Essence 8×20: Pissing people off comes with the territory.


Essence16

Of course it’s a conspiracy, Scully.

The essence of “Essence” is the question posed by Mulder’s final voiceover on The X-Files: Was Scully’s baby conceived by human intervention, alien intervention, or by a miracle of God?

If that question sounds familiar, it’s because it was the same question posed in “Per Manum” (8×8).

I did warn you they’d drag this issue out, didn’t I?

Scully’s baby has taken over the mythology. It’s the sun that everything else orbits around, for good and for ill. The episode even opens with Scully’s baby shower because, surprise! Scully still has friends. Though I confess I think there a disproportionate number of redheads in the crowd, one of whom is the suspiciously accommodating Lizzy Gill. Lizzy is introduced to Scully by Maggie Scully, who at long last has been written back into the series, as a potential nursemaid. That whole switching prescription pills behind Scully’s back thing should probably disqualify her though.

While Scully’s celebrating with the girls, Mulder is exploring doubts we never knew he had. It looks like Scully filled him in on the events of “Per Manum” and he enlists Doggett in attempting to make absolutely sure that Scully’s baby isn’t actually some alien abomination.

What they find out with the help of Krycek and Lizzy Gill is that Dr. Lev and Dr. Parenti of “Per Manum” fame both worked for the Syndicate. The Syndicate sponsored their experiments on human cloning and alien-human hybridization. Even though the Syndicate is long gone, their money continued and so did the work.

That much I understand, but I’m having trouble understanding how all this fits together with what we already learned in “Per Manum”. So please pardon me while I try to gather my thoughts:

  • Scully sees Dr. Parenti as a fertility specialist.
  • The IVF treatment isn’t successful.
  • Scully gets pregnant, possibly the old fashioned way.
  • Dr. Parenti, with scientists Duffy Haskell and Lizzy Gill, recognizes that Scully’s baby is something special. They monitor her pregnancy.
  • Duffy Haskell poses as the husband of an abductee and visits Scully at the X-Files in order to tip her off about Dr. Parenti’s experiments.
  • Duffy Haskell indicates over the phone to an accomplice, probably Lizzy Gill, that this is all in an effort to gain access to Scully’s baby.
  • Scully is suspicious and has her baby’s health and status verified independently. Everything checks out.
  • Because of Scully’s suspicions, the plan to gain access to Scully by making her suspicious fails. Go figure. Lizzy Gill resorts to posing as a nursemaid instead.
  • Dr. Parenti and Duffy Haskell are both killed by the human replacement version of Billy Miles who is destroying the work of the alien-human hybrid experiments on behalf of the aliens.
  • Lizzy Gill doesn’t confirm or deny experimentation on Scully, but she insists that there’s nothing wrong with Scully’s baby, that quite the contrary, it’s a perfect human with no frailties, and that it wasn’t created in a lab.
  • Lizzy Gill gives no indication of how she could possibly know this.

I still don’t understand how hinting to Scully that there might be something wrong with her baby because of Dr. Parenti would in any way give them greater access to her. Maybe I never will.

I’m not sure Mulder fully grasps the situation either, but Lizzy Gill’s assurances that Scully’s baby is not alien only serve to make him for frightened for Scully and her baby’s safety. Sure enough, Billy Miles is on his way to.. what?

It seems like Billy Miles is going to kill Scully right before Krycek comes and saves the day. But then again, the events of the next episode make me wonder what it was he was really planning to do. We’ll leave that question in the air until next time.

Ah, yes. Krycek. He’s back. I admit that as happy as I am to see him… those old guard villains on The X-Files had a certain something, didn’t they?… I’m growing weary of the way he’s being used. Krycek has always been an enigma, conveniently allying himself with one side and then the other. But since the end of the Syndicate he seems to show up not according to rhyme or reason, but when the story needs a way out or the audience needs to wake up. He’s been reduced to a plot device, an unusually good looking boogey man.

I’m not saying he’s completely useless here. If his intel is to be believed, and all indications is that he’s mostly telling the truth this time, then he’s given us invaluable information on the human replacements. They really are trying to eliminate any attempts at alien-human hybridization and therefore take away our ability to survive the coming colonization. That’s why they killed Dr. Lev, Dr. Parenti and Duffy Haskell.

The replacements also have their sights on Scully’s baby, not because it’s a successful experiment, but because it’s better than that. It’s a miracle. How they know that, we don’t know. But they’re afraid that the human perfection that Scully’s baby represents will present a threat to them and to colonization. And they aren’t the only ones who pose a threat.

Skinner: You wanted to destroy her child.
Krycek: I wanted to destroy the truth before they learn the truth.
Mulder: That there’s a God… a higher power.

Whew! There’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear Mulder utter. It seems that Chris Carter is trying to take the parallels about the search for God hidden in Mulder’s search for the truth and make them overt again, although admittedly and gratefully in a different way from what he tried in “Biogenesis” (7×22). Then the aliens were God, now they have to answer to God. I rather wish he’d taken Mulder’s spiritual evolution somewhere, and this idea that the baby was a gift from God not only to Scully but to humanity, a little further.

Part of what makes me think Carter was headed somewhere along those lines was the naming of these two episodes, “Essence” and “Existence” (8×21). They’re philosophical terms describing more or less “what we are” and “that we are”; in other words, “what is the baby” and “the baby is.” Likely he wanted to get into the baby’s cosmological purpose somehow, but that goal seemed to get lost in the shuffle of Season 9. We’ll get there.

As Doggett points out, Krycek’s words and his actions toward the baby are inconsistent. What else is new, right? I do wish I knew why a man who when we last saw him was planning to Fight the Future then tried to kill the future in the form of Scully’s baby. You’d think he’d try to kidnap it instead. But like I said, Krycek as a character doesn’t make much sense anymore. He was always wily, but he used to make sense.

Mulder believes him enough to entrust Scully to him, though, and that’s enough for me complete insanity.

Verdict:

I was oddly into “Essence” this watch. Season 8 has been hedgingly vague and somber, even for The X-Files. I finally got some answers and some action. I’m still not exactly clear on everything, but I’m clearer.

Considering this is Mulder’s second to last episode, I could still wish he and Scully had more time together. But all hopes of enjoying their teamwork right up until the end are dashed. There’s too much information that needs to be disseminated, too many characters that need to be worked into the plot. Not to mention, Scully’s physically out of commission and Mulder’s officially out of the F.B.I..

We did get a very cute, domesticated moment from the two of them, though. And in front of Agent Doggett, no less!

What always cracks me up, though, is Skinner giving Mulder the “What are your intentions toward my daughter” speech. Mulder tries to do the honorable thing and not say, but by not saying he’s saying. If he weren’t in the running to be the father, he’d just say so.

Somebody, anybody just say so. I’m weary of waiting to hear the official word on where this baby came from. Out with it already.

B+

Cryptic Comments:

So now we know what Doggett does on his days off. He cleans his gun and watches Nascar.

Mulder keeps saying “your baby” and “her baby.” Own it, dude. We know whose bed your boots have been under.

Denise Crosby’s playing doctor again. She was also in “Empedolces” (8×17).

Curiosities:

Mulder and Doggett break into Dr. Parenti’s office and no alarm goes off. That wasn’t a clue that someone was in there?

Later, why does Billy Miles leave Mulder and Doggett alive in Dr. Parenti’s office?

Best Quotes:

[As Billy Miles advances toward them]
Scully: Mulder, lock your door.
Mulder: I don’t think that matters much, Scully.

———————

Doggett: What is it exactly we’re looking for being I’m starting to piss a lot of people off, Mr. Mulder?
Mulder: Pissing people off comes with the territory, Agent Doggett. It’s part of working on the X-Files.
Doggett: Well, at the risk of pissing you off I think I’ve wasted about enough of my weekend.
Mulder: Hey, I told you Dr. Lev was a founder of the clinic. Would you like to know who his cofounder was? Dr. Parenti. Agent Scully’s obstetrician through the first two-thirds of her pregnancy.
Doggett: And you think he burned down this clinic?
Mulder: I don’t know, but if I’m the Agent assigned to the X-Files, I sure as hell would want to ask him. Worst it could do is piss him off.

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16 responses to “Essence 8×20: Pissing people off comes with the territory.

  1. Does anybody else feel like Scully is being passed around like a hot potato this entire episode?

    What gets me the most is that Krycek shows up, KRYCEK, and when Mulder and Scully are being chased he passes off Scully to him, tells him to PROTECT her, and then heads back into the elevator. All of this without any protest from Scully. This is the guy who was part of all the horrors that Mulder and Scully had to deal with over the years, including her abduction, Mulder’s black oil trauma in Russia, and her sister’s death. Desperate times, I guess? To quote Doggett, “I don’t believe this crap.”

    AND THEN Mulder doesn’t even go with Scully in the end. I think that there were plenty of other men who could have shoved Billy Miles off the roof. If Mulder wanted to protect Scully and this baby so much, wouldn’t it have made sense for him to go with her? He doesn’t even know where they’re going! Even this close to the damn end of it all he can’t be there with her for this birth.

    I’m also not on board for this whole super soldier thing. Am I the only one who thinks the aliens were at their scariest in Fight the Future when they had claws and essentially could rip you limb from limb after they were born out of someone’s abdomen? Bring those back! I know they are the baby form of the typical grey aliens with the big eyes…but that’s just such a let down. Then again, I’m so confused about everything that’s happening that maybe they are a moot point now? I feel like it would just be easier to send out a massive horde of baby aliens and just wait for them to eat everyone.

    At least Maggie was there for a bit. Oh how I’ve missed her! I just wish we didn’t have to watch Scully sit through a baby shower. It just doesn’t seem like something Scully would care for NOR what I signed up for regarding the x-files. What is happening?

    The highlight was Scully bandaging up Mulder’s cut. I wish they interacted more. It was like Mulder was desperately trying to help Scully and *her* baby, but kept her at arms length the entire time. It was frustrating for me to watch. Aren’t we passed all of this yet? This ridiculousness has been dragged out way too long. Bring back my dynamic duo for one last hurrah.

    • Mulder trusting Krycek after he knows he killed his father and after all the times he’s double-crossed them doesn’t make sense. I think the plot just needed him to do it. This is why I was ready for Kryeck to die when he did. He was starting to feel wasted.

      Same thing with Mulder leaving Scully. I think it had more to do with keeping them apart so that they could bring them together at the end of the episode and have it mean something. But it didn’t make all that much sense and I felt robbed of my last hour of them together on television.

      I really… I’m in Season 9 now and where I’m at, I don’t hate the Super Soldiers because I don’t understand them. I don’t understand what’s happening at all. I’m starting not to care. It will all be irrelevant by the end of the series anyway. Massive hordes of baby aliens would have provided more real tension.

      And, you know, it wasn’t the fans who made such an issue of Mulder and Scully’s relationship. By scripting it like this in Season 8… and then what they did in Season 9… they took it out of the background and parked it in the limelight. And the back and forth questions made it tiresome. Just let them be. Honestly!

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  4. I read this summary twice times to be sure… the plot sounds like an Ed Wood film. Yikes.

  5. “three times”, not twice times. Meh. I blame the storyline for numbing my brain!

  6. Sigh. I hate how they dangle the question of who’s the father in front of us like we’re cats or something. They drop every conceivably vague hint that it’s Mulder, yet they never actually confirm because I suppose that would be full-on admitting that Mulder and Scully had sex, something Chris Carter has never been able to do.

    Still, that opening monologue. “Conception: a union of perfect opposites” and “Was it the product of a union?” The fact that Mulder is even asking that is confirmation enough. Unless Mulder thinks that Scully might have been having sex with someone else, which is absurd, of course, obviously they had to have done the deed at some point otherwise that wouldn’t even be a question for him. SO WHY CAN’T THEY JUST SAY IT. IT DRIVES ME MAD.

    • YES.

      I know The X-Files made its bones on being vague, but at this point, all the back and forth guessing was killing the show. Killing it. It was too much to ask the audience to hang in there for.

      I suppose that would be full-on admitting that Mulder and Scully had sex, something Chris Carter has never been able to do.

      Sometimes I think he’s still in denial that they ever confirmed it…

    • “Sigh. I hate how they dangle the question of who’s the father in front of us like we’re cats or something.”

      I love this observation, this is the audience disrespect I began to resent during the original run of the series. It’s a shame that we can’t have consistent writing that can match/is worthy of DD/GA’s chemistry. They almost always made it work, for good or for ill.

      All too frequently I felt that the sacred M/S relationship was tossed around by the thoughtless whims of writers who consistently (minus VG/DM!) paid less attention to the show than the fans when, ironically, it was their actual JOB to make a great television series. XF was all too often a series that floated on the chemistry of their lead actors and not on the value of great story telling. It is an insult to viewer’s intelligence — they don’t have to cop to it b/c most MSRers (myself included) are addicted to the awesome that is DD/GA’s chemistry. There is no motivation to improve their game because we’ll keep showing up for more, thus they’ll keep making bank.

      And yes, I’ll be right back there watching the new series while fully aware that out of six episodes, the pilot has been regarded by NYC Comicon viewers as “nothing is furthered” and one of the scripts (DM’s, of course) will be amazing.

      We’re 1 out of 6 likely awesome episodes and as always, I’ll take those odds because in roughly ~260 minutes if I get 10 minutes of Mulder and Scully goodnes, I will take it. But I will continue to not lower my standards, I will continue to expect and demand the best for these characters because I have loved them too much for too long.

  7. I’ve come to your reviews before for clarification when an episode left me confused, so the first thing I did after finishing this one was come straight here. Imagine my disappointment when it turned out this episode just doesn’t make sense. I lived with a fussy antenna for most of the original run and I didn’t see all of the episodes, especially near the end when Mulder left and these interlopers showed up to take over my show. I was resentful of he newbies for not being Mulder and Scully and as I saw fewer of the episodes I never really had a grasp on the mythology of seasons 8 & 9. I’ve been watching an episode a day along with the Facebook rewatch and I made a point to stay open minded and give these latter episodes (and characters) a fair shot. I’ve surprised by how much I like Dogget now that I’ve forgiven him for not being Mulder. I think the quality of the episodes has generally been an major improvement over S7, and the tone and feel of the series is back where it belongs. I was even ready to get into this Super Soldier mythology, but they sure aren’t making it easy. And as everyone has already mentioned, I was dismayed when Mulder ledt Scully with Krycek! It’s inexplicable. Why on earth would he not send Skinner with Scully and take Krycek to throw Billy Miles off the roof? I know Mulder. He would NEVER leave a pregnant Scully in the hands of Alex Krycek.

    • I’ve come to your reviews before for clarification when an episode left me confused, so the first thing I did after finishing this one was come straight here.

      I’m honored!

      Imagine my disappointment when it turned out this episode just doesn’t make sense.

      I share your disappointment. But basically, yes.

      Mulder left and these interlopers showed up to take over my show.

      It’s amazing how hard you have to work not to feel like that even when you know it isn’t rational.

      I’ve surprised by how much I like Doggett now that I’ve forgiven him for not being Mulder.

      He grows on you. Robert Patrick did a great job. It’s a shame his work wasn’t more appreciated.

      I think the quality of the episodes has generally been an major improvement over S7, and the tone and feel of the series is back where it belongs.

      AGREED.

      I was even ready to get into this Super Soldier mythology, but they sure aren’t making it easy.

      DOUBLE AGREED.

      Things turned for both the better and the worse in Season 8. The episodes individually are much better. A lot of the mythology choices either fail outright or fail to be as interesting as it used it be.

      And if you really want to be frustrated, I’m now in the middle of Season 9 and have come to the revelation that almost everything we think we learn in these two episodes is a lie. On the plus side, Krycek’s motivations make more sense. On the downside, Chris Carter’s motivations do not.

      • “Mulder left and these interlopers showed up to take over my show.”

        “It’s amazing how hard you have to work not to feel like that even when you know it isn’t rational.”

        I heart this exchange.

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  9. There are parts of this episode and some others involving William that feel like a soap opera to me and that’s a bad thing.

    Krycek felt like a wasted use of the actors time except for his exposition of Billy Miles… who I assume is now one of the infamous “super soldiers” I’ve read about in the last couple of months?

    And you’re right (as usual) that the plots are starting to feel more cramped and dense as we get to DD last episode before the finale.

    CC mythology has really started to fall apart at the seams it seems. 😉

  10. “I still don’t understand how hinting to Scully that there might be something wrong with her baby because of Dr. Parenti would in any way give them greater access to her.”
    –> i think i can sort of?? help clarify this; b/c scully was notified of the threat that Dr. Parenti now posed, she decided to drive to the army research hospital with the other pregnant woman, hendershot, which is a huge mistake b/c that hospital is also somehow involved, and as they are headed out, some military guards are notified (included rohrer, doggett’s traitor friend) and they intercept them on their way out. but the thing that gets me is why scully is left alone after she is drugged? hm. this show is wicked confusing.

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