Tag Archives: End Game

Pusher 3×17: Samurais without masters have to advertise.


A recipe for madness.

“Pusher” is only writer Vince Gilligan’s second solo offering for The X-Files, his first being the solid if slightly underwhelming “Soft Light” (2×23). Legend has it that when he submitted the script to Chris Carter he predicted it would be the best work he ever did on The X-Files, an eerie declaration since, arguably, he was right. Although by the Grace of God he gave us some other episodes that might fit the bill. *cough* Small Potatoes” (4×20) *hack*

My understanding is that “Pusher” started out as an idea for a film before he translated it into an X-Files episode. You can tell. One of the features of his solo offerings on The X-Files is that his stories are like shortened movie scripts. You could almost take The X-Files’ characters out of the scenario and with some adjusting, the plot lends itself to a feature length film. “John Doe” (9×7), “Tithonus” (6×9), “Paper Hearts” (4×8), “Drive” (6×2), etc. These are the episodes you could show to someone who isn’t into the whole paranormal, supernatural, sci-fi thing and they’d still eat them up. And there isn’t a better example of one of his mini-movie episodes than “Pusher”. I was even able to show this one to my mother who would normally scoff at the likes of The X-Files. And well, she did scoff, but relatively little.

This is one of those episodes that define MOTW. As I watched this time I felt myself mentally ticking off all the boxes…

Clever Villain

I can think of less than a handful of other X-Files villains that are as memorable as Robert Patrick Modell. First off, he has three names so you know he’s bad. Only the likes of Eugene Victor Tooms, Donald Addie Pfaster and possibly The Flukeman could run against him for the title of Best Monster of the Week Ever. One thing he has over the other three is his humor and sarcasm. It’s an element of his character that makes the audience actually like him. Even in that amazing opening teaser with benign elevator music and a police raid out of nowhere, I don’t know who he is or what he’s done yet but I’m kind of rooting for him against the Police. Can you blame me? The man has style. He had to in order to be a proper match for Mulder.

Clever Kills

The first example I don’t even think he successfully killed, he just flambéed. Certain people aren’t as susceptible to Modell as others and Agent Collins resists lighting himself up to the point where it’s tragic. Oh, what a great scene as he begs and pleads for someone to stop him. It’s frighteningly convincing.

Detective Frank Burst, on the other hand, doesn’t resist. Instead he insists on listening to Modell until you can almost hear his arterial walls popping open. (No medical professionals were consulted for the making of this review.) What a fabulous, fabulous moment as Mulder and Scully are helpless to stop this man from getting himself killed. And then to hear seconds later that his death was in vain… I still shake my head every time… and there’s always a little twinkle in my eye that probably shouldn’t be there.

Clever Agents

This is one of those rare X-Files where Mulder and Scully solve the whole thing. Usually there’s a mix of investigative work and random happenings that lead them to a conclusion or, more often, a lack of a conclusion. But since “Pusher” is all about setting Mulder and Modell up for a final showdown, mano a mano, it’s important that Mulder proves he’s someone who can match this man in wits and sheer force of will. It’s a testament to the strength of Mulder’s mind that he’s able to resist Modell as much as he does in the Russian Roulette scene.

Scully isn’t exactly useless either. And while she famously shoots down Mulder’s suggestion of “The Whammy” as the cause behind Modell’s effect, she also confirms the pseudo-scientific basis for his condition. Then of course, all would have been lost if she hadn’t pulled that fire alarm in time. Scully may not always understand what’s going on, but she had enough integrity to act on the evidence.

Those are the building blocks, the DNA, of this episode if you will. But it doesn’t end there. There are all sorts of great moments sprinkled throughout such as Modell strolling into the FBI with nothing more than a piece of paper and a permanent marker as his credentials. Then there’s Skinner, another one not easily taken in by Modell, getting beaten up by a girl. And not just any girl, a mouse of a girl. Come to think of it, I’m not so sure that’s a great moment, but it’s certainly a memorable one. Didn’t Skinner just finish recovering from a bullet wound? That can be the only possible explanation for why a bear like him couldn’t take down little Holly. The man is quickly turning into a punching bag. I’m pretty sure he’s bruised in half the episodes we’ve seen him in since “End Game” (2×17).

And, of course, “Pusher” causes Shippers everywhere to rejoice. Not one, but two hand-holding scenes? I’m surprised Chris Carter let it happen. Joking aside, Scully’s concern over Mulder is nice to see and Gillian Anderson plays it with those doe eyes of hers so well. When Mulder suits up for a final confrontation with Modell she looks like a mother that has to let her son go off to war. And that single tear that comes out of Scully’s eye as Mulder points the gun at her… priceless. You can actually feel her horror as she realizes the true tragedy of the situation, that Mulder was about to be forced into the ultimate betrayal.

Verdict:

That’s Modell’s true sense of cruelty and part of why he’s such a successful Monster of the Week. He hones in on the fact that Mulder and Scully are close from the beginning and I believe it was his plan all along to force Mulder into hurting her. That they overcame that situation together is enough to warm any X-Phile’s heart. And you know they’re seriously shaken up anytime they’re willing to be openly affectionate.

If you’ve been following along, you’ve already heard read my complaints frustrations about the off and on tension between Mulder and Scully this season. I won’t repeat too much of it here. After all, my Season 3 analysis is just around the corner. But let me just say, God bless you, Vince Gilligan. There’s been so much distance between Mulder and Scully and with this one episode it’s all but forgotten.

A+

Running Commentary:

Nothing. I was too busy enjoying myself to jot down superfluous thoughts.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Hey, I think you drooled on me.
Scully: Sorry.

——————-

Modell: You and your pretty partner seem awfully close. Do you work well together?

——————-

Scully: So he’s a killer and a golfer?
Mulder: Rings a bell, huh? Let’s go G-woman.

——————-

Modell: I believe you owe me five dollars.
Mulder: Oh, your shoe’s untied.
Modell: [Looks down]
Mulder: Made you look. How do you do it?

——————-

Mulder: Well, ninjas are said to have the ability to cloud the minds of their opponents.
Scully: Are we talking kung fu movies, Mulder?
Mulder: He certainly clouded the mind of that judge, Scully.
Scully: Even if Modell could, he didn’t need to. We barely had a case against him.
Mulder: Oh, we had enough to get past a simple preliminary hearing. Modell psyched the guy out. He put the whammy on him.
Scully: Please explain to me the scientific nature of the whammy.

——————–

Mulder: Hey, Scully, check this out. Mango Kiwi Tropical Swirl. Now we know we’re dealing with a madman.

——————–

Mulder: I think it’s like you said. He was always such a… little man. This was finally something that made him feel big.

Piper Maru 3×15: High Noon in Hong Kong.


I've got a little something in my eye.

The legendary Black Oil makes its first appearance on The X-Files. Huzzah!

Now, I’m as excited as the next Phile about the introduction of new levels to the overall mythology mystery. But I’m beginning to notice a trend where the writers are giving us new information every mythology episode without necessarily providing new answers. We learned about the UFO at the bottom of the ocean in “Nisei” (3×9) and we found out about the disk in “Anasazi” (2×25), but we still haven’t found out what’s on the disk besides the location of the UFO let alone the significance of the downed UFO itself. Instead, Carter and Spotnitz bring in the Black Oil which is more than sufficient to distract us from the fact that we still know nothing. This isn’t a complaint because I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. But I’m starting to understand why cracks in the mythology’s wall expanded in later seasons. Some holes have to be plugged before you can drill new ones.

Apparently the writers are planning to introduce a new foreign power in every mythology episode, just so we’re constantly reminded that this is a global conspiracy. “Paper Clip” (3×2) belonged to the Germans, “Nisei” to the Japanese and now the French make an appearance, the first non-WWII Axis power to do so. What exactly do the French want with the UFO anyway? More than likely, they just want to become “a player”, as CSM would say. Other than that, they don’t seem to have any kind of historical stake in the conspiracy. I suppose that’s why they don’t last long since I don’t believe we ever hear from the French again. We move onto the Russians in Season 4. I’m still wondering why we never hear from the Italians. Too romantic?

But enough rambling. Krycek is back and we have to enjoy him and his sliminess because after this arc we won’t see him again for almost a full season. It looks as though he’s managed to crack the security protocols on that Defense Department disk he ran off with in “Paper Clip”. This means he’s one of the few people in the world who know the scope and scale of the conspiracy outside of the Syndicate. He’s capitalizing on that, literally, by selling the Syndicate’s secrets to the highest bidding government. Meanwhile, no one in the Syndicate outside of CSM knows that Krycek is even alive and that the disk hasn’t been destroyed. Surprise!

On the emotional end of things, Scully finally gets to grieve for her sister Melissa. When Skinner mentions that it’s only been 5 months since her death (another case of 1013 Production’s date smudging) there’s a sense of incredulity I feel every time I hear that. Scully lost her sister but essentially went through the last 12 episodes without showing any signs of loss, sadness or melancholy. Odd, yes But I don’t believe it’s an oversight. Season 3 is the season where not only does the mythology take on a recognizable form and continuing narrative, it becomes distinct, even completely separate from the stand-alone episodes. Except for a passing comment in “D.P.O.” (3×3) where Scully references “all we’ve been through”, Mulder and Scully act as though most major mythology events never happened… until they reach the next mythology episode and things pick up where they left off. It’s not a bad thing, really. It allows the viewer to breathe for stretches of time and just enjoy the more genre specific episodes without worrying about keeping up with overall storyline.

There isn’t much to discuss as far as character development because the mythology is quickly becoming a mini action adventure series within a series where Mulder and Scully, for the most part, are just stand-ins for the audience. They’re there to solve the mystery and don’t have much time to explore their own inner workings, though that starts to change again in Season 4. But I have to give one last note on my man Skinner. We’ve already seen Skinner battle Mr. X on Mulder’s behalf in “End Game” (2×17), now it’s Scully’s turn to earn Skinner a beating. Skinner’s attitude with CSM’s goons is so awesome, but he’s turned into such a noble hero that it’s not surprising when later on the writers decide to put some cracks in his armor with “Avatar” (3×21). Maybe he’s gotten a little too cool for school. I don’t know, but I enjoy it so I don’t care. Skinner’s a bear and Mulder and Scully are his cubs. Play at your own risk.

Final Verdict:

These Season 3 mythology episodes are some of Frank Spotnitz and Chris Carter’s best work on the show. They were able to strike the right balance of emotional and thrilling moments. Since this rewatch I’ve made it my mission to understand the ins and outs of the mythology plotline I’m enjoying it even more. But even back when I understood nothing I loved the Black Oil. Who wouldn’t? Throw in a cowardly Krycek and noble Skinner into the mix and I’m sold.

Oh, and that vision of a pilot kept alive by an alien entity banging on his plane window at the bottom of the ocean? Awesome.

A

Lingering Doubts:

That a man Scully new briefly in her past, that she wasn’t even close to, would hold key, first-hand information about the Black Oil situation is a real stretch to me. Carter and Spotnitz really make it work, though, and that flashback scene is effective.

It’s kind of a copout that Krycek was magically able to get the disk translated and copied when it was supposedly impregnable. But, then again, that was only a plot device in “Paper Clip”. In “Anasazi” Scully was able to print out the information to have it translated.

In the “Nisei”/”731” arc it’s hinted that the ship Talapus was on a mission to salvage a UFO and now that’s been confirmed. They salvaged it and CSM had it moved knowing that the disk with the secret of the UFO’s location was on the loose. But if Talapus had already made it to where the Black Oil crash landed with the UFO, why didn’t the Black Oil come up to the surface with one of the men of Talapus instead of staying with the P-51 Bomber? I can only assume that Talapus never sent a man down there but somehow brought it up by purely mechanical means, but that seems a stretch.

Random Tidbits:

A very young Michael Bublé is recognizable as one of the men aboard the submarine Zeus Faber.

I like that the teaser doesn’t necessarily read as a mythology episode. We have no way of knowing if this strange black entity is alien or if it’s just a new, freaky phenomenon that Mulder and Scully will have to investigate.

Best Quotes:

Scully: I’m just constantly amazed by you. I mean, you’re working down here in the basement, sifting through… files and transmissions that any other agent would just throw away in the garbage.
Mulder: Well, that why I’m in the basement, Scully.
Scully: You’re in the basement because they’re afraid of you, of your relentlessness. And because they know that they could drop you in the middle of the desert and tell you “The Truth is Out There” and you’d ask them for a shovel.
Mulder: That’s what you think of me?
Scully: Well, maybe not a shovel. Maybe a backhoe.

————————

Wayne Morgan: What the hell is that?
Mulder: Looks like the fuselage of a plane.
Scully: It’s a North American P-51 Mustang.
Wayne Morgan: Yeah, sure is.
Mulder: I just got very turned on.

————————

Skinner: Who are you guys?
Grey-Haired Man: We work for the intelligence community.
Skinner: Remind me not to move there.

————————

Krycek: I didn’t kill your father.
Mulder: Now you tell me.
Krycek: It wasn’t me.
Mulder: Oh yeah. Then who was it?
Krycek: I don’t know.
Mulder: Either way, Krycek, you’re a liar.

731 3×10: Since when did they start issuing you guys piano wire instead of guns?


You been gainin' a little weight, Mulder?

We open with a vision of creatures being slaughtered; creatures that look a lot like the deformed bodies we saw in the boxcar in “Anasazi” (2×25). Is it a coincidence?

It’s tempting to initially think this is connected to what we saw earlier, we quickly find out that it isn’t…. and it is. This is yet another set of tests being done on humans by another set of scientists, different from the experiments exposed in “Anasazi” but still governed by the mysterious men of The Syndicate.

So let’s start with The Syndicate, shall we? Scully is introduced to yet another Syndicate member this episode, The Elder. He feeds Scully the truth, or parts of it, but for what purpose? To save the creature trapped on the train? Is this shadow government responsible for testing on civilians as a part of a secret plan for alien colonization… or are they doing it to win a Cold War that ended years ago? I’ve said it before but I’ll complain again, why didn’t we get even more of these Syndicate guys? Sure, they needed to remain mostly mysterious for effect. Yet the few times that their characters were delved into, even just a little bit, were memorable. Just think of Well-Manicured Man in Fight the Future.

But since The Elder isn’t ready to bare his soul, the real character that steals the show this episode is our very own Mulder. When I think of who Mulder is as a character, the Mulder we see in this episode fits my personal definition to the letter. Mulder is a frustrating jackass but he’s a heroic one. Right after I want to strangle him I want to pat his head and give him a hug. It’s not that Mulder hasn’t been reckless before. In fact, “End Game” (2×17) comes to mind. But that was Desperately Seeking Mulder and this is Mind-Blowingly Frustrating Mulder. There is a difference. From him foolishly jumping on the train to his self-sacrificing decision to ignore Scully’s attempts to save him and have the train car dropped in the middle of nowhere, it’s amazing how annoyingly loveable David Duchovny managed to make this character. He’s self-righteous and arrogant and just as equally endearing.

Mulder’s Mulderishness has been slowly escalating. In Season 1 he was a bit of an outcast upstart, but still fresh-faced and relatively docile in comparison to his later years. Season 2 proved he can be downright hostile to anyone who gets in his way, but it also showed that he could be sensitive and very protective, especially when it came to Scully. Season 3 is when I think Mulder’s core personality is solidified as 2 parts teeth gnashing and 1 part pitiable and he stays fundamentally the same till the end of the series. He’s more absurdly reckless than ever but in a way that let’s you know he’s somewhat conscious of his charms and he knows those who love him will forgive him.  He hangs up on Scully in the train car knowing that she’ll figure out what he’s about to do and knowing that she’ll love him for it even as she hates him for it.

Scully’s doing a lot of zigging while Mulder zags this season. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’re at odds, but they’re not quite the unified front they were pretty much all of Season 2 and most of Season 1. This distance becomes even more pronounced over the next few episodes. So in the end, who’s right? Does Mulder’s belief in an alien conspiracy hold up despite the current evidence to the contrary? Or has Scully stumbled upon a greater evil, that these men are using aliens as a cover story to hide their insidious crimes. It seems as though there’s a little of both going on. Dr. Ishimaru/Zama certainly had his own agenda. Exactly what that was we’ll probably never know.

Conclusion:

I couldn’t talk about this episode without discussing Mr. X and his Sophie’s Choice; rather than save the leper or hybrid or whatever you choose to believe it is, from the train car as he was sent to do, X rescues Mulder’s foolish behind instead. This may be his best moment in the entire series, but that’s hard to say since he’s had some fabulous ones. What’s X’s motivation? He once said in “One Breath” (2×8) that he used to be a man much like Mulder and more and more it appears that he really still is. We never find out why he chose to help Mulder after Deep Throat died and, ruthless as he is, it seems out of character for him unless he has a soft, tootsie roll center that he’s keeping hidden inside a hard candy shell. (I’ve only had one cup of coffee as I’m writing this so you’ll have to excuse me).

Come to think of it, the supporting characters steal a lot of the show in “731”. We’re also introduced to the Red-Haired Man of the not so red hair, yet another worthy adversary gone too soon. How can you not love an assassin that fixes his hair in the mirror after a kill? I appreciated the fact that no one is safe on The X-Files and that pretty much every character outside of Mulder and Scully are in danger of being killed off in the blink of an eye. But seeing Red-Haired Man’s quick demise I can’t help but wonder if Chris Carter & Co. were a little too quick on the trigger sometimes. Characters were gone just as they were starting to make an impact.

On a final note, isn’t it a little strange on some level that Scully so easily dismisses the idea of aliens? Has she already forgotten Purity Control?

A-

Useless Commentary:

A juicy little tidbit is thrown out early on in the episode that because of her implant, the conspirators may have had access to Scully’s every thought for the past year. What an awesome concept. If only it had been explored further.

Oh the adorably dorky Agent Pendrell, does anyone else wish Scully had noticed him a little more? I suppose the earth shattering news he delivers to her would distract any girl, but he’s just so pitiful that it’s sweet.

It’s a rare mythology episode indeed that doesn’t feature CSM. He makes little more than a cameo appearance at the end of the episode, just so that we remember that he’s still pulling the strings.

Priceless X-Files Moment #385: Mulder’s life hangs in the balance as Scully reads off a number that will either save him or kill him and all she can say is, “Yeah… yeah I’m pretty sure.”

Best Quotes:

Agent Pendrell: This kind of neural network could be not only collecting information, but artificially replicating a person’s mental processes.
Scully: You could know a person’s every thought.
Agent Pendrell: Frightening.

——————-

Scully: Well done, Agent Pendrell. Keep up the good work.
Agent Pendrell: Hey, thanks. Keep it up yourself!
Scully: [Leaves]
Agent Pendrell: [To self] “Keep it up yourself”… what a doof.

——————–

Elder: The ruler of the world is no longer the country with the greatest soldiers, but the greatest scientists.

——————–

Red-Haired Man: You’re going to die. You know that?
Mulder: What do you care? You were trying to kill me anyway.

——————–

Mulder: We’re both going to die in here. The difference is, I’m going to die quickly. As an employee of the National Security Agency you should know that a gunshot wound to the stomach is probably the most painful and the slowest way to die. But I’m not a very good shot. And when I miss… I tend to miss low.

——————–

Scully: Mulder. I think I’ve got something here.
Mulder: What is it?
Scully: I think I may have a code for you. I’m watching Zama punch it in to a keypad in one of the train cars.
Mulder: What are you watching?
Scully: Your alien autopsy video.
Mulder: You mean I might get my $29.95’s worth after all?

———————

Mulder: I don’t need an apology for the lies. I don’t care about the fictions they create to cover their crimes. I want them held accountable for what did happen. I want an apology for the truth.

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

Fearful Symmetry 2×18: It’s all happening at the zoo.


Sing and sqeak and squawk with the animals.

Coming off of “Colony” (2×16) and “End Game” (2×17), we’ve been on an adrenaline rush. And judging from the first part of this teaser, you’d expect that to continue. There’s an incredible, invisible force tearing through town and causing thousands of dollars in set damage. But by the time we see a dying elephant lying in the road with children weeping over it, I already know that something has gone horribly, terribly wrong.

If I’m to understand this properly, aliens are abducting animals for genetic testing and conservation purposes since we humans aren’t stewarding the planet the way we ought. Said aliens have such advanced technology that they can travel light years through space, abduct animals out of their cages without unlocking them, but they can’t. put. them. back. They’re so worried about preserving these animals that they impregnate them, steal their babies, and then drop them among human beings who they know will kill them if they’re on the loose. Not to mention these animals are so scarred by the abduction experience that they all seem to be in need of a psychologist, or at least Dr. Dolittle.

Mulder gives a vague explanation about how there’s some astrological issue with the space-time continuum that prevents the aliens from putting the animals back safely. So… what? They couldn’t wait a few days till the stars were aligned and the issue was resolved?

More time is spent in exposition about the plight of animals in zoos than is spent on the plot itself. This is Steven DeJarnatt’s only writing credit for The X-Files. Funny, I only have one episode to go on but I think I have a pretty good idea of his political leanings.

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not unsympathetic. In fact, I’ve never been fond of traditional zoos myself. I too watched Dumbo as a child and pitied the poor little elephants bound by chains for gross human consumption. That said, I’ll give up my two little doggies for no man. They’d barely last an hour in the backyard let alone in the wild. “Objects for [my] own selfish pleasure?” You bet they are.

I’m being sarcastic. I don’t truly believe this episode is espousing the more radical view of the fictional WAO, but it does have a moral to the story that’s written in all caps. It forces the viewer to mentally engage in a political debate rather than in the story. This isn’t Law & Order, this is a show that features green-blooded alien bounty hunters. Green-blooded.

Here, instead of aliens, you’ll find animals in crates everywhere. And I’ll give the creators some credit; it does serve to heighten the tension. Mulder and Scully are walking around with a relatively small barrier between them and a vicious death. But the underlying plot is so absurd that I find myself not caring. Lovely, frightening wild beasts can only take a story so far. I should care by the time Mulder gets trapped in a room with Sophie and witnesses her abduction, but the climax is so decidedly boring. I admit, however, that watching Willa cry over Sophie’s body did make me a little sad.

You know what makes me sadder? This episode.

Conclusion:

An episode about straight-up cattle mutilations would have been more interesting. As it is, the whole premise of “Fearful Symmetry” ends up being mire that quickly swallows the episode whole. That this episode comes directly after the pinnacle of “End Game” only makes things worse.

Does it sink to the depths of “3” (2×7)? Few episodes can. Is it quite as dull as “Space” (1×8)? Humor saves it from that ignoble fate. Its only saving graces are a chance to see Angry Scully and the all too brief appearance of the Lone Gunmen.

Ah, the Lone Gunmen. Too bad one of their funniest scenes is lost in an episode that’s mostly forgotten. They easily steal the show in this one. Not that that’s hard to do…

So, overall, how did it score on my “Reasons I Watch The X-Files” test?

  • Did it make me laugh? A little.
  • Did it make me happy? No.
  • Did it stir my imagination? No.
  • Did it move me? Eh.
  • Did it freak me out? Heck no.

C-

P.S. In case you think I’m exaggerating about how hard they drive the “Save the Animals” point home, try to make it to the end of the episode and listen to Mulder’s closing voice-over. I rest my case.

Questions/Comments/Complaints:

Ed Meecham has worked at the zoo for years. For what? So he can torture animals for fun? It makes no sense that this man would spend his life caring for animals when he’s not an animal lover. Worse, why does everyone look at him in horror when he shot the tiger that was about to maul Willa Ambrose to death? Heaven forbid.

If an animal has already killed someone, isn’t it policy to put it down? I don’t think Willa Ambrose would have had the authority to order Meecham, or for that matter, the police, not to shoot on sight.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I’d be willing to admit the possibility of a tornado, but it’s not really tornado season. I’d even be willing to entertain the notion of a black hole passing over the area or some cosmic anomaly but it’s not really black hole season either. If I was a betting man I’d say it was, a…
Scully: An invisible elephant?
Mulder: I saw David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear once.

———————

Scully: What are you looking for, Mulder?
Mulder: Oh, a local paper. I want to see if David Copperfield is in town.

———————

Mulder: It’s all happening at the zoo, Scully. (A Simon & Garfunkel reference, for those of us too young… or too old to remember).

———————

Mulder: Alright, you keep an eye on the WAO.
Scully: And where are you going?
Mulder: Talk to the animals. (AKA: The Lone Gunmen)

———————

Frohike: Beam me up Scotty!
Mulder: Did anybody ever tell you the camera loves you, Frohike?
Frohike: Yeah, the arresting officers at the Free James Brown rally.
Byers: What’s this costing the taxpayers, Mulder?
Mulder: Uh, about 150 bucks an hour.
Frohike: Ouch! Almost as much as Bill Clinton’s haircuts!
Mulder: Where’s Langly?
Byers: He has a philosophical issue with having his image bounced off a satellite.

———————-

Frohike: If that’s the lovely Agent Scully, let her know I’ve been working out. I’m buff.

End Game 2×17: Did you tell her what she needed to know?


Mulder, say it ain't so!

In the aftermath of Scully’s abduction by the alien Bounty Hunter (her second one just this season), Mulder’s investigative instincts finally start kicking in and he begins to question Samantha’s story. According to her, the clones are aliens. Clones of two original aliens who came to this planet some years back. They’re waiting out human beings so they can possess the planet. Meanwhile, they’re forced to separate themselves because 50 people who look exactly the same living in close proximity to each other would be sure to attract notice. In order to differentiate themselves physically, they’ve been working to hybridize their DNA with human DNA. If it works, they’ll be able to live together as a colony. The Bounty Hunter comes from the original alien race who considers mixing alien DNA with sub-par human DNA anathema.

An interesting story, one that I’m pretty sure we can disregard in its entirety. Moving on… to earlier in the episode…

Y’all have to pray for me. I enjoy watching fake Mulder beat up Scully way too much. I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to give me the thrill it does. That can’t be healthy.

Interesting how Scully knows which Mulder is the fake Mulder. You would think, skeptic that she is, she would assume the Mulder standing in front of her is real since a voice is easier to fake than an entire body. And even though she realizes there are identical men running around, the clones, she has no idea about the shape-shifting alien. That she instinctively realizes the man in front of her is not Mulder and acts accordingly reveals something about her character. She may not always understand what’s going on and she may not believe it, but Scully follows the evidence to wherever it leads her. This must be what Mulder was talking about back in “Squeeze” (1×2) when he says that she “respect[s] the journey.”

For all her bravery in that scene, Scully is obviously afraid. Check out her body language in that scene on the bridge and, in particular, the way she sinks into the seat after she’s released and goes to the car. Vulnerable Scully has made a brief reappearance. And why shouldn’t she? She’s been held hostage by a very large shape-shifting alien.

Here’s the real kicker. Mulder is willing to risk Samantha’s life to get Scully back. Samantha, the younger sister whose disappearance all those years ago tore a part his family and continues to tear at his sanity. This is where my theory comes in. Ready? Let’s go.

After Scully’s abduction, Scully went from being Mulder’s closest friend and ally to being a surrogate Samantha to him. Both women were taken from him and he was helpless to stop it. Both were idolized in his mind, Samantha because she was taken so young, before she was able to do anything truly wrong or to tarnish herself in her brother’s eyes and Scully because she became even more valuable to him once they had been separated through the closure of the X-Files. If in doubt, check the way they moon over the loss of each other for about the first half of the season. There are too many moments in too many episodes to cite. Absence certainly makes the heart grow fonder. Furthermore, now that Scully’s been returned Mulder is noticeably more protective and affectionate. But why brotherly affection? Can’t this just be a budding romance, you say?

Doubtful. Or should I say, starting a romance would take their relationship off of the pedestal that both Mulder and Scully seem to have put it on. They both suffer from idealization of the other to the extreme until we reach Season 3. That’s when the writers decide that they’ve had enough of this honeymoon. But I digress. Suffice it to say that Scully is still too lofty in Mulder’s mind for him to downgrade her to dateable material. It’s true that Mulder occasionally mentions her looks, but in such a benign way that I’m reminded of the things close male friends and relatives say about the women in their lives. No, Mulder ain’t shippin’, he’s trippin’.

My whole, long-winded point is that Mulder is willing to trade Samantha for Scully because the women are of equal worth to him. You might even argue that Scully already means more to him whereas Samantha is a stranger outside of his imagination seeing as how she’s been gone so long, but I won’t be so bold. Again, it’s interesting that while Mulder is upset over losing Samantha he doesn’t show any real regret over his choice and he’s certainly not the angry wreck he was over Scully in “One Breath” (2×8). Part of the reason has to be that deep down he was suspicious of Samantha, her story, and her motives.

But let’s get to the real star of this episode, shall we? The Skin Man. You could have narrowed down the entire episode to two scenes, when Mulder beats up Scully and when Skinner and X beat up each other, and I still would have been happy. There are a lot of fisticuffs flying on The X-Files these days. Anyway, how can you not love a man who takes, and dishes, a beating for Mulder? And with such radical coolness?? Skinner is officially one of the good guys. Welcome to the team, dude.

…And the verdict is:

I daresay it’s this episode arc that actually created the mythology. Before this, the conspiracy was disjointed and far too varied. Any and every strange happening could be and was the result of a government cover-up, often without much rhyme or reason. Scully’s abduction arc hinted at what was possible, but here the show delivers.

Are there any flaws? A few. The scene when Mulder breaks the news about Samantha to his father doesn’t read quite right. I see the sadness in Mulders eyes but I don’t hear it in his voice. Also, Mulder has to break tragic news like that and he makes his dad come to him? Stranger than that, Mulder tells Mr. Mulder that Samantha was demanded in return for a hostage and he doesn’t question that at all.

Then there’s the fact that as much as I enjoy watching Scully hover over Mulder’s hospital bed, the ending feels a bit like a tacked on excuse to put Mulder in danger and have Scully run after him. It’s as if they came up with the idea for the beginning of “Colony” (2×16) and then had to figure out a way to get Mulder in that situation. But that’s only if you watch closely, and I’m not really complaining.

This episode also closes a character arc that’s been haunting Mulder since “Little Green Men” (1×1); he has to decide whether or not to believe that his memories of Samantha’s abduction are real and if looking for the truth is even worth the cost. As of that final line, he’s decided that it is… yet again. In case you miss all this angst, don’t worry, Mulder’s doubts will be back. It’s like his own personal game of whack-a-mole.

A-

Questions:

What is Scully thinking as she hears Mulder yell out “Samantha?” She can’t possibly assume it’s his long lost sister. But I bet she wondered.

If the only way to kill both the Bounty Hunter and the clones is with a wound to the back of the neck, why did the fake Samantha die when she fell off the bridge? I guess we have to accept that the Bounty Hunter stabbed her in the water or on the way down.

If the green, alien blood infects people with a deadly virus, why wasn’t Mulder affected by it back in “The Erlenmeyer Flask”? They left him on the floor, they didn’t put him in cold storage. I can only retroactively assume that he was infected but that he was treated before he was returned.

Why do the clones darkly hint that Mulder has to help them? Why do we never find out what it is they know? And don’t say it’s that Samantha is alive. How can you trust the word of a man who shape-shifts for a living?

Comments:

The Bounty Hunter even cracks a joke like Mulder… as Mulder. Impressive.

The virus goes dormant at cold temperatures. Fast forward to Fight the Future and we can applaud 1013 Productions on their consistency.

Why does the government try to keep the Bounty Hunter from leaving when they’re the ones using him to stop the experiments from being successful? Are Chris Carter & Co. trying to hint that this Alien Bounty Hunter isn’t a part of the government conspiracy but is a lone wolf of sorts? Thinking forward to Season 4, I take back what I said about being consistent.

Please, please, for the love of all that’s lovely in this world, give Scully an excuse to smile more!

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Why does he want to kill you?
Samantha Mulder: Because I know how to kill him.
Mulder: How?
Samantha Mulder: By piercing the base of the skull.
Mulder: That would kill anybody.
Samantha Mulder: Yes, but this is the only way to kill him and it must be precise. I’m fairly sure it will work.
Mulder: Fairly sure?

——————

Mulder: Make yourself at home.
Skinner: What’s going on here, Agent Mulder? Why are all the lights out?
Mulder: Orders from my ophthalmologist.

——————

Mr. X: You wanted to see me?

Mulder: How was the opera?

Mr. X: Wonderful. I’ve never slept better. I don’t like these hasty public meetings, Agent Mulder.

Mulder: I’m sorry. I need your help.

Mr. X: It’s over. The fat lady is singing.

Mulder: I need to know what you know.

Mr. X.: OK. They’re all dead.

——————

Bounty Hunter: If I wanted to I could have killed you many times before.
Mulder: Where is she?
Bounty Hunter: Is the answer to your question worth dying for? Is that what you want?
Mulder: Where is she? Just tell me where she is.
Bounty Hunter: She’s alive. Can you die now?

——————

Scully: Hey. How you feeling?
Mulder: Like I got a bad case of freezer burn. How did I get here?
Scully: A Naval reconnaissance squad found you and choppered you Eisenhower Field. Thanks for ditching me.
Mulder: I’m sorry. I couldn’t let you risk your life on this.
Scully: Did you find what you were looking for?
Mulder: No. No, but I found something I’d thought I’d lost. Faith to keep looking.