Tag Archives: MSR

Millennium 7×5: See, you had me up until there.


All hail the Fangirl Flail.

Sadly, Chris Carter’s second born television baby Millennium didn’t last until the Millennium it was named after. In what I can only assume was a result of steadily dropping ratings, Millennium was canceled in the Spring of 1999, just in time to prevent hero Frank Black from stopping the coming apocalypse.

Back in the day, and up until the recent present, I was not a Millennium watcher. (I’m sorry, Chris.) It was one of those shows I intended to tune into eventually, but I never got around to it and then boom, it was gone. I told myself that this time, before I watched this episode I would complete the series so as to have a better sense of what’s really going on here. Well, I haven’t completed it yet, though I’m currently watching the final season, but my eyes have been opened to two things about The X-Files’ first crossover episode:

  1. Frank Black is pretty cool.
  2. You really don’t need to have seen five minutes of Millennium to get it.

I’m sure Carter must’ve been hard-pressed to both conclude Millennium in a way that stayed true to what that show was about and would please its loyal, disappointed fans and yet keep The X-Files’ aesthetic, focusing on giving an audience mostly comprised of people looking for The X-Files and not Millennium what they wanted.

It would be nearly impossible to tie up three years’ worth of Millennium in one hour of television solely dedicated to that purpose, let alone if that hour were shared with another series that had its own long history of story, character and aesthetic. That’s why I think it’s wise that Chris Carter didn’t even attempt it.

Oh, sure. He gives us an update on what’s happening in Frank Black’s life, where he’s at personally and professionally, etc. We learn a little bit more of what’s happened to the Millennium Group in the series’ absence. But what we really get in “Millennium” is an emotional coda rather than a resolution. It doesn’t conclude the plot of Millennium, but I think it allows fans to say goodbye knowing that Frank Black is going to be okay.

The only thing I have trouble with is that it’s hard to take the images that we’re seeing, independently compelling though they are, and mentally tie them to a worldwide apocalypse. Zombies in the basement are such a small-scale problem when compared to Armageddon.

Also, this episode is a perfect example of how Season 7 is, understandably, more self-conscious than any season before it. The show has been around for a long time at this point and while ratings may be falling, it’s still aware of its own status as a cultural phenomenon. When Frank, Mulder, and Scully stand together as a threesome perfectly framed by the camera, it’s with an awareness that two fictional worlds with a cult-like following are colliding. And when Mulder punctuates he and Scully’s hard earned first kiss with a, “The world didn’t end,” it’s with the knowledge that the audience at home is saying the same thing.

Alright. Now that we’ve gotten all that out of the way, let’s move on to what we’re all really here for, shall we? After seven long, very long, years of unresolved frustration… more so on the part of fans than Mulder and Scully themselves… The Kiss.

Oh, how do I even start? It was chaste but not dead, sweet but not sugary, self-conscious but still self-deprecating, too friendly to be lustful but too lingering to be friendly, open without spilling secrets, meaningful without digging too deep, loaded yet casual, joyful yet not manic. In short, it was so much all that it needed to be that Chris Carter is lucky I didn’t hunt down his place of residence and kiss him myself.

I won’t confess how many times I’ve watched this scene and out myself as a closet sentimentalist. Suffice it to say that Mulder and Scully bring out the inner girl buried somewhere underneath layers of Teenage Ninja Turtles and Mortal Kombat, and this is coming from the child who never cried at Bambi.

I just can’t with these two. The flailing. The flailing!

I said in the review for “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×4) that Mulder and Scully essentially said their vows at the end of the episode, that the only formal barrier left between them was the physical one and it was only a matter of time before that one dropped as well. If you weren’t sure then that they had an “understanding,” please pay close attention to the way this kiss goes down.

Mulder doesn’t look at Scully as if he’s just realizing how he feels about her, nor does he kiss her as if he’s declaring his feelings. I love (love) the way he looks at her and mischievously contemplates the kiss as if to say, “Why not?” Why not indeed, Mulder? Now is as good a time as any. What’s holding you back any longer? The conspiracy is dead. Diana is dead. Y2K never lived. Go on and kiss the girl.

And please notice that on Scully’s part, after Mulder kisses her, her face doesn’t say, “Mulder! Does this mean you have feelings for me? I never knew!” No, no, no, no, no. Her face says, “That was nice. What brought that on?” There’s only mild surprise at Mulder’s spontaneity. There’s no shock, no emotional breakthrough. They already know.

What I love about the fact that it’s taken so long for Mulder and Scully to get their romantic act together is that there’s almost no conscious choice involved. By the time it happens, it has already happened. It passed the point of possibility and crossed the Rubicon into inevitability some time ago while neither of them was paying attention. They don’t need a declaration, or fanfare, or even a hallway the walls of which must be painted with some sort of aphrodisiac it causes so much romantic yearning. At this point, they just are, and I can’t express in words how much I love that. You’d just have to count the flails.

Verdict:

I’ve tried to ask myself, “What would I think of this episode if there were no kiss in it?” Let me tell you, that question is harder to answer than it sounds. “Millennium” feels right, it looks right, it tastes right. And I’m especially glad that zombies finally took their rightful place in The X-Files’ repertoire. But I also must confess that while I’ve seen this episode multiple times over the years, I still failed to remember the general plot apart from the fact that it involved people coming back from the dead. Even without a kiss tacked onto the end it’s a solid episode, but in what may turn out to be my official lamentation for Season 7, it’s lost that lovin’ feelin’. Take the kiss away and I have no real reason to set my trigger finger to “Rewind.” “Hungry” (7×1) is good without being great and I’m afraid “Millennium” hasn’t broken that pattern.

But that’s okay. I don’t watch it for the actual episode anyway.

B+

Kosher Salt:

It’s interesting to note, this is the first of four episodes this season that deals with overtly religious themes. That’s right, I said “four.” On average there’s about one per season, if that, and while I doubt there was any conscious decision in the writers’ room to work things out this way, that fact struck me as I was watching this time.

I can’t help but think Chris Carter must’ve really enjoyed teaming up his three heroes, especially Mulder and Frank Black who, as Scully points out, share some similarities in character. It never happened, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if Frank Black had made another guest appearance in later years. Despite the differences in tone and theme between The X-Files and Millennium, he was a good fit on the show.

Frank Black still has his famous red Jeep. Three cheers for continuity.

I heard you throw in that Millennium music, Mark Snow!

Confession time – I make no secret about my love for this kiss, but a part of me still twinges in disappointment every time. Why? Well, it has nothing to do with unfulfilled expectations. No, it’s that there’s a moment after the kiss where Scully looks just a little too bored and I find myself wondering if Chris Carter wasn’t trying to drive home the point that the Mulder and Scully thing was never a big deal after all. And that makes me a little sad because it is a big deal. In the realm of television history and in the world of teenage girlhood it is a very big deal, my dears.

Am I the only one who finds John 11:25 being repeated over and over again incredibly relaxing?

Best Quotes:

Scully: Mulder, you been spreading rumors?
Mulder: Why? You hear any good ones lately?

———————

Scully: The year 2000 is just their artificial deadline and, besides, 2001 is actually the start of the new millennium.
Mulder: Nobody likes a math geek, Scully.

———————

Mulder: The world didn’t end.
Scully: No, it didn’t.
Mulder: Happy New Year, Scully.
Scully: Happy New Year, Mulder.

———————

Mike Johnson: I am the resurrection and the life. He that believeth in Me, though he were dead…
Frank Black: …yet shall he live. Whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.

The X-Files Movie Part 2: I had you big time.


Scully: [Jiggles door handle] Oh! Now what?
Mulder: It’s locked?
Scully: [Jiggles handle again] So much for anticipating the unforeseen.
Mulder: [Tries the door in panic and it opens easily]
Scully: [Smirks widely] I had you.
Mulder: No you didn’t.
Scully: Oh yeah. I had you big time.
Mulder: You had nothing. Come on, I saw you jiggle the handle.

Before we can talk about the infamous hallway scene, we have to discuss how well Chris Carter set it up for us.

I mentioned in Part 1 how effective the introduction of Mulder and Scully is on the rooftop in Dallas. Not only does the movie establish, in a funny and memorable way, the personality of these two individuals, it also perfectly illustrates the dynamics of their relationship and, more importantly, it waves a magic wand and turns the entire audience into lifelong Shippers.

I kid, but not really. It’s important that the connection and affection between these two is such that you want them to kiss by the time we make it to the hallway, or else the moment has no power. For long time fans of the show, we’re already there – well, the sane among us, anyway.

Don’t think I exaggerate when I say that the success of the whole film rests on this two-minute scene. If the dynamics here don’t work, then the audience sure as heck won’t understand why Mulder later braves a frozen wilderness to bring this woman home. Emotionally, the rest of the movie won’t make sense.

Scully: Are you drunk, Mulder?
Mulder: I was until about 20 minutes ago, yeah.
Scully: Was that before or after you decided to come here?
Mulder: …What exactly are you implying?

That’s a good question. I certainly didn’t understand what she was implying till, oh, about this time last year. That’s twelve years of ignorance.

Why would Scully think that Mulder would drop by her place drunk and stupid to say or do something he shouldn’t say or do? Well, her threat to quit is weighing heavily on her sleepless mind and she knows it must be weighing on Mulder’s as well. Perhaps she thinks he might put the moves on her with alcohol clouding his judgment, which would mean she already knows there’s something between them. If she does, this is the first she’s ever indicated it. Or perhaps she’s afraid he’ll make an embarrassing scene by begging her not to leave. But he’s not ready to do that quite yet.

I personally lean toward the latter based on their history, but then the dialogue implies that Scully thinks Mulder is there to hit on her like a drunken frat boy. Maybe in another twelve years I’ll get it.

Mulder: What are my choices?
Scully: About a hundred miles of nothing in both directions.
Mulder: Well, which way do you think they went?
Scully: Well, you got two choices. One of them’s wrong.
Mulder: I think they went left.
Scully: I don’t know why, I think they went right.
Mulder: [After a moment’s mental deliberation, speeds off straight ahead into the desert, avoiding both choices] Five years together, Scully. How many times I been wrong?
Scully: [Silence]
Mulder: Never!
Scully: [Silence]
Mulder: Not driving, anyway.

Thanks to a significant hint from the movie itself, (Actually, it’s less like a hint and more like a neon sign when Strughold discusses the thing that Mulder can’t live without and looks up meaningfully right before we cut to a screen full of Scully), the audience now knows that Mulder and Scully aren’t merely partners and friends, Scully is the most important thing in Mulder’s life.

This is another one of those moments with double benefits. Those new to The X-Files can now be sure of the depth of Mulder and Scully’s relationship, something they need to understand before the intensity of the hallway scene shocks them. And for us regulars, we finally get to hear it since neither Mulder nor Scully have ever openly admitted it. Everything about their relationship is implied and understood, it’s never been explicit… until now.

We jump from that gleeful revelation to another scene that’s symbolic, indicative of Mulder and Scully’s entire partnership. Do we go left? Do we go right? No. We split the difference and that’s how we arrive at the truth. Alone, neither Mulder nor Scully would get anywhere. Yet another moment to illustrate the fact that Mulder really can’t succeed in his quest without Scully. Without her, he would have turned left and missed the evidence he was looking for.

So now we’re sure Mulder is both emotionally and practically dependent on Scully. Cue the bee.

Mulder: What’s wrong?
Scully: Salt Lake City, Utah. Transfer effective immediately. I already gave Skinner my letter of resignation.
Mulder: You can’t quit now, Scully.
Scully: I can, Mulder. I debated whether or not even to tell you in person, because I knew…
Mulder: We are close to something here! We’re on the verge!
Scully: You’re on the verge, Mulder. Please don’t do this to me.
Mulder: After what you saw last night, after all you’ve seen, you can just walk away?
Scully: I have. I did, it’s done.
Mulder: I need you on this, Scully.
Scully: You don’t need me, Mulder. You never have. I’ve just held you back.
Mulder: [Stunned silence]
Scully: I got to go. [Walks out]
Mulder: [Chases her down the hallway] You want to tell yourself that so you can quit with a clear conscience, you can, but you’re wrong!
Scully: Why did they assign me to you in the first place, Mulder? To debunk your work, to rein you in, to shut you down…
Mulder: But you saved me! As difficult and as frustrating as it’s been sometimes, your G-d-d strict rationalism and science have saved me a thousand times over! You’ve kept me honest! You’ve made me a whole person! I owe you everything, Scully, and you owe me nothing. I don’t know if I want to do this alone. I don’t even know if I can. And if I quit now, they win.

Oh, where to start?

Let’s start back at the end of Season 5. Remember, even though the plot of this movie is meant to be such that a new viewer can follow along it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Yes, you can absolutely understand and enjoy what’s going on here without the backstory, but to fully appreciate the depth of it you have to have been watching for a while, long enough to know what a breakthrough this moment is for these characters, long enough to consider the emotional context.

When we left Mulder and Scully in “The End” (5×20), they were not only dealing with the trauma of the X-Files being burnt to a crisp, but an emotional monkey wrench was thrown into their relationship with the arrival of Diana Fowley, Mulder’s one-time partner and lover. Fowley, like Mulder, is a true believer and Mulder for once gets to enjoy having someone accept his theories at face value rather than pick them apart. To his credit, though, when Fowley hints that her Yes Man services would have been more useful to him than Scully’s science he straightens out that misunderstanding right quick.

The problem is, he forgot to straighten out that same misunderstanding with Scully herself. See, Scully has always prided herself on two things: Being the person that Mulder trusts (an issue that will be addressed in the Season 6 premier) and being the person that Mulder needs. However unscientific Mulder himself may be, nary a case goes by that he doesn’t coerce Scully into some all important autopsy or beg her to run tests on some barely tangible evidence. Rather than Scully’s science debunking Mulder’s work as the conspirators originally intended in sending her to him, Scully’s science has been the one thing that’s given the X-Files legitimacy.

Why then would Scully say something as silly as, “You don’t need me, Mulder. You never have. I’ve just been holding you back?” Well, the shorthand that Mulder has with Fowley and their obvious meeting of the minds has eroded Scully’s confidence in her relationship with Mulder and this is really where this statement of hers comes from, not from anything that’s happened over the course of the film, which is evidence that she’s been indulging in a pity party long before the hallway. It’s not that she’s so juvenile as to think he doesn’t value her at all, her behavior up to this point doesn’t indicate that. But the idea has entered her mind that Mulder needed and preferred a type of Diana Fowley all along, someone who understands and believes in what he does. Scully doesn’t believe in what Mulder does, she believes in Mulder.

It’s a good thing that her faith in him is precisely what Mulder wants. For his part, Mulder responds to this seemingly random admission the only way he can, stunned silence. After her statements earlier in the film it doesn’t come as a surprise to Mulder that Scully wants to quit, what stuns him is why she’s ready to go and that it has nothing to do with Dallas. He can’t possibly have known what Scully was feeling and you can watch realization and the emotions it brings cross his face once she tells him. I could play indignant and try to blame Mulder for never telling his partner how much he appreciates her, but it’s not his fault. This is how Mulder and Scully’s relationship works; it’s like an iceberg where the bulk of their emotions are kept down below with just the tip visible, and that only in good weather.

Yes, their relationship is mainly built on what they don’t say, but that doesn’t mean they don’t communicate their feelings, quite the contrary. They do it all the time! They just do it silently in a mix of intense In fact, most of Mulder and Scully’s best moments involve little to no dialogue. They don’t need it and it would be superfluous. For instance, even in this scene most of the intensity builds after Mulder stops talking. You can read every emotion that crosses their faces as if they were written words. But I digress.

Normally, the understanding between them is rock solid because their eyes and actions perform a more efficient service than their words could ever do. But the recent erosion of Scully’s confidence means that, for once, Mulder is going to have to be explicit. He has one shot to convince Scully of how much she means to him because if she makes it to the elevator, she’s gone.

A touching speech ensues where Mulder lays his neediness out for Scully’s inspection. Never one to resist Mulder’s puppy dog face, Scully silently caves in. Now the two of them are basking in the shared glow of mutual adoration and those still watching are either silently holding their breath or squealing in anticipation. Finally, all those years of pent up attraction are about to be rewarded – is that what’s really happening here?

A passionate kiss is on the verge of taking place, but I don’t believe it’s passionate because their lust boileth over, it’s an overflow of mutual admiration. It’s not that Mulder and Scully aren’t attracted to each other as people, it’s just that I don’t think typical boy-girl attraction is what ignites this moment or their relationship in general. These sentimental emotions of theirs in regards to each other have reached the point where they are so powerful that they have no way to express themselves except in the physical. Once you love someone that much how can you merely say it? Mulder and Scully keep a sharp leash on their emotions, so once they finally boil over keeping them in check is impossible and the kiss is inevitable.

That is, it would be if evil didn’t run rampant in the earth.

Before these two can consummate their long-simmering feelings, before the audience can experience the sweet release of the butterflies in their tummies, a bee buzzes in and takes it all away.

It’s sadism. Pure and simple.

I can’t say I expected any different from Chris Carter, although every time I see this part of me thinks he gets a special sort of pleasure from torturing his audience. No, we all knew it wasn’t really going to happen. For myself, I knew I wanted it but I also knew I didn’t really want it. If they had actually gone through with the kiss us fans wouldn’t have had as much to look forward to. Worse, if they had, for the sake of drama there would have been nothing for the writers to do but split them up again. And God forbid that the Mulder/Scully relationship had turned into an on again off again soap opera.

This is still a point of no return because even if Mulder and Scully don’t kiss, it’s obvious that they wanted to, and both of them know that the other wanted to, which is even more significant. The question is, how long can they feign ignorance and ignore that fact? As I said, they’re experts at keeping silent.

Mulder: [Performing CPR] Geez, breathe! Breathe, breathe, breathe!
Scully: [Coughs]
Mulder: Breathe in, breathe in, breathe!
Scully: [Mouths something]
Mulder: [Leans in to hear]
Scully: I had you big time.
Mulder: [Chuckles]

The kiss is a no go, so 1013 compromises and gives us a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation scene. And it’s not just a physical resolution to the earlier hallway scene; it’s emotional as well with Mulder stroking her face and her teasing him. For a moment they smile at each other in a room full of ravenous aliens as if they have all the time in the world.

[Imbecilic Grin]

The entire sequence where Mulder (mostly) carries a barely conscious Scully through the spaceship and out to safety… Mulder’s finest hour. I willingly ignore how impossible it all is, the climbing, the falling, the survival, because the whole thing makes me teary eyed and, dang it, that’s a rarity. I can almost hear what Scully’s thinking after they’ve made it to safety and she cradles an exhausted Mulder in her arms, “This precious, precious man.”

So they (inexplicably) make it home and life returns to normal, no evidence and no honor. Mulder is acutely aware of that fact but Scully… she’s holding her head a little higher. Could it be because someone in this world could sing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to her and actually mean it?

Is this what causes Scully’s newfound confidence at the O.P.R. panel? Well, I can tell you what doesn’t. It’s not that Scully has seen anything more to convince her of the truth of what she’s saying. She was knocked out after that virus hit her and she has no real knowledge of what went down in Antarctica. No, I think Scully is more certain than ever that her place is at Mulder’s side and if that means that along with him she’ll be a martyr before the panel or the entire F.B.I., so be it. She’s needed.

Mulder: No. No. 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 quit! You’re 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. {Editor’s Note: ::noisy sniff::}
Scully: I can’t. I won’t. Mulder, I’ll be a doctor but my work is here with you now. And that virus that I was exposed to, whatever it is, it has a cure. You held it in your hand. How many other lives can we save? Look… if I quit now, they win. {Editor’s Note: She’ll forget every word of this speech in 5, 4, 3, 2…}

Verdict:

Lovely Reader, if you had any idea how much mental energy I expended on this movie this weekend you would be ashamed for me. I am ashamed for me, but it had to be done. This is my Once and For All.

What else can I say that I haven’t already exclaimed over in detail? I could nitpick editorial goofs, or run through a play-by-play of every emotion on Mulder and Scully’s face during the hallway scene, but all things must end and this is as good a place as any.

I merely add that the only OTP is this OTP. All others will try and fail.

A+++

Bee Pollen:

After having deep, heartfelt discussions with myself about this movie and this scene all weekend and coming to the conclusions above, I watched it yet again with both the 2008 and 1998 commentaries and was rewarded not only by hearing Chris Carter confirm that the mouth-to-mouth scene was indeed meant to bring the hallway scene full circle physically, but by Rob Bowman beautifully explaining that the kiss Mulder and Scully verge on completing comes not out of lust but out of overwhelming respect. I feel so justified and self-complacent right now that I have, quite literally, patted myself on the back with both hands.

The near kiss is preceded by the first kiss of any sort they’ve ever shared that was initiated by Scully. Mulder kissed her forehead in “Memento Mori” (4×15) and Mulder kissed her hand in “Redux II” (5×3). Maybe it was the fact that Scully showed some blatant affection this time that made Mulder think he could take it a step further since we know that some romantic notions were already a-twinge in the man’s soul.

That “I have no allergy” line may be one of the most foolish lines The X-Files ever gave us, since a preexisting allergy isn’t in the least a prerequisite for an allergic reaction. You can eat sunflower seeds all your life and then one day, boom. Scully, being a doctor, would be aware of that, bee sting or no bee sting. But, hey, I guess they had to establish for the audience that what was happening to Scully was diabolical and not routine.

When Scully says, “Please don’t do this to me,” it gets me every time.

Who else thinks Mulder and Scully disturbed the neighbors?

I don’t believe I’ve ever made it the whole way through the hallway with two eyes wide open. I have to squint like a schoolgirl or watch through my fingers.

“That’s the theme of the movie: Mulder needs Scully. And never before has he come to that understanding quite so strongly as he does in this story.” – Rob Bowman

It’s a not-so-well-kept secret that Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny asked to film a version of the hallway scene where they went through with the kiss. This version, different than the gag reel one, is now loose on the internet. Search at your own risk.

“I’m not gonna watch you die, Scully, because of some hollow, personal cause of mine.” I’m sorry, what was that, Mulder? Please repeat.

To show you how observant I am, I have seen this film exactly 1,976 times and I only just realized that while Mulder is wearing a t-shirt up on that Dallas rooftop, Scully has on a full suit under her F.B.I. jacket.