Tag Archives: Gethsemene

My Struggle 10×01: Now you got my number.


Scully-and-Mulder-1200x675

Babies!!

These musings are a mixed bag of television emotions. I’d be lying if I didn’t confess to some… not disappointment but, let’s say, validation of my carefully regulated expectations. But this is my longed for Mulder and Scully, The New Adventures of Moose & Squirrel we’re talking about. Even so, it is well with my soul.

This truly feels like a reboot, and by that I mean that Chris Carter & The Spooky Bunch have taken things back to the old school. This isn’t just Mulder and Scully getting back together, this is The X-Files rediscovering its Season 1 roots. This is the original vision revisited. This is “Deep Throat” (1×1), “Conduit” (1×3), “Fallen Angel” (1×9) and “E.B.E.” (1×16) reborn in the 21st Century and polished with a digital shellac.

I’m probably a bigger fan than most of Seasons 1 & 2, so I’m excited about that.. excited and still slightly concerned. “My Struggle” is all out distrust of everything and everyone with money or power, written by a generation scarred and jaded by Watergate, a generation with a knee-jerk distrust of authority. We’re back to vague government cover-ups and father figure informants hedging their words in the dark. There’s something nefarious going on, but it’s nameless, faceless, and overarching.

Unlike the later focus and consistency of the mythology as it evolved in Seasons 3-5, this is a veritable kitchen sink of conspiracy. Why do I suspect Chris Carter’s been saving up random newspaper clippings for years like he was Fox Mulder, just waiting for the chance to info dump them on us all? In less than five minutes we get a condensed history of conspiracy theory from the end of Season 9 to now. It’s a mad burst of baloney.

Right now this new X-Files world is without form and void. Darkness covers the face of the Deep (Throat). Until this conspiracy is given a shape, it’s impossible to declare it good or bad. The only question right now: is all this teasing intriguing enough to hook a brand new audience?

Chris Carter has always been the king of high sci-fi drama. Like he did when he wrote and directed the Pilot (1×79), he can make you believe something world-changing is happening even though you’ve seen next to nothing and heard even less. “My Struggle” isn’t so much about establishing a new mythology as it is whetting our appetites to want to know what in the good Green Goblin is going on.

And this rediscovered scope means that Chris Carter can take the series in all sorts of directions again, the same way the show first found its footing by refusing to be tied down to one idea or one genre. That’s promising enough, but for any great good there must be something sacrificed and that something here is the history of the show.

Mulder and Scully getting back to basics means invalidating the mythology as we’ve known it to this point. It means Mulder and Scully have been deceived for over twenty years and we’ve been deceived for thinking they’re trustworthy investigators. It means Mulder and Scully have to go back to being merely partners and friends.

This certainly isn’t the first time Chris Carter has turned the mythology on its ear. Starting with “Gethsemene” (4×24), Mulder spent almost all of Season 5 believing that there were no aliens but that for years he had been led around like a (really cute) puppy on a paranormal string. Then it was clear that Mulder and Scully had already seen too much to be mistaken about the existence of extraterrestrial life. But now? Now that we know alien life is real but that the colonization story is false, does that make everything we ever knew clear or does that leave the whole thing fuzzier than a kiwi?

How does Mulder’s latest theory jive with Fight the Future and the aliens gestated by the Black Oil that the Syndicate was clearly afraid of? Because if aliens weren’t out to colonize the planet, Well-Manicured Man died for nothing. Of course, it’s entirely possible that there was a conspiracy above the Syndicate, that someone was deceiving the deceivers and using them to conduct tests on human subjects. Regardless, because of episodes like “One Son” (6×12), it’s undeniable that the Syndicate, at least, truly believed in a coming alien takeover via virus. If it wasn’t the aliens, who took their family members hostage and for what? Who exactly took Samantha?

And how does any of this fit with the mythology of Seasons 8 & 9? Where do the Alien Bounty Hunters come in? The Super Soldiers? William the Ubermensch and the messianic Navajo prophecies???

I’m asking these questions but I’m not foolish enough to expect to get the answers in the very first episode. I’m just wondering where it all leads and hoping it’s headed someplace good. The new broadness allows for flexibility. The lack of focus could potentially end in failure. I’m rooting for you, 1013.

The implications aren’t limited to the plot either. How do Mulder and Scully process as characters the fact that they fought to the death and back, sacrificed everything, and it turns out they’ve been on a fool’s errand for twenty plus years? Mulder and Scully are our heroes. What do we do when it turns out they didn’t know what they were doing for nine seasons? Climactic plot changes are cool and all, but I’m not a Clippers fan. I need to root for a team that wins.

Speaking of my team, by now you’ve heard about the big breakup. I have to say, it went down easier than I expected, probably because I was emotionally prepped for it… and there was champagne. But while I’m relieved that they didn’t go the I Want to Believe route, that Mulder and Scully’s romantic rumble didn’t become the focus of the episode, I still can’t say I’m behind it. Why? I’m glad you asked.

Mulder: How many times have we been here before, Scully? Right here. So close to the truth. And now with what we’ve seen and what we know to be right back at the beginning with nothing.

Scully: This is different, Mulder.

Mulder: No, it isn’t! You were right to want to leave me! You should get as far away from me as you can! I’m not going to watch you die, Scully, because of some hollow personal cause of mine. Go be a doctor. Go be a doctor while you still can.

Scully: I can’t. I won’t. Mulder, I’ll be a doctor but my work is here with you now… Look… if I quit now, they win. – Fight the Future

————-

Mulder: Scully, I was like you once – I didn’t know who to trust… In the end, 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.

Scully: And you are mine. – “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×4)

————-

Scully: You say this is greater than us, and maybe it is. But this is us fighting this fight, Mulder, not you! It’s you and me. That’s what I’m fighting for, Mulder. You and me. – “The Truth” (9×19/20)

————-

Scully: It’s what made me follow you… and why I’d do it all over again. – “The Truth”

Constants don’t bail because things get difficult. Constants don’t leave you when you’re down. True friendship is born in selflessness and self-sacrifice, because greater love hath no man than this. I have a hard time believing that Scully left a depressed Mulder for the sake of her own sanity, but I’m trusting it’s more nuanced than that and we’ll get the details later. Maybe she left him for his own good and not merely because she was sick of the darkness, because that’s been there, IWTBed that. Whatever the cause of this forced drama, one look at the two of them and you know they can’t stay apart for long, if they’re even really apart at all.

And you can call me Forest Gump because that’s all I have to say about that.

Verdict:

I was driving along on the way to work this morning thinking about The X-Files… you know, like any other day. And I realized that my musings were no longer about The X-Files as a piece of history. These are my musings on a real, live, brand spanking new episode. Hot. Dog.

Last night was the most excited I’ve been about television since The X-Files went off the air. I’ve never been so happy to hear a voiceover in my life. Mulderlogues… I even missed those!!! The first beat of that dulcet monotone and there was dancing and twirling and the raising of hands. And no, it was not a church service.

“My Struggle” isn’t perfect and I know it. But as a Phile, it’s mine and I’ll thank you for it. The clunky and obtuse dialogue, the conversations that threaten major revelations but never actually reveal them, the unceremoniously snipped plot threads… all mine.

The X-Files has its own rhythm, it’s own distinctive style of sci-fi drama. And you have to be able to appreciate the subtle camp of it in order to love it. Or maybe, you have to love it in order to appreciate the subtle camp of it. In terms of the history of the mythology, this doesn’t compare to anything that came between Seasons 2-5. But then, this was all just an excuse to get Mulder and Scully back anyway. Their reasons for working the X-Files are basically the same as before: There’s something big… big, big, big going on, something deeply sinister. And stopping it is personal for them both. Frankly, they both look like they could use some excitement, and so could I.

It’s funny, but as a long time fan, there are both more problems and fewer problems with this episode. More problems because we know the history of The X-Files, fewer problems because we have a history with The X-Files that trumps everything. In the words of the great theologian W. E. Houston, “It’s not right, but it’s okay.”

Despite Chris Carter’s best attempts to make government conspiracies relevant to a new generation, this was about drowning ourselves in a cool pool of nostalgia on a hot summer’s day. What a glorious way to go.

It’s not just the government. Everyone’s out to get you. Now go to sleep.

C+

Superfluous Comments:

Cigarette-Smoking Man – Phantom of the Space Opera

Sveta pulls a Gibson Praise on Scully. And like Gibson before her, she’s the “key to everything.”

“Gethsemene” turned the mythology upside down, put Mulder and Scully at odds, and presented more questions than answers too, but it was much more satisfying as a standalone episode, possibly because it came within the broader context of the series and not at the start of something new.

Mulder needs to stop picking on my “finally in the opening credits” Skinner!

If I were Scully, the fact that I had followed Mulder into a lie would have been a bigger emotional hurdle than his depression. Shouldn’t she have issues with trusting him? She’s lost her sister, alienated herself from the world, and gave up their son because she believed in Mulder and he was sure of what he believed. And speaking of William, the fact that she and Mulder live without fear for their lives means she could have kept him after all.

Not to be a troublemaker, but I wonder if Glen Morgan’s name getting top billing with Chris Carter’s in the closing credits has anything to do with the reverse trajectory of the show…

Mulder first heard from his Old Man informant ten years ago. That means he was onto the jagoff shoeshine tip before IWTB.

We even get a classic Mulder phone ditch. The earth does orbit the sun.

The Asian scientist –  I recognize him as the Asian scientist from “Firewalker” (2×9) and the Asian scientist from “Synchrony” (4×19). I wonder if he puts “plays a mean Asian scientist” on his resume.

You know what I could’ve lived without? I could’ve lived without Tad O’Malley hitting on Scully. You know what else I could’ve lived without? I could’ve lived without Scully mistaking Sveta for Mulder’s new love interest. Yeah. I could’ve lived without that just fine.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: My name is Fox Mulder. {Yeah it is!!!}

———————

Scully: It’s fear mongering, isolationist claptrap, techno-paranoia so bogus and dangerous and stupid that it borders on treason. {But what do you really think about The X-Files, Scully?}

———————

Mulder: She’s shot men with less provocation. {Yeah she has!!!}

Tad O’Malley: Funny. I heard you were funny.

———————

Tad O’Malley: Do you miss it at all? The X-Files?

Scully: As a scientist, it was probably some of the most intense and challenging work I’ve ever done. I’ve never felt so alive.

O’Malley: You mean working with Mulder?

Scully: Possibly one of the most intense and challenging relationships I may ever have. And, quite honestly, the most impossible.

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S.R. 819 6×10: At least you didn’t get your ear bit off.


Call Dr. Scully.

I’m in love with Assistant Director Walter Skinner.

And I know I’m not the only one. For all those who have gone into withdrawal after the admittedly extended period of light-hearted antics that make up the first third of Season 6, we’re about to have four heavy-duty episodes in a row. Sigh no more, ladies. Sigh no more.

Krycek was a deceiver ever. And the official battle between him and Skinner has begun, though it’s been brewing since “The Blessing Way” (3×1) when Krycek and Luis Cardinal put a hurtin’ on Skinner in the stairwell of a hospital. It escalated after Skinner handcuffed Krycek to his balcony in “Tunguska” (4×9) and left him to suffer from exposure. See why revenge is never the answer?

Not that the stoically upright Skinner is a vengeful kinda guy, though it’s clear from his introspective soliloquies in this episode that he doesn’t consider himself any sort of hero.

Well, I do. And Scully’s right, Skinner judges himself too harshly.

Yes, he had to compromise himself early on in his relationship with Mulder and Scully, but it’s obvious Cigarette-Smoking Man had an unpleasant hold on his career, perhaps even wielding blackmail as a weapon. But no sooner does he get the chance than Skinner bucks CSM’s authority and aids Mulder in his quest as early as “Ascension” (2×6). Even before that he showed signs of sympathy. Remember his, “This should have been an X-File” comment in “The Host” (2×2)?

He proved to be Mulder and Scully’s protector in episodes like “End Game” (2×17) where he pummels Mulder’s location out of Mr. X in an effort to save his life and in “Paper Clip” (3×2) when he extorts the safe return of Mulder and Scully out of CSM by threatening to release classified information on the conspiracy. In fact, it’s that episode where Skinner officially crawls out from under CSM’s nefarious shadow. Too bad his hard-won independence doesn’t last long. By the time we reach “Avatar” (3×21), CSM has cooked up a cold dish of revenge framing Skinner for murder. And while Mulder and Scully… and his soon to be ex-wife… deliver Skinner out of that trap, he willingly walks back into CSM’s clutches in “Memento Mori” (4×15) in order to, what else? Save Scully. By “Zero Sum” (4×21) he’s a patsy again, but though his position may be compromised his loyalty never is.

Despite not being much older than they are, Skinner plays the harsh but protective father to Mulder and Scully. He’s willing to get his hands dirty so that they don’t have to, not because his conscience is seared but because the soldier in him is willing to sacrifice to win the war. If Skinner were to die now he would not die in vain. Mulder and Scully would have been dead long ago if not for him.

But not once did it occur to me that Skinner might actually die, no more than I though Mulder might really be dead at the end of “Gethsemene” (4×24), which is the best evidence I can give of Skinner’s unofficial status as the third lead on The X-Files; so indispensable has this character become, this character that was never intended by Chris Carter to be a major role, that it’s hard to take the threat of his death seriously.

I never believed they’d do it, but Chris Carter & Co. did consider it. Mulder and Scully no longer worked under Skinner so he was no longer absolutely vital to the plot and because he had changed over the years from a mysterious and potentially dangerous figure to a stalwart ally, he had become too predictable, too reliable. Fortunately for Skinner lovers, the plot potential in this new hold Krycek gains over Skinner convinced The Powers That Be that interesting things could still be done with the character. Thank heavens because can you imagine Season 8 with no Skinner? ::shudders::

The question is, how does a man as self-sufficient as Skinner, who has already escaped the clutches of CSM himself, wind up with his life in the hands of Ratboy? I confess, I never really understood the plot till now so for those fans as slow on the uptake as I am, here’s a rundown:

It all starts with Tunisia. And if that sets off bells of recognition in your head, it should. If I didn’t know better, I’d say there were some oblique implications here that Syndicate leader Strughold who, as we see in Fight the Future, has his base of operations is in Tunisia, is behind the S.R. 819 conspiracy. That would also explain how Krycek originally got involved since last we saw him in “The End” (5×20) he was working for the Syndicate under the authority of Well-Manicured Man. Since Well-Manicured Man is now deceased (sniffle), it’s safe to say Krycek’s loyalties within the organization have moved on. Or safer to say that his only real loyalty is to himself.

Krycek is working on his own in keeping Skinner alive. We can assume he wants him alive and at his mercy so that he can use him for his own agenda later. The Syndicate has a man at the F.B.I. in Jeffrey Spender, now Krycek has his own man on the inside, reluctant though he may be.

The original plan was to export this potentially dangerous nanotechnology to Tunisia, and possibly into the hands of Strughold and the Syndicate, under the guise of the World Health Organization. Before that happened, S.R. 819 had to pass inspection by scientist Kenneth Orgel and the F.B.I.’s own Skinner, a safeguard that was usually a mere formality. However, Orgel understands the potential consequences of the nanotechnology falling into the wrong hands and goes to warn Skinner, but is infected to keep him from talking. Skinner too is infected and is supposed to be killed but Krycek intervenes.

From what Mulder says to Skinner at the end of the episode and the surprised look on Scully’s face when Skinner claims not to be able to recognize the bearded man who tried to kill him, it looks like Mulder and Scully are aware that Krycek is behind all this. But they still don’t know what he’s up to and they certainly don’t know why Skinner refuses to give him up. As in the first Skinner-centric episode, “Avatar”, Mulder and Scully’s concern for their former boss is touching. As before, they drive the investigation to save Skinner only this time to better effect because Skinner doesn’t sit passively, fatalistically by while they work. The determination he starts this episode with must make it especially grating on him to have to slip right back into his old compromising ways.

Verdict:

I can’t say I love “S.R. 819” the way I love Skinner himself because though there’s a tangible sense of urgency, the plot is a little obscure and aside from Skinner’s pulsing veins, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. But I do appreciate the potential mythology implications and I welcome the return of Krycek with open arms. I was one of those taken by surprise when he reappeared. Maybe even “Stevie Wonder would see that one comin’”, but I didn’t.

If my memory serves me correctly, and that’s by no means a guarantee, this was the series’ final Skinner-centric episode. That’s rather surprising considering there are three more seasons to go but it makes it all the more irritating that there’s no resolution to what happened to Skinner’s wife Karen, a character both introduced and discarded back in “Avatar”.

I wasn’t looking for anything detailed. A brief mention from a hospital orderly would have sufficed. “The patient is Walter Skinner. Widowed. Works for the F.B.I.” or “Walter Skinner – Divorced. No known relatives. In case of emergency contact Special Agent Dana Scully.” See how easy that would have been?

My only consolation is that I think there could be a cleverly veiled reference to “Avatar” here:

Mulder: This morning, you woke up…
Skinner: I woke up.
Mulder: Alone?
Skinner: Yes. Alone.

Then again, that’s probably wishful thinking on my part.

B+

The Peanut Gallery:

While I don’t think anyone fell for it, those opening moments of the episode where they would have us believe that Mulder is the F.B.I. agent about to die are well done. I quite like the idea of scaring the audience. If only that silly episode preview hadn’t ruined the surprise…

We haven’t seen Senator Matheson since “Nisei” (3×9) and the truth is, I don’t even remember him in it. The connections in congress Mulder so famously depends upon in the “Pilot” (1×79) have all but become obsolete in the current stage of the mythology. However, I’m glad they brought Matheson back one last time, if only to drive home the point that Mulder has fewer people he can trust than even he once believed. That makes the fact that one of his allies is now seriously compromised… and that he doesn’t know it… even more poignant.

Wouldn’t it have been awesome if Senator Matheson were secretly a member of the Syndicate?

It makes me a little sad to think the ear-biting references might be lost on this new generation.

Mulder and Scully are forbidden any contact with Skinner. Don’t they know there are cameras at the F.B.I.?

Parts of the movie score are recycled several times in this episode. And there’s an overhead shot of the highway that looks recycled as well – there’s no way that shot was in a television budget.

I’ve never read the fanfic, but I’m sure the Skinner/Scully Shippers had a field day with this episode.

That abandoned warehouse set is striking. I especially enjoy the lighting when Mulder walks in on the Senator.

I recently found out that Nicholas Lea (Krycek) is about to guest star on Supernatural. That’s an interesting coincidence since both Steven Williams (Mr. X) and Mitch Pileggi (Skinner) have guest starred on that show for a series of episodes. Ah, when fate binds souls together…

This reminds me of the good old days when Scully often stared in wonder and computer screens looking at scientific data that shouldn’t exist.

I dig the “Chinga” (5×10) reference, John Shiban. I dig it.

Best Quotes:

Skinner: I was boxing. I must’ve gotten tagged.
Nurse: Yes, you did. At least you didn’t get your ear bit off. That’s something, right?

——————-

Dr. Plant: Well, the good news is… your dilation’s back to normal. Plus you still have both your ears.
Skinner: I heard that one.

——————-

Dr. Plant: Well, you’re lucky. He’s on a government HMO – no one’s even bothered to handle the samples yet.

Christmas Carol 5×5: She must’ve dialed 1-800-The-Great-Beyond.


Visions of Sugar Plums??

A rare glimpse into Scully’s life outside of the X-Files confirms that she’s just as reserved off the job as she is professionally. Can we blame her? The Scully family table, seen again for the second time since “Gethsemene” (4×24), isn’t exactly the warmest place in the world. You could cut the underlying tensions with the proverbial butcher’s knife.

It’s Christmas time in X-Files land. You know what that means: Ghosts.

Well, maybe not a physical one exactly.

I’ve never given much credence to the “Scully as Latent Psychic” interpretation of The X-Files, but I must say, the woman does see/hear an awful lot of dead people. First she has a vision of her father right after his death in “Beyond the Sea” (1×12), then she dreams of Mulder barely back from the dead in “The Blessing Way” (3×1), next she sees dead strangers in “Elegy” (4×22), and now in “Christmas Carol”, she’s receiving phone calls from beyond the grave care of a deceased sister who was creepier alive than she is dead.

At this rate, I’d say Scully averages about one dead vision per season. We could also count her hospital visions in “One Breath” (2×8), but then she was already half dead herself. Even so, I can’t help but think of “One Breath” when I watch this two-episode arc, not only because Melissa Scully makes a return appearance, but because they’re both lessons in death, or more specifically, conversations on whether or not it’s more humane to preserve life or allow it to end. Oh, and then there are all the “Baby Dana” flashbacks…

Speaking of “Baby Dana”, it would seem that even as a child Scully was the type to keep her thoughts to herself, at least that’s the picture that’s painted for us here. There’s a trend that started in Season 4 with Scully’s cancer where Scully is progressively characterized as isolated and even somewhat anti-social. Oh, she’s not lacking in social graces the was Mulder is, but we get the feeling as time passes that she’s a little trapped in her own head.

I’m not sure what brought this characterization on, exactly, except that it created more drama during her cancer arc for Scully to keep her emotions to herself and then it continued from there. If you look at Season 1, particularly in episodes like “Squeeze” (1×2), “The Jersey Devil” (1×4) and “Lazarus” (1×14), we get the impression that Scully likes and is liked by people. Over the course of this current two-parter, the Scully we meet acts like she’s never had a friend in the world.

So then what about Mulder? It looks like there are aspects of herself that Scully is still unwilling to share. I’m not so sure that makes her isolated and alone so much as it makes her a normal human being. How could you possibly fully explain the workings of your own heart to another living soul? We’re too complicated for that, but I digress.

Scully reverts back a little to her old ways with Mulder, wanting to reach out to him but hanging up the phone instead. Is she too proud to admit she needs help and support? Does she not want to sound crazier than he does? Probably both, but we’ll never know exactly. Scully’s relationship with Mulder is hardly the focus of this episode.

And so to the crux of the matter: I can honestly say that in my teenage naïveté I didn’t originally see the twist coming at the end, and I should have. But I must say that I believe I stifled a groan at Scully’s microwave pack of Instant Motherhood intruding into my X-Files world.

Not that the topic of Scully and motherhood is completely sudden. Ever since a carefully crafted conversation on a public bench in “Home” (4×3) the topic has been up for discussion, even more so since Mulder literally stumbled upon the secret of Scully’s infertility in “Memento Mori” (4×15).  Now that Scully’s cancer plot is behind us, it’s only right that we watch her deal with the emotional aftermath and her fertility is as good a place as any to start.

And yet… even after all these years I’m still not sold on the idea of Scully becoming a mother out of the clear blue sky. We’re not even talking about an ooey, gooey little baby that she has to accept, but a fully formed child well into her developmental years. And Emily is so lacking in interest and personality… Can Scully really feel such an instant, strong connection to a stranger? Can we as the audience feel connected enough to the child to believe that she is Scully’s? Can we even enjoy them together? I can only speak for myself when I say that later on, watching Scully’s motherhood being just as suddenly stripped away only adds to my sense that it didn’t belong to begin with.

Verdict:

This one is a bit of a Christmas fantasy of sorts. Who hasn’t wished that they could hear a lost loved one’s voice on the line one last time? Who hasn’t been afraid they’d forget the nuances, the timber of that voice before too much time had passed? For exploring that idea alone I’ll give this episode the most credit.

Okay, so “Christmas Carol” is not one of my favorite episodes of Season 5. It’s a little… subdued for my taste since, if you’ve read my reviews at all, I’m a sucker for an exciting, adventuresome X-File. Give me a romp in the deep, dark woods anytime. In comparison, this sleepy little story doesn’t make my finger twitch over the rewind button.

But another part of me is quite proud that this show can vary itself so drastically from week to week. We just went from a black and white fantasy horror fest to a quiet, contemplative and incredibly contained mystery in a mere 7 days. If that’s not good television I don’t know what is.

There’s one thing that still nags at me: Where are all the other little Emilys? Surely the Syndicate, responsible for clones upon drones, didn’t stop at one little Uber Scully.

B

Flotsam and Jetsam:

Wait, when did Scully learn she can’t have kids and more than that, when did she find out that her abduction was the cause? Mulder knew as of “Memento Mori” , but he doesn’t tell Scully about that little discovery of his until “Emily” (5×7) and even then he doesn’t explain in detail until Season 7. Sure, her doctors could have told her there was something wrong, but how did she know it was a result of her abduction and that her sterility wasn’t brought about by her cancer treatments?

I know I’m cold-hearted, but Scully giving Emily her cross so easily always irked me.

This has to be one of Gillian Anderson’s best looking episodes ever. Well, except for that jacked up weave they put on her head.

It’s comforting to know Bill Scully, Jr. was always a punk, even in childhood.

It’s amazing how streamlined the adoption process was made for Scully. Then there’s the fact that the things Scully confesses to the caseworker would have gotten her name scratched off of any respectable list. Ah, the miracle of creative license.

“Danny” still makes an appearance at this late date.

Best Quotes:

Mini Scully: This has got to be it! It’s got to be “Hotel California!”

———————–

Bill Scully, Jr.: You really think Melissa had a baby?
Scully: Yes. I do.
Bill Scully, Jr.: She called you from beyond the grave to tell you that? Sounds like something that partner of yours would say.

———————–

Tara Scully: Oh! Oh, that was a good one!
Bill Scully, Jr.: What? Is he kicking?
Tara Scully: Oh, he’s kicking! He’s kick-boxing! Well you had boys and girls, so which one kicked more?
Margaret Scully: Oh, I had some pretty tough little girls.

———————–

Scully: I don’t believe in fate. I think we have to choose our own path.
Melissa Scully: Well, just don’t mistake the path with what’s really important in life.
Scully: Which is what?
Melissa Scully: The people you’re gonna meet along the way. You don’t know who you’re gonna meet when you join the F.B.I. You don’t know how your life is gonna change… or how you are gonna change the life of others.

Unusual Suspects 5×1: Sure, baby. My kung fu is the best.


Do I look like Geraldo to you?

I have to say, as fond as I was of the Lone Gunmen, coming off of the emotional rollercoaster that was the “Gethsemene”/”Redux”/”Redux II” trilogy, I was not looking forward to sitting through an episode sans the Mulder/Scully dynamic.

It’s not that it wasn’t high time the Lone Gunmen got their own episode. Who didn’t look forward to their brief, two minute guest spots of comic delight? No, it’s just that I was dying to see what life was like now that the threat of Scully’s cancer had passed. What I wanted was a real meat and potatoes X-File and a good heart to heart between our leads a la the “conversation on the rock” scene in “Quagmire” (3×22).

Unrealistic expectations notwithstanding, I wasn’t disappointed in this episode. I was feeling impatient, yes, slightly irritated even. But that’s not “Unusual Suspects” fault. In retrospect, probably the wisest thing the 1013 Productions crew could have done was to give us a little comic fluff, a slight departure from the series’ norm in the wake of the drama that just went on. There’s no sense in trying to compete with the unrelenting tension of the previous episode.

Now we’ve covered why “Unusual Suspects” starts off as an underdog even before it airs, much like the Lone Gunmen themselves. So what does this episode have going for it?

1. The Lone Gunmen (Duh): Fans had been clamoring for a while to see the nerdy trio get their own episode. Skinner had one. Even Cigarette-Smoking Man had one. Surely the Gunmen had it coming. Honestly, their characterizations don’t disappoint. Byers was seemingly the least likely to be the focus of an episode, considering the popularity of Langly and Frohike especially, but that was a clever move from writer Vince Gilligan. Byers is the most normal of the bunch and watching him of all people turn paranoiac is satisfying and it grounds the events of the episode. In fact, it reminds me of how The X-Files is originally told from Scully’s decidedly normal point of view. That’s precisely where its sense of wonder came/comes from.

2. That Retro Swag: Maybe the desire not to compete with the emotional impact of “Redux II’ is part of why “Unusual Suspects” is not only a departure in content, it’s a departure in time. Off we go back to the days before Mulder opened is precious X-Files, back to the dark ages of 1989, when cellular phones were larger than the heads that cradled them. We even get to see Mulder whip one out in an understated moment of pure comedy. Truly this is where the Gunmen belong, surrounded by impossibly bulky and outdated computer equipment.

3. X: After just a full season, X is back. As Chris Carter famously said, “No one ever really dies on The X-Files.” X has returned to do what he does best, clean up a leak and protect a potentially dangerous advancement in science to make sure the government is the only one to profit by it. Isn’t that how we learned to love him in episodes like “Soft Light” (2×23) and “Wetwired” (3×23)? And I have to say, corny though it may seem to some, I enjoy the tie-in to the mythology here. I love that X knew Mulder long before Mulder knew him, that we get to see him when he already must have been working for Cigarette-Smoking Man, and most of all, I love that he indirectly names the Lone Gunmen.

4. Mulder’s Innocence: It seems clear from their introduction in “EBE” (1×16), though it is never directly stated, that Mulder knew the Lone Gunmen long before he met Scully. We never did question how or why. I guess I just assumed that he met them somewhere along the way, maybe in a MUFON meeting somewhere. We also knew that Mulder’s search for Samantha and his belief that she was taken by aliens was the foundation of his start on the X-Files, (You’ll note how Gilligan cleverly has Mulder make his way to the “Alien Life” themed booth), but we also knew that Mulder didn’t always believe in aliens, neither was he always such a pain in the backside of the establishment. So his hypnotic regression therapy sessions with Dr. Werber weren’t solely responsible for his mental and social downfall after all.

And the Verdict is…

Checks in the plus column aside, I’m not sure this episode is a resounding success. It’s fun, to be sure, but Susanne Modeski’s paranoia, the paranoia that was the catalyst for all the rest, is a bit of a hard sell in the end. It’s a little over the top… except for that part about not being able to trust your dentist.

Speaking of Miss Modeski, perhaps the issue is more akin to what went on in “The Field Where I Died” (4×5). We have an outsider in a stand-alone episode who the audience is suddenly required to accept as an intricate piece of the mythology puzzle. Here it works better because Susanne Modeski only inspires the X-Files in an indirect way and only has the briefest contact with Mulder himself – no eternal soul pact required.

Lastly, the Modeski character brings in some fun elements of Film Noir. Even though she turns out to be one of the good guys, she still plays The Femme Fatale by leading an otherwise law-abiding man down a dangerous and morally ambiguous path. Poor Byers never had a chance.

In the end, I enjoy it and I probably enjoy it more in retrospect just to relish as much of the Lone Gunmen as I can get.

B+

Miscellaneous:

Still not so sure why Frohike recruits Langley to help with the hack. I thought he said his kung fu was already the best?

This is our first Vince Gilligan solo script since the masterpiece that was “Small Potatoes” (4×20).

Nice touch having Mulder answer the phone with, “Hey, Reggie.” No doubt this is the era when he was still working under Reggie Perdue of “Young at Heart” (1×15) fame. Vince Gilligan always was a Phile at heart – he remembered the little details.

We’ve reached the halfway point of the series. There are 201 episodes of The X-Files and this is #100. Well, technically there are 202 episodes, but that’s only because the series finale is counted double.

Why are they selling bootleg cable right in front of representatives of the Federal Government? Was that legal back then and I missed it?

That “Holly’s” daughter’s name was supposedly Susanne Modeski should’ve Byers’ first clue. Well, second after the whole sugar thing. Susanne isn’t exactly a name you heard on many little girls in 1989.

One has to wonder why X bothers to let the Lone Gunmen live at all.

And, finally, how could I ignore the nice little guest spot by Detective Munch? My how that character gets around a television set.

Best Quotes:

Munch: Start with your name and birth date.
Byers: John Fitzgerald Byers. 11-22-63.
Munch: Seriously.
Byers: I was named after JFK. Before the assassination my parents were going to name me Bertram.
Lieutenant Munch: Lucky you.

——————-

Byers: You’re talking about a premeditated crime against the United States government!
Frohike: Hey, your second today. [Removing Byers’ FCC badge] Welcome to the Dark Side.

——————-

Langley: There’s no game here.

——————-

Langly: Government hack is a snap. Last week I got into the Maryland DMV, changed my endorsement so I could handicap park. [Byers stares] I got tinnitus.

——————-

Modeski: No matter how paranoid you are, you’re not paranoid enough.

——————-

Frohike: Now I’m sorry. You’re telling me that the U.S. government, the same government that gave us Amtrak…
Langly: Not to mention the Susan B Anthony dollar…
Frohike: Is behind some of the darkest, most far-reaching conspiracies on the planet? That’s just crazy!
Langly: I mean, like this guy [Byers] works for the government!

——————-

Mr X: Behave yourselves.
Byers: That’s it? You’re just trying to intimidate us, to scare us, so we’ll keep quiet!
Frohike: [Under his breath] Byers, I swear to god, I’ll shoot you myself.
Byers: It’s all true what Susanne said about you people, isn’t it? About John F Kennedy! Dallas!
Mr X: I heard it was a lone gunman.

——————-

Lieutenant Munch: Do I look like Geraldo to you? Don’t lie to me like I’m Geraldo. I’m not Geraldo!

——————-

Byers: You want the truth?
Mulder: Yeah. I want the truth.
Byers: You might want to sit down, this is going to take a while. The truth is… none of us is safe. Secret elements within the U.S. government seek to surveil us and control our lives.
Mulder: What?!
Frohike: Tell him about the hotel Bibles.
Byers: Yeah, I’m coming to that. It all started with Susanne Modeski…

Redux II 5×3: I will calm down when somebody gives me a reason to calm down.


"My belief is in The Truth."

Oh, this opening scene. It’s really hard not to compare Mulder’s explosion by Scully’s bedside with, well, his previous explosion by Scully’s bedside in “One Breath” (2×8), so I won’t bother not trying to do it. In both episodes he starts out almost eerily calm and then crescendos. It’s beauty to behold.

Now, I had this habit back in the day where immediately after I watched a brand new episode, I’d rewind it and watch it again. (Don’t judge.) This episode took me forever to rewatch because I kept rewinding precious moments like it was going out of style, starting with this brief, two minute scene that I quickly memorized. Mulder in a tizzy over Scully – It never gets old.

There are so many utterly rewindable (add it to your dictionaries) moments in this episode that I hardly know how to touch on them all and I probably can’t. But since “Redux II” is told mostly from Mulder’s point of view, his dark night of the soul as it were, we’ll start with him.

Mulder gets hit from all sides this episode. Bill Scully gives him an unjust, and yet somehow not quite undeserved dressing down, one that still raises my blood pressure but in an oh so delicious way. There may only be one character on The X-Files I love to hate more than Bill Scully, and she has yet to make an appearance. Bill Scully doesn’t hold back with Mulder. After all, if it weren’t for Fox Mulder, one sister would be alive and the other wouldn’t be dying. Mulder, to his credit, shows an amazing amount of restraint, far more than he showed with Melissa Scully back in “One Breath”. I guess that’s what guilt, fear and shame will do to a person.

Poor Mulder walks straight from that drama into a web spun by Cigarette-Smoking Man who attempts to lure him into his service with the bait of a cure for Scully’s cancer. When that doesn’t work and Scully’s health continues to deteriorate, he dangles the carrot of a reunion with Samantha in front of Mulder’s nose.

In “Redux” (5×2), we watched Cigarette-Smoking Man gaze longingly at a picture of young Mulder and Samantha and visions of paternity tests danced in our heads, now here’s Samantha, or more likely, “Samantha”, calling him Daddy. Coincidence? Never. While the shenanigans Cigarette-Smoking Man is playing with Mulder in order to finally collect him as a trophy on his shelf is doubtless a load of falsities, lies always go down better flavored with truth. We know Samantha was taken. By the government, the Syndicate or aliens who can say? But what if she was returned, only not to Mulder? Is this Samantha, another clone like in “Colony” (2×16), or even one of the drones from “Herrenvolk” (4×1)?  Could the real Samantha be living another life somewhere? Could she be living that life awash in Cigarette-Smoking Man’s smoky haze?

Whatever the case, Cigarette-Smoking Man is having so much fun weaving his little tale, true or not, that he fails to notice the Elder giving him the evil eye. What a shocker that is, a hit being put out on Cigarette-Smoking Man himself. Not that there hasn’t been ample evidence of the tension between him and the rest of the Syndicate. Yet, he’s the villain, the Satan as it were, of The X-Files. Who would have thought that Chris Carter would have been willing to take him out when the show was at its most popular? Then again, that’s probably why he did it. Pop goes the weasel.

And now for Scully… Chris Carter scripted this episode and we all know that he loves dramatic bookends and parallels. Yes, he’s a man after my own heart. This time around, he makes us watch Mulder lose his faith just as Scully regains hers. The floor has opened up under Mulder, his pride is gone, his foundation shaken, just as Scully has shed her pride but in doing so regained her footing and her humanity. Interesting that in the first part of this arc, “Gethsemene” (4×25), it was Mulder who appeared to be on the verge of solidifying his faith once and for all with tangible proof of alien life and Scully who tried to nonchalantly keep her own at a distance through her rejection of Father McCue. Brilliance? Quite possibly.

Verdict:

Need you even ask? It’s a good thing no one could witness me grinning and giggling and exclaiming while I was watching (and rewinding) this episode for the review. Yes, even 14 years later.

I couldn’t possibly have asked for a more satisfying start to the season. Even the shipper in me was appeased.

Well… okay. Maybe I still felt a little gypped that Mulder and Scully don’t have a deathbed goodbye scene. Not to mention we miss the revelation of her miraculous cure as well. But that’s so minor in comparison to all the other pop culture goodness.

For instance, there’s the glorious climax that, don’t laugh, reminds me of the ending of The Godfather in its pacing and editing. Skinner sweats it out trying to prevent Mulder from mistakenly naming him as the mole in front of the panel, Mulder bullies ahead anyway, Cigarette-Smoking Man is clueless to his own imminent danger, and all the while a skeletal Scully is chanting Hail Marys. And then when Mulder finally names Blevins as the man… oh the face. The face! The gangsta lean!

Whew.

Among the fans nowadays, I’m sad to say it, but there’s quite a bit of disparagement for Chris Carter’s writing skills out there. Why?? Have you seen this episode???

A+

The Big Qs:

How did Mulder find out Scully was in the hospital and which hospital she was in? We can be sure he didn’t call up Skinner. The Lone Gunmen perhaps?

How did Skinner find out about Cigarette-Smoking Man’s death? I doubt his obituary made the papers. I would have thought the Syndicate would have cleaned that mess up privately.

What was Scully afraid to tell Maggie Scully? And why didn’t we get to hear it??

Useless Commentary:

Mulder really is being stripped of everything this episode. Scully’s dying. Samantha rejects him. The truth isn’t out there. It’s no wonder he nearly ate Scully’s hand off in desperation.

If Scully had died, who else thinks Mulder would have gone on a vengeful, murderous rampage? Show of hands?

Who’d have thought there’d come a time when Mulder didn’t want to talk about his precious conspiracy but would rather hold Scully’s hand and talk of nothing? How ‘bout those Yankees indeed.

Wait… wait… yep. Still swooning.

Best Quotes:

Blevins: Agent Mulder, we’re here informally to give you the chance to help yourself.
Mulder: Help myself how?
Senior Agent: By allowing any facts or details which might serve to let us go forward with this enquiry in a more informed manner.
Mulder: That helps you. How does that help me?

——————–

Mulder: [To CSM in the hospital] Please tell me you’re here with severe chest pains.

——————–

Langly: That’s unreal.
Frohike: Too freaking amazing.
Mulder: Watch your language, Frohike, and grab me some tweezers.

——————–

Bill Scully: You’re one sorry son of a bitch. Not a whole lot more to say. [Leaves]
Mulder: [Answering phone] One sorry son of a bitch speaking.

——————–

Waitress: Tabasco. Cures anything.
Mulder: I’ll keep that in mind.

——————–

Scully: Mulder, even with the ballistics evidence I can still be the shooter…
Mulder: Scully, I can’t let you take the blame… because of your brother… because of your mother… and because I couldn’t live with it. To live the lie you have to believe it. Like these men who deceived us, who gave you this disease. We all have our faith and mine is in the truth.
Scully: Then why did you come here if you’d already made up your mind?
Mulder: [Laughing] Because I knew you’d talk me out of it if I was making a mistake. [Editor’s Note: ::tear::]

Redux 5×2: What does any of this have to do with flying saucers?


Mulder goes down the rabbit hole.

Did he or didn’t he? That’s the question were supposed to be asking ourselves at the start of Season 5. If Mulder didn’t actually kill himself, he was surely thinking about it. But I doubt anyone seriously expected that Fox would pay David Duchovny according to his contract without reaping the benefits of having him on a hit TV show. Oh, no. It doesn’t take more than a thimble full of brains to realize Mulder is very much alive. Instead, the dramatic tension is held aloft by another question: Does Scully know or doesn’t she?

The good news is that the answer is given rather quickly. Mulder’s alive and Scully knows it, she’s just a very, very good actress. Maybe she should quit her day job, although it’s probably too late for that since she’s about to go the way of the Dodo, but still.

Let speed on along right to my favorite moment of this episode, shall we?

Mulder: I need to know who did this to Scully.
Kritschgau: What you can have, what you may find is so much more than that.
Mulder: What?
Kritschgau: What you want most desperately of all.
Mulder: [Hopefully] The cure for Scully’s cancer?

Oh, Mulder. Right answer. Give the man a cookie.

I let out the “squee” heard ‘round the world the first time I heard that one. If the question is about what Mulder wants most, surely he’s going to mention Samantha, I thought. Isn’t the mystery surrounding her disappearance the backbone of the entire series and Mulder’s driving force in life? My how the times are a changing.

There was evidence way back in “End Game” (2×17) that Samantha and Scully had become about equal in Mulder’s mind. But the “Gethsemene”/”Redux”/”Redux II” arc is where the switch flips for Mulder in this little Phile’s opinion. After this, there’s never a question that to get to Mulder, your best bet is to push the Scully button. Consequently, the whole tone of Mulder and Scully’s relationship, or I should say, at least in the direction of Mulder to Scully, changes distinctly for the needy in Season 5. There’s an extra level of protectiveness regarding Scully that we haven’t seen from him since Season 2. Now Mulder pretty much turns into a mad man whenever Scully’s in trouble. He can live, albeit painfully, with the mystery of Samantha. But can he live without his only source of solace?

Speaking of the deep and wide mysteries of the Mulder family, Cigarette-Smoking Man seems to be mourning Mulder with a little more than the respectful regret due to a fallen foe. The way he lovingly gazes at the picture of little Fox and Samantha, it makes one think that the sly remarks he made to Teena Mulder back in “Talitha Cumi” (3×24) were more than just wishful bravado. There had to have been something between them. The question is exactly what relationship he has to Mulder, both biological and conspiratorial. Is he Samantha’s father? Is he Mulder’s father? Does he know he’s Mulder’s father? And taking his not necessarily truthful assertion that he “created” Mulder at face value, all these years has he been manipulating him through the X-Files partially in order to protect him? There’s food for thought.

In case you thought the Cigarette-Smoking Man realm of the conspiracy wasn’t far fetched enough, there’s a new game afoot. According our newly sanctified informant Kritschgau, since The Civil War, America fights wars solely to drive the economy. The alien abduction phenomenon is merely a cover so that the military can get access to our DNA. Why? Not for the sake of creating alien-human hybrids. After all, there are no aliens. But in order to have the tools and the power to successfully wage war, supposedly America’s dearest business. Flying Saucers? Hokum. Little Green Men? Bunkum.

I’m ashamed to say it, but I was initially completely fooled by Kritschgau’s confident assertions. I, somewhat gleeful at watching Mulder be proved wrong, dismissed the alien conspiracy altogether… don’t ask me how. Maybe I was too busy concentrating on MSR because how I explained the existence of The Alien Bounty Hunter to myself I do not know.

Unfortunately for Mulder and Scully, this military conspiracy only serves to point the finger firmly back in the FBI’s direction. And who at the FBI would make the most shocking Judas? Well, since Mulder and Scully haven’t actually depended on anyone else except… yep. Again, we’re back to the Skinner trust issue and considering how many times we’ve already been there, it’s amazing that the tension filled scenes between him and Scully are so compelling. I’d love to say this is the last time dear Skinner’s loyalties will be questioned, but…

And the Verdict is…

This is the second in a three-parter and as such, is heavier in information and exposition than actual action. But let that not be held against it. The revelations, true or not, are of the game-changing kind. And Mulder has finally been brought to recognize his own arrogance. Who would’ve thought that could happen?

This has always been my favorite mythology story arc, and deservedly so when I see again how little the tension deflates in “Redux”. Usually, part two can be all but assumed to be a bit of a dud when it comes to a three-part arc. Not so here because while it’s low on action, the drama between Scully and Skinner and Mulder and Himself only escalates. Not to mention, I love those Pentagon scenes.

We end with Scully on the verge of death and Mulder powerless to help her. If that doesn’t compel you to tune in to the next episode, what will?

A

Peanut Gallery:

What’s interesting about Mulder’s near suicide is that what stops him is Scully. What propels him and prevents him is Scully. He can’t let her go it alone when he got her into this mess.

Mulder: If only the tragedy had been mine alone, might it be more easy tonight to bring this journey to its end.

Oh the voiceovers in this one. I say voiceovers, but it’s really one giant voiceover. Thankfully, I’m so caught up in the drama that it doesn’t turn me off. Besides, it’s nice to get some primary source insight into the mind of Fox Mulder.

Nice touch bringing Scully back to Blevins’ office. There’s some beautiful déjà vu going on in “Redux”.

Again, we have Mulder and Scully on the same hunt but on two different trails. I love it when they do this.

I read somewhere, maybe one day I’ll find where it was, that Season 5 was supposed to mark a division of trust between Mulder and Scully, starting with Mulder killing Osselhoff and Scully not knowing whether to believe he’s telling her the whole tale about the man’s death. If that’s what they tried, they failed, because all I read from that scene is Scully’s almost unnerving ability to believe the best of Mulder. With one significant exception, Season 5 ends up being the most delightful example of Mulder/Scully solidarity since Season 2.

Best Quotes:

Cigarette-Smoking Man: I’ve always kept Mulder in check. I put this whole thing together. I created Mulder.
Elder: Agent Mulder is dead. Our FBI source confirmed it this morning. Mulder killed himself. Mulder was an asset. Without his partner you may have underestimated his fragility.
Cigarette-Smoking Man: I’ve never underestimated Mulder. I still don’t.

———————–

Kritschgau: You’ve heard the recent denials about Roswell by the military and the CIA? And what’s been the effect? Even wilder and more widespread belief; the American appetite for bogus revelation, Agent Mulder.
Mulder: But I’ve seen aliens. I’ve witnessed these things.
Kritschgau: You’ve seen what they wanted you to see. The line between science and science fiction doesn’t exist any more. What this is about is control… of the very elements of life: DNA. Yours, mine, everyone’s.

Gethsemene 4×24: If you’re gonna go, why not go all the way?


The tears of a clown.

Last we left Mulder, he nearly killed his partner and himself in a repressed memory induced swirl of self-pity. No mention is made in this episode of the hidden secrets hinted at in the previous one, “Demons” (4×23), but judging by the unoptimistic closing voiceover delivered by Scully, it’s not an uneducated guess to think that his doubts and demons are still closing in on him. It’s in this atmosphere that Mulder gets blindsided with the biggest disappointment of all. Yes, even more disappointing than finding out your father is a chain-smoking cross between The Grinch and The Cheshire Cat and may or may have not tried to blow you to smithereens on a pile of mutant skeletons.

You see Mulder at last has to seriously consider the possibility that aliens may not be real. And if it wasn’t bad enough to find out that you’re a pathetic and delusional loser, he also finds out that the one person in the world who doesn’t think he’s a crackpot is about to die very likely because of his stubbornness. In other words, it’s an uplifting 45 minutes of television we have here.

Yes, I know that considering the inexplicable reality of both The Alien Bounty Hunter and Jeremiah Smith, it’s hard to believe that The X-Files could seriously expect us, let alone Agent Mulder to believe that there’s nothing remotely paranormal going on in this television universe. But, for me, all I can say is that I relish this chance to come at the mythology from a decidedly normal perspective.

Okay, normal with strong tints of paranoia.

Up to this point, Mulder has been almost religiously convinced as to what the truth is. His conversation on the stairs with Scully, when he asks her what she would do if someone could prove to her the existence of God, brings out into the open a theme that’s been quietly allegorical for the entirety of The X-Files’ run. Mulder’s search for aliens, his stalwart belief in them even when the rest of the world thinks he’s crazy, even though he’s never seen them, it’s all a metaphor for a single man’s search for God, his search for The Truth. Is it an accident that the title of this episode is “Gethsemene”, the name of the garden where Jesus faced his final emotional and spiritual struggle before going to the cross?

Truthfully though, it’s a testament to Scully’s influence on him that Mulder holds back as much as he does in this episode. Season 1 Mulder wouldn’t have hesitated to assume that the “alien corpse” was real. He would have been aglow with boyish excitement until the cold hard truth came crashing down. To Season 4 Mulder’s credit, he’s probably more reserved in his assumptions here than we’ve ever seen him, certainly more cautious. Indeed, this episode readily invites comparison with “EBE” (1×16), the first time Mulder wonders, “Which lie to believe,” after Deep Throat led him on an interstate wild goose chase. It begged the question then and even more so now, are these mysterious men in power merely Punking Mulder for their own amusement?

It’s not an idea without merit. I mentioned “E.B.E” where it’s clear that Mulder is being manipulated to both spread and contain disinformation. Then there’s “Anasazi” (2×25) when Mulder is drugged to discredit him by driving him to violence. And if that weren’t enough cause for doubt, all of Season 3 toyed with the question of whether Mulder’s radical or Scully’s traditional point of view is more accurate. They’re both seeing the same evidence, but is the truth that a secret group of men is hiding the existence of alien life for some nefarious purpose or that these same men are perpetuating a myth to cover up their own all too human atrocities? The idea hasn’t been revisited nearly all of Season 4 but now it’s back with a vengeance, theoretically threatening to undo all the plots that have been twisted over the course of four years of television.

I say threatening because no one in the audience seriously believes (except for me at the age of 14) that the entire mythology plotline has been little more than a hoax. There have been too many inexplicable events. And more than that, no viewer in their right mind (even me at the age of 14) believes that Mulder is dead and David Duchovny out of a job.

Just because it’s easy to refute this episode in all its glory doesn’t make it any less exciting, far from it. In fact, considering the fact that David Duchovny’s continuing contract was quite public at the time, I’m impressed that they were able to create such an atmosphere that it feels as if Mulder could/would really kill himself, even though you know it can’t happen. This is in large part thanks to the emotional notes established in “Demons”.

Verdict:

I don’t know that I ever appreciated before how over the course of this three-episode arc leading into the new season Mulder and Scully’s spiritual journeys head in distinctly opposite directions. Mulder begins affirming his faith only to be robbed of it, Scully starts out removed from her faith only to eventually confess her own neediness. It’s really quite artful now that I’ve finally noticed the parallel.

On an unrelated note, it’s easy to rag on The X-Files and particularly on our dear Chris Carter for the purpleness of its prose sometimes. And, yes, this entire episode arc is full of voiceovers that come across as a little too poetic to represent the people and situations they’re supposed to represent. However, by this point I’m so emotionally involved in these characters and the revelations that I can get caught up in the drama without concerning myself too much with whether or not Mulder would actually say things like, “Byzantine plot.” Call me too lowbrow to care. I’ve rewound this episode so many times I actually have the breaths and pauses memorized.

A

P.S. An extra thought: The smartest thing they did here was not in keeping Mulder’s death vague, but in keeping Scully’s part in all this completely up in the air. Does she really think Mulder is dead? Has she turned to the dark side? Is she blaming Mulder and turning her back on the X-Files? Those were the questions weighing most heavily on my mind come Season 5.

Unnecessary Observations:

I said it before in “Tooms” (1×20) and I’ll say it again: Scully should have been an actress. That woman lies like no other.

Blevins is back without so much as a passing comment as to why he disappeared in the first place.

Kritschgau is one of my all-time favorite guest characters. Heck, his story was so convincing, I believed him.

Is it just me, or is Scully’s denial/arrogance beginning to wear thin? How long can she go on pretending to be completely self-sufficient? Thankfully, not much longer.

Best Quotes:

Scully: Early this morning I got a call from the police asking me to come to Agent Mulder’s apartment. The detective asked me, he needed me to identify a body…
Section Chief Blevins: Agent Scully…
Scully: Agent Mulder died late last night from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

———————–

Mulder: After all I’ve seen and experienced, I refuse to believe that it’s not true.
Scully: Because it’s easier to believe the lie, isn’t it?
Mulder: …What the hell did that guy say to you that you’d believe his story?
Scully: He said that the men behind this hoax, behind these lies, gave me this disease to make you believe.

———————–

Bill Scully: What are you doing at work getting knocked down and beaten up? What are you trying to prove? That you’re gonna go out fighting?
Scully: Oh, now come on, Bill…
Bill Scully: Do you know what Mom is going through? Why do you think I didn’t tell her when they called?
Scully: What should I be doing?
Bill Scully: We have a responsibility, not just to ourselves but to the people in our lives.
Scully: Hey look, just, just because I haven’t bared my soul to you or, or to Father McCue or to God doesn’t mean I’m not responsible to what’s important to me.
Bill Scully: To what? To who? This guy Mulder? Well, where is he, Dana? Where is he through all this?
Scully: …Thank you for coming.

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Scully: You already believe, Mulder, what difference will it make? I mean, what, what will proof change for you?Mulder: If someone could prove to you the existence of God, would it change you?
Scully: Only if it had been disproven.
Mulder: Then you accept the possibility that belief in God is a lie?
Scully: I don’t think about it actually and I don’t think that it can be proven.
Mulder: But what if it could be? Wouldn’t that knowledge be worth seeking? Or is it just easier to go on believing the lie?

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Kritschgau: That’s just like you, Agent Mulder, suspicious of everything but what you should be.