide background for the eps, pull in quotes from the crew, and especially talk about the writers of each episode and point out patterns and themes in the episodes they write. I feel like I’m taking a college course on the X-Files and will come away thoroughly educated (and possibly will finally understand the mythology).

    The point of all this is to say that I liked your suggestions of why this episode might have turned out like it did, what with all this weirdness with Morgan and Wong. I’ve always liked this episode in that it addresses a different aspect of Mulder and Scully’s relationship–most people don’t get along all the time, so it’s quite possible that M&S hit a rough patch every now and then, and this is an interesting view of such a fight. But you’re right, M&S’s motivations are tough to understand, and it always rings false with me when Scully asks Ed to take her to the seedy bar. I mean, she’s Scully–even at her most rebellious, I have a hard time believing she’d want to do that. Still, if I ignore the fact that I’m not sure what M&S are so mad about, I love the beginning and ending scenes of this ep–especially the last bit, with Mulder not quite sure what to do with the notion that Scully’s entire life might not be the X-Files. It’s interesting, at the very least, even if it doesn’t make for an episode that really coheres with the rest of the season.

    • You guys are so generous with your compliments, I’m starting to think I should hate on every episode. ^^

      The focus on the writers has happened organically. I’ve never looked at The X-Files this deeply before and I’m only really starting to notice my own preferences for whose at the helm.

      As far as Never Again goes, I think that with a few of the tweaks you mentioned, I might have really enjoyed it. From what I know, even Morgan wasn’t satisfied with the end product because he ended writing for everyone but himself and the result was disjointed. Gillian Anderson wanted a sex scene, Quentin Tarantino was supposed to direct hence the pop culture references… it does feel a little unfocused and maybe that’s why the motivations aren’t as clear as they could be, he didn’t have time to develop them. The opening and closing scenes between Mulder and Scully are definitely the stand outs though. The ending is perfect. Painful, but perfect. If Mulder had said one more word he could’ve kissed Scully goodbye.

      He really is so self-absorbed that he doesn’t understand why Scully would want something more than the X-Files. Then again, that’s partially Scully’s fault for silently reinforcing his opinion all these years. Remember the end of The Jersey Devil? Heck, remember the whole episode?

      P.S. I feel like way, way back in the day there was an online X-Files University where you could actually take courses. I know my memory doesn’t deceive me because I had print outs. Am I the only one?
      P.P.S. Found it! http://www.oocities.org/xfugenstudies/

      • I differ with you, Salome, about Mulder in the last scene. I don’t think he is so self-absorbed that he isn’t worried about Scully. I think he is very disturbed by Scully’s actions and her emotional state of mind. He trusts her more than anyone else. So, how could she get involved with a psycho killer? She was badly beaten and could have been killed. From his POV, he doesn’t know what she will do next. Will she run off with the next loser she meets? Will she quit the X-Files? Again it comes back to trust.

        • I was thinking more of the “You don’t want it to be?” moment from earlier in the episode when I mentioned his being self-absorbed. In that last scene I think he’s snarky and bewildered. He’s at least aware enough to know better than to finish that sentence!

  11. Emily Michelle

    I think you hit the nail on the head, Salome, in saying that he doesn’t understand why Scully would want something more than the X-Files. For so long he was carrying this burden alone–the X-Files and his obsession with finding answers to his sister’s disappearance and the fact that everyone had written him off as crazy–and when Scully appeared, suddenly he had someone to share that burden with. And as they share that burden, he seems to sometimes assume that they also share the same motivation; we see in multiple episodes that it doesn’t always occur to him that she might not be as single-mindedly dedicated to the supernatural as he is–How the Ghosts Stole Christmas comes to mind. So to me, this whole episode is Scully trying to assert her independence and have a life outside the X-Files, and Mulder genuinely not understanding why, since he’s content to live for the X-Files.

    I do sometimes like to wonder what he would have said if he’d finished that sentence: “Yes, but it’s my quest”? “Yes, but it’s my X-Files”? “Yes, but it’s my life too”? This is a fanfic waiting to happen. Actually, it probably already has happened.

    And I’d had no idea Gillian wanted a sex scene. I’m really glad they didn’t do that; I like that while the show does delve into their personal lives, it never turned into a soap, all concerned with who slept with who. It feels more honest to the tone of the show to leave that out.

    Also, X-Files University? If it didn’t involve writing a thesis, I’d totally go for my bachelors. And then print myself up a diploma and hang it on my wall.

    • I always thought it was something along the lines of “Yes, but it’s my life too,” indicating that he and Scully have lost their separate identities somewhere along the way. Which would no doubt have completely set Scully off since, like you said, it’s her individual identity she just spent the entire episode trying to reassert.

      Agreed about the sex scene. Once that door opens you can’t close it again. And can you imagine the expectations? If Scully had sex with a stranger, and I’ve read the scene, it’s quite steamy, then the audience would’ve protested at such a long hold out for Mulder and Scully. God forbid they had ever showed us that… I prefer that most of Mulder and Scully’s romance stay off screen and in subtext.

  12. I enjoyed this episode only after the series ended. Yes I am a shipper and proud of it. I followed along with Spotnitz and Carter. Mulder and Scully love each other even though it has not been spoken the work is their present focus. Also, for those of you who think our sacred cow scully did the did with Jerse, NOT! Carter read wong’s script and changed it. Now Gillian and the guy playing Jerse were really seeing each other (Rodney) Yes Gillian wanted a love scene, GILLIAN did, not scully. Plus the fact that she is dating the guy playing the killer kinda sorta wanted it to happen, I mean she got him the job! Carter said it was not Scully, so it is implied , they do not have sex. People don;’t do the deed and then get up to put on stockings! pants big shirt and then tell the guy to sleep on the chuch.. I think it should have been more clear for the audience to read. Because this episode really upset me when it first aired. It should have been this way,They kissed and necked and she calls him Mulder. He stops, pushes her away and makes her realize it is Mulder that she wants and not him. Even if they did that evasively it would have been better then what we got. I got my info from the back story on one of the X file books I bought a while ago.

    • Carter, for all that ungrateful fans complain, really kept the reigns on this show. Thankfully, he made sure his overall vision won out. So, no, Scully didn’t end up having sex for which I’m forever relieved!

    • People do the deed and ask the other person to sleep on the couch all the time. No one else here has done the “you don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here???”
      If it was supposed to be crystal clear that Scully didn’t go all the way, then they failed. For realisies.

  13. By the way, did you mention in Trust No One that the shadow man told Scully “I know your true hair color.” What color is her hair suppose to be, I mean, she’s been red for the duration of the show. I know she is really blond Gillian is anyway. They, the studio, played with various shades until they found one they felt was truly Scully. Her dad and brothers are all redheads. We also see flashbacks of Scully as a child being a redhead.

  14. I think this ep can only be viewed as a follow-up to Leonard Betts. Otherwise, it’s stupid. A good episode for Gillian Anderson, but nothing makes sense within the context of the character. But looking at it from the perspective of someone who thinks she may be at death’s door and is lost and confused, it works much better.

    Now, on to my possible justifications for some of the behavior…

    The desk issue. You’re not wrong when you say the question should have been “Why haven’t I asked for a desk,” though I feel it shouldn’t have been an issue–if not after Scully’s return in Firewalker, then by the beginning of season three, the office should have officially been “theirs.” Her name should have been on the door, and either she should have had a desk, or both of their names should have been on the desk, something. But that’s either an oversight of the creative staff, or was done on purpose to beat into our heads that they want us to think Mulder is in this alone (even though he hasn’t been alone for a long time). But I digress. Maybe the reason she brought it up, though…well, sometimes when a lot of shit is bothering you, it’s easier to bring up the piddly stuff than the real issues. I know I’m more likely to ask about something that’s not terribly important than to confront something that’s harder to deal with, whatever that may be. And maybe in her mind (as a fellow female, I’m sure you can relate to some of this mentality), she was hoping he’d offer to get her a desk instead of her needing to request it; maybe she thought if he offered, it would show he felt she was his partner instead of his assistant.

    Am I grasping at straws?

    Okay, the “assignment” issue. Her superior or not, it was probably the wording that threw her. I know it would piss me off, especially if he had never before “assigned” anything to her, or really behaved as her superior. A simple, “You’re refusing the case” would have made a world of difference. Though, judging by her attitude, she was kind of itching for a fight, so it wouldn’t take much.

    As for the rest of it…I’ll reiterate, it only makes sense within the context of Leonard Betts. Otherwise, Scully is going through a random personal crisis (which is all right, in and of itself, but seeing as how she’d never exhibited this sort of behavior, it is way out of left field), and has a chip on her shoulder and needs to blow off some steam. Honestly, this sort of behavior probably would have made more sense on the heels of One Breath instead of stuck in the middle of season 4. The best thing they could have done was to sandwich this ep between Leonard Betts and Memento Mori.

    That said, I don’t hate this ep, but I tend to like Scully-centric eps. And I’ll be honest and admit that I am a proud owner of an ouroboros tattoo…same location as well. However, I know it wasn’t because of this ep or Scully or X-Files or whatever because I don’t regret it; it’s just a good tattoo.

    And I’m done. Sorry for the rambling.

    • You make a lot of great points. And you’re dead on when you say Scully seemed to be ready to pick a fight. Sure, it wasn’t about the desk, but maybe what the desk represents. Still, I don’t think it’s too far off that Scully could be having a personal crisis at this point in the series. I think the “not in circles, but an endless line” part sums it up well in terms of what she might be thinking about her work. There continue to be a few times throughout the series that Scully seems to drift away only to be reinvigorated and drawn back into the quest.

      I love that we have not one, but TWO commenters who have the ouroboros tattoo! That’s fabulous. And, speaking of which, it made me think – how on earth did Mulder manage to not crack a joke about Scully’s tattoo during season 7’s Millenium episode?? (Or did I miss it? Haven’t seen that one in a while.) If not, opportunity wasted. Either the writers didn’t think of it, or Mulder knew he’d be much better off staying mum. Surely the episode wouldn’t have had the same happy ending it did if he had chosen to do so 🙂

      • You’re absolutely right; it’s not impossible for Scully to be having a personal crisis, now or at any point in the series. My only beef with it, really, is that there was nothing to bring this on. If they wanted her to have issues of this magnitude, then some sort of build up would have been better–something in the previous (intended) episode to hint that her thoughts were taking a dark turn. I know’ I’m asking for too much from most tv shows. To me, it just seems like a big mental shift for someone like Scully to go from “fine” to “what is the meaning of all this” in the space between two eps. But, that’s why I think it works so well with Leonard Betts–it all makes more sense.

        As for Mulder referencing the tattoo…well, I may be the only sicko/psycho/obsessive who noticed this, but there’s a brief shot of Scully’s back in FTF and there’s no tattoo. This could either mean that we’re to believe it’s been removed, or (more likely) TPTB simply forgot about it. Would have been a nice bit of continuity, though. I personally don’t believe Scully would have gotten it removed; she got it–impulsively, yes, but still–and to remove it would show regret and I don’t think she’s the sort of chick to back down from her decisions. She seems like the type that, even as a kid, she would have stuck by her decisions, even if it was just to save face. Growing up with two older siblings would probably instill that. But I seem to have rambled again…

        I’d be interested in knowing who else has the tattoo as well, though. I’ve never run across anyone else with it; I even had to bring the design to the tattoo parlor (though I heard that people started getting it after that…). Let’s start an ouroboros tattoo support website!

        • Good call on the no tattoo in FTF! It’s definitely not the first continuity problem we’ve seen in the series. Makes me think CC should have employed an obsessed fan or two to keep things on track – God knows there were enough people paying attention!

      • I have an ouroboros tattoo as well and am feeling suddenly incredibly unoriginal!!! Maybe what I should be feeling tho is solidarity with all my fellow Scullyists out there!! We are like a tribe ;P

    • No, I think you’re totally right. Scully was looking for a quarrel of sorts and the best way to express her hidden frustrations was by bringing up her lack of a desk and what it represents. At a more sober moment, she probably wouldn’t have cared.

      People will randomly have a crisis and such, but television is such a different animal and it’s hard to fathom when characters take a sudden turn.

      And seriously, how many Philes out there have Ouroboros tattoos? This is amazing. Maybe we should start a club…

  15. Ugh. I do not like this episode. It feels like a slap in the face. Although the last scene is extraordinarily well-done by both DD and GA. And your review is excellent! Understanding the behind-the-scenes dynamic goes a long way toward appeasing my anger over the whole thing.

    Even so, in my mind, this is the most aptly titled episode ever. And that’s all I want to say about it.

  16. First of all, you’re a great writer and I love your episode analyses. I just have a question. So you wrote:

    “Taking this episode as it was aired, after “Leonard Betts”, everything about it is much easier to accept. Scully doesn’t know how long she has to live, so why not throw off any and all constraints? There’s always a risk of infection and allergic reactions with tattoos, not to mention the risks involved in sex with a stranger, all things that Scully, as a doctor, would be more than aware of. But if she’s dying anyway, what’s the use in being the good girl? In the light of cancer, seeing Scully suddenly question the trajectory of her life makes perfect sense. What was satisfactory a week ago when you thought you had all the time in the world to find the things you want in life suddenly looks bland and meaningless.”

    Are you saying that if we’re to read into it as “Never Again” taking place AFTER “Leonard Betts” (the order it aired), that if Scully did indeed have sex with Jerse she didn’t use protection? Because I just can’t see Scully doing that. I can certainly understand where you’re coming from with the whole “Oh god, there’s something wrong with me, I’m gonna live this day as if it’s my last” mentality, but at the same time Scully would only take such a mentality so far. She’s rational for one and a skeptic for two. She wouldn’t do something that could affect her life profoundly (have unsafe sex with a stranger) unless she had all the answers regarding her current dilemma. As afraid of being mortally ill as she was (in the “NA” airing after “LB” scenario), she could have easily been wrong and then ended up with HIV or becoming pregnant by a stranger (since she didn’t know she was infertile).

    I personally don’t think she had sex with him at all (there’s just SO much evidence to the contrary) but even if it turns out that they did (we’ll never know for sure, obviously) Scully wouldn’t forgo protection just because she woke up with some blood on her pillow. Getting a tattoo is one thing (unless you get hepatitis, of course), but having unprotected sex with a stranger is completely another. She wasn’t even what I’d consider “drunk”, perhaps a bit “buzzed”. Either way she seemed more than capable of making the decision to have safe sex, or to have sex at all.

    Also, this is just me, but if I was afraid that I was dying, I’d be too depressed to do anything. I’d say to myself “A tattoo? What’s the point? Sex? No, I’d rather cry.”

    Of course, all of this is kind of moot considering how (I believe you acknowledged this as well) it makes more sense to take everything into the context of “NA” airing before “LB”, instead of after.

    • See, I’m with you. What’s the point of a tattoo at the end of your life? Casket decor??

      I can’t see Scully having unprotected sex either, but “unprotected” is rather a misnomer since even “safe” sex with a stranger carries quite a lot of risk outside of HIV and pregnancy that Scully, as a physician, would be all too aware of. Just another reason why, like you, I just can’t see Scully dropping her guard quite that far cancer or no cancer. I know a few too many women like her.

      Thanks for joining the squad, Claire! I love your thoughts!

      • So which “storyline” do you consider to be canon – the way it was originally written with “NA” airing before “LB” or vice versa? I for one subscribe to the original storyline. Because let’s face it, the only reason they made the scheduling change was to please the fans who would be tuning in after the superbowl or whatever it was. It had nothing to do with the actual content of the episodes themselves. If the original intention was for “NA” to air before “LB” and that’s how the actors portrayed it, a last-minute switcheroo should have no bearing on the storyline.

  17. Another thing to add: I know that a lot of people base their belief that Scully and Ed had sex on the fact that a sex scene was written, despite it having been deleted before it was even filmed.

    I, personally, don’t consider deleted scenes to be canon. The way I see it, if a scene is deleted for creative differences as opposed to time constraints or censors (I read the deleted scene, and it was hardly “steamy” enough to be censored), then it didn’t happen.

    • Basically, I only consider canon what I see on screen, regardless of the reasons. There’s one particular exception coming up in Season 7 where I didn’t even like the episode before I saw a deleted scene, so I choose to imagine that they kept it in. 😀 Also, sometimes deleted scenes give us further insight, but I still wouldn’t consider deletes/rewrites canon. After all, TV is a visual medium and the audience interprets what they see. If they don’t see it, it doesn’t happen. If it has happened, it’s not reality until they see it.

      In this case, it’s interesting to consider what could have been, but I’m oh so glad to take Never Again exactly as it aired, the way it makes the most sense within the series if not within its own story. The original viewing audience in particular couldn’t/didn’t know to pretend that Scully didn’t have cancer at the time of this episode and they would have accepted it accordingly. The bell can’t be unrung.

      • We think alike.

        I have another question I’d like to ask you. I was talking to my friend and she’s convinced that anybody who would get a tattoo at such an unsanitary-looking place would have no qualms about having unprotected sex. What is your view on this? I wholeheartedly disagree with my friend. For one, unprotected sex carries the risk of pregnancy, something that tattoos do not. Second, I have the feeling that although the risk is always there, there is less of a chance of getting a disease from an improperly sterilized needle than from unprotected sex. And third, if you really want a tattoo (Scully did to mark a “turning point” in her life) and the closest place is right across the street, then you accept the fact that there’s a risk involved. On the other hand it’s quite possible to have sex with a barrier in between you, and there’s never an excuse for unprotected sex, whereas you can’t exactly slip a condom over a tattoo needle – it kind of defeats the purpose.

        So what’s your opinion on this? Would a person who gets a tattoo at an iffy-looking joint have no qualms about unprotected sex?

        • Well, let’s see, I’m a germ freak who refuses to share drinks, but I’ll sleep with my dogs. So, no, I don’t think that a casual attitude in one area necessarily follows across the board. There are those who might be not at all turned off by unprotected sex who would be freaked out by a cagey looking needle joint. It’s all in the individual. It doesn’t sound like your friend is accounting for taste.

          Besides, whoever else might, I just can’t see Scully doing it.

          And on a relatedly unrelated note, the risk of disease from “safe” sex with a partner of unknown history is equal to if not greater than that of a dingy needle. Just sayin’.

          • I’m glad that we agree on so much. I’m correct in thinking that you don’t think Scully had sex with Jerse?

            I read what you said in the review: “It’s not human to be celibate? Or to at least hold out for a while? Scully doesn’t have to be realistic a la The Sopranos to be believable.” and I practically jumped for joy that I FINALLY found someone who thinks the way I think. Whenever I hear people spouting out the whole “But the way she is now she’s barely human” quote of either Morgan or Wong as a reason for her to have had sex, I actually get quite offended. I’ll be 21 on the 19th and I’m a proud virgin. Not because I’m waiting for marriage, or that religious bull (no offense if you’re religious) but I just have no desire for it and the potential consequences of it. Well gee, according to Morgan/Wong, that makes me not human! Sorry guys, but you don’t have to jump into bed with a stranger to be human, and there are certainly ways of relieving sexual tension other than actual intercourse.

            Anyway, I’m just glad that Chris Carter stepped in and showed those two who was boss. Yeah, it probably sounds childish of me, but as far as I’m concerned, what CC says goes. He created the show, he created the characters, so when it comes down to it, he has the final say. That’s only one example on a long list of reasons I have for why Scully and Jerse DIDN’T have sex.

            • Nah. Scully would’ve had sex with Jerse, except that like you said, CC stepped in and saved the day. I’m glad she didn’t.

              Anywho, good for you!! I get a bit indignant at that quote too. I totally agree that they over exaggerated the need to “humanize” Scully through sex.

  18. It is very obvious that Scully did NOT have sex with Jese. the fans, you all are seeing what you want to see. Who wakes up in bed after sex with their clothes on? And stockings, who gets up and puts stockings back on after having sex? Not haveing sex is human too.
    People are projecting themselves onto Scully and Mulder and presuming what she would and would not do by their standards. Not having sex is just as human as having sex. If that is how something is writen why is it so hard to accept? Scully loves Mulder regardless of how angry she is with him. Everyone is reading into that script! CC put it out there deal with it!

  19. Hey, me again 🙂

    Remember that friend I mentioned? Well she thinks that Scully and Jerse had sex. Her “proof”? The fact that the very next episode, Memento Mori, they had Mulder find her ova. She thinks that that was the writers telling the audience “in case you were wondering, no, she obviously didn’t get knocked up by her encounter with Ed Jerse”. I’m not sure if my friend knows this or not, but MM was not written by Morgan/Wong, and they were apparently the only writing team that wanted Scully to have had sex. Yes, the discovery of her ova was rather random, especially considering how prior to that they never addressed a change in her hormones, her menstrual cycle, etc (it’s possible that they simply didn’t know how to go about addressing such…womanly things) indicating that it was perhaps a spur of the moment decision. On the other hand, it did coincide with her cancer diagnosis, so it wasn’t TOTALLY out of the blue, and it did spawn the whole hybrid/supersoldier thing.

    She also thinks that they had unprotected sex because the “Betty” tattoo screams at Jerse to “burn the sheets”, indicating (I’ll try not to get too graphic) that there was “evidence” on them. I tried reasoning with my friend that not only would Scully not have unprotected sex with a STRANGER, the tattoo was a psycho lady who was extremely jealous of the fact that there was a foreign female body in the bed that she viewed as hers, and she wanted anything that that woman touched destroyed. I’m actually the same way (but I don’t go around killing people). I live in a dorm but I sleep at home every weekend, and whenever I get back to school I’m always freaked that somebody may have slept *shudders* in my bed. Just thinking about it both grosses me out and makes me very angry. Ugh, you never know what kinds of germs people may have, what they might drool on your pillow, if they have lice, and then there’s the fact that we’re constantly shedding millions of skin cells. I always rip the sheets off the bed and wash them when I get back.

    • I’ve been wondering about the same thing – the “burn the sheets” thing. I dont think it necessarily means that they had unprotected sex (or sex at all). Thoughts on this, Salome?

      • I think the “burn the sheets” comment is a leftover from the original intention of having Scully and Ed Jerse sleep together. But even without that, Betty wants every trace of Scully gone, including the sheets she slept on. As to whether the sex would have been unprotected or not, I doubt that comment is meant to reveal anything either way.

        • I actually think that the “burn the sheets” comment indicates that they DIDN’T have sex. Think about it – if Scully and Ed had had sex, Betty would have known about it LONG before Ed ran into the bedroom and she saw the mussed up bed. Not only would she have been quite aware of what was going on but she pretty much condoned it in the scene that was cut (where she said “Get it while it lasts, cuz it’s not going to be around much anymore”, or something to that effect). So if they had had sex there would have been no reason for her to suddenly freak out upon seeing that Scully had spent the night in the bed.

          What I think happened is that Ed grabbed Scully’s arms because he heard what Betty was saying (that she’d be dead if he kissed her) and realized he needed to keep anything further from happening because he KNEW firsthand what Betty could make him do. Scully took him up on his previous offer to take the bed because of the storm and the fact that she did have a few drinks, and Betty was under the impression that she went back to her hotel (perhaps sleeping on the bed is a common occurrence for Ed so she thought nothing of it). Cut to the morning with Ed slamming Scully into the wall. When Ed stumbled into the bedroom doorway Betty saw that the bedclothes were rumpled and obviously slept in, and it suddenly clicks in her mind that Scully spent the night in HER bed! Her “burn the sheets” comment could have also been her cue to Ed that he needed to wrap Scully up in them and toss her in the furnace.

          I suppose it’s possible that they did have sex and that, like what’s implied in the cut sex scene, it occurred on the living room floor, and that Betty simply hadn’t expected Ed to add insult to injury by sticking Scully in “her” bed, but that seems rather implausible. In the cut scene Betty had obviously given him “permission” to have relations with Scully, so for her to then freak out just because she’s in the bed seems a bit ridiculous, even for a psycho tattoo.

          Whatever the case, there is more evidence against them having had sex than for them having had sex (yes, I’ve actually compiled a list).

          • Also, according to the X-Files Script Differences website, the original script didn’t show Ed waking up on the couch. I believe they added him waking on the couch as a way of letting viewers know that Scully took him up on his offer to sleep in his bed while he slept on the couch, rather than having sex. Morgan and Wong were probably pissed off about this, but it was Chris Carter’s show, not theirs.

          • LOL! Well then, I defer to the scientific results of said list.

            • Alright, here’s my list:

              1. Chris Carter didn’t want Scully and Ed to have sex – sorry folks, but as far as I’m concerned, CC created the X-Files universe and thus he has the last say where his characters are concerned

              2. According to – I believe – the interview with Morgan and Wong, the other X-Files writers sided with CC on this issue

              3. The fact that the sex scene became a deleted scene for reasons not to do with censorship (the scene was hardly “steamy”)

              4. They cut the scene BEFORE THEY EVEN KISSED! Two faces getting close to each other while one suddenly grabs the other’s arms hardly constitutes “implied sex”

              5. Scully would have stayed the night anyway due to weather and drinks – Ed even told her when they first arrived that she could take the bed, that he wasn’t “up to anything” and that he just wanted her to be safe

              6. She was wearing her pantihose – yeah, I know, it’s the oldest excuse, but it works for me

              7. The “burn the sheets” comment indicates that the tattoo was quite surprised come morning to discover that the bed had been slept in. She was probably under the impression that Scully had simply left.

              8. They woke in different rooms and the original script didn’t show Ed waking up at all. The addition of Ed waking up on the couch indicates that CC wanted to stress to the audience that nothing occurred. Otherwise why add it?

              9. Scully was not wearing Ed’s shirt – she was wearing one of his SPARE shirts. A cliche of sex is that they wake up wearing the wrong clothing. The shirt that Ed was wearing the previous night had blood on it due to the tattoo bleeding. The absence of blood on the shirt that Scully was wearing in the morning indicates that Ed simply gave Scully a spare shirt to sleep in.

              • 10. Betty’s warning of “Kiss her and she’s dead” – considering the fact that Betty made him kill his downstairs neighbor, Ed was quite aware that a pissed off tattoo could have dire consequences. If my tattoo had just made me commit homicide, I would heed all of her future warnings. Ed obviously cared enough about Scully to be genuinely concerned about her safety driving in the snowstorm, so I think that when he grabbed her arms, he was restraining her from touching him any further, thus protecting her from Betty’s wrath.

                • 1. Agreed.
                  2. Thank goodness.
                  3. My understanding is that CC considered it too steamy. I’ve read it and, to me, it was rather hot and heavy especially considering the state of TV back in the day.
                  4. Right. Because the sex scene was overruled.
                  5. True.
                  6. Didn’t notice that.
                  7. I’m sure Betty knew she was there. She knew everything else.
                  8. Absolutely.
                  9. I can’t figure out why he gave her a dress shirt to sleep in.
                  10. If he really wanted to protect her he wouldn’t have taken her out. I think Scully was Ed’s way of rebelling against Betty. He rebelled against a powerful female force in his life the way Scully rebelled against Mulder. It’s part of why he understood her.

                  • 3. From the interview with the pissed-off-sounding Morgan and Wong it sounds as though CC was opposed to Scully having sex mainly because he didn’t want his beloved character becoming like all the other women on TV at the time – he didn’t need her to have sex in order to be human. I really didn’t find the sex scene to be hot and heavy at all, considering how the only article of clothing that was removed was Scully’s jacket XD. It was 1997-1998ish that Never Again aired; TV was hardly full of prudes anymore.

                    7. If Betty knew she was there, why the sudden outburst of rage with the “another woman in my bed?!?” comment?

                    9. Probably because all of his other shirts are grimy tank tops stained with man sweat.

                    On a related note, I’ve heard people saying that because the tattoo scene was a visual metaphor for sex it means that Scully and Ed indeed had sex when they got back to his apartment. What are your thoughts on this?

                    • 3. They considered the sex scene pretty racy. There was straddling involved, which for 1997 primetime television was unusual indeed.
                      7. Betty knew because she commented when Scully came into the apartment.

                      Scully and Ed didn’t have sex.

                    • 3. But CC’s desire for Scully to not have sex with a stranger also played a large part in the scene being deleted.

                      7. But after Ed and Scully parted for the night, Betty may have assumed Scully had left (Ed seems like he probably sleeps on the couch often, so that probably wasn’t unusual for him) until she saw the rumpled bed in the morning.

  20. Something that I’ve never understood: Why on earth did Jerse write “XOXO” at the end of his note to Scully? What, did he think that he was going to start a committed relationship with this woman that came home with him after a night at a bar? Or was he just lonely and missed being able to write such a sentiment in a note to a woman?

  21. So as for the ergot…Mulder said at the end that the levels of ergot in both their bloodstreams were not enough to cause hallucinogenic ergotism, which Scully had told Ed could cause one to do things that were “dangerous and unlikely”. So was Mulder saying that Scully was also not affected by the ergot or that just Ed wasn’t affected by it? As I’m sure we all saw Scully got a larger dose of the red ergot-infected ink than Ed did, and on top of that she’s a smaller person. Were they implying that the reason she had the audacity to spend the night at Ed’s apartment was because she was being affected by the ergot? Would ergot even begin affecting someone that quickly (probably at most a half hour) after exposure?

    • I think he was trying to say that the ergot didn’t explain Ed Jerse’s strange behavior. Either he was possessed or insane, but we’ll never know which. As far as Scully, it looks like she was never affected by it. Besides, she was feeling reckless before she even got the tattoo…

  22. Okay. This is the episode where I unleash my disgust. Not for The X-Files, but for television today. The thing that I love most about XF, and what makes it the most epic series of all time, is how unlike TV today it is. TV today hypersexualizes everything… there are shows that give everything away, there’s no anticipation, etc. I think I’ve commented before that subtlety died after the X-Files ended.

    That being said, I thought that tattoo scene with Scully was HOT. I CANNOT DENY WHAT IS INSIDE. But I feel like there was this rift with the writers. I think Morgan/Wong really wanted to move in the direction that television is at today – uber drama, uber everything… makes for an interesting soap opera but how many seasons can you continue to recreate the drama until it fizzles? Suggesting that Scully is inhuman or not realistic, as they do, because she is celibate, holding out, etc, just adds to my point. One of the many reasons why I love Scully is that in this quickly evolving world of things in the fast lane, there she stands, being a bit more old-fashioned, proving that she is sexy ~because~ she is smart, not ~despite~ it. And she illustrates that the devotion to one man isn’t silly at all in fact.

    I didn’t hate this episode, and I kind of took it at face value. I loved the “dark side” of Scully, and while this episode is hotly debated in fanfiction (duh!) I subscribe to the notion that they did have sex. I am a huge M/S shipper and I loved this element thrown into the mix. I don’t know, it makes the overall picture just hurt so good. It’s plausible that Mulder hooked up with the vampire girl in “3”, and I loved that they allowed Scully this.

    I also loved her monologue in the bar with Jerse, about how she needs the controlling man, etc, but at a point just flips. That’s incredibly human and it’s something I can relate to. This is one of those episodes where I realized how much I can relate to her character.

    ANYHOO. I’m on to Memento Mori (complete with the deleted scenes) where you will find my spiraling down the toilet bowl of angst. Thank you.

    🙂

    • “The thing that I love most about XF, and what makes it the most epic series of all time, is how unlike TV today it is. TV today hypersexualizes everything… there are shows that give everything away, there’s no anticipation, etc. I think I’ve commented before that subtlety died after the X-Files ended. “

      Word.

      “Suggesting that Scully is inhuman or not realistic, as they do, because she is celibate, holding out, etc, just adds to my point. One of the many reasons why I love Scully is that in this quickly evolving world of things in the fast lane, there she stands, being a bit more old-fashioned, proving that she is sexy ~because~ she is smart, not ~despite~ it. And she illustrates that the devotion to one man isn’t silly at all in fact.”

      Nods.

      “…where you will find my spiraling down the toilet bowl of angst.”

      Cue psychotic laughter.

    • I take Never Again with a grain of salt simply because when it comes down to it, CC is the God of the X-Files Universe and can essentially “veto” whatever his writers write. He didn’t want Scully to have sex, so, in my opinion, she didn’t have sex.

    • everything you said…yep, I concur!

  23. Hey, I want some opinions on these two photos I found on a fan site:

    The second one, being the TV promo for the episode, was most likely made after the sex scene was cut and all the finalizations made, yet it still shows Scully in a “sexy” pose. Does its existence thus mean that Scully and Jerse actually DID have sex? Also, how does Scully “risk everything”? By almost getting burned alive?

    Of course, from looking through the other FOX promos for other episodes, they seem to embellish quite a bit. For example, they say that Post-Modern Prometheus is “the most unforgettable X-Files you’ll ever see”. I beg to differ on that. PMP was probably one of the most boring X Files I ever watched. And their tagline for “Dreamland” is “A deadly crash…a shocking secret…a terrifying switch” – yeah, “terrifying” my foot!

    The first picture raises similar questions as to whether or not they actually did have sex. Thoughts?

    P.S. I found these from http://iheartthexfiles.tumblr.com/. I just found the site today and wasn’t able to tear my eyes from it.

  24. You go as far to say its out of character as I go to defend it. I don’t find it out of character at all. It was established back in “Beyond the Sea” that she was a bit of a rebel, then later in Season One we find out she was dating her teacher (I believe.) So it may be out of character for what we’ve seen from Scully within the series, its not out of the realm of possibility given her backstory. If that makes sense. Yes, we haven’t seen her act this way before but she just wasn’t given an opportunity.

    I think maybe whats wrong is that Morgan & Wong should have done this when they were still on the staff in Season 2. It was early enough in the series that her and Mulder weren’t as close. Now by Season 4, they are a bit closer, after losing family members and such. I guess they just didn’t get a chance to do it earlier.

    • I think I summed up my case above. It’s not the rebellion, it’s the seemingly random motivation behind it (assuming no connection to Leonard Betts) and the fact that they turned Mulder into some kind of parental figure for Scully to rebel against.

  25. wow- after reading through all these comments, my impression is: People sure have a lot emotionally invested in whether Scully did or did not sleep with Jerse!! I guess thats a measure of our overwhelming obsessive loyalty to the integrity of her character…..right?? or else we are just all crazy…. 😛
    I think it is true that which ever way you argue it, we are ALL really under what is know in science as ‘confirmation bias’ – that is, we are all looking for evidence to support the viewpoint we already have and want to believe is the case– that is entirely human. I personally like the episode best as being theoretically prior to L. Betts- I don’t think we need the justification of the cancer scare to explain Scully’s motivations… like others have pointed out, she has established backstory for these latent rebellious tendencies, she has also had plenty of insanity in her life to be pressure cooking its way through her system for a few years- her abduction, the murder of her sister, kidnapped by psychopaths, etc. Sometimes it takes a while for things to build up and then they explode… While we may not have seen this arc building explicitly, but I don’t think that means we can’t assume that all this stuff is possibly affecting her on a deep level. I think they even very explicitly DID start to suggest this in the ep Unrhue, which literally means ‘unrest’. I think the villian in that ep tells her flat out that he sees it in her..and by the end of the episode we see her reflecting on it, and she looks clearly disturbed. Anyway, I do think the desk argument is only her awkward attempt to tell Mulder that something is bothering her– its a small and insignificant symbol of the much larger problem which makes it easier for her to brooch the subject at all- she is really just as bad a communicator as he is. I think her behavior is entirely consistent with her character- that is my personal bias!! I loved Scully in this just as much as other people hated it.
    That being out of my system, I LOVE YOUR REVIEWS!!! They are a thing of beauty and I am sooooo glad to have stumbled upon them– some intelligent discussion, philosophizing, obsessing, fangirling/boying, idolizing, just what I was looking for– major SQUEEEE!!
    <333

    • “wow- after reading through all these comments, my impression is: People sure have a lot emotionally invested in whether Scully did or did not sleep with Jerse!!”

      You’re not kidding!!!!

      “I think it is true that which ever way you argue it, we are ALL really under what is know in science as ‘confirmation bias’ – that is, we are all looking for evidence to support the viewpoint we already have and want to believe is the case– that is entirely human.”

      Which is probably why, besides the fact that Philes are obsessive, that this episode remains so controversial. Scully’s life choices here are like a Rorschach test for worldview.

      I also agree that the desk was really an excuse to express her unhappiness and discontent.

      I’m sorry it took me so long to respond, but thanks for hanging out here!!

  26. wow. I haven’t made it through all of the dialogue on this but I am blown away by the debate. It has been said over and over but well done what a great review. I liked this episode and then I read your review and I started to question my liking it you are right it was way – WAY left field for Scully. Im a bit of a junior when it comes to the phile world and don’t know much about the writers and producers etc so I just took this episode at face value, in the context that she felt her life threatened. But I agree with the above review it wasn’t just the cancer, she was a pressure cooker ready to go off the cancer was the straw that broke the camels back. Scully fans are hard core and I think we all like to see ourselves a little in her. After all she is incredibly smart, brave, attractive and the man in her life would literally go to the ends of the earth for her what girl doesn’t want that? In saying this the fans who have spent their lives indrenched in study and devoted to their careers and secretly want to be a little more impulsive probably loved Scully’s little excertion from reality. Those that wouldn’t were probably mortified by her actions. Simply put like you said it depends strongly on your world view. Im glad they didn’t show whether or not she did the deed with ed I love that the xfiles leaves things so open it creates such great debate from the fans (as we can see above) and lets you make your own decision on what happened based on your own ideas and feelings about the character. Based on my own little POV she didn’t, she wouldn’t she was just having a really bad week.

    She was scared and angry and she lashed out at the closest person she has in her life her partner. The desk I always saw as a metaphor, it’s all to do with barriers and obstacles – between her and mulder her and her life and what she wanted from it.

    I too liked that she stepped out of character it was for just one episode. CC was always careful not to make her a sexual object. She never showed her shoulders, her skirts always went below her knees, her pjs were always sensible etc etc Im glad he did that she was to be taken seriously and she was – all the time though – I like that she steps out and shows a bit more femmininity im not saying that that means going to a sleazy bar getting a tatto and shacking up with a random stranger is feminine it’s just an extereme to make a point – she is a woman with real fears and insecuritys.

    The sexual stuff in the xfiles was always a suttle touch or gaze the xfile was always supposed to be the main focus the amazing fireworks between the characters was just a bonus that they eventually developed further. This is another reason I love this show it is so romantic but the romance is implied rather than thrown at you in explicit sex scenes. That would cheapen it and it would have lost some of it’s integrity. That is why I totally agree (as stated somewhere in previous comments) it was weird she answered the door wearing only a mans shirt – I found this less believable as a scully action than her getting the tattoo.

    favourite quotes missed – I can’t find the exact line but he says something about pushing the desks together to play battleships. Also the very end “yes but its my…….” What the heck was he going to say????? Again the writer letting us decide and debate over it.

    • To elaborate on the desk thing. When she asked about the desk I never thought she actually wanted a desk I thought she just wanted some physical representation of her in that room. If she was going to die she felt like there was no physical evidence she even exsisted in that room. Them sitting at either side of his desk in the final scene looks so uncomfortable, they never sit that formally. The desk in this scene is the physical “elephant in the room”.

    • “In saying this the fans who have spent their lives indrenched in study and devoted to their careers and secretly want to be a little more impulsive probably loved Scully’s little excertion from reality. Those that wouldn’t were probably mortified by her actions. Simply put like you said it depends strongly on your world view.”

      I think that explains all the passionate opinions!

      “I too liked that she stepped out of character it was for just one episode. CC was always careful not to make her a sexual object. She never showed her shoulders, her skirts always went below her knees, her pjs were always sensible etc etc Im glad he did that she was to be taken seriously and she was – all the time though – I like that she steps out and shows a bit more femmininity im not saying that that means going to a sleazy bar getting a tatto and shacking up with a random stranger is feminine it’s just an extereme to make a point – she is a woman with real fears and insecuritys.”

      I completely understand what you’re saying.

      Here it is…

      Scully: Why don’t I have a desk?

      Mulder: Okay, so we’ll have them send down another desk and there won’t be any room to move around her but we can put them really close together face to face, maybe we can play some Battleship.

      I can’t believe I left that out!

  27. On a side note I wander what Gillian Anderson thought about this episode at the time….

    • I remember that she had said somewhere that she would have played the part differently had she known that Never Again was going to air after Leonard Betts instead of before, as it was originally intended.

  28. “The brighter the light, the darker the shadow. Everything has a shadow side. If you don’t see the shadow of a person, you don’t see the person and are blinded by idealization. If you don’t see your own shadow, you are in denial, and will project your shadow onto others.” – C.G. Jung

    this episode actually makes more sense to me coming before L.Betts- and it is one of the most masterful in character development for the whole series, which is why its a favorite. I think it is not only consistent with Scully’s character but makes so much sense in explaining some of her underlying motivations- I felt like I understood Scully better after this aired.
    As Gillian Anderson said about it, “, “I thought it was a great idea. I personally was going through a dark period at the time, and I wanted to explore Scully’s dark side. For some reason, Glen and Jim were on the same wavelength that week. Afterward, a lot of people told me that on that episode I was so ‘unlike’ Scully or that ‘it showed my range’. I told them I thought they were wrong. I don’t think that what I did here was out of character for Scully. The only thing different is that the audience hadn’t seen it before.” …
    I really couldn’t agree more, although it looks like judging from the posts, many people couldn’t disagree more, but I think its all there if you look a little closer at Scully.

    • I won’t get into Jung, but he sounds suspiciously like he’d been studying eastern religion and philosophy. Again, if it’s a worldview issue, than if you’re of a similar worldview Scully must have a dark, dangerous side or else she wouldn’t be so perfect otherwise.

      Gillian was going through some dark things. Morgan was going through some dark things. They wanted to express that through Scully.

      And while I get what Gillian is saying, an argument could be made that your character is tied to your reputation. If I make a habit of telling the truth and then I lie, people will say it’s out of character. If I tell them that’s not true, that I’ve always been a liar, I’ve just never lied to anyone before…?

  29. Amazing blog, I’m kicking myself for finding it so late. I’m just having a rewatch and started reading your blog, which is amazing. You seem to think everything I think (lol!) and I love the way you wrote it all down.

    Wow, I hated this episode for so many years. Since I was a shipper from the moment I saw these two – almost 20 years ago – everyone who stood between them was an ultimate foe of mine. That’s why I never like this episode. I watched it tonight and I have so many thoughts in my have head (I’m overanalyzing it or what?) that I decided to write it here, to increase the boredom level on your blog! (pardon my english, it’s not my first language)
    I tend to choose Scully’s side, almost always – maybe the reason is simple female solidarity, or maybe it’s because I wanted to be in her shoes when I had my teenage crush on Mulder/DD, so I identified myself with her somehow. And I always admired her. The thing is – I always felt that Mulder was a dominating character. Not that it is something bad, I undestood why he is the epicentre of the plot, I neved had any problem with it. He is the heart of the story, and there’s no reason why Scully would be as important as he is – especially in the beginning. She’s always one step behind Mulder. Sometimes this “one step” is bigger, sometimes they are almost equals. And this “one step” is – what I believe – the concept of “Never Again”.

    What I like about this episode? Well, it struck me how many underlying emotions are there – you can see them, on Scully’s face, on Mulder’s face, they are in all those unfinished sentences they are speaking, the gestures, the awkward pauses. Scully is hurt, because she discovers, that the X Files is her life now – she doesn’t know how could that happen, that working with Mulder is so important for her. She doesn’t understand it, so when she realizes it, it makes her unhappy. She wasn’t expecting it, and I can’t blame her – she doesn’t even believe in those theories and yet her whole life revolves around them. How did it happened? I don’t think she realised at this point what it’s all about (insert the obvious shipper theory here!). She wanted to be appreciated, yes – and she even says it herself in the episode – but that’s just a tip of an iceberg. Everyone wants to be appreciated, but I think that if she wouldn’t care for her partner that much, it wouldn’t be so hurtful, she wouldn’t just go and risk her reputation (and life) having a one night stand with a stranger. The thing is it is much more personal for her. She feels lost and confused, because she developed feelings she can’t identify yet. She only knows that the problem is related to her partnership with Mulder.

    And when she’s bringing to subject to Mulder… he gets hurt too. Because the way she speaks about it makes him believe, that it’s not personal at all. What would it be related to him personally? She just wants a desk. A desk? – Okay, where just partners at work – you want a desk, I’ll get you one, whatever. You don’t want me to tell you what to do next? Okay, do what you think is right, whatever. I can see why Mulder was confused by her actions – I’d feel as I was receiving an unexpected and very cold shower too. So in the end we have two people hurt. She’s ashamed, because her silent rebel ended pretty badly. Mulder (great acting on Duchovny’s part – the way he looks at her in that scene is so meaningful) has no idea how to start the conversation, so he ‘mulderishly’ knocks her down with his irony. I don’t think he was able to control it, it was purely emotional. It was a bit like protective father yelling at his little girl, because she put herself in danger, and he couldn’t do anything about it. Something makes him calm down – I’d say it’s the look on her face. She’s clearly hurt, and he wasn’t trying to make her feel that way, so he calms down a bit. Scully’s not going to answer anyway, so he changes the topic, trying to move on, but what’s really inside his head is the question “why”. So he asks and once again he receives the signal that it’s not personal, and it really not his bussiness. He tries to disagree, but he realises he would say a bit too much, and she’s clearly not interested in anything personal so he stops.
    PS: Oh, the scene when Mulder receives a call and he thinks it’s Scully (and it is, but she doesn’t say a word) is great. He’s like a teenage girl waiting for the call from “the boy she likes”! The dissapointment on his face is priceless too.

    • Mulder has no idea how to handle Scully and the changes she’s going through and it shows. DD does do a great job of expressing that here.

      It’s fair to say that Mulder usually takes the lead in cases. I always assumed that’s because the paranormal is his purview and Scully is joining in his work, not the other way around. But they really do come off as equal partners. Scully doesn’t read like a mere sidekick or even like a First Mate to his Captain. I think the show wouldn’t have worked so well if she had.

      But I think, like you said, Scully woke up one morning and realized that things she doesn’t even believe in have become her life’s work and she’s questioning her choices. Where did being the good girl and the good agent get her?

      • Did you study psychology. Your synopsis is very detailed and the the way you gleaned the characters wow.
        But I don’t believe either way Scully slept with Jerse, inspite of what you said, they both woke up in different places with their clothes on

        • Oh, I didn’t say they did, or at least I didn’t mean to give that impression. Chris Carter is clear that they didn’t. I just said that Morgan and Wong originally wrote it with them sleeping together. My argument is that wouldn’t have worked.

  30. BlackOiledSalesman

    This is a really great discussion,

    First off, there was definitely no sex in the final cut that aired, unless Dana Scully has some sort of weird sexual fetish about having sex and then consigning her lover to the couch and she goes to bed fully clothed. She woke up in Ed’s shirt and her work pants the next morning. Also, remember that Ed told her that he would be a perfect gentleman and not try to initiate sex with her and offered to sleep on the couch while she slept in his bed….which is exactly what happened when the morning scene appears the next day.

    The only thing I am willing to believe is that Ed tried to renege on his promise and was kissing her after being goaded by the tattoo. However, based on the scene the next morning, it would be logical that Dana Scully would have initially responded by kissing him back, and then pushing back when it dawned on her that she was sleeping with a man she just met hours earlier. Again, this is based on the morning scene the day after. In this scenario, it would have been highly improbable.

    As for her state of mind, I can go along with the fact that Scully needed to have sex, due to the fact that she had not had any for three years previously; she is human after all. Ed Jerse certainly would have been one-night stand material. Also He lived three and a half hours away, making a long-term relationship unlikely, was not really her type emotionally, so she could just make this about the sex.

    Having thought about Mulder’s boorishness throughout the episode, it does seem like a caricature of his personality. He has been selfish before, but the viewer is somehow given the impression that this is a central part of his character. Remember this is the same Mulder who was so heartbroken and guilty over Scully’s comatose condition in One Breath that he tendered his resignation to Skinner, telling him that, “I do not like what I’ve become.”

    For a character to give up his life quest out of deep remorse for his role in Scully’s condition is incredibly noble and I am honestly not sure how many people can do it. This is what make “asshole Mulder” a bit OTT in my opinion. It seemed too contrived to me somehow and overdone.

    This is my opinion and I am sticking to it…

    • I think playing up Scully’s issues with controlling men by throwing Mulder under the bus is kind of easy and irritating. Agreed. He’s a lot of things but he’s not as hopelessly unselfish as they made him out to be.

  31. Hello it’s me gotta a new e addy. Solome plz come back.

  32. Great write-up. Morgan & Wong wrote some great episodes for this series – and even in season 4, I consider both Home and Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (the version we got) to be some of the season’s best. But with this episode, and The Field Where I Died, and especially all this stuff you’ve reported about the direction they wanted to steer the series and its characters in, I really get the feeling that while they were gone, they lost sight of what this series was about. The X-Files didn’t need to evolve into something new, it already had a winning formula. All it needed was to continue to explore and perfect that formula, and find good writers with good ideas who could create great, classic episodes (which is basically what Vince Gilligan was up to).

    • I completely agree.

      The question then is, when *is* it time to shake things up? Season 2 they found the formula. Season 3 they honed it. Season 4 they elevated it. Season 5 they relished it. Season 6 they played with it… and lost some fans.

      I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate since, like I said, I’m in complete agreement with you. But you have to wonder how the showrunners and the writers know when to color inside the lines or not. Home was a brilliant divergence. This, not so much.

      • The answer is probably more subjective than anything else. (When Humbug broke formula, I hated it, but when Jose Chung did something similar, I loved it). I have a feeling they would have been criticized for sticking to formula if they had done so further into the series, but personally, I’ve welcomed formulaic episodes even into the seventh season.

        I never begrudge a series for experimentation, but in this case, I liked what The X-Files did before it changed well enough that I would have preferred the experimentation to remain the exception rather than the rule, instead of what happened in the sixth season – not that it wasn’t inevitable, given the age of the series, the release of the movie, and the move to L.A.

        Perhaps I’m just feeling nostalgic for youth lost that can never be returned to.

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  36. Simply put: Wow ! What a great review and debate. Oh how I wish I wasn’t so late to this party. Just wanted to say a few things.

    1. The opening and closing dialogues between M&S were outstanding; they can say so much when saying so little or even saying nothing at all.

    2. I’m in the Scully didn’t have sex camp. The scene was cut before they kissed and the morning after scenes made it clear enough. I’d have no problem with Scully getting her groove on whenever she pleases (but, my infatuation with Scully notwithstanding, Mulder is the only one for her) but as you said she’d not do so in such a risky manner and it’s more fitting for her to not have slept with Jerse.

    3. Scully was so hot in this episode: the tattooing scene, playing with her straw at the bar, and the gasps as Jerse “restrained” her. She’s always been hot and sexy since the pilot (“not in a ‘look at me’ sort of way” as you put it ), but it’s nice to see this side of her for a change (a little fan service once in a while never hurts 🙂 ).

    4. Scully smiles several times in this episode. 🙂 She has such a lovely smile and we don’t get to see it often enough.

    5. Damn the X-Files writers and their red herrings. In this case it was Jerse’s tattoo being shown to change from winking to both eyes open. What other purpose would they have to do this unless it was to misdirect the viewer into thinking the tattoo had a life of its own (but in the end it was intimated that the tattoo had nothing to do with Jerse’s psychotic behaviour) and for the suspense that Scully may be in danger because she got tattooed as well (the ergot contamination was enough). Besides, the ep would have worked without a paranormal angle since it was really about Scully’s moment of crisis and the MOTW was not the focus.

    • I suspect that despite the intimations at the end, there was something paranormal going on after all. But then, that’s the ambiguous nature of The X-Files. We’re almost never completely sure of what we saw, or at least, Mulder and Scully aren’t.

      I too wish Scully smiled more. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy Seasons 1 & 6 so much!

  37. I think this episode was definitely better following the Leonard Betts one, so it was a good decision to adjust the schedule to put it after that and before the Memento Mori one. Simply because the way the episode plays out, it makes more sense for it to have been placed in that spot and makes Scully’s feelings and choices to have some sort of context rather than just a random ‘rebellion’.

    Although Scully is obviously frustrated with Mulder, she actually seems rather depressed more than anything, especially at the start, almost shell shocked in a way. She hasn’t been to a doctor to confirm but following what Leonard Betts said about needing something she had (and he needed cancer masses from people) plus waking up with a nosebleed, Scully knows what’s wrong and that is causing her to look at her life in a way she hasn’t before, which is typical of people who go through something like that.

    From the beginning of the episode where Scully is looking at the names of people who died on the wall, seeing the roses placed at the based in memory of someone, it’s obvious that she is contemplating where her life is at and seeing the suddenly real and imminent countdown to the end of it. She’s looking at what has become of her life and what there is to show for it. Her argument with Mulder is not about the desk, it’s what it represents. She’s given up her life to help him with the X-files and what has it given her? Her career isn’t moving forward any more (she originally joined the FBI because she thought it was an opportunity to distinguish herself), she’s been abducted for 3 months, kidnapped by killers, has lost her sister because they thought it was Scully and yet she doesn’t even have a designated desk to show that she works there. It’s obviously a ‘pressure-cooker’ type of scenario, where the look at her life has made her wonder about what happened to lead her to where she is now.

    Also, the lack of thought by Mulder seems to indicate his lack of belief in her contribution to the work, at least to her in her current state of mind. His high-handedness in deciding what she’s going to do, despite not being her superior (although a more experienced agent, Mulder is not actually on a higher level than Scully), and slightly berating her for not believing what his contact said also appears to be showing doubts in her abilities, as though without him she wouldn’t be able to manage things. His choice of words by saying she was “keeping an eye on things” for him, as though he is in charge.

    Scully says to Ed Jerse that she wishes she could be impulsive because it’s against her character type. She actually seems to be rather wistful here; Scully is typically level headed and thinks things through, which as a scientist and doctor is natural characteristics to possess. It’s why she doesn’t believe in all the paranormal theories that Mulder either spouts himself or believes any ‘out there’ theory the way he does (he’s actually quite credulous for all his investigative skills), although note that Scully has been willing to believe when the evidence supports it (such as in the E.B.E. episode when the truck they’re following seems to have been attacked by aliens, Scully asks if it fits the profile). It’s not uncommon for people who have a life-threatening illness to wish they could have been braver in their life choices, to have been impulsive or take a risk once in a while. It’s why you hear about terminal patients who then try sky diving etc; it’s a want to experience everything possible whilst they still can. After all, it’s been said that at the end of your life, “if only” are the two saddest words you’ll ever say.

    Even with all that going on, Scully had still gone to Philadelphia to investigate Mulder’s theories and realises what’s actually going on. I don’t think that Scully would actually have called Ed Jerse if Mulder hadn’t basically said he doesn’t trust her judgement by wanting to take over the investigation because he doesn’t believe her or what she’s found – it pushes her in to taking a chance. Scully bristles against the implications of that and how arrogantly Mulder comes across (not for the first time) by riding roughshod over her conclusions, simply because he believes differently. It’s what’s been his downfall again and again, such as only a few episodes earlier in the Paper Hearts episode, where he refuses to believe Scully when she says that John Lee Roche is playing him and because of that, he escapes and kidnaps another young girl, which in turn forces Mulder to kill John Lee Roche and therefore lose the chance to find out who the sixteenth heart belong to.

    At the end of the episode, Mulder still doesn’t get what’s going on, he doesn’t ask her why she’s feeling the way she does but assumes it’s only to do with him, even though she’d tried to explain it at the start. Her inability to properly articulate what was wrong in the beginning, her frustrations and disappointment were things Mulder didn’t even bother to explore, he just brushed off as needing time away from each other. His entire attitude during that final scene was annoying – he doesn’t understand and can’t seem to really even consider how to start the conversation. Despite his skills as a profiler, sometimes he really just has tunnel vision.

    Oh and I also think he was going to say “it’s mine too” at the end.

  38. Can someone please double check this. In an early scene where Ed is at work and thinks his female work colleagues are taunting him Betty says “trash her desk” to Ed. Is the second women in the scene Jodie Foster, standing behind the first women who’s desk has just been trashed? I swear it is. I had to pause it. Was this a blink and you’ll miss it cameo?

    Also in the morning scene at Ed’s apartment, why is the there the focus on her ID badge, first in her jacket, then falling on the floor, then picking it up? I would understand if Ed noticed, because when he checks the phone to see who she called it would have been confirmation she was an FBI agent. But he didn’t even notice the badge so what was the point?

    Another continuity issue. Would we have seen Scully’s tattoo again in season 8’s roadrunners where they try and put that big slug in her back? Or was it her neck, I can’t remember. Would have been good in the episode Millennium that she said something along the lines of yes I know what that symbol means – I have tattooed on my back!

    By the way this is one of my all time favourite episodes. Love the score too.

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