Tag Archives: Gender Bender

The Gift 8×11: Are you calling Mulder a liar?


thegift015

Sniffle.

We’ve had a string of episodes I don’t care for and they culminate in this, “The Gift”. I warn you here and now that I have mixed feelings about it. That said, maybe because I’ve been so bored lately, or maybe because I missed Mulder more than I realized, but seeing his face in the opening teaser is such a joy and relief. In fact, I may have teared up a little.

I used to think I hated “The Gift” but I realize now that isn’t true. I only have one problem with the gift, it’s just a really, really big problem: The entire premise rests on a storyline I despise. That’s right. Not only is Mulder missing, even if he weren’t missing, he’d be dead or dying. Mulder has a deadly brain disease that he never saw fit to tell a soul about. So go ahead, steal Mulder back from the aliens. His eventual death remains inevitable.

I’ve already expressed my opinions on this ridiculous, horrible, abomination of a distraction from the primary plot in my review for “Within” (8×1). It went a little like this.

“It’s not enough that Mulder’s gone, you’ve gotta ruin the memories too? Stop retroactively killing what little joy I found in Season 7! He was happy in Season 7! This doesn’t even fit the timeline!

Let me try to get this straight. In Season 7, Mulder and Scully are sleeping together, but she has no idea he’s traveling nearly four hundred miles round trip every weekend. Mulder’s dying of an incurable disease, but devastated as he was when his mother killed herself after hiding her illness, he plans to keep his disease a secret from Scully. Scully and Mulder are happy as clams almost all of Season 7, but what we didn’t know was that Mulder was merely hiding his suffering. He was showing “clear signs of decline” but they didn’t catch that when Mulder went to the hospital in “Signs and Wonders” (7×9) and “Brand X” (7×19), just to name a couple of times. Things are so dire that he already had his name etched on the family grave stone. And all this he manages to hide from Scully, a doctor so brilliant she can diagnose nearly any disease from a single symptom despite never having practiced medicine.

I call revisionist BS.”

My feelings remain unchanged.

So now we’re back to that, are we? Doggett has suddenly and conveniently remembered that X-Files assignment aside, he’s still charged with the task of finding Mulder. He remembers just as the audience is starting to grow restless… though I’m sure the timing of this episode and bringing David Duchovny back had nothing to do with that… or with February sweeps.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. The thought of Mulder dying makes me cranky, that’s all.

Let me focus on the positives because, as I said, I don’t hate this episode the way I thought I did.

Like #1: Skinner and Doggett make a good team.

Every thundercloud has its rainbow and the rainbow in the storm of Mulder’s disappearance is Skinner. Our dear A.D. needed to get out more and it’s good to see him investigating a case again. This is a trend that started towards the end of Season 7 with “Brand X” and “Requiem” (7×22) and I see no reason for it to stop. Besides, he and Doggett have more onscreen chemistry than Scully and Doggett. They genuinely challenge each other instead of just assuming the position.

If we’re going to lose Scully for an episode and have an abundance of untempered testosterone, then I’m glad it went down like this. I would hate to see her absence wasted.

Like #2: The monster is unsettling.

And so are the monstrously selfish humans. Yes, the monster is gross, but more than anything it makes you wonder how far you yourself would go if you found yourself incurably ill, if you could live with saving yourself at the expense of someone else’s pain. Are the suffering entitled to the sin-eater’s help? Is their desperation excusable?

There’s a Christlike allegory in here somewhere…

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a Man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:3-5 (NIV)

The difference is that while Christ died willingly, the sin-eater has no choice. He’s dying a constant death because no one is brave enough to bear their own suffering, not when there’s someone else who can pay the price instead.

It may sound like I’m pulling this out of nowhere, but I think this is actually a parallel that writer Frank Spotnitz wanted us to see, especially in the scene of Mrs. Hangemuhl’s deliverance.

Watching the sin-eater stretch its mouth to eat her alive while her husband recites The Lord’s Prayer in the background, I’ll admit it’s pretty disturbing. It’s supposed to be.

Like #3: Mulder makes sense.

His dying makes no sense, but if he were dying, it would be completely in character for Mulder to destroy the means of his own salvation if by doing so he could save someone else.

One thing the series has lost sight of as of late is the original vision Chris Carter had of Mulder and Scully as romantic heroes, and I do mean romantic in the literary sense. Their main purpose is to seek the truth and to do right even if it costs them. To that end, Scully was originally imbued with a strong sense of justice, Mulder with compassion. Sometimes Mulder empathizes with victims to an almost frustrating extent, but that’s who he is. He’s a compassionate human being who would rather die than force someone else to suffer for him.

Heck, when Scully was dying in “Redux II” (5×2) he wouldn’t let her take the blame for his killing a man who was spying on him. He wouldn’t let her reputation suffer for him even though she wouldn’t be alive to feel it. That’s my Mulder.

Like #4: Doggett bonds with Mulder.

This is The X-Files. You don’t ever have to have met to develop a spiritual connection.

Somehow, despite having been a confirmed skeptic as recently as the last episode, Doggett puts together the pieces of this case so well you would think he was reading from Mulder’s playbook. While that does move my eyebrow up toward my hairline a tad, I’m glad that if Doggett finally experienced the paranormal in his own person, it’s Mulder who led him there. Mulder is the emotional and spiritual center of the X-Files, which started out as the expression and fulfilment of his own passion, the vehicle for his quest. He’s the one who initiated Scully on this journey of discovery, and it’s only fitting that he should initiate Doggett, even if it’s in his absence.

Doggett also finishes what Mulder was trying to do. Through Doggett’s death he saves the sin-eater. Ah, there’s that cycle again: death – resurrection – salvation.

In saving the sin-eater an emotional link is created between Mulder and Doggett. Mulder shoots it to save it, Doggett stands up for it and is shot. I’ve avoided this episode for so long that I didn’t remember the ending. I had forgotten that Doggett died and came back. I like it.

Mulder’s a good man. John Doggett’s a good man too.

Verdict:

I’m both relieved that they brought Mulder back and more than slightly resentful that they brought him back this way and to serve the purposes of this storyline. But it is what it is and if it has to be, at least “The Gift” makes better use of the characters than the last several episodes.

Well, most of the characters. Mulder could’ve remained completely unseen and the story wouldn’t have suffered at all.

For the love of all that is Scully, stop wasting David Duchovny’s eleven episodes!!!

A-

The Peanut Gallery:

All this time and no one had given Mulder’s apartment a proper search before?

So, in order to be healed, you get eaten and come back as monster vomit.

The monster vomit and the yellowish underground caves remind me of “Gender Bender” (1×13). That was my very first episode of The X-Files.

We’re getting so much of the Lone Gunmen this season that I’m starting to feel spoiled. Another silver lining to the Mulder is Missing rainbow.

There’s a great shot director Kim Manners does in the hospital scene. We can see Mr. and Mrs. Hangemuhn lovingly celebrating her recovery in Doggett’s reflection. That’s a beautiful shot.

That rustic woman’s accent throws me off.

Best Quotes:

Byers: We learned what we could. This is somewhat short notice, of course.

Frohike: And a little outside our area of expertise.

Langly: Plus the fact we were sleeping.

Doggett: You wearing pants, Langly?

Langly: Uh… yeah.

 

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Avatar 3×21: I’m not signing those papers.


Little Red Riding Hood.

“Avatar” is one of those few episodes where we open with one of our stars instead of just an X-File itself. A rare honor indeed and here it is bestowed upon Skinner so relatively early in the series. He also bears the dubitable honor of participating in the first real sex scene on The X-Files in said intro. Needless to say, things quickly go awry and he wakes up next to a beautiful blonde who looks like she just crawled out of The Exorcist.

Ah, Skinner. Finally a follow up look at his inner workings heretofore only briefly hinted at in “One Breath” (2×8). Here’s a silent yet sensitive man who is reluctant to give up on his marriage, so instead of signing his divorce papers he goes for a drink… and sleeps with a strange woman… because he’s reluctant to give up on his marriage.

Wait. Skinner’s married?

That’s right. Walter Skinner has been married for 17 years. It looks like the reason he has Scully down as his emergency contact in “Apocrypha” (3×16) is because he and his wife have been separated for some months. Skinner/Scully shippers may suffer vain imaginations at their own peril. From the sound of things the only reason for the separation is the typical “he doesn’t talk to me anymore” issue. The prostitute doesn’t come in until later…

…the prostitute that CSM hired through one of his minions. It’s nice to see that the bad blood between CSM and Skinner is still festering; it adds a sense of continuity to the episode. That and the fact that Skinner further elaborates on the story of his near-death death experience that he first told Mulder about in “One Breath”. It turns out that along with nearly walking into the white light, he had a bit of a visitation. Which leads me to the crux of this little review.

I used to wonder why this episode is called “Avatar” which in Hindu mythology is a human incarnation of a deity when the paranormal star of the episode is a “Succubus.” Thanks to a single sentence of insight in an IMDB review I think I finally figured out the connection.

The old woman that Skinner keeps seeing is not a sexually possessive and dangerous succubus as Mulder initially suggests, she’s his wife, Sharon… who is actually an avatar. She’s his protector. She protected him from death in Vietnam, now she’s protecting him from the machinations of CSM. It’s the same creature, but for years she either was or took the form of his wife. Once his wife was separated from him, she came to him in dreams. It isn’t until they separate that she begins coming to him in dreams again. When he sees the old woman at the police station, it’s because Sharon has shown up. When he wakes up on the couch to see the old woman screaming, the police come to the door to tell him that Sharon’s been in an accident. This is why Sharon somehow knows what CSM has been up to and what Skinner needs to do to stop the man who framed him.

See how simple that sounds when it’s all laid out? Yeah, it’s too bad the episode doesn’t do that.

Now, we all know that The X-Files likes to err on the side of vagueness and that’s what we love about it. But take it from “Gender Bender” (1×13), leaving the audience completely nonplussed is never the way to go. The plot goes well right up through where Mulder’s succubus theory enters the picture, but there’s no follow-through after that. Which is why most are generally left with the incorrect impression that Mulder was right in his assumption even though he briefly mentions in passing that he must have guessed wrong.

And finally…

The lingering question is what happened to Sharon Skinner? I would say that she died. Whether or not they intended to imply that at the time, I don’t know. But nothing else could explain why she never shows up again even though Skinner puts his ring back on at the end of the episode. Besides, would you divorce your guardian angel? Not only that, but even within the context of the episode her sudden, miraculous awakening goes unnoticed by the hospital staff who would have been monitoring her from the nursing station. More than likely this is a moment only visible to Skinner because she’s his personal avatar. There’s a deleted scene that takes place just before Skinner spills his guts to an unconscious Sharon that would lend credence to the theory that she was all set to recover. But if so, where did she go? Her disappearance equals a de facto death regardless.

Overall, this episode is much, much better than I remembered. However, it’s still too convoluted to be called “great” and there isn’t much by way of scares or revelations. Also, as we’ve already gone over, little to nothing of the plot is clear by the end.

Mitch Pileggi does an admirable job here, though, and he deserved a Skinner-centered episode. Apparently, this was David Duchovny’s idea as a way of giving himself a break for a week, though it turns out his character is still in almost every scene. He and Howard Gordon teamed up for the story and while I don’t hate the finished product, I do wish that Skinner felt like more of a headliner and less of a bystander in his own story. Most of the episode is spent watching Mulder and Scully solve the case while he sits idly by and watches his world unravel. But hey, at least he’s the hero in the end.

B-

Comments:

This is yet another episode where Mulder’s theory is completely off. She’s not a succubus, she’s an avatar. So there. There are so few of these moments that I have to keep track.

Once again, despite all evidence to the contrary, once Mulder has faith in someone he refuses to let go. The man is inherently trusting. I’m telling you.

Like “Oubliette” (3×8), this is another episode where the supernatural element isn’t evil. In fact, this time it’s a force for good, albeit a slightly frightening one.

Best Quotes:

Lorraine Kelleher: I don’t know what to say.
Scully: Well you can start by telling us if she was working last night and if she was, who paid for her company.
Lorraine Kelleher: I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Mulder: I guess that would hurt future book sales, huh?
Lorraine Kelleher: You’d be surprised who some of my clients are.
Mulder: No, I don’t think I would be.
Scully: I also doubt that they’d want to get entangled in a homicide investigation
Mulder: Look, we just need one name from you. Who hired Carina Sayles?
Lorraine Kelleher: Let’s just say you both work for the government… and so do I.

———————

Skinner: I got through that experience like most eighteen-year-olds. By numbing myself with whatever was around. I was no choir boy. I inhaled.

———————

Mulder: They used us to do it, didn’t they? They used the X-Files.
Scully: How’s you know?
Mulder: Cause I think Skinner’s been outmaneuvered, Scully. They found a weakness and they’re exploiting it.
Scully: But why?
Mulder: To keep us it check. You remove Skinner and you weaken us.

———————-

Skinner: I had to tell you, Sharon, before anything else happens. I’m not signing those papers. For a lot of reasons. Most of them I’m just realizing myself for the first time. Some of the things I’ve seen, the violence and the lies that I’ve witnessed men inflict on one another… I could never tell you that. Not that I ever stopped believing in the work, but there were contradictions that I, that I couldn’t reconcile, which meant shutting down part of myself just to do my job. I never told you what I should have told you… that what really got me through each day was knowing that I’d be sleeping next to you that night. Knowing that I had a reason to wake up in the morning. I’m not sure if you can even hear me now or if it even makes a difference to you anymore, but I at least wanted you to know that.

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

Irresistible 2×13: I’ll pay extra if that’s something out of the ordinary.


I’m sorry, did that fangirl squeal come from me?

[Disclaimer: The following is the work of a rabid fan and does not necessarily express the opinions of Mulder and Scully, 1013 productions, or anyone else with a modicum of sense. The writer understands that none of the above were on the Good Ship this early on in the series but, by the Grace of God, all later came to see the error of their Noromo ways.]

I have to warn you, dearest reader, that this is bound to fail. I am emotionally incapable of giving a sound and objective review of this episode.

If you’ve been reading my reviews carefully… and I know who you are… you already know a bit of my X-Files autobiography. The first glimpse I got of The X-Files was “Gender Bender” (1×13) and I was intrigued. I tuned in and out after that but once I saw “Darkness Falls” (1×19) I tried not to miss an episode. It wasn’t until “Irresistible”, however, that I became a Phile in its most extreme definition. I was literally jumping up and down with joy by the end yelling, “I love this show!” to my poor family’s befuddlement. Over-enthusiastic? Possibly.

“Irresistible” is about as close to a straight police procedural as The X-Files ever got. It says something that a series about the paranormal doesn’t have to rely on shock value to give us a memorable episode. The show has now reached such a level that it doesn’t even have to give us an actual X-File. A creepy villain and a chance to get inside Agent Scully’s head for 45 minutes is more than sufficient for quality television. There’s only the merest hint that there may be more to Donnie Pfaster than meets the naked eye, and even that may have only been in Scully’s head. As Scully says in her voiceover, it’s easier to believe in monsters of the supernatural kind than in human ones.

There have been some complaints from fans over the years that Scully is reduced to the role of the “Damsel in Distress” in this episode, waiting for Mulder to save her from the big, bad boogey man. I beg to differ. Scully was abducted and left for dead only some months back. Instead of taking time off to work through the inevitable psychological trauma, Scully jumps right back into the job. In fact, if the series’ timeline is to be believed, she goes back to work about a week after being in a coma. Riddle me that.

My point is that Scully has some issues waiting to be dealt with, issues of her own mortality and vulnerability that she’s put off for far too long. The fact that she’s having a hard time with the death and desecration of these young women is only natural, it doesn’t make her weak. That’s a lesson that Scully needs to learn. Trying to be a big girl in a boy’s club at the F.B.I. has cost her. Even strong, intelligent women need a shoulder to cry on sometimes. Finally, she allows herself to openly depend on Mulder without fear of what others will think of her… or what she may think of herself. Like “Beyond the Sea” (1×12) before it, this episode emotionally invests the audience in Scully’s personal journey. How could Chris Carter have ever denied that this show was primarily about the characters?

If this episode has any flaw it’s that you have to stretch your imagination fairly far to feel the same horror at Pfaster’s crimes that the characters do. Pfaster represents a serial killer of Jeffrey Dahmer’s ilk, which is alluded to in the episode itself. The problem is that Dahmer’s atrocities were still too taboo for network television at the time. Consequently, Pfaster’s character morphs from a necrophiliac into a “Death Fetishist”, a man who only takes benign souvenirs from the dead. Call me callous, but I’m more horrified by atrocities committed on the living. Not that I’m complaining, truthfully. I rather miss the days when TV didn’t spell everything out in graphic detail. This episode addresses its subject matter in a roundabout manner and that’s about as close as I ever want to get. It’s just that the writing requires the viewer to make the jump and connect the dots as to what’s really going on. Scully isn’t having a visceral reaction because of fingernail clippings.

…And the Verdict is:

Now that we’ve discussed some of how awesome this episode is in its awesomeness, can we talk about Mulder and Scully here for a minute? I realize that Mulder and Scully aren’t shipping, but I’m shipping. Noromos, consider yourselves warned.

[gush]This episode is when my Ship sailed. Not that I wasn’t rooting for Mulder and Scully before, but previous to this I thought that Mulder and Scully were just supposed to happen, that the writers had written them that way and I, as the viewer, was just waiting for the inevitable to be revealed. I cared but within decent proportions. “Irresistible” changed all that. I went from vaguely interested to unhealthily invested with one flicker of Scully’s eyelashes. Honestly, how could you be immune??[/gush]

Stepping away from Shippiness for a moment, just as friends and partners, Mulder’s quiet concern for Scully here is everything it should be. He spends the entire episode watching her with knowing eyes. I don’t know how Scully thought she could avoid his notice. He’s not Oxford educated in Psychology for nothing. Mulder may have his faults but being an indifferent to Scully is not one of them.

Mulder isn’t just giving her the “Let me know if you want to talk” speech. He’s not “a shoulder if you need it.” He’s not waiting passively, he’s looking for an opportunity to help her. He wisely doesn’t force the issue but you can see him shrewdly looking for a sign that she’s ready to let him comfort her. Again, if you look back at “Beyond the Sea”, Mulder does reach out to Scully but it’s more the passive sort of comfort that I just described. There he gave the impression of someone who’s concerned, but here he’s not just concerned, he’s invested. They’ve moved on to where they’re not just there for each other, they can trust each other to share the other’s weakness. Doesn’t everyone need a friend like that?

There’s a great difference between someone who lets you hold their hand when you’re afraid and someone who grabs your hand back. When it comes to Scully, Mulder’s the latter. He’s not just letting her cry, he’s helping her cry. For homework, check out the hug scene in the “Pilot” (1×79) and compare.

I should insert something intelligent here about the quality of Chris Carter’s writing or the unsettling darkness of David Nutter’s direction or the cold creepiness of Nick Chinlund’s Pfaster, but as I said before, I’m not capable.

Just go watch it.

A

Thoughts:

Agent Busch makes a brief appearance as an admirer of Scully. A precursor to Agent Pendrell perhaps?

Best Quotes:

Scully: Why do they do it?
Mulder: Well, some people collect salt and pepper shakers. Fetishists collect dead things, fingernails and hair. No one quite knows why. Though I’ve never really understood salt and pepper shakers myself.

———————

Scully: It took us three hours to get here. Our plane doesn’t leave until tomorrow night. If you suspected…
Mulder: Vikings versus Redskins, Scully. 40-yard line in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. You and me.

———————

Mulder: Are you staying on there, Scully?
Scully: No. I’m coming back tonight.
Mulder: Look, I know this is a pretty horrific case, but if…
Scully: I’m okay with it, Mulder. Anyway you could use my help.
Mulder: Always. (Swoon)

Darkness Falls 1×19: It was gonna be a nice trip to the forest.


Duane Barry: The Prequel

I had a similar reaction at the ending of “Darkness Falls” to the one I had at the end of “Gender Bender” (1×13). “Gender Bender” left me overwhelmingly curious as to what kind of show this could be. What kind of writers would let an audience waste an hour only to not give them any answers in the end? Wasn’t the whole point of a mystery to solve it? Similarly, Darkness Falls had me wondering if this kind of television was even legal. There’s a rule, possibly written on a tablet of stone, which says that heroes must solve the crime and escape in the end by the skin of their wits. There was no escape for Mulder and Scully in this one. They just got lucky.

Paint me easy to please, but I love it when the action takes place is a dark, dense forest right out of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. One can believe almost anything frightening in a forest at night. The dark claustrophobia reminds me of “Ice” (1×7) and there are quite a few parallels between the episodes. Mulder and Scully are stranded in the middle of nowhere, trapped like mice with a dangerous bug on the loose. Their companions may or may not be stable and there’s palpable tension within the group. Oh, and Scully can’t be too sure about Mulder’s sanity… though that’s every episode, really.

The tension between the two of them doesn’t last, however. After they let off a little steam they quickly realize they’d better stick together. And they do that almost literally. Before we knew it, Mulder and Scully have already started having conversations with their heads mere fractions of an inch apart. These two people just do it for me, I don’t know what else to say. Maybe it’s the way Mulder talks to her so earnestly and the way she responds; she looks at him with expressions that are so childlike, so trusting.

Speaking of trust, I have already contended that Mulder is a trusting soul, haven’t I? Well, here again he follows his instincts instead of his judgment by believing Spinney, the man of cartoon mustache and Droopy Dog eyelids. Maybe the eyes are what win Mulder over. Regardless, it’s very like him to store all his eggs in one basket without sitting down to check it for holes. Yet, once more, it’s Mulder’s instincts that save the day. Spinney did come back and if he hadn’t brought them as far down the mountain as he did, maybe the rescue team wouldn’t have found them in time.

And the Verdict is…

I remember the first time I watched “Darkness Falls” being shocked that Mulder and Scully were actually overcome by the insects. That’s not supposed to happen! As I said before, you don’t see protagonists defeated often on TV now and you certainly didn’t see it back then. That’s part of why I’ve always enjoyed this one. It’s not a hallmark episode, but it’s solid and it’s effective, which helps soften the disappointment I feel over the previous two episodes.

Also in the plus column, the little green mites aren’t overdone and so the special effects aren’t dated in the way that they could be. Not to mention, that cocoon thing is a horrifying concept.

A

Issues:

Why don’t the lights from the car save Spinney? They’re brighter than the light that was in the cabin.

Why don’t they try patching the tire from the start?? They could have patched it the second day and then driven out first thing in the morning on the third. Maybe those mites had started nibbling away at their brains.

For that matter, if Spinney could get out, they all could have.

On the second night, Spinney leaves the group to go to sleep in his own room. His own, very dark room…

The insects have spread out that fast? They can travel a day’s journey from their origin just to attack? If that’s the case, how do they know they’ll be safe if they just get off the mountain? What’s to stop the insects from following them further?

General Thoughts:

Interesting that there are actually two X-Files episodes (see “Detour” 5×4) where tree ring dating comes up as a topic. Whatever course Chris Carter took in college that left him fascinated, the professor must’ve been hot.

The fog in this episode is priceless. Anything a production crew can do God can do better.

I just finally understood that the “party favors” Mulder was referring to was a bag of pot. It only took me ten or eleven rewatches. But do you really want to be working heavy equipment while you’re high? That’s like asking to be maimed.

There is no way, no way on this side of Jordan that I would find myself cutting into a giant cocoon. What if there were baby spiders in there or something??

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Take a good look, Scully.
Scully: What am I looking at?
Mulder: 30 loggers working a clear-cutting contract in Washington state. Rugged, manly men in the full bloom of their manhood.
Scully: Right. What am I looking for?
Mulder: Anything strange, unexplainable, unlikely… boyfriend.

———–

Scully: I think it’s a male.
Mulder: Barely.

Gender Bender 1×13: On a scale of 1 – 10… she was a kind 3.


Marco! Polo!

There’s open-ended and then there’s makes-no-sense. If the answer to its mystery was merely vague, this episode might have a different reputation. That being said, I by no means dislike it. “Gender Bender” is a guilty pleasure for me. It’s not among the general Phile favorites, in fact, it’s almost universally panned. But one thing is certain: even if you don’t like it, you’ll be thinking about it afterward if only because you’re too confused to move on. Besides being a puzzle, “Gender Bender” actually has an interesting premise. After all, sex is scary. People are at their most vulnerable physically, emotionally and psychologically during sex. At the very least, this episode serves as a sort of Public Service Announcement: Find out their name first, please.

This may have been an early attempt by The Powers That Be to make the show sexy, and in that respect it does fail. I know I first watched this at a very innocent age 14 but it took me a while to catch on that Scully is aroused. Somehow, the face on aroused Scully just doesn’t convey, well, arousal. She looks more like a child who lost her dolly than a woman lost to passion. I realize it’s because she’s trying to fight the feeling off, but still. On top of that, maybe it wasn’t the best idea to show the evil villain running around in women’s underwear. It… well… de-villainizes him. The club scenes too are laughable in retrospect. The introduction of Nicholas Lea is their only saving grace.

Let’s admit the truth. The alien angle feels like a cop out. It falls out of the sky like a UFO over Roswell. You feel cheated not because you don’t see it coming, but because when it does come it doesn’t make any sense. The end isn’t one of those moments where you look back, smack your forehead and cry, “Of course!” a la The Sixth Sense. Now, I’m going to admit that I’ve cheated a little and read another draft of the script in which Mulder suspects that The Kindred are alien long before the end of the episode. It still doesn’t work. Truth be told, this episode would have played out better if aliens had nothing to do with the matter. Lethal sex is scary enough on it’s own. This episode takes place in the early ‘90s when AIDS was still all over the news. The concept of sex with a stranger proving immediately fatal would have grabbed an audience all by its pretty lonesome. No EBEs required.

The implication is that these aliens don’t have sex. They have no children. Whatever transformation Brother Aaron goes through in the barn must be a form of self-reproduction. Or rather, since they can regenerate by changing sexes, there’s no real need to reproduce at all but only regenerate. The Kindred are the same as they were 100 years ago. If The Kindred merely suffered from a genetic mutation that required an almost religious abstinence and separation from the world on their part, isn’t that enough of an X-File? That would explain their resistance to outsiders. Their self-imposed isolation is then merely a self-sacrificial attempt to protect the rest of society. Now that’s some angst. It also would make Marty a more evil villain by contrast, taking vengeance on a world that he can’t be a part of. Instead, we see too little of Marty in his (original?) male form. As a matter of fact, we’re never formally introduced to Marty’s male form and that’s a shame. And that brief monologue doesn’t serve to make him either a pathetic or a villainous creature.

The true star of this episode is all that Vancouver rain. The atmosphere the rain inadvertently creates is what keeps this episode afloat. It’s also what makes us think we should be afraid even when the plot doesn’t make sense. Mulder’s scenes in the tunnels also make for more visual fun. Surely whatever is missing in the story got added to the cinematography under the skillful hands of Rob Bowman who, by the way, made his directorial debut on the show with this episode.

And the Verdict is…

If “Beyond the Sea” (1×12) proved that The X-Files could be emotional, “Gender Bender” certainly doesn’t prove that it can be sexy. (For that matter, The X-Files did best when it stayed away from sex in all but the vaguest of terms.) I do like the fact that this is a low-tech episode. Whether because of budgetary concerns or not, it forces the audience to pay attention to the story and not the gizmos. (CSI, please take notes… and then pass them around when you’re done.) It also forces the investigators to do some real legwork and not rely on leads too easily gleaned from an obviously made up national network of information. (Still looking your way, CSI.) Most of all, the atmosphere created by the deft hands of Mr. Bowman is enough to make us feel that something darkly exciting is happening. Vancouver isn’t too shabby either.

Maybe Chris Carter, in his defense of this episode, was right about the value of an open-ended ending. Despite the nitpicking I’ve done here, I actually like “Gender Bender”. In fact, it’s the first X-Files episode I can remember actually sitting down and watching. Up until this point, I had only seen glimpses. This was the summer FX started showing reruns and my dad had it on. When it ended, I remember standing in front of the TV going, “What does it all mean?? What in the heck kind of show is this?” with my face the perfect picture of perplexity. Frustrating? Sure. But hey, it made me want to keep tuning in.  I certainly tried not to miss an episode after that. I wanted to know if The X-Files was really that weird.

So if you have yet to watch it, don’t let confusion ruin the experience, rather embrace it. And if you’ve already dismissed it, tune back in, relish the randomness and let disappointment roll off you like water down Scully’s trenchcoat.

In other news: Your mother’s warnings about having sex with strangers? All true.

B

Puzzlers:

Mulder and Scully relinquish their guns to a group of people of which one is probably a murderer. Are they already doped up on pheromones??

If the aliens can be physically aroused by as well as arouse humans, why can’t they just have sex with each other for fun if not procreation? They must have the hormones to enjoy it after all, or can assume them, anyway. Why can they enjoy sex with us but not with each other? I could keep going…

If we can’t be sure that human’s can produce pheromones, can humans contain them either? How is it that extraterrestrials secrete animal hormones mixed with human DNA? Why don’t the pheromones kill during sex rather than after? Again, I could keep going…

We know that their genderbending has something to do with regeneration, so do they just keep alternating between their male and female forms for all eternity? One gets tired so they bring in the other version off the bench?? Are these just the forms they take while on earth or is this like Star Trek where all aliens are humanoid? Still going…

Random Musings:

Our first, last and only X-Files crop circle. Amen.

“It’s hard to imagine this day and age someone having sex with a perfect stranger.” Really, Scully??? Is it now? Because I seem to remember a certain episode in Season 4…

How about those early ‘90s morphing techniques, eh? That shot where Marty/Martina turns his head to morph looks like it came straight out of the music video for Black or White.

There were some plot points that made more sense in the previous version of the script. For instance, the aliens needed some material that was much easier to mine on earth’s surface. Hence, The Kindred were known for making stoneware pottery with clay they mined themselves. This clay was only found locally, but I guess whatever planet they were from had a shortage. That’s logical, I suppose.

Best Quotes:

Scully: So, what is our profile of the killer? Indeterminate height, weight, sex; unarmed, but extremely attractive?

———-

Scully: There’s something up there, Mulder.
Mulder: Oh, I’ve been saying that for years.