Je Souhaite 7×21: How many centuries now has disco been dead?


JeSouhaite200

Breakfast of champions.

First off, disco is not dead.

Second off, it wasn’t until I joined the internet fandom many years after the show first aired that I realized people really loved this episode. ‘Cause I didn’t love it. I didn’t know what to do with it. I was bored.

Maybe it’s that every time I reach this point in Season 7 I’m so bored and frustrated that it really would take a magic wish to wake me up. – Or some devilish shenanigans a la “Requiem” (7×22). Maybe I would’ve liked it better if we hadn’t just had two kooky episodes in a row. Maybe.

I should love it because “Je Souhaite” is classic Vince Gilligan. And Vince Gilligan is probably my favorite television writer ever. Here he also directs an episode of The X-Files for the first time, which is in keeping with Season 7’s theme of letting everyone have a chance to take the wheel.

But my hangups with this episode are the same ones I used to have with “Bad Blood” (5×12 ) and that I should have but don’t with “Small Potatoes” (4×20) because I’m a hypocrite. There are radical, life-altering, world-changing events happening here and the responses are so… comedic that I find it jarring. In “Bad Blood”, Mulder is under investigation for killing an unarmed teenager but basically limits his reaction to sarcastic one-liners directed at Scully. In “Small Potatoes”, women are basically being raped by a man who tricks them into believing he’s their husbands, but dang it, it’s hard to hate Eddie Van Blundht. And here Mulder makes a wish that wipes out the human race and all he can say is, “Oh, crap.”

Where I actually start to disconnect  is when an invisible body is “discovered” and taken in for an autopsy. Would anyone believe it was a human body some guy on the bike had fallen over? And if they believed it was, wouldn’t the CDC, NIH and the Surgeon General have been called out? Why would the local coroner’s office have contacted Mulder and Scully? It’s not like they were investigating the deaths of invisible men.

I realize it’s comedic, but my mind has to be in “Real World according to The X-Files” mode or “Fantasy according to The X-Files” mode. I have a hard time switching back and forth between the two. At first, I think “Je Souhaite” is going to be funny but still somehow real like “Small Potatoes” manages to be, and then suddenly it’s not and a switch turns off in my head. This is a personal problem.

My second problem is that this trope is a little too familiar. Like Mulder, I too grew up watching I Dream of Jeannie, so I know it’s dangerous to be too literal with the jinn. And then there’s that episode of The Twilight Zone, “The Man in the Bottle” warning me to be careful what I wish for. Heck, even Duck Tales warned me that a genie’s power was dangerous.

And, most of all, I saw Aladdin. So we know where Mulder’s final wish is headed, m’kay?

My point is that none of this is new. Trickster genies are a tradition.

Tradition is fine. But there’s no point in telling the story unless there’s a fresh perspective on the tale, and by “fresh” I mean something more than the genie wearing a leather jacket.

If you’re still here, let me assure you that my griping is now done. Unlike “Fight Club” (7×2), this episode has real merit.

Even though my brain may have trouble suspending disbelief, it is funny. Most of my laughter is drawn out by the Stokes brothers who steal the show. I could’ve used a lot more of them. I love Anson’s kitchen table scream. Leslie trying to throw off Mulder and Scully’s suspicion. Chilly Zombie!Anson blowing up the house while Leslie rants and raves in the background. That’s good stuff. That’s Gilligan stuff.

Since Season 3, I’ve noticed that the penultimate episode of the season usually serves as a sort of emotional finale before the mytharc themed season finale. In Season 5, Vince Gilligan gave us “Folie à Deux” (5×19), an episode that reaffirmed Mulder and Scully’s partnership right before it was tested by the advent of Diana Fowley in “The End” (5×20). I don’t know if “Je Souhaite” was originally conceived of as the penultimate episode, but we do know that when it was written and filmed the fate of The X-Files was still up in the air. This very well could have been its last stand-alone episode. Just in case it was, Gilligan had a little message for the fans:

Mulder: The trick is to be specific. To make the wish perfect. That way, everyone is going to benefit. It’s going to be a safer world, a happier world. There’s going to be food for everyone, freedom for everyone, the end of the tyranny of the powerful over the weak. Am I leaving anything out?

Scully: It sounds wonderful.

Mulder: Then what’s the problem?

Scully: Maybe it’s the whole point of our lives here, Mulder, to achieve that. Maybe it’s a process that one man shouldn’t try and circumvent with a single wish.

You heard it here. World peace isn’t achieved by wanting it or wishing for but by working for it. And you don’t have to start big; you start by treating the people around you better.

Mulder: I don’t know if you noticed but, um, I never made the world a happier place.

Scully: Well, I’m fairly happy. That’s something.

Yes, it is, Scully.

If the world ends tomorrow, and knowing season finales on The X-Files it just might, we can rest at ease knowing that even if Mulder didn’t change the world he made a difference in one life.

Verdict:

All my kvetching makes it sound like my grade is going to be more dire than it is. But now that I know what to expect from it, this episode has grown on me over the years, which seems to be my recurring theme for Season 7. I guess when there’s nothing else left, you learn to appreciate what you have.

And who knows? In a few years I may like this as much as “Bad Blood”.

B

Random Observation:

Funny. Jenn doesn’t talk like she last came out of the 70’s.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I can’t believe you don’t want butter on your popcorn. Uggh. It’s un- American.

——————–

Jenn: The only thing you people are cursed with is stupidity. All of you. Everybody. Mankind. Everyone I have ever come into contact with without fail. Always asking for the wrong thing.

Mulder: You mean making the wrong wishes.

JENN: Yeah, it’s always: “Give me money. Give me big boobs. ” [Indicates crotch] “Give me a big hoo-hoo. Make me cool like the Fonz.” Or whoever’s the big name now.

Mulder: You been out of circulation a long time.

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25 responses to “Je Souhaite 7×21: How many centuries now has disco been dead?

  1. Anson and Leslie cracked me up.

  2. I’m AM indeed surprised you aren’t too excited about this one. Sure, I think the attention to protocol seems a little lax, especially when we compare this to the depth of seriousness of say the autopsy in Shadows from s.1. Still, this is easier to buy than Dreamland, right? Maybe not; I really will have to re-watch.

    Perhaps M&S got a little bit more respect over the years after being closed down so many times and they really did become the local authorities “spooky” go-to guys; consultants if you like. Much different, I’ll grant you than the extremes for access they often have to go to, which many would argue is one of the show’s integral themes. I do think s.7 has more of a comfortable pace to it, almost like an X-Files holiday… or something.

    Of course, maybe I am just really blind to Je Souhaite’s failings. I really like this episode for the reasons you said; pertaining to the comedy/life affirming duality that’s common in the show. It’s never a bad thing either when Scully is occasionally happy.

    • Actually, one of my Dreamland nitpicks was that Mulder’s reaction to losing his body and his life was a little mild. The overall “world” is more consistent, though. Or maybe it just jives with me better and it’s as simple as that.

      Season 7 was one giant holiday, but Scully needed to be happy more often. When she’s not smiling, she looks bored, not merely serious these days.

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  4. This is another episode that I couldn’t stand when it first aired. I think it was the episode that made me hate Mark Snow’s overuse of the bass clarinet. Seriously, find a better instrument to augment. When I binge watched Smallville last year (I hadn’t watched the original airing), I kept asking myself why the show seemed familiar and somewhat wrong, and it was because Mark Snow was writing music for pre-Superman and not Mulder and Scully.

    Anyho, back to the point. I couldn’t stand this episode the first time I saw it. But, apparently it was written for Janeane Garofalo, the world’s most famous real life Daria. I was a real life Daria at the time of this episode’s original airing. I don’t know why I didn’t appreciate Jenn’s character more at the time, but I guess I was too busy being a real life Daria.

    I just watched The Age of Adeline with my Mom on a girls night in over salads and wine the other night; at the end of the movie, I said, “I liked that. It was cute.” My Mom, who’s watched/listened to soap operas her entire life said, “I don’t know. It was a little far fetched.” My point being, this episode is like that. Some people are going to find it cute and others are going to find it far fetched. Take your pick.

    • I guess I was too busy being a real life Daria.

      :::noisy trumpet snort:::

      My point being, this episode is like that. Some people are going to find it cute and others are going to find it far fetched. Take your pick.

      I think that sums it up. That’s the thing about humor. There’s no accounting for taste.

  5. “First off, disco is not dead.”

    (I have previous reviews to respond to, but I had to pause and declare my unrequited Salome adoration. Because Salome, you are the Dancing Queen.)

  6. Can I just say that Scully’s utter fangirl squealing over potentially having proof of an actual X file when she dusts powder all over the invisible body really is just glorious?

    Also, cameras, Scully. Cameras. A) You know the Lone Gunmen and can have whatever technology you like, and B) you’re paranoid because everybody and their mother is stalking you all the time. Find all the camera footage of you dusting the powder.

  7. The Stokes brothers crack me up.

    But there’s something I’ve noticed: Did Mulder technically make his second wish? Same goes for Leslie on his last wish.

    • Yep! Jenn asked Mulder if he’d like to undo his first wish and he agreed. That’s when the world came back while Mulder was still in Skinner’s office.

      Leslie wished for his boss to shut up, then for a boat, then for invisibility.

      EDIT: Wait, sorry. You mean the second brother? I’m mixing their names up. If you mean the second, he wished for his brother to come back, then for his brother to speak, and then he was wishing for something I forget when his zombie brother accidentally blew them up.

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  9. I liked it. I thought of it as a Gilligan/D Morgan mashup. At least that’s what it felt like.

    IMO the key to an ep like this to be successful is that it has to run the theme the entire 45 minutes..unlike let’s say Babylon ( I know, I said the word).

    Same as Bad Blood etc.

  10. Yeah, I liked this episode much more the second time around. Notable moments: Scully’s child-like wonder when she thinks she FINALLY has proof of something; Mulder’s knowing understanding when she insists on staying with the body; poor Scully when the body inevitably disappears on her (in the more conventional sense); the last couch scene, obviously.

  11. Okay, I’m a symphony musician and I can’t help but notice these things. Did anyone catch the opening bassoon solo quote from Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in this episode? These comedic episodes often use quotes from famous orchestral repertoire and the subject of the quotes never has anything to do with the plot. It’s not earth-shattering, but I find that interesting.

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