Ghouli 11×5: It was in this borderland that I found myself frozen.


 

The_X-Files_Roundtable_11x05_03

You can shed a tear, Mulder. Sheesh.

 

I know it looks like I forgot, but I didn’t. I wanted to forget, but I didn’t.

Oh, no. I did my duty and watched “Ghouli” twice within the first 24 hours of it airing. I watched it a third time before finalizing these musings. I’d like to tell you that time and distance has settled all dissatisfactions. They have not.

I mean, listen. You don’t want to hear me kvetch. I don’t want to hear me kvetch. I’ve kvetched enough. And frankly, I’m not annoyed enough to kvetch. Not really. It seems these days when it comes to The X-Files, I’m either staring at my screen under half lids of bored bemusement, or I’ve closed my eyes completely to ask God for patience. This must be that state of consciousness between sleep and wakefulness that Scully so duly described to us in one of her famous voiceovers.

I never thought I’d say this, but I half miss how ticked off Season 9 made me. At least it gave me a reason to feel passionate.

But enough about my cold love. You’ve come here to discuss William – the boy who once was lost but now is found… sort of. I think it helps to know nothing whatsoever about an episode before watching it. That’s what I did here so that I had no preconceived notions or expectations, good or bad. I didn’t even know this was definitely going to involve William until Scully finds him lying “dead”.

And he is dead. Because whatever else happened or will happen, a funeral has been held for the William of my imagination. Ladies and gentlemen, William is a punk.

I kid. The William of my imagination isn’t dead. #headcanonwins

But I’m not kidding about Mulder (?) and Scully’s lost alien-miracle-super baby being a punk. To be sure, he’s a two-timing, game-playing punk. Scully still seems rather fond of him, though. She has her reasons. In fact, here’s the story of that lovely lady:

Once upon a time, in an episode the excellence of which seems an alternate universe away now, Scully lost Mulder and found herself pregnant in “Requiem” (7×22). The mom-to-be kept mum about it (get it?), but most everyone assumed the unnamed father was the improbably named Fox Mulder. In “Per Manum” (8×8), two possibilities are raised at once. One, Mulder impregnated Scully through IVF, you know, as a friend. Two, Scully was made pregnant by men who, what else? Were trying to create an alien-human hybrid. This second possibility remained, despite the vague assurances of episodes like “Existence” (8×21) (RIP the majesty of MSR) and hung over William’s head all of Season 9. Oh, and then there was the whole plot line about him being the New Messiah, come to bring salvation to the human race, but I don’t have time to go over that. If 1013 can ignore it, so can I. Anyway, by the time William is “cured” of his Carrie-like abilities and abandoned without so much as a few days to think it over, “William” (9×17) assumes Mulder’s paternity. Scully even calls him “our baby” to Mulder in “The Truth” (9×19/20) (italics hers). I need not mention IWTB, or Season 10 of the revival, or the whole “Mulder needs stem cells from his son to survive the alien apocalypse” plotline.

I need not mention them, but I bet you wonder why I do. Why rehash this nonsense at all? Because I want to know when in the good Green Goblin William became the product of experiments conducted by a Dr. Masao Matsumoto, formerly of Virginia. No, I want to know how William got to Virginia in the first place.

As to my first point of bewilderment, I’m sure this Dr. Matsumoto plot has something to do with the nefarious hints dropped by CSM that he’s somehow William’s “father”, that William is the product of science experiments conducted on a pregnant Scully, not a miracle given by God to Mulder and Scully after years of pain and heartache. As to the second, Wyoming, anyone?

Sigh. Anyway, so much for the buffalo flag. And so much for William’s adoption protecting him from the government that wanted to kill him. At no point is the irony of his current predicament addressed, considering Scully gave him up only because he was in danger. Then again, I think the failure of this episode is that there’s too much ground to cover in a MOTW. Think of it: Mulder and Scully find William. They find William dead. They believe William is a murderer who committed suicide. William is reunited with his biological parents. He loses his loving adoptive parents when they’re murdered by the people after him. William is discovering his superpowers. Mulder and Scully discover their son (still) has superpowers. He’s a regular Pusher in the making. Mulder and Scully kinda sorta confirm their son is the result of government experiments. William is a teenager all alone in the world and on the run for his life. William is a two-timing punk.

Call me Mariah Carey right now because I cahn’t, dahlings.

Verdict:

Who feels this is anticlimactic?

I’m raising both hands. And lifting a toe.

Maybe it’s not William’s fault he’s a punk. Maybe it’s James Wong and 1013’s fault for stuffing too much in the emotional bag of this episode rather than neatly unpacking it. Maybe if we had even a second to watch William mourn his life, either the life he had or the one he never got to have. Maybe if 1013 didn’t stubbornly insist on keeping Mulder emotionally distant from the William situation.

All hail Gillian Anderson and the one moment of this episode that felt real, true, and well, interesting.

C

Snowflakes:

I always expected William to be a much more powerful version of Gibson Praise. At least all my hopes weren’t completely disappointed.

I’m having “Dod Kalm” (2×19) flashbacks in here.

The last time a “Chimera” (7×16) came up, I was witness to some excellent Mulder and Scully banter. *nostalgia break*

James Wong steps in the director’s chair. I’m ready.

As many complaints as I’ve had this revival, let me take a moment to salute the very authentic sounding pre-case car convo.

I see a trenchcoat and I can’t understand why neither Mulder nor Scully is in it.

Of course, their child plays baseball.

Naturally, Mulder would question his son’s lack of a porn habit.

All these subdued reactions are subduing me.

Call me untitillated at the idea of CSM holding court in Skinner’s office again.

I’ve lost track of how many alien experiments William is supposed to have been connected to, either directly or through his parents. And now with this Project Crossroads, I’ve also lost interest.

William has two girlfriends. He says things like “Oh, babe.” Oh, really?

I can’t believe Scully’s not suspicious of that odd little man who keeps whispering sweet vagueries in her ear.

What’s this “bigger picture” William speaks of?

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23 responses to “Ghouli 11×5: It was in this borderland that I found myself frozen.

  1. Should have been two parts.

  2. WHY OH WHY couldn’t they connect it to the Nisei/731 plot line, if they’re gonna go all Japanese Bad People on us? They’ve ripped up canon enough for it to have been a bone worth throwing.

    I’m sick of the need Carter has to introduce new “mysteries” to us. When I go back to Nisei and episodes like it, I marvel at the slow, rich storytelling (even with all the problems of the episodes mostly being about Mulder and Scully chasing after things and not actually changing or resolving anything) – at the way the explanation was part of the drama (Scully in the train car with the ‘elder’, phoning Mulder in the moving train car telling him “because there’s a bomb on that train”). Now, we get the thing they started doing at the end of season 7, where they just tell us everything that’s happening. It was a big change in the series – it happened after Biogenesis, when Scully became a believer and then Skinner became one too, so now people could just say absurd things to the audience without being challenged, and then after a lot of incredible exposition someone would say something like “there’s just one thing I don’t understand”, and ask a question about what speed the car must’ve been going.

    This story doesn’t quite add up anyway does it. William made the girls attack each other as a way of getting M&S to the scene so Scully could save him? Or have I completely misunderstood? I tried to pay attention, I really did. Actually I don’t care. And I hate the fact that I don’t care.

    And… the two NSA people were able to find William *that* easily? Ah yeah, I forgot, Jeffrey Spender was able to defeat them by closing a glass door and standing still.

    And… isn’t Scully in any way embarrassed to be reeling off the visions that she thinks William gave her that put her into a Morse Code Coma to his psychiatrist? She’s a *scientist*, not an evangelist.

    .–. .-.. . .- … . –..– / .— ..- … – / … – — .–. / .. –

    That Ghouli website is real. A nice touch. But because I don’t care about the story, I don’t care about the nice touches.

    I actually hated 11×01 so much that I forgot about the adoptive name William was given, so it actually took me until the autopsy scene until I clocked what was happening. That’s quite joyful for me, cos I really like to be surprised, even if it’s by my own lack of attention. In 11×01, as soon as I saw the camera zooming into Scully’s eye I knew they were gonna say it was a vision. So, I like it when I don’t know what’s happening.

    Sometimes that’s a blessing – if you try to truly untangle Tunguska/Terma, for example, the chronology really doesn’t make any sense – you just have to let yourself go along for the ride.

    I’m still so sad that we never hear Scully’s voice anymore. I mean, maybe Gillian Anderson literally does have damage to her voice, I don’t know – she seems to play very quiet characters (although I don’t follow her closely; The Fall and Hannibal leave me with memories of her talking quietly). But then, we’ve seen outtakes where she does the kind of laugh that makes people fall in love with her.

    So why the decision to whisper all the time? I mentioned this in season 10. It’s really off-putting cos it’s *not* *Scully*.

    A few weeks back I said I loved “This”. And I’ve realised why – it’s because it had the same flaws as the original series, without the flaws of the new one (apart from the fast editing). The same improbable stories and twists, the same brilliant flashes, the same sinister stuff. That’s why I loved it – it was The X Files. It had proper M/S interaction – even them being super gun heroes felt like original X Files in its improbability and execution.

    Ghouli felt like season 8 X Files, minus the hope that Vince Gilligan might murder Chris Carter and pull the series back to where it should’ve been.

    • I think the whole “Ghouli” story line was just meant to be relevant to (semi)current events, re: Slenderman and the Slenderman attack those two girls did on that other little girl a few years ago. I don’t think it really had ANYTHING to do with the rest of the story except to show us that good old Willie grew up to be the biggest d-bag in the mid-Atlantic. (And why is he in the mid-Atlantic, hmmm? Didn’t we last see him on a farm in the mid-West or something?) That was just my take.

    • One thing that made The X-Files powerful for so long was this idea that the truest, vilest evil is the evil of real men. A connection back to that 731/Nisei, WWII, Nazi evil would have been welcomed! In fact, I could have sworn I saw the warehouse from Paper Clip in the original promos for Season 10. But it’s like the history of the show has been obliterated while its worst habits have been resurrected and embelished upon.

      But thanks for making me hungry for Season 3!

      Anywho, I think William/Jackson said he made his two girlfriends nearly kill each other just so he could test out his powers. So, there you go. Scully gave birth to a sociopath.

      “And… the two NSA people were able to find William *that* easily? Ah yeah, I forgot, Jeffrey Spender was able to defeat them by closing a glass door and standing still.”

      *snort*

      I will note, though, that the nasty habit of whispering was already out of control in Season 9. She just whispered an octave higher. Sigh.

  3. Can we just talk about the snow-globe, because, hey, you called it: William did end up being the one with the snow-globe. *Facepalm-SMDH*

    • Did I??? For all my (once) encyclopedic memory of the original series, I have short-term memory issues when it comes to the revival and anything I’ve said and done during it. It’s just a blur. One long, boring blur.

      If I did, it’s almost as bad as I thought it might be. It won’t be as bad as I thought it might be unless this whole thing proves to be a figment of William’s imagination.

      Please no.

      • Yeah, you said it after I said they St. Elsewhere’d Scully in the first episode of the season and was just waiting for her to look into a snow-globe. You replied something like, ‘William’s gonna have the snow-globe, just you watch.’

        I don’t blame you for having a coma through most of this season; it really isn’t been that great. But then, hey, bonus, who needs Ambien?!

  4. Also, why did they take a plane from D.C. to Norfolk? IT WOULD LITERALLY TAKE LIKE THREE HOURS LONGER TO BOARD A FLIGHT AND DISEMBARK THAN TO DRIVE FROM D.C. TO NORFOLK. Will someone PLEASE consult someone from the East coast on these things. And as someone who has spent her entire life driving up and down 95 from New York to South Carolina and literally drives on it everyday to get to work, don’t get me started on how absurd their depiction of that was in 11×01. I miss when they at least TRIED to do some research into local geography.

  5. “I never thought I’d say this, but I half miss how ticked off Season 9 made me. At least it gave me a reason to feel passionate.”

    Precisely. Ergo, I have little to say because I’m out of steam. No more ranting for me. I haven’t the heart. ( But I have an inkling that when the finale rolls around I’ll get my second wind.)

    I also am very sad they made William a two-timing punk. And yes, how DID he get to Virginia?

  6. I actually liked this episode and yes I found the ending to be very sappy. Actually William being a two-timing punk didn’t phase me at all. Aside from My Struggle III I’ve enjoyed Season 11. Maybe because I lowered the bar to zero and missed the X-Files so much that I can enjoy almost the nice throwbacks this season has offered. Actually, I DID feel titillated in an old school way of seeing CSM in Skinner’s office. As for Vince Gilligan, he is sorely missed and should have been involved in these proceedings.

    • We can’t talk about the effect Vince might have had on this revival. I’ll cry.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who enjoyed this episode. I was reluctant to post a comment seeing how much everyone was dissing it. I agree, I don’t mind at all the William/Jackson is a punk. Why is that so strange? Especially given what he’s been going through. And why is it so strange that he might be a two-timer? I kind of like that he isn’t this perfect choir boy.

      I thought Gillian’s scene in the morgue was amazing; she did a spectacular job there. I do have a few things that irritate/confuse me, but overall, I loved it, and I like how after all this time of searching, they find him, only for him to go on the run at the end.

      So here are the things that bug me:

      1. Didn’t William get adopted by a couple living on a farm? Sure people move house, but that’s a pretty big change in lifestyle.

      2. Why was his name changed to Jackson? His adoptive parents were introduced to him as baby ‘William’, and they appeared to be calling him that in the episode ‘Willian’. Why would they change his name? I get that the writers had to play the audience of is he/isn’t he, but his adoptive parents changing his name just doesn’t feel right.

      3. Is Skinner the new Deep Throat/X now? That conversation with Mulder just felt weird.

      4. Mulder’s lack of an emotional reaction at seeing who knows could very well be his dead son is way too detached. I know he would be dealing with it more internally than Scully, but come on.

      5. Is that going to be the last we see of William/Jackson, or is he going to return in the final few episodes? I’m intrigued.

      • Well, there’s certainly nothing strange about William/Jackson’s characterization. I’m just miffed. I wouldn’t want him to be some boring choir boy either, not Mulder’s son. But mischievous and cocky is one thing, a wormy little two-timer makes me sad. I want to root for Mulder and Scully’s son and his attitude throughout, not just in relation to the girls, is a bit unappealing, which I think is where Salome is coming from as well.

        1.) Yep, he sure was. Agreed.
        2.) Cause 1013 are a bunch of evil tricksy hobbitses.
        3.) WORD. It was weird.
        4.) PREACH.
        5.) He’d better return after that ridiculous series premier in all it’s “find him” Morse code hullabaloo.

        • Agreed. William should be a complicated character. I just wish they hadn’t made him “a wormy little two-timer” who turns me off completely. I felt nothing for the kid. And considering how long I’ve been rooting for his return, well, that’s sad.

          1. Yes, and it deserved at least a passing explanation.
          2. Maybe they decided to give him a new identity with his new life.
          3. It was forced in order to give Mulder a “moment” to grieve his son.
          4. Exactly.
          5. I’m more than pretty sure he’ll be back for the finale.

          • 3. There were so many better ways to do it. I think there should have been a scene where Mulder removes himself from everyone for a private moment, and then maybe kicks something real hard, buts his hands over his face, brushes back his eyes, and then returns composed as if nothing had happened.

  7. Good review! Do you think that Scully has psychic powers too ? As she is also having visions.

  8. Cool teaser. Dark creepy, and scary. Exactly how I like my x files. Old abandoned ship I’m thinking “Dod Kalm”. The ship is called Chimera, a reference to the season 7 episode? Another tag line change? I think only “Forehead sweat” had the truth is out there. They have become meaningless now. I remember when the “Erlenmeyer Flask” changed its tag to Trust No one, it was a huge deal!

    So Scully’s having visions again. Is this state of mind that brought on the visions in “My Struggle III”? What’s with the iPad in the car? Are they advertising for Samsung again? Is anyone else noticing the lingering shots on the Ford cars and Samsung gadgets. Such a shame product promotion has even creeped into my favourite show. A sign of the times I guess.
    “Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions”. This reminds me of a similar quote from”Aubrey”/ “Paper Hearts”. Scullys voice still sounds off.
    When Mulder & Scully are interviewing the girls it reminds me of that scene in “Syzygy”.

    Please no, not William, he hasn’t killed himself? Scully feels off. When she is speaking to (possibly) Williams body I started to feel a little emotional but then the feeling dried up. It’s felt like watching Gillian Anderson trying to be Scully. OMG is William a Super Soldier after all? Mulder is starting to look old.

    I like the direction this episode is going. I initially thought it was going to be a scary motw judging by the teaser. But it’s evolving into a personal story for Mulder and Scully searching for William. It feels like it has a true purpose or mission. I’m glad they are reusing Scully’s visions again as a plot point. It makes the opening episode feel more authentic and not just a cheap ploy. Skinners had his office done again. It looks better this time. In season 10, “Founder’s Mutation”, the office looked very cheap. Good to see old smoky back in the office, its like the old days. But they have still not explained how he is “healed”.

    The scene with Mulder and Skinner on the boat feels a bit forced. Skinners explosion of back story on the crossroads project sounds something like Mulder would come out with, and the speed at which he spoke was jarring. So finally we see William. It’s good to finally have a face. I was surprised he doesn’t seem that interested in his birth mother, especially after Scully’s speech to him and the sharing of their visions.

    The shoot out in the hospital was good. For a minute I thought Scully was shot, and Willian was going to heal her somehow. I love the last scene. It brought a tear to my eye. He was watching Scully all along. I was wondering throughout the episode what was the significance of this guy.

    Overall I really enjoyed this episode and it feels like the season is heading to some final destination (hopefully). I’m happy if this is the final season, all I ask is closure (and no cliffhanger)

    A-

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