First Person Shooter 7×13: Well, that’s rather sexist, isn’t it?


fps215

Stay out of my way, geeks.

 

Season 7 is not going well for me. Then again, it never does.

We passed the halfway point of the season a couple of episodes back and yet I’ve experienced very few twitches and tingles.

I remember having my hopes up for this one back in the day, though. After all, it brought back the Lone Gunmen and I’ve missed these guys. It also brings back sci-fi writer William Gibson and novelist Tom Maddox who brought us Season 5’s “Kill Switch” (5×11), one of my all-time favorite episodes.

This should go well, right?

Then why do I hate this episode? Because I do hate it. Absolutely.

Somewhere buried within the good intentions that made up this episode is some kind of convoluted attempt to tackle issues of entertainment and violence, civilization and instinct, fantasy and reality, and the feminine response to unrealistic male sexual objectification which includes self-glorification as well as objectification. Yes, they threw all of that in there. Really.

Maybe they didn’t exactly mean to tackle all these, just mention or include them all. Maybe they felt they couldn’t present a virtual reality based episode without at least addressing in passing the issues that surround video games in the public discourse.

I don’t know, but mixing up all these potentially thoughtful issues in an episode that’s clearly designed to be a rip-roaring good time feels unfocused. Granted, “Kill Switch” raised a couple of questions in passing about consciousness and creation. But that was it, a couple of questions in passing. Can we create life? Is consciousness digitally transferable? Done. The end.

If I’m wrong I really do apologize, but it feels like this is a case of a script going through too many hands, as though there were several people trying to do several different things.

Mulder: We came, we saw, we conquered. And if the taste of victory is sweet, the taste of virtual victory is not Sweet ‘N Low, nor the bullets made of sugar. Maybe out past where the imagination ends our true natures lie, waiting to be confronted on their own terms. Out where the intellect is at war with the primitive brain in the hostile territory of the digital world where laws are silent and rules disappear in the midst of arms. Born in anarchy with an unquenchable bloodthirst we shudder to think what might rise up from the darkness.

I… This closing monologue… I have no words.

Yes, I do. This has Chris Carter written all over it. (I love you, Chris. I swear.)

But as I said in the review for “Closure” (7×11), these monologues have a way of summing things up for us. It would indeed appear that the overall crux of the story, besides the obvious takeaway that blasting things is fun, is that video games allow us to let loose our own primordial urges but by so doing, we run the risk of creating something new and frightening out of the ooze.

Is that it, Chris? Did I get it?

Ergo, video games serve a vital purpose. Ergo, if we take away this indulgence then men won’t be able to hold their urges in check in a civilized society, like the cops at the precinct when they encounter Jade Blue Afterglow and suddenly forget they’re cops and have seen plenty of strippers. Ergo, accidentally creating something we can’t control, like Matreiya, is the risk we as a society must take.

I realize that these exaggerated versions of gamers and men are meant to be funny and only serve to make Phoebe and Scully look better by the end of the episode. Did they really have to make the girls look good at the expense of the guys? And as much as I like seeing Scully kick butt and wish she had the chance to do it more often, do the girls really look so much better overall? Phoebe comes off as downright selfish – letting people continue to die rather than to destroy her virtual, idealized version of herself. Yes, because that’s feminism. We can be just as violent and self-absorbed as men.

Verdict:

Alright. I realize this is all supposed to be tongue-in-cheek and I know it sounds like I’m taking this episode seriously. The truth is I don’t. I’m just racking my brain trying to figure out some logical, rational, explicable reason why I don’t like it.

Maybe there is no legitimate reason. Maybe I’m mad because they finally brought back the Lone Gunmen, but even they deliver their lines with forced enthusiasm. And these guys always come through for me, even in episodes as bad and as far back as “Fearful Symmetry” (2×18)!

It’s trying to be an X-File, it’s trying to be a sci-fi fantasy, it’s trying to be a comedy, it’s trying to be social commentary… It’s trying and failing. Not that X-Files episodes haven’t been several things at once before, but this attempt isn’t successful. And it’s a little insulting to men and women alike.

Frankly, I’m frustrated and I’m bored. Thank the 1013 heavens that’s about to end.

D

P.S. And don’t get me started on Scully’s head being interposed on Jade Blue Afterglow’s body by way of a compliment at the very end.

Immature, Hormonal Fantasies:

Mindless destruction and sex just seem to go together, don’t they? Scully seems to find it all relatively harmless. I find it mostly gross. I think better of men than this.

In other words, take a man’s idealized caricature of a woman and destroy him with it.

Scully’s leather jacket is back.

Now we know how the Lone Gunmen finance their, er, other projects.

Donkey Lips! From Salute Your Shorts!! I can’t believe I never recognized him before as one third of the geeky trio in the teaser.

All I could think as I started watching this again was, “This must have cost a lot of money.”

“No fair pickin’ on a girl.” Scully would never say this without irony.

I actually find the gear a little hokey.

Questions:

The body of the gamer that died in the teaser waits, unmoved, for Mulder and Scully to cross the country and show up on the scene? No matter what killed him, the company should have been in trouble for not calling the police and leaving him there to rot.

Speaking of bodies, in the autopsy scene, why was Musashi’s head placed between his feet?

Since when does Mulder know all this game design lingo?

Why doesn’t Matreiya kill Mulder when she has the chance?

Best Quotes:

Langly: Dudes! Agent Mulder, what’s up, wild man? Welcome to the land where silicon meets silicone.

Frohike: Can I get you a latte from the bar or perhaps a bottle of designer H20?

——————-

Mulder: Is that him? Is that Daryl Musashi?

Byers: Yeah, that’s him.

Langly: He just stepped into the game.

Mulder: Why is he just standing there?

Ivan: Because he knows no fear. {Editor’s Note: Okay, I chuckled despite myself.}

 

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33 responses to “First Person Shooter 7×13: Well, that’s rather sexist, isn’t it?

  1. “First Person Shooter” is one of those episodes that reminds me how badly The X-Files needed more female writers. They did such a good job writing Scully’s character that we forget sometimes that the minds behind what happens in this show, to Scully and to other women, are male.

    That being said, I confess I don’t hate this episode. But I don’t hate it in the way I don’t hate the movie “Speed” – it’s mindless, campy, action-based fun. I either ignore the forced morals or take them to be intentionally exaggerated – like the last monologue, for instance, which I always thought was supposed to be intentionally over-the-top.

    All that said, The X-Files can do better. And it’s sad to think what other, better episodes could have been put in this episode’s place…

    • Yes! There was a lot of testosterone at 1013 so it’s kind of amazing how the writers, Vince Gilligan in particular… yes, I’m singing his praises again… were able to flesh her out so believably. I’m sure a lot of it’s due to GA’s performances as well.

      The exaggeration has to be intentional. Sadly, it’s still not any fun for me.

      And I think I said this in a comment about Closure recently, but there are times when I actually resent that certain MOTW episodes were given to Scully & Doggett in Season 8 that Mulder & Scully should have had in Season 7. They upped their game a little too late.

      • Before the rewatches started, I never thought about some of the problems with Scully’s storyline until other Philes pointed it out. She’s a wonderful character, but what they do to her is kind of awful. It’s meant to be that way, of course, but I wish they’d had a female writer tackle some of her story, especially the whole ova-being-stolen thing.

        You know – that’s really true about Season 8. I hadn’t thought of that before. And people are so quick to dismiss it simply because Mulder’s not there. Maybe that’s why I like season 8’s “Alone,” because it’s decent and it has Mulder. Best of both worlds Anyway. I won’t get too far ahead. 😉

        At least “Theef” is a legitimately scary episode, right?

  2. I don’t dislike this episode as much as other viewers do. Same goes for Fight Club.

  3. I take it all back. I’m currently doing #XFRewatchFPS and I’m ready to shove this episode under the bus. It’s awful.

  4. The gear is only a little hokey?

  5. Before I first watched this episode, I thought: I love Mulder and Scully AND video games, how can this go wrong? And then the show spent the next 45 minutes showing me exactly how wrong it could go. It still hurts to watch this one.

    I also had no idea Willian Gibson was involved. I love Kill Switch and instantly thought of him after I saw it and before I knew he wrote it. Can’t say the same for FPS.

    They definitely needed female writers for this (and the rest of the series) because they went about dealing with women, video games, and their portrayal in them all wrong. ‘No fair picking on a girl’ my butt. That line really makes me die a bit inside. Then I die completely after the final reveal of Scully as the new femme fatale. And the exaggerated portrayals of the men, including Mulder, just didn’t work. As you said, this episode didn’t help the portrayals of men or women. This episode needs a kill switch…

    The positives: Scully and her leather jacket. Sculls kicking butt and saving Mulder. Seeing the Lone Gunmen.

    Now bring on Theef!

    • Right? Right?? Such a disappointment.

      And that line… That’s right. Don’t call a girl out when she’s done something wrong; we can’t take it. We need special treatment, but we don’t mind at all if you want to turn us into exaggerated characters for your lustful enjoyment.

      Scully would never.

      And after all that, there was a kill switch the whole time. Give me a break.

      Yes, Theef. Please!

      • Regarding the kill switch: at first I thought this episode was taking a LOTR turn. No man of woman born can defeat this video game femme fatale. *Scully whips of helmet* I am no man!

        But no. Oh well.

        Random note: I love that it is clearly raining in the shots of Scully during the Wild West sequence. I like to pretend the game is just really mad at her and not that the LA weather not cooperating.

  6. Thank you for taking the hit on this one. I’ve never seen this episode and your review confirms that I never will. “Ignorance is bliss” is my motto as the series extended to 7+ seasons. 1013 was a total boy’s club and desperately needed a Jane Espenson-esque perspective in the writer’s room to tamper down the ridiculous and inconsistent “Scully’s gynecological travails” story line(s).

    Did Scully actually say “No fair picking on a girl”? *takes an aspirin* I think I’m now mentally scarred just reading about that line in the review…

    • I hated to say it but I couldn’t tell a lie.

      I hadn’t thought about it before you guys said it, but maybe the fact 1013 was mostly XY explains some of Scully’s characterization and the plots surrounding her in Seasons 8 & 9. Heck, we already know CC conceived of her originally as his ideal woman.

      I say “some,” though, because they’ve done a great job heretofore and I can’t figure out exactly what’s causing this glitch in the matrix.

  7. Wow, this was a train wreck… Didn’t like this episode at all. It felt to me that the recurring actors felt the same way. Hardly ever have I seen them struggle so much to get or stay in character. I think the dialogue is badly written in a number of scenes… One that stuck with me: TLG when Scully steps into the game. What was that?
    I could somehow go with Frohike’s “Go, girl!” It seemed silly and geeky, but in character with the way he loves him some Scully action, or at least loves the idea of it.
    But Byers’ “Scully is on fire!” turned my face to disgusted mode and not the good “that is some nasty MOTW”-disgusted mode. But I could get passed that and try to see it as a not so great attempt to light & silly humour that the X-Files has done great in the past.

    Another thing that was pretty annoying where I agree fully: why did the Goddess not kill Mulder immediately? I also thought: “Scully is way too good at this.” That Musashi kid got his hands chopped off after being in the game for about 1 minute and he was supposedly the best gamer on the planet. So good the CIA wanted him… And he gets chopped up in less than 1 minute. But bring in Scully and wham… Level 2. (side note, what kind of a game has never had a gamer get passed Level 2? Isn’t it supposed to lure you in with a few easier levels, so you become hooked before working on your frustration?) Then again Scully has got a few things going for her: her heart is literally invested in winning that game and she might have a streak of beginners luck. And she’s Scully. Badass. So I could still let that one fly.

    But the thing that got me the most is what you’ve said before. I agree completely on the lack of female insight in this episode. Just a head’s up for any old or young boys’ club trying to work through or with the complex issue of femininity and feminism. Don’t, don’t even try poking at it with a stick from a 10 mile distance. You don’t fully get it and you never will. But that’s fine. Get at least one woman(‘s opinion) in and work with that. Otherwise you are basically contributing to the very thing you are trying to broach.
    If you need one example as to why this episode is just a painful example of this… every single one listed in the review, but the one that stuck out the most for me was the fact that in the end, they changed the Goddess figure to Badass Scully… they only did not want her Badass Body, they just wanted her Badass Face. Now THAT made me vomit into my mouth a little bit.
    Come on Chris Carter and Co… You guys made Scully, you wrote her, you know her… What was that all about?! Did you not learn anything??

    I read somewhere in an interview with Gillian Anderson (it might even have been on your website here, Salome) that they actually wanted a blonder, taller and hotter actrice than her to play Scully. Well… this just was an example of how they just don’t learn sometimes… Gillian brought a level of sexiness to the role that not many women could.
    And talking about how Gillian Anderson can also do blond & hot… Watch The Fall. Point made.

    • My rant isn’t over yet, it seems.
      1. Scully should have been able to win the game because she was the only one who was able to overcome the Goddess, mainly because it is supposedly an invention by another woman to tackle her own insecurities of being a woman in a man’s world. The reason she could do that is BECAUSE Scully is that same woman who has to deal with men all the f*ing time and she does it brilliantly. Like I said in my Never Again-rant: I love how they turned her into a human being, not a woman who
      A/ becomes masculine to play with the (big) boys
      B/ uses her own sexuality to surpass that
      Now THAT would have been an ending. “You boys play with your guns, I’ll go in an fix it for you. This girl can do her own picking.” And in the end, when the character changed into Scully, it should have had the Scully in beige deux-pièces with buttons.

      2. Why does the Goddess character look so slutty? No woman would ever come up with that. Yes, I want to build a strong female character who can kill every man possible to deal with my own frustrations and insecurities over being a woman in a male dominated world, and when I do so, I’d love her to have as little clothes on as possible. Kind of like a Victoria’s Secret Angel but with a sword instead of the wings. Please. Give me Malala over 1.000.000 of these.
      And now, I will stop ranting. At least here. The rant in my head will go on endlessly I’m afraid.

      • I do love that about Scully. Femininity and strength go hand in hand with her. She doesn’t have to pretend she’s not a girl to succeed at the FBI. And she also doesn’t have to resort to relying on sexual manipulation. She’s smart, capable, confident, not arrogant, and still fully feminine.

        I never understood that plot point either. Phoebe resents the chauvinistic male attitudes she’s subjected to day in and day out, so she fights back with… a chauvinistic male fantasy? What? I suppose I’d *kind of* understand it if the plan was to overdose them on their own medicine. But they paint it as though Matreiya represents everything she wants to be and isn’t. Really now???

    • Yes, I’m still a little perturbed that the Lone Gunmen came off as hopelessly hokey instead of lovably nerdy. I really missed those fellas and this is what I get for my warm welcome of them? Psh. The dialogue was definitely trying too hard in that regard.

      There’s really no reason for Matreiya to have let Mulder live only to try to kill him again. She’d already defeated him. Maybe he didn’t have enough testosterone fueled adrenaline to make it worth her while?

      Scully only survived because she’s Scully and we’re supposed to believe that she’s just that cool. It’s a little patronizing, to be honest. Then again, I did love her martial arts scene in Kill Switch, so maybe I’m a hypocrite.

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  9. Perhaps just as bad as the killer cats episode and the volcano one. I did like this more second time round, but this was a jump the shark moment, surely. Oh God, and we haven’t even gotten to Hollywood AD yet.

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  12. I’ve been a gamer for many years and though my tastes have changed I can say with authority that this episode sucked so bad. For me it was the dumbed down portrayal of an FPS shooter or the absolute hilarity of the central premise that results in a runaway computer simulation.

    I have to remember when this was released but it made me feel much like X-Cops in that I just couldn’t get my head around the story enough to get pulled into it.

    I did not believe the actors performances. It wasn’t comedic enough to make it a full on comedy ep, which would have been the better way to go imo.

    Last two episodes have me sailing over shark teeth….I need a reason to keep the faith, Chris. Don’t fail me now.

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  14. Painful to watch. The worst episode ever!

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