Roadrunners 8×5: You’re going to be so loved.


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Highway to hell.

Warning: Do not take this episode with food. May cause stomach upset.

I flailed all through this, but not for my usual fangirl reasons. The sheer grossness is mindboggling. I haven’t contorted my face this much since “F. Emasculata” (2×22).

My king, writer Vince Gilligan, is back… boy, is he back… with his first serious X-File since “Tithonus” (6×9). The only solo offerings he gave us in Season 7 were comical so I guess he’s trying to make up for lost time. I don’t know. But I know he’s freaking me out.

One of the things I love most about Gilligan’s writing is his characterization of Scully. Too often Scully is left to look bored and aloof, because we know that all serious scientists are bored and aloof. Gilligan, though, likes to give her new things to do, things that bring out other sides of her. And he gives her back some of the sarcasm she originally had in Season 1. I find it interesting that his last serious X-File was Scully-centric too.

Scully’s in real trouble this time. She’s on a case alone because, while she’s stopped resenting Doggett, as demonstrated by her procuring the desk she promised him, she would still rather not have him around. The X-Files don’t matter to him the way they matter to her and she wants to keep him on the periphery. Besides, there’s no sense in getting attached when Mulder will be back soon. But what Scully’s forgotten is how many times she’s nearly died investigating an X-File.

One of the things I liked about the good but not great “Brand X” (7×19) was that it was the first time in a long time that it felt like there was a very real threat to Mulder. Well, it’s Scully’s turn. I haven’t feared for her life like this since I don’t know when. She’s surrounded by the faithful from hell and she has a giant slug stuck in her back that thinks it’s the second coming of Jesus. I’m pretty sure that’s called a “pickle.”

Right from the teaser, we see a bus full of zombie-like strangers calmly stone a crippled man to death in the desert in the middle of the blackest night. Don’t hold any horror tropes back, Vince. It starts freaky and it only gets freaky-er.

Scully gets trapped in this little village after being sabotaged by Marty Taylor from Home Improvement. Then she’s introduced to this guy with a thing crawling up his spine. He’s got a big hole in his back where it went through, and Dr. Scully seems to think the best medical course of action is to squeeze the hole to see what comes out of it

Here’s where Scully starts to get a little gullible. It could possibly read out of character that the townspeople catch her off her guard, but I think she is on her guard. She knows these people are up to something and she doesn’t trust them. It’s exactly because she doesn’t trust them that she’s inclined to think the guy with the thing up his back is a victim, which really, he is. As a doctor, her heart also naturally goes out to the patient. Why she’d give him her gun though…

The result is a scene in a dark barn that’s deliciously horrible. Scully slowly realizes she’s cornered, she struggles, the crowd is shouting, “Amen!” as yet another crippled man get stoned to death. Oh, the creepiness. I know what happens and I had to watch through my fingers.

The good news is this madness gets Scully riled up. And Scully may be in trouble this episode, but she’s no damsel in distress. Nosirree. This is another moment brought to you by Scully Squared ™. Even tied up and gagged she’s causing trouble and starting fires. That’s my girl.

However, there’s no way she’s getting out of this on her own. Doggett shows off his investigative skills and has a couple of cool moments himself before showing up to help Scully. One character trait he and Mulder do share is that they both trust their instincts. His instincts tell him something’s wrong in this no-name town. I especially like seeing him knock Marty Taylor the gas station attendant out. And then he cuts that thing out of her back. Ugh! Now that’s commitment. I’m sorry. If it were me, Scully would have had to die. There’s no way I would have been within thirty feet of her back. And then he holds it with his bare hands. Kill me.

Verdict:

All hail King Gilligan because this was the perfect way to bring Scully and Doggett together. Not only has he saved her life, he’s saved her baby’s life. Scully can’t hate him now. And a very mature Scully is forced to realize that she can’t keep treating Doggett like he’s sort of her partner. He’s here and she’d better accept him. Or else.

And while I miss the Mulder/Scully dynamic as much as anyone, I don’t think “Roadrunners” suffers from the loss of it. We’ve had episodes without one or both of them before and few of those are quite this memorable.

In summary, “Roadrunners” freaks me the heck out.

A+

Pocket Change:

This guy is stranded in the middle of the night, hails a bus, and then insults the driver after she picks him up? What, does he want to end up stranded back on the road? Then he doesn’t even bother to ask where the bus is going, just puts on his headphones and settles down for the ride.

It’s so dark, I can’t see what Scully finds when she looks at Mr. Milsap’s phone plug.

Danny’s back!

Is Scully going to be in the hospital every other episode this season?

It’s funny, when I thought ahead to this episode I figured it would be Vince Gilligan. These X-Files writers really do distinguish themselves.

“F. Emasculata” also involved buses in its grossness.

I don’t think we’ve seen Scully have a proper freakout since “Wetwired” (3×23).

Mulder wasn’t mentioned at all this episode…

Best Quotes:

Scully: What did you put in me?! I’m going to get every last one of you bastards!

Mr. Milsap: No! You’ll love us. You’ll protect us. You’ll teach us, make us better than we are. We’re taught not to envy, but I do envy you so… that you’ll soon be one with him.

Scully: Him?! That thing in my spine is a “him“?!

————————-

Doggett: [On phone] Just talked to a guy who had a gun in his pocket and I don’t mean he was happy to see me.

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37 responses to “Roadrunners 8×5: You’re going to be so loved.

  1. Oh god. I have a hard time getting through this one. It’s #2 on my grossest X-Files episodes list, after “Travelers” (which to date is the only episode I can’t sit through).

    • This one, Via Negativa and Badlaa I can’t watch straight on… The last two I have a really, really hard time with because they’re not just gross, they’re dark and borderline demonic.

  2. Even being a Mulder-less X-File, I think this episode deserves every bit of that A+.

  3. Man, I find that I am much more easily grossed out as I get older. Even after repeated watchings, I can only look at that thing for a couple of seconds. And I’m with you, Salome, I wouldn’t have helped Scully. I can’t even pick up hair from the shower drain, let alone slice someone’s back open and dig out a wiggling wormy thing. Sorry, Scully.

    • Thank you for confirming that I’m not alone in my self-interest.

    • I totally love how gross it is. And I completely agree, I can’t fish out the shower drain, let alone cut something like that out.

      • At least we’ve warned the people in our lives that if they’re ever possessed by a holy slug, they’re on their own.

        • Dang, guys. I’d gut a slug outta’ any one of you to save you from evil cultists any day…as long as I took universal precautions like gloves and guns and stuff…In fact, this is starting to sound like a part of my real-life job. Damn.

  4. “Mulder wasn’t mentioned at all this episode…”

    Do you think that’s at least part of the reason why this episode is more successful than a lot of season 8? We don’t spend the whole hour comparing to Mulder or wondering/wishing we would get back to the abduction storyline.

    Great review, I actually like it more now! (And I was always rather fond of this episode.)

    • It’s a catch 22.

      As it is, Mulder’s ghost already haunts the whole season. Them crying “Mulder, Mulder, Mulder” every episode would only make that worse. And very annoying.

      BUT

      His not being mentioned feels odd emotionally since Scully’s driving mission is supposed to be to find her partner, friend, lover and the (possible) father of her baby. Unlike the search for Samantha, time is of the essence here. Yet Scully has quietly stopped searching and is casually working her regular day job.

      So, yes, I think not having Mulder’s specter to deal with allowed this episode to move forward without being held back. In the context of the series, though, it’s a symptom of inconsistency.

  5. I’m a big horror film fan, so that part of me enjoyed the creepiness of this episode. I still think F. Emasculata is grosser. I have to close my eyes during that one. Blergh.

    I remember really liking this episode the first time I watched it. It was one of the few times I thought, “Ok…this show may be fine until Mulder returns.” That’s possibly because it’s so Scully-centric. Of the pair, I have a deeper love for Scully than Mulder (although, of course, I prefer them together). I always loved Scully’s episodes. My wish for season 8 was that Scully would the main focus. We would spend the majority of our time with her and watch her develop. I didn’t really want to focus TOO too much of Doggett. He could just be a smaller role like in this one. Naive me thought this would be the situation. I can’t remember exactly what happens between now and Mulder’s return, but I don’t think this was the case.

    My only gripe now about this episode is that we basically have a massive Scully torture episode to bring about trust between her and Doggett. I guess it needed to be something this extreme to speed up the bonding process, but…did Scully’s body have to be so violated in the process?

    Continuity police: Where is Scully’s tattoo??

    • Scully’s tattoo was gone by Fight the Future, as I recall. Laser tattoo removal maybe? Sigh.

      I’ve been thinking about Season 8 (duh) and I keep wondering how it could have been framed better. A Scully focus sounds good. And it would be a chance to bring in more of Skinner and the Lone Gunmen. But then they would have to make finding Mulder the focus, since I doubt Scully would be investigating routine X-Files while Mulder’s in torture mode. (Oh, wait. That’s exactly what she’s doing.) But if the search for Mulder would be the focus, then they’d have to make real progress. They couldn’t go nearly ten episodes without getting any closer to finding him. That’d be ridiculous. So did they give her Doggett to force her into a routine?

      I’m dead tired and I’m brainstorming. Don’t mind me.

      • Oh yeah…I forgot we see her back in FTF.

        Maybe there could have been more of those half-caf episodes. Like Scully is looking for Mulder (and not just accepting that he’s missing and carrying on with life) and then that leads her to another kind of x-file. They could have developed the mythology more that way. Looking for Mulder could have opened more doors about colonization, etc. Do we even get more about any kind of conspiracy until all the pregnancy stuff comes into the forefront? They were totally wasting time foot dragging with all the Mulder illness bs. It just feels like filler. That could have been their way to get Doggett more emotionally invested in the conspiracy and the whole alien aspect. I mean…they come across the Bounty Hunter who can change form and Doggett isn’t even slightly thinking, “Gee, that was SUPER strange. Maybe we should look into that further. Tell me more, Scully, so I can ACTUALLY help you find Mulder.” They could have also made more use of the Lone Gunmen and Skinner’s new willingness to help.

        • Also, you would think Scully would want to find Mulder ASAP since soon her pregnancy will really get in the way of her fighting and searching. She’s not really one to sit on the sidelines especially where Mulder is concerned. Especially not after the last time she left Mulder in someone else’s hands he was abducted.

        • Let me just sign off on your entire paragraph. I would’ve totally dug that.

          And Mulder’s illness is blatant filler.

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  7. Note: This comment is made before I’ve read any of anyone else’s comments.

    I haven’t commented on any of the other episodes of the 8th season yet because I haven’t re-watched them (or remembered them so well I didn’t have to re-watch them yet; specifically “Bat” Man Episode, because it’s “Bat” Man” episode; I remember hating it from teenage-hood to adulthood. We’ll have to see via this (needed) re-watch), or made my weekly Jail-Break yet, but this episode. THIS FRIGGN’ EPISODE.

    We started to forget they had it, but, THIS IS THE MAGIC OF THE X-FILES!

    This is one of the best Scully episodes ever. It might even be in the top 5 for me, and I LOVE A LOT of Scully episodes.

    Here we have Scully, who’s not only trying to be Mulder, but is also reverting back to her condescending First Season mode Scully, but is also in her Trying to Be Mulder-Scully but STILL OUR SCULLY UNDERNEITH IT ALL SCULLY mode. I get it. She goes out to a deserted place to try and solve a weird case that most people don’t care about. That’s very Mulder. The fact that she’s motivated to investigate and stay even before she sees the autopsy of the case, that’s pure Scully. Mulder wants the truth with a capitol “T”, Scully wants the answers with a capitol “J” (for Justice for the victims, of whom she now counts Mulder (and herself; but, really, any victim is going to represent Mulder for her now).).

    Scully accepts Doggett, but doesn’t really trust him yet.

    Scully wants to save the world; as she (I paraphrase) said in the movie, “I gave up a promising career in medicine because I thought I could make a difference in the FBI.” Now, I hate that phrase, “Make a Difference.” Hitler, Sadam, and Bin-Laden, all ‘Made a Difference.’

    But, any way, Scully wants to save the world. That’s kind-of her ultimate goal. She was trying to “make a difference” and save the world at least TWO years before she even met Mulder and joined him on his quest.

    A fundamental character flaw Scully has, though, is that she wants to save the world, but often forgets she’s in it. She forgets that to save the world, she has to be alive. And that’s something I love about this episode; Doggett reminds me of Mamma Scully in Memento Mori when he scolds her. (Doggett does it more lightly; they are just new friends(?) now). Just as Maggie scolds her daughter about trying to figure her troubles out by herself there, Doggett begins to too.

    Although I stopped watching the show a few episode after this, when I re-watched the show in it’s full, I found I love the Doggett and Scully relationship. They are so INSTINCTIVELY protective of each other. It’s like they can look at each other and see mutually broken people. Doggett’s been doing most of the mending so far, but (again, it’s been a while since I’ve re-watched) we see Scully’s protectiveness in Alone; she’s supposed to be on bed rest and still runs out to help her buddy John. (Oh, wait. The whole “John, Dana, Monica, Walter” thing doesn’t start until Season 9. My bad).

    The best thing about this episode, though, is that it reminded me of why I love the X-Files. “Bat-man (whatever it’s called) Episode” didn’t do it for me. But this, this is the beginning of the return of the grit. I accept Season 7 because it had a few of my favorite episodes ever, but I LOVE the tonal shift that we have in this season. Sometimes it may be too gritty to watch more than one episode a day, but really, I miss that gut-wrentching feeling we got from stuff like Elegy, Momento Mori, Beyond the Sea, Unrue, Irresistable, and even Home (which still scares the Dickens out of me).

    • We started to forget they had it, but, THIS IS THE MAGIC OF THE X-FILES!

      :::broken sobs::: Finally! Someone understands me :::sobs brokenly:::

      also reverting back to her condescending First Season mode Scully

      Why does everyone forget she was like that??? Scully had snark!!

      Mulder wants the truth with a capitol “T”, Scully wants the answers with a capitol “J” (for Justice for the victims, of whom she now counts Mulder (and herself

      YESS!!! This!!! I’ve been crying this to the 1013 heavens for years!! This presents a real problem for the plot of IWTB, so hold that thought. Ugh. Finally, a kindred.

      Scully accepts Doggett, but doesn’t really trust him yet.

      :::nods repeatedly:::

      Scully wants to save the world

      EXACTLY. What happened to THIS Scully? Oh, I feel my eyes watering.

      I found I love the Doggett and Scully relationship. They are so INSTINCTIVELY protective of each other. It’s like they can look at each other and see mutually broken people.

      Okay. I’ll admit you lost me a little there. But I’ll keep an eye out this rewatch.

      The best thing about this episode, though, is that it reminded me of why I love the X-Files… I LOVE the tonal shift that we have in this season. Sometimes it may be too gritty to watch more than one episode a day, but really, I miss that gut-wrentching feeling we got from stuff like Elegy, Momento Mori, Beyond the Sea, Unrue, Irresistable, and even Home

      I could weep with relief. Someone gets it. If you’re not going to give me Mulder and Scully, who together undeniably make up the heart and soul of the show, then you’re going to have to give me everything else I’ve ever loved about The X-Files. “Roadrunners” does that.

      Season 8 is scarier than The X-Files has been in a long time.

  8. ***SPOILER ALERT****DO NOT READ IF ONE WANTS TO AVOID SPOILERS****

    *************************************************************************
    Remember, Doggett is broken from his son’s disappearance/murder. They take waaaaayyy too long to reveal that factoid.

    • I remember. I think they both have emotional baggage, but I wouldn’t think of them as broken. But it was more that I didn’t see their relationship as particularly natural or instinctive. I think it was more of a slow solidification. Dogget seems like the type of person Scully would like, more or less, because he’s a good man. But he doesn’t seem like the type of person she’d gravitate toward. She’s very different than Mulder, but she’s also curious, cerebral and adventurous. You can see even in Season 1 why they’d get along.

      I think she and Reyes have more of a natural connection. Not that they’re similar, but Reyes being similar to her sister facilitates the relationship. Also, Scully’s more open at this point and so is Reyes.

  9. See that’s fascinating to me! I always thought Scully-Reyes seemed forced and hard to accept, and I saw the natural instinctiveness that Kate did in Doggett-Scully. Love hearing the other viewpoints and why.

    • It’s been a while since I watched Seasons 8 & 9 and when I do, I tend to skip. So I promise to take a good hard look at those relationships this time and see if my opinion changes.

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  11. “Why’d she give him her gun though…”

    THIS!!!!! Honestly the only thing in this episode that gave me pause – I mean, I know she thinks he’s a victim and so he needs a way to protect himself – but come on Scully you’re smarter than that. Maybe it’s another part of her channeling Mulder (though I don’t think he would ever do anything like that either…)

    I absolutely love this episode and fully agree with that A+ … I really enjoy Doggets little dig at Scully in the end 🙂

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  16. I’ve been waiting a long time for some old school X Files episode, loved it! And while I’m grateful, all I can say is I need Mulder. I miss him so much. I hate the new opening, there’s no Agent Mulder anymore D: Is he going to be back again?? Don’t tell me. I guess I’ll just keep watching.

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