Bad Blood 5×12: Anyway, I was drugged.


“And then he sort of flew at me like a flying squirrel.”

All right. We’re here. We’ve reached what is arguably the best beloved X-Files episode of all time, penned by Master of the Pen Vince Gilligan and consistently named as a favorite of Gillian Anderson herself. It’s “Bad Blood”.

That means it’s also time for a full confession: I didn’t care much for “Bad Blood” the first time I watched it.

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Go ahead. Choke.

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Still coughing?

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Don’t kill yourself.

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Now, if you’re quite finished…

The problem was that I really didn’t know how to take this one at first. The situation they’re in is too deadly serious for Mulder and Scully to be taking it so lightly, hilarious though their reactions are. If I were potentially going to jail for impaling a minor and if the Federal Government were being sued for $446 million dollars due to my idiocy, I wouldn’t be kicking a trash can I’d be banging my head against padded walls in the mental institution I’d been hauled to after my breakdown. But that’s me taking this too seriously so I’ll stop now.

About halfway through my initial viewing I loosened up. But I still had to watch it a few times to get the full effect.

Please don’t be afraid. A baker’s dozen worth of years later and I still laugh out loud at this episode. Loudly.

Unlike other famed X-Files alum Darin Morgan’s “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’” (3×20) which also shows one set of events from multiple perspectives, “Bad Blood” doesn’t carry a subtly serious undertone in its similarly Rashomon style storytelling. Instead of a despairing sense that the real truth will remain forever buried within the bias and faulty memories of those who experienced it, “Bad Blood” proves that yet again, despite themselves, Mulder and Scully do uncover the truth and neither of them could ever do it alone. The truth consistently lies somewhere in between their two versions of reality.

But then, lightheartedness is one of Vince Gilligan’s strengths just as Darin Morgan’s underlying sense of seriousness is his. One specializes in screwball comedies while the other draws comedy organically out of the sadness in life. For instance, if you compare Gilligan’s “Small Potatoes” (4×20) and Morgan’s “Humbug” (2×20), both us the social and physical outcast for our comedic enjoyment, but Gilligan lovingly pokes fun at his misfit while Morgan uses his misfits to poke the eyes of society at large. One is secretly social commentary while the other is pure entertainment. Me, I’ll take a double scoop of both.

I actually consider “Bad Blood” The X-Files’ first true slapstick comedy. “Small Potatoes” was close, but while it crossed a humor line in terms of silliness that the show hadn’t crossed before, there was more of a sense of the events occurring in the real world than we get here where “reality” is peppered by green-eyed nomadic vampires populating trailer parks. This isn’t a funny X-File or an X-File that happens to be humorous so much as it is a pure comedy, which makes sense considering Gilligan took his inspiration for this one from The Dick Van Dyke Show. But how did he do it and still remain true to the show and the series at large? It’s as though Gilligan took all the rhythms of a typical X-File and then multiplied them to the tenth power so that you can recognize in every hilarious moment where if it were scaled back a notch it would be just another meat and potatoes episode. For example:

Mulder: Sheriff, you say this man is exactly as you found him?
Sheriff Hartwell: Yes, sir. To the letter.
Mulder: Have you noticed that this man’s shoes are untied??
Sheriff Hartwell: Yeah, they sure are.
Scully: Mulder, what’s your point?
Mulder: This means something. Sheriff, do you have an old cemetery in town, off the beaten path, the creepier the better?
Sheriff Hartwell: Uh, yeah.
Mulder: [Snaps fingers] Take me there. Now!
Scully: Mulder?
Mulder: Scully, we’re going to need a complete autopsy on this man, the sooner the better.
Scully: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! What am I even looking for?
Mulder: [Grabs Scully by both shoulders and looks her seriously in the eye] I don’t know. [Leaves abruptly]
Scully: [To Sheriff Hartwell] He does that.

Mulder notices some random clue that no one else thinks is a clue? Check. Mulder can’t or won’t explain its significance? Check. Mulder sends Scully off on an impromptu autopsy? Check. Mulder expects Scully to find something but won’t tell her what? Check. Mulder leaves abruptly without an adequate explanation? Check. Check.

Sometimes I wonder if Gilligan didn’t take a script he was already working on for a regular, serious episode and out of boredom one day decided to amplify it for fun because Mulder and Scully and a third party have had that same exchange, beat for beat, more times than I can count.

But, of course, the real joy of “Bad Blood” isn’t watching Gilligan cleverly poke fun at The X-Files’ own formula, it’s watching Mulder and Scully coyly turn each other into mental caricatures and in so doing give us insight into how they see themselves and each other. More than likely, Mulder and Scully don’t even believe their own tales with total sincerity. Instead, they’re emphasizing and exaggerating certain facts in order to better irritate the other.

Gilligan always did have an amazing grasp when it came to characterization and here I think he understands Mulder and Scully better than they know themselves… I mean, assuming they actually existed and could know anything at all. That said, watching them morph themselves into innocents in turn is revelatory and while Mulder’s idea of himself is way off, I’m not so sure his version of Scully isn’t too far from the truth…

Verdict:

I’ve searched and searched for a clip of Fox’s promo for “Bad Blood” but I haven’t been able to find it. You see, I’m trying to satisfy my curiosity as to whether or not I was warned about the comedic tone of this episode the week before or whether I had any excuse for coming to my first viewing of it wholly unprepared. Alas, YouTube has failed to answer my question.

It really doesn’t matter anymore, however, and thank goodness. I enjoy “Bad Blood” and no distinct lack of reality is going to ruin suspension of disbelief for me. No siree Bob.

All I can say is that when I think that I’m already well past the halfway point of Season 5, I get a little sad.

A

“One of my favorite things about ‘Bad Blood’ was that Agent Scully gets to smile.” – Vince Gilligan

Fiddle Faddle:

I remember when I first saw this episode easily recognizing Patrick Renna, AKA Ronnie Strickland, from that classic television gem called Salute Your Shorts. But he’s better known to most from The Sandlot.

Maybe Ronnie Strickland tried to kill Mulder because he left him a $0.02 tip. Miser.

For those keeping score, this is the second episode in a row where Scully comes to Mulder’s rescue.

I don’t think motels like the Davey Crockett Motor Lodge/Sam Houston Motor Court even still exist. What happened to the seedy motels of the American landscape?

How does Scully get those toxicology results back so fast all the time?

I’m trying, probably too hard, to remember the last episode where Mulder used a slideshow and I can’t.

May I just say that the discomfort Sheriff Hartwell causes Mulder makes my day… and again points to the fact that Mulder nurses a little schoolboy crush on Scully Season 5. Not that he takes it so seriously that he isn’t willing to leave her alone with the man, though I think that points more to his comfort level with Scully than to jealousy or a lack thereof.

Best Quotes:

Scully: First of all, if the family of Ronnie Strickland does indeed decide to sue the FBI for, I think the figure is $446 million, then you and I both will most certainly be co-defendants. And second of all… I don’t even have a second of all, Mulder! $446 million! I’m in this as deep as you are, and I’m not even the one that overreacted! I didn’t do the [stabbing motion] with the thing!
Mulder: I did not overreact. Ronnie Strickland was a vampire!
Scully: Where’s your proof?
Mulder: You’re my proof! You were there! [Scully sighs] Okay, now you’re scaring me. I want to hear exactly what you’re going to tell Skinner.
Scully: Oh, you want our stories straight.
Mulder: No, no, I didn’t say that! I just want to hear it the way you saw it.
Scully: I don’t feel comfortable with that.
Mulder: Prison, Scully! Your cellmate’s nickname is going to be Large Marge, she’s going to read a lot of Gertrude Stein.

———————–

Sheriff Hartwell: [In flashback] You really know your stuff, Dana.
Mulder: [In present] Dana?! He never even knew your first name!
Scully: You going to interrupt me or what?
Mulder: No. You go ahead… Dana

———————–

Scully: What do you mean you want me to do another autopsy? And why do we have to do it right now? I’ve just spent hours on my feet doing an autopsy, all for you. I do it all for you, Mulder. You know I haven’t eaten since six o’clock this morning and all that was was half of a cream cheese bagel. And it wasn’t even real cream cheese it was light cream cheese. And now you want me to run off and do another autopsy…? [Notices Mulder is covered in mud] What the hell happened to you?

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43 responses to “Bad Blood 5×12: Anyway, I was drugged.

  1. I want to go home and watch this episode right now.

  2. Add about 19 +’s to that A, and we’re on the same page.

    🙂 🙂 🙂

    Giddy.

  3. Also…

    “I do it all for you…You know I haven’t eaten since six o’clock this morning and all that was was half of a cream cheese bagel. And it wasn’t even real cream cheese it was light cream cheese.”

    This may be my most heavily quoted XF line ever. I love to say it, in Scully’s tone, whenever it’s anywhere near applicable – and people NEVER have any idea what I’m talking about!

  4. Love this episode SO MUCH. It’s awesome that the X Files was at a point, and that we as fans were at a point, that they could make an episode that so thoroughly subverted and poked fun at the show. And even if it weren’t uproariously funny, it’s a great episode for seeing how Mulder and Scully view themselves and each other.

    It’s also interesting in that we see Scully openly interested in a guy; she has the occasional romantic moment but she’s usually not this upfront about it. I wonder a little if she was playing it up to get on Mulder’s nerves, but in her flashback she looked pretty smitten. Oh, Scully, no luck with the menfolk. It’s clear the universe just wants you with Mulder.

    Also, my favorite quote: “Except for the part about the buck teeth.”
    Favorite moment: drugged Mulder singing the Shaft theme.

    • Absolutely. This is how you know The X-Files was at its peak because it could make fun of itself in the most deliberate way and everybody still “got” it.

    • “It’s also interesting in that we see Scully openly interested in a guy; she has the occasional romantic moment but she’s usually not this upfront about it. I wonder a little if she was playing it up to get on Mulder’s nerves, but in her flashback she looked pretty smitten.”
      ——-

      This was subtly explained near the end where Scully drinks the drugged coffee that the Sheriff gives her while they sat in his patrol car. Vampires are supposed to be charming and seductive (in a supernatural way), and that’s why Scully is smitten with the Sheriff.

  5. I also quite love the moment just before they go into Skinner’s office where Scully attempts to fix Mulder’s tie and he bats her hand away. It’s those “Old Married Moments” that get me all the time!

  6. Best episode ever.

    Nothing much else needed to be said really.

  7. Salome – Thanks for the confession on this episode! Now that you’ve said that, I feel I need to make a confession of my own…I feel much the same way.

    As a person who started watching the X-Files faithfully right after the movie, I missed this episode the first time around. However, it’s reputation of being this great episode that everyone loved proceeded it.

    It was only several years later that I was finally able to watch this episode EVERYONE told me was all that. Of course, with all the word of mouth, my expectations were so high that almost nothing that I saw could have achieved that level of enjoyment. As I finished watching the first time, I had this feeling of “that’s it?”

    Yes, it’s a good episode with many laughes and quite enjoyable, but it just didn’t live up to the extreme hype. Had I watched it without all the hoopla beforehand, I’m sure I would have approached it quite differently and enjoyed it that much more. Instead, much like you, I’m left with a slight feeling of disappointment that’s hard to overcome.

    Without a doubt this is the best of the comedy episodes. My personal preference, however, is the mytharc episodes and episodes with shippy moments. Because of this, I often shock people when I mention my favorite episode is NOT Bad Blood.

    Perhaps we should start a support group? It’s hard to deal with the looks sometimes…

  8. Hello…my name is Summer and I’m a bad fan of Bad Blood.

    That was hard to say. Perhaps I should find something stronger than sweet tea. There was at one time an official alcoholic drink of the X-Files. Perhaps for next week’s meeting I’ll dig that up and forgo the tea…

  9. I found it!!! 🙂 Here you go…

    The Absolut Truth – Official Drink of the X-Files
    4 parts absolut mandrin
    1 part blue curacao
    1/2 part lime juice
    1 part sour mix
    2 parts cranberry juice

  10. I believe the last time that Mulder used a slideshow was “El Mundo Gira”, the Chupacabra episode. Season 4, episode 11.

  11. What I loved was the attention to detail in this episode – how it was utterly hysterical, even to the detail. When they were examining that first body, who noticed the big cardboard box behind the Sheriff? It said something like “Human Body” and the top said “head”, etc. That, for whatever reason, was hysterical to me.

    I dunno, I love the hell out of this episode. Especially given seasons 4/beginning of 5 being so heavy/angsty. I loved it. I remember viewing it for the first time when it aired and I think I didn’t really get it, though I was in like 9th grade and I think really just wanted more angst, ATTHS. (What was wrong with me?).

    Now? Love. A+.

  12. “I didn’t do the – with the thing!” – I can’t remember if that happens before or after Mulder attacking the trashcan, but that is probably my first laugh for the episode, and after that they just keep on coming! If I ever try to convert non-Philes to the show, I show them this episode (or Small Potatoes). Man I love Gilligan.

  13. This is definitely one of my favorite episodes, next to Jose Chung and Hollywood A.D. (one of my favorite, more serious episodes was the boat one where they age from the water). I really dig the subtle humor in this, and often find myself comparing this episode and others like it with modern hour-long tv shows trying figure to out what exactly it is I don’t find funny about ’em. The humor in this is all natural and feels like its really coming from the characters and the situations they’re in. In other shows (CIS, Dexter, etc), though, the comedy feels forced, often utilizing shock techniques, obscenities, and nothing but scripted jokes. I can’t stand that crap, and roll my eyes every time. I’m definitely more cynical in my older age (30+ now) regarding TV quality, but there’s no denying that all the funny shit was on in the 90s, and it just won’t ever be the same again 😦

  14. Bad Blood is phenomenal. I liked it just as much the first run, as well. My favorite part is actually when Mulder gets the pizza (in his version of the story) and after his big 2 cent tip, he opens the box and says, “Ahh, Scully.” It’s hilarious to me.

    I also like near the end when Mulder is irritated that Scully suggests he emphasize that he was drugged – and then the first thing out of his mouth when Skinner opens the door is, “I was drugged!”

    That, and Scully’s Mexican goat sucker reference. Both of them.

  15. Oh, Vince, you should have written every episode.

  16. This may be my favorite flat-out laughter episode of all time. I remember after watching this on Netflix going and looking up that “Twilight-Breaking Dawn Part II” trailer just to laugh at it and all I could hear was “and then he sort of flew at me like a flying squirrel…” Although it has some pretty serious competition in “Dreamland” and “Small Potatoes.” DM episodes tend to make me chuckle ironically rather than laugh like an utter idiot.

  17. scullysapprentice

    All of these reviews are great, and every quotation from this show is wonderful. I love Mulder’s line when he pays for pizza. “Here’s $13.” He says it so smoothly, as if he’d just said “Here’s $20,” instead. What an amazing episode. All of season 5 is so great.

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  24. “I enjoy “Bad Blood” and no distinct lack of unreality is going to ruin suspension of disbelief for me. No siree Bob.”
    ——-
    That more or less sums it up for me too (I think)– I loved this episode despite the “unreality” thanks to the comedy episodes that came before it (especially Darin Morgan’s quartet). I had to evolve as a fan to enjoy the silly comedic episodes because I was of the mindset that the X-Files was supposed to be a serious show (despite the fantastical nature of the subjects it explored) that tried to give a real world explanations for the paranormal. Now I look forward to next Gilligan comedic masterpiece as a break from the otherwise serious/heavy nature of the show. This is also thanks in no small part to you, Salome — reading your reviews and your answers to my questions/criticisms in the comments.

    Now, what does “distinct lack of unreality” mean? Did you mean to say “lack of reality?”

  25. Did anyone notice the quote from “Ride of the Valkyrie” at the end of the RV scene? The clever musical quotes in this show continue to astound me.

  26. teadippinghand

    Im really surprised that I only noticed in the RV when mulder makes the cross he uses garlic bread!!! This episode is always surprising.

  27. Not that it’s too late or anything but did find a promo for Bad Blood 🙂

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