Monday 6×15: Any moment I’m about to burst into song.


Can’t trust that day.

Oh, Mulder, Mulder, Mulder… I feel your pain.

I mean, I’m laughing at your pain. But still.

Really, you never should have trusted a mysteriously appearing waterbed. That’s like something out of a Fractured Fairy Tale. What if an evil MIB put a curse on it??

I’d say that writers Vince Gilligan and John Shiban have outdone themselves this time. But they flash their brilliance at us so often it’s beginning to become run-of-the-mill. I guess we’ll have to wait for them to take us by surprise with a tedious hour of television because “Monday” isn’t it.

One of the more striking features about this episode is that so much of it happens from the point of view of a character that we never do know much about. Actually, we never get much by way of concrete fact about either Pam or her bomb-happy boyfriend Bernard. And that’s okay because all that we really need to know about them is cleverly revealed in the way they’re presented.

Scruffy boyfriend who won’t go to work? Check.
Jittery girlfriend with a do-it-yourself dye job? Check.
Ratty apartment that they’ll lose their security deposit over? Check.

I think it’s safe to say that neither character has much by way of either education or prospects and that either may quite possibly be nursing a drug habit. And my spidey sense is telling me that Bernard may have hit Pam a time or two in the past. There’s no overt indication of it, but Pam is definitely intimidated by him and I don’t think it’s just because he happens to have a bomb strapped to his chest on this particular day. She’s clearly under his thumb. Whether or not there’s any physical abuse going on, we’re given the distinct impression that their relationship is already dysfunctional. Not absolutely devoid of affection, mind you, but not at all healthy.

Vague though it is, their relationship is all-important because the events of the episode hinge on Pam’s ability to overcome her practiced passivity and stand up to Bernard. Oh sure, she claims she tried to stop him innumerable times. But her efforts were all passive aggressive: stealing his keys, drugging him, etc. Does she boldly confront him with what he’s about to do? Run into the bank ahead of him to warn all the innocent patrons of what’s coming? Shoot him? Surely going to jail for murder would be better than being trapped in the hellish loop she’s in. For that matter, Pam could have run over Mulder to prevent him from entering the bank if she were really desperate. She didn’t have to kill him. Just break a leg.

No, instead Pam opts to focus her efforts on convincing everyone else to change. She whines, she begs, she gives frustratingly obscure warnings. She goes from Skinner to Mulder to Scully in hopes that one of them can fix the situation by altering their actions. Not once does it occur to her that maybe she should be the one changing. That by altering her own actions she could “be the change she wishes to see in the world.” In the end, only she can stop Bernard from killing everyone and end this vicious cycle. No one else can.

The irony is that this endless series of repeats only begins because Bernard is desperate for change. This is a little guy who’s sick of being a little guy. He’d rather go down in history as a mass murderer than eke out a monotonous life as a janitor. I guess going back to school or making a career change would be too time consuming. He could’ve started with a shave. That would’ve worked.

But I’ve gone off topic. Anyway. Bernard is so eager to change both his and Pam’s fates that he takes a decidedly proactive… and immoral… step. How different a personality he is from paralyzed Pam who only becomes progressively less proactive as the Mondays go on. It’s a good thing that Mulder, spurred by his miraculous intuition, pushes her to action. From there, she instinctively takes it the rest of the way, at long last standing up to Bernard in one final, empowered act. If there’s a message here, it’s to take control of your own life and your own choices. As much as lies within you… try.

However, I prefer to think that there is no message. Why weigh down perfectly good entertainment with depth and profundity?

Verdict:

I love “Monday” and the more I think about it the more I wonder why it’s not a fan favorite. I love the use of the waterbed from “Dreamland II” (6×5). I love watching Scully fight back her emotions as Mulder dies in her arms. And I love, love, love the unique format of the storytelling.

And before you say it, no. This isn’t an homage to Groundhog Day… which is an interesting surprise. Gilligan got the idea for “Monday” from an episode of The Twilight Zone, which when you think about it, is the perfect place to glean inspiration for The X-Files. But fun though it is, watching Mulder repeat the same day over and over again could have easily turned tedious. Kudos has to go to director Kim Manners for filming it in such a way that the loop doesn’t make us loopy like a slowly dripping faucet. Mulder’s routine picks up speed as the story progresses, finally culminating an a silent montage of shots.

This episode may be proof more than any other that The X-Files could be both hilarious and gripping in the same breath. Unlike “Agua Mala” (6×14) where the creepiness of the case was undermined by an overabundance of comedy or “Terms of Endearment” (6×6) which can’t make up its mind whether it wants to be funny or serious, “Monday” is the perfect blend. You can laugh out loud at an X-File and still take it seriously. It doesn’t have to be either or. If this is “X-Files Light”, sign me up for another helping.

A+

Leftover Nags:

During one scenario, Mulder definitely has the opportunity to shoot Bernard in the head before he flips the switch. So why doesn’t he? Sure, the bomb may go off inadvertendly, but it’ll absolutely go off otherwise.

Dangit, Pam, stop dropping vague hints and allusions and spell it out for Mulder. Write him a letter if you have to.

Wasted Opportunity #1,785: How about just telling Skinner that Bernard has a bomb, huh Pam?

Leftover Comments:

How much do I love Fox Mulder right now? Comforting hysterical women on the fly. Go on with your sensitive self.

So Darren Burrows, the actor who plays Bernard, is the son of Billy Drago who guest stars in “Theef” (7×14).

And the family connections continue. Carrie Hamilton, who plays Pam, is the daughter of Carol Burnett. You can see the resemblance, right? Sadly, Miss Hamilton died in 2002 at the age of 38.

Best Quotes:

Scully: What are you doing down here, Mulder?
Mulder: Having the best damn day of my life. Any moment I’m about to burst into song. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah.

———————

Scully: Look, I got to call you something, right? How about Steve? It’s a nice… honest name. Steve.
Bernard Oates: Bernard.

———————

Scully: Since when did you get a waterbed?
Mulder: I might just as easily not have a waterbed and then I’d be on time for this meeting. You might just as easily have stayed in medicine and not gone into the F.B.I., and then we would never have met. Blah, blah, blah…

———————

Mulder: I mean, I woke up, I opened my eyes, I was soaking wet… It’s a long story, but I had the distinct sensation that I had lived that moment before.
Scully: Well, you may have. Did you do a lot of drinking in college?

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36 responses to “Monday 6×15: Any moment I’m about to burst into song.

  1. Totally agree with everything you said here, this is definitely an episode that seems to have become forgotten as the years have rolled by, I remember it being highly acclaimed and popular at the time and yet it seems to be virtually ignored nowadays, I loved it when I first watched it and I still love it now, I never realised just how astute Monday is in combining comedy with deeper themes, but you’re right, it absolutely does.

  2. Here I thought I was the only Monday groupie!!
    Great review by the way. I love season six and your reviews are wonderful.

  3. In that case then I want to register for membership as a Monday Groupie. 😀

  4. This is one of my husband’s favorites, though I have yet to watch it. We’re about to wrap up the mythology episodes, but thankfully I still have all the monster ones to watch! Also, as an aside, I’ve sort of been biting my fingers, Salome, since we surpassed your reviews… I feel SO lost without having these posts to guide me. Plus, I need to rant about the absurdities that have been happening lately! Ah, well, I guess I’ll just have to be patient.

    • That’s quite alright, Raquel, you can nominate someone else for membership. It’s in the CC&Rs.

      I hate to let you walk this path alone, my child, but cheer up! Once you double back for the MOTW eps we’ll be in sync again. 🙂

  5. I didn’t see this episode when it was first aired (it was about this time that I jumped off of the X-Files train and was more interested in getting drunk at college parties), but boy did I love it when I finally saw it a few months ago. The waterbed callback is what did it for me. I love you, David Duchovny. I give kudos to everyone who worked on this episode.

    • So I can sign you up for groupie membership? It only takes a blood oath. Oh, and you have to do the sacred dance in David Duchovny’s yellow M.C. Hammer pants.

  6. I’m fine with the blood oath but dancing in the M.C Hammer pants? I might take some convincing there. 😀

  7. Alright, I’ll do the dance, but I want you to know I’m only doing it for the membership card.

  8. I draw the line at MC Hammer dancing.

  9. I died when I saw Mulder’s bedroom suit that was bought for him in Dreamland II. HAHA. +1 for continuity. “I think it was a gift.”

    Also, he’s signing his check wrong in the first “day”… you’re supposed to sign a check written to you ON THE BACK. LOL. Not sure if that’s intentional because later he does sign it properly. LOL.

    Anyway, yes I totally love Monday! I think it definitely gets overshadowed with the big mythology episodes in season 6 – PLUS the shipper all-time favorites: Arcadia, Milagro, and The Unnatural.

    Also, those yellow pants DD is wearing…. totally saw his entire ass when they were wet.

    • It seems I never gave proper credit to Season 6 for being overly crammed with masterpieces. If it hit a few more bum notes, maybe the fans would remember episodes like Monday more!

  10. Salome,

    I love your XF reviews and you writing, whether or not I may agree, have an alternate interpretation or observation to add. I only regret that I have not had the time to comment until now. I only discovered this the latter part of last year and just limited my self to reading.

    Monday is among my top 10 favorite episodes. It is darn near perfect, particularly in editing. As you observe, each loop avoids the trap of becoming a tedious repetition. I dont’ disagree at all with your insights about Pam, but only that I have had a slightly different observation about Pam. I believe she knows that she is the element that has to change. I believe that she is in denial and belives that if she tries something slightly different each time, she avoids the inevitable: her sacrifice. How terrifying would it be to know that self sacrifice-dying-is the only answer/choice. Perhaps the Loop opened in the first place because she ‘escaped’ the inevitable.

    I believe that it is Mulder’s empathy- indeed he NOTICES her- that eventially gives her the courage to move a step further in acknowleging what she must do.

    Pam has been through endless replays, but the viewer is allowed into this loop as it moves toward its resolution and the universe continues on. Recall, she says “that has never happened before”. Our Mulder’s particular gifts have opened up someting she thought long ago died inside. But it is not only Mulder. There is something about Mulder and Scully together (courage? recognition of their bond, perhaps?) I believe she sees. I believe Pam started out life with Bernard with a spark of life and hope, if not real optimism. Even if she had always lived a marginal life, perhpas a life of even worse circumstance). Over time, she had probably seen her hopes and pieces of herself die, be it due to Bernard’s slow death as he is eaten alive inside; maybe drugs; poverty; and -worse of all, being marginal and invisible. Perhaps rather than abused by Bernard, she just faded into a ghost and he is all she has left.

    Ironically, if she had had the strength to leave Bernard, the carnage would likely have happened anyway, particularly if she chose that time to leave him.

    A personal XF. Out of the blue one I had a strong urge to watch Monday out of all the recorded episodes I had (and I had not rewatched for months). I looked at Carrie Hamilton and thought to myself, she looks really bad, not just the make-up. I wondered if she were very sick at the time. That very night, on the news, it was announced that she had died. I don’t know when she actually died, but that was when it was announced. Spooky.

    I hope that I can post more comments. Do you have time to go back and read comments on older reviews?

    • Of course! The discussion never ends, even on episodes previously reviewed. You’re more than welcome to add your thoughts at any time.

      I’m glad that at least someone is proudly wearing Monday in their top ten. I sound like a broken record, but it deserves to be remembered more. I’m not sure I could say that Pam saw the answer to this Monday conundrum coming and that she was just avoiding it, she seemed genuinely surprised when Mulder had her come into the back and again seemed surprised at her own death.

      That’s a spooky X-File, though. Maybe she was on your heart for a reason…

  11. I’ll happily give my blood oath for a “Monday” Groupies membership card, but I draw the line at dancing (and that goes double for dancing in Hammer-pants). X-Files ‘light’ though it may be, this one is a winner that occupies a prominent spot in my list of ‘conversion’ episodes.

    It’s a great sampler of everything the show has to offer: comedy gold showcased in what may arguably be the ultimate grudge match of the series (forget Krychek or CSM, this is MULDER VS. THE WATERBED); plenty of tension (even though I know it’s coming, I still find my jaw clenching every time we go back to the bank); a subtle creep-factor that comes from Pam’s constant lurking about; a couple of classic, if abbreviated, M&S debates on deja vu vs. neural chemistry/free will vs. fate; and a glimpse at the deeper dynamics of the M&S partnership as Mulder bleeds out on the bank floor. In summation: what’s not to love?

    As if that’s not enough, “Monday” also provides a great springboard for a little self-examination/personal growth, if you’re into that sort of thing. As someone who naturally tends to sit back and observe, rather than jump into the fray, it’s an excellent reminder to me that sometimes you need to make a conscious choice to break out of your own patterns and cycles; that by deliberately moving out of your comfort zone you have the opportunity to change your direction or create a new storyline for yourself. It’s something I don’t do often enough…but when I have, it’s paid off in big ways. And so I’ve developed a habit of ‘collecting’ reminders – songs, mementos, etc. – that I can go back to for some inspiration or that little extra nudge I need when it’s time to push the boundaries again, and “Monday” fits the bill really nicely.

    But then, I might be extra-sensitive when it comes to anything that addresses the ideas of fate & free will due to a little X-File of my very own. I’ll spare you the full (and mostly boring) account, but according to a disturbingly accurate palmist I once consulted on a dare, I have no ‘Fate Line.’ Apparently, somewhere in my early 20’s, I said “Thanks, but no thanks” to whatever the universe had planned for me, and as a consequence, have been left with no predestined Fate and the ability (obligation?) to ‘forge my own path.’ How seriously I take this fluctuates drastically depending on my mood and the circumstances of any given day, but once in awhile, I feel compelled to stop, consider and make a conscious choice to do something out of the ordinary (for me), to see if I can jump back on track – or create a new one – just like Pam did…though hopefully with a lot less dying.

    Thanks for letting me ramble…again!

    • Tsk. And you were so close to being allowed entry, Brandi! But I just can’t let the Hammer pants slide.

      Like you, I think that’s why I love this episode so much – it’s pretty much everything that’s fabulous about it in miniature. Er, minus the mythology.

      It’s amazing how pieces like this were just entertainment back in the day, and well, they still are, but they have a deeper message that grounds them. I think it’s the underlying substance that adds to their entertainment value and thankfully doesn’t distract from it.

      I couldn’t say where free will end and destiny begins, but it seems to me that in the grand plan of God’s ordered universe, we were all put here for a purpose but we can choose to fulfill it or not.

  12. So I watched this episode last night, cos its a great one! After watching an episode I now find myself looking at your review wandering if our opinions match or if I missed something. Im pleased you gave this one an a+ I really like it too. I think it doesn’t feature in a lot of peoples top 10s because it’s one of those stand alone episodes that don’t have a comedic undertone or a big mulder and scully “moment” and episodes containing these tend to stick in peoples minds more easily. What it does have though is great dialogue and action where we suffer a little each time we loose our heroes in the explosion. In most episodes one of the best parts for me is their first dialogue together there is ussually some little dig,flirt or joke thrown in that makes me smile. In this episode we get like 5 different versions of that first interaction and those little digs don’t dissapoint. I remember an interview with one of the writers (i think it was Frank but don’t quote me) who said that that initial interaction between mulder and scully is often the hardest to write I found that fascinating cos its often like I said a favourite part. I also saw an interview where David said he found the scenes where he and Gillian interacted like that the most difficult to act because there was so much pressure placed on them. How true is that!?! How much do fans read into those little interactions they have trying to find a deeper meaning. For example he always put his hand on the small of her back when they left or entered a room – that features heavily in fanfiction but do you think David and Gillian even realised that he did that?? Gillian said she struggled with Scully constantly not believing mulders out there theorys, like she should eventually over the years gain some kind of instant acceptance and yet I don’t think the fans ever did, or grew tired of her constantly questioning his theorys. I think this really shows how talented the writers and actors are… Anyway I digress. Monday – as you said there certainly more ways I think Pam could have tried to avoid it – Like how about tell them he has a bomb??!! Then they won’t charge in there, minor details though I think they implied that she had tried everything even we could think of but the only way it was going to end was by Mulder remembering and calling the shots.

    Finally I have to say I didn’t really notice the MC hammer pants so much I was too busy looking at his gorgous chest 🙂 LOL

  13. I’m in the “Monday” fan club & I’ll even do the dance.
    My husband and I are catching up on SUPERNATURAL. In Season 3, they have an episode called “Tuesday” where Dean dies over and over again in a time loop. It is both fall over funny and beautifully tragic and it is obviously an homage to this episode. I loved it.

  14. How about just telling Skinner that Bernard has a bomb, huh Pam?

    I think this is probably the biggest strike against this episode. What is it about the whole time-repeating-itself scenario that makes Pam forget to try the obvious approach? Stop someone, ANYONE, on the street and say: “My boyfriend just went into that bank. He has a gun and a bomb, and he’s going to try to rob the place. You’ve got to call the police.”

    Better yet, as soon as Bernard gets out of the car, run to the nearest pay phone and call the police YOURSELF.

    Better still, call the police from the house BEFORE YOU EVEN LEAVE.

    I like this episode — it is well executed — but I mean come on, Pam.

    • Agent Venkman

      We never actually see it, but Pam says she has tried everything, including calling the police, and it never works to make things turn out differently. I imagine that the time she called the police, the police would already be there, waiting for Bernard and her to arrive, but it wouldn’t really stop him from setting off the bomb.

  15. I have been enjoying reading each of your reviews as I go through my first big rewatch since the original episode airings (I’m a tad older than you, heh), and I really appreciate both the insights I hadn’t thought of and the fact that you took the time to articulate points I’m too lazy to spell out.

    You had an interesting take on the idea of Pam as an abused woman whose purpose is to learn to stand up for herself. It’s a mark of great fiction when we can read a perfectly valid interpretation like that and think, “wow, I didn’t get that out of the story at all”. But I have to take issue with this: “However, I prefer to think that there is no message. Why weigh down perfectly good entertainment with depth and profundity?”

    What??? Surely you’re joking. This is among the deepest of all X-Files episodes—they are tackling the entire concept of free will versus fate! Even philosophers have trouble with that one. I spent a lot of time thinking about the exchange between Mulder and Scully in which each shares a contrasting view (Mulder believes that every tiny decision we make impacts the future, i.e. complete free will, whereas Scully believes in fate with the exception that we control our *character* which in turn can impact fate), trying to figure out which viewpoint the writers concluded was correct.

    Judging by the story, Scully’s viewpoint is the correct one. With each iteration, many details and choices change, and I’m not sure how anyone can describe Pam as passive when she’s out there tracking down Scully and doing everything she can—within her present character—do. Yet, with every tiny choice, the small choices that Mulder claims can change one’s entire fate, Fate always ensures the ultimate outcome is the same. Mulder agrees to go to the ATM rather than enter the bank? Too bad, Fate decided to break the ATM so he must go inside. Like Pam says, no matter what drastic measure she takes, Fate moves deftly around it to ensure the same outcome. Except it’s the wrong outcome, so it repeats until the right person makes the only change that, according to Scully, a human being can actually make in order to change her fate: she changes her very character.

    Her final act does not look to me even remotely similar to standing up to her boyfriend. She martyrs herself to save another human being. She instinctively protects the man she has come to “know” over an eternity of Mondays. I might be taking it too far to call it a Christ-like act, but that too would be in keeping with Scully’s faith/philosophy.

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  19. This episode , along with a few others earlier this season, was the “new generation” of the MOTW episodes.
    I’d even say that these new (back then) episodes are “clever MOTW”.
    Not that the earlier ones were dumb, it’s just that for the most of them, they were straight up scary episodes, usually with a monster or mutant that had to be stopped.

    This new kind of episodes were a change because they relied on something else, the scripts were often more complex, twisted, and this one is a perfect example. A perfect example of a show that has fully matured and is starting to reach his peak.

  20. Kind of random (not really)… It makes me angry that they got the basement office back and still there’s no desk for Scully nor is her name on the door (Fowley’s was when she was there!). Has anyone ever addressed this?

  21. This is my first time through the x-files and I have really enjoyed your reviews!
    I have a theory that maybe this wrinkle of repeating time is an “aftershock” of from the events of Dreamland. After all, the only reason Mulder needs to be at the bank is because his water bed springs a leak… and that wouldn’t be happening unless he had a mysteriously leftover water bed from Morris Fletcher; i.e. time did not perfectly “snap back”. Just a thought!

  22. I do love this one. And what a great review of it, as usual! 🙂 I really love your interpretation and there is so much depth in this ep – I love the way the X-Files was able to combine humor and introspective big ideas and scary and suspense and have it still be cohesive – this episode is a perfect example of that.
    But here is something I can’t figure out: How does Mulder’s phone next to the waterbed keep ringing AFTER he has unplugged it?

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