This is Not Happening 8×14: No frickin’ way.


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They’re coming to take me away, ha ha.

Not that it was intentional as they weren’t filmed in this order, but “This is Not Happening” effectively and emotionally winds up as the second of a three-parter, being sandwiched between “Per Manum” (8×8) in which Mulder’s paternity of Scully’s baby is questioned for the first time and “Deadalive” (8×15) in which Mulder… well, spoilers. “Per Manum”, besides making our heads hurt with timeline questions, builds the unction and the drive to find Mulder and makes us ready for this episode. Now Scully has to find Mulder so that together they can figure out whether what’s growing inside her is a baby or an abomination.

Joining Scully, Skinner and Doggett in the hunt for Mulder is Doggett’s friend, the quirky Agent Monica Reyes. I honestly didn’t remember that this was the moment she first showed up. I skip so much of Season 8 so often that I had forgotten. Shame on me.

Monica Reyes is our new resident believer since David Duchovny’s, and therefore Fox Mulder’s, days on the show are numbered. Played by Annabeth Gish, Reyes is a breath of fresh air. She’s childlike. No, she’s not childish, but she’s childlike. She has an awkward, cheerful air about her and a naturally open and trusting disposition. Unlike Mulder’s brooding belief in the paranormal, Reyes’ take on the supernatural has more of a spiritual, New Aged tinge. And whereas Mulder’s humor was pointed and sardonic, it’s Reyes’ unintentional goofiness that gives her a certain charm.

How good her chemistry proves to be with Doggett remains to be seen, but at least she isn’t a copycat of Mulder just like Doggett isn’t a copycat of Scully. I’m still not convinced that the Unbending Skeptic/Knee-Jerk Believer dynamic is fundamentally necessary to The X-Files, that it’s not merely the way the Mulder/Scully dynamic expressed itself instead of being in and of itself a requirement for solving strange cases. But Fox and 1013 Productions appear to be unwilling to move forward without the familiarity of this established dynamic and, if that’s the case, Doggett and Reyes are about as good a team as I could ask for. I still fear that echoes and ghosts of Mulder and Scully will only prove to be the show’s undoing, however. It’s impossible to compare two very similar partnerships and not find one wanting.

I am impressed by how effectively and efficiently they introduced Reyes considering how much else is going on in this episode. We also have the introduction of Absalom, the return of Jeremiah Smith who we haven’t seen since “Herrenvolk” (4×1), and most importantly of all, the hunt for Mulder has reached its crescendo.

The threat to Mulder has multiplied triple fold. Not only is he at the mercy of the aliens, not only does he have a brain disease, but now we find out the abductees are being returned dead, a development we’ve never seen before in The X-Files. That means that even if Scully finds Mulder she’s likely to find him dead. And even if she finds him and finds him alive, he’s likely to die anyway. This is what Doggett means when he says Scully’s afraid to find Mulder. At least with him missing, there’s a vague hope that he can be saved.

Scully is afraid and we don’t see her like this often. It’s heartbreaking watching her realize what Mulder must have gone through, and even worse, watching her realize that she probably won’t be able to save him. Her vulnerability is a great excuse for some much needed Skinner/Scully bonding, but Skinner’s slightly awkward ministrations only remind me that he can’t comfort Scully like Mulder can.

Doggett feels for Scully too, but from a distance. He’s still too new in her life to reach out to her the way he seems to want to. There are more hints courtesy of Reyes that Doggett has experienced the loss of a loved one and can identify with what Scully’s going through. But it still remains to be clarified exactly what that loss was. You have to feel bad for Doggett, though. He really wants to help Scully but he can’t give her what she needs. What she needs is Mulder.

Meanwhile, Mulder… is already dead. Despite the seeming close call of the emotional ending, Scully first realizes Mulder is dead when she has that dream of him looking decayed in his torture chair. Then she sees his soul in starlight which is a dead giveaway (no pun intended). It’s even confirmed later in “Deadalive” that Mulder was dead for days before they found him.

I kinda wish that hadn’t been the case, not only because seeing Mulder’s spirit visit Scully from the beyond felt like a knife through my heart, but because knowing Mulder is already dead takes away from the tension and anticipation of finding him. Absalom and Jeremiah Smith had already indicated that if Teresa Hoese had died it would have been too late for them to help her. If that was the case, then a dead Mulder was already beyond saving and all that was left for me was to watch Scully’s heart break in two. And boy, did it break.

Gillian Anderson gave one of her best performances of the series in this episode; actually, in this episode and the next. There are so many little moments… like when you see the tears in Scully’s eyes as she questions Absalom. And then there are the big moments… like the very tangible anguish of Scully finding Mulder dead and trying and failing to bring Jeremiah Smith to save him.

THE PAIN.

Ugh. Why must The X-Files keep trying to kill me? I’m only a fangirl. I’m not indestructible.

Verdict:

The mythology seems to be headed somewhere, but it’s still unclear whether we’re going backwards to answer questions raised by characters like Jeremiah Smith years ago or whether we’re going forward into something new or both. This is the last we ever see of Jeremiah Smith, but before he leaves he and Absalom drop some knowledge on us: that the invasion is still on and that it looks different than we thought it would.

Right now we think Jeremiah Smith was saving the abductees from death, we’re about to find out he was saving them, and the world, from a lot more than that. We were told in “Requiem” (7×22) and in “Within” (8×1) that the aliens were taking these abductees in order to clean up evidence of the hybridization project. If that were the case, they wouldn’t be dumping the abductees back to earth. No, it appears we were deceived, but it’s one of the lesser reneges of Season 8. The aliens weren’t cleaning up, they were restarting the project in a new form. And Mulder’s a part of it.

A-

Random Musings:

Really though, that moment when Mulder visits Scully in starlight is physically painful.

Reyes is a less aggravating, more intelligent take on the late Melissa Scully with all her talk of “cosmic energies.”

Reyes recognized this guy Absalom after seeing him from a distance in the dark?

The phrase “This is not happening” also showed up in “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’” (3×20).

Wait. This counts as one of David Duchovny’s eleven episodes doesn’t it? Dagnabit.

Best Quotes:

Doggett: I got 46 of your followers rounded up out there at your compound. You make me go to them for a straight answer it’s only going to make it worse for you.

Absalom: How many times can I tell you?

Doggett: Night’s early. Coffee’s hot.

———————–

Scully: What is it you specialize in again? Ritualistic crime?

Reyes: Right. Satanic ritual abuse. Or, I should say claims of it. We never found any hard evidence.

Scully: We should talk sometime.

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14 responses to “This is Not Happening 8×14: No frickin’ way.

  1. Gillian kills it in this episode. I know this one is heartbreaking, but usually if I want to watch Mulder’s abduction storyline, I’ll put this one on and just cherry pick my favorite scenes. However, I think watching it all the way through, you really get to see all of Scully’s thoughts and realizations about what Mulder’s going through and how she’ll find him. First is that hospital scene with Theresa Hoese and Scully sees the injuries and she can barely keep it together, then the autopsy (!!)…oh Scully and the way she says “face”, then the hope on her face when she sees Theresa alive, talking to Jeremiah Smith, and the final heartrending scene where she finds Mulder. Lately I’ve been pausing episodes to take tiny breaks, but I just couldn’t look away from this one. The range of Scully’s pain is to palpable. Thank you, Gillian, for being so utterly fantastic at your job. I’ve never wanted her to find Mulder alive so bad in my life.

    I know this would have gone against the planned plot for these episodes, but if she’s running to find Mulder, bring Jeremiah with you! I know he told her to protect him and dragging him out there would have gone against that, but she has Mulder’s magical cure in her hands. Don’t let him out of your sight! I know they say Mulder was dead for days, but was he just barely alive that they couldn’t tell? I still believe Jeremiah could have saved him.

    And speaking of Jeremiah, here’s a crazy idea: If they were insisting on Mulder being ill, why not have him on a search for Jeremiah Smith instead of a random plot about a Native American myth? This could have furthered the actual, bigger plot and given his illness some sort of meaning AND given Scully a place to look. Like, in a way, Mulder would have been helping her solve the mystery of how to find him. An episode where M/S were working together. Mulder started the search and Scully could follow his clues and do what he couldn’t (because they work best a team): find Jeremiah.

    Lastly, regarding Reyes, I know why they were bringing her in now, but I kind of wish they saved it for when Scully was leaving the x-files because of her pregnancy and Doggett was looking for a new partner. I just don’t feel like she serves all that much of a purpose and is taking away from what I really want to see. I’m not a huge fan of her here, but I’m going to stay open like I did with Doggett.

    • It’s hard to say, but I think the abductees really did die and then came back to life because that would be in keeping with the theme of the season. Also because Jeremiah Smith and Absalom indicate there’s a point of no return after which they can’t help them. Also, they were physically decaying. But it’s still possible that they were alive and their heart rates were undetectable.

      And speaking of Jeremiah, here’s a crazy idea: If they were insisting on Mulder being ill, why not have him on a search for Jeremiah Smith instead of a random plot about a Native American myth? This could have furthered the actual, bigger plot and given his illness some sort of meaning AND given Scully a place to look. Like, in a way, Mulder would have been helping her solve the mystery of how to find him. An episode where M/S were working together. Mulder started the search and Scully could follow his clues and do what he couldn’t (because they work best a team): find Jeremiah.

      This would have been a GREAT idea. I love it! If Mulder has to be sick… and he doesn’t have to be… but if they insist, then at least that would’ve made it mean something and created a link to the bigger picture of his abduction and to the mythology.

      Looking back, I think the last half of Season 8 might have gone down easier if there wasn’t so much focus on getting us to accept Doggett and Reyes in time for Season 9. There was a risk no matter what they did, but I think sharing so much screen time with Mulder and Scully made them seem less interesting in comparison and robbed us of Mulder and Scully’s final chances to work cases together. I kinda wish there’d been a clean break and then we restarted the X-Files with a new team.

  2. Pingback: Deadalive 8×15: Though he were dead, yet shall he live. | Musings of an X-Phile

  3. Pingback: Season 8 Wrap Up – Can’t we just go home and start this all over again tomorrow? | Musings of an X-Phile

  4. I think it’s kind of cool that they brought back a little something something from Scully’s characterization: Scully sees (and sometimes hears) dead people. First she sees her father right after he dies of a heart attack in Beyond the Sea (which I watched last night). Later she hears Melissa on the phone in Christmas Carol. Then she sees Emily (her dead daughter whom she magically forgot about) in…some episode; I forget. She also saw the American Indian guy (forget his name) and prayed with him after he died. All this should have been a dead give away that Mulder was already dead when she saw his ghost in her room, but of course we all still hoped. It’s both weird and not weird that Scully has this special ability, even without the whole starlight doohiggy whatever.

    • That’s a good point. Isn’t there a genre of Psychic!Scully fanfic or something?

      She also had that vision of Mulder dead in a dream, which is when she went running to Skinner for comfort.

      But I forgot, when did she see Emily?

  5. I forget. But it was while she was doing an autopsy; she had a vision of Emily sitting up and saying, “Mommy.” And then she touched her mouth with groody autopsy gloves. Ewwww. I think it was in that Angels versus demons episode that I like but don’t know the name of…

  6. This season is such a rollercoaster but it never seems to go anywhere good! I’m either bored, frustrated by the retroactive plot changes and inconsistency, and the fact that they seem intent on shedding doubt on what seemed established in the MSR, or I’m sobbing. Generally for poor darling Scully being left so alone with so much to deal with!! Sometimes I feel that ought to have cut their losses, or is that sacrilege?

  7. GA does a fabulous acting job here. I was really feeling the pain this gal was going through, except….the last “Nooooo” when she finds Jeremiah has been taken. I actually cringe when I see this being used…whether it was in Revenge of the Sith or here. I did not find Scully’s use of it believable either sadly.

    Overall I thought the episode was quite good and had a lot of players involved including the new girl.

    I have to say though that I can see the writing on the wall that the end is near. This season started really well but it feels tired and stretched at this point.

  8. Once again: agree, agree, agree.

    Going to keep this one short and just give a quick thanks to GA for tearing my heart out of my chest and using it as a doormat.

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