Sein Und Zeit 7×10: If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.


 

x-files-017

The Easter Bunny is fair game.

Last we saw Teena Mulder she was selling her son to the Devil in drag, Cigarette-Smoking Man as you might call him, in “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×4), an issue that was never, ever discussed. I had a few questions for her then, I don’t mind telling you. Well, I have several more questions on my mind now.

Why is it, somebody tell me why, that just as characters start to get interesting on The X-Files, they die? Deep Throat, X, Agent Pendrell (sob!), Diana Fowley (dry eyes), Jeffrey Spender… Is there an unwritten rule somewhere? Is it written into the actors’ contracts? I realize no one ever really dies on The X-Files, but do they have to die at all?

It’s not that I was ever particularly attached to Teena Mulder, or even attached at all. But…  dagnabit, woman!

Did you have to leave your son to cry with that face?

Was her disease about to disfigure her in the next few days that she couldn’t have waited to die until she talked to Mulder? She’d rather leave him floundering, wondering forever than take an extra day or two to give him what answers she has? And she couldn’t just die without saying anything she had to burn what little proof Mulder would have found? Why did she let him flail about like an idiot looking for Samantha for so many years when she knew she was already dead? There are answers I need from this woman.

And that final phone message. Do parents, even emotionally distant parents, speak to their children with phrases like, “I hoped you’d call upon your return,” with anything other than irony? Then again, Mulder and his mother have always seemed to have an affectionate, but slightly formal and distant relationship. Very New England. It doesn’t help that every member of the Mulder family seems to have secrets. Except for Mulder. He’s an open book. Too open at times.

Well, I’m done kvetching at a fictional dead woman. But I still think that after watching her burn the last pictures that she had of Mulder and Samantha that she killed herself more from guilt than fear of a painful death. Also, think of the timing. This missing girl case has clearly rattled her.

Ah, Amber Lynn LaPierre. The JonBenet of The X-Files. Even her doting parents are duly under suspicion. Not that the police don’t have reason to suspect them. Their story is suspect. And Mrs. LaPierre is the one who wrote the not-quite-ransom note, after all.

We’ve had missing girl cases before: “Conduit” (1×2), “Oubliette” (3×8) and “Paper Hearts” (4×8). All of them make obvious parallels to Samantha and Mulder’s continued emotional turmoil over her loss. Scully warns Mulder in “Sein Und Zeit” that he’s personalizing this case. But Mulder personalizes every case. Or at least he used to. I miss the days when Mulder looked emotionally invested in an X-File.

When Scully first shows up at Mulder’s California motel room I’m a little worried she’s going to turn into an insensitive nag the way she did in “Conduit” and “Oubliette”. She doesn’t, thank goodness. She’s just a little annoyed that Skinner has sent her all the way across country just because Mulder refused to pick up his phone. She tries to keep Mulder from going off the edge and lectures him about playing well with others, but she always does that.

Scully’s sensitivity actually shines in this episode and the next. That scene where she has to break the news to Mulder that his mother’s suicide was real, not staged, when Mulder breaks down and she steps in seamlessly to comfort him… X-Files Gold.

Finally! Some meat! Season 7 is cute and all but a girl can’t live off of popcorn and Skittles. I need some sustenance. I need an X-File with protein. I need something to get excited about.

Skinner: Billie LaPierre is asking for him. She’s got something to say and she’ll only talk to Mulder.

Scully: It’s not a good…

Mulder: What is it?

Skinner: This case has heated up. I’ve booked two flights for us.

Scully: Well, then you better book three.

My girl.

All that said, this is an episode that’s hard for me to enjoy absolutely, not because it isn’t a good episode, but because it’s a dark one. Not darkly titillating like the previous “Signs and Wonders” (7×9), but darkly somber. There’s a sense, even from the opening teaser, that sweet little Amber Lynn is never coming home. From Amber Lynn’s disappearance and the specter of Samantha’s continued disappearance, to Teena Mulder’s suicide and the shocking final shot of a field full of tiny graves, the grimness of death hovers over this episode.

I confess I can’t wrap my heart around this walk-in version of the afterlife (and there have been many competing, conflicting, and even coexistent versions of the afterlife on The X-Files). The short story goes like this: The walk-ins are good spirits who step in… sometimes… when they see a child about to die a horrible and painful death. They spare the child that painful experience changing them from matter into energy, effectively taking them straight from life to death without the nasty business of dying. Their energy resides and manifests itself in starlight, occasionally making return visits to earth and to their unsuspecting parents’ bedrooms. Said parents may or may not be blamed for their child’s disappearance adding yet another layer of tragedy to their loss. I thought the walk-ins were supposed to be helping?

It feels like a saccharine fairytale to me – Children rescued from pain, living and playing (eternally?) in the starlight. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather spend eternity with my loved ones in heaven.

But I think the idea touches a spiritual nerve. That nerve that tells us that life can’t be defeated by death. The life of these children may be over here on earth, but it’s not over ‘cause it’s over. Ironic given the source of the episode’s title.

Forgive me for waxing philosophical here since I’m not qualified to do so. It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve taken a class or touched a book on the subject. However, given the direction this story is taking I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the meaning of Sein Und Zeit or “Being and Time” in English. It’s a reference, one can only assume, to philosopher Martin Heidegger’s magnum opus, in which he, well, philosophizes over what it means “to be.” From what little I know about it, a simplified version of his conclusion might be that existence is fundamentally linked to time, or rather, that being is time and that human existence is the span from birth to death and that to truly live, we have to live with a conscious anticipation of the end of our existence.

I suppose that sounds deep on some level, but “Sein Und Zeit” is really about the continuation of souls, in starlight if you must, whose existence can’t be defined or swallowed up by death. They exist now outside of time, not hemmed in by in, and ride on waves of light that started eons ago. Chris Carter seems to be getting back to his “I Want to Believe” roots, with spiritual hunger and the desire for hidden truths overrule the need for scientific proof. This sense of hope, that one should hope, is dauntless and compelling. Universal and compelling.

Verdict:

After seven seasons, we’re finally nearing the truth of a mystery that’s been a bedrock of the show since the Pilot: what happened to Samantha.

We’ve found out bits and pieces, there’s been a lot of red herrings and misinformation, outright lies, in fact. But with all this talk about walk-ins and starlight you should be getting the nagging feeling by now that Mulder will never see Samantha on this side of terra firma again.

And don’t make yourself interesting on The X-Files. It’s a death sentence.

A-

Automatic Writings:

Besides the scene in Mulder’s apartment, my next favorite part of this episode would be the teaser, when Chris Carter uses Bud LaPierre to defend his doomed series, Harsh Realm, that was canceled after only three episodes made it to air.

Bud LaPierre: [Watching Harsh Realm] This is great.

Or maybe this part…

Bud LaPierre: I was watching TV in here.

Mulder: What were you watching?

Bud LaPierre: I never heard of it before. It was good.

That moment when Chris Carter sneaks in yet another indignant defense of Harsh Realm.

Watching the authorities swarm the LaPierre residence, for the first time it occurs to me that there must’ve been a similar scene in the Mulder household when Samantha was taken. Even if Samantha’s parents knew the truth about her abduction, for appearance’s sake there would have been police all over – questioning, searching.

How did Teena Mulder understand the connection between Amber Lynn and Samantha when the information about the ransom letter hadn’t yet been revealed in the media? I have even more questions about this next episode…

Boy, Mulder keeps making awfully good time on those cross-country flights. I know this was pre-9/11, but still.

Those little graves in the final shot make for a startling image. But one has to wonder, why didn’t he bother burying them deeper? No one goes back there? He must really not have been concerned about getting caught.

I may be the only one who cares, but the guy who plays Bud LaPierre is definitely the cult leader from “Red Museum” (2×10).

And to top that nugget off, “Red Museum” was when the topic of walk-Ins first came up.

One wonders how Skinner ever explained to his superiors how he, Scully and Mulder discovered “Santa” and his field full of graves. “Well, sir, we went to interview the LaPierres again and the mother said she’d had a vision of Amber Lynn repeating the number ‘74,’ then we drove up Route 74 and Scully saw one of those year-round Christmas places on the map and she remembered the letter, so we stopped and there were videos and the man ran and… graves.”

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23 responses to “Sein Und Zeit 7×10: If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.

  1. “And don’t make yourself interesting on The X-Files. It’s a death sentence.” This is very true.

    My opinion of this episode and “Closure” have greatly improved since when I first watched it. That said, I do think these two try to do way too much. And you’re right – not enough about Teena Mulder has been explained for much to make sense, although it’s been like that since the beginning of the series with her. I do wish they had given her more of a backstory.

    It’s funny, I didn’t realize how much Philes hated her character before I started the rewatches this year, but Teena Mulder is not Mrs. Popularity. I guess it makes sense, but for me her muddled motives and convenient memory loss always seemed like writing problems rather than characteristics.

    • I feel like we’re riding the same wavelength.

      I actually didn’t care much for these two episodes the first time around, except I enjoyed that they gave David Duchovny the chance to show us his chops. I appreciate them better now and, on the whole, have to grade them pretty well. I still don’t exactly “enjoy” them though.

      And you’re right. It’s really not Teena’s fault. It feels like, since 1013 thought this would be their last season especially, certain things had to be rushed. In hindsight, I would have appreciated a little bit more backstory on her and Diana Fowley.

      And I didn’t realize disliking Teena Mulder was a thing. I thought it was only me. It’s the writing, it’s how disconnected she sounds… I guess it just is.

  2. Ha! Thank you for clarifying that scene with the TV-show the LaPierre dad was watching.

    I actually thought him watching that program had something to do with the missing girl. A little bit like in Wetwired, the TV makes people do/see things. At the end of the episode I wondered why they had put a smoking gun in the teaser. They actually had the dad repeat the fact that the show was “GOOD” to Mulder, an FBI agent he just met and who is talking to him about how and when he noticed their daughter disappeared. It is such an unimportant detail -that you were watching a show, you liked it, moments before you hallucinated your kid being dead and after noticing she is actually missing- that you would forget about that TV-show instantly. Why even mention it to a federal agent investigating the disappearance of your own flesh and blood? It rang every “suspicious conspiracy theory about TV and media”-bell in my head. And then they never came back to it. I mean… helloooo… Chekhov’s gun, anyone? Mulder, where are your crazy intuitions all of a sudden? If I have alarm bells going off in my head, then he should be at DEFCON 1, right?

    Basically that’s what I thought at the end of the episode… it took over. A bit unfortunate as the whole thing behind it is quite funny. This was a(n uninteded?) red herring if I ever saw one, but it took my attention somewhat away from the rest of the storyline.
    If they had just had the dad mention it in the teaser and not have him repeat it to Mulder, I don’t think it would have stuck. But hey, lets leave it in, because ego. 😉

    I also asked myself if no-one would smell the stench from those shallow graves. The Santa-village is just a few hundreds of metres away. Nothing to ruin all-year-round Christmas like the stench of decomposing bodies…

    But agreeing on the overall better episode, I did not once feel like playing Solitaire on my phone during this one.

    • You’re right! The first few scenes make it look significant and it is significant… to Chris Carter. I actually had a similar reaction when this first aired. I thought it meant something to the plot. I could have sworn.

      “But hey, lets leave it in, because ego.” LOL!!! Well…

      Right?? Letting those bodies sit on top of the ground is bad idea all around. Um, if you’re a serial killer. I love the ending shot, but still. It definitely has more artistic than logical merit.

      I felt like paying attention too, which was a relief. Okay, so maybe I scoffed a few times, but at least I wasn’t yawning.

      • Yes, scoffing. But in comparison, this is where there is light at the horizon. At least, I hope there is. Since the beginning of Season 7 I’m actually in unknown territory. I’ve never seen these episodes before.
        I moved to a student home without a TV. I never felt like dropping back in in later seasons, so in a way this is TV-gold to me, unseen episodes… but unfortunately for me, it ain’t all gold that shines in Season 7 so far.

        Agreeing on the ending shot… it was beautifully done, the eerie creepy feeling that settles on you when you see all those graves, I can just never let the ‘reality check’ go. Maybe strange for someone who loves (the) X-Files so much.

        • I’m kinda jealous! You have lots of brand new X-Files to watch! I almost wish I could forget some things so I could experience them brand new again. But there’s joy in familiarity too, kinda like a marriage.

          I remember much less detail from Season 7 on, though. I just don’t watch these episodes as much.

          • So… at I just watched the end of s7 and I’m not liking where this is going with the brand new credits for s8. I must seem like a cave person for a true X-phile who knows what’s coming, but I just want to say: I’m scared. And not in a good “trees have red eyes”-kinda way.
            *hugs teddybear and wants to go back to the start*

            • I just want to say: I’m scared. And not in a good “trees have red eyes”-kinda way.
              *hugs teddybear and wants to go back to the start*

              LOL!!!!!!!!

              You basically just described me for the whole first half of Season 8.

              By Season 9 I was resigned.

              • “By Season 9 I was resigned.”

                For the whole of season 8 I did not understand at all… I actually quite liked it. But I think I do now.

                Did Mulder talk about “the gift of God” in a non-sarcastic way? So did Scully become Mulder and Mulder become Scully?
                Did I just watch creepy Christmas with stalkers on my screen?
                If Chris Carter put the three kings in the room -who apparently just blitzed a visit or just don’t know what the mechanics are behind gifting a present- why was there no mule and no ox in the room? Or a few sheep herders and lambs for that matter?
                I wished I could ask these questions in the appropriate comment section, but I have no patience. I need to ask them NOW. Also, I’m afraid I will have forgotten by then.
                And they should have named him Brian.
                *sings at teddybear ‘Always look on the bright side of life’*

                • 1. If it’s the moment I think you’re talking about, I think he was being sincere. Scully became open to aliens, he became open to God.
                  2. It was a creepy Christmas.
                  3. I think they doubled as wise men and shepherds. Just kidding.

                  • I wish I had started following this blog earlier on… I feel like I’m only spewing my disbelief lately.
                    But yes: I wish they had brought presents and sheep. Not kidding. 😉

            • If you’re disparaged at s8, just wait for 9 *puts fist in mouth*.

  3. I actually liked the character of Mrs. Teena Mulder.

    Even if her appeal was a mystique feigned with precarious writing, to some extent she imbued a certain generation; secretive middleclass housewives deftly determined to keep up appearances, despite sacrificing some desire or happiness. Allegories galore are The X-Files.

    Furthermore, I did feel a bit sad for her and reckon guilt was the dirty culprit when it came down to that shocking final curtain; she had to carry it for decades and who knows how many other secrets, as you said. It certainly elicited more of my sympathy than the demise of Diana (foul) Fowley. Perhaps she left Mulder in limbo to protect him, we’ll never know.

    This episode equally rejuvenated my hopes for captivating drama after a litany of detachment and X-Files-lite (certainly not all bad – “Hungry” always gets my vote), and despite the suspicious return of walk-ins (a bit forced after such a long sabbatical, eh?). Too bad my hopes were dashed by the conclusion.

    • She does feel like an upper middle class, old-fashioned New England housewife to me with her slightly too proper speech and reserve. I guess she just couldn’t bring herself to dash Mulder’s hopes. Though, then, one wonders why she got her own hopes up back in Season 2’s Colony/End Game if she knew Samantha wasn’t alive. But continuity is a fickle thing.

      I also agree that guilt is probably what hurried her suicide along more than anything. It kinda sounded like she planned to tell Mulder something important before she died. I guess we’ll never know exactly what it was.

      And “detachment” is the word. There have been good episodes, but exactly, nothing captivating. I miss the feeling of being on the edge of my seat the whole episode, even the ones that weren’t the greatest, because I was eager to see what came next! This is a step back in the right direction.

  4. It’s been ages since I’ve watched either episode now, but you raise a good continuity issue. Did Teena Mulder know Samantha was dead for sure, or had she just assumed as much after she was given away?

    • Maybe she never saw a post-mortem vision of Samantha at all but just believed it. That could explain how she could be convinced otherwise with evidence.

      But we’re probably thinking too hard since I doubt 1013 considered her earlier reactions much. Or maybe they remained aware of it but consciously sacrificed a little continuity to get the story told. Particularly since they thought the show was almost out of time.

  5. Yes, that’s probably right; creative licence for a U-turn. I always believed Samantha would be alive and well. How naïve I was.

    • For a long time I believed she was alive somewhere and would have preferred it. By this point in the series, I figured she was dead. If she were alive they’d need more time to deal with the plot and its ramifications. But they’ve already effectively shut down the conspiracy.

      It would have been cool to look into Samantha at the end of the last season/beginning of this one. Then Mulder could have dealt with the emotional consequences this season, the same way he dealt with the consequences of having his theories proved wrong for much of Season 5.

  6. I found Samantha’s ‘fake’ appearances far more satisfying, but then so probably did Mulder.

    Should I have used spoilers, or was it too late even before this post?

    Haha, season 5 was nuts, yet so well put-together. Season 7 really grew on me- no one seemed bored until season 8; well, apart from bull-dog Doggett and the ever peppy Reyes, but that’s a different story.

  7. Oh right, the graves.

    Look forward to re-watching the series, but I’m totally numb at the idea of s.10.

  8. Pingback: Closure 7×11: I guess I just want it to be over. | Musings of an X-Phile

  9. Pingback: Conduit 1×3: I’ll send him a bundt cake. | Musings of an X-Phile

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