Emily 5×7: Now, are you two the parents?


A Toy Story.

Emily just isn’t that interesting. Yeah, I said it. “Emily” the episode isn’t much better.

To start with, one of these days I’m going to make a top 5 list of worst opening monologues. This one is an obvious contender for the prize. Usually, they leave me rolling my eyes but this one actually makes me gag a little. For some reason, all that shifting sand reminds me of the hourglass from the opening of Days of our Lives. Worse, Scully’s reading sounds like the Dear Diary entry of a 13-year-old.

I don’t buy this new version of Scully who’s all alone in life with no one to understand her. Scully may be a little distant, a little protective of herself, but is she really that pathetic? She had a close, if sometimes volatile relationship with her sister. Her mother may be very different from her but she seems to understand her almost better than she does herself. I don’t think I even need to go into the depth of her relationship with Mulder. No, I don’t think there’s any valid explanation for this turn in characterization accept that it makes a nice backdrop for gaining and losing the unconditional love of a child. Whether or not being able to raise Emily would have truly left Scully any less isolated we’ll never actually know.

Emily, the enigmatic child of the enigmatic doctor who was never meant to be, actually has her origins explained more clearly than one would dare hope for The X-Files. Not that the writers didn’t dance around the answers for as long as they could hold out the note.

We had this conversation back in the comments section of “Memento Mori” (4×15) before, but sometimes The X-Files has this habit of resorting to hilariously obtuse dialogue. To quote MScully:

“Generic example with made up but probably not too far from accurate dialogue:
[Scully has just discovered something earth-shattering that she must share with Mulder immediately!]
Scully: Mulder, I’ve found something. Something unbelievable. Something I’m still trying to understand. Something I just can’t quite believe…
Mulder: What is it, Scully?

For real! What is it! If you discovered something that profound, wouldn’t you just call him up and SAY it?”

In hindsight, that’s almost prophetic because in this episode we have:

Scully: Then why are you here?
Mulder: Because I know something that I haven’t said, something that they’ll use against you to jeopardize your custody of Emily. No matter how much you love this little girl, she was a miracle that was never meant to be, Scully.

Oh, out with it, man!

But silly dialogue aside and in all seriousness, both “Christmas Carol” (5×5) and “Emily” suffer a bit from the same syndrome as “The Field Where I Died” (4×5). It’s hard to accept a one-off character as being a major part of our central characters’ lives. The relationship between Scully and her “daughter” Emily is so complicated that it leans more toward awkward than touching. How does Scully feel about suddenly becoming a mother? How should she feel? And how are we as the audience supposed to feel about the situation?

“I felt in the end that I was a little low energy, a little too melancholy. It was hard to find the right attitude for Scully in dealing with a child that’s apparently hers; to find the right flavor of relationship to her and this disease she’s going through, all mixed up with the aspect of the paranormal. Another trouble was that she had no history with this child so I couldn’t play the kind of attachment I would feel if my own daughter, Piper, were going through the same thing.” – Gillian Anderson (Meisler, Andy (1999). Resist or Serve: The Official Guide to the X-Files Volume 4. Harper Prism. pp. 70–71.)

I hate to say it, but that vagueness shows. Honestly, in a real way it works because how else could Scully feel except uncertain about how she should feel? The situation is too impossible for anything more concrete. The only thing that’s certain is that Scully wants justice for this little girl. Not that this is unusual for Scully whose fighting spirit shows up whenever she sees someone in need of an advocate. But it’s personal this time. She wants to protect her baby… and Mulder wants to protect his… and I mean that in the most platonic way possible. Sort of.

Mulder, who was reduced to a cameo appearance last episode, is making up for it by inserting himself everywhere this time around. He’s holding evil clones at gunpoint, flirting with old women, and ruining science experiments. And while his compassion for Emily is on his sleeve the whole time, he makes it clear that his first priority is making sure that Scully’s alright. Even his efforts to get help for Emily feel more like efforts to get Scully what she wants: a life with her little girl. What we have here is a follow up to the guilt we first saw from him over Scully’s barren condition in “Memento Mori”.

I agree with him. While she’s fighting a deadly disease is probably not the proper time to tell your closest friend that you have a vial of her ova in your pocket. Neither was when she was on her death bed. And why would you ruin the joy of her miraculous recovery by bringing up sterility in conversation? Poor Mulder found himself stuck with this secret.

…Or so he thinks. Scully already figured out that she’s barren and why (my puzzlement over that is below). So why Mulder doesn’t decide to tell her now that there’s hope, that he has her ova chilling out in his fridge is beyond me. Maybe once Emily dies, the moment has passed yet again.

Speaking of death, I’m not sure how I feel about Mulder and Scully’s choices at the end of this one. It harkens back to Melissa Scully’s argument for taking Scully off the respirator in “One Breath” (2×8), that sometimes we go to far by artificially preserving a life that should end, but what about preserving a life that could be painful? Is that the same thing?

It’s doubtful the mysterious green substance Mulder found would have ultimately saved Emily. The effect would probably only have lasted till the next dose was due. And then what would Mulder and Scully have done? Chased down more Bounty Hunters till they got their hands on some more? But it’s still interesting to think of the “What Ifs.” Maybe Mulder wondered what if Scully could have held her child a little longer.

But just like in “Memento Mori”, Mulder is still keeping secrets, still trying to protect Scully from heartache to the best of his meager ability. Once again, Mulder’s left holding the vial.

And the Verdict is…

I hate this episode a lot less than I let on. In fact, I don’t hate it at all, I just wouldn’t turn it on “just because.”

What with the advent of William, the tragedy of Emily has been all but forgotten. Maybe if this two-episode arc had been more monumental, the story of Emily and her potential identical sisters would have been revisited. But despite this episode’s best intentions and a solid performance from Gillian Anderson, this is a plot lacking in emotional investment. There’s something too surreal about Emily’s existence for it to pack a power punch.

To its credit, “Emily” is livelier than the melancholy “Christmas Carol”, though not by much. The climax is barely distinguishable from the rest of the story, but the music cue changes, so there you go.

B

Nags:

Mulder acts like the fact that Scully has never given birth is proof of conspiracy, but objectively, that wouldn’t prove that Scully hadn’t at one time given/sold her ova willingly.

How in the heck does Frohike know what hormones pregnant women have in abundance? I know the Lone Gunmen are almost an encyclopedic resource when it comes to some subjects, but that’s just too much. That sounds like a line that would have originally given to Scully before a script rearrangement.

There are so many issues with these elderly women carrying babies to term. Merely doping them with hormones wouldn’t be enough to combat their frailty, or the large number of risks involved when older women give birth, assuming they’re even giving birth since the babies seem to be growing outside the womb. And on that note, since they’re ultimately going into test tubes, why not just raise them from the beginning in a petrie dish? Why use the women at all?

So, Scully knew that she was barren because of her abduction, but she didn’t realize they had extracted her ova? It doesn’t make sense that the doctors figured out she couldn’t have children without investigating why. We’re not talking about a woman who was actively trying to conceive children so this isn’t a condition they would randomly stumble upon, they would have had to check her out.

Heres and Theres:

What if you were raised to believe you were a normal human child and then later found out what you were? How were the other clones and hybrids that we met in “Colony” (2×16) and “Herrenvolk” (4×1) raised?

Sorry. We’ve already done the moving fetus thing. I didn’t jump this time, I was only counting the seconds till Mulder did.

We haven’t seen the Bounty Hunter in a while and we still don’t get to see him in his true form. Now there are at least two of them.

Best Quotes:

Frohike: [On the Phone] Are you in adoption services, Mulder?
Mulder: No, I’m at the maternity ward.
Frohike: Any… fetching young mothers in there?
Mulder: Yeah, I think you might have a shot here, Frohike. You know anything about pharmaceuticals?
Frohike: Medicinal or… recreational?

———————

Scully: Who were the men who would create a life whose only hope is to die?
Mulder: I don’t know. But that you found her and you had a chance to love her… maybe she was meant for that too.

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34 responses to “Emily 5×7: Now, are you two the parents?

  1. I have not re-watched these two episodes yet, but the last quote you mentioned is curious: Mulder: ” I don’t know. But that you found her and you had a chance to love her… maybe she was meant for that too.”

    Doesn’t that sound like Mulder believes in something spiritual looking out for Emily and Scully? Maybe even a belief in God? Is this an early sign of Mulder’s conversion?

    • That’s definitely interesting. I wonder if Chris Carter already planned to eventually take Mulder to that point or if that was purely a product of the imagination of “John Gilnitz.”

  2. I haven’t watched these two episodes in quite a while, and though they aren’t in my list of favorites, the Mulder Potato Head face makes the whole silly story line worth while!

  3. Aw, you quoted me. Honored!

    And yes, Emily is alllll kinds of boring. Relatively cute kid, though.

  4. Apologies for my tardiness, I know it’s been a while since I posted a comment here. Reading your reviews for these was very interesting Salome and I think I agree mostly with you, the biggest problem I had were two fold. First of all, I actually liked Christmas Carol, I thought it had a nice slow pace and the scenes in the Scully household have a lovely awkwardness to them. The issues I have start when Mulder shows up in Emily and all of a sudden the lovely subtleties of the first episode give way to Mulder going on the rampage, threatening doctors like he’s a cross between Dirty Harry and the Terminator, not to mention the stuff with the shapeshifters running around the place.

    If anything I think the major issue here, and it seems to be an issue a lot of people have with these two episodes, is the emotional connection between Scully and Emily. I think both Gillian and the kid do well here, the issue is the writing. The X Files was so keen to keep the mythology and the stand alones seperate, yet the only way to buy into Scully’s connection to Emily was if it were to develop over several episodes, yet it’s being shoehorned into two episodes just. The series would learn from this when it came to William, which had two seasons to develop, but here the relationship is made to take on too much in too short a space of time.

    • Eamon! Your observations have been missed! :oD

      You know, I was watching Christmas Carol and thinking this would be your speed. It’s actually a better episode than Emily in a lot of ways and if I could grade by half steps, I would. It sets everything up well it’s just that Emily reveals the weaknesses in finishing what Christmas Carol started. And I really, really thought that we’d meet another Emily sooner or later, the potential was certainly there and Scully could’ve been given something more to work with emotionally. It certainly would have the replaced the investment her cancer gave her in the mythology. But I guess twas never to be. Maybe the neither here nor there relationship between Scully and Emily wasn’t worth dragging out.

      P.S. Did you see the Dr. Who finale? (Yep. I switched fandom gears. Just like that.)

  5. The opening scene where Scully is on the sand is beautful and poetic but it leaves you wanting for something more. the epi didn’t deliver. good idea though. Should have been Mulders child and she should not have died. Taken away and left us wondering whom child was she. better writter would gotten this epi an A.

  6. Maybe someone can answer a question about “Emily” I’ve had for a long time. What does the empty casket of sand mean? Scully seemed surprised by it and Mulder turns his back toward her. I’ve been thinking that It all had some sort of deeper meaning but I just can’t reconcile this in my mind. I was hoping this scene would have been addressed in the review but since it wasn’t I’m addressing it now. I mean are we supposed to assume that Emilys body just disintegrated like a clone?

    • The ending is definitely vague.

      Mulder turns his back before Scully opens the casket, probably to both give her some privacy and avoid seeing Emily’s corpse. But remember that just before that he said that the conspirators had destroyed all the evidence of what happened here and Scully says something like, “Not all the evidence,” and goes to view Emily. In other words, Emily’s body is evidence of the experiments they were conducting. However, they did their job thoroughly and even got rid of Emily’s corpse to hide their crimes, replacing it with sandbags. If she had just disintegrated, there wouldn’t have been sandbags, just sand. And besides, she should have melted into green goo.

  7. Thank you for your insights, I appreciate it!

  8. I forgot to write this in my “Christmas Carol” review… I’d like to point out that I think I dislike Tara almost as much as I dislike Bill. For different reasons of course. Tara is just so over the top bubbly and ugh I don’t even know. I have no idea how she and Bill are marred (thank god they’re fictional haahah).

    Anyway, moving right along. The intro to this episode is GOD AWFUL. There she is, walking in the sand at night as the desert wind blows her maxi dress and scarves all over… meanwhile her voiceover plays dramatically… Might as well rename this “I Dream of Emptywomb”. Gah. I cringe, truly I do. I couldn’t find the beauty in that scene at all… LOL.

    I hate what the Emily thing does to Scully though, for real. Thank god for Gillian, her performance in this two-parter at least made it worthwhile. Her acting was on point. The story, however…. meh.

    Also, who noticed the date next to Scully’s name on the form Mulder had? 10/13/94. I love when the 10:13 makes its appearance throughout the series. 🙂

  9. Okay, so I have this new theory in regards to Scully and her knowledge of her infertility and how it came about. I would imagine, after she was returned from the abduction, they ran every test possible on her, especially anything that would point toward sexual trauma; if that was the case, it’d be possible the doctors came across something to point toward infertility or super ovulation (not a doctor; don’t know what tests show what). If they found something of that nature, it’d be possible that they’d want to keep an eye on her fertility issues for a while; monitor Scully and such to see what was going on. Scully would then be privy the how and the when. It’s also possible, if this was the case, that after the new chip was implanted and her remission, she would be hopeful that the chip would reverse all the damage that has been done. Perhaps, just before going to CA for the holidays, her doctors told her that she was still infertile, which would be tough to take, even if to that point you weren’t sure on having children. That said, maybe that part took longer to heal, and god knows doctors can be wrong about that sort of thing. I have a family member who went through all sorts of fertility treatments in the early 80s to no effect. Then, several husbands later, she pops out three kids. Stuff happens.

    Anyway, it’s just a theory, but it might make the whole situation a bit more plausible.

    • That’s brilliant. What you say is about the only way it could make sense. Shame we’d have to think so hard about it, though. I doubt the writers did! If this is the case, Mulder was stumbling upon Scully’s barrenness in Memento Mori was a revelation only to him. Scully was already up on the whole thing. Well, except for the cloned Scully babies.

  10. oh boy, I disagree with the disagreement of the opening sequence here- I LOVED it. I think it was quite starkly beautiful and meant to reflect the emptiness of Scully’s emotional state (I think that is what she was really feeling more than anything- empty, nothing, …but really WANTED to feel something- wanted to have this love and connection in her life which is what Emily represented to her- in that, this child was more of an abstraction to Scully than a real tangible relationship)– I also thought it was an amazing foreshadowing of the sand in the casket at the end of the ep- a premonition of sorts– and an emotional statement that Scully feels that all the things she loves vanish- the impermanence of life– which she talks about in Christmas carol to the therapist- how she was so afraid of death and dying that she kept herself somewhat removed (protected) from people…and I think that is PERFECTLY in step with what we have seen of her character from the beginning of the series- a very serious, reserved, and private person. Even as far back as ‘One Breath’ with the snake story, they discuss Scully’s fear of death….so, yeah– I loved it and found it to be quite touching. The relationship with Emily was to me, a representation of what Scully couldn’t have more that a real loss of a child….

  11. Just watched this one last night. Here’s my biggest question/annoyance: How in the world did Scully explain this to her family? At the end of ‘Christmas Carol’ she lets the bomb drop on her family that she is Emily’s mother, but then there is no conversation in ‘Emily’ with her family about how this could be. I was craving a scene between Scully and her mother that might shed some insight on Scully’s thoughts regarding her infertility and Emily’s existence. This would also have been a nice mother/daughter parallel to her and Emily – Scully seeking out her mother for help, just like Emily sought her out. I have to agree with you that I don’t buy this new lonely Scully – she has people in her life that she can count on. She is not totally alone.
    And then, at the end, her family is at Emily’s funeral. They have apparently accepted at face value that Emily is Scully’s daughter. Where are the questions from them? Even though I dislike Bill, a pointed question from him would have satisfied this. Maybe I’m getting worked up over nothing? I just feel that if my sister was suddenly a mother to a three year old girl, and had never been pregnant, I would have some questions.

    Thoughts?

    • I always figured that by this point, post-cancer, Mrs. Scully was someone privy to her daughter’s adventures on the X-Files. Remember that “You have to tell someone” moment on Scully’s hospital bed? THERE’S a conversation we got robbed of, it ended there. But I always assumed that’s when Mrs. Scully finally heard about the details of Scully’s abduction and the conspiracy surrounding it, or at least as many details as she could handle. Otherwise, there should have absolutely been a family outcry after Scully’s announcement. As it is, I still can’t understand why Bill the Bully had nothing to say about it.

  12. the colour-coded coquette

    I have to admit, my sappy teenaged heart loved the teaser soliloquy for this episode 😀 I guess I fancied myself quite the intellectual in high school (we were a few years behind the US i.t.o. seasons). Still love the scene were Mulder beats up on that doctor.

  13. Unrelated – gots to love WordPress for remembering the name of a blog you started and abandoned over a year ago 😀

  14. What I love about “Christmas Carol” is Scully as an investigator – they show that even without Mulder she’s able to get to the truth. What I love about “Emily” is MULDER. He’s so sweet in this episode, gentle and devoted. Perfect.

  15. Pingback: Per Manum 8×8: Don’t make me guess. | Musings of an X-Phile

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  17. I just watched this episode for only the third time and mostly I was just blown away (it was very windy in that desert) by how much the opening monologue reminded me of a Stevie Nicks music video.

  18. I always found Emily (the character) to be a little creepy, honestly. It’s not her unnatural stoicism that bugs me so much as the fact that no one mentions it. Like, we’re just supposed to think this is a totally normal, lovable child and empathize with Scully’s immediate gravitation towards her? She almost comes off more as a set piece than an actual cognizant character.

    Also, love your “microwave popcorn” descriptor for Scully’s motherhood. I could never quite put my finger on the exact reasons why I wasn’t particularly fond of this arch overall, but you summed up all the reasons pretty accurately.

    One definite rewind/shipper moment for me, however, was the, “are you the parents” exchange. It’s amazing how much is conveyed in that silent moment that punctuated Scully’s verbal response. In my mind, Scully becoming a parent would automatically ascribe Mulder some type of parental involvement (I certainly can’t imagine him letting any other man be involved in her child’s upbringing) but it’s obviously not something they’ve talked about nor is this the time. Hence, to simplify things he steps back both literally and figuratively and let’s her take the lead with the pediatrician.

    • It is *really* hard to believe that Scully would grow so attached to Emily when she seems like such a distant little girl. Like you said, kind of empty and creepy.

      In my mind, Scully becoming a parent would automatically ascribe Mulder some type of parental involvement (I certainly can’t imagine him letting any other man be involved in her child’s upbringing) but it’s obviously not something they’ve talked about nor is this the time. Hence, to simplify things he steps back both literally and figuratively and let’s her take the lead with the pediatrician.

      Love this.

  19. Can someone please answer this question. Who is Michael Crichton? This name is mentioned in the hearing? Is this some reference I’m missing? He doesn’t mean Michael Kritschgau does he?

    Also in the hearing Mulder says Scully was missing for four weeks. However she was abducted in August 1994 (“Duane Barry” 2X05) and returned sometime after November (Mulder flips the calendar to November in “3” 2X07).

    What a useless security guard at phrangen pharmaceuticals! Just comes in the door and looks at Mulder with the gun and does nothing. Love Mulder’s I’ll be back, have to laugh at that.

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