Dreamland II 6×5: I’d kiss you if you weren’t so damn ugly.


The Adventures of Special Tramp Dana Scully

Okay, I’m sure you know by now that I’m highly allergic to The X-Files’ opening monologues. They have a tendency to be, how shall I say it? Purple.

While some I tolerate better than others, there are only three in the history of the show that I can honestly say I don’t merely tolerate. No, I rather enjoy them. “Dreamland II” marks the first of the three and it’s also the first monologue not delivered by Mulder or Scully. Interestingly, the character of Morris Fletcher delivers two of the three monologues I actually rewind for fun. Yes, in one of the best breaks The X-Files ever got, actor Michael McKean was available to play Morris Fletcher in two more guest spots after “Dreamland” (6×4) and “Dreamland II”, that’s not including when he shows up in the short-lived spin off The Lone Gunmen. But I’ve digressed.

The jaunty music Mark Snow chooses to characterize the piece, The Wonder Years style family videos as background… it’s just genius and I have no choice but to give it its due:

Morris as Mulder: [voiceover] Once upon a time, there was a guy with the improbable name of Fox Mulder. He started out life happily enough, as these things go. He had parents who loved him, a cute kid sister. He had a roof over his head, got all his flu shots, had all his fingers and toes and aside from being stuck with the name “’Fox” which probably taught him how to fight… or not… he pretty much led a normal life. But the worst thing by far, the biggest kick in the slats this kid Fox ever got, was what happened to his sister. One day, she just disappeared. Now, Fox buckled down and worked his butt off, graduated top of his class at Oxford, then top of his class at the FBI academy. None of that hard work made up for his sister, though. It was just a way of putting her out of his mind. Finally, the way I figure it, he went out of his mind and he’s been that way ever since. Fox Mulder pissed away a brilliant career, lost the respect of supervisors and friends and now lives his life shaking his fist at the sky and muttering about conspiracies to anyone who will listen. If you ask me, he’s one step away from pushing a baby carriage filled with tin cans down the street. But now, all that’s gonna change.

Moving on to the actual plot, Scully finally listens to that voice in the back of her head telling her that either Mulder has inexplicably and without cause lost his mind or Mulder is not Mulder. The subsequent scenes between Scully and the man she now knows is not Fox Mulder are the stuff of legend. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it so many times again I’ll annoy myself: I love Scully this season. She’s kicking butt and taking names and first on her hit list is one Morris Fletcher. Does she confront him in Nevada? At the F.B.I.? Does she surprise him while he’s indisposed? Oh no. She waits until he thinks he has her where he wants her and then springs a checkmate on him. (Aside: Why does Scully keep getting hit on by Mulders who aren’t Mulder?)

Speaking of my favorite scene of the episode, that writers Frank Spotnitz, Vince Gilligan and John Shiban choose to give Mulder a bed, but not just any bed, a waterbed, and not just a waterbed, a mirrored waterbed, I could grovel at the feet of all three of them. And to keep giving credit where credit is due, that scene is shot oh so cleverly by first time director for the show Michael Watkins. I don’t know whose idea it was to give us glimpses of the real Mulder lounging on that ridiculous bed with Scully, but whoever it was deserves an Emmy just for that. Hi-larious.

Come to think of it, why didn’t this episode win an Emmy? It certainly deserves one. You don’t even need to be a fan of The X-Files to enjoy it. Heck, there’s an explanatory monologue built in! I know I’ve used it myself early on in the process of X-Phile brainwashing and it’s quite effective. Kids, try this at home.

I would try to list all of my favorite moments in “Dreamland II”, but that would involve essentially quoting the entire episode and I’m too lazy for that. But I can’t close and fail to mention the memorable screen time that Morris Fletcher shares with the Lone Gunmen. Their brief moments together are so good that they eventually set the tone for the entire series of The Lone Gunmen and create an opportunity for the writers to keep using Morris Fletcher as a recurring character in both series… thank God.

Verdict:

I confess I don’t have much to say about “Dreamland II” because like all the great comedies of The X-Files it defies talk. It’s meant to be experienced and enjoyed. Frankly, I’m too busy laughing over it to do much thinking about it.

But is there anything deeper holding up this episode than bellyfuls of laughter? I think so. I think the ultimate take home message is that Mulder isn’t suited to the normal life that Scully whines after at the beginning of “Dreamland”. A desk job, a wife and two kids? Had it continued Mulder really would have lost his mind. And for her part, for all she longs to be normal, Scully doesn’t seem too put out in the end for having wasted time on another fruitless road trip with Mulder. She’s rather pleased with herself in fact.

You’ll notice that before the space-time continuum corrects itself and Scully is fired from the F.B.I. she isn’t at all interested in getting her job back. And why would she be? What’s the point without Mulder? Scully will admit as much further into the season, but she’s only in the F.B.I. and this whole X-Files gig for Mulder. We saw it back in the movie as well; without her relationship with Mulder, she has nothing invested in this job. That’s why the complaints the writers sometimes put in her mouth ring hollow. She could leave any time she really wanted to, she just doesn’t want to. Not really. She wants to be out there with Mulder. But, ah, I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s next episode…

A+

I am Tiger Woods:

There’s still a little niggle in the back of my mind saying that the events of this episode are a bit too serious for a comedy. Mulder’s life as he knew it is gone; you’d think there’d be weeping and gnashing of teeth. But, hey, at least he makes his panic face.

Again, as in “Small Potatoes” (4×20), someone who looks like Mulder but isn’t Mulder puts the moves on Scully. Why everyone but the man himself? At least she’s onto the game this time.

There’s a slight pothole in the plot. The stoner witnesses his friends’… predicament, but because he wasn’t in the path of the wave when it snaps back he remembers perfectly what happened to them. Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., Kersh isn’t in the path of the wave either but doesn’t remember any of the events of the past three days. I would say that because the causal event never happened that explains why Kersh remembers nothing, there’s nothing to remember. However, then shouldn’t the stoner forget to since his friends where never glued together? This is why one should never think too hard about any story involving a “space-time continuum.”

When Mulder and Morris were scheming together in the bathroom, why did they unlock the door after their conversation so that anyone could get in? At least the intruder turned out to be on their side.

How fitting is it that Mulder’s parting gift to Scully is sunflower seeds?

Not to ruin lives with spoilers or anything, but in a sad turn of events caused by a reversal of the space-time continuum, Morris Fletcher forgets that he remembered that he loves his wife.

Best Quotes:

Special Tramp Dana Scully: Do you know what would really be fun?
Morris as Mulder: What?
Special Tramp Dana Scully: [Pulls out handcuffs]
Morris as Mulder: Oh, yeah. Me first?
Special Tramp Dana Scully: You first.
Morris as Mulder: First time. [Handcuffs himself to the bed] Now what?
Special Tramp Dana Scully: [With gun trained on him] You’re not Mulder.
Morris as Mulder: What?! [champagne cork pops] Baby!
Special Tramp Dana Scully: “Babyme and you’ll be peeing through a catheter. Your name is Morris Fletcher. It was Mulder who was arrested in the desert. He was telling the truth about you. Now, how do we get things back to normal?
Morris as Mulder: How should I know? I wouldn’t do it even if I could. You saw my wife. You think I want to go back to that? Two kids who’d probably kill me in my sleep for the insurance money. A $400,000 mortgage on a house that just appraised at $226,000. And my job… Ye gods! You think being a Man In Black is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork.
Special Tramp Dana Scully: Are you through?
Morris as Mulder: As far as I’m concerned this thing is a gift from heaven. Besides, no one is ever going to believe you so you might as well just get used to me being here.
Special Tramp Dana Scully: Or I just shoot you… Baby.

———————-

Mulder as Morris: So you’re the guy that wants my life. I assume that includes all the ass kickings. [Locks the bathroom door]

———————-

Morris as Mulder: Well, see that’s what’s so great about you monkeys. Not only do you believe this horse pucky that we create, you broadcast it as well. I mean, look at this. [Headline: “Saddam testing Mandroid Army in Army Iraqi Desert”] There is no Saddam Hussein! This guy’s name is John Gillnitz. We found him doing dinner theatre in Tulsa. Did a mean King and I. Plays good ethnics.
Langly: You’re trying to say that Saddam Hussein’s a government plant?
Morris as Mulder: I’m saying I invented the guy. We set him up in 79. He rattles his sabre whenever we need a good distraction. Ah… If you boys only knew how many of your stories I dreamed up while sitting on the pot.

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28 responses to “Dreamland II 6×5: I’d kiss you if you weren’t so damn ugly.

  1. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say…you like these two episodes. They are very enjoyable indeed, although if it’s alright me to say it, I actually prefer part one over part two mainly because there are more belly laughs in it, but you gotta give John Gillnitz credit here, they take a massive risk and it works. Going to Area 51 should surely be the holy grail of The X Files, and yet the yturn it on its head, turn it into a comedy and then proceed to destroy the mystic of the place by showing that the men working for it hardly know what’s going on half the time. I love the line “we just haul these things, they build them up in Utah.”

    Also, gotta agree with you sentiments about Michael McKean here. So wonderful throughout, he takes it to eleven if you ask me.

    • I hadn’t thought about that but it’s true. I’m hard pressed to think of how they could have taken The X-Files to Area 51 without either being cliched and hokey or embracing the cliches and turning it into a comedy. I guess that’s why the MIBs work so well here; they’re not so intimidating, they’re just regular ole 9-5ers.

      Michael McKean’s performance is flawless! And the subtle little twitches in his expressions… I’ll still be laughing into next week.

  2. I am commending for both parts here to save time. For whatever reason, I dreaded watching these two episodes, and when I watched them, I forgot that I actually loved them. Hysterical. I think I appreciate how Area 51 was used here. I feel like, given the subject matter of the series, Area 51 could be overdone and cliched (Roswell too).

    The only really nitpicky thing I have to say about the whole thing is, Morris is a civilian, and all those military guys are asking for his orders, etc. Now, I’ve never seen in my days ever that military guys take orders from a civilian – that just doesn’t happen. I get really annoyed at how the military in general is incorrectly portrayed on TV (so it isn’t just X-Files). I think they just wanted to show that Morris held a very important position… but it annoyed me, I guess since I’m in the military haha.

    Relatedly, in Beyond the Sea when Scully salutes her dad, that is not even close to a real military salute (I am not sure if it was meant to be or not – I’d assume so, because you’d think if you had a military father, at least if you were going to lovingly salute each other, he’d teach you the right way to do it), because saluting with your palm facing up is a huge sign of disrespect. Other militaries in the world salue like that but in America it is a sign of disrespect.

    But I digress. 😀

  3. “But hey, at least he makes his panic face!” Bahahaha! I love these two episodes, but I think I love your reviews even more!

  4. Best part of this review is that in the quotes section, you listed Scully as “Special Tramp Dana Scully.” I think that line (along with most things that Morris’s wife says) is my favorite part of this episode arc. That and the fact that Scully has reached a point in her relationship with Mulder and her experience with the unexplained where she can identify (and accept the existence of) a Mulder impostor all by herself. And obviously Michael McKean is hilarious. Okay, maybe every part of this episode is my favorite.

    • Okay, can I say something else? I just rewatched this episode, and while it’s still hilarious, I paid more attention to the plot this time and it doesn’t add up. Like you pointed out, Kersh apparently forgets everything, but why? I suppose you could try to argue that the wave was still in the process of snapping back so maybe the process of everyone forgetting hadn’t finished yet. But if that’s really all that happened–the timeline hasn’t changed but everyone’s forgotten everything–shouldn’t M&S look at their watches and say “What the heck, where did the last week go?” And if instead what actually happened is they actually went back in time, so the last week never occurred, what about the physical changes to Mulder’s apartment? I’m so confused. Has this ever been explained or understood by those smarter than me?

      • How silly of me, I left out where I was pointing out that the stoner hadn’t forgotten his friends being stuck together. That’s what was supposed to go before “maybe the wave was still in the process of snapping back and erasing everyone’s memories.”

      • It really is a puzzle. From what I can tell, when the watchamacalit snapped back, the events of the past week never happened at all. Time reversed. Which is why Kersh doesn’t remember as there’s nothing for him to remember. However, if the events of the past week never happened, why does Mulder still have a bed? Morris Fletcher had never been to D.C. to buy the furniture…

        • There’s conflicting things no matter which of the two events you think happened:

          If everyone’s time snapped back, including those not present in whatchamacalit’s wake (ie, Kersch), then how do you explain Mulder’s apartment at the end?

          If just those people present at the site experienced the snap-back, then how do you explain Scully saying “our little trip went unnoticed by Kersch” in the end? UNLESS you take that for meaning he’s already forgotten about those events because they happened a week ago. But there’d still be a lot of unexplained stuff, like them not noticing it was a week later for example.

          I think the most plausible scenario is the first, where the entire universe rewinded, and that they just threw in the apartment scene at the end for kicks…because it was damned funny!

  5. I love the observation regarding the last paragraph of your review, Salome. I never thought about that effect the snap-back would have on Morris. I did really enjoy the parts when real Fletcher (McKean as actor) saw his wife, and the sad effects fake Fletcher (Duchovny) was having on her. The bar scene when he sees her crying and wants to console her was touching, and then at the end outside the house when he finally confronts her. That was some great, non-artificial, drama there. Both McKean and Dunn pulled those scenes off brilliantly in my book.

    @Interplanetry Janet’s comments about the military realism: normally I’d agree with her that the portrayal of the military in regards to subtle nuisances is generally butchered all to hell. But her observation specifically about a civilian being in charge, is really unfounded, especially in the Air Force. There are plenty of positions in the US Military occupied by civilians that have what are called GS–or General Schedule–grades. These positions are nearly always limited to non-combat, administrative roles, and could include positions that would normally be held by a high-ranking officer, such as Major, Lt. Col, or even Colonel. It’s not unusual at all to have a GS position being in charge of a whole section of a base.

    Notice also (and correctly) that the General in this episode was still in charge of everyone. I’ve never seen a GS in charge of an entire base, nor do I think it’s possible; there’s always an actual military officer (Colonel/Captain or General/Admiral) at the top who’s calling the shots. This is, of course, not counting the actual chief executive of the branch of particular service, who is a civilian Secretary appointed by the President and falls underneath the Department of Defense Secretary.

    So there’s a little US Military leadership lesson, fun wasn’t it! *puke*. But suffice to say, despite the usual crappy portrayal of the military by TV and movies, I didn’t have a hard time believing the Men in Black position of leadership in this episode.

  6. Another thing, does nobody want to compare how fast Scully figures out that Mulder’s being really weird in this episode vs. in Small Potatoes? I think it’s more a testament to how their relationship has developed in the 3ish seasons between the two episodes.

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  8. Ah, I’d forgotten the opening monologue. Brilliant. I actually wasn’t a huge fan of Triangle so this two-parter kicked ass for me.

    You touched on a good point of there being a deeper issue behind the comedy. A lot of 90’s shows managed this sophisticated balancing act and X-Files was one of the best.

    If I recall, Mulder’s newly acquired water bed shows up again in Monday.

    • It sure does! That was a great continuity nod.

      With a few notable exceptions like Breaking Bad, I think the current swath of televisions shows is more glossy but less meaty than what we got in the 90’s. I know this is the new Golden Age, but not everything is golden.

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  11. I liked this two part episode but funnily enough I didn’t like it as much as Triangle.??

    Sitting here thinking about it my first thought is the idea they just changed bodies is taking me out of my zone..( I know, I know…with a series full of wacky paranormal conspiracy stuff I love ) Not once but twice so things can be returned to normal…felt way too pat and easy for me but I knew it was coming. Maybe watching two comedy eps back to back to back is mucking me up? 🙂

    I really liked the scenes with Anderson and Mckean and thought they played them brilliantly.

    • P.S. Now I know where a .gif avatar I coveted came from (Mulder making his funny face after getting hugged by Fletcher’s wife)

    • I can’t fault you for preferring Triangle since it’s purely a matter of preference, but that *is* a lot of comedy in a row and it was back then as well. And, truthfully, you would think that all the parties involved would freak out more considering Mulder and Fletcher have switched bodies. That’s the issue I had with Je Souhaite (which you won’t get to for some time yet). It was a little nonchalant about the magnitude of the circumstances.

      See? I’m a hypocrite.

  12. God I love this two-parter so much.

    Of all the great scenes of these two episodes which I just reviewed, one really had me laughing out loud, it’s silly, it’s a quick one, it’s the scene in the bathroom of that restaurant, where the general gets into the toilet, and there’s Mulder as Fletcher as Mulder standing on the toilet wsith their eyes up the door saying “heeyyy…”

    Priceless.

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