Tag Archives: Fire

Underneath 9×9: You can’t think Milli Vanilli is cool!


Underneath-Screenshot-2

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.

– Romans 7:18-21
I had no earthly recollection of this episode.

It has the dubious distinction of being the only episode of The X-Files that I ever missed when it aired. It was my freshman year in college and I woke up in my dorm room with a start and realized that I’d missed my show. It was a sad moment because it was a blemish on my perfect record of fanservice. It was made sadder still because I knew I probably hadn’t missed anything interesting.

And those were the days when you couldn’t run to the internet the day after a show aired to watch what you missed. Sleeping through The X-Files that night meant I had to wait until the DVD set came out to see it, and there was a relatively long turnaround time on that.

So I watched it… eventually. But for the life of me, it didn’t take in my head. I only remembered bits and pieces as I rewatched it for this review.

And you know what? I was wrong that night. I had missed something interesting.

Now, it could be that I find it unduly interesting coming off of the first half to a season that has been alternately aggravating, boring, laughable, and occasionally mildly entertaining. After all, I had completely forgotten the content of “Underneath” so it couldn’t have been that great either. And it probably still isn’t that great.

But for whatever reason, I was invested from the teaser this time and I found myself more entertained than I’ve been all season. My heart hurts a little for Robert Fassl, aka The Cable Guy, because he looks truly innocent and tormented. I really, really want to know what’s happening to him. Quick! We need some paranormal investigators to figure out what happened to the victims and clear his name.

Unfortunately, half the X-Files team is working to prove his guilt. That would be Doggett, who as it turns out was one of the arresting officers that night thirteen years ago, when Fassl was found looking guilty as sin in the house of the deceased.

You have to admire Doggett’s integrity in this episode. Yes, he’s as resistant to extreme possibilities as ever and one has to wonder when he’s ever going to open up a little bit. After all, he’s seen his fair share of the inexplicable now. But he genuinely wants to get to the truth of the matter, which is more than can be said of the District Attorney charged with seeking justice on behalf of the people.

And even Reyes proves herself genuinely useful! She’s not just a sidekick with a crush on Doggett, she’s actually an intelligent woman whose background in Religious Studies offers her unique insight into this case. For once, her leap in logic isn’t based on her feelings but, in echoes of Mulder, a unique ability to connect the seemingly disparate dots.

And wait for it… even Scully isn’t dead weight! That dark cavern that has opened up before you is my mouth gaping in shock.

Could it be they’ve found a way to utilize all three characters believably on the same case? Are we getting more insight into who Doggett is and who he used to be? Is that Reyes walking around in a Matrix coat? Gee golly willikers.

Between the three of them they solve this case, but it turns out that for all the compassion the teaser inspired in me, Fassl was the one responsible for these gruesome murders. My compassion wasn’t completely misplaced, though. This is a man trapped in the endless cycle of his own sin and who hasn’t been there?

Verdict:

In many ways, this reads like a classic X-File to me – a man so in denial, unable to face his own evil, that he accidentally creates a monster he can’t control. Yes, parts of it are a little standard, but I like standard. I miss standard. This case could have easily fit in the Mulder and Scully era, yet it perfectly fits our little duo plus one. So thank you, John Shiban, for bringing us back to basics.

One has to wonder what they would have done if they had merely caught Fassl instead of having been forced to kill him. Is there a treatment for split-body disorder? Is there an app for that? Or is recognition and repentance the cure? I find Fassl’s story interesting. And for Season 9, this is the most I’ve enjoyed myself so far.

But, Krycek, what are you doing here?

B+

ZZ Tops:

How would Fassl have replaced the cover over the cable access hole behind himself?

The actor who plays Fassl with such pathos, W. Earl Brown, graduated from The Theatre School at DePaul University one year before Gillian Anderson. He’s been in lots of things, most famously Deadwood. Actress Lili Taylor who guest starred in “Mind’s Eye” (5×16) is also a fellow alumnus.

John Shiban has been a writer on the show since Season 3, but this was his first directing effort.

Giving Doggett a close former partner who breaks his heart through his lack of integrity is a good choice. It reminds me of how the audience learned more about Mulder in Season 1 through his relationships with former co-workers – “Ghost in the Machine” (1×6), “Fire” (1×11), “Young at Heart” (1×15).

That beard, tho.

Best Quotes:

Doggett: A cop I know, a man I respect deeply, he told me one time, “You don’t clock out at the end of your shift unless you know you did everything you could.” That’s what this is about. Me not clockin’ out.

———————-

Bob Fassl: I pray all the time. I pray even when it looks like I’m not praying.

Medusa 8×13: Hot, sticky and crawling in the dark.


medusa194.jpg

I thought this theme was finished, but “Medusa” brings us back to another classic subclass of X-File, the kind where our two leads mix with a rag tag group of experts in a remote location and stumble upon a dangerous, previously undiscovered organism. I’m thinking, of course, of “Ice” (1×7), “Darkness Falls” (1×19), “Firewalker” (2×9), even “Detour” (5×4) and “Dod Kalm” (2×19). “Medusa” is of the same order, it just takes place not in a primeval forest or in the bowels of a volcano, but in the otherworldly, subterranean realm of the Boston underground. And if Season 8 has been good for anything, and it is good for something, it’s for bringing us back to the classic scare. It’s also good for Scully expressions, but that’s a conversation for a later episode.

I haven’t heard much mention of “Medusa” on the interwebs, so I can only assume it doesn’t get either much love or hate. From me, it gets love. It may not be the most radically inventive episode, but it doesn’t need to be. It just needs to work.

Maybe it’s the way the neurons fire in my brain, but this skin-eating creature freaks me out. I get involuntary chills every time I see those electric sparks. It’s not the grossest thing The X-Files has ever done, but it bothers me. The irrationally obstinate local authorities are back and they bother me too, but in a different way. It is what it is, I suppose. Someone has to get in the way of our protagonists, but sometimes I wish the antagonism had a legitimate motive. But without an obstacle, our team wouldn’t have anything to team up against.

Scully and Doggett spend most of this episode separate, which is how they’ve also spent most of the season. Up to this point, they haven’t felt like much of a team at all despite being given such a great emotional set up back in “Roadrunners” (8×5). But one of the things I like most about “Medusa” is that I finally feel like Scully and Doggett are working together and not just alongside of each other. Oddly, their separation here bonds them because they’re forced to depend on each other.

This is especially a test for Doggett, who admirably accepts Scully’s refusal to enter the tunnels herself without question and follows her every instruction without resentment, even when she sends him into clear danger. See that? A real man’s man can take orders from a girl without sacrificing any of his manliness.

Doggett has to learn to trust Scully, which so far he hasn’t had reason to do yet. Up until now he’s questioned Scully’s theories and conclusions. He’s questioned her judgment. But in the face of dire circumstances and opposition from a suspiciously contrary lieutenant, Doggett shows remarkable solidarity with Scully.

Scully already has reason to trust Doggett, but she still hasn’t trusted him with the truth of her pregnancy. This is the first time we’ve seen her consciously reluctant to take a physical risk and much of the emotional tension in this episode relies on the audience’s awareness of Scully’s pregnancy and the potential jeopardy to the baby.

This is also the first time that Scully shows real concern and care for Doggett, a care possibly fueled by guilt that by keeping him in the dark she’s putting her partner in more danger. Here she’s asking him to risk dying a gruesome death without her physically present to watch his back and she’s not telling him why. Knowing Doggett, he would’ve done it in a heartbeat, but still.

And let me just say again that I like Doggett. I like his military-bred willingness to do what needs to be done. I like his respect for Scully and her seniority in the X-Files. I like that he’s willing to risk his life to save a jerk who knocked him out and left him for dead. That’s a good guy, right there. And for the first time, I feel like I’m not just watching Doggett I’m actually rooting for him. Scully isn’t the only one who’s becoming emotionally invested in the man.

Verdict:

Much thanks to writer Frank Spotnitz for reminding us that not every X-File is about paranormal phenomena or alien conspiracies. The X-Files division investigates the unexplained, including events with purely scientific causes.

I’m also grateful to see Scully acting something other than bored or sad. Righteously angry and guilty will work for a change of pace. She’s also not acting like Mulder! Whew! For what feels like the first time this season, she’s solving an X-File as Scully the Scientist and not as Scully the Wannabe Mulder.

One weakness I do spot, besides the inexplicably obdurate local authorities, is the miraculous appearance of the little boy in the tunnels. You know, the mute little boy who somehow knows exactly what Doggett is looking for and leads him to it, the one who serves no purpose other than to allow Scully to connect the dots and whose origins are left unexplained. Actually, to be really real, the whole ending is rushed and weak. Somehow, that doesn’t ruin the experience for me, though. Because that’s what it is: a tense, dark, sweaty experience that lasts for a while and then suddenly lets up – A description that applies to several of my favorite episodes.

B+

Seawater:

Hello, Penny Johnson Jerald. I loved to hate you on 24.

Scully asks Doggett to uncover bodies killed by some unknown contagion. Is she nuts? Didn’t she learn anything from “F. Emasculata” (2×22)?

I enjoyed seeing Scully go off on Deputy Chief Karras. She was this close to a Scully Squared ™ moment.

Scully and Doggett share a cute moment in the hospital when Doggett is clearly embarrassed that Scully might see something she shouldn’t while he’s wearing his hospital gown. I can’t help but remember how easily Mulder walked around Scully in his underwear as early as “Fire” (1×11).

Best Quotes:

Deputy Chief Karras: Agent Scully is a medical doctor. Who they tell me has a lot of experience with equivocal deaths.

Melnick: Equivocal? [Laughs] Hey, I mean you’re dead or you’re not, right?

Scully: Deaths for which there may be many explanations or for which an explanation may be hard to find.

Lyle: [To Doggett] What about you?

Doggett: I’m just a good shot.

War of the Coprophages 3×12: Dude, that’s some good crap.


"Waste is a Terrible Thing to Waste."

First of all, that opening monologue from the exterminator about the wonders of cockroaches is more satisfying than any purple prose ridden voiceover Mulder or Scully ever delivered. Once again writer Darin Morgan plays off of what we’ve come to expect from The X-Files by giving it to us and then flipping it over. But unlike the previous two Darin Morgan penned episodes, I’m not sure the underlying purpose/theme here is so clear.

Humbug” (2×20) juxtaposed normalcy versus otherness and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (3×4) covered fate versus free will. “War of the Coprophages”, while it hints at the fine line between reality and insanity, doesn’t explore the themes so much as it mocks them. Since we can’t be sure of what happened, it’s hard to condemn the people of Massachusetts for panicking when they very well may have had reason to. Overall, I’d have to concede that this episode isn’t quite as successful as his other ones. But it’s still incredibly fun.

The whole episode is an exercise in glorious repetition. Mulder seeks Scully out for her insight, Mulder hangs up on Scully. Mulder comes upon another body that was attacked by cockroaches, Scully comes up with another reasonable explanation. Mulder quotes Planet of the Apes… Bambi quotes Planet of the Apes. Not only that, as I said earlier, Morgan deftly plays with X-Files stereotypes. Mulder’s always ditching Scully and leaving her hanging, well, here it’s an almost compulsive ritual. And no matter how absurd and inexplicable the death Mulder stumbles upon, Scully comes up with an even more random and infinitely more plausible explanation.

So now for the oft discussed question: Is Scully jealous? To which I answer: It’s there, ever so slightly. It’s all in the way Scully says “She?” when she finds out Dr. Berenbaum is a woman. Dana Scully, M.D. surely wasn’t surprised at the idea that a scientist could be a woman. No, never that. Instead I think there was a sudden realization of what Mulder was actually up to while she slept restlessly with her phone on her pillow. Not that there’s anything to go overboard about. Any woman would be annoyed by that. And when Mulder asks to confess something to Scully, something both she and we as the audience suspect is going to be sexual in nature, she looks worried she’s about to be grossed out. She doesn’t look jealous, sad or angry. As for Mulder, once again, he’s flirting with another woman while confessing his fears and insecurities to Scully. It’s sort of like “Fire” (1×11) all over again. Poor Mulder. Like his relationship with Phoebe Green, he should’ve known it would never work; she’s not haunted, abandoned or misunderstood. With the exception of Scully, he doesn’t have an easy time connecting with well-adjusted women.

Not that I’m on his side. I myself want to kill him for leaving Scully hanging in a state of near panic but I’m so busy laughing that I can’t stay mad. She’s thinking he’s been attacked by killer cockroaches and meanwhile he’s macking on an entomologist named Bambi. I’d say you can’t make this stuff up but Darin Morgan apparently can.

Conclusion:

If this episode has a weakness it’s the lack of resolution. I know that’s one of The X-Files’ signature moves, but here we finish watching completely unsure whether the events even really happened. There are too many cockroach swarms for it all to be a coincidence, yet all the deaths have normal explanations. More importantly, where did the metal insects come from, why did they converge on this town and what made them leave? Who created these mechanical marvels? In the end, the unanswered questions are no big deal because it’s such a jolly ride.

It’s fun to see how Scully spends her evenings for one thing. She cleans her gun, eats dinner while watching the news, gives Queequeg a bath, reads a little Truman Capote and eats a tub of ice cream by herself. It’s so hilariously domestic considering she spends her working hours chasing flukemen and such. Scully had a few off episodes not too long ago, “Oubliette” (3×8) comes to mind. But between this and “Revelations” (3×11), her character is on the fast track to respectability again. Morgan’s version of her is both loveable and feisty. What a relief.

I’ll admit that the last moment between Mulder and Scully still annoys me a bit. He has his nerve. So Mulder loses the girl and Scully rubs his nose in it. But you know what? He deserves it.

A-

Random Musings:

The area is in a panic. The townsfolk are raiding the convenience store. There’s a Sailor stocking up on… pantyhose??

Bill Dow AKA Dr. Chuck Burks is back, only this time as Dr. Newton.

Ken Kramer AKA Dr. Berube AKA Dr. Browning is back too, only this time as Dr. Ivanov.

Scully’s vehement defense of the theory of Evolution feels slightly odd coming straight off of “Revelations”.

Best Quotes:

*Editor’s Note: You know the drill. It’s a Darin Morgan episode. Quotes won’t suffice. Break out your DVDs or pull up Netflix and get started.

Scully: Hello.
Mulder: I think you better get up here.
Scully: What is it?
Mulder: It appears that cockroaches are mortally attacking people.
Scully: I’m not going to ask if you just said what I think you just said because I know it’s what you just said.

———————-

Mulder: I see the correlation, but just because I work for the federal government doesn’t mean I’m an expert on cockroaches.

———————-

Mulder: Well, that all makes perfect sense, Scully, I don’t like it at all. Did you know that the federal government, under the guise of the department of agriculture, has been conducting secret experiments up here.
Scully: Mulder, you’re not thinking about trespassing on government property again, are you? I know you’ve done it in the past but I don’t think this case warrants…
Mulder: It’s too late. I’m already inside.

———————-

Mulder: They’re conducting legitimate experiments. I met an entomologist, a Dr. Berenbaum, who agrees with your theory of an accidental importation of a new cockroach.
Scully: Did he give you any idea of how to catch them?
Mulder: No, but she did tell me everything else there was to know about insects.
Scully: She?
Mulder: Yeah, did you know that the ancient Egyptians worshipped the scarab beetle and possibly erected the pyramids to honor them? Which may be giant symbolic dung heaps?
Scully: Did you know the inventor of the flush toilet was named Thomas Crapper?
Mulder: Bambi also has a theory I’ve never come across…
Scully: Who?
Mulder: Dr. Berenbaum. Anyway her theory is…
Scully: Her name is Bambi?
Mulder: Yeah, both her parents were naturalists. Her theory is that UFOs are actually nocturnal insect swarms passing through electrical air fields.
Scully: Her name is Bambi?
Mulder: Scully, can I confess something to you?
Scully: [Wincing] Yeah, sure, okay…
Mulder: I hate insects.
Scully: You know, lots of people are afraid of insects, Mulder. It’s a natural instinctive…
Mulder: No, no, no. I’m not afraid of them. I hate them. One day, back when I was a kid, I was climbing this tree when I noticed this leaf walking towards me. It took forever for me to realize that it was no leaf.
Scully: A praying mantis?
Mulder: Yeah, I had a praying mantis epiphany and as a result, I screamed. And not, not a girlie scream, but the scream of someone being confronted by some before unknown monster that had no right existing on the same planet I inhabited. Did you ever notice how a praying mantis’ head resembles an alien’s head? The mysteries of the natural world were revealed to me that day but instead of being astounded I was repulsed.
Scully: Mulder… are you sure it wasn’t a girlie scream?

———————-

Dr. Ivanov: Anyone who thinks alien visitation will come not in the form of robots but of living beings with big eyes and grey skin has been brainwashed by too much science fiction.

———————-

Mulder: Scully, if an alien civilization were technologically advanced enough to build and send artificially intelligent robotic probes to the farthest reaches of space, might they not have also been able to perfect the extraction of methane fuel from manure? An abundant and replenishing energy source on a planet filled with dung-producing creatures?
Scully: Mulder, I think you’ve been in this town too long.

———————-

Scully: Let me guess… Bambi.
Dr. Berenbaum: Fox told me to wait out here while he checked inside first.
Scully: [Mouths] Fox.
Dr. Berenbaum: Should I come along with you?
Scully: [Loads gun] No. This is no place for an entomologist.

Guest Post – X-Files: A Shipper Guide, Part 3


*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 3 of her rundown on Mulder and Scully’s relationship in Season 1. You can check out parts 1 and 2 here 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!

Fire a.k.a the other woman pt 1

~ Care to take me to lunch?

                                – Scully (Fire)

We know of two relationships from Mulder’s past, both of them with sassy, independent women. We know short of nothing about Mulder’s relationships before he went to Oxford, there were references to one relationship Mulder had in his teens in the original script of Genderbender, but for some strange reason it was cut out from the episode.

Fire is the 12th episode of the first season. Up until that episode we had seen short of nothing about Mulder’s personal life. We had seen he had a passion for porn and that he was fascinated with the beast woman from New Jersey.

But we didn’t know about his actual love life…until Phoebe Greene[1] showed up.

I don’t like Phoebe Greene. I like her even less than I like Diana Fowley…and that’s saying a lot, since I used to hate Diana Fowley’s guts. At least, on some level Diana seemed to genuinely love Mulder, in a sick, twisted, very twisted way.

Phoebe Greene was a b****, pure and simple. She knew Mulder, she played him…she had hurt him in the past. She had cheated on him and from what Mulder said during the episode, he had probably seen her with other men.

Needless to say Scully hated her on sight. And for once, it wasn’t Scully being territorial, she was remarkably civil to the hag…she just plain hated her.

And I think she hated her for the same reasons I do. She was hurting Mulder: she was using his insecurities to mess with his head.

By that point, Scully knew that underneath his cocky behavior, his sometimes arrogant approach to things, Mulder was insecure. Granted, he was not the insecure mess fanon wanted him to be, but nonetheless he was insecure. Mulder needed to show he could take anything. The man had been a profiler, he had crawled inside the mind of serial killers and psychos and he had stayed strong.

He faced horrors everyday with his job on the X-Files: mutants who ate livers, brainwashings, young girls’ disappearances, beast women, intelligent computers, worms from outer space, ghosts, ghosts from Mars, OPR committees, evil kid twins….

And he was strong…he was confident; he was downright enthusiast of his job.

Until Phoebe showed up with a case, which focused on one of Mulder’s phobias: fire.

“You just keep unfolding like a flower”

I love Scully in this episode, and since there have been times where I have honestly despised her in latter seasons, that’s saying something.

She was a real partner to Mulder…and mostly a friend.

In my premise I said I’ve always believed Mulder and Scully fell for each other at first sight…but were they friends back in the first season?

One thing is what they had probably felt at first sight, something else altogether is when their rational minds caught up and smelled the coffee.

Despite what fanon claims, Mulder *is* rational. Just because his theories are a bit wild, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a rational bone in him.

So, yes, they were friends, but we’re talking about Mulder and Scully…so to have a verbal acknowledgment of their friendship, we had to wait for another season.

Before I go on talking about the events of Fire and the impact they had on M&S dynamic, there’s a digression needed to be made.

Partners, friends, constants and touchstones, lovers

Aka the impossibility to put a label on Mulder and Scully’s relationship

~ Do you have a … a significant other?

Mulder: Um, not in the widely understood definition of that term.

(From Chimera ep. 7×16)

Mulder and Scully are two private people. With their line of work, with what they went through during the series, labeling their relationship, giving a name to it, I think it would have meant to trivialize it, besides, it would be hard to do that. How can you label what they had?

I’ll try to explain and make sense of my theory.

Remember: I said I was obsessed with the X-Files, I said I am a shipper and I said I was delusional, ok?

In the first season, especially in its second half, Mulder and Scully stopped being just co-workers and became partners…and friends.

They already had strong feelings for each other, but they weren’t voiced; Scully said at the end of the season that she wouldn’t put herself on the line for anybody but Mulder (i.e. Tooms), Mulder became more and more protective of Scully…but to have a verbal acknowledgment of their friendship we had to wait for another year.

Mulder said out loud that Scully was his friend only in the second season, after her abduction, after her return. (i.e.. Firewalker). To hear Scully say the same thing, that Mulder was her friend, we had to wait another season, the third, after the events of Anasazi, Paper Clip (i.e. Revelations).

Now, you might probably think: “well, duh! They were stating the obvious!”

But when Mulder and Scully tried and put a label on their relationship, the term they used had usually deeper meanings.

They were in love with each other, but even the love they shared couldn’t fit into an established category.

Leaving aside Carter’s idiosyncrasy for the word “love”, which we have heard twice throughout the show, always said by Mulder: once playfully the other more seriously (i.e. Tooms and Triangle) I think the real reason why never the three magic words were uttered by our heroes has to do with the aforementioned possibility of trivializing such feelings.

Mulder indeed told Scully he loved her, once…but didn’t the way he cried at the end of One Breath scream of his love for her? Didn’t the way he held her in Irresistible bear the same meaning? Didn’t the Russian roulette in Pusher and how Mulder fought Modell’s grip when it came to his order to shoot at Scully? Didn’t the arm-chewing scene of Redux II? And we won’t even mention the damn hallway scene in Fight the future, shall we?

Action spoke more than words on the X-Files, and when words were said…they were always love declaration…the feelings were utterly explained.

But you saved me! As difficult and as frustrating as it’s been sometimes, your g**d*** strict rationalism and science have saved me a thousand times over! You’ve kept me honest … you’ve made me a whole person. I owe you everything … Scully, and you owe me nothing.

I don’t know if I wanna do this alone… I don’t even know if I can … and if I quit now, they win[2]

And

Scully, I was like you once— I didn’t know who to trust. Then I… I chose another path… another life, another fate, where I found my sister. The end of my world was unrecognizable and upside down. There was one thing that remained the same.

You… were my friend, and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant… my touchstone.

And you are mine.[3]

And

“It’s what I saw in you when we first met. It’s what made me follow you … why I’d do it all over again[4].”

As I said I’ve always believed that when either Mulder or Scully labeled their relationship for other people’s benefits they meant something else altogether, therefore partner meant friend *and* partner at work. Friend meant: my partner, she/he I’m in love with.

Notice how from the fourth season on they rarely, if ever, addressed their relationship.

When they were finally labeled as lovers, in the series finale, they were so much more than that. They were…well, I dread the word soul mates, but if ever there is something like that, I think it’s the only word that can barely cover their relationship.

Who, me…obsessed and hopelessly shipper? Well, heck, yes!

Fire aka the other woman pt2

As I said before the digression, Scully showed some real concern for Mulder, in the episode. It’s the first time we actually saw Scully as a friend, a protector to Mulder…on a more intimate aspect. Yes, she had saved his life time and again in the first episodes, just like he had, but the events of Fire were rather…personal, in a different way than those of Conduit.

I’ve always loved the scene following Mulder’s failed attempt to save those kids, Mulder was hurt and Scully rushed at him, and tried to see how he was doing, but he didn’t let her.

On a side note, compare this scene to any other similar scene from the fourth season on, to see how Mulder’s behavior changed. But, funnily enough, it’s not Mulder I want to talk about but Scully and the way she gently brushed Mulder’s forehead and looked as Phoebe, who only a few minutes before, was exploring Mulder’s tonsils and was pretty much ignoring him, gushing instead over Cecil L’Ively (played by the magnificent Mark Sheppard).

She just ignored Mulder.

Many have seen Scully’s reaction to the ballroom scene as one of jealousy, but I disagree.

We have seen Scully being jealous and in my opinion, she wasn’t. She was annoyed, she was frustrated, maybe…but she wasn’t jealous. She actually stayed and watched, compare this scene to other in other seasons, one common denominator has always been that she ran away, she didn’t want to face those scenes (cfr. Syzygy, The End, Alpha)

I love the scene where Mulder woke up, supposedly the day after. He was embarrassed, I love how Scully looked at Mulder, how she made sure hers was the first face he saw when he woke up.

Now, in the premise of this essay, if you want to call it an essay, I said I was going to try to stay as far away as humanly possible from fanon…

I’ve tried to stay as far away as humanly possible from fanwanking the scenes and the episodes…but just this once forgive me for doing that…

1)  Who undressed Mulder?

2) Did you notice that when Phoebe entered Mulder’s room, she was actually polite to Scully? And that Scully gave her the mothership of all the cold shoulders?

3) I’ve always thought that Phoebe Greene was the unfortunate – although deserving – recipient of one of Scully’s  b****fests!

Note how Mulder wasn’t in the least uncomfortable with Scully:  he was undressed, clad only in black, silk boxers, but he felt the need to cover himself, when Phoebe entered the room.

So…was I the only one who found this scene very telling? There was already a level of ease with Scully that lacked with Phoebe. And besides Mulder felt he didn’t need to shield himself from Scully…he trusted her, same thing couldn’t be said for Phoebe.

By the end of the episode we had another confirmation of how much the two partners already knew each other….could read each other. Scully said at the beginning of the episode that Mulder kept unfolding like a flower, yet she had no troubles seeing that there was something wrong when she went to the house of the family Phoebe was supposed to protect.

She didn’t know that Mulder had had a bad case of deja vu, when, entering the house, he had seen Phoebe kissing the man whose family she was supposed to protect.

In the end, Mulder had some kind of closure: he had walked through the fire and gotten over his fear and had chosen not to listen to the tape Phoebe had sent him. In the ballroom Phoebe  had said she had thought often about him, but he realized that Phoebe hadn’t really changed and after all that time, he finally got her out of his system and chose, instead, to go out for lunch with Scully – now, if only things with Diana had been that simple we’d have been spared the whole fiasco –

Oh, and he realized something else…something which was crystallized in a line which never made it to the episode. He told Scully he was ready to walk through the fire for her. At the time he was speaking metaphorically, but we have seen it happen. Mulder walked through the fire, through the ice…for Scully

He wasn’t alone. Not anymore.

Carter? You are a bastard…but damn, a talented one!


[1]                Played by Amanda Pays

[2]              Fight the future

[3]              Amor Fati

[4]              The truth

Little Green Men 2×1: Noho on the rojo.


That would be bad for the fish.

All the many times I’ve seen this episode I never realized it had a purpose. It seemed very much a waste to me since we learn nothing more by the end than we knew at the beginning. But that’s not the point. The point is for Mulder to reaffirm his faith in his quest despite all doors being shut in his face. The side-benefit is a history lesson on the Voyager space program.

At this juncture, Mulder is beaten down and world-weary. Gone is the exuberant, self-confident, annoyingly knowing agent we met in the “Pilot” (1×79). Instead, he’s been replaced by his paranoid, self-pitying twin brother. All Mulder’s hopes went away with the X-Files. This is the first time we’ve seen Mulder truly doubt himself. His Achilles heel is that he’s confident to a fault in his own conclusions. Also, this is the first time we hear Mulder express doubt about his abduction memories and about whether or not The Powers That Be, including the Senator, have been using him as a dupe all along. This is a seed of doubt that proves to be especially important in later seasons.

Another aspect of Mulder’s reboot is that now his quest is overtly tied to his friendship with Scully. Without her, he would have no support. And unless she had encouraged him, it’s doubtful whether he would have even picked up the baton again. But why does she bother?

Season one showed us that Scully pities Mulder and that’s part of what attracts her to his character. Her sympathy shows itself distinctly in episodes like “Fallen Angel” (1×9) and “Fire” (1×11). Here her pity and concern are out in full force and justifiably so. Mulder has been, in essence, demoted. He’s being unduly chastised by the FBI, no doubt thanks to CSM, and is on the verge of giving up his sacred mission. Scully, despite the fact that she doesn’t herself believe, would hate to see that happen. Mulder just wouldn’t be Mulder without his belief in little green men. Like George Hale, who cares if he’s delusional as long as he’s useful?

More important than sympathy, Scully is showing Mulder more overt displays of platonic (yes, platonic!) affection this season, which is quite a change from the last. I seem to remember learning in a 9th grade relationship class that in Western cultures, touching or playing with someone’s hair is actually a greater sign of intimacy than hand-holding. This is why it’s gesture that’s usually only reserved for close friends, relatives, and significant others. This is the reason I always get a kick out of Scully scratching Mulder’s head so casually and gently in the parking garage scene. It shows just how far they’ve come that she can take that liberty and it’s not even a big deal. There’s also a brief handhold of understanding in the last scene that they don’t even need to play up. Their solidarity doesn’t have to be put into words. That’s why I love these two. But in case you do need proof, Scully has the key to Mulder’s place.

Interestingly enough, when the episode opens, we’re not really sure where Mulder and Scully stand with each other now that they don’t have the X-Files to bind them. The way that the initial meeting between the two characters is shot is clever. It takes place in a dark, creepy garage after Mulder has what, ignored Scully? Rebuffed Scully? After a Summer’s hiatus (or in my case, 24 hours) the audience isn’t sure. Seeing each of them come out of the dark to face each other makes for a poignant moment. And once we get to Puerto Rico, is Mulder documenting the trip for himself? For proof? As a report for Senator Matheson? It’s a welcome surprise when we find out he’s been making this tape for Scully.

In other news, with Deep Throat dead, who’s going to carry the banner for the conspiracy? Skinner and CSM, that’s who. Already the dynamic is set up, CSM pulls Skinners strings, but Skinner is fully capable of whipping out a pair of scissors without warning. He clearly cares about Mulder, but how much? Enough to risk the ire of CSM? I guess we’ll see.

On the Allied side, we’ve heard about Mulder’s political connections, now we get to meet one of them. So Mulder’s been dealing with a senator powerful enough to hold off a UFO retrieval team and wear suspenders? One wonders why he even needs Mulder if he already knows more than he does. He’s not an informant like Deep Throat. He’s not a puppeteer like CSM. So what is he? Will we ever know?

Conclusion:

In a way, this is a very successful episode in that it accomplishes what it set out to do. Mulder has gone from Weary Wanderer to Passionate Pursuer again over the course of a single episode. The problem is that while Mulder is reaffirmed, the audience isn’t. “Little Green Men” doesn’t capture the urgency that “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (1×23) left off with. The overarching plot has hit a temporary lull while Chris Carter plans the genius that will be Scully’s abduction.

Speaking of Scully, she’s the true star of this episode. She proves she’s more than just a scientist in the autopsy room when she waxes poetic, she’s a sensitive soul. She goes to the edge of the earth, or the edge of the USA, anyway, to rescue her friend. And she fools a network of surveillance with such grace that over a decade later I’m still nodding my head and thinking, “My girl Scully.” She plays that fish bit with such genuine indignation that I’m forced to conclude that Scully missed her calling. No lab coat or FBI badge for her. She should’ve been an actress.

Other than moments of Scully-worship, we get some touching M&S interactions in this episode, and that’s about all that’s worth tuning in for. There just isn’t enough action, drama or intrigue here to make my world go round. I don’t dislike this episode, but I don’t choose to watch it very often. And when I do, there’s a lot of fast-forwarding involved.

C

P.S. Mulder flat out confirms that he hates being suspicious of people. I knew it all along.

Head Scratchers:

If, as Mulder reveals, Deep Throat had a funeral at Arlington, then not only must he have military/political ties that can be investigated, but wouldn’t Mulder have had to figure out his identity in order to spy on the funeral? Why does that never come up again?

If Mulder was trying to beat a UFO recovery team to the punch, where was the downed UFO?

Scully says that Mulder looked like Deep Throat from “back there.” Just how far back was he??

Here nor There:

The budget must be much better this season. The interior of the Hoover building has gotten a facelift and it no longer looks like a 1-800 call center.

Mulder hadn’t given up hope on a romance quite yet. Or maybe the woman on the answering machine is exaggerating when she says he “hounded” her. The beaten down Mulder we’re reintroduced to at the beginning of the episode looks like he can barely get out a proper “Good morning” let alone ask someone out. Or maybe he’s dating because the X-Files have been shut down and he has no choice but to live a normal life. I’d place my bets on that last option. Once Scully and Senator Matheson light the fire underneath him again, off he goes without so much as a warning.

Also, the woman on Mulder’s answering machine sounds suspiciously like the handwriting specialist from “Young at Heart” (1×15). I wouldn’t think he would’ve had to hound her for a date considering how available she made herself.

Our re-introduction to Mulder after last season’s finale (if you don’t count the opening voiceover) is a pile of sunflower seeds. Perfect.

The flashback of Samantha’s abduction varies greatly from what we heard Mulder recount under hypnosis in “Conduit” (1×3).

This episode features The X-Files’ first opening monologue, and it’s a doozy. It’s so broad and philosophical that if I didn’t know better, I’d peg Mulder as a poet rather than an FBI agent. Fortunately, David Duchovny delivers the lines in his sleepy monotone rather than with Shakespearean grandeur. It’s counter intuitively more believable that way. Later on, Agent Scully would prove just as verbally dexterous in her own opening monologues. But I’m jumping ahead again.

 

Best Quotes:

 

Mulder: Four dollars for the first hour of parking is criminal. What you got better be worth at least forty-five minutes…

———————

Scully: You know, Mulder, from… from back there you look like him.
Mulder: Him?
Scully: Deep Throat.

———————

Mulder: No, Jorge, don’t touch that red button. Noho on the Roho.

———————

Mulder: That’s hard, Scully. Suspecting everyone, everything. It wears you down. You even begin to doubt what you know is the truth. Before I could only trust myself. Now I can only trust you. And they’ve taken you away from me.

———————

Mulder: I may not have the X-Files Scully but I still have my work. I still have you. I still have myself.

EBE 1×16: Don’t stop swimming.


Exit. Stage Right.

I’m going to step out into precarious territory here and say that I think Fox Mulder is a naturally trusting fellow. Don’t believe me? Well, he certainly trusts Deep Throat without question. He lets Jerry and Phoebe back into his life in “Ghost in the Machine” (1×6) and “Fire” (1×11) respectively. And most of all, in the “Pilot” (1×79), he’s skeptical of his skeptical partner and yet he reaches out to her anyway… in hope. What hope? Hope that he can trust her.

This is all a part of Mulder’s tendency to naturally give trust based on his instincts. And once he believes in a person he’s reluctant to throw that trust away unless given a significant reason to do so. He does that with Skinner in “Redux II” (5×2), Diana Fowley in multiple episodes. And here we see him live out the same pattern with Deep Throat. Has Deep Throat ever given him any hard reason to trust him? As Scully points out: not really. But since he hasn’t given any particular reason to distrust him either, Mulder is inclined to think the best of him.

The man is a sensitive soul at heart. There’s a reason he’s downright gullible sometimes. He wants to believe, not only in aliens and the paranormal, but in people too. Unfortunately, this idealism doesn’t serve him well and he grows progressively cynical and distrustful as time marches on. Still, even as of Season 6 he’s reluctant to suspect anyone he has a history or relationship with. That’s my theory and I’m stickin’ to it.

Regardless, as usual, Mulder’s gut instincts are right. Deep Throat is on his side. But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t mislead him for the sake of his own agenda. As Mulder eventually learns, the only one he can count on, the only one who doesn’t have their own agenda tied up in a musty closet somewhere, is Scully. It’s not that Scully is the only one he would trust, rather, as the mythology spreads out, she’s the only one he can trust. All other options and allegiances are taken from him. There’s food for thought. Chew on that cud.

Whatever the reason he trusts Scully, if we were ever unsure before now we know that Mulder truly does rely on her. He even switches from saying “me” to “us” by the end of the episode. How does he put it? Deep Throat “tried to deceive us.” They’re a team on this. Finally. Now Scully is in on the conspiracy for the first time whereas before she was clueless on the outskirts. I mentioned before that there is a moment in Beyond the Sea that could possibly be considered the moment when Mulder and Scully become Mulder and Scully. Well, this is the second contender.

Scully, on her part, finally admits that it’s Mulder’s passion she admires. And truthfully, their relationship follows the outline of this exchange for much of the rest of their partnership. Scully knows the world is out to get Mulder and she’s trying to keep the world at bay. Mulder wants to jump off the deep end and Scully desperately tries to rein him in for his own good. He wants to believe too much, she’s too reluctant to believe… world without end, amen.

One thing I never appreciated properly before when it comes to “EBE” is its subtlety. Take the interchange of the cup back sliding back and forth on the interrogation table between Scully and the truck driver. A lesser show would have put too much emphasis on it with close ups on the actors’ drawn out, exaggerated reactions and such. The X-Files just lets it sit there for you to notice it or not. Same thing when Scully receives the bugged pen. Never, ever had I caught that bit about the pen at the rent-a-car agency. Not only that, I didn’t even catch it during the re-watch for the review. I was enjoying myself so much that halfway through I rewound the episode to the beginning to savor it even more and that’s when I caught it. How sad is that? Feel free at this point to dismiss all the rest of my reviews as obviously my powers of observation encountered kryptonite somewhere along the way.

However, I don’t need any particular powers of observation for this next part. Not enough can be said about the introduction of the Lone Gunmen and the way it’s underplayed. Once again, there are no exaggerated, lingering close-ups. I could almost wish we had more time to watch the characters respond to one another, but in the end I prefer it this way. It’s funny to think that Morgan and Wong initially thought that they had somehow missed the mark in the depiction of these three amigos. Thankfully, nothing could be further from reality. They are a nerd’s joy and a geek’s delight. And so is this entire episode.

And the Verdict is…

I really, really enjoyed watching “EBE” this time around. Maybe it’s the beauty of hindsight, who knows? Being aware of what happens at the end of the series certainly makes the beginning more poignant, not to mention it makes me feel like a bit of a wise old owl superciliously dropping knowing nods in the characters’ directions. Whatever the more primitive psychological reason, the acting and directing here points to the extreme possibility of this turning into a dang good series. If there’s any disappointment in this episode it’s that it didn’t have time to develop both the characters’ relationships and the conspiracy. We really don’t learn much about the government conspiracy except that it exists. Oh, and that Scully seems to have started believing in it too, minus the part about aliens, of course. One can’t have it all.

We finally see the mythology start to blink its sleepy eyes. It’s not quite awake yet, but it’s peeking!

A

P.S. If that’s not enough, check out the obscene amount of quotable moments I felt compelled to tag onto the end of this review.

Little Nags:

Roswell being lumped in with the Tuskeegee experiments? Really, Mulder??

The spaceship parts are supposed to be making this truck heavy, right? After all, little green men don’t weigh 2 tons. That’s why we say they’re “little.” And if the truck is overloaded with spaceship pieces, how is Mulder shoving these boxes around like they’re full of Styrofoam popcorn? Moreover, if those are car part decoys, where are the alien gizmos?

When did Mulder learn where Scully lives? For that matter, how did he know where she lived during “Squeeze” (1×3)?? I can’t exactly see them hanging out with each other on the weekends at this point. Maybe he picked her up on the way to the airport before or something.

How did the grandmotherly covert agent fit the pen properly with the bugging device without knowing what pen Scully would use ahead of time? It hardly looks like the expensive type of pen that you’d keep your eye on.

General Observations:

Scully doesn’t use nearly enough creamer in her coffee.

Did Mulder and Scully spend their own personal money on those extra plane tickets? Talk about conviction for a cause.

After Mulder’s touching declaration of blind trust does Deep Throat feel guilty? We hope so.

Aliens abduct humans out of their beds yet they can’t abduct one of their own out of a truck before the government gets to him?

Did anyone else notice that at the beginning of their interview of the truck driver Mulder had his leg up on the table? He really has always been like that.

Mulder totally saw that $20 bill thing coming.

This is the second time that Mulder and Scully have been blinded eyewitnesses to an alien abduction. Of course, this is the first time an alien is the abductee…

Best Quotes:

Scully: From the trucker’s description, the shape he fired on could conceivably have been a mountain lion.
Mulder: Conceivably.
Scully: The National Weather Service last night reported atmospheric conditions in this area that were possibly conducive to lightning.
Mulder: Possibly.
Scully: It is feasible that the truck was struck by lightning, creating the electrical failure.
Mulder: It’s feasible.
Scully: And you know, there’s a marsh over there. The lights the driver saw may have been swamp gas.
Mulder: Swamp gas?
Scully: It’s a natural phenomenon in which phospine and methane rising from decaying organic matter ignite, creating globes of blue flame.
Mulder: Happens to me when I eat Dodger Dogs.

————-

Byers: Vladmir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Russian Social Democrats? He’s being put into power by the most heinous and evil force of the 20th century.
Mulder: Barney?

————-

Deep Throat: Mulder, if the shark stops swimming it will die. Don’t stop swimming.

————-

Langly: Is this your skeptical partner?
Frohike: She’s hot.
Byers: You don’t believe that the CIA, threatened by a loss of power and funding, because of the collapse of the cold war, wouldn’t dream of having the old enemy back?
Scully: I think you give the government too much credit. I mean, the government can’t control the deficit or manage crime. What makes you think they can plan and execute such an elaborate conspiracy?
Frohike: She is hot.
Mulder: Settle down, Frohike.

————

Scully: Those were the most paranoid people I have ever met. I don’t know how you could think that what they say is even remotely plausible.
Mulder: I think it’s remotely plausible that someone might think you’re hot.

————

Byers: That’s why we like you, Mulder. You’re ideas are weirder than ours.

————

Scully: Please, will you just hear me? I have never met anyone so passionate and dedicated to a belief as you. It’s so intense that sometimes it’s blinding. But there are others who are watching you, who know what I know, and where as I can respect and admire your passion, they will use it against you. Mulder, the truth is out there… but so are lies.

———–

Deep Throat: You’re awfully quiet, Mr. Mulder.
Mulder: I’m wondering which lie to believe.

Lazarus 1×14: The plot thickens.


Time to take a personal day.

If I compare Lazarus to the previous episode, “Gender Bender” (1×13), then the show has improved in quality. So why don’t I enjoy it as much? Even though this is a solid episode with good performances, it somehow remains less than memorable. It’s still a far sight better than most of the episodes in the first half of the season and is a part of the general trend upward in quality that we see during the second half of Season 1. This may mark the first time where we see more of an episode from the guest character’s POV than either Mulder or Scully’s. Not that I’ve counted screen time or anything, but we definitely see a significant portion of the action from Dupre/Willis’ perspective. Does it help or hurt? I’m not sure. At least it adds a new dimension to the show and paves the way for more substantial guest spots later on. Maybe if we had seen some of “Fire“(1×11) from Phoebe Green’s POV…

What was meant to make this episode is part of what keeps its characters at a distance: Dupre/Willis’ love for Lula feels cloying rather than passionate. Desperate love could’ve worked if they had pulled it off. However, for it to work we would have to feel it and understand it rather than just see it. Why is Dupre so connected to Lula? What is it about her that makes him dependent on her? We don’t really get a chance to experience their chemistry. And if this relationship is so deep, why can’t he see that it isn’t co-dependent; that she doesn’t care for him as much as he does her? If we had seen Lula at least feign passion in return, maybe we could have bought it. As it is, she looks reluctant and disengaged even in the teaser. I understand that she’s probably feeling guilty about her betrayal, hence her quiet, but if so then where did the guilt go by the end of the episode? Later on she betrays Dupre/Willis with relish and without an ounce of hesitation.

On to the true dynamic duo, Scully is once again confronted with the paranormal in her personal life, but the conclusion is up to interpretation and Mulder wisely lets her come to that conclusion on her own. At least we know he’s coming to understand her. But then there goes that “Dana” again… I suppose this is meant to be our clue that Scully being missing is personal for Mulder. It’s unnecessary. It’s already touching that Mulder would stand up in front of a group of men who are skeptical of his every thought and give an emotionally vulnerable plea for them to find someone who was already more than a partner to him. And on that note, I can’t be the only one to find it ironic that in later seasons Mulder’s emotional state in regards to Scully bears more than a passing resemblance to Dupre’s desperate dependence on Lula. OK, Mulder doesn’t turn into a homicidal maniac. But there are definitely moments when you feel like he would turn into a homicidal maniac if something were to happen to Scully.

And the Verdict is…

If socially alienated Mulder has an ex-lover, why wouldn’t Scully?

We see them only for the briefest of moments together at the beginning of the episode, after that, Scully never truly sees Jack Willis again. This makes it hard to gauge the merits of their relationship based on interaction. We can only go by what we’ve already seen of Scully’s relationship with her father and by Scully later observes about herself and men in “Never Again” (4×13). I can’t say that Lazarus really delves into Scully’s psychology like “Beyond the Sea“(1×12), but it does build on what “Beyond the Sea” started in that because of her relationship with her father, Scully has a natural attachment to men in authority. Jack Willis, after all, had been her instructor at the academy.

One thing Scully never expressly admits but that we can surmise between her relationships with both Willis and Mulder is that Scully is apparently into guys who are restless and obsessive. So Scully likes authority and at the same time perversely enjoys bending the rules. What was that story Boggs told about a little girl smoking cigarettes?? Reading between the lines, it was probably Willis’ single-minded obsession that destroyed their relationship. (This is where the ominous music comes in.) One day, when Scully writes her autobiography, I’m sure I’ll be proven right.

If I were to pinpoint a weakness, “Lazarus” suffers from a plot that’s dependent on relationships it didn’t have the time to establish. An altogether solid episode, just not one for the books.

B+

Nagging Questions:

Why does Lula even help him steal the medicine in the first place if she only plans to let him die? Talk about a waste of energy.

We’re supposed to believe that this audio expert drags all this heavy equipment down to the basement office rather than Mulder just going to him?

Why is no one concerned about the X-File within an X-File? Willis’ heart stopped beating for 13 minutes yet he bounces back like a jackrabbit with no signs of brain damage or even physical weakness. They should study him for the cure for cancer.

On that note, why would Scully, a doctor who understands the consequences and a woman practical by nature, attempt to bring Willis back after 13 minutes of no oxygen flowing to his brain? Wouldn’t she assume he’d be a vegetable?

I’m not so sure this criminal could step into the role of FBI agent so easily. And just how did he know about Willis’ passion for catching them? How does he know it’s the biggest case of Willis’ career? Had they run up against him before? Had they ever exchanged words? If so, it’s never indicated. Once he escaped, sans clothes, from the hospital, how did he figure out Willis’ name and address?

General Observations:

Did I just hear the words “alien virus”?

Is the Maryland Marine Bank a precursor to the later Craddock Marine Bank in “Monday” (6×15)?

Mulder’s testing of Willis comes off as a bit callous, especially considering he’s aware of Scully’s history with the man at this point.

What’s with Scully being a magnet for dangerous men with tattoos?

The random guest scientist every episode is later replaced by go-to guys. I’m looking forward to Pendrell.

This has nothing to do with anything, but I love the name Lula.

Best Quotes:

Professor Varnes: Well the pilot became increasingly disoriented, schizophrenic his doctor claims. Until one day, he strangled his wife… with an extension cord.
Mulder: [Exchanges a glance with Scully] It’s a nice story.

———-

Agent Bruskin: Mulder says he’s got something.
Agent: What? An alien virus, or new information on the Kennedy assassination?
Agent Bruskin: Hey, Mulder’s all right. Just pay attention, you might learn something from the man.