Tag Archives: One Son

Field Trip 6×21: I thought we had a good time?


Them bones, them bones, them dry bones.

This is another one of those Season 6 episodes where I wasn’t sure what to make of it for the first few minutes. Okay, make that the first twenty minutes. (An alien in the bedroom? What?) Long gone are the days when a Monster of the Week episode had to involve an actual Monster.

We open with an odd couple at odds. This petite redhead and her lanky Mr. Stud seem a little mismatched and hearing their argument, one wonders how they ever came together in the first place. But the genuine affection between them more than makes up for any superficial differences and they quickly reach an understanding… just in time to die.

That’s where Mulder and Scully come in.

From that point on, the rest of the episode is essentially a lengthier repeat of what happens in miniature during the teaser. Oh, except for the dying part.

Pretty Redhead? Check.
Studmuffin? Present.
Oddly matched personalities? Doubtless.
Silly argument? Yep.
Shared acid trip? Dude.
Compromise and renewed mutual appreciation? Score.

It’s no surprise to see Mulder and Scully paralleled so nonchalantly with a married couple. It’s not even really gratifying at this point either because it’s old news. The writers don’t even bother to draw too much attention to the similarities. Mulder and Scully passed the honeymoon phase a long time ago and it was starting to look like everyone but them realized how settled and “married” they already were.

To emphasize how settled their routine is, the customary slideshow is resurrected. This is the first time it’s been used since Mulder and Scully have been back in the basement office and only the second office slideshow since “Bad Blood” (5×12), which is interesting since “Field Trip” is essentially a more serious treatment of the fuel that fired that episode – Mulder and Scully’s contrasting viewpoints.

Well, maybe it’s the curse of the Seven Year Itch but the routine seems to be getting to them. One of the major tensions of the season has been Mulder’s frustration with Scully’s continuing refusal to believe. Now I think it becomes clearer that his issue isn’t so much that Scully’s a skeptic so much as he takes her skepticism personally as a lack of faith in him.

Scully: Mulder, can’t you just for once, just… for the novelty of it, come up with the simplest explanation, the most logical one, instead of automatically jumping to UFOs or Bigfoot or…?
Mulder: Scully, in six years, how… how often have I been wrong? No, seriously! I mean, every time I bring you a new case we go through this perfunctory dance. You tell me I’m not being scientifically rigorous and that I’m off my nut. And then in the end who turns out to be right like 98.9% of the time? I just think I’ve… earned the benefit of the doubt here.

I want to take my usual position on Scully’s side of the argument here, but in good conscience, I can’t. Okay, his declaration sounds arrogant, it does. But Mulder’s not exactly wrong. The 98.9% number he throws out may be just a tad high, especially since while he’s usually closer to the truth than Scully he often has to amend his initial hypothesis, but Mulder has proven over and over that his instincts are uncanny. And while Scully’s natural instinct is to gravitate toward the most logical explanation, she’s seen enough at this point to know better than to make instant assumptions.

What makes a tense moment worse is that Mulder’s not really angry, he’s hurt, and slightly offended that she’s still so dismissive of his theories after all this time. Scully is so taken aback by his unexpected response, or perhaps by his depth of feeling, or perhaps by her own guilt, or most likely all three that she has nothing to say in self-defense.

And it’s here, in this brief moment of disharmony, that I pause.

There’s a thing, a rumor, an idea that’s been floating around the interwebs in recent years and it disturbs me. It’s the fanfic-sprouting notion that Mulder and Scully are in a co-dependent relationship.

Somewhere, someone’s been skimming through too many pop psychology paperbacks while sunk a little too deep in their armchair. Remember Maurice in “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” (6×8)? He was a hack, a hack with an agenda. He took a modicum of truth about Mulder and Scully, threw it out there as “intimacy through co-dependency” and the glory of MSR has been tarnished by it ever since.

Co-dependency has no official definition that I’ve been able to find. Instead there are long lists of signs and symptoms with some definitions choosing to focus more on certain characteristics than others. There is a common theme, though: a missing sense of self apart from another person to the point where one will do almost anything that person wants you to. The problem is that the lack of self identity required for co-dependency is too easily mistaken for the more honorable character trait of self-sacrifice. A wife gives up a part-time job she likes because her husband says they don’t spend enough time together anymore and he misses her. Self-sacrifice or self-loathing? Wise or shortsighted?

If I may say so, and I will say so, though I say so not as a mental health professional… it seems to me that the difference between a healthy, mutual reliance and co-dependency has a lot to do with one’s sense of self. Do the sacrificial acts come from a place of self-aware love, of confidence? Or do they stem from a desperate need to hold on to somebody, anybody?

What would make Scully co-dependent is if she became a knee-jerk believer in order to please Mulder. What would make Mulder co-dependent is if he gave up his convictions in order to keep Scully around. Those would be signs of an unhealthy relationship. But this?? If “Field Trip” is anything it’s proof positive that neither Mulder nor Scully have changed one iota for the other and that’s a good thing.

I say “one iota” for dramatic effect and, yes, their fundamental personalities are the same as ever. But they have changed in that they’ve grown wise enough to realize that neither of their perspectives, while valuable independently, are independently sufficient to get to the truth. They realized that long ago, Mulder openly admitted as much in the feature film. But somehow, maybe because of the trust issues they’ve been having all season, they’ve momentarily forgotten how valuable the other’s perspective is. Ah, but in a bit of karmic brilliance facilitated by an overgrown fungus, suddenly they’re each faced with an overdose of their own opinion. That’ll cure ‘em.

It’s hilarious to watch both of them start questioning their respective hallucinations only once their opinions are universally affirmed and unquestioned. When Hallucination Scully meekly declares, “You were right. All these years, you were right.” I can almost hear Mulder’s brain synapses go off like bombs – Does not compute.

What I love about these dream sequences is how straight they’re played. Scully really believes Mulder is dead, and she really acts like she believes. The emotional honesty of it helps prolong the mystery. We know something’s not real, but what’s not real and where/when did it start? About the only thing I don’t like about these sequences, the only thing I don’t like about the whole episode, actually, is the Jell-O mold morph. Those special effects just don’t match up to the real-world green goo in the field.

But that’s a minor quibble. I can’t hold it against the episode that is probably the purest and most direct explanation of what makes Mulder and Scully “Mulder and Scully” and why they’re so effective together. Frankly, they are dependent on each other. They rely on each other’s separate strengths without neglecting their own. Neither of them would have survived this X-File alone. It takes Scully to initially realize what’s going on and Mulder to realize it’s still going on. So, yes, they need each other. What of it?

Despite what some think, and despite what Mulder and Scully themselves are sometimes tempted to think, their partnership doesn’t need perfecting. They don’t need to change. Two heads, two very different heads are better than one. I don’t care what anyone says – If this is co-dependence, then someone please sign me up for some.

Didn’t Babs say it best? “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world.”

Verdict:

In the grand tradition of “Wetwired” (3×23), “Demons” (4×23), and “Folie a Deux” (5×19), “Field Trip” is not just the penultimate episode of the season, it’s the emotional finale before the season finale. This reaffirmation of Mulder and Scully’s trust in and reliance on each other is absolutely the perfect lead-in to the next set of angsty problems they’re about to face.

That’s it. It’s done. I’m not sure I can pinpoint exactly when it happened. Perhaps it was “One Son” (6×12), perhaps “Milagro” (6×18). But this show is no longer about aliens, assuming it ever even was. It’s about two people who love each other.

And in the end when Mulder reaches for Scully and she responds without even opening her eyes because she just knows… here I go again chanting I Love You’s to people without flesh and bones.

A

The Peanut Gallery:

The lab results on the “bog sludge” come back absurdly fast.

How could I forget the moment where Scully drives a Dodge pickup?

Scully is so Scully. Even when she’s about to break down after finding out Mulder is dead, she’s still asking investigative questions. Immediately.

Who are all these people who would actually mourn Mulder? When did he get friends? That right there should have tipped Scully off.

How incredibly uncomfortable must this episode have been for Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny. Buried alive in dirt and slime? Really? Who’d they piss off to get stuck with this detail?

There’s never an explanation for how these hallucinations can be shared, but OK.

Best Quotes:

Scully: UFOs. Extraterrestrial visitors from beyond who apparently have nothing better to do than buzz one mountain over and over again for 700 years.
Mulder: Sounds like crap when you say it.

——————–

Frohike: We’ll make that monkey pay.

Arcadia 6×13: Did I not make myself clear?


Us? Married? You don't say...

Who knew the day would come when you could pay your mortgage with perfect precision and still be evicted for violating your neighbors’ aesthetic sensibilities? Or more accurately, for violating your neighbors’ property values? I’m just going to put it out there and say that the true horror of “Arcadia” will be lost on anyone who hasn’t been subject to the capricious cruelty of a homeowners association.

You may think I exaggerate, but I’ve personally witnessed the unmarked cars that slowly and suspiciously pass by to inspect the nearly identical lawns in our neighborhood for flaws. A trashcan in plain view, an unshapely bush, or a front door with off color paint and you can expect to receive a terse notice post haste.

Not too long ago, we received an anonymous flyer in the mail rallying the neighborhood to help right a terrible wrong. It seems there’s another, less expensive neighborhood, down the street with the nerve to have newer, blacker pavement than us. If we’re not careful, visitors may think those people actually make more money than we do, what with our beat up grey streets. It’s urgent that each family invest a couple of hundred dollars over and above their association dues, taxes, and grocery budgets, yes, even in this bleak economy, so that we can bring our neighborhood back up to a grasping middle class standard.

And it was written in all caps. I swear to you.

This is all my way of saying that there’s a great subtext in “Arcadia” about the pitfalls of the pursuit of perfection. Not to mention the demotion of the American Dream into some cookie cutter concept of middle class home ownership and matching SUVs – A monotony of conformity. First time writer on The X-Files, Daniel Arkin, came up with the idea based partially on his own experience in a co-op.

This was originally supposed to be the first episode aired after “One Son” (6×12), an episode the events of which turned The X-Files’ longstanding mythology on its head. It’s no wonder then that The Powers That Be opted for more lighthearted fare to follow that up. Unfortunately for “Arcadia”, the two episodes that ended up airing directly before it also featured heavy doses of humor so some fans were getting restless at this point for a good, old-fashioned X-File.

In that respect, in terms of the X-File itself, “Arcadia” doesn’t earn the highest marks. The Stepford-style homeowners are much more frightening than the actual monster in this Monster of the Week. An Übermenscher made of garbage? Really??

Distractingly smelly pile of garbage aside, the basic plot reminds me of “Our Town” (2×24) where another seemingly ideal community hides a dark and deadly secret. In that episode, outsiders and misfits face the threat of being cannibalized, which holds a heck of a lot more emotional weight than being torn to pieces by a garbage heap. Hiding the absurdity of the “Tibetan Thought Form” by filming it mostly in the dark does help, but it still manages to be more funny than frightening.

I truly wish for “Arcadia’s” sake that it had a better monster because it deserves it for being so hilarious otherwise. Unlike “Agua Mala” (6×14) where the monster was effective but the characterizations were over the top, the humor here is on point the whole way through. “Arcadia” has the exact opposite problem.

Oh, and you may hear the occasional unfounded complaint, but Daniel Arkin doesn’t succumb to the temptation to turn “Arcadia” into a tantalizing adventure in UST and I’m grateful for that. Yes, there’s a whole lotta banter going on. But there’s never any serious threat of Mulder and Scully getting personal; no pregnant pauses, no yearning glances. The jokes are all in cheeky fun. Despite what you may read in fanfic, I don’t spy any secret desire in Scully’s eyes for Mulder to stop teasing and take her in his arms, nor do I imagine Mulder tossing and turning on a couch downstairs resisting the urge to break down Scully’s door in the heat of passion.

Whatever their feelings for each other, neither wants to be trapped together in some sterile suburbia. “Arcadia” is just an opportunity for the characters to good-naturedly rib each other, and maybe the audience at home as well. More importantly, it’s as though Chris Carter & Co. were trying to say, “Don’t worry. The recent, painful split between Mulder and Scully that we willfully, cruelly and unnecessarily inflicted upon you was only temporary.”

But that’s no thanks to Mulder. He is absolutely the highlight of this episode as he takes advantage of every moment possible to irritate Scully. He’s like the annoying kid at the back of the class who dips the girls’ pigtails in the inkwell. In fact, he overdoes his act to such an extent that the least believable part of this episode is that anyone would think Mulder and Scully were a happily married couple. Between his exaggerated smiles and Scully’s pained ones no one would buy it, which is ironic since when they don’t try everyone assumes they’re together.

And I’m not complaining because watching Mulder drive Scully up a wall still makes me laugh out loud. And seeing Mulder nearly pee on himself is its own reward. Silly monster or no, “Arcadia” is worth it just for the belly laughs.

You may want to cherish this moment because pretty soon, successfully funny X-Files will be few and far between. In fact… nah. Spoilers.

Verdict:

By the way, we live in a planned community built on reclaimed land. Like Mulder, we’ve been denied the portable basketball hoop in the driveway, a gift from my uncle. Currently, the light in our lamppost is out and we have yet to replace it.

In other words, if you don’t hear from me by Friday… feed my fish.

A-

Tibetan Thought Forms:

Didn’t the Kleins hear about the unibomber? Who opens packages with no return address?

Why would Mulder leave Scully alone in the house after he’s all but summoned the monster by name?

If Big Mike was the one who warned Mulder by sticking a note in his mailbox, if he’s the one who kept fixing the mailbox, where were the telltale signs of much? After all, he was living in the sewer at the time. For that matter, where’d he pick up the paint?

Interestingly, neither Mulder nor Scully seem to have their cover story straight. Aren’t you supposed to settle those details before going undercover? I’d say that Mulder was spontaneously changing the plan, but their mutual hesitation before answering personal questions makes me think they never concocted an official lie.

Rattan Furniture:

Notice there are no children in this episode.

It’s that guy from Monk… and from everything else.

Scully’s exposition of the case while she videos the crime scene is rather see-thru. It’s so long I start tuning her out after a minute. And you know what? It’s not even essential to understanding the plot.

I like Big Mike.

Okay, one of the best things about rewatching something you’ve already seen 20+ times is still finding new nuggets of gold. There’s a moment right after Gogolak breaks the news to Mulder that he can’t have a basketball hoop where Scully with an all too serious face pats his hand in a gesture of comfort. Priceless.

Best Quotes:

Win Shroeder: So how was your first night? Peaceful?
Mulder: Oh, it was wonderful. We just spooned up and fell asleep like little baby cats. Isn’t that right, Honeybunch?
Scully: That’s right, Poopyhead.

——————–

Gene Gogolak: Rules are rules. It may not sound like anything, a simple basketball hoop. But from there, it’s just a few short steps to spinning daisy reflectors and a bass boat in the driveway.
Mulder: In other words, anarchy.

——————–

Win Shroeder: Sweetheart, did you use the dolphin-safe tuna this time?
Cami Shroeder: Dolphin-safe all the way, Honey.
Win Shroeder: We always use the dolphin-safe.
Mulder: You’ve got to love those dolphins… although they’re pretty tasty, too.
Win Shroeder: [Stunned Silence]
Cami Shroeder: [Horrified Silence]
Scully: HAHAHA! Ha.

——————–

Mulder: [Pats the bed beside him and poses suggestively] Come on, Laura, you know… we’re married now.
Scully: Scully, Mulder. Good night.
Mulder: [Walks past her] The thrill is gone.

One Son 6×12: Two fathers whose paths would converge in a new battle.


They're heeeere!

Two households, both alike in dignity
(In fair District of Columbia, where we lay our scene),
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-crossed G-Men take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Doth with Spender’s death fail to bury their parents’ strife…

“The Mulders vs. The Spenders” doesn’t slide down the throat as easily as “The Montagues vs. The Capulets”, but you get the idea. Once upon a time, C.G.B. Spender slept with Bill Mulder’s wife and the universe hasn’t been at peace since. Now their progeny take center stage. By the end of this epic rivalry, or at least the end of this episode, only one son will be left standing.

And it’s not Jeffrey Spender.

As I said in my “Two Fathers” (6×11) review, what Cigarette-Smoking Man/C.G.B. Spender wants isn’t a family, it’s a legacy. You see, he believes his own myth. His sudden nepotism in regards to his son Jeffrey isn’t born out of sentimentality however he may pose. No, he considers himself some kind of noble hero and his chief desire is to watch his myth carry on into the next generation. In this regard his post-mortem jealousy of his old friend Bill Mulder is palpable; even in death his desires are being carried out through the work of his son (Never mind that Mulder’s paternity is still in doubt. Spiritually, he’s a man after his father’s heart.) CSM is out to prove he’s the better man not by actually being the better man but by manipulating his own son into a position of power over Bill Mulder’s son. Till the bitter end he also blocks every attempt by the Syndicate to heed Bill Mulder’s advice of long ago: Don’t sleep with the enemy.

Oh, how he then must have enjoyed tricking Bill Mulder’s son into accepting the fate his father had fought against, the soul-destroying compromise that he had ultimately left the Syndicate in protest of. Of course, he frames it in such away that Mulder would be damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. If Mulder takes CSM up on his offer of sanctuary with the aliens and saves himself, he’ll have to live with the fact that he abandoned the rest of humanity to its horrible fate. But to refuse the offer would be to insult his father’s gift, to spit on the sacrifice, the Faustian bargain he once made in order to save his son. Is Mulder willing to live up to his father’s ideals by crushing his father’s efforts? The answer is almost “No.”

If Mulder had compromised himself perhaps Spender could have lived. But considering the title of the episode there’s no way both of them would have survived. It’s too bad because I always rather liked Spender. Yes, he’s a brat. But I always felt that he was fundamentally unlike his father and that if he were ever armed with the truth would probably do the right thing. Now that he’s done it, now that he could become an interesting ally to the cause and his possible kinship with Mulder could be explored, down the trap door he goes. That’s so very like you, Chris Carter.

Thank goodness no one ever really dies on The X-Files.

But I’ve skipped ahead. I haven’t even discussed how Mulder made it to his fateful conversation with CSM in the first place. To understand how Mulder ended up breaking into Diana Fowley’s apartment and wound up holding CSM at gunpoint, we’ll need to go back a ways to about right here:

Scully: You tell me that Cassandra Spender is the critical test subject, the one who could prove everything. And yet, who is watching over her? Mulder, I can prove what you’re saying or I can disprove it but not when Diana Fowley is keeping us from even seeing her! Mulder, ask yourself why there is no information whatsoever on Special Agent Diana Fowley. Why she would suddenly happen into your life when you are closer than ever to the truth. I mean, you… you ask me to trust no one and yet you trust her on simple faith!
Mulder: ‘Cause you’ve given me no reason here to do otherwise.

:::Gut-Wrenchingly Painful Silence:::

Scully: Well, then I can’t help you anymore.
Mulder: Scully, you’re making this personal.
Scully: Because it is personal, Mulder. Because, without the F.B.I., personal interest is all that I have. And if you take that away then there is no reason for me to continue.

I have to pause after this whole scene because it’s so intense I need a moment to start breathing again. I mean, literally, I was holding my breath. I think I just saw the life of MSR flash before my eyes.

Mulder and Scully have been building to this moment since at least the movie when Mulder literally begs Scully not to quit the F.B.I., not because she still had any love for the institution, or because she had a vested interest in investigating the paranormal, but for him. His sorry behind is the only thing keeping Scully in this dangerous game. I don’t even believe she wants to solve the mystery of her own abduction badly enough to keep going. She made it clear in that hallway that she’d walk away if she didn’t think Mulder needed her. Now he’s risking losing her all over again for the sake of his history with a woman he’s not even close to any longer. Thankfully, by the end of the episode they’ve already tacitly agreed to pretend this moment never happened.

I’m forcefully reminded of “E.B.E.” (1×16), when Mulder angrily blows off Scully’s warnings only to quietly follow up on her suspicions later. Then too Mulder is reluctant to believe that someone he has affection for and history with could be lying to him. Yeah, he wants to believe. He wants to believe in his friends. That’s why he passively allows his former partner Jerry to use him in “The Ghost in the Machine” (1×6), why he refuses to allow Scully to persuade him that Skinner is dirty in “Redux II” (5×3), and why it takes him so long to realize that Deep Throat has his own agenda in “E.B.E.”. Mulder would normally be willing to hang governments with the circumstantial evidence Scully collects on Diana Fowley, but it will take a lot more than evidence for Mulder to turn on someone he feels loyalty toward. It will take absolute proof.

Too his credit, Mulder trusts Scully enough to do some checking on Diana Fowley against his own instincts. Maybe he remembers “E.B.E.” too. Unlike in “E.B.E.”, though, he doesn’t get the chance to prove Scully right. He barely has time to rifle through Fowley’s underwear drawer like a common pervert before CSM arrives and interrupts his investigation. It’s a testament to just how much his conversation with CSM rocks his paradigm that he forgets afterward to question what CSM was doing in Diana Fowley’s apartment in the first place. No, there was no smoking gun buried at the bottom of her lingerie drawer, but that CSM would arrive in the middle of the night looking awfully at home would be enough for Mulder if he were in his right mind.

But a new thought occurs to me: What if Mulder’s suspicions are aroused but he has ceased to care? After all, he’s willing to give up and give in to CSM’s invitation, what does he care if Fowley is in cahoots with him? For a minute there he’s thinking the Syndicate was right all along.

This may be perverse, but I enjoy watching Mulder’s self-righteousness get challenged. He has the liberty of being an idealist, his father did not. What would Mulder have done when faced with the same impossible situation? Would he have stalled for time and lives or would he have resisted openly and tempted annihilation? From the way he so easily falls for CSM’s guilt trip, I’d say he could have gone in either direction. It’s a good thing he has Scully in his life. She’s the kind of friend who won’t let him give up even when he wants to… even after he’s rejected her… again… It’s a theme that will come back again to play in the Season 7 opener.

Verdict:

Yes, the Syndicate era of the mythology has been wrapped up and tied with a bow. But fortunately, there are still questions left to be answered:

  • Who are the Rebels and why are they fighting the Colonists?
  • Where’s Samantha?
  • Are there any Syndicate survivors left besides CSM, Krycek, Marita and Fowley?
  • Is Agent Spender really dead?
  • What exactly is the nature of Fowley’s relationship with CSM? Hmm??
  • Will Gibson Praise and alien junk DNA become a major factor in the mythology?
  • If serving the aliens is no longer an option, can humanity still resist?

It remains to be seen if these dangling threads will all be addressed, but it would seem that rather than building to a confrontation with a shadowy government of powerful men, Mulder is now looking directly at an all out war with an alien race. If anything, the stakes are higher than they were.

And really, it’s about time for a clean house. There was only so long Chris Carter could have dragged out this tale without the rubber band snapping. Any more unanswered questions without some definitive resolution would have been untenable, so Carter decided it was time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. So dies the old guard.

It does seem a great injustice that CSM, the one who for so many years has been responsible for pushing collaboration with the Colonists against his colleagues’ objections, should be the sole survivor of the Syndicate’s holocaust. Despite his claims of noble self-sacrifice for the sake of the next generation, the fact that he murders his own son makes it clear that he’s never been working for anyone’s benefit but himself.

But I would feel bereft if Mulder’s greatest nemesis were to die too. I confess to much satisfaction and relief when I see CSM and Fowley selfishly drive away from El Rico. There’s wiping the slate clean and then there’s breaking the slate altogether – at least we can be sure we haven’t seen the last of Old Smokey.

Love it or hate it, “Two Fathers” marks the most significant turning point of the series. It’s only fault is that it’s a somewhat rushed conclusion to nearly six years worth of build up.

A-

El Rico:

How on earth does Mulder recognize a disheveled Marita from that far down the hallway? When did he get telescopic eyes?
I thought the “date is set” and all that. The Colonists are willing to move up the timetable if an alien/human hybrid is successfully created?

Fort Marlene:

Sure, the cost of these DVDs was astronomic back when I bought them, but being able to rewind a scene where Mulder wanders through the halls of Fort Marlene dressed like Michael Jackson on an off day? Priceless.

Ah, the telltale sign that their relationship has changed: Mulder and Scully are uncomfortable in front of each other naked. That’s never happened before.

I’m actually going to miss seeing Mulder and Scully out in the bullpen. At least there she had a desk.

The scene where Scully confronts Fowley is so tense that my stomach still clenches up over a dozen years later. Now that’s acting.

It looks like the number on Fowley’s apartment door is 66. One more 6 and I would have been satisfied.

We never get a clear picture of who Diana Fowley really is in the conspiracy, but her connection to Tunisia is a good indication that she was working for Strughold, the head of the Syndicate himself.

I love that the mass murder of the Syndicate happens off screen. Hearing their screams in the blackness is more effective than watching them burn could have been.

Despite what he says in “Two Fathers”, CSM had and still does have some feelings for Cassandra. I don’t know if we could categorize it as love, but it’s certainly sentimental. Or maybe the writer in him is just caught up in the poetic tragedy of it all.

What is Krycek, the third son, up to? Like Mulder, he’s late for an appointment to save his own behind. But he’s not busy playing the hero, he’s manipulating the situation for his own profit. He figures that alien fetus will be valuable in the coming war. What good it will do him if he misses his ride and dies? I have no idea. So I can only assume he’s already aware of what the rebels are planning, at least to some extent, even before he goes to fetch the fetus.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: The latest in home security. [Indicating the elaborate series of locks on the Gunmen’s front door]
Frohike: Hey, you get through this, you gotta come through me.

———————

Cigarette-Smoking Man: I remember looking over a gun barrel at you once before, Agent Mulder. You couldn’t pull the trigger then. What makes you think you can do it now?
Mulder: [Cocks gun]
Cigarette-Smoking Man: [Quickly] I came here looking for my son.

———————

Kersh: You have answers now? Why didn’t I hear about those answers before?
Mulder: I’ve had answers for years.
Kersh: Then why didn’t we hear about them?
Mulder: Nobody ever listened.
Kersh: Who burned those people?
Mulder: They burned themselves. With a choice made long ago by a conspiracy of men who thought they could sleep with the enemy, only to awaken another enemy.
Kersh: What the hell does that mean?
Mulder: It means the future is here, and all bets are off.
Kersh: Agent Scully, make some sense.
Scully: Sir, I wouldn’t bet against him.

Two Fathers 6×11: Word up.


The truth will out.

I remember really, really enjoying this set of episodes the first time around. Probably because they handhold the audience all the way through the history of the mythology and I needed handholding. Unlike actress Aisha Tyler, I didn’t have a conspiracy flow chart above my television set to keep track of the goings on. An oversight I still regret.

The way the story is framed, with Cigarette-Smoking Man filling in the blanks through exposition, works quite well. Though the way the story was originally set up, told through a series of flashbacks, would have been even better. I’ve just read some of the original script that had to be scrapped because the flashback scenes shot with actors who… didn’t look like 1970s versions of themselves any longer, weren’t as effective as they needed to be. But if it could have played out they way it did on paper, it would have been awesome. Now my heart bleeds a little for the episode that could have been.

The thing is, “Two Fathers” lives or dies by exposition. So if you’re like me and you’ve been dying to know what exactly the mythology’s been about all these years, you’re probably a fan. If you’re among the faster minded, or the more diligently obsessed, there’s a good chance you aren’t hearing anything you didn’t already know and I could see how you might be bored. Me, even the things I’ve already figured out don’t bore me. I love that smug feeling of satisfaction confirmation gives you.

Interestingly enough, CSM isn’t the only one dropping knowledge. Cassandra Spender shows up again having ditched the wheelchair and gained its weight in factual information. Why was she able to pick up so much truth during this most recent abduction when for the past twenty something years the conspirators and/or the aliens had her head filled with lies? Now, not all of her information is accurate, but it’s a far sight more informed than what she so cheerfully preached in “Patient X” (5×13). Maybe her new status as a hybrid has opened up her understanding beyond the human.

Too bad her son is still in the dark. I may be the only one, but I feel bad for Agent Spender, so much so that I wish Mulder would go ahead and be nice to the guy. I mean, over the course of this episode he’s rejected by both parents. His father slaps him. Twice. And his mother comes back from the dead only to ask for Fox Mulder, his bitter rival.

While I doubt Mulder would ever see it this way, it’s partially his own fault that Spender has become the enemy. Maybe if Mulder had been a little nicer to him initially, or tried a little harder to avoid the misunderstanding and miscommunication that occurred between them, Spender wouldn’t have been as susceptible to his father’s machinations. Surely a large part of the initial appeal of doing CSM’s dirty work was the chance to take down Mulder, despite the fact that the glory of that is now wearing thin on Spender. It’s not like his newfound relationship with his father is built on sentiment. What’s love got to do with it? CSM doesn’t want a son, he wants a legacy; he wants to see his power continue on into the next generation. His nepotism in regards to Spender is purely selfish in motive but Spender is to naïve to realize that.

It doesn’t help that Krycek has been assigned to Spender as his sort of “big brother” in the Syndicate universe, showing him the ropes as it were. But Krycek wouldn’t be Krycek if he weren’t working toward his own agenda, which brings me to my next topic…

The eponymous two fathers are Cigarette-Smoking Man (aka C.G.B. Spender) and Bill Mulder. On the surface then, their sons, their competing legacies would be Jeffrey Spender and Fox Mulder. However, I believe there’s a third son here and that’s Alex Krycek, the virtual issue of CSM’s loins.

I’ve long thought of Krycek as CSM’s spiritual successor, and apparently that thought wasn’t lost on Krycek himself either. If you have the DVD, there’s a deleted scene you can watch were Krycek boldly comes to CSM requesting to be his heir apparent. CSM coldly tells him the position has already been filled. CSM’s rejection of Krycek and his resentment of it explains his later manipulation of Spender and his efforts to turn him against his father.

It also puts Krycek’s speech before the rest of the Syndicate into context. That overdone performance was for CSM’s sake, so that he could ingratiate himself. With that in mind, it makes more sense that he would abandon his previous position. Last we saw Krycek, he was for resistance, working secretly with Well-Manicured Man to enlist Mulder to their cause. Not that it’s hard to believe Krycek would suddenly turn without warning. He’ll do whatever he needs to in order to survive. That’s what makes him Kryeck.

Now, I realize that deleted scenes aren’t canon, but this subtext is present in this story arc with or without this scene. This moment just makes Krycek’s motivations clearer and so I’m sorry it had to be cut.

In a way, all three men are the sons of CSM. True, there are suspicions regarding whether or not CSM is Mulder’s father, but either way Mulder is the product of CSM’s schemes and manipulations, schemes that likely go back to Mulder’s introduction to the X-Files and his partnership with Diana Fowley.

Yes, the truth is out there now: Diana Fowley is in cahoots with CSM. The way that Carter and Spotnitz choose to reveal that truth is both startling and gratifying. I knew that woman wasn’t to be trusted! There’s just one huge problem left… how do we convince Mulder?

And the Verdict is…

I don’t feel the same sense of urgency I did watching it way back when, but I still think “Two Fathers” works. Its only stumbling block is that it’s so much easier to entertain by raising answers than by providing them. Fortunately, I’ve been waiting so long for some clear answers and am so invested at this point that the satisfaction I get from hearing concrete facts is entertainment enough.

We’re a good ten minutes into the episode before Mulder and Scully even show up, but it’s well worth the wait. Perhaps feeling guilty over what they’re about to do to us Shippers in part two of this episode arc, Carter and Spotnitz write a classic scene of Mulder/Scully flirtation. Who knew such a short woman could walk into a room all made of legs? I may or may not have rewound this scene about ten times just now.

Yep, this is rewatchable television. Great performances all around and a hefty dose of payoff; I love that Chris Carter brings the train cars from “Nisei” (3×9) back. Bringing the story full circle by incorporating the past makes for an easily digestible meal.

Next up, there can only be “One Son” (6×12). Which one will be left standing?

A-

Random Observations:

Skinner’s a bit cold to Spender considering his mother, who he had given up for dead, has just been returned to him and he’s emotionally vulnerable. I know Spender hasn’t exactly endeared himself to Skinner, but still.

Before, the alien rebels looked suspiciously like Brian Thompson’s Alien Bounty Hunter character. Now, they’re somebody entirely new. Same race different face?

I never realized it before, but these two episodes are crucial for understanding how Krycek sees himself in future seasons.

Lingering Questions:

Mulder just hacked into A.D. Kersh’s computer remotely in “Tithonus” (6×9). He couldn’t hack into Spender’s as well? He had to break into his office and risk getting caught?

All the crap Mulder’s pulled this season and walking into Spender’s office without permission is what gets him fired? As it is, the information he accessed on Spender’s computer was for a case Spender asked him to look into.

I didn’t realize Cassandra parted with Mulder and Scully on such affectionate terms. What’s with all the hugging?

Why would the Second Elder open the door for Openshaw after he knows Openshaw’s dead? Why make it easy for the Rebel to kill you?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Hey, homegirl. Word up.
Scully: Mulder, it’s my distinct impression that you just cheated. And that you’re not coming in again today.
Mulder: Oh, Scully, I got game!
Scully: Yeah, you got so much game I’m wondering if you have any work left in you.
Mulder: No, I’m ready to J-O-B, just not on some jagoff shoeshine tip.
Scully: No “jagoff shoeshine tip?”
Mulder: No background checking, jagoff shoeshine tip.

——————-

Cigarette-Smoking Man: I’ve trusted no one. Treachery is the inevitable result of all affairs. Every man believes he has his own good reason.

The Rain King 6×7: We usually just say, “Please.”


Trust me, the man knows how to kiss.

This is probably the cutest X-File ever, and for that reason, fans either love it or hate it. I’m of the love it variety.

If some shudder at the mere thought of “cute” and “X-File” in the same sentence, I can understand why. What do cheesy romantic storylines have to do with a show about mutant monsters and alien probes? Nothing. That is, of course, unless said show had reached the point where mutants and abductions were so commonplace that small town love triangles made for a nice distraction from the gravity of the overarching themes.

But I’m not here to defend “The Rain King” as no defense is necessary. Much better writers than this mere mortal liked this script so much that it got freelance writer Jeffrey Bell hired as a full time staff member. He would go on through Season 8 gracing us with some hits and some misses, but for this episode alone I could plant a big wet one on him.

Which would be plagiarism.

Besides, I could never do it better than Sheila Fontaine does it to an ill-prepared Fox Mulder – Sheila who is played in shameless yet sympathetic fashion by Saturday Night Live alumnus Victoria Jackson.

Does that sound like déjà vu? It should because Jackson is the third Saturday Night Live member to show up on The X-Files this season and she won’t be the last. That will be Charles Rocket in “Three of a Kind” (6×19). Season 6 could be subtitled The Year Saturday Night Live Abducted The X-Files.

In a season that is undeniably more light-hearted than any before it, all this Saturday Night Live style energy is a good fit. Admittedly, “The Rain King” dabbles in some pretty obvious forms of comedy. But is that so wrong? The days of the dark, macabre comedy of writers Morgan and Wong have passed and Vince Gilligan has almost single-handedly caused the advent of an era where Mulder and Scully drink wine with shapeshifters and dodge flying cows. It’s like graduating from High School to college; both periods are precious in their own way.

Okay, enough context. I know this is what you’ve been waiting to read:

Scully: Well, it seems to me that the best relationships, the ones that last, are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look at the person and you see something more than you did the night before. Like a switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend is… suddenly the only person you can ever imagine yourself with.

Whoever thinks Scully isn’t talking about her own feelings for Mulder, raise your hand… and then put it back down. Stop embarrassing yourself.

It wouldn’t be hard to make the case that the whole point of the plot here is to out Mulder and Scully to themselves, or rather, to let them know that the rest of the world is onto their little charade. And not the fictional world they reside in only but the real world of their television audience as well; Chris Carter & Co. throw an exaggeratedly knowing wink to the viewers at home who they acknowledge have been saying the same things for years – “I see the way you two gaze at one another.” Mulder and Scully are the only ones not in on the joke, not realizing how obvious they are.

Back to the statement at hand, I can reasonably hypothesize that the “suddenly” Scully alludes to probably occurred during the events of “The End” (5×20) and possibly around the time of Fight the Future. I can say with scientific certainty that her pause before she shakes her head “No” to Sheila’s query as to whether or not she’s ever kissed Mulder is because she’s recollecting the events that took place in a certain hallway. Will she ever admit as much in a less veiled fashion? Maybe to herself.

Mulder isn’t any better with his bald faced lie to Holman (“I do not gaze at Scully.”), although he does find much amusement when he and Scully are constantly mistaken for a couple. Then again, Mulder said they should pick out china patterns long ago. At least he has the decency to be embarrassed by Sheila’s attentions. Oh, and as an aside, it’s not surprising that Sheila develops a thing for Mulder. What’s surprising is that more women don’t on this show. That’s how you know it’s not real. Men that good looking don’t come around often enough for the female population to be indifferent, fictional or otherwise.

I realize that “The Rain King” and its brand of overt Shippiness is a turn off to some fans. Yes, Holman’s parting, “You should try it sometime,” in Mulder’s direction may be a tad much. But the show had to throw long-suffering Philes a bone. If Mulder and Scully’s relationship isn’t going to move forward any time soon, they have to toss Shippy bait into the water every so often to keep the fish biting. I remember those days and I know I needed confirmation and validation on some level at least. If Season 6 is a little heavy on that validation in the standalone episodes, it’s only to cover the emotional trauma of episodes like “The Beginning” (6×1) and the soon to come “One Son” (6×12). I said I wouldn’t defend this episode, but there you go.

There’s only one thing that concerns me and that’s that post season opener, we’ve only had one serious episode, the kind you watch through your fingers, and that was six episodes ago. We’re overdue for some high stakes, don’t you think?

Verdict:

“The Rain King” may not be the crafted genius of “Bad Blood” (5×12) or “Small Potatoes” (4×20), but it’s a fully entertaining hour of television. Perhaps it’s because I’m 1/64th Cherokee, but when Sheila starts screaming, “Darryl, no! Not the face!!” I jump up and down in unbalanced laughter.

I will not apologize. I cannot. This episode isn’t a guilty pleasure because I feel no guilt. It’s my right as an X-Phile to mop up silliness like soup at the bottom of the bowl when I see fit.

A

Somewhere Over the Rainbow:

Reason #1 to love this episode – “Okay, Rhonda, that’s enough! Go find yer mama!”

It has been a looooong time since Mulder gave us an Elvis joke.

What garbage can did Mulder sneak this case file out of? There’s no explanation given for how Mulder and Scully found a way to investigate an X-File behind Kersh’s back again, but it’s not hard to imagine Mulder pulling some stunt off camera.

Mootz has made it through surgery, rehab, and been fitted for a prosthetic leg in only 6 months? And he has time to set up his Rain King operation? He’s had 40 customers by the time Mulder and Scully arrive.

That’s not the only timeline issue here. The events of this episode take place in August but it aired in January. And I haven’t delved into it, but I’m pretty sure that it conflicts with the timeline of earlier episodes.

The Rain King has a rock star rider attached to his contract. Maybe he really thinks he’s Elvis.

Knee-jerk Skeptic Scully is back. A man can’t control the weather? Didn’t she ever watch “D.P.O.” (3×3)?

We got robbed – a scene between Mulder and Scully after they’re forced to spend the night in the same motel room could have afforded us priceless humor.

Who is Scully kidding? She wasn’t checking Mulder’s head for injuries and she wasn’t just making a joke either. She was looking for an excuse to play in his hair.

Much like in “Small Potatoes”, there’s some gentle mocking of David Duchovny’s status as a heartthrob happening here.

Reason #63 – the look on David Duchovny’s face as he mentally tracks the cow flying overhead.

From Cherish the Past: Speaking of flying cows, Kim Manners said that if he had to do it all over again, he would go back and change one small but significant detail of “The Rain King.” “I screwed up big time,” said the director, “which I realized while I was driving along the Ventura Freeway two months later. When that cow dropped through the ceiling, I should have had David ad lib ‘Got Milk?’ I’m still pissed at myself that I didn’t.”

Reason #106 – Mulder and Scully swaying to “The Things We Do For Love”.

Best Quotes:

Holman Hardt: Well, you gotta help me.
Mulder: I got a plane to catch.
Holman Hardt: You can’t go. If you don’t help me, who will?
Mulder: I am meeting my partner at the airport. [Mulder’s phone rings] Excuse me. Hold on. [Answers] Mulder.
Scully: Mulder, it’s me.
Mulder: I’m on my way.
Scully: I’m not so sure. Have you looked outside lately? It’s pea soup. Our plane can’t take off until after this fog lifts.
Mulder: Fog? Holman!
Holman Hardt: [Shrugs]
Scully: Holman?
Mulder: Yeah… he wants advice. Dating advice.
Scully: Dating advice? From whom?
Mulder: Yours truly.
Scully: [Silence]
Mulder: Hello? Hey, Scully. Scully, you there?
Scully: I heard you. Mulder, when was the last time you went on a date?
Mulder: I will talk to you later. [Hangs up]
Scully: The blind leading the blind.

———————–

Holman Hardt: I’ve been envious of men like you my whole life. Based on your … physical bearing, I had assumed you were… more experienced.
Mulder: [Silence]
Holman Hardt: And you spend every day with Agent Scully, a beautiful, enchanting woman.
Mulder: [Silence]
Holman Hardt: You mean you two never, uh…?
Mulder: [Silence]
Holman Hardt: I… confess I find that shocking. I… I’ve seen how you two gaze at one another.
Mulder: [Impassive silence and then…] This is about you, Holman. I’m here to help you. I’m perfectly happy with my friendship with Agent Scully.
Holman Hardt: So according to your theory I walk in there, tell her I love her and the drought will end?
Mulder: [Fixes his tie and pats his face] Just tell her how you feel. And Holman… I do not gaze at Scully.

————————

Sheila Fontaine: You love him, don’t you?
Scully: Wha…?
Sheila Fontaine: You’re jealous because Agent Mulder and I have a special connection and you’re trying to divert me to Holman.
Scully: What? {Editor’s Note: The look on her face. The look on her face.}