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?
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.
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?
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.
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?