Tag Archives: Mulder Ditches Scully

Closure 7×11: I guess I just want it to be over.


x-files-265

Don’t look any further.

I want to believe so badly, in a truth beyond our own, hidden and obscured from all but the most sensitive eyes, in the endless procession of souls, in what cannot and will not be destroyed.

Sure, I’ve skipped the more annoying parts of this voiceover. But if there’s anything an X-Files voiceover does, besides aggravate us with misplaced poeticism, is it gives us a shortcut to the heart of the matter. And this one picks us up emotionally, thematically and chronologically where “Sein Und Zeit” (7×10) dropped us off. The kids are dead, but the kids are alright. We don’t have proof of it, but we want to believe it. We know we should believe it.

I won’t bore you with a rehash of the discussion of being, death, life and walk-ins that was the “Sein Und Zeit” review. That was then. This is Samantha.

The search for Samantha has been the bedrock, the backbone of the show. Even Mulder’s search for the truth of alien life was fueled by memories of his sister’s abduction and his desire to find her or at least find out what happened to her.

Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Mulder hardly mentions Samantha anymore. He’s mostly moved on. Oh sure, she comes up as a token topic of conversation every mythology two-parter. But if you’ll cast your mind back to “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×4), you’ll remember that even during Mulder’s famous dream sequence, when he imagines his life through a Leave it to Beaver lens and is reunited with his long-lost sister, their reunion lasts one scene. That’s it. “Hey! Luv ya, how ya doin’?” And it’s over. He spends almost no time on her mentally.

I see three main reasons for the growing lack of interest in Samantha:

  1. Hearing about her without making any real progress toward seeing her gets old after a while.
  2. Scully has taken her place emotionally, insofar as Mulder has found the family that he was missing and that Samantha’s abduction destroyed. Way back in “End Game” (2×17) we saw that Mulder was willing to trade the woman he then thought was Samantha for Scully. And in “Redux II” (5×3) we found out that the deepest desire of his heart was not to be reunited to his sister, to find out what happened to her, or to know the truth of alien life. It was to find a cure for Scully’s cancer. Mulder still misses Samantha, of course, but he’s lost the urgency of loneliness.
  3. We really already know what happened to Samantha. We just don’t know what happened after that.

Chris Carter was right to finally give us the last word on Samantha. Like Cigarette-Smoking Man says, “There was so much to protect before. It’s all gone now.” I know Carter wanted to take people by surprise by presenting this story in the middle of the season rather than waiting till the end for the traditional mythology finale. Considering where the series ends up going, and the mythology ends up going, and David Duchovny ends up going, it likely wouldn’t have been possible to give Samantha her proper treatment come season end. And we needed, we needed some emotion from Mulder at this point. Some people say David Duchovny was phoning it in this season. I say there wasn’t much else for him to do. After all, what’s driving Mulder? What’s pushing him? What’s pulling him?

Samantha’s storyline needed an end and we got one. Good. Yet, I still have mixed feelings about the way it went down. Overall, this episode was very well done. Some eye-rolling over the concept of the walk-ins and over the melodramatic language in the teaser aside, this and its predecessor are the most emotionally compelling episodes we’ve had in a long time. However, after all the ups and downs we’ve been through over Samantha… seeing her as a clone (Colony), a drone (Herrenvolk), and even an unknown (Redux II), the repressed memories (Conduit), the new and improved repressed memories (Demons), the strong hints that she’s alive out there somewhere (every frickin’ season)… to have it all end so matter-of-factly, to say that she just disappeared one day into the starlight, feels anticlimactic. And to effectively say all hope was lost long ago, before you ever started watching and wishing, is a bit of a let down.

Ah, Samantha, we never knew ye. You were abducted one night by the Alien Colonists, taken to ensure your father’s cooperation in the plot to take over the human race. Then you were returned and handed over to the Cigarette-Smoking Man, subjected to a series of experiments to try to turn you into an alien-human hybrid because, of course, the Syndicate betrayed the Colonists by trying to create a hybrid race that could withstand takeover by the Black Oil. You suffered for two years, then like the biblical Enoch, you were not, for God took you.

It was over before it had begun.

Mulder’s entire family is officially dead. Ponder that, if you will.

Mulder, for all his grief, or maybe because of it, is more himself than he’s been in a while. He’s sneaking into air force bases again, he’s following his instincts no matter how irrational, and he’s hanging up on Scully like he’s got a bad cell phone plan. He’s irritating. He’s classic. He even drops a flirt in the middle of a seance to find his sister.

Scully: Oh, yay. A seance. I haven’t done that since high school.

Mulder: Maybe afterwards we can play postman and spin the bottle.

How does he drop a gem like that at a seance to find his sister and say it that way? The inappropriateness. The melts. The rewinds. Oh, Mulder. Why do you make me love you so much more after I hate you?

Samantha may be gone but Mulder’s here. God is in His heaven, all’s right with the world.

Verdict:

Dear David Duchovny,

I’m so glad you exist.

A-

Lack of Closure:

It’s never directly stated, but some of Mulder’s speculations in “Sein Und Zeit” had to have been wrong. Teena Mulder probably didn’t have a vision of her daughter dead and never wrote a note. Nurse Ray saw her dead because she was with her and there probably was no note, since Samantha’s death turns out to have had nothing to do with Ed Trulove, the serial killer discovered in the previous episode. It’s only the walk-in connection that ties Samantha to Amber Lynn. Probably Teena Mulder saw a vision of her daughter in starlight at some point afterward and realized she was dead, she just didn’t have the heart to tell Mulder.

But if that’s the case, will someone please explain “Colony” to me? Because that Teena Mulder had no idea her daughter was dead.

At the very end, when Nurse Ray confirms to Scully that Samantha disappeared from the hospital mysteriously, every time I think to myself, “How did we get here? How did we get from walk-ins to Samantha to murder to Samantha and back to walk-ins again?” Every time.

For reals, though. Mulder finds this case that matches another unsolved case. The mother from the first case explains to him about walk-ins. His mother kills herself, probably unrelated to any of this directly. Mulder assumes that his mother must have known about the walk-ins and that his sister is one of them. Then he thinks his sister has been murdered by a serial killer. A random psychic comes and tells him Samantha has been taken by the walk-ins after all. Mulder develops a new theory that Samantha was abducted by aliens, but was returned afterwards to CSM who raised her for a period – true. He also believes she wasn’t taken by walk-ins and is alive somewhere – false. And then, boom. She’s in starlight after all. The story comes full circle but it isn’t the easiest to follow.

The diary idea seems an almost too convenient way to have Samantha speak to Mulder from beyond the grave. But it’s a touching scene nonetheless. Scully’s compassionate reaction to Mulder’s grief is perfect. She doesn’t drop stilted wisdom. She doesn’t try to talk him out of being sad. She’s just doesn’t let him grieve alone.

Who is this Agent Lewis Schoniger that Scully consults with about Mulder’s recovered memories? And why do I have to go to the credits to get his name?

David Duchovny’s 1989 Wig. It should get its own special.

That scene with Scully and CSM – we don’t get enough of those. Apparently, William B. Davis agreed, because soon he’ll give us “En Ami” (7×15). Meanwhile, a juicy little tidbit is embedded in that brief conversation: CSM is sick. In fact, I’d be willing to bet Chris Carter brought him physically to Scully just so we could know that.

Back to the serial killings, was Ed Trulove ever in Idaho? Because if not, he didn’t kill the boy in Mulder’s original X-File about the walk-ins and the mother writing a note referencing Santa Clause doesn’t make sense.

It looks like it isn’t just the walk-ins and the souls they help that live in starlight. All dead people do.

It’s very cool to see Anthony Heald from Silence of the Lambs, even if psychic Harold Piller is so annoying even Mulder almost throws him out.

Scully’s wearing a leather jacket.

There’s this great moment in the diner after Mulder calls out Harold for hiding information only to be persuaded by his words yet again. The expression on Mulder’s face says, “Well, Scully? Can I go with him? Can I?”

Jeffrey Spender spent at least a couple of years of his childhood raised alongside Samantha Mulder by CSM. How did Spender not ever mention this? That’s a pretty significant piece of information we learned this episode. A piece of information I don’t believe ever becomes relevant again.

As Mulder sleeps, Planet of the Apes plays in the background and we hear, “Don’t look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find.” This echoes what Scully said to Mulder in the previous episode. “Don’t go looking for something you don’t want to find.”

Oh, how I had Moby’s Play album on repeat back in the day and his music here is perfect. The vibe actually reminds me a lot of the aesthetic composer Mark Snow has already established for the show.

So that moment in the seance makes me wonder if Mulder and Scully are already sleeping together. But we’ll get to that.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I have this powerful feeling, and I can’t explain it, that this is the end of the road. That I’ve been brought here to learn the truth.” {Editor’s Note: Just in case the audience was tempted to think otherwise.}

 

Demons 4×23: Can I see what’s in the bag now?


Be vewy, vewy quiet. I’m hunting wabbits.

This episode always satisfies me. Scully gets to play doctor. Mulder gets to play dumb. And Chris Owens gets to play Cigarette-Smoking Man in flashback again. What’s there to complain about?

It’s not a Fright File. It’s not meant to be scary, but it is meant to make you lean forward in your chair and I think it certainly succeeds at that. Temporary amnesia is a motif that’s been done, many, many times over in every kind of pop culture medium; television, movies, books, comics, etc. But since a sense of displacement and a lack of self-knowledge are endlessly disconcerting concepts, this theme can be replayed countess times without being as boring as it probably should be. In fact, The X-Files will tackle temporary amnesia again come “John Doe” (9×7).

This is one of the best in the category of “Mulder is an Impossibly Infuriating Idiot” episodes. For one thing, Mulder seems to make it his personal mission here to self-destruct. For another, this episode features one of his worst Scully-ditches ever when he leaves Scully stranded at his mother’s house in a highly awkward situation.

David Duchovny does a great job here dabbling in what Season 4 is famous for, angst. But I have to say, Scully is my favorite part of this episode. I love Scully when she’s like this: Mama Bear Mode. Mulder isn’t just legally innocent in her mind he is innocent and she won’t believe otherwise unless someone can show her a picture of him with a smoking gun in his hand. Even then, she’d think of some way to find him not responsible. She’s too loyal to willingly believe anything truly horrible of him or to allow anyone else to either and I dare say her fierceness only would have accelerated had The Powers That Be tried to go forward with Mulder’s prosecution. And when she’s a mere heartbeat away from putting a hurtin’ on Dr. Goldstein during that scene where she confronts him in the back of the police car? Golden. No wonder he coughed up the information.

Speaking of coughing up the goods, we’ve already heard that Bill Mulder made the choice that Teena Mulder couldn’t make, the choice to give up Samantha to the Colonists rather than Mulder as a sort of living guarantee that he wouldn’t betray the project, a hostage, really. Now it looks like there was more to the story than just playing Eeny Meeny Miney Mo to decide which Mulder had to go. There was vague innuendo back in “Talitha Cumi” (3×24) that there may have been more history between Cigarette-Smoking Man and Teena Mulder than he and Bill. For those that need a refresher, here’s a clip from their conversation:

Teena Mulder: I have nothing to say to you.
Cigarette-Smoking Man: Really? We used to have so much to say to each other. So many good times at the Mulder summer place… your kids young and energetic. I remember water-skiing down there with Bill. He was a good water-skier, your husband. Not as good as I was but then… that could be said about so many things, couldn’t it?
Teena Mulder: I’ve repressed it all.

So is Mulder right when he accuses his mother of adultery? Did Cigarette-Smoking Man force Teena to give up Samantha because she was Bill Mulder’s child rather than his own? Is Mulder really a Mulder??

Was Samantha abducted by aliens or by men? Was she abducted for extraordinary reasons such as the survival of the human race, or for mundane ones like being born to an adulterous mother?

The questions raised in this episode tie in nicely with the Season Finale coming up next. When we leave our hero at the end of “Demons”, he has no way of differentiating between the truth and the lies. With all the tinkering he’s done to his own mind through regression hypnosis and, er, other means, he can’t be sure that his own memories aren’t skewed beyond recognition. And a question for a future date, how does he know the memories he does have weren’t given to him through some nefarious purpose, a way of keeping him under control?

Frankly, this episode doesn’t give us any answers, only tantalizing suggestions that will shortly be exploited even further. Think of it as a primer of sorts. It does have some good news buried in it, however: At least Mulder can trust Scully when he can’t trust himself.

And the Verdict is…

“Demons” is the only episode Executive Producer R.W. Goodwin ever wrote though he directed quite a few, including the very next episode, the season finale, “Gethsemene” (4×24). Along with Special Effects Supervisor Mat Beck’s underappreciated “Wetwired” (3×23), I wonder very seriously why Chris Carter didn’t move more of the crew to the writing staff.

In a way, this set of episodes that ends Season 4 and begins Season 5 feels like a four-parter because starting with “Demons”, certain themes are continuous and one episode’s story arc flows into the next. In fact, I never watch “Gethsemene” without watching “Demons” first. It sets the mood.

Even though it’s technically separate, it’s emotionally tied to the three-part season finale/season premier. But is it a mythology episode? Well, it’s a character study. This is about Mulder and his past. And since his past is inexorably linked to the mythology… well, it’s mythology by default. Certainly, it presents information that will prove important to the mythology plot later on, but whether or not that information is true, whether or not Mulder’s memories are real, is a subject up for debate and that debate is about to come to the forefront of The X-Files very quickly.

Scully: [Voiceover] …but I am concerned that this experience will have a lasting effect. Agent Mulder undertook this treatment hoping to lay claim to his past, that by retrieving memories lost to him he might finally understand the path he’s on. But if that knowledge remains elusive and if it’s only by knowing where he’s been that he can hope to understand where he’s going, then I fear Agent Mulder may lose his course and the truths he’s seeking from his childhood will continue to evade him, driving him more dangerously forward in impossible pursuit.

A

Comments:

Does anyone else love that moment when Dr. Goldstein invites Mulder and Scully to sit down and they both smirk at him and keep standing?

All I can think when I see Dr. Goldstein is, “Hey! It’s that dude from Men in Black!”

Season 4 may just have set a record for use of flashbacks.

This is why Scully shouldn’t drive: what a horrible parking job.

“It’s my risk,” he says? For shame, Mulder. Where’s the solidarity you demanded from Scully at the end of “Elegy” (4×22)? He’s not exactly spilling the beans to Scully about these colorful visions of his any more than she confessed to him, “I see dead people.”

Nags:

Scully walks into the motel room and handles all these objects, a gun that’s been fired, a bloody shirt, that might be evidence of a crime, with her bare hands.

It’s really not clear why the abductees, or even Mulder, want to kill themselves. Are the memories just that painful? Why kill yourself just as you’re finally figuring your life out?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I had those peoples’ blood on my shirt, Scully. I was missing for two days. I have no recollection of my actions during those two days. There were two rounds discharged from my gun. I had the keys to this house, the keys to their car. Do the words Orenthal James Simpson mean anything to you?

—————————-

Mulder: What did you do to me?
Dr. Goldstein: I told you…
Mulder: You treated me. I asked you to treat me, to recover my past.
Dr. Goldstein: I did nothing wrong.
Mulder: You put a hole in my head!
Dr. Goldstein: A slight electrical stimulation…
Mulder: Triggered my memory.
Dr. Goldstein: Yes, as you had hoped.
Mulder: Now, I want you to finish the job.

Herrenvolk 4×1: Don’t unlock doors you’re not prepared to go through.


Eight hours after he left her in the wind...

This will be relatively quick and painless because I spent most of this episode trying to unravel the conspiracy more so than anything else. Consequently, I have more questions than answers.

Last we left off, the Bounty Hunter had cornered Mulder, Scully and Jeremiah Smith. Smith was secretly released by CSM in exchange for curing his cancer, but the Bounty Hunter is still out to exterminate him for revealing his powers by healing people in a public restaurant, therefore risking the project’s exposure.

After a successfully unsettling teaser, we pick up in media res with Mulder scrambling to save Jeremiah Smith and so save his mother, since he believes Jeremiah can heal her. Unfortunately for Mulder’s plans, Jeremiah is too busy to save one woman when he can save the world and he demands that Mulder comes with him so that he can first learn the truth. Why characters in movies and television never tell the truth but invariably insist that in must be seen resulting in the truth never actually coming to light, well, there will never be a reasonable explanation except that what would be the point of making people watch?

I mentioned back in “Talitha Cumi” (3×24) that maybe Chris Carter needed to give us a background primer on all the species and sub-species of alien and clone. Maybe we need a primer on viruses too. I’ll warn you that I’m unqualified to give such a lesson, but I’ll share what I (think I’ve) pieced together so far…

The virus that killed the electrical technician in the teaser was some particularly potent strain of Smallpox. It’s neither the “Purity Control” virus, which we were introduced to back in “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (1×25) or the still to be revealed Black Oil virus (right now the Black Oil is still an enigmatic alien form of sentience). Why the Syndicate is manufacturing Smallpox, I have no idea.

But we do know that up until Smallpox was declared eradicated in 1979, the Syndicate was using Smallpox vaccinations to catalogue and inventory the American public, the inference being that since this is a worldwide conspiracy, international conspirators were making similar arrangements in their home countries. This provides a confirmation of what we learned earlier in “Paper Clip” (3×2), but it still doesn’t tell us what they’re categorizing the public for. The why makes sense since the WHO’s efforts to eradicate the virus would have all but ensured that nearly every child born on the planet would be exposed to the vaccine giving them a built-in cover for the conspiracy.

And kudos to Chris Carter because it’s a nice touch to let Scully solve, at least in part, this aspect of the conspiracy without the help of Mulder. This is how Scully is able to shine this episode when, emotionally, the story is all Mulder’s. Speaking of which, I love that scene where Mulder lays his head on Scully’s shoulder as he mourns his soon to be dead (or so he thinks) mother. It’s so well played by both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. They don’t overdo it, but you can feel Mulder’s anguish and grief and Scully’s responding compassion. This is why I love these two. ❤

Verdict:

X had to go, I suppose, and at least he died in the throes of drama. There wasn’t much left that they could do with his character in terms of developing the mythology plot, though I still feel a twinge of regret that we’re left with so little insight into his motivations. He comes back from the dead in a flashback episode, “The Unusual Suspects” (5×1), couldn’t he have come back again to reveal the origins of his relationship with Deep Throat? Even a few seconds of it?

I’ll miss you, X. I was never much the fan of your successor.

A

Random Musings:

I remember being worried that the writers were about to start something with Mulder and Marita Covarrubias, which would have turned my show into a soap opera. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Though it eventually did turn into a soap opera.

Now, where else have I seen a car crash into a telephone booth… ah yes, The Matrix.

This episode features one of the most aggravating “Mulder Ditches Scully” moments of the series. Where is that man’s sense of timing? “I need you to know that I’m okay, Scully. I’m fine.” Yeah… No one asked how you were doing.

I’m not so sure I buy CSM’s “We can’t turn Mulder’s quest into a crusade” excuse. I’m not so sure why the Bounty Hunter does.

Mulder tells Scully she can’t use her gun on the Bounty Hunter. So what does she do? She immediately pulls her gun on the Bounty Hunter.

Jeremiah Smith doesn’t talk like a human being, he talks like a writer.

I’m hungry.

Random Questions:

Why didn’t Mulder and Smith stop to get gas on the way to the farm when they knew they were headed to the middle of nowhere and might run out?? What’s more, Smith already knew about the bees and that they could kill Mulder. He wouldn’t have poured a tank of gas over his head ahead of time just in case? Those bees were flying around long before the Bounty Hunter started chasing them.

Why give all the Jeremiah Smiths the same name? Isn’t that a tip off?

How did CSM get away with releasing Jeremiah Smith last episode?

The Bounty Hunter can heal so quickly from even mortal wounds, why then is he still covered in bee sting scars at the end of the episode? I suppose this is so we know he’s not just another Jeremiah Smith in disguise?

Best Quotes:

Jeremiah Smith: You have to understand something. I must perish. Whatever the consequences to that end they are incalculable to the preservation of the larger plan.
Mulder: The larger plan? You mean colonization.
Jeremiah Smith: Hegemony, Mr. Mulder. A new origin of the species.
Mulder: I don’t understand.
Jeremiah Smith: I can show you.

———————

Scully: What I’m saying is that I think this protein is a tag. Some kind of genetic marker that was applied to me when I was inoculated against Smallpox as a child.
Senior FBI Agent: Why you?
Scully: Not just me, all of us. Quite possibly anybody who’s been inoculated over the last 50 years.
Second FBI Agent: Agent Scully, frankly, this sounds like something we might have expected from Agent Mulder.

———————

Bounty Hunter: Everything dies.

———————

Marita Covarrubias: Not everything dies, Mr. Mulder.

———————

Scully: Nothing happens in contradiction to nature, only in contradiction to what we know of it. So that’s a place to start. That’s where the hope is.

———————

CSM: You see, the most ferocious enemy is the one who has nothing left to lose. And you know how important Agent Mulder is to the equation.

Grotesque 3×14: You never fit your own profile.


Art Therapy

“Grotesque” is a unique episode and admirably ambitious, yet I can’t help feeling that it takes itself a little too seriously at moments. And that, of course, just makes me want to roll my eyes at the most inappropriate times. I appreciate the plot and the concept and while it’s mostly successful, I feel slightly disengaged when I watch it. It’s sort of Mulder’s answer to the Scully-centered episode “Irresistible” (2×13) where the line between the paranormal and natural human evil is blurred, but this one is psychological rather than emotional. Good, and admirably ambitious, but not great.

Last time we actually saw Mulder care about someone’s negative opinion of him we were still somewhere in Season 1, when the memory of his former glory days at the F.B.I. weren’t far behind him and you could tell that the occasional dig still hit a nerve. Skepticism directed at Mulder’s abilities/sanity is nothing new. “Squeeze” (1×2) and even “Lazarus” (1×14) give us a glimpse at how often there’s sniggering behind his back. But every time we meet one of Mulder’s former colleagues, Jerry in “Ghost in the Machine” (1×6) and Reggie in “Young at Heart” (1×14), they have a healthy respect for Mulder’s capabilities. Heck, later on there will be Diana Fowley, another former partner who, er, recognizes Mulder’s strength. Between what we know of these characters’ relationships with him and his current partnership with Scully, to know Mulder is to love Mulder, or at least to learn to appreciate him despite himself. This is the first time we’ve seen someone who worked alongside Mulder actually dislike him. And it’s the first time in a long time that Mulder has reacted to anyone’s dislike. So what is eating Agent Patterson?

We never really find out why Mulder irritates Patterson so. But I remember having this genius friend in High School who aced Latin even though she spent 99% of every class passing notes with me, when she even came to class that is. Our teacher couldn’t stand her. I suspect something similar is going on with Patterson and Mulder. Either that or he’s the stereotypical 1950’s father who can’t tell his son how proud he is of him but put a few drinks in him and he’ll have no problems telling the rest of the world. I’m leaning towards the former as his venom toward Mulder denotes both admiration and jealousy.

His relationship with Scully in this episode isn’t much better. The further down the rabbit hole he goes the more he consciously shuts her out. Season 3 has seen the writers as a whole putting distance between Mulder and Scully in quite a few episodes. Things were too perfect between them in Season 2 to continue that way; they’d lack depth in the long run. But maybe there’s too much distancing going on now. Too often only one of them has enough of a personal connection to solve a specific case. Whatever happened to them figuring it out together? That hasn’t really occurred since “2Shy” (3×6) or possibly “The Walk” (3×7). Even “Nisei” (3×9) and “731” (3×10) saw them going down different investigative paths and drawing different conclusions. I submit that such a device makes logical sense in mythology episodes where the writers need to disseminate lots of material to the audience, and it allows both Mulder and Scully to grow as characters. But at some moments this season I’m left wondering why they’re even partners when they’re not working together.

I think soon the collective writing club at 1013 Productions comes to realize the Mulder and Scully seesaw is tilting too far in one direction and they start adding weight to the other side for the last half of the season, a development which I’m forever grateful for. It’s not that I don’t agree that Mulder and Scully should have independence, autonomy and interests apart from each other and even apart from the X-Files. That was part of what I enjoyed about “Revelations” (3×11) was that Scully had a supernatural niche all her own. I just miss seeing them work as a team rather than acting as an antagonist of sorts in each other’s individual drama.

The Verdict:

Besides the less than inspirational interpersonal dynamics, my other bone to pick with this episode is that the solution is too clear from the beginning. Only someone from the crime team knew the ins and outs of the murders? Then someone from the crime team committed the murders. And it’s certainly no shock when Patterson, obsessed with finding the killer, turns out to have found his killer’s obsession instead. In fact, we’re expecting it. With the 1980’s/1990’s rise to prominence of Criminal Profiling, the tale of an investigator becoming what he hunts isn’t exactly fresh and new. I couldn’t say for sure, but I don’t believe it was fresh in 1995 either.

I don’t think “freshness” is a concern here regardless. It’s a vehicle to let David Duchovny strut his emotional stuff, which he certainly does a solid job of. This episode is about exploring more of the tragic side of Mulder’s nature and his ability to intuitively understand people, the gift that’s actually a curse. Writer Howard Gordon, even more so when working with partner Alex Gansa, has a propensity toward the solemn and the serious when it comes to giving us X-Files. His previous offerings include “Conduit” (1×3), “Born Again” (1×21) and “Sleepless” (2×4), all episodes with a rather grim sense of loneliness, a theme echoed again here. He also successfully adds poeticism into the mix in “Dod Kalm” (2×19). “Grotesque” reminds me a lot of “Dod Kalm” in tone and theme; both show us a man slowly turning into what he hated and both are continually swathed in blue light.

After all that tepid to cold praise, I do like this episode. It’s a brave departure from the norm. I just wouldn’t turn it on to have a good time.

B

Peanut Gallery:

It’s a little difficult to believe Mulder went that crazy that fast, but then, they only have 43 minutes.

I kinda dig the exploration of insanity vs. demon possession. Which is which and how do we know? Like “Irresistible” before it, we don’t get a straight answer in the end.

Didn’t Mulder already have his tortured soul moment in “Oubliette” (3×8)? Maybe that doesn’t count since this one brought up Samantha and this one has absolutely nothing to do with his sister issues?

Scully’s one moment of glory in this episode, as she cocks her chin in Skinner’s office, is my favorite part.

Best Quotes:

Scully: So you’re not going to tell me when your love affair with Patterson ended?
Mulder: Patterson never liked me.
Scully: I thought you were considered the fair-haired boy when you joined the bureau.
Mulder: Not by Patterson.
Scully: Why not?
Mulder: Didn’t want to get my knees dirty. Couldn’t quite cast myself in the role of the dutiful student.
Scully: You mean you couldn’t worship him.
Mulder: Something like that, yeah.

——————–

Mulder: Patterson had this saying about tracking a killer. If you wanted, uh, to know an artist, you have to look at his art. What he really meant was if you wanted to catch a monster you had to become one yourself.

——————–

Agent Patterson: I have to tell you, I am really disappointed in you.
Mulder: Well, I wouldn’t want to disappoint you by not disappointing you.

——————–

Agent Patterson: My advice to you, Scully: Let Mulder do what he has to do. Don’t get in his way and don’t try to hold him back… because you won’t be able to.

——————–

Skinner: Are you worried about him, Agent Scully?
Scully: No, sir.
Skinner: Off the record.
Scully: [Cocks her head]
Skinner: So am I.

Syzygy 3×13: Sure. Fine. Whatever.


The X-Files meets Carrie

I confess, this is a tough one to analyze for me. Mainly because I’m not sure what to make of it myself. It’s like a cross between the broad clichés of “Die Hand Die Verletz” (2×14) and the humor of “War of the Coprophages” (3×12). But since it’s neither as frightening as the Morgan & Wong penned “DHDV” or as funny as the Darin Morgan outing “WOTC” it’s difficult to digest in parts. Not to say that it’s horrible. It certainly has some memorably funny moments. And one thing Chris Carter could always do better than any other writer on the show was Mulder/Scully banter. Their digs at each other are the highlight of the episode.

But they’re also the lowlight. By that I mean that the comedy in “Syzygy” relies almost solely on exaggeration. Scully isn’t just a skeptic she’s purposefully obtuse. Mulder doesn’t just wonder at Scully skepticism he berates her for it. It’s as if he found a new friend on the playground in the blonde detective and together they started making fun of his old pal. It’s funny because it’s absurd that these two people who are so close end up nearly hating each other for an episode. But at times it’s hard to watch them be so disrespectful of each other, even through the laughs.

Because of that I’m not sure if coming off of “WOTC” helps or hinders the plot. In defense of it helping, the tension between Mulder and Scully picks up where it left off. However, that only lends this fight more credibility, as if the damn has snapped and Mulder and Scully are letting loose on each other some long held resentments. If so, some of those resentments are pretty serious and that’s part of why “Syzygy” is hard to watch at moments.

That said, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make me laugh. Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny have incredible comedic timing that The X-Files has only had a few chances to exploit so far in the series. Part of me enjoys hating Mulder so much. Truly, Mulder deserves to be shot in this episode, not because he unwittingly (for the most part) seduces Detective White but because of the snide remarks he makes at Scully’s expense.

Moving away from Mulder and Scully, Margi and Terri aren’t exactly the most compelling Monsters of the Week. And, frankly, their absurd characterization is what throws the episode off at points. Whose idea was it to name these girls “Margi” and “Terri”? From their names to their clothes to the words that come out of their mouths, it’s as if someone who didn’t know any teenage girls in real life took an 80’s stereotype, electrocuted it and threw it in front of the camera.

…And the Verdict is:

I don’t take this episode as seriously as I used to. It’s an aberration. A fluke. If it weren’t, Mulder and Scully could have potentially caused an irreparable rift in their relationship. While I enjoy the contention in the spirit of comedy, past a point the hurt feelings exposed and generated would have to be addressed and dealt with. Instead, when the clock strikes 12 and the syzygy is over, Mulder and Scully turn back into regular old mice; they’re in sync again and all is right with the world. Well, mostly. There’s still that little argument in the car on the way back.

If, however, we keep “Syzygy” within the context of the series, then the tension that began at the end of “WOTC” continues through this episode even to “Grotesque” (3×14); Mulder and Scully are in a state of chronic miscommunication. This is not Season 2’s Mulder and Scully. There are times when that tension is particularly unpleasant to watch, but the end result is Season 4’s Mulder and Scully so all is forgiven.

This episode attempts something similar to “WOTC” but less successfully; its tone isn’t always consistent. I think it’s clear by the end, though, that the content of this episode is meant to be enjoyed and then forgotten. Nothing Mulder or Scully say or do in this episode should be held against them in the long run. It’s an astrological anomaly.

By the by, I do believe that moment in the hallway after Mulder sniffed Scully was the closest he ever came to death.

B

P.S. Is Scully jealous? That’s easy. Yes. But in her defense, any woman whose partner ditched her for a leggy blonde and made jokes at her expense to impress said leggy blonde would have a similar reaction.

Superfluous Questions:

Are the stars to blame for why none of the investigating officers picked up on Margi and Terri’s fake tears and inconsistent affects? They weren’t even convincing sociopaths.

Wasn’t Mulder drunk not a few minutes before he drove away from the motel? I take it the look of barely restrained fury on Scully’s face sobered him up?

Superfluous Comments:

The absurd opening funeral scene is reminiscent of “Humbug” (2×20), no?

This is where I learned what a “screwdriver” was. I remember walking out into the family room to ask dear old Dad what Mulder was doing with that orange juice.

Detective White is Mulder’s second potential love interest in a row. Is Season 3 his season or what?

I can’t decide whether the funniest moment in the episode is Mulder desperately pressing “0” for the operator in a drunken attempt to evade Detective White’s advances or the expression on Scully’s face when Mulder says, “It must be Detective White.”

Zirinka the Astrologist almost steals the show.

Best Quotes:

Scully: And you have physical evidence of these rituals being conducted?
Detective White: No. No, just the murder victims.
Scully: So you have nothing concrete to connect these things to Satanists?
Detective White: [Shakes head]
Mulder: If, uh, you detect a hint of skepticism or incredulity in Agent Scully’s voice it’s because of the overwhelming evidence gathered by the FBI debunking virtually all claims of physical abuse by satanic cults.
Detective White: [to Scully] Is that true?
Scully: [Starts to speak]
Mulder: Don’t ask me.

———————
Scully: Let me guess. They told you about a wild beast entering in on a black mass, the drinking of blood, the sacrifice of an infant… or a blonde virgin.
Detective White: Yeah. That’s right. Excuse me.
Scully: Where’s she going?
Mulder: You don’t suppose she’s a virgin, do you?
Scully: I doubt she’s even a blonde.

———————

Mulder: Let me drive.
Scully: I’m driving.
Mulder: Scully, it’s not what you think.
Scully: I didn’t see anything anyway.
Mulder: Will you let me drive?
Scully: I’m driving. Why do you always have to drive anyway? Because you’re the guy? Because you’re the big, macho man?
Mulder: No, I was just never sure your little feet could reach the pedals.

———————

Mulder: When we were here before…
Zirinka: I’m just waiting for authorization.
Mulder: I’m a Federal Agent!
Zirinka: Last I heard, the federal government couldn’t pay its bills. Okay, you’re good for up to 300 bucks.
Mulder: All right.
Zirinka: How can I help you?

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


Mulder, say it ain't so!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…And the verdict is:

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

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

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

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

A-

Questions:

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

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

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

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

Comments:

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

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

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

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

Best Quotes:

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

——————

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

——————

Mr. X: You wanted to see me?

Mulder: How was the opera?

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

Mulder: I’m sorry. I need your help.

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

Mulder: I need to know what you know.

Mr. X.: OK. They’re all dead.

——————

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

——————

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

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


That would be bad for the fish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

C

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

Head Scratchers:

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

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

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

Here nor There:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Best Quotes:

 

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

———————

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

———————

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

———————

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

———————

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