Tag Archives: Darin Morgan

Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster 10×3: I forgot how much fun these cases could be.


MulderAndScullyMeetTheWereMonster236.jpg

Yes, this is the moment we’ve been waiting for since 1996. Darin Morgan is back on The X-Files. Tell your moms. Tell your mutants.

Whether you’re an old head or a newbie Phile, if you’ve made it as far as the revival then you already know that writer Morgan is a giant among giants as far as this show is concerned, and nearly as mythical as Big Blue, considering that he all but disappeared no sooner than his genius was recognized, and in the wake of his disappearance a legend was born. After all, what is a legend but magic once witnessed and thereafter unseen?

And herein lies part of this episode’s inescapable hurdle: The expectations for it, and its writer, are so high that it will either inevitably fail to live up to the wishes of the viewer, or it will inevitably succeed in the eyes of the viewer by virtue of the legend, and either way the viewer will inevitably fail to see it for what it is.

So now that we’ve cleared up the vanity of our little exercise, let’s take a look at Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.

As much as I welcome the return of Darin Morgan, what matters to me more than anything is that MULDER AND SCULLY ARE BACK. And Scully, especially my Scully. Her attitude is back. Her facial expressions are back. Her voice is back.

Scully!! There you are! There you are!!! *sobs* Where have you be-e-en! Where were you? WHERE WERE YOU WHEN I NEEDED YOU???

This is my girl. No, she doesn’t believe this nonsense. But she’s still here. She’s still giving it her all. Why? Because Mulder. And why else? Because there are victims who need her help.

And one more thing: Scully has officially confirmed that she prefers her Mulder bat-crap crazy. Can we let that confession stand now? Can we stop feigning every so often that Scully is turned off by Mulder’s insanity instead of admitting the truth we all know, that she thrives off of it? Okthanksbuhbye.

Yet even as I celebrate Scully, I recognize that this episode is mostly about Mulder. We can call that unfair if we want to, but we all know that this quest began with Mulder, that Scully joined in and jump started a mission he was already on. And, frankly, both he and we needed some reminding that this journey on the X-Files is still about a quest, a quest in search of a reality that most mortals never get to see, a key aspect of the show that the show itself seemed to lose sight of as far back as Season 7.

This confirmation of the quest and the recommissioning of our resident believer comes at an interesting time in my personal fandom as I’ve been in an internal debate with my various selves since the premiere. Yes, much of the success of the early seasons relied on the audience vicariously experiencing Mulder and Scully’s awe and wonder with each new extreme discovery. But how much awe and wonder do Mulder and Scully still need or could they realistically still have at this stage of their lives? As every episode of the revival so far has taken great pains to remind us, they’ve been around the block more than a few times.They’re no longer the upstart non-conformists they used to be. They’re coming back, middle-aged and emotionally scarred, to the institution and authority they once ran from. Can anything still believably surprise them? And if it did, would the joy of discovery still be in it?

Thank you, Darin Morgan, for making the answer a clear “Yes.” That gleam in Mulder’s eye after he finally gets to shake hands with a prehistoric lizard man… well, it’s a gleam I haven’t seen in a very, very long time. But I’ll be a leaping lizard if I don’t still recognize it.

Earlier in the episode, Mulder quotes the Apostle Paul, musing that it might be time to put away childish things.

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. – 1 Corinthians 13:11 (NKJV)

But he momentarily forgot that “childish” and “childlike” are two things that shouldn’t be conflated. Childlike faith, childlike optimism, childlike curiosity… suffer the little children, my dear Mulder! Go ahead and grow a brain, but don’t grow up completely. I don’t want you to grow up. I need a Monsters-R-Us kid.

Let’s say the newly skeptical side of Mulder is right. Let’s say most of what he thought and believed in the 90’s is intellectual flotsam and jetsam these days. Even if 99% of what Mulder and Scully encounter on the X-Files is bunk, that 1% can rock the world, or at least, completely change the course of Mulder’s life and give meaning to his own existence, a motivation that he at long last has recalled.

Meanwhile, as the rest of the episode not so subtly draws to our attention, he’s not the only one who needs his life infused with some meaning. Because it wouldn’t be a Darin Morgan episode if said author didn’t poke his finger in the hole of the side of the futility of human existence. The perceived futility, anyway.

Just like having no choice but to see every episode of The X-Files within the context of every other episode of The X-Files, it’s impossible to watch this episode without comparing it to Darin Morgan’s other work on the show, so I won’t try not to. Frankly, as self-referential as this is, it invites comparison. I haven’t seen this many easter eggs since I was seven and on an actual easter egg hunt. There are about twenty too many Easter eggs, if I’m being honest.

For Darin Morgan especially, it’s more than a bit on the obvious side of self-parody. “Humbug” (2×20), the pointed and pointedly underplayed comedy that started it all, opened the door to The X-Files commenting on The X-Files, but it did it in such a way that you could easily miss the elbow to your ribs. It was more like a gentle brush than a jab. “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’” (3×20) was much more obvious, but it also gave itself completely over to biting philosophical commentary. Now that’s a jab to the ribs. “War of the Coprophages” (3×12) was a mad world, but what it lacked in focus it made up for in laughs and memorable moments. And my favorite, Darin Morgan’s pièce de résistance as far as I’m concerned, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (3×4) was the perfect balance of everything: deep questions, deep belly laughs, and good-natured self-awareness.

How does “MASMTWM” fit into this overall picture? Well, I think if we took “Humbug’s” preference for the freakish over the mundane, mixed in a hefty dose of “JCFOS’s” spoofishness, added a dash of “CBFR’s” sentimentality and middle-aged it just right, we might approximate something close to what we have here.

We’ve arrived back again at the irrationality of humanity. Guy Mann echoes every above-mentioned episode when he tells us that human behavior makes so little sense, it’s frightening. Humans with their 9-5’s, their plans for futures they’d rather not live, their pants – they’re the freaks. The comedy here is the tragedy of the invisible question mark that hovers over most people’s heads. But whereas once, Morgan seemed to make fun of Mulder for trying to make sense of it all in “JCFOS”, he now seems to be anointing Mulder to go and make sense of it. For all our sakes.

In one of the more obvious spiritual parallels of the show, Mulder has always been out to prove that there’s something out there, something more than the banality of mundane human existence. This episode is a moment of validation to affirm that not only is that exactly what he’s doing, that’s exactly what he needs to be doing. If there’s nothing more, what in the paint-filled bag are we doing this for? So go to it, Mulder and Scully. Find a rhyme and reason for lives that seemingly have neither.

#HowMulderAndScullyGotTheirGrooveBack

All that said, and as genuinely relieved and amused as I am at this episode, it’s so loaded down with easter eggs oozing gooey chocolate that it doesn’t match the depth and profundity of Morgan’s earlier work, not that I truly expected it to, I just kinda hoped it would. And before you say it, I do realize that not everything needs to be deep or profound or even perfect. But “MASMTWM” actually attempts anchor itself in the depths of shrewd observation and winds up treading the shallow waters of long-winded exposition. A slightly more balanced “show” to “tell” ratio would have increased its impact dramatically.

Don’t get me wrong, It’s the clear best we’ve seen from the revival so far. It justifies both by its very existence and by its content the resurrection of these characters. But maybe part of the reason it’s forced to rely on in-jokes so much is because a dramatic series needs time to develop rhythms and patterns before those rules can effectively be broken in the name of comedy. Darin Morgan’s reign as a writer on The X-Files didn’t commence until the show had already firmly established its routine and its aesthetic. And as Chris Carter likes to remind us in nearly every single interview, this isn’t a reboot. This revival is a fresh creation and it’s saying and doing things the series proper never dreamed of. I suspect I would have found “MASMTWM” even funnier if it hadn’t harkened back to the old days as much as it was rooted and grounded in the new.

Verdict:

Mulder and Scully have met a Silurian from Dr. Who and I think the game is officially afoot, Watson. Mulder has his sense of wonder back and Scully her sense of adventure, two things we both historically got and desperately needed from both characters. They’ve changed, they’ve grown, they’ve endured, but at least we know we still know them. (Though I submit the show is overdoing the awkward middle-aged, post-90’s thing a little. It’s not like our two leads are pre-computer dinosaurs. Heck, they’re not even retirement age. They’re smart people and I’m sure they would have learned how to work smart phones right along with the rest of us.)

It’s funny, but it’s impossible to know yet whether this will be an enduring masterpiece. It will have to endure for us to tell. For me, it isn’t only not “CBFR”, it’s not even at a “Bad Blood” (5×12) level of funny. Then again, I was a freak who thought “Bad Blood” was only okay the first time she saw it. So take my opinion for what you will. Humans are truly the unfathomable creatures.

But if this episode gets credit for anything, besides for reigniting my love for these two characters, it’s for its note perfect tribute to the late, great Kim Manners whose aesthetics as a director, without exaggeration, were foundational in shaping the show into what it became. I’m merely one of the unprivileged masses who never knew the man personally, yet somehow I’m quite sure that he would have gotten a kick out of Mulder stealing flowers for him and getting drunk at his grave. I’m pretty sure that’s the highest known form of flattery.

B+

Comments:

I’m not going to bother with all the easter eggs because we’d be plopping them into our baskets all night. But I think the first one was the best one: The stoners from “Quagmire” (3×22) and “WOTC”.

The scene between Scully and Guy Mann in the phone store started off funny and quickly devolved into much too much. That was one of those moments that took me out of the episode.

Be-Puzzlements:

Mulder hears a panicked cry of “Monster!” but takes the time to put his shirt on so he’s presentable before he goes to investigate?

Again, Scully’s in trouble, and Mulder takes the time to put his suit jacket back on before running with the cavalry to her rescue?

How does Guy Mann know not only about Shakespeare, but about the history of folios? Did those instincts download in the bite of an animal control officer too?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I’m just looking for some kind of internal logic.

Guy Mann: Why? There isn’t an external logic to any of it.

———————–

Guy Mann: Because if there’s nothing more to life than what we already know, then there’s nothing but worries, self-doubt, regret and loneliness.

———————–

Dr. Rumanovitch: No matter how overwhelming our anxieties might be, they will soon be resolved when we’re dead and buried for all eternity.

———————–

Annabell: They think I’m on crack.

Mulder: Are you?

Annabell: Yeah!

———————–
Scully: Mulder, the internet is not good for you.

The Unnatural 6×20: Trust the tale… not the teller.


You rebel.

I really didn’t know if I wanted to watch an X-File written and directed by David Duchovny. It’s not personal. It’s impersonal. In order to preserve the integrity of the fantasy that is the character I love, I’m one of those viewers who religiously avoids certain actors in any outside roles… including the ones they play in the movie called Real Life. That’s right, I’m a David Duchovny ascetic. I can probably count on one hand the number of interviews with him I’ve actually watched or read in the whole 14 years I’ve been obsessing over this show – clichéd but true. I was even reluctant to go hunting down background information on “The Unnatural” for this review, lest mine eyes alight on anything that might tarnish their purity.

Now, I know he’s gotten story credit before on various mythology episodes like “Colony” (2×16) and even on the Skinner-centric “Avatar” (3×21), but contributing ideas and even lines is mighty different from helming an entire episode, one that would be his vision from start to finish. I don’t know if I want to know how David Duchovny sees Mulder… or The X-Files for that matter. And I can’t say that “The Unnatural” reveals nothing about his mindset, but fortunately for me (and fortunately for David Duchovny?), what it does reveal I’m OK with. Actually, I’m more than OK with. And the way I realized that went something like this…

[Sitting bracingly on the edge of the bed] Well, here we go. Just try to ignore what it says on the credits. There are no credits. There is no spoon. This is just another X-File. If you don’t like it, you can always pretend it never happened. David Duchovny? What David Duchovny? I see what you did there with that “Is it a UFO?” shot. OK, that was cute. Not that anyone in his or her right mind is going to take on a shotgun with a baseball. Still it’s cute. Stories about race tend to bore this black girl, but whatever. I’m going to keep an open mind. I am. I am. I AM. And theeeere’s the alien. A comedy episode, I see. [Sigh] Well, we’ve made it through the teaser just fine. Look alive, we’re back at the F.B.I. Oh, casual Friday at the office? Oh, casual Saturday at the office. Wait. Did she just… huh? Is that… huh? Am I watching flirty repartee? I mean, openly flirty repartee?? Did Scully just smile? Did Scully just laugh? Wait. What’s happening here? Hold on. Wait. What??? [Massive intake of breath] David Duchovny is a Shipper!

Holy Queen of the Reticulans. Congratulations. You now have my full attention.

And at that point, whatever else happened, I was already appeased. So, Mulder and Scully jones satisfied, I sat back to watch the rest of the action almost indifferent as to whether it was good or not. But lo and behold, the meat of this episode, yes, even without our two leads, is a joy all on its own.

An X-File with a comedic bent is nothing new, but we’ve never had an episode that turned the deadly serious backbone of the series, the mythology itself into a kind of playful romp. The Alien Bounty Hunter affecting a Southern drawl and being knocked out by a baseball? Who could have predicted this would work?

By some extra-terrestrial miracle, it does. Helped along by a lovely, memorable soundtrack and some joyful performances. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but I get the distinct impression that all the actors involved were having a good time. Maybe it’s because there’s nothing routine about this episode – they probably relished the chance to jump out of the box.

But, ironically, the character that this episode is mostly about is only in maybe a third of it. That’s right, cleverly disguised in an ode to baseball is a loving jab to Fox Mulder’s ribs.

Mulder: Let me tell you something; I have been ripe for years. I am way past ripe. I’m so ripe I’m rotten.

Mulder: Whatever. I don’t really care about the baseball, so much, sir. What I care about is this man in the picture with you, I believe to be an alien bounty hunter.
Arthur Dales: Of course you don’t care about the baseball, Mr. Mulder. You only bothered my brother about the important things like government conspiracies and alien bounty hunters and the truth with a capital ‘T’.

Mulder: It’s official. I am a horse’s ass.

Similarly to writer Darin Morgan, though I think with a little more actual love for the character, Duchovny seems to have a healthy disdain for Mulder’s self-righteousness. This episode is a life lesson astutely aimed in Mulder’s direction – Get out of the basement, dude.

More than Mulder, though, “The Unnatural” is clearly about the game. The game I’ve only ever been to one time… and it was for a Shakespeare class… which may say deeper things about my life than I should probably be sharing, but anyway… I have to admit that even my grossly uncoordinated self wants to go out and play a pick-up game of baseball after watching this. I love the retro clothing, the old-fashioned stadium, the sun shining on the grass, the hick accents, all of it.

And casting Jesse L. Martin, then of Ally McBeal and now of Law & Order fame, was brilliant. His good-natured performance sets the tone for all the flashback scenes, which means he sets the tone for pretty much the entire episode. It doesn’t hurt that he’s nice to look at, either. And I don’t mean that in a skeevy, lustful sort of way. I mean that he has a pleasant, all-American sort of face. It’s a face you can trust, which makes it easy to believe in him as the darling of his community.

And while I’m gushing, I make no secret of the fact that I love the character of Arthur Dales. Alas, after filming two days worth of his scenes, actor Darren McGavin suffered a stroke and was unable to return, which meant his scenes had to be scrapped. M. Emmet Walsh was able to fill in at the last minute as Arthur Dales, brother of… Arthur Dales. It’s a sad loss, but if you have the DVDs you can check out the deleted scenes with Darren McGavin for yourself and confirm that they would have been just as charming. And I say it’s a loss only because I’m already attached to Darren McGavin and his character, but M. Emmet Walsh stole the show. If only both men had been able to come back and guest star. Ah, my list of X-Files shoulda-woulda-couldas grows longer.

“Darling” is the word that comes to mind when I think of this episode. From beginning to end, it’s cute without being queasy. Between the MSR and the nostalgia and the not-so-latent messages about cross-racial understanding it could have easily turned to schmaltz, but it stays just this side of it. It’s a meaningful love letter written with cheeky irreverence.

Verdict:

Here’s the thing about my David Duchovny boycott. It’s not just David Duchovny, it’s also Gillian Anderson. And here’s the thing about my David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson boycott, it’s to protect my own Fangirl health. Imagine if I watched Gillian in something I’m itching to see like Moby Dick, and there I observed a tick, a look, a tone of voice that in my head is Scully’s exclusively. If the thought, “That’s not Scully’s thing, that’s Gillian Anderson’s thing” were to intrude on my X-Files viewing I’d be horrified, let alone if her love life, political opinions, or anything other frustrating non-essential bit of gossip were to trouble me while I was trying to watch.

I’ll not have it. I can’t have it. And so I abstain.

It’s not that I know nothing or hear nothing about them. I just don’t seek information out and try to avoid it when I can. Being able to watch The X-Files in peace is all I care about. And episodes like “The Unnatural” remind me why I want to work so hard to protect that peace.

Nothing is allowed to interfere with this little corner of my joy.

Mulder: You’ve never hit a baseball, have you, Scully?
Scully: No, I guess I have, uh… found more necessary things to do with my time than… slap a piece of horsehide with a stick.

Josh Exley: It was like music to me… First unnecessary thing I ever done in my life and I fell in love. I didn’t know the unnecessary could feel so good.

It’s quite lovely. An homage not only to baseball, but to all the unnecessary things in life that give us joy. The unnecessary that gives us the joy and the strength to go about our necessary business.

Hint. Hint.

A+

Bottom of the 9th:

Yes, that’s Vin Scully, our Scully’s namesake, announcing the game.

One of the more wonderful little moments in this episode: The music seamlessly changes from “I got a brother in that land” to “I got a sister in that land” when we open on Mulder and Scully’s famous nighttime baseball lesson.

I’ve never hit a baseball either. But no strapping, if oddly named, Fox Mulder has offered to put his arms around me and show me how it’s done. Imbalance in the Force?

Oh, and by the way, that midnight baseball epilogue is more full of sexual suggestiveness than I ever fully appreciated. I mean, I always knew it was there, but dang. o_O

We already established back in “Agua Mala” (6×14) that Arthur Dales was down in Florida. I guess we’re to assume he was merely a Snowbird who divided his time between there and the D.C. area and now he’s officially moved?

Best Quotes:

Arthur Dales: What you fail to understand in your joyless myopia, is that baseball is the key to life — the Rosetta Stone, if you will. If you just understood baseball better all your other questions your, your… the, uh… the aliens, the conspiracies they would all, in their way, be answered by the baseball gods.

——————-

Arthur Dales #2: You say “shape-shifting.” Agent Mulder, do you believe that love can make a man shape-shift?
Mulder: I guess… women change men all the time.
Arthur Dales: I’m not talking about women. I’m talking about love. Passion. Like the passion you have for proving extra-terrestrial life. Do you believe that that passion can change your very nature? Can make you shape-shift from a man into something other than a man?
Mulder: …What exactly has your brother told you about me?

——————–

Mulder: You’re making me feel like a child.
Arthur Dales: Perfect. That’s exactly the right place to start from, then, isn’t it?

——————–

Scully: Mulder, this is a needle in a haystack. These poor souls have been dead for 50 years. Let them rest in peace. Let sleeping dogs lie.
Mulder: No, I won’t sit idly by as you hurl clichés at me. Preparation is the father of inspiration.
Scully: Necessity is the mother of invention.
Mulder: The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.
Scully: Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die.
Mulder: I scream, you scream, we all scream for non-fat tofutti rice dreamcicles. [Much giggling ensues]

Tithonus 6×9: You’re a lucky man.


The gift that keeps on giving.

Oh, Vince Gilligan. Why you make me love you so???

I watched an interview not long ago where Gilligan (humbly) admitted that when it came to writing X-Files episodes, he edited other people’s stories – no one edited his. Watch “Tithonus” and understand why.

It’s been so long since the days of “Paper Hearts” (4×8) and “Unruhe” (4×2) that I’d almost forgotten Gilligan writes serious tales too, and writes them well. Similarly to “Elegy” (4×22), this is one of the few episodes in a show populated week after week by gruesome deaths that is actually about death. Or, more accurately, about life and at what point death could be preferable.

Like “Unruhe” and another previous episode, “Oubliette” (3×8), the action in “Tithonus” revolves around that unnerving staple of modernity, that casual bit of creepiness that hides in plain sight: Photography. There’s something so much more… invasive about an old-fashioned camera like the one Alfred Felig uses, something that’s been lost with the advent of the pocket digital camera, something that is fundamental to the success of stories like this where the camera is a villain in its own right – an uninvited violation, a soulless enemy. We say the lens “captures” an image and it’s a subtle way of acknowledging an unspoken discomfort. Between the blinding flash and the disorienting sound, the subject of the photograph is momentarily vulnerable. A part of them has been “possessed” by the camera whether they were willing participants in the event or not.

And who is more vulnerable than those who are already half dead? That’s where Alfred Felig comes in. The man that time forgot. In echoes Clyde Bruckman before him, this is a man saddled with a curse that anyone on the outside looking in would think is a gift, and it’s taken all the joy out of living.

Unlike the mythological Tithonus, the eponymous source of this episode’s title, who lives forever but shrivels up with age until he turns into a cricket, Felig doesn’t physically grow old and withered. But he is cursed to live forever without the heart of youth, the heart that desires, as Scully says, to learn and experience and love. Tithonus’ immortality becomes a curse because his goddess lover forgot to add eternal youth to the gift of eternal life and, abandoned by his love, he longs for death. Felig has the opposite problem in that he has a form of eternal youth without the substance of it; he’s been dead a long time, he just can’t convince his body to follow. As Agent Ritter says, “He’s always been a geezer.” He scoffs at Scully’s suggestion that love is worth living for. What use is love to him?

But what if Felig hadn’t forgotten the name of his long deceased wife? If Mrs. Felig could have lived eternally with her husband in wedded bliss, would he still have hunted death so relentlessly? Would invincibility still feel so cold a curse?

I submit that someone who merely possessed immortality would be cursed, but someone imbued with eternal youth may feel differently. Either way, who would want to live forever in this world? Perhaps one of the greatest acts of mercy God ever bestowed on mankind was to curse them with death in the Garden of Eden; they wouldn’t spend eternity in a world corrupted by evil. Even if, like Felig, death refused to touch you, you’d live to watch generations of others suffer. No, only the disturbed are in a hurry to leave but no one in their right mind wants to stay indefinitely either. Well, except for me. But then, no one said I was in my right mind.

For her part, Scully doesn’t understand Felig because she’s still so full of energy and curiosity. You can tell from her reaction that she finds his, shall we say, unappreciative view of life a little depressing.  She hasn’t grown tired yet the way the aged do. I remember how my 90-odd-years-old grandmother used to tell me that being old was exhausting, not because she wasn’t happy to live a long life, but because at some point, living takes effort. Felig is just tired. And when he’s eventually allowed to stop, to be at peace, you can see the relief on his face. Felig’s dying moments, when he’s reunited with death, are like a master class in acting from guest star Geoffrey Lewis.

But I know what many long time fans are wondering, will Scully ever even know what that feels like? Way back when, X-Files legend Darin Morgan penned this oft discussed exchange between Scully and psychic Clyde Bruckman for “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (3×4):

Scully: All right. So how do I die?
Clyde Bruckman: You don’t.

Does this mean that “Tithonus” confirmation of the long held speculation that Scully is immortal? By looking at death in Scully’s place, does Felig cause Scully to take his place in the land of the perpetually living?

While Vince Gilligan is famous for throwing clever references to earlier episodes in his scripts and so it wouldn’t be beyond him to do something like this, the clear message of this episode is that too much life is no life at all and I suspect Gilligan loves Scully too much to make her immortal. And I can’t find the interview, but I know he’s said that wasn’t what he was implying. Besides, he would have already known that Darin Morgan never intended to hint that she was either:

“Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” contained several lines of dialogue that sent fans into a frenzy pondering their meaning. The first came when Bruckman told Scully she wouldn’t die. “Some people took it to mean that Scully was immortal, but the meaning was that Clyde knows how Scully’s going to die, but he likes her so much he’s not going to tell her, because telling her would ruin her life, whether she believed it or not. Telling someone they’re not going to die is one of the nicest things you can say. That’s why he says it to her. It had nothing to do with whether she was immortal or was going to be hurt in the show.”

http://web.archive.org/web/20020220130917/http://www.morganandwongonline.com/darin2.html

Though I admit that if it were true it’d be some kind of poetic justice considering everything Scully’s been through in recent years. And that’s why it makes emotional sense that this X-File was handed to Scully and not to Mulder. Scully and Felig’s interaction is all the more poignant because Scully is very aware of her own mortality, because she’s someone who wants to live and not too long ago fought desperately against the violating evil of her own cancer. Only someone who has fought so hard for life would be a fitting foil for someone fighting just as hard for death.

Verdict:

I won’t lie to you. For all that philosophizing, my favorite part of this episode is watching Mulder pout with envy. But it’s his own fault – he created a monster.

Scully, while she will ever be Scully, is far more open than she used to be. No, she’s not the instant believer that Mulder is, but after considering all the evidence she’s surprisingly willing to admit that something supernatural is at work here.  She already proved she could handle an X-File on her own back in “Chinga” (5×10), but she’s less unsure of herself in “Tithonus”. She’s so sure of herself that it’s a joy, I repeat, a joy to watch her stand up to Agent Ritter, the Anti-Mulder.

Mulder needn’t have worried. If anything, pairing Scully with Ritter only highlights the weaknesses of any other partnership but Scully and Mulder. When Scully trades places in the car with a by-the-book Ritter, I can’t help but take my mind back to “Tooms” (1×20) when her less orthodox stakeout with Mulder was far more entertaining. I also can’t help but think back to “Squeeze” (1×2) when Mulder and Scully first discover a man who has lived way beyond his years and how they similarly trace his history through low-tech means. Ritter is smart enough to realize there’s a case here, but not as brilliant… or as accepting… as Mulder and so can’t get past the surface of Felig’s situation to the real truth. Even his haircut is square. He’s like vanilla ice cream to Mulder’s Rocky Road. I mean, good grief, his name is Payton.

This is one of the rare Scully-centric episodes that I actually love. In fact, it might be the only one. Yeah, I’ll say it – This is a more well-rounded episode than “Never Again” (4×13).

A

P.S. I can’t leave without mentioning Mulder’s not so veiled threat to Ritter, ‘cause y’all know Mulder would’ve literally killed him if Scully had died, right? He says it so calmly, he’s like Michael Corleone in The Godfather. That’s how you know he means it. Ritter knows it too.

P.P.S. Mulder and Scully and the thumb war. That is all.

Background Checks:

From Cherish the Past: Undoubtedly, the biggest line item for visual effects producer Bill Millar was the postproduction transformation into black-and-white instead of color of the individuals, including Scully, whom Felig sees as doomed. “We used a technique very similar to the one used to wreck all those old movies by colorizing them,” said Millar. “In fact, it’s basically the same, only in reverse.” …Millar, who first used this method on an episode of the short-lived NBC series, Nightmare Cafe in 1992, noted that the hit movie Pleasantville, released within a week or two of the night “Tithonus” first aired, was much praised for its innovative use of decolorization, while its employment on “Tithonus” passed virtually without notice. “Interesting, don’t you think?” Millar said wryly.

If you have the DVDs, this is one of those rare episodes with deleted scenes to watch to help you extend the magic. Go ahead. Live a little.

Did you see that scene where Scully saves the hooker? Did you see it? I’m going to start thinking of her as “Slap-a-Pimp Scully” from now on.

The way the room is lit during the interrogation of Alfred Felig is absolutely stunning. It’s like something out of a Film Noir handbook.

What does Agent Ritter shoot an unarmed Felig for anyway? It’s not like you could mistake that bulky camera for a gun when the light is behind you.

Scully has a rather sentimental look in her eye when she asks Felig about love and her disappointment at his answer is obvious – don’t make me say it.

Between this and “Unruhe”, methinks Vince Gilligan has a not so secret fascination with photography.

Best Quotes:

Scully: [Answers cell] Scully.
Mulder: [In affected voice] Hi, my name is Fox Mulder. We used to sit next to each other at the F.B.I.

——————–

Agent Ritter: You know, Kersh warned me about you.
Scully: Uh, he did?
Agent Ritter: Yeah, you and your partner. God knows his reputation precedes him so I guess I should have seen this coming. You muck up my case, and Kersh’ll hear about it. Are we clear, Dana?
Scully: Scully. And we’re done with this conversation. {Editor’s Note: Bam! My girl.}

——————–

Mulder: Now we’re talking about a guy for whom the phrase “life in prison” carries some seriously weighty connotations.

Bad Blood 5×12: Anyway, I was drugged.


“And then he sort of flew at me like a flying squirrel.”

All right. We’re here. We’ve reached what is arguably the best beloved X-Files episode of all time, penned by Master of the Pen Vince Gilligan and consistently named as a favorite of Gillian Anderson herself. It’s “Bad Blood”.

That means it’s also time for a full confession: I didn’t care much for “Bad Blood” the first time I watched it.

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Go ahead. Choke.

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Still coughing?

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Don’t kill yourself.

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Now, if you’re quite finished…

The problem was that I really didn’t know how to take this one at first. The situation they’re in is too deadly serious for Mulder and Scully to be taking it so lightly, hilarious though their reactions are. If I were potentially going to jail for impaling a minor and if the Federal Government were being sued for $446 million dollars due to my idiocy, I wouldn’t be kicking a trash can I’d be banging my head against padded walls in the mental institution I’d been hauled to after my breakdown. But that’s me taking this too seriously so I’ll stop now.

About halfway through my initial viewing I loosened up. But I still had to watch it a few times to get the full effect.

Please don’t be afraid. A baker’s dozen worth of years later and I still laugh out loud at this episode. Loudly.

Unlike other famed X-Files alum Darin Morgan’s “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’” (3×20) which also shows one set of events from multiple perspectives, “Bad Blood” doesn’t carry a subtly serious undertone in its similarly Rashomon style storytelling. Instead of a despairing sense that the real truth will remain forever buried within the bias and faulty memories of those who experienced it, “Bad Blood” proves that yet again, despite themselves, Mulder and Scully do uncover the truth and neither of them could ever do it alone. The truth consistently lies somewhere in between their two versions of reality.

But then, lightheartedness is one of Vince Gilligan’s strengths just as Darin Morgan’s underlying sense of seriousness is his. One specializes in screwball comedies while the other draws comedy organically out of the sadness in life. For instance, if you compare Gilligan’s “Small Potatoes” (4×20) and Morgan’s “Humbug” (2×20), both us the social and physical outcast for our comedic enjoyment, but Gilligan lovingly pokes fun at his misfit while Morgan uses his misfits to poke the eyes of society at large. One is secretly social commentary while the other is pure entertainment. Me, I’ll take a double scoop of both.

I actually consider “Bad Blood” The X-Files’ first true slapstick comedy. “Small Potatoes” was close, but while it crossed a humor line in terms of silliness that the show hadn’t crossed before, there was more of a sense of the events occurring in the real world than we get here where “reality” is peppered by green-eyed nomadic vampires populating trailer parks. This isn’t a funny X-File or an X-File that happens to be humorous so much as it is a pure comedy, which makes sense considering Gilligan took his inspiration for this one from The Dick Van Dyke Show. But how did he do it and still remain true to the show and the series at large? It’s as though Gilligan took all the rhythms of a typical X-File and then multiplied them to the tenth power so that you can recognize in every hilarious moment where if it were scaled back a notch it would be just another meat and potatoes episode. For example:

Mulder: Sheriff, you say this man is exactly as you found him?
Sheriff Hartwell: Yes, sir. To the letter.
Mulder: Have you noticed that this man’s shoes are untied??
Sheriff Hartwell: Yeah, they sure are.
Scully: Mulder, what’s your point?
Mulder: This means something. Sheriff, do you have an old cemetery in town, off the beaten path, the creepier the better?
Sheriff Hartwell: Uh, yeah.
Mulder: [Snaps fingers] Take me there. Now!
Scully: Mulder?
Mulder: Scully, we’re going to need a complete autopsy on this man, the sooner the better.
Scully: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! What am I even looking for?
Mulder: [Grabs Scully by both shoulders and looks her seriously in the eye] I don’t know. [Leaves abruptly]
Scully: [To Sheriff Hartwell] He does that.

Mulder notices some random clue that no one else thinks is a clue? Check. Mulder can’t or won’t explain its significance? Check. Mulder sends Scully off on an impromptu autopsy? Check. Mulder expects Scully to find something but won’t tell her what? Check. Mulder leaves abruptly without an adequate explanation? Check. Check.

Sometimes I wonder if Gilligan didn’t take a script he was already working on for a regular, serious episode and out of boredom one day decided to amplify it for fun because Mulder and Scully and a third party have had that same exchange, beat for beat, more times than I can count.

But, of course, the real joy of “Bad Blood” isn’t watching Gilligan cleverly poke fun at The X-Files’ own formula, it’s watching Mulder and Scully coyly turn each other into mental caricatures and in so doing give us insight into how they see themselves and each other. More than likely, Mulder and Scully don’t even believe their own tales with total sincerity. Instead, they’re emphasizing and exaggerating certain facts in order to better irritate the other.

Gilligan always did have an amazing grasp when it came to characterization and here I think he understands Mulder and Scully better than they know themselves… I mean, assuming they actually existed and could know anything at all. That said, watching them morph themselves into innocents in turn is revelatory and while Mulder’s idea of himself is way off, I’m not so sure his version of Scully isn’t too far from the truth…

Verdict:

I’ve searched and searched for a clip of Fox’s promo for “Bad Blood” but I haven’t been able to find it. You see, I’m trying to satisfy my curiosity as to whether or not I was warned about the comedic tone of this episode the week before or whether I had any excuse for coming to my first viewing of it wholly unprepared. Alas, YouTube has failed to answer my question.

It really doesn’t matter anymore, however, and thank goodness. I enjoy “Bad Blood” and no distinct lack of reality is going to ruin suspension of disbelief for me. No siree Bob.

All I can say is that when I think that I’m already well past the halfway point of Season 5, I get a little sad.

A

“One of my favorite things about ‘Bad Blood’ was that Agent Scully gets to smile.” – Vince Gilligan

Fiddle Faddle:

I remember when I first saw this episode easily recognizing Patrick Renna, AKA Ronnie Strickland, from that classic television gem called Salute Your Shorts. But he’s better known to most from The Sandlot.

Maybe Ronnie Strickland tried to kill Mulder because he left him a $0.02 tip. Miser.

For those keeping score, this is the second episode in a row where Scully comes to Mulder’s rescue.

I don’t think motels like the Davey Crockett Motor Lodge/Sam Houston Motor Court even still exist. What happened to the seedy motels of the American landscape?

How does Scully get those toxicology results back so fast all the time?

I’m trying, probably too hard, to remember the last episode where Mulder used a slideshow and I can’t.

May I just say that the discomfort Sheriff Hartwell causes Mulder makes my day… and again points to the fact that Mulder nurses a little schoolboy crush on Scully Season 5. Not that he takes it so seriously that he isn’t willing to leave her alone with the man, though I think that points more to his comfort level with Scully than to jealousy or a lack thereof.

Best Quotes:

Scully: First of all, if the family of Ronnie Strickland does indeed decide to sue the FBI for, I think the figure is $446 million, then you and I both will most certainly be co-defendants. And second of all… I don’t even have a second of all, Mulder! $446 million! I’m in this as deep as you are, and I’m not even the one that overreacted! I didn’t do the [stabbing motion] with the thing!
Mulder: I did not overreact. Ronnie Strickland was a vampire!
Scully: Where’s your proof?
Mulder: You’re my proof! You were there! [Scully sighs] Okay, now you’re scaring me. I want to hear exactly what you’re going to tell Skinner.
Scully: Oh, you want our stories straight.
Mulder: No, no, I didn’t say that! I just want to hear it the way you saw it.
Scully: I don’t feel comfortable with that.
Mulder: Prison, Scully! Your cellmate’s nickname is going to be Large Marge, she’s going to read a lot of Gertrude Stein.

———————–

Sheriff Hartwell: [In flashback] You really know your stuff, Dana.
Mulder: [In present] Dana?! He never even knew your first name!
Scully: You going to interrupt me or what?
Mulder: No. You go ahead… Dana

———————–

Scully: What do you mean you want me to do another autopsy? And why do we have to do it right now? I’ve just spent hours on my feet doing an autopsy, all for you. I do it all for you, Mulder. You know I haven’t eaten since six o’clock this morning and all that was was half of a cream cheese bagel. And it wasn’t even real cream cheese it was light cream cheese. And now you want me to run off and do another autopsy…? [Notices Mulder is covered in mud] What the hell happened to you?

Small Potatoes 4×20: Should we be picking out China patterns, or what?


The "H" is silent.

This is where Season 4 really starts picking up momentum again. It’s time for one of the all time Vince Gilligan masterpieces – “Small Potatoes”.

It’s sometimes easy to forget given his knack for writing tension filled episodes like “Pusher” (3×17), “Unruhe” (4×2) and “Paper Hearts” (4×8) that Vince Gilligan started out writing comedies for the big screen. (Does Home Fries sound familiar?) But with this outing he suddenly inherits Darin Morgan’s crown as The X-Files’ comedy genius in residence. His style is definitely different from Morgan’s, more lighthearted and less philosophical I’d say, but it’s just as memorable none the less.

We get a couple of notable guest stars in this one, the first being The X-Files’ own Darin Morgan, back this time not as a writer but as an actor, giving a memorable turn as the King of all Losers, Eddie Van Blundht. The second is actress Christine Cavanaugh as Eddie’s onetime sweetheart Amanda Nelligan, who most will remember as the voice of Babe the Pig and of Chuckie in Rugrats among many other notable cartoon series. But me, I’ll always remember her first as Mona Tibs in Salute Your Shorts. That’s classic television, folks.

But back to the story at hand.

I’ve never questioned the hilarity of this episode; it’s always been one of my favorites. And for those of you out to convert your friends into the Cult of the Phile, this is an episode that easily translates into language a new viewer can understand. It’s prime example of how well The X-Files could do anything, even comedy.

It’s only recently that I’ve started to wonder in between guffaws, why doesn’t Eddie’s crime seem as evil as it really is? If we’re going to get technical, this comedy revolves around a man raping and impregnating women without their knowledge. His only (hypothetical) defense?

Eddie: Look, I’m not saying anything one way or another. I’m just saying hypothetically, if some women wanted to have kids, their husbands weren’t…capable, and everybody was happy and no one got hurt, well hypothetically, where’s the crime?

Oh, Eddie. True, this isn’t forcible rape and maybe therein lays the only caveat that keeps this from being a comedy in poor taste. Eddie figures, these women think they’re sleeping with their husbands anyway, so no harm, no foul. But it’s less easy to excuse his actions when these women are also unwittingly impregnated with another man’s baby. That he chose women who were trying to get pregnant in particular would seem to indict him.

Not only did he realize impregnating them was a possibility, he wanted to use that possibility to cover himself. To insert himself where he was unwanted in an effort to feel like he was actually a part of society at large.

But is that really so uncommon? A man lies about having money when he doesn’t, about being single when he isn’t. A man gets a girl drunk so that she’s more likely to say “Yes.” A lie/tactic that makes a girl willing when she otherwise wouldn’t be in order to prove to yourself and the world that you are who you aren’t. Does that sound familiar? Which line crossed is the point of no return? At what point does it become criminal? Eddie here waddles over a line that’s already toed around too often, so as much as he’s justifiably locked up by the end of the episode, it’s hard to take him seriously as a menace to society.

Conclusion:

This is another one of those episodes that makes me laugh every time, and I won’t reveal the extent of my geekdom by confessing just how many times I’ve seen it. Let’s just say I haven’t quite approached Amanda Nelligan’s level of Star Warsian devotion.

There are so many memorable moments that I would get lost trying to chronicle them all and for the sake of brevity I won’t. Suffice it to say that this episode is one of my favorite performances ever from David Duchovny and the whole Eddie as Mulder bit never quite gets old. For her part, Scully’s already the straight man on this show and stoic looks are her specialty, but the look on her face as Amanda Nelligan reveals the identity of the baby’s father is a priceless moment.

Then there’s the autopsy scene. And, of course, the scene at the doctor’s office. Oh! And the seduction…

You didn’t think I’d forget that, did you?

So, I know we Shippers tend to love this one largely because of this scene, and how could we not? But I find two moments in particular absolutely hilarious:

  1. The look of panic on Scully’s face as Eddie/Mulder leans toward her: Okay, she loves Mulder, as a friend, so she doesn’t insult him by rejecting him outright, but did you catch the look that clearly reads “Oh no…” just as he starts to move in for the kill?
  2. Scully gets busted: The best part of Mulder bursting through the door is that all he does upon discovering this rather uncomfortable situation is stare at Scully. See? I cracked up just typing that.

Alright. I’m done. What can I say that hasn’t already been said? If it’s been a while, I suggest watching this episode again. If it hasn’t been a while, I suggest watching this episode again.

A+

Random Comments:

It’s not Eddie we see mopping the floor at the end of the episode, but one of the inmates that keep stealing his hats.

Best Quotes:

Nurse: Now is there anyone you need us to contact? The father of the baby?
Amanda Nelligan: I’m not sure how to get a hold of him.
Nurse: If you give me his name I can try.
Amanda Nelligan: You know, he’s not from around here.
Nurse: Is he from out of state?
Amanda Nelligan: Another planet.

————————

Amanda Nelligan: He dropped by my apartment one day and… one thing sort of led to another.
Mulder: But the baby’s father is an alien.
Amanda Nelligan: No, no, I didn’t say he was an alien. I said he’s from another planet. His name is Luke Skywalker. He’s what is known as a Jedi Knight.
Scully: Did he have a lightsaber?
Amanda Nelligan: No, he didn’t bring it. He did sing his song for me though. [Hums the theme to Star Wars]

————————–

Mulder: How would this happen?
Scully: Birds and the bees and the monkey babies, Mulder.
Mulder: Birds do it, bees do it, even educated MDs do it. All five women shared the same OBGYN didn’t they?
Scully: Well, yeah. He’s the only one in town.
Mulder: And four of the five women, the four married women, not including Amanda Nelligan, are on record as receiving insemination therapy as a means of conception.
Scully: So you’re thinking that the doctor might have something to do with it.
Mulder: So much for not putting all your eggs in one basket.

————————–

Mulder: I have a theory, if you want to hear it?
Scully: Van Blundht somehow physically transformed into his captor then walked out the door leaving no one the wiser?
Mulder: Scully, should we be picking out china patterns or what?

————————–

Scully: But what are you saying? That Van Blundht is an alien?
Mulder: Not unless they have trailer parks in space.

—————————

Skinner: Which one of you wrote this?
Eddie/Mulder: I did, Sir.
Skinner: You spelled “Federal Bureau of Investigation” wrong.
Eddie/Mulder: It’s a typo.
Skinner: Twice.

The Field Where I Died 4×5: I could’ve lived without that just fine.


Well, at least the shots were gorgeous.

You have no idea how I had to brace myself for this one. I seriously considered breaking my own cardinal rule and jumping ahead to “Sanguinarium” (4×6). Then I briefly considered skipping this one altogether in the hope that no one would notice, and if they did notice, that they probably wouldn’t miss it. My obsessive compulsiveness has prevailed, however, so let’s get this over with…

When writers Morgan and Wong left in Season 2, Mulder and Scully were close partners. Nearly two seasons later when Morgan and Wong come back on board, Mulder and Scully’s relationship has taken on epic proportions, both within the show itself and even more so in the minds of the viewers. When they left, there had been no ultimate trade in “End Game” (2×17), no psychic connection in “The Blessing Way” (3×1), no sacrifice of the Holy Grail in “Paper Clip” (3×2), no “Pusher” (3×17), no “Wetwired” (3×23), etc. etc.

This may be blasphemous, but I think the justly praised writing team who helped shaped The X-Files into greatness had lost touch to an extent. Maybe they’d spent too much time away. All four episodes they would write for this season seemed to be forcing new ground on the audience rather than breaking it. A couple did it successfully, like the glorious “Home” (4×3), while others did not.

For this outing, I think it’s clear where Morgan and Wong stood on the topic of Mulder and Scully. Not that there’s anything wrong with their Noromo position. Heck, that was the 1013 party line at the time. But I think what they failed to take into account, maybe because they had been working on other things and didn’t understand it, was the current state of the fandom and the pseudo-sanctity of the Mulder and Scully relationship.

I’m going to set all Shipperhood aside for this one. I don’t even need it. Even under the premise that Mulder and Scully are and should remain perfectly platonic, I have to have reason to believe that Mulder has suddenly made a connection that has a gravitational pull more powerful than or at least equal to the one he has with Scully in order for this episode to work. That doesn’t happen.

Kristen Cloke, the actress who plays Melissa Reidal and who happened to be engaged to Glen Morgan at the time, called the episode “a love letter from Glen Morgan to me” and indeed that’s what it feels like; a personal exploration of themes more so than an X-File. Darin Morgan used to do this except that somehow his themes always added to rather than subtracted from the series as a whole. He gave new dimensions and flavors to something that was already familiar.

This episode is barely connected to the rest of the series either in tone or content. As such, it feels like a personal indulgence. It fails to consider the ramifications of what it’s proposing and it fails to consider the context of the series at large. Take, for instance, this issue of continuity: In one of Mulder’s past lives CSM was a Nazi Gestapo Officer. Yet CSM would already have been alive in WWII, a fact that you would think couldn’t have escaped Mulder once he was no longer hypnotized. How could he be in both lives at the same time? Hmmm?

It’s moments like this that prove the episode doesn’t really serve the characters either. It reduces Mulder to a fool and Scully to a sidekick. “The Field Where I Died” takes place in an episodic vacuum where the events don’t make sense and it doesn’t matter anyway because the emotional ramifications of these revelations will never be dealt with. Mulder’s supposed past life and the loss of his soulmate are issues never to be seen or spoken of again.

Issues of context and continuity aside, even without that problem and taken just by itself, this episode is almost as boring as “Space” (1×9), and it would be if it didn’t get my adrenaline fired up through irritation. I tried to imagine as I watched what I would be thinking if I were watching this and it were just another TV show, not The X-Files at all. Would I have responded more favorably? I think so, but only by about 20% more. Reincarnation is a hard sell to a Western audience and the advertisements here aren’t appealing. It’s a concept that really has to be done well to be engaging, a feat that’s rarely achieved outside of anime.

Melissa’s voices are too goofy to take seriously so the performance is comical instead of affecting. Sidney in particular is way over the top. And since he’s the first voice we’re introduced to, it’s hard to climb back up from there. Then in a chain reaction, since what draws Mulder to her character is something that I find ridiculous, I find Mulder ridiculous. And if I find both Mulder and his X-File ridiculous there’s little left to enjoy. Ah, those hypnosis scenes are like pulling teeth.

Worse than anything is Mulder who is more caught up in himself than we’ve ever seen him. In fact, he’s a selfish bastard in this one. According to Morgan, in the 20 minutes of footage that had to be cut from the episode were some scenes that supported Scully’s point of view, that Mulder’s past as dredged up under hypnosis was false, a result of mixed-up memories and wishful thinking. It’s too bad they weren’t able to fit more of that plot in to balance the story out. Mulder needed a little undermining here.

Once again, he’s out to save a lost young woman who the world would rather forget than help. I’d like to love him for this, I really would, but he’s drawn to women who have already given up on life, who’d prefer to sink than struggle for air. Watching him try to save women who don’t want to be helped, knowing that his mission is doomed, is not television for the faint of heart. I’d rather watch “Oubliette” (3×8) and you know that’s saying something.

What glimpses of magic this episode does have are largely due to consummate director Rob Bowman, who makes it beautiful to watch if nothing else. In fact, I highly recommend just turning the sound off and letting it play. Oh, but then you’d miss a luscious score from Mark Snow so that won’t do. I guess you either just grit and bear it or you don’t.

As I don my Shipper cap again for a moment, let me just say that this episode feels slightly mean-spirited (an unintended slight, I’m sure). Like pouring cold water over a fresh hot meal so that no one will be able to eat it.

Just as uniting Mulder and Scully in a cloud of romance would have drained tension from the show, so too would have building an unequivocal “No” into the narrative. It would have taken away the hope of many. Indeed, I remember feeling rising panic after I first saw this episode (it was already in reruns and nobody warned me), but the fact that Season 5 had already begun to air and there was no trace of the ghost of Melissa Reidal buoyed my spirits.

“The Field Where I Died” takes itself too seriously, bloated on its own weight and import. Overwrought is a word that comes to mind and it’s probably the one episode in The X-Files’ cannon that I would willingly erase, yet…

Entertainment Weekly once famously called this episode “Stultifyingly awful.” In retrospect, I wouldn’t go quite that far. The production value is too high. All in all, it certainly has the best of intentions and you can tell a lot of effort went into this one on everyone’s part. But when I ask myself if I’ll ever watch it again… I get queasy.

It’s Over at Last:

There is that one, brief moment of lightness and joy…

Mulder: Dana, if, um, early in the four years we’ve been working together… an event occurred that suggested or somebody told you that… we’d been friends together, in other lifetimes… always… wouldn’t it have changed some of the ways we looked at one another?
Scully: Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn’t change a day. Well… maybe that Flukeman thing. I could’ve lived without that just fine.

But then…

“I wanted to sum up Mulder and Scully’s entire relationship with that question Mulder asks Scully afterwards, if we had known from the beginning that we had lived all these lives, would it change anything, how would you feel?’ ” Morgan said. “I just wanted to raise that question between the two of them. I’m not sure what the answer is. My feeling is that she is holding on to some skepticism. Her answer in the episode — “I wouldn’t change a day” – might be a little ‘tee-vee.’

Way to quench it, dude.

D+

Keeping it Brief:

John Mark wasn’t the writer of The Book of Revelations. It was another John.

Exactly which version of Mulder was a soulmate of Sidney’s??

The quote from Kristen Cloke is nabbed from here:
http://www.littlereview.com/getcritical/interviews/cloke.htm

The quote from Glen Morgan is shamelessly lifted from here:
http://etc1013.wordpress.com/1997/10/01/cinefantastique-4/

Unruhe 4×2: Ich habe keine Unruhe.


Scully and the Beanstalk.

The main thing that occurred to me as I sat down to watch this one is that I’m unlikely to watch anything like it again. “Unruhe”, “Tithonus” (6×9), heck, One Hour Photo… Short of finding a period piece, with the advent of digital cameras, the underlying creepiness of photography may be gone for good. Point and click cameras don’t give you that same eerie sound as they capture an image (or is it someone’s soul?). Gone is the sinister subtext of the dark room, where creepy men leer creepily at ghost like images forming on slick pieces of paper. And the Ye Olde One Hour Photo Shoppe has all but gone extinct. Instead of delivering your most personal memories to be ogled by a 40 year old man who still lives with his mother, you can print them out in the privacy of your home, should you decide to print them out at all.

Progress though this may be, it terms of entertainment, it’s a sad loss. This episode is part of the last dying gasp of film.

Fortunately for us, Vince Gilligan wrote this episode before the Revolution was complete. If Darin Morgan owned Season 3, Vince Gilligan is the stand out star of Season 4. His humor isn’t as poignant, but it’s memorable. And more than that, he could give us a classic thriller just as easily as a psychological study or a fantasy romp. He was always, always cinematic. And with “Unruhe”, true to his form, while the characters are exceptionally well written, you could squint your eyes and almost pretend you’re at you’re local theater. This story was built for Mulder and Scully and it serves them well, but you can see how they could be replaced and the story expanded to serve other needs. It’s barely contained at a 43 minute running time.

What they do manage to squeeze in is memorable and engaging. It’s amazing how an X-File really doesn’t need much fuss to be successful; A creepy idea, a villain with three names, a few memorable images, Mulder posing something ridiculous and Scully countering. It’s magic in a can. I don’t think lobotomies have been this frightening since One Few Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Nowadays, when we think of serial killers we mostly think of men who brutalize prostitutes and crack whores. It’s a concept far more removed from the minds of everyday people than it was in the mid-90s when the collective memory of men like Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer was still fresh and constantly refreshed in the media by news reports and movies like Silence of the Lambs. Gone are the days when single women watched their backs in the grocery store parking lot, but watching Schnauz stab a hypodermic needle into the flesh of an unsuspecting victim brings it all back.

Gerald Thomas Schnauz, Jr. isn’t one of my all-time favorite X-Files villains, probably because he doesn’t recognize or relish his own evil, but he more than does the job here. And for once, Scully is identifying with the victims and the killer rather than Mulder, our resident criminal profiler. It becomes more and more obvious that the case is wearing on Scully and I like that Vince Gilligan weaves in a little discomfort between her and Mulder throughout the episode, it makes the payoff of Mulder frantically trying to save her that much more satisfying.

And while I’m on the topic of Scully, did you notice the vague foreshadowing of what would come later in her Season 4 arc? It’s so quiet that it might be almost impossible to catch for the first time viewer, but that’s part of what’s so satisfying about rewatching The X-Files, being able to savor the subtleties.

I was able to make out one single word in German: Angst. Funny how that would become the theme of the season.

A

P.S. And as to Scully playing the damsel in distress, which complaints occasionally come up, I don’t even want to hear it. She just rescued Mulder in Distress the previous episode.

P.P.S. This is not the episode to watch if you’re trying to get over a fear of Dentists.

Questions:

Tsk. Tsk. Isn’t Scully supposed to ask if there are any sharp objects she should know about before she pats down somebody?

Comments:

This is the second closing field report/voiceover we’ve had in a row. I rather like that they’re trying hard to pretend that The X-Files isn’t leaving it’s early years far behind in the rearview mirror. And I missed those field reports.

More masterwork from the School of Rob Bowman. The tension in Scully and Schnauz’s first meeting is all in the way he shot it. And don’t even get me started on the glories of all that plastic tarp.

Six fingers = six headstones is rather a stretch, don’t you think?

Howard Unruh, part of the inspiration for this episode, was the first modern mass murderer. How’s that for a legacy?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Stand back, Scully. It’s loaded.

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Scully: She’s been given what’s called a trans-orbital lobotomy. It used to be called an ice pick lobotomy. It involves inserting a leucotome through the eye sockets.
Mulder: So we’re looking for a doctor? Someone with training?
ER Doctor: Not judging by this?
Scully: Whoever did this, Mulder, did it wrong.

——————-

Mulder: So… which one of us gets to use the stun gun on Bruno Hauptmann back there?

——————-

Schnauz: Great. Now they’ve got you talking like Sigmund Freud.