Scully: Mulder, I don’t know if you’ll ever understand what it was like. First learning of your abduction, and then searching for you and finding you dead. And now to have you back and, uh… [Her voice cracks]
Mulder: Well, you act like you’re surprised.
Scully: I prayed a lot. And my prayers have been answered.
Mulder: [Indicates her growing belly] In more ways than one.
Mulder: I’m happy for you. I think I know… how much that means to you.
Mulder: I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be cold or ungrateful. I just… I have no idea where I fit in… right now. I just, uh… I’m having a little trouble… processing… everything.
If you expected Mulder and Scully’s reunion to pick up at the warm and fuzzy place where it left off in “Deadalive” (8×15) you were mistaken. Mulder’s been abducted by aliens, tortured for almost a year, been returned dead or something that looked a little too close to it, been buried, exhumed, hooked up on tubes and given a rigorous course of medical treatments that barely allowed him to escape transforming into something inhuman. He’s come back to find he’s not dying despite having shelled out for a tombstone, his position on the X-Files has been filled by a stranger, and his partner and lover is knocked up. Oh, and Molly his fish died. He has some things to work through.
It makes sense for Mulder to feel out of sorts and angry. If anything, I wish he’d been given more time to work through those feelings. But with only six episodes left to wrap up David Duchovny’s time on The X-Files, his character doesn’t get that luxury. Mulder’s clock is running out and before he goes he has to wrap up his personal issues, say goodbye to the old gang, meet and greet the new crew, and give some clarity to his relationship with Scully.
Scully appears a little put out by Mulder’s lack of enthusiasm at being back. But she doesn’t show hurt until he acts too emotionally removed from the baby situation. “I’m happy for you?” “I know how much that means to you?” Those are the words of a mere sperm donor.
Excuse me? Oh, are we going to start this now? So now you’re going to make Mulder and Scully dance around whether or not they’re having a baby together? You’re going to pretend “all things” (7×17) never happened? Play like they aren’t a couple? So it’s like that, huh, Chris Carter? Okay. Fine.
I wish I could just ignore this plot and I usually do. But because of “Per Manum” (8×8), for the rest of Season 8 it becomes the main question right up until the last scene of the finale. So for the purposes of this rewatch I can’t escape it. And for those of you who are watching for the first time, you can’t escape the wait. Put your patient panties on.
Before I stop complaining and move on to the rest of the episode, let’s take a moment to discuss Mulder’s magically disappearing no-name brain disease because we will never hear of it again. Yep. After the tears, trauma and drama… that’s it. It’s gone and even Mulder doesn’t care. This plot existed purely to put extra emotional pressure on the viewing audience. It was never an integral part of the overall Season 8 storyline or of Mulder’s character development.
With Scully’s cancer, there were things that led up to it and things that derived from it, connections with other storylines that were made stronger because of it. There were places that it took the characters that they otherwise wouldn’t have gone. This brain disease… this was useless. And for it to miraculously go away and never be mentioned again adds insult to storytelling injury.
I’ll discuss this more in the Season 8 Wrap Up, but one weakness The X-Files had that came to a head in the last two seasons especially was the habit of wriggling out of difficult plots by invoking a miracle at the last second. We’ll get to that. For now, this is one more miracle. Mulder is cured. The end.
I know that so far it sounds like I hate this episode but I don’t at all. So let me finish with the gripes and get on to the good stuff.
The old team is finally back together but instead of teamwork we get tension. I’m glad it happened, though, because it needed to happen. As I said, a man can’t just walk back into his old life after all the people in it have emotionally and physically buried him. There is a sad moment, though, when Mulder is back at his desk and Skinner and Scully don’t look at all happy to see him there.
Since Mulder’s back, Skinner and Scully are free to go back to being skeptics. Which they do. Immediately. Scully now claims Absalom defies all standards of credibility when she believed he and Jeremiah Smith could help her save Mulder a mere two episodes ago.
O Absalom, Absalom! We barely knew ye before the conspiracy killed ye. But at least you served to open Doggett’s eyes to the possibility that he was being used. This episode was not poor Doggett’s happiest hour. After working so hard to save Mulder and being genuinely happy to see him back and healthy, Mulder returns the favor by hating him instantaneously and irrationally. It’s irrational but it’s understandable. Doggett is the kind of stubborn unbeliever that Mulder naturally dislikes, and it’s a man like him of all men who is running his precious X-Files division and has taken up affection space in the hearts of his loved ones. All this while Mulder was being tortured and buried. Poor Mulder. Poor Doggett.
At least we finally get an emotional reprieve from all this angst when Mulder is reunited with the Lone Gunmen. Finally! A heartfelt Welcome Back and a little funky poaching. I am appeased, gentlemen.
This episode makes me wish so hard that we had had Mulder for more time in Season 8. He needed more time to work through his trauma. And he needed more time with Doggett… with whom he had a good antagonistic kind of chemistry. I’ve said it before, but I enjoy Skinner and Doggett as a pair more than Scully and Doggett. More Mulder and Doggett could have been delicious too. But that’s a subject we’ll pick back up a couple of episodes from now.
If it seems like I’m spending an unbalanced amount of time on the series’ relationships it’s because I am. As for the plot of “Three Words”, like much of the mythology this season, there isn’t much to it. We learn precious little more by the end of the episode than we did at the beginning.
Basically, it’s been confirmed yet again that the alien invasion is still going forward. As a matter of course, that information is being covered up. It’s also confirmed yet again that the coming invasion won’t look the way we expected it too. So I’m assuming that means the Black Oil infection has been rendered passé. We’ll hear one last gasp from that old plot before it sizzles out for good.
Even the revelation that there are creatures running around that look human but aren’t is really confirmation of what we suspected in “Deadalive”. The only telltale sign that they’re not normal is a bump on the nape of the neck. What’s with The X-Files and the nape of the neck? Oh yeah, and Doggett’s formerly trusted source is one of them. I guess there’s something new after all.
Scully just got Mulder back and she doesn’t want to risk losing him again. That’s a tough battle considering Mulder has always been irreparably reckless and self-destructive.
Doggett realizes that he too has been lied to and that there’s a conspiracy afoot. That’s always the first step in inextricably intertwining oneself with the X-Files.
When this first aired, I totally assumed that the eponymous three words would be “I love you.” I know I’m not alone.
Kersh says Scully and Doggett had a higher arrest rate than when Mulder was on the X-Files. Huh? I didn’t witness that.
The Lone Gunmen tease Mulder over their suspicions that he’s the father of Scully’s baby. Scully has almost no reaction. Mulder looks at her questioningly. Is the question, “You mean you didn’t tell them?”
Why does Mulder still have an apartment? Who’s been paying his rent this whole time? Even for three months after his death? Scully? Was she using Mulder’s savings? G-Men have savings?
Mulder’s back again so I have more to choose from… Hooray!!
Scully: Mulder, I know you know this, but if anything leaves this room you could be in violation of the law.
Mulder: Really? When I was dead I was hoping maybe they changed the rules.
Scully: Mulder, just being here could be used by Kersh as cause for dismissal.
Mulder: Then why don’t you shut the door so he doesn’t find out.
Frohike: You know, it’s really not fair. You’ve been dead for six months and you still look better than me. But not by much. [They hug]
Mulder: [Chuckles] Melvin. I’d be a whole lot happier to see you if you’d just take your hands off my ass.
Frohike: [Lets go] Sorry.
Mulder: [On communicator] Frohike? Langly? Byers? Let’s go. I’m dying out here.
Frohike: [On communicator] Well, let us just finish our cappuccino and biscotti, and we’ll see what we can do.