“Rush” is another one of those Season 7 episodes the plot of which I only ever vaguely remember, never mind that I’ve seen it three or four times. Even now, thanks to the rewatch, that I’ve seen it five or six, I don’t expect that to change.
What I do remember from when this episode first aired was the nagging, gnawing worry in the pit of my stomach. We’re five episodes in and Season 7 has yet to produce an X-File that’s magic from start to finish. Are there magical moments? Of course! But they’re moments. I want to be excited for the whole episode.
But there I go complaining again when I’m actually still enjoying myself. “Rush” has nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a solid offering from writer David Amann who previously gave us “Terms of Endearment” (6×6) and “Agua Mala” (6×14). I have to say that this third script of his, though emotionally not my favorite of the three, is actually the best in terms of consistent storytelling.
“Rush” is the most recent installment in The X-Files’ Teenage Dirtbag tradition. The first and the best was, of course, “D.P.O.” (3×3). After that, things took a memorably downward turn in “Schizogeny” (5×9). But “Rush” is an upward turn in this genre’s trajectory. All the disparate elements that an X-File needs to succeed seem to be here: an unexplained phenomenon, a gruesome death and a couple of suspiciously well-dressed F.B.I. agents. Throw in an inexplicably and unreasonably ornery local law enforcement official and it’s borderline classic. There’s really nothing wrong with it, and the production is, as always, beautifully done.
If there’s a glitch in the Matrix, it’s that I have a tough time feeling either sympathetic toward or repulsed by the teenagers that make up the heart of this story. I was a teenager myself when I first watched this episode and I felt even more ambivalent about them back then. On the surface, they’re pitch perfect. Pseudo-villain Max Harden is especially well played by Scott Cooper.
But perhaps that’s the problem. These characters feel like a paint-by-numbers rendition of teenage angst. We have the bad boy who rebels because he’s bitter that the authority figures in his life overlook his potential. On his arm we have the gum-cracking, eye-rolling Moll. And then, of course, there’s the innocent new kid eager to be corrupted. If these roles had been something more than stereotypical I think it would have elevated this episode. As it stands, their characters service the job but nothing more.
The most interesting part of “Rush” isn’t the characters or The Matrix style special effects, it’s the focus on how painfully slow the progress of time is for the young. I was just reminiscing with someone recently about how wonderfully long summers used to drag. Remember when time moved slowly? When it took forever to get from your birthday to Christmas and back again? Now I wish Father Time would get back to hobbling and give up jogging.
I say all that to say that I wish “Rush” had spent a little more time focusing on why these kids were addicted to speed, how life at a normal pace is unbearable as it is when you’re that age, let alone after having a taste of the fast life.
Good. Solid. Standard. Those are the adjectives that come to mind when I think of “Rush”. I know that’s not very exciting sounding, but “Rush” isn’t a particularly exciting episode. Compared to its fellow teenage angst themed episodes, it’s much more coherent than “Schizogeny” but markedly less memorable than “D.P.O.” Don’t let it’s name fool you.
And this is the problem I remember having with Season 7 when it first aired and that I’m starting to have again. We’ve had a few solid episodes all in a row, but nothing that inspires my imagination to keep thinking about it afterward. I know I’m about to sound like a petulant child, but where’s the magic? “D.P.O” probably isn’t as good of an episode technically. But you’d be hard pressed to forget the way Jack Black’s character dies in that one. Images… emotional images like that stick with you and elevate a meat and potatoes, typical sort of episode into something worth watching again and again.
I’m not complaining… per se. Okay, maybe this is a complaint, which makes me feel bad because on the surface, The X-Files is doing everything right. Just please don’t make me start belting out “The Thrill is Gone.”
Here’s something that puzzles me. When we get a glimpse of what these supercharged teenagers see when they’re “high”, the world seems to be moving in a painfully slow fashion. If anything, wouldn’t their super speed only serve to make the already slow world they move in seem slower than ever? You would think their ability would heighten the sense that time is running like molasses, not alleviate it. But the ending where a recovering Tony Reed watches the clock hand inch forward, doomed to spend the rest of his life slow-poking around now that the cave is gone, would indicate otherwise.
I was also listening to The Doors at that age.
Is it just me or is Scully looking more and more uninterested with each passing episode?
For some reason I remembered that cute, flirty moment where Scully plays with Mulder’s tie as a lot cuter and flirtier than it actually is.
My new favorite moment of this episode is right at the end when Mulder says, “What if we’re too old?” to Scully and she makes the most pathetic face.
If Hardin had all those fractures and injuries he would have to have been treated long before the events of this episode and someone would already have been suspicious as to what he was up to or not. If he hadn’t, fast or slow, he wouldn’t have been able to move. Period.
The speed effect that’s used here looks an awful lot like the effect they’ll later use in “Requiem” (7×22).
Man, those The Matrix style special effects were ubiquitous a decade ago.
This is one of those rare cases where Mulder’s initial theory is completely off. I love it when that happens.
It seems that the character of Chuck Burke was missed. This marks his second appearance in six episodes after having been AWOL for a good long while.
Max Harden: [To Scully] You must have been a Betty back in the day. [He leaves]
Scully: A “Betty”?
Mulder: Back in the day.
Scully: Well, you and I were both in there and nothing happened to us. We’re still slow-poking around.
Mulder: What if we’re too old?
Scully: [Sad Face]