Tag Archives: Duane Barry

Folie à Deux 5×19: See, if you’re not smiling, they can hear it.


The Natural Look

Vince Gilligan is a television genius and this episode has his sense of humor written all over it, rendering it unnecessary to even check the credits for his name. Telemarketing Zombie Grasshoppers? C’mon. We all know who’s responsible for this.

These… insects… are like something out of a 1950’s B sci-fi movie. It’s only one halting step away from the anonymous office worker who took off his hat one day and revealed an over-large pair of red compound eyes. Maybe the charm of that is lost on you, maybe it isn’t, but the zombies aren’t actually the focus of this episode anyway. They’re just a vehicle to showcase the current depth of Mulder and Scully’s partnership – I say “partnership” but it’s more like an “unbreakable psychic bond.”

Think about the way the events of the episode unfold: Mulder bewails his fate. Scully attempts to share Mulder’s fate. Mulder spares her his burden. Scully insinuates herself anyway. Mulder admits he needs Scully. Scully saves Mulder. Scully bewails her fate.

Yes, actually, I have pretty much described the entire series, I Want to Believe included.

One thing I especially love about Vince Gilligan’s episodes of The X-Files, or one person I should say, is Scully. Underneath the comedic icing of episodes like “Small Potatoes” (4×20) and “Bad Blood” (5×12) are subtly nuanced views of her character. This episode, even though the focus is ostensibly on Mulder, is no different. Where Mulder’s character falls into a foreseeable and highly anticipated decline consistent with everything he’s always been, it’s Scully who takes another imperceptible and yet vital step forward in a progression that will be significant in not only the immediately following season finale, but in the movie and the next season to come.

I bet you think this is where I explain how important and gratifying it is that Scully has come to trust Mulder, how she’s almost substituted his instincts for her own. But what’s more significant for Scully’s character is how far Mulder is now able to trust her. If Mulder’s computer-induced daydream of a roundhouse kicking Scully comes to save the day in “Kill Switch” (5×11) was just that, a daydream. Here’s the real thing.

Scully believes in Mulder so strongly that she can see what he sees. Similarly to the events of this episode but with less humor, Scully was worried about Mulder’s sanity in “Grotesque” (3×14), but she didn’t fall down the rabbit hole with him back then. Now their simpatico is such that she can’t help but adopt his psychosis. Surely, it’s not the phenomenon itself she comes to believe in, even if she does see it with her own eyes. Afterward she falters in her explanation of it before Skinner like a guilty schoolgirl. No, rather, Scully has reached the point where it doesn’t matter if what she sees is real or not, what matters is that she and Mulder are seeing the same thing.

“Folie à Deux” is a partnership-focused episode and in it The X-Files firmly establishes just how far Mulder and Scully have come in their relationship since the beginning, a not so subtle reminder right before “The End” (5×20). It’s especially significant in light of the emotional upheaval Scully’s about to experience with the advent of She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Mulder just affirmed Scully’s place in his life in the most explicit terms he ever has. Does she believe him? I don’t see why she wouldn’t. Will she continue to? That’s complicated.

Scully questions why she follows Mulder back in “Quagmire” (3×22), she pouts over it in “Never Again” (4×13), she’ll complain the fruitlessness of it all innumerable times in the future, and yet she stays. Bottom Line: Scully doesn’t believe in the mission, she believes in the man.

Verdict:

If there’s one complaint, one reason why this episode doesn’t garner as many accolades as it could, it’s that those silly insects, the villains of the story, are so cheesy it’s distracting. But then, after all, how scary can a giant bug be? A spider the size of your hand, that’s scary. Once a pest passes the size of a soccer ball, it crosses the Rubicon into comical. The whole thing would have been more of a fright fest if Pincus had been a straight zombie or vampire and they had bypassed the insect angle altogether, but I don’t think that was ever Gillligan’s intent. The comedic undertones are intentional. And considering our arch-villain Pincus is a man-sized grasshopper, I think the visual effects team did an impressive job.

Dial and smile, Gary.

A-

Zombieland:

Telemarketers or zombies, what’s scarier? Their monotone scripts sound like zombie-speak anyway.

How in the round world did Scully get to Chicago so fast?? She hung up with Mulder just before he was taken hostage yet she arrives in front of the building while the SWAT team is still organizing itself. Just once, couldn’t someone write some actual time into the timeline?

Shirley Temple and Bo Jangles are on the television in one scene. Way to combine classic moments in pop culture.

Nice bit of continuity – Mulder’s finger is still broken from the last episode. Vince Gilligan was always a master of continuity nods.

It’s an episode that starts off seemingly about a crazy man holding people hostage and then turns into another thing altogether. Echoes of “Duane Barry” (2×5), anyone?

This is another classic case of Mulder manipulating Scully into an autopsy.

Why is it that every episode where Mulder “frees” Scully from having to jump into the fray with him, she ultimately refuses to stay away? “Tooms” (1×20), “Little Green Men” (2×1), “End Game” (2×17).

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Monsters? I’m your boy.

———————

Mulder: I must have done something to piss him off.
Scully: What do you mean?
Mulder: Get stuck with this jerk-off assignment. Or have I finally reached that magic point in my career where every time somebody sees Bigfoot or the Virgin Mary on a tortilla, I get called out of my basement ward to offer my special insight on the matter.
Scully: You’re saying “I” a lot. I heard “we.” Nor do I assume that this case is just a waste of our time.
Mulder: Well, not yours anyways. There’s no reason both of us should go to Chicago. I’ll take care of it. [Walks away]
Scully: Mulder?
Mulder: I’m Monster Boy, right?

———————

Mulder: Scully at the risk of you telling me “I told you so”, I think it’s time for you to get down here and help me.
Scully: I told you so.

———————

Mulder: Scully, you have to believe me. Nobody else on this whole damn planet does or ever will. You’re my one in five billion.

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Guest Post – X-Files: A Shipper Guide, Part 4


*Editor’s Note: Nina is a long time X-Phile and shipper extraordinaire. (Seriously. You guys thought I was rabid.) You can find more of her humorous insights into The X-Files, Supernatural, 24 and other fandoms on her tumblr at myspecialhell.tumblr.com. Here’s part 4 of her rundown on Mulder and Scully’s relationship in Season 1. You can check out parts 1, 2 and 3 herehere and here. Agree/disagree with her observations? Duke it out in the comments section. We can’t wait to hear what you guys think!

And with that, take it away, Nina!

Biased, completely personal, with tongue firmly planted in cheek

Chapter two

How things change

Aka The second half of the first season

Beyond the Sea is the episode which made me realize that there was Scully, that she wasn’t just Mulder’s sidekick and his love interest. It was one of the episodes that defined Scully as a character on her own. Beyond the Sea is a wonderful episode, one of the favorite among the Philes, both for the casefile which was brilliant and for the characters. For the first time we saw a reversal of their roles: Scully in this episode was the somewhat reluctant believer and Mulder was the skeptic.

There were reasons behind this twist, which I wish they had kept in latter seasons when Scully point blank became a believer and Mulder turned skeptic.

With the death of Scully’s father, just after Christmas  – and I got to say this: guys what’s the what with Scully and Christmas? I mean, in the first season she loses her father and in the fifth season there’s the whole Emily thing…

For the first time we saw Mulder letting  go of the professionalism and the distance he had put between Scully and he, when he called her by her first name.

We Philes learned very soon that they would never going to call each other by first names, Mulder did it from time to time, and we knew that he didn’t want Scully to call him Fox. To this day I still don’t know why…I mean, ok, his name sucks, but why he didn’t let her call him Fox ?

Even in the train wreck the last season has been, in the fan-fiction episode (trust no one), while she was physically shaking while reading his e-mail she still called him Mulder. She was forever his, but she still called him Mulder. (one could argue that in the last season the writers didn’t even remember Mulder’s first name, but that’s beside the point!)

I have a theory  – I always have theories concerning the X-Files, this doesn’t come as a surprise. –  which I’ll illustrate later in the essay.

Anyway, back to the episode, Mulder called Scully: “Dana” and gently touched her face, which I’m sure is a gesture every FBI agent is trained to do to comfort a grieving peer (insert my snort in here)

Mulder was ready to face a demon from his past, from the days at VICAP: Luther Lee Boggs, terrifically played by Academy Award nominee, Emmy™ nominee Brad Dourif . Boggs was a serial killer Mulder had profiled and sent to jail, where he was waiting for his execution.

It has to be said that Mulder didn’t want Scully to follow that case so soon after her father’s death, but she claimed she needed to work, she needed to focus her mind elsewhere. We have here a first glimpse at Scully’s way of coping with tragedy and things she can’t accept: she doesn’t; she runs away, she goes in full denial.

Throughout the episode Mulder was very concerned about Scully, he was very protective of her. And that was the first time we actually saw a side of Mulder which was going to become prominent from second season on: namely, how Mulder wanted to protect Scully.

And how Scully deeply cared about Mulder.

Scully was surprised by Mulder in this episode. She saw a side of him she had rarely seen since they had been working together: she saw Mulder as the f***ing brilliant interrogator, the f***ing  VICAP/VCS/BSU’s golden boy. She had glimpsed that side of him during the interrogation scene in Conduit  – which, to this day, is still one of my favorites – but in Beyond the Sea she saw that in glorious Technicolor when he interrogated Boggs.

Beyond the Sea dealt a lot with mortality, with frailty…with beliefs and regrets. Scully who had just lost her father, came close to lose Mulder when he was shot. It was the first time in their partnership one of them was really injured, and its effect was devastating on Scully.

The scene where the ER doctors treated Mulder was heartbreaking to watch: Scully was so distraught over what was happening that she couldn’t even move, she couldn’t even get closer to Mulder. The noises around her faded, and the only thing she could do was to close her eyes.

That scene was another glimpse at how Scully reacts to loss: she implodes for a moment.

I’m not a Scullyist, in case you didn’t notice I’m a Mulderist all the way, yet never have I liked Scully more as in the scene where she went to Boggs ..

You set us up. You’re in on this with Lucas Henry. This was a trap for Mulder because he helped put you away. Well, I came here to tell you that if he dies because of what you’ve done, four days from now, no one will be able to stop me from being the one that will throw the switch and gas you out of this life for good, you son of a b****!

I love this scene…love it with a passion! In the script of the episode there is one difference in the scene which, in my opinion spoke volume of Scully’s feelings for Mulder :

I came here to tell you that if I lose him too because of what you’ve done […]

Too bad the scene wasn’t kept this way.

Scully had a complete faith in Mulder’s  nature. She might tell Mulder that he was crazy, she might get frustrated, but she knew, that when all was said and done, Mulder was a decent, honest, good man. Just like his father…

It is a cold, dark place, Scully. Mulder’s looking in on it right now.

SCULLY: It may be a cold dark place for you but it’s not for Mulder and it’s not for my father.

There is something I want to discuss about Morgan and Wong’s episodes. They seemed to think that Scully saw some kind of a father figure in Mulder. They subtly suggested it in this episode and said it aloud in Never Again.

Wrong. On so many levels.

Morgan and Wong were two very gifted writers, they wrote One Breath which is one of my favorite episodes of the whole series, right in the top five, but they weren’t in favor of a Mulder and Scully’s relationship…and it shows!

Scully didn’t see Mulder as a father figure, an authority figure…besides, can you imagine two people more different than Scully’s father and Mulder? C’mon!

Morgan and Wong did a terrific job with this episode, which was a step up in Mulder and Scully’s relationship. In the end, Scully decided not to hear Boggs and the message her father had for her. She chose to sit at Mulder’s bedside.

As I said, in the second half of the first season we saw a shift in Mulder and Scully’s relationship…we saw how Mulder became more and more protective of Scully and how Scully kept Mulder grounded.

So much for Jerk!Mulder! uh?

Gender Bender and Lazarus showed how Mulder’s behavior toward Scully had changed.

On a purely shallow level: I love the way Mulder held Scully at him in Gender Bender after he rescued her from Father Andrew pheromone’s filled paws. He gently closed her shirt, and held her at him.

It was the first time they were so close physically; granted they had examined each other, they walked as if they were glued, he had brushed her cheeks and touched her forearm, but they had never been that close.

I’ve always thought that at the beginning of their partnership they needed to have that kind of distance, not to touch each other. In the pilot episode Mulder saw Scully in her underwear and gently touched the small of her back – which, incidentally, or maybe not, is the spot he always touches – she had touched his neck and shoulders, but they didn’t touch each other…and I think they needed to.

One can poke as many holes in my theory that they have fallen for each other at  first sight, and by all means: knock yourself out! It’s undeniable, though, that the chemistry they had was unmistakable, it was so thick that you had to cut it with a chainsaw!

So when I saw Mulder holding Scully at him, I was overjoyed. I might even have flailed a little. But hey, the first time I saw the scene I was 18, can you blame me?

There is a thing I need to say: I’m writing this essay relying on my memory. I have seen each episode of the X-Files at least three times (and I’m talking about those I didn’t like: *cough*Teso dos Bichos*cough*), but for the most part, I have seen them hundreds of time. I’ve distanced myself from the show, but I have still an excellent memory for the episodes.

I may not remember the specifics of the plots but as far as character’s development and relationship’s development I *do* remember it.

Mulder’s reaction to what had happened in that house cracks me up:

I know what I saw, Scully…and I know that I saw you about to do the wild thing with a stranger…

Wild thing? Who in the hell says wild thing? Sex. Its name is S-E-X!

That said…I have noticed that although there is any kind of innuendo between Mulder and Scully the word sex is rarely mentioned. And something else: did you notice that Mulder never picked up cases which involved S-E-X ? Or sexual abuses for that matter…or anything of remotely sexual nature? I can think of very few episodes: Excelsis Dei, Small Potatoes…and about Excelsis Dei…Scully picked up the case, Mulder was very reluctant about it.

I think that is just one of the signs of Mulder’s respect for Scully.

Since we had had a former lover of Mulder’s, Lazarus showed us a former lover of Scully’s.

Jack Willis. I know I may sound like a rabid shipper…but Jack Willis? He crept me out! How could Scully have fallen for him? I said that Morgan & Wong subtly suggested that Scully saw in Mulder an authority figure she could relate to, a father figure…

Maybe, just maybe, with Mulder, Scully broke the cycle instead. We know of two relationships of Scully – three if you count Minette, four if you take seriously the whole Ed Jerse’s fiasco, five if you count Padgett, which I don’t –

From what we have gathered of Scully’s past relationships, she had indeed unconsciously looked for a father figure, a strong male figure in her life. Both Jack Willis and the guy from All Things were older than her, they were patronizing and they didn’t treat her as an equal. They were indeed authority figures: Jack was one of Scully’s instructors at Quantico, while the guy from All Things was her professor.

As I said, Scully broke the cycle with Mulder.

Mulder was just three years older than her, he might have been the supervisor of the X-Files, an older agent, but as I have previously said, he didn’t care about hierarchy. He treated her as an equal.

He did feel the need to protect her, but without smothering her, without being patronizing and condescending; Mulder felt the need to protect Scully not because he didn’t trust her ability to take care of herself, but because he cared about her. He didn’t want her to be any different from what she was. He valued her for what she was, not for what he wanted her to be.

There was an equal level of trust, need, care. Although there have been times, especially in latter seasons where I have doubted of Scully’s feelings for Mulder (it’s a long and boring story, which, I will tell later, when it comes to the hell also known as the sixth season ) I never doubted this axiom: that they were equal.

Remember?

“You were my constant, my touchstone”

And you are mine

(Amor fati)

And:

“I wouldn’t put myself on the line for anybody but you”

(Tooms)

And:

I feel, Scully… that you believe… you’re not ready to go. And you’ve always had the strength of your beliefs. I don’t know if my being here… will help bring you back. But I’m here.

I had the strength of your beliefs.

(One Breath)

Besides, on a totally shallow level: no offence to the guys who played Scully’s past lovers …but David Duchovny is hot!

It looked like Scully and Jack Willis were still friends, unlike Mulder and Phoebe they had parted on good terms, so much that she went helping him with a robbery case, and of course being the X-Files, things went to hell in a hand basket.

Jack Willis was shot and Scully supervised the ER treatment. I have thought about it a lot, especially considering the similarity to what had happened in Beyond the Sea…and what was going to happen in End Game.

I believe Scully supervised Jack Willis’ treatment on the ER because what had happened didn’t have the same resonance the events of Beyond the Sea had. Scully cared about Jack but she didn’t lose it when he was shot…whereas in End Game she revived Mulder’s heart herself…because she was the only one who could help him.

Mulder was suspicious of Jack Willis even before knowing about the man’s past with Scully. I didn’t see jealousy in him, Mulder has never struck me as the jealous type, except in Bad Blood and Milagro and even then he was surprised more than anything.

I think Mulder learned how to control jealousy with Phoebe. One might argue he was jealous of Doggett in the eighth season, but I don’t think so…he wasn’t jealous of Scully…he was pissed off because he felt like he didn’t fit in any more…and because Doggett had the X-Files.

Did this mean that he didn’t love Scully if he wasn’t jealous or didn’t show it? I really don’t think so. But I will write more about jealousy later.

When Scully revealed that she had dated Jack Willis the case became more personal…to both of them, especially when Scully was kidnapped.

When he realized Willis/Dupré had kidnapped her, he couldn’t help calling her Dana once he heard her voice. It was like, for a moment, he totally forgot about their being partners at the FBI. Mulder the man spoke…and tried to reach her.

We saw Mulder fighting to save Scully in this episode, we saw him being a real G-Man while Scully experienced an X-File first hand. We saw as Mulder realized the importance of Scully in his life. He was the one who solved the case, who spoke with the kidnappers.

I don’t know about FBI rules and protocols, but every time we have seen Mulder treating a hostage situation during the series (Duane Barry, Folie a Deux, Monday) he has always been perfect, totally by the book. Yet, I highly doubt this exchange could be considered part of the rules:

MULDER: (on phone, threatening) You listen to me —- you lay one hand on Scully, and so help me, God ——

It is to be considered that the phone conversation between Mulder and Lula was being recorded. Yet, Mulder didn’t seem to care, so much, that when they got Scully’s whereabouts and planned the operation he concluded saying:

MULDER: And for those of you —-who don’t know already (voice unsteady) this one’s important to me. So, uh, let’s do it right. Thanks.

It’s interesting to note a few things about the episode: originally it had to be Mulder who swapped souls with Warren Dupré, the network decided otherwise, but there were still traces of the original concept in the episode.

Jack Willis was no Mulder, but he was some kind of a profiler, he worked at VCS, and was obsessed with the case. I think, though, that the similarities were just on surface. As I said Jack was no Mulder, and his relationship with Scully was way different.

The ending of the episode offered an insight on Mulder that, in my opinion, deserves to be addressed. Remember the pilot episode? Mulder said he wanted the truth, he said that nothing else mattered to him. Nothing had ever stopped Mulder from looking for answers, for the first time, at the end of this episode, Mulder chose Scully over the truth.

SCULLY: What does that mean?

MULDER: It means … It means whatever you want it to mean. (gently) Good night.

Mulder’s honesty…his absolute faith in the truth, has always been one of his most fascinating traits…yet, time and again, Mulder chose Scully over the truth…to protect her, not to cause her pain.

It happened in Lazarus for the first time, but we saw it happening in One Breath…and don’t forget the last episode of the series: Mulder was ready to die in order to deliver Scully from knowing the truth, a truth he was afraid it could crush her spirit. This alone is proof enough of Mulder’s feelings for Scully.

In Lazarus, Mulder gave Scully the chance to believe in what she wanted to believe…the chance to have closure. The chance to grieve without questions.

E.B.E” was another step up in Mulder and Scully’s relationship. On a totally shallow level: Mulder found remotely plausible that Scully was hot.

You kept me honest[1]

I don’t know why, the first time I watched the movie and I heard Mulder saying those lines, the first scene which came to my mind was the one which had taken place in Scully’s kitchen in EBE, when Mulder and Scully butted heads over the false photograph Deep Throat had given Mulder.

There have been other moments before the movie where Scully had kept Mulder honest, but that scene was the first, which my mind conjured. To me, the scene in Scully’s kitchen is pivotal.

I don’t think Mulder had still doubts about Scully’s loyalty to him and the X-Files by the time the events of EBE took place, but if even shreds of them had remained, they would have vanished.

Mulder realized that it didn’t matter whether she believed or not in aliens…she wanted the truth, just like him, and was determined to find it even if it meant fighting him and the trust he had in Deep Throat.

Mulder realized that Scully was ready and willing to put everything on the line for him.

Mulder and Scully’s interaction in EBE is terrific: there is teasing, trust, sexual tension and care. For the first time we saw Scully visiting Mulder’s apartment, we saw how comfortable Mulder looked at Scully’s place.

Among the episodes written by Morgan & Wong during the first season, EBE is probably the best, as far as Mulder and Scully’s relationship is concerned, even more so than Tooms….and its infamous conversation in the car.


[1]              Fight the future

Ascension 2×6: There wasn’t an FBI pathologist available.


Who can it be now?

We open with an amazing teaser. The audience already learned what happened to Scully at the end of the last episode. Now we get to watch as Mulder finds out and realization registers on his face. The look, the gulp… priceless.

Mulder rushes to Scully’s apartment and now the present scene is cut with glimpses of Scully’s kidnapping. Is this Mulder the behavioral profiler surmising what happened? Is he having visions? Or are they just flashbacks so that the audience can see how it all went down? It might be all three. We’ll never really know.

It’s here that we see Mulder and Mrs. Scully together for the first time. And may I say they make an amazing pair. Both in this episode and in the later “One Breath” (2×8), it’s as if Mrs. Scully instinctively gets who Mulder is and isn’t phased by the more troubled side of him. She knows that he cares deeply about her daughter and seems to be a wise, patient woman. She’s also more spiritually aware than Scully and that makes for an interesting family dynamic.

All that and that was just the teaser! Whew!

The rest of the episode doesn’t disappoint either. We learn the depth of CSM and Krycek’s collusion and villainy. Finally Mulder begins to understand that this isn’t happening to Scully because of Duane Barry, it’s happening because of him. Mulder had to be stopped and if the conspirators couldn’t do it be taking him off the X-Files they’d do it by stripping him of his only ally.

The conspirators, however, are finding out that they’ve created a new set of problems. If Mulder is relentless in his pursuit of the truth he’s downright murderous in his pursuit of his friend. The scene where he chokes Duane Barry is powerful. Mulder’s anger is all the more frightening because he’s trying to control it. It’s a still anger, the kind that percolates waiting to erupt. That single blink he takes as he listens to Duane’s explanation is enough to send a tingle down your spine. And if that’s not proof enough he’s just a few loose screws short of crazy, let’s not forget that crazy climb up the tram at 10,000 feet. Clearly Mulder has very few boundaries when it comes to finding Scully.

Mulder has a right to be angry. He lost his sister Samantha to an alien abduction and now Scully has been taken away from him in a similar fashion. Scully, who I more than suspect is a surrogate Samantha to Mulder. And if she wasn’t before, she certainly is now. I’m sure Mulder hadn’t realized how much Scully meant to him.

On top of that, he’s struggling to come to terms with a new reality. Before Mulder thought that the government was just hiding their knowledge of the existence of aliens. Now it’s dawning on him that the government is using the alien abduction set-up to push their own agenda. Duane Barry is a victim of this agenda; he’s like a television and they keep moving the antenna.

If Mulder has one chocolate bar in a sea of vegetables, it’s that he finally gets his beloved X-Files back courtesy of Assistant Director Skinner. Skinner shows that while he’s not a man free to do as he pleases, his sympathies do lie with Mulder and Scully. Are the X-Files truly what “They” fear the most? That remains to be seen, but at the very least Skinner is rebelling against an order from CSM and that’s a start.

We end with Fox Mulder taking on a new position: Keeper of Scully’s Faith. Can he live up to the job?

Sum Total:

This show is getting soooo good! (Excuse me while I squeal like a fangirl).

I was struck this time by how many tiny, tiny moments and facial expressions in this episode are pure gold. They create depth where the story could have read flat. I won’t bore you by cataloging them all, they are legion, but if you feel so inclined go back and take a look. One thing Chris Carter excels at as a director is attention to detail.

I actually enjoy this episode more than “Duane Barry” (2×5). It has more emotional verve, whereas “Duane Barry” was an exercise character exploration and a set up for the rest of Scully’s abduction arc. “Ascension” has death-defying stunts, murder, angst and intrigue.

The only complaint I have is that I wish Krycek had more time to spy on Mulder before his true allegiances were revealed. It would have been interesting to see what kind of damage Krycek could have done if Mulder had learned to trust him a little rather than just tolerate him. Most importantly, maybe if Krycek had been along for the ride we wouldn’t have been subjected to the injustice of the next episode.

A

Questions:

How did Krycek and CSM know that his cover was blown? I suppose they assumed that Mulder would notice the cigarettes in the car.

How did Krycek explain how he and the tram operator disappeared on Mulder and that the tram operator was later found killed?

Why didn’t Krycek just stop the machine again when Mulder climbed out of the tram? They could have played stop and start all night.

Randomness:

Mulder has visions of Scully’s abduction the way she later on has of his.

Another parallel is the way that Mulder shows up just a minute too late to save Scully.  Scully has a similar problem when she arrives moments too late to bring Jeremiah Smith to Mulder’s rescue in “This is Not Happening” (8×14).

The scene were Mulder consults the pathologist at Quantico is poignant. You can see that he’s acutely feeling the loss of Scully. It’s Scully who should have been there. Ironically, Scully would have kept him clued in.

The episode opens and closes neatly by bringing Mulder and Mrs. Scully together. And why shouldn’t it? They make a great pair. It’s too bad he never gels with the rest of the Scully clan quite the same way.

Best Quotes:

Krycek: You know, Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, Three Mile Island, they were all linked to sleep deprivation. The US Department of Transportation estimates that over 190,000 fatal car crashes every year are caused by sleepiness?
Mulder: Did they estimate how many people are put to sleep listening to their statistics?

——————-

Krycek: You know he could have tracked her down with that implant.
Mulder: Well that’s the easiest explanation. It’s also the most implausible.
Krycek: There’s another possibility?
Mulder: Somebody could have given him her address. I don’t know who.

Duane Barry 2×5: A fine thread of sanity.


Let me show you those drill holes!

Is Duane Barry Mulder’s future?

Mulder’s been sliding down a dangerously deluded path for a long time now. He even admitted in “Little Green Men” (2×1) that he didn’t know whether his quest amounted to little more than tilting at windmills. But the whole point of that episode was that it didn’t matter if Mulder was right or wrong as long as he kept going. Now Mulder, similarly to Duane Barry, is at the point where it’s again important to him to prove the truth of what he’s been claiming all these years.

When you think about it, there are quite a few parallels between these two characters. While Duane is eventually used as a patsy by CSM to carry out his dastardly plans in regards to Scully, initially Duane kidnapped his doctor not to make an exchange with the aliens, but to prove to him that he’s been telling the truth all along. Duane wants desperately to be believed. He wants to be understood. Well, so does Mulder. And like Duane, Mulder is willing to go to fantastic lengths to expose the truth. He thinks he’s willing to go to any length, but this episode will test Mulder’s resolve in that regard.

In the end, Mulder is proven right. Duane Barry was telling the truth. But in being validated, Mulder loses Scully. He finds the truth and meets the consequences. Was it worth it? Is the cost too high to find the answers? Is it enough to know you’re right and be right all by yourself? Mulder will be dealing with those questions for the next few episodes.

Of course, these events don’t transpire naturally. Krycek has been sent to spy on Mulder by CSM, presumably to gauge what information he has and were he’s getting it from. Unfortunately for their plans, Mulder is stuck like glue to his old partner Scully and isn’t interested in learning to trust Krycek. That’s a problem because not only do Mulder and Scully have the annoying habit of getting to the bottom of things, but as long as Mulder keeps Krycek out of the loop it’s going to be hard to feed him disinformation. What to do, what to do…

What they do is manipulate Duane Barry through a staged abduction scenario into kidnapping Scully and bringing her to them. It’s clear why they used someone like him. Because of his medical and psychological history, there’s no need to discredit his story. He discredits himself. That’s no doubt why they took him for abductions in the first place.

…And the Verdict is:

This episode is about truth versus delusion and how sometimes you can’t tell the difference. Mulder is sure about Duane, then unsure about Duane, then sure again. Does it matter either way? It does for Mulder because the events of the last several months have weakened his confidence in his beliefs. Even though now he’s surer than ever, soon he’ll learn the cost of that certainty.

Steve Railsback gives a fabulous turn as Duane Barry. His character was set up in such a way that his performance would make or break the episode and I’m glad to say he couldn’t have done a thing better. To be both frightening and endearing is a hard line to walk.

It’s also exciting to see the conspiracy take a diabolical turn this season. Before, the issue was whether they were keeping the secret of alien life from the American public. But this, this is personal. CSM is out to contain Mulder and if he has to hurt him to do it, so be it.

Overall, a great episode that leaves you wondering which lie to believe.

A-

Quirks:

Why didn’t the FBI set up a roadblock once they knew from the police tape what general area of Virginia Duane Barry was in? It’s not like he changed direction on them.

Didn’t the hostage team already assume Duane Barry was dangerous and delusional? Mulder was the only one who believed him even though he knew Duane came out of a mental hospital. I don’t see why the information Scully brought was so earth-shattering.

CSM is controlling Duane Barry, not aliens, which would meant that the government is behind the abductions. If that’s true, how can they do things like stop time? And if they can stop time, shouldn’t they be able to balance the budget?

Thoughts:

Another highlight was that scene where Scully scans Duane’s implant in the supermarket. Americans are being abducted and tagged like so much human merchandise. Only on The X-Files. Also, that old-fashioned “asterisk” scanner brings back memories.

Those alien costumes look like alien costumes. That will make more sense later. Hide a lie within a lie. To hide the aliens, pretend to be aliens.

Did we just hear the very first, “Mulder, it’s me?” I don’t think I heard it in an episode previously, but I could be wrong.

Best Quotes:

Krycek: Is there anything I can do?
Agent Kazdin: Yeah. What’s your name again?
Krycek: Krycek.
Agent Kazdin: Krycek. Have you got your notepad?
Krycek: Yeah. [Takes out notepad.]
Agent Kazdin: Grande, 2% cappuccino with vanilla. Agent Rich?
Agent Rich: [Waves, “No.”]
Agent Kazdin: [Walks off.]
Krycek: [Replaces notepad with disgust.]

Sleepless 2×4: Wrap the body to go.


Put 'er there.

For anyone who might be watching the series for the first time, you’ll just have to take my word for it that this episode is much more significant looking backward than it is watching the series from the beginning. Be forewarned, there’s a great surprise at the end of the episode that you won’t want to ruin for yourself. This is definitely a case where you should watch before reading any summaries or reviews.

This is our second government cover-up episode in a row but with a twist. For conspiracies that have nothing to do with the greater mythology I have a special category: Half-Caff. These types of episodes generally involve a dangerous cutting edge science or technology that the government it trying, and failing, to control. This episode, however, doesn’t quite fit into any category. There is a cover-up, yes, but the mythology is also a much stronger presence in this episode than we’ve had since “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (1×23). Since Skinner has rebelled, it seems CSM has roped himself a new puppet. And he’s a doozie.

We start off with what may be one of the series’ most compelling and mysterious intros to date. We, the audience, know we just saw a fire ravage a man’s home. So where did it go? From the teaser, we segue into a “Mulder the Jackass” routine and this is where I’d like to pause for a minute.

Mulder can be a bit of a self-important jerk at times. True, Krycek will turn out to be far worse than that, but Mulder doesn’t know that. No, he has no excuse for his arrogance. We can only explain it by assuming that Mulder doesn’t want Krycek to interfere when he uncovers some diabolical plot or some paranormal oddity. Not to mention Mulder is fed up with the FBI and isn’t interested in making friends. But are those the only reason Krycek’s getting the cold shoulder?

No one wants to shake Krycek’s hand figuratively or physically, not even Scully. During the autopsy, Mulder and Scully carry on one of their intensely whispered conversations as if Krycek wasn’t even there. Why does he get the brush off when he hasn’t done anything wrong? It’s not about whether he’s good, bad, or pathetic. Mulder works with Scully or he works alone. He doesn’t trust anyone but her. For her part, Scully isn’t comfortable with the idea of Mulder taking on a new partner either. Could, horror of horrors, Krycek replace her in Mulder’s estimation? Scully goes so far as to fish shamelessly for confirmation of Mulder’s continued affection. Judging from his sheepish response, the loneliness is quite mutual. At one point, they act like 13-year-old sweethearts who can’t get off the phone even though it’s 1 in the morning and the conversation has long since gone quiet.

I still think their relationship is platonic at this point, but judging from that conversation, I can see why my fellow Shippers might feel differently. They’re certainly not hiding the fact that they’re lonely and bored without each other. As I mentioned last episode, they’re much sweeter to each other than they were last season. However, if their relationship was a budding romance Krycek would be no threat and neither Mulder nor Scully would have much reason to resent him. After all, he doesn’t represent a potential rival love interest for Mulder (despite what Slashers may think). The truth is, at this point what Mulder and Scully have is no more or less than a perfect partnership. That’s why Krycek coming in as a new partner is enough to rattle them both. It means that Scully could be displaced.

As long as Mulder doesn’t officially have to work with anyone else, Scully can be his unofficial partner on the side. But will it be the same if he, Scully and Krycek work as a threesome? Of course not. And what if, God forbid, he actually starts to prefer open-minded Krycek? That might be Scully’s worst nightmare. She prides herself on being useful to Mulder. She need not worry. The Mulder we met in the “Pilot” (1×79) may have been looking for a more Krycek-like partner. But after learning to relish the challenge that Scully represents, Mulder would be bored out of his mind with a Yes Man.

But enough about Krycek, there’s more fresh meat in this episode. Finally, Mulder’s new, nameless informant steps out of the shadows. We only know him as Mr. X. A far cry from Deep Throat, X acts like there’s nothing he’d rather not be doing than helping Mulder. He has no intention of becoming another martyr to the cause and ominously hints that Mulder is in danger himself, and not just of being fired. X himself oozes danger. No surrogate father figure is he. Whatever fuzzy feelings Mulder might have had for Deep Throat, X isn’t poised to resurrect them. When Scully questions whether or not Mulder trusts him, Mulder can only sigh.

I’m glad the writers decided to take X in a completely different direction from Deep Throat as an informant. A simple 1 for 1 replacement would have been boring. Between X, Krycek, and CSM’s growing presence, The X-Files is quickly taking on thriller-like proportions.

…And the Verdict is:

“Sleepless” owes a little something to The Manchurian Candidate and that’s a good thing. I’m glad to add this to the list of episodes I enjoyed more this time around. Before I had slept on the plot (pun intended) and had forgotten how good the interpersonal dynamics are.

More than that, I had forgotten how perfect a set-up this episode is for the 3-episode arc that follows. I might even go so far as to say that “Sleepless” should always be watched before “Duane Barry” (2×5) to get the full effect. It certainly makes the ensuing events more sinister. Now we know that something bad is going to happen to Scully and Krycek is at the root of it. He knows what Mulder and Scully know, that he can’t fully ingratiate himself to Mulder with Scully still around. She’s too much competition.

I don’t know that this episode does its job as a stand-alone, but as a part of the series as a whole it’s valuable and effective.

B+

Randomness:

Dr. Grissom’s sleep disorder center seems behind the times considering the man has already figured out how to render sleep unnecessary. You’d think that these lesser sleep issues would be a quick fix.

CSM has reading glasses. That’s so not diabolical.

Did Krycek kill Cole on purpose? I believe so. But Cole was also purposefully trying to get killed.

Mulder makes a selfish demand of Scully in regards to the autopsy, knowing she’ll drop everything and help him. Already it starts.

Best Quotes:

Krycek: I paid off your cab. I don’t appreciate being ditched like somebody’s bad date.
Mulder: Sorry if I hurt your feelings.
Krycek: Where do you get off copping this attitude? I mean, you don’t know the first thing about me.
Mulder: Exactly.
Krycek: You know, back at the academy, some of the guys used to make fun of you.
Mulder: Oh, stop it, or you’re going to hurt my feelings.

————————-

Scully: Sounds like your new partner’s working out.
Mulder: He’s alright. He could use a little more seasoning and some, uh, wardrobe advice. But he’s a lot more open to extreme possibilities than…
Scully: Than I was?
Mulder: …than I assumed he would be.
Scully: Must be nice not having someone questioning your every move, poking holes in all your theories?
Mulder: Oh… oh yeah. It… it’s great. I… I’m surprised I put up with you for so long.

————————–

Smoking Man: What about Scully?
Krycek: Reassigning them to other sections seems only to have strengthened their determination. Scully’s a problem. A much larger problem than you described.
Smoking Man: Every problem has its solution.