Christmas Carol 5×5: She must’ve dialed 1-800-The-Great-Beyond.

Visions of Sugar Plums??

A rare glimpse into Scully’s life outside of the X-Files confirms that she’s just as reserved off the job as she is professionally. Can we blame her? The Scully family table, seen again for the second time since “Gethsemene” (4×24), isn’t exactly the warmest place in the world. You could cut the underlying tensions with the proverbial butcher’s knife.

It’s Christmas time in X-Files land. You know what that means: Ghosts.

Well, maybe not a physical one exactly.

I’ve never given much credence to the “Scully as Latent Psychic” interpretation of The X-Files, but I must say, the woman does see/hear an awful lot of dead people. First she has a vision of her father right after his death in “Beyond the Sea” (1×12), then she dreams of Mulder barely back from the dead in “The Blessing Way” (3×1), next she sees dead strangers in “Elegy” (4×22), and now in “Christmas Carol”, she’s receiving phone calls from beyond the grave care of a deceased sister who was creepier alive than she is dead.

At this rate, I’d say Scully averages about one dead vision per season. We could also count her hospital visions in “One Breath” (2×8), but then she was already half dead herself. Even so, I can’t help but think of “One Breath” when I watch this two-episode arc, not only because Melissa Scully makes a return appearance, but because they’re both lessons in death, or more specifically, conversations on whether or not it’s more humane to preserve life or allow it to end. Oh, and then there are all the “Baby Dana” flashbacks…

Speaking of “Baby Dana”, it would seem that even as a child Scully was the type to keep her thoughts to herself, at least that’s the picture that’s painted for us here. There’s a trend that started in Season 4 with Scully’s cancer where Scully is progressively characterized as isolated and even somewhat anti-social. Oh, she’s not lacking in social graces the was Mulder is, but we get the feeling as time passes that she’s a little trapped in her own head.

I’m not sure what brought this characterization on, exactly, except that it created more drama during her cancer arc for Scully to keep her emotions to herself and then it continued from there. If you look at Season 1, particularly in episodes like “Squeeze” (1×2), “The Jersey Devil” (1×4) and “Lazarus” (1×14), we get the impression that Scully likes and is liked by people. Over the course of this current two-parter, the Scully we meet acts like she’s never had a friend in the world.

So then what about Mulder? It looks like there are aspects of herself that Scully is still unwilling to share. I’m not so sure that makes her isolated and alone so much as it makes her a normal human being. How could you possibly fully explain the workings of your own heart to another living soul? We’re too complicated for that, but I digress.

Scully reverts back a little to her old ways with Mulder, wanting to reach out to him but hanging up the phone instead. Is she too proud to admit she needs help and support? Does she not want to sound crazier than he does? Probably both, but we’ll never know exactly. Scully’s relationship with Mulder is hardly the focus of this episode.

And so to the crux of the matter: I can honestly say that in my teenage naïveté I didn’t originally see the twist coming at the end, and I should have. But I must say that I believe I stifled a groan at Scully’s microwave pack of Instant Motherhood intruding into my X-Files world.

Not that the topic of Scully and motherhood is completely sudden. Ever since a carefully crafted conversation on a public bench in “Home” (4×3) the topic has been up for discussion, even more so since Mulder literally stumbled upon the secret of Scully’s infertility in “Memento Mori” (4×15).  Now that Scully’s cancer plot is behind us, it’s only right that we watch her deal with the emotional aftermath and her fertility is as good a place as any to start.

And yet… even after all these years I’m still not sold on the idea of Scully becoming a mother out of the clear blue sky. We’re not even talking about an ooey, gooey little baby that she has to accept, but a fully formed child well into her developmental years. And Emily is so lacking in interest and personality… Can Scully really feel such an instant, strong connection to a stranger? Can we as the audience feel connected enough to the child to believe that she is Scully’s? Can we even enjoy them together? I can only speak for myself when I say that later on, watching Scully’s motherhood being just as suddenly stripped away only adds to my sense that it didn’t belong to begin with.


This one is a bit of a Christmas fantasy of sorts. Who hasn’t wished that they could hear a lost loved one’s voice on the line one last time? Who hasn’t been afraid they’d forget the nuances, the timber of that voice before too much time had passed? For exploring that idea alone I’ll give this episode the most credit.

Okay, so “Christmas Carol” is not one of my favorite episodes of Season 5. It’s a little… subdued for my taste since, if you’ve read my reviews at all, I’m a sucker for an exciting, adventuresome X-File. Give me a romp in the deep, dark woods anytime. In comparison, this sleepy little story doesn’t make my finger twitch over the rewind button.

But another part of me is quite proud that this show can vary itself so drastically from week to week. We just went from a black and white fantasy horror fest to a quiet, contemplative and incredibly contained mystery in a mere 7 days. If that’s not good television I don’t know what is.

There’s one thing that still nags at me: Where are all the other little Emilys? Surely the Syndicate, responsible for clones upon drones, didn’t stop at one little Uber Scully.


Flotsam and Jetsam:

Wait, when did Scully learn she can’t have kids and more than that, when did she find out that her abduction was the cause? Mulder knew as of “Memento Mori” , but he doesn’t tell Scully about that little discovery of his until “Emily” (5×7) and even then he doesn’t explain in detail until Season 7. Sure, her doctors could have told her there was something wrong, but how did she know it was a result of her abduction and that her sterility wasn’t brought about by her cancer treatments?

I know I’m cold-hearted, but Scully giving Emily her cross so easily always irked me.

This has to be one of Gillian Anderson’s best looking episodes ever. Well, except for that jacked up weave they put on her head.

It’s comforting to know Bill Scully, Jr. was always a punk, even in childhood.

It’s amazing how streamlined the adoption process was made for Scully. Then there’s the fact that the things Scully confesses to the caseworker would have gotten her name scratched off of any respectable list. Ah, the miracle of creative license.

“Danny” still makes an appearance at this late date.

Best Quotes:

Mini Scully: This has got to be it! It’s got to be “Hotel California!”


Bill Scully, Jr.: You really think Melissa had a baby?
Scully: Yes. I do.
Bill Scully, Jr.: She called you from beyond the grave to tell you that? Sounds like something that partner of yours would say.


Tara Scully: Oh! Oh, that was a good one!
Bill Scully, Jr.: What? Is he kicking?
Tara Scully: Oh, he’s kicking! He’s kick-boxing! Well you had boys and girls, so which one kicked more?
Margaret Scully: Oh, I had some pretty tough little girls.


Scully: I don’t believe in fate. I think we have to choose our own path.
Melissa Scully: Well, just don’t mistake the path with what’s really important in life.
Scully: Which is what?
Melissa Scully: The people you’re gonna meet along the way. You don’t know who you’re gonna meet when you join the F.B.I. You don’t know how your life is gonna change… or how you are gonna change the life of others.

15 responses to “Christmas Carol 5×5: She must’ve dialed 1-800-The-Great-Beyond.

  1. The mini Scully you quoted making the the reference to the album being Hotel California, that is Gillian Anderson’s younger sister Zoe at 14 making her debut. By the way I also agree with you in that G A. looks good in these two episodes. Ms. Anderson lost her brother Aaron two weeks ago.

  2. I know what you mean about Scully becoming more antisocial as the show wore on. I got into it in about the third season and didn’t see the first season until much later, and I remember being shocked at Jersey Devil with its first-season Scully who has friends and a godson and helps with kids’ birthday parties and goes on dates.

    Agree that this episode is a little meh. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it’s just there. Scully and Emily. The only thing this two-parter ever had going for me is that I liked that Scully’s daughter has my name.

    • Scully’s character definitely evolved, I think much moreso than Mulder’s who mostly just becomes a more exaggerated version of himself. Scully starts out cheeky and fiery and becomes more serious and introspective as time wears on.

  3. While I enjoy the episodes that delve into Scully’s personal life, I have to say I am right there with you on this whole Emily scenario. I always hated this storyline because it just seems so far-fetched that this would fall into her lap while she is out in San Diego, and the tie that they give it is Melissa speaking to her from the “great beyond”. I just don’t buy it. I think this is a storyline that could have been done a bit more realistically if they made this a plot to the season (and thank god they didn’t).

    Loved GIllian’s sister Zoe’s part in this episode. Ugh. More commentary after “Emily”.

  4. I agree with juicyfizz here: The whole “Melissa calls from the grave” plot is just “meh”. Constructed to conveniently serve the plot and neither before nor after this episode do we hear again of such a “call” to Scully. I don’t buy that while I’m not at odds with the “Emily” plot altogether.
    Another thing I’m curious about as a woman is how Scully found out she was unable to have children. If her menstruation stopped, what happened in season 7 then? Sorry, just a thought, I don’t want to start an awkward discussion here. 😉

    • Awkward as it is, I’ve thought about it because it made no sense!

      Scully’s cancer treatments could have left her sterile. Granted. But the implication here is that Scully can’t have children because the mean ‘ole aliens took her ova hostage. THAT I don’t understand. How would the doctors know unless they went looking and why would they go looking unless Scully was trying to get pregnant and had been unsuccessful? We know for sure that Mulder hadn’t told her because he only breaks the news to her this episode. It’s a convoluted puzzle.

  5. Okay, I actually really like this episode (much more so than the second episode in the arch), and I think the main reason for that is one of the main reasons I identify with Scully in general.

    This is one of those episodes in which (it’s never actually said, but can be implied) they deal with Scully’s Irish-Catholicism. Now, I am mostly Irish Catholic (my Mother’s family is mostly Irish and my Father’s family has a bit of Irish in it; both family’s have been here (in America) for a while, so there’s some inter-mixing. The predominate nationality is Irish…I digress) and was raised in the Irish Catholic tradition, so I know the whole deal with the ghosts and seeing loved ones from the grave. I’ve never actually seen a loved one beyond the grave (as far as I can tell), but I can’t deny “feeling” things and such that I don’t really want to believe (I’m so really Scully, it’s not funny).

    Anyway, Irish Catholics believe in ghosts. I was raised to believe they (the loved ones whom went on to Heaven) still exist in our relm when they are needed (ie, to give us a message or tell us they’re okay), but I still haven’t seen it and don’t quite believe it. The point is, believing in past loved ones coming back to talk with you in either dreams or visions is a very Irish-Catholic thing, and although I’m a hard-core Catholic like later seasons Scully, I haven’t scene a ghost or had a vision, so I have trouble believing. However, I can see where this storyline came from, and thus respect it. When I watch Scully struggle with believing a ghost is calling her, I feel the same way. This is one of the reasons why later seasons Scully is someone I relate to (a fictional character, that is) more than most: she’s a realistic (relatively) young Irish-Catholic woman whom fully believes in her faith, but hasn’t really seen all the cliche aspecs associated with it (Scully has seen more than me, though; I don’t think I’d be such a skeptic of Mulder if I’d seen all that…Which brings me to another unrelated point about how Mulder believes in everything but Scully’s Catholisism…)…

    So, basically Emily or no Emily, I love this arch for its exploration of Scully, her Irish-Catholic (so realistic, I wonder who actually wrote it) family, and the whole idea that Scully’s cancer was NOT this one-time thing that wouldn’t matter after a while. Additionally, I love how this epidode shows how good of an investigator Scully is; being so analytical and scientific, it often seems as though she’s a better detective (in general) than Mulder.

  6. Here’s one thing I can’t work out – since the writers of The X-Files clearly had rich and fertile imaginations, why all the Bills? Mulder’s dad is named Bill, Scully’s dad is named Bill, Scully’s brother is named Bill…was that seriously all that they could come up with?

    And having one main character called Dana, another Diana? Come on.

  7. I like this episode but the only thing that bugs me is that fake fluffy toy rabbit baby Dana kept in her lunch box and accidentally killed. Are we supposed to believe if you chuck a few maggots on a fluffy toy we’ll buy it as real? The effects department could of surely made up a more relalistic version.

  8. I thought Margaret Scully gave Dana her cross on her 16th birthday? (“Ascension” 2X06)

  9. Pingback: Season 5, Episode 6 – Christmas Carol | The X-Files Truth Podcast

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