I know this show isn’t real. I’m cognizant that I’m having a fictional adventure when I watch it. But I tell you, when that Fowley woman comes on screen I have a visceral reaction. There are unnatural noises and convulsions intermittently mixed with weeping and gnashing of teeth. I’m keenly aware of my irrationality, of the pseudo-inappropriate nature of my response. But it is what it is.
I hate to do it to you, but I’m going to have to Ship here for a moment.
Last episode, we had this sweet, glorious moment where Mulder declares his need for Scully, pronounces her the only person he can depend on, and begs her to be his friend with the puppiest of puppy dog eyes. To take an MSR hungry audience from that kind of a high to such a FOWL low amounts to pop culture cruelty. Chris Carter, thou art guilty.
I still haven’t fully forgiven that man.
Scully has been the woman in Mulder’s life for a good long time now. His sister has been taken from him. He and his mother’s relationship, though loving, is distant. He has no love, no friend, no one who would or could challenge Scully’s place in the hierarchy of his relationships. And based on Mulder’s famous “one in five billion” declaration last episode, Scully feels reasonably secure in her position.
But what if she wasn’t the only “Scully” he ever had? I’m sure the question never occurred to Scully before Diana Fowley came along. Sure, there was Phoebe Green in Mulder’s past, but that relationship was hardly more than misplaced puppy love, and he never trusted her, he only lusted after her. This… this Diana Fowley situation, is much more dangerous.
Even now, after the show has long since ended, we know very little of the history of their relationship except that there was one. Whether it began before or after Diana Fowley helped Mulder uncover the X-Files, we don’t know. Did she walk out of Mulder’s life against his will? With his blessing? No one can say. But what’s painfully obvious is that he trusted her and trusts her still.
Maybe I’m projecting, but I suspect what disturbs Scully most is how secretive Mulder’s being about his past relationship with Diana. There is precious little Mulder holds back from Scully, and it generally either involves the minutiae of a case they’re working on or something relating to her ova. (Alarmingly, I speak the truth here.) So not only does he trust someone else, but he doesn’t trust Scully enough to explain who that someone else is.
Well, he probably doesn’t tell Scully because he’s embarrassed and uncomfortable, but she doesn’t know that.
I’ve said before that Scully senses very early on in Season 1 that Mulder needs her. She validates him, justifies him, humanizes him. David Duchovny once aptly called her Mulder’s “human credential.” And long before Scully was personally invested in the mythology of the X-Files, it was her refusal to abandon a friend who needed her that kept her in the game
More than even knowing she’s needed, Scully likes being needed. Who doesn’t, right? And Mulder’s appreciation of her talents, skill and intelligence validate her and his admiration is about all she has considering the trajectory of her career. But it’s not until Scully begins to consider that Mulder may not need her, or even want her, as much as she thought he did that she seriously contemplates leaving. But now I’m delving into Fight the Future territory.
Despite her ties to the conspiracy that will come to (a very murky) light later on, Diana Fowley never plays a significant role in the mythology at large which I consider a waste. But watching “The End” back again, I begin to believe that she was never meant to. She’s a foil for Scully and merely a tool/weapon to cause tension in a relationship that had already survived the likes of abduction, cancer, and Morgan & Wong. After all, why should they be happy together?
It’s tough for me to admit that I’m not sure how useful this episode really is. Gibson Praise is presented as the Key to Everything, but how? How would his telepathic abilities unlock all the mysteries of the X-Files? What does he have to do with, say, spontaneous human combustion? Mutant worms? Vampires? Jeffrey Spender’s “Luke, I am your father” moment with Cigarette-Smoking Man is a little anti-climactic since we knew about that already. Worst of all, though I have a low tolerance for love triangles to begin with, Archie, Betty and Veronica not withstanding, this one moves the mythology and the greater plot forward not at all. Not for now, anyway. It does shake Scully’s head out of the sand, however, for which a small and begrudging part of me is grateful.
The plot development that bodes best for the rest of the series is the return of Cigarette-Smoking Man. The mutual uneasy dislike between him and all the other members of the Syndicate is a treat that I wish had been explored further. Though why these men who secretly control the world are incapable of ridding themselves of a 12-year-old without him begs credulity.
There’s a lot to dress up these faults, however, and “The End” grabs your attention if it’s ultimately not very meaningful, thanks in no large part to Mark Snow’s evocative score, parts of which were clearly harvested from the upcoming movie’s soundtrack. It’s exciting if not fulfilling so I can’t be too mad at it.
Like Gibson, Chris Carter is merely moving chess pieces into place with this episode, putting them into position for what would hopefully be a summer blockbuster and a hit season of television beyond. It remains to be seen what kind of play he’s planning to make.
P.S. Stay tuned for the Season Wrap Up where we can’t help but figure out where Mulder and Scully currently stand before the movie comes along and USTs us to death.
Queen’s Gambit Accepted:
This was The X-Files’ last episode shot in Vancouver with the crew that had been their since the beginning. As it was also R.W. Goodwin’s last episode on the show, it was only fitting that he should direct it. All those extras in the chess tournament scene? Yeah. Those were real fans. Philes fill stadiums.
Somehow, this game has been rigged from the beginning by Cigarette-Smoking Man. He’s edging out Mulder and his precious X-Files to make room for his precious Jeffrey. But why does Mulder have to suffer in order for Spender to make a name for himself? And why, even with scientific proof that something’s afoot, is the wunderkind Mulder’s downfall? Surely the powers that be have heard stranger tales from him. Why they’d balk at Gibson Praise of all things is beyond me. You’d think they’d gleefully subject him to further testing.
Fowley isn’t the only one creating tension. If Spender was at odds with Mulder before, now he’s downright antagonistic. And it’s not like Mulder’s attitude is going to help bring them together.
Why does Gibson keep referring to Scully and The Fowl One as “girls?”
Anyone notice that Mulder can’t so much as look Scully in the face when he says, “You know what to do, Diana?” Coward. Traitor. Bastard.
He lets her call him Fox. – There are no words.
For an ever so brief second in the car there, it looks as though Scully might cry.
I spent much of my first viewing of this episode alternately screaming and whining at my television screen. Not much has changed.
Clearly, sadly, frustratingly, the one thinking about Mulder is Diana. And judging by their secret glances during the car ride earlier, she’s the one he’s thinking about too. My only consolation is that Mulder was loath for Gibson to let the truth be known. Is he afraid of Scully’s reaction because he knows she’d be justifiably discomfited to know about he and Diana Fowley’s past relationship? Or does he not want to give Diana the satisfaction of knowing her presence has affected him since he’s too proud to fall back into a relationship with her just because she’s decided to come back after all these years? Either way, I’m slightly comforted by his discomfort.
Gibson Praise: I know what’s on your mind. I know you’re thinking about one of the girls you brought.
Gibson Praise: And one of them is thinking about you.
Fowley: Which one?
Gibson Praise: He doesn’t want me to say.
Mulder: You’re insulting me when you should be taking notes.