Tag Archives: Our Town

Nothing Lasts Forever 11×9: I always wondered how this was gonna end.


 

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Our irreverent constant and her touchstone.

 

 

First of all, pancreas lickin’ surgeons like what in the whole wide world?????

That one moment was harder to watch than all of “Sanguinarium” (4×6).

More importantly, who are you Karen Nielsen and how may I serve you?????

As I try to calm down, let me introduce you to me sitting down to watch this episode. Watching the teaser, I had just started chewing on a gooey Margherita pizza complete with spicy salami. You can imagine my discomfiture.

And at first, I’ll admit, I was cocking an eyebrow at this Catholic Kunoichi plot. I’m still cocking an eyebrow at it, but thankfully, the episode takes the themes deeper than vampire slaying.

Wait, no it doesn’t. It just takes the vampire slaying theme really, really deep. I won’t even try to cover all the themes touched on here. I can’t and keep things coherent. I’m surprised the episode could. But let’s cover what we shall, shall we?

You’re going to think this is strange, but the day I watched this episode, without knowing a thing about it or even remembering the previous week’s teaser, I had been having a conversation with myself in the car that morning about the Bible’s Old and New Testament proscriptions against eating the blood of animals and the inherently blasphemous nature of vampire myths. Because, doesn’t everyone?

Since said conversation has proven oddly (divinely?) relevant to the episode at hand, let me share a few verses surprisingly relevant to this conversation. Bear with me.

Leviticus 17:10-13, 14 (NLT)

“And if any native Israelite or foreigner living among you eats or drinks blood in any form, I will turn against that person and cut him off from the community of your people, for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the Lord. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible. That is why I have said to the people of Israel, ‘You must never eat or drink blood—neither you nor the foreigners living among you.’… The life of every creature is in its blood. That is why I have said to the people of Israel, ‘You must never eat or drink blood, for the life of any creature is in its blood.’ So whoever consumes blood will be cut off from the community.

Here we see God forbid His people to eat blood for two reasons. One, in its blood is the life that God Himself gave it. To eat the blood is to disrespect not merely the life, but the One who gave the life. Two, blood is provided as atonement, which is a $10 word that means to pay the price for a sin committed. Ergo, the innocent bull’s blood is shed for the sins you committed so that you yourself don’t have to die for them even though you deserve to. Blood is the only price that can be paid for sin.

John 6:51-58 New Living Translation (NLT)

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.”

Then the people began arguing with each other about what he meant. “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” they asked.

So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise that person at the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. I live because of the living Father who sent me; in the same way, anyone who feeds on me will live because of me. I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”

If you’re saying “WHAT?” right about now, join a couple thousand years’ worth of multitudes before you. Unsurprisingly, most of Jesus’ disciples abandoned Him after this. But Jesus is speaking in spiritual terms, not physical ones, His point being that in the same way people eat food to live, we must feed off of Him to live spiritually and eternally.

You’re starting to see the relevance to our X-Files discussion, yes???

Matthew 26:26-28 (NLT)

As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”

And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.

Finally, not only is Jesus’ flesh and blood the life source provided for all of mankind, but His innocent blood is sacrificed as a payment for mankind’s sins. In other words, the innocent takes the punishment for the guilty so that the guilty don’t have to be punished for their own sins. The innocent is sacrificed in order for the guilty to live.

Whew! I know that was a lot. But we had to get on the same page with all most some of writer Karen Nielsen’s myriad Biblical allusions before we could go any further.

Anyway, this moment of breaking bread and drinking wine that Jesus first shared with His disciples is what’s known in Christianity as the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, or the Eucharist among other names. Jesus’ disciples still commemorate His death this way. Now, Catholic Christians believe that during the Eucharist, the wafer and wine that Christ speaks of here materially and substantially, and through no small sacred mystery, become the body and blood of Christ. This belief is called transubstantiation.

Now we can clearly see the parallels being made between the cannibalism in the opening scene, not only the literal licking of a putrid pancreas, but the cannibalism of one human being’s organs for another human being’s survival, be that human being an aging starlet or a nameless patient in a hospital, and Scully’s participation in the Eucharist.

If the innocent dying for the guilty is a spiritual principle and even Scully takes part in the body and blood of Christ, Scully, who by the end prays to Mulder rather than God, is Barbara Beaumont really so evil?

YES.

If you remember without scrolling up however many pages I’ve been venting my Phile emotions, blood is sacred for two (heavily simplified) reasons: 1. It contains within itself life given by God which man has no right to desecrate. 2. Blood is the only thing that can pay for sin. It’s blood that pays for sin in both the Old and New Testaments and blood is forbidden to be consumed in both the Old and the New Testaments (ref. Acts 15:28-29).

What is a vampire? It’s a creature that should be dead but keeps itself unnaturally and blasphemously alive by mocking Christ’s sacrifice for sin and further mocking its Creator by feeding on a life He made. Welcome, Barbara Beaumont. Come on down to Crazy Town.

By the by, if you ever wondered why Dracula was afraid of crucifixes and sacramental bread, it’s because everything he was and did was in violation of God’s natural and spiritual laws. Now you know. Tell a friend.

So, this is an episode that toys with cannibalism but is really about the physical and spiritual implications of vampirism. And might I add, it’s a much more interesting treatment of vampirism than the dreck that was “3” (2×7), which naturally, I skipped during my most recent rewatch.

For that matter, if we’re going back, “Our Town” (2×24) also treated cannibalism as another form of vampirism that provided the gateway to eternal youth for its practitioners, only blood wasn’t touched upon, visually or otherwise, so much or so often as it is here.

Wait. I forgot my comparison to Scully. Rewind. She’s Catholic again? Didn’t she just?… Wasn’t there just?… That whole “no evil” speech… I just… Mmm. Kay.

Anyway, Scully is fueling herself on the blood of Jesus (Really, she’s just reaffirming an ambiguous faith in faith itself, but why split hairs?). She’s not violating any natural or spiritual principles by participating in the Eucharist. She’s a Catholic in good standing and no Barbara Beaumont. May Scully live forever.

Mulder, though, he knows he’s a reprobate. He’s my favorite fictional reprobate ever. Mulder doesn’t believe in God, he believes in Scully. This is something I probably don’t find sweet the way that many Philes do, but I do get it. It’s very human. (It’s not quite where we left Mulder’s character development in “The Truth” (9×19/20) or I Want to Believe, but I’ve given up on continuity. You can’t be disappointed if you don’t care.) And it’s consistent with the nature of their relationship over the years. Scully, for her part, privately whispers her prayer for their future to Mulder rather than God. And even though I have my personal misgivings that Barbara Beaumont and Dr. Luvenis aren’t the only sacrilegiously attached couple who have outstayed their welcome, HOW ABOUT THIS IS PRETTY MUCH HOW THEIR RELATIONSHIP SHOULD BE ALL THE TIME, THANK YOU, CHRIS CARTER.

Seriously, though. Does Mulder worship Scully any less than Dr. Luvenis worshipped Barbara Beaumont?

Verdict:

With no intention of making a perverse pun, I finally have some meat to chew on. I have something interesting enough to muse over. It was not too much to ask.

This doesn’t just challenge your gag reflex like “F. Emasculata” (2×22) or make you squirm in your seat like “Roadrunners” (8×5). My very soul recoils at certain scenes here. Much of it felt over the top and unnecessary. And yet, I’m here to tell you that in terms of writing, I think it’s the most well thought out episode of the season and possibly the whole revival (if I had the stomach to rewatch all of Season 10).

It has to end sometime, Scully. And if this little shenanigans Chris Carter once called a breakup had to end, I’m glad it ended this way. And if The X-Files has to end (I’ll say a prayer for that), let it end with this, one last thoroughly thought out episode, ‘cause we all know the next one’s not gonna be it.

Oh yes, there are the parallels between The X-Files unnaturally extending itself through this revival and Barbara Beaumont sitting in the dark, reliving her heyday on a loop. No, nothing lasts forever.

Except for eternity in heaven or eternity in hell.

“I made a choice – It was mine. I’d gladly trade my lifetime here for an eternity in heaven.”

A-

Just for Kicks:

By the by, another conversation I had had earlier in the day before I watched this episode? About cults and about how one of the hallmarks of them is absolute control by a teacher who knows everything you don’t. This time I was actually talking with someone outside my own head, though.

Once again, Mulder’s uncanny intuition is on overdrive.

What is reverse aging when you spend your pretty-faced life in a lightless coffin of a tenement apartment in New York City with a naked, dirty crowd of grown adults who use words like “dinnie”? Go ahead and kill me.

Barbara Beaumont bordered on too comical at times, and crossed that border into farcical during her little musical recital. I confess, this took me out of the episode a bit. And yet, mad props to Season 11 for using diegetic music in in two out of its ten episodes. Y’all know I’m a sucker for that.

Speaking of Barbara Beaumont, did the actress that played her remind anyone else of Mila Kunis?

Still, no one has answered the question: Where did Juliet learn how to be a ninja?

“Every human being has a time bomb built into their genes.” TRUE. And in more than one way. The Bible calls it original sin. Like yeast in a loaf of bread, decay by a more palatable name, it’s eventual corruption is built in it from the beginning.

Scully would, could, should be dead after her fall through that dumbwaiter and yet Mulder was pretty much chilling.

Continuity Control: During Season 1, Mulder wore glasses while reading more times than I have the patience to post links for, not least of which was the very first shot we ever had of Mulder in the Pilot (1×79).

What a coincidence that Juliet comes walking into the church that Scully’s praying at. Of all the diocese in all the towns in all the world, you walk into mine.

Am I the only one? I’m a veteran X-Phile, but sometimes the cinematography was so dark I, mercifully, couldn’t make out what was happening.

There are moments of supreme tension here. I actually partially covered my eyes when Barbara Beaumont leaned in to kiss one of her minions. I was afraid I was about to witness a bloodbath.

Juliet and Olivia’s last name, Bocanegra, “black mouth”. I wonder if there’s a history to that name I don’t know about? Or am I just supposed to be visualizing a mouth black with blood? Eww.

Best Quotes:

You may have noticed that this section of my reviews has been neglected for a while now. That’s because there hasn’t been anything worth quoting. But somehow, this time around, there was so much great dialogue I had to pick and choose and still left some great quotes out. Scully and Mulder have the best banter they’ve had all season. Nay, since the final episode that awaits is none other than the inventively named “My Struggle IV” (11×10), I think it’s safe to officially call this the best banter of the season. Period.

Scully: Are those new? Bifocals?

Mulder: They’re not bifocals, Scully. They’re… progressives. They’re called progressive lenses.

Scully: No need to get defensive.

Mulder: I’m not defensive, I’m just…

Scully: Presbyopia’s a natural part of the aging process.

————————–

Mulder: You know, sometimes I wonder why we keep doing it, Scully, in the face of all this indifference and presbyopia… Did you get your hair cut?

Scully: …Are you kidding me?

—————————

Mulder: Now I know why I’m not a Christian, Scully. My parents never got me a puppy.

—————————

Scully: You always bear north, Mulder, no matter which way or how hard the wind blows against you.

—————————

Scully: You think she’s involved?

Mulder: I think she is. My gut tells me she is. And my gut doesn’t need glasses.

 

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Via Negativa 8×7: Mondo Bizarro.


negativa250

Because I couldn’t bring myself to post one of those “third eye” pics.

I remember being good and truly freaked out by this episode the first time it aired, and I’m not easily disturbed. This rewatch too, I made sure to watch it with the lights on and my door open. Sure, we’re used to creepy paranormal happenings on The X-Files, but these are some dark, dark images. It’s so dark that I had never watched it again until now.

The good news is, that meant that other than knowing it was dark, I had no preconceived notions or solidified memories of it. I came to “Via Negativa” with an open mind.

Uncle Frank wrote this one. And by “Uncle Frank” I mean Frank Spotnitz. Why do I call him “Uncle Frank”? I think it’s some kind of awkward outlet for my tightly governed affections.

When it came to The X-Files, Uncle Frank had a funny way of bringing out the best in everybody else. He was Chris Carter’s right hand man for the mythology episodes, also co-writing Fight the Future and I Want to Believe with him. When he wasn’t making a point of keeping me guessing with the mythology, he was busy cracking me up as part of the John Gillnitz trio (John Shiban – Vince Gilligan – Frank Spotnitz) who specialized in writing crazy goodness. His own solo offerings have been tragically few and far between, but so far I’ve loved all of them: “End Game” (2×17), “Our Town” (2×24), and “Detour” (5×4). So how did the two of us wind up here, Frank, with me sucking my breath through my teeth in the heaviness of horror?

It seems it’s Doggett’s turn to have the best brought out of him; Doggett who’s had a rough time of it being forced to take Mulder’s spot in the X-Files division. It’s time to give him something to do other than be wanting in comparison to Mulder and be rescuing Scully all the time. Here he’s on the trail of a killer who can’t be caught because if you catch him, it really means he’s caught you.

In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t completely understand this plot. But I don’t think it’s about the plot. The plot is a vehicle to bring us the imagery. I don’t understand the imagery either. Except that it’s dark and evil and one can only take so much of it. I couldn’t have sat through it for more than a one hour episode of television. I could barely do that.

Doggett: Just ’cause I’m assigned to the X-Files you want me to think like Scully or Mulder would. You got the wrong guy. I need facts, not wild ideas.

Doggett doesn’t really understand what’s going on either, but he too is disturbed. Yes, he’s a different type of investigator than both Mulder and Scully. His isn’t the ordered scientific mind nor the disordered mind of the fanatic. But one trait he does share in common with Mulder is that he trusts his own instincts. In this case, his instincts lead him to a conclusion that his mind can’t process: Cult leader Tipet is psychically killing people in their sleep.

I’m still not sure why Tipet is killing. I gather that he accidentally reached a lower rather than a higher state of consciousness, or that “Via Negativa” is telling me that those two states are one in the same. It’s suggested that he kills to prevent others from reaching that cursed state, but while that makes sense for his followers, it doesn’t make sense for the two F.B.I. agents, the homeless man or Doggett. Tipet seems reluctant to kill, yet somehow he must. Another thing I’m not sure about is where the threat of Doggett killing Scully came from. Are his visions of her death meant to induce Doggett to kill himself?

If so, he very nearly succeeds. Doggett nearly goes mad trying to figure out what’s a dream and what’s reality. Or does he nearly go mad? Maybe he just dreamed he did.

That whole dream sequence was wonderfully acted by Robert Patrick who finally gets to do something other than just be a good guy. It’s good to see Doggett discombobulated and uncomfortable instead of collected and capable. And I’m glad his first up close and personal experience with the paranormal happened when Scully wasn’t around. This way, she didn’t prompt him to come to certain conclusions. Actually, she seemed to talk him out of his conclusions right there at the end, so I’m not sure if Doggett’s growth has been partially undone or if he’ll be taking this experience with him into the future.

Verdict:

The nice thing about episodes that are low on Mulder and Scully is that some other of our favorite characters get to come to the forefront. So, see? There’s a silver lighting to every cloud. Okay, so Doggett isn’t most people’s favorite. But who isn’t a fan of Skinner? And who doesn’t like the Lone Gunmen? If that’s you, please don’t answer. Some secrets are best kept.

Skinner seems to be drinking the “I am Fox Mulder” Kool-aid which does make me roll my eyes a little. But it’s still good to see him interact with Doggett one on one. I enjoyed that scene they had together in “Without” (8×2) as well and I think they have good chemistry. We’re so used to Mulder and Scully that we don’t get to see two strong male leads share the same screen space very often and it’s a nice refresher.

Doggett also gets introduced to the Lone Gunmen, and while that’s a cute scene, color me confused. I thought Langly’s first name was Ringo? Or maybe it is Richard, nickname Ringo? As in Richard Starkey, Ringo?

Anyways, “Via Negativa” is a risky, shocking, effective episode. It’s a trip down memory lane I’m not sure I’ll ever take again willingly, and I’m quite sure I won’t be taking any acid trips to reach a higher plane. But I must say that Robert Patrick’s looking pretty darn good.

A-

Comments:

Another way Doggett uses his instincts: Checking the hospital register for Scully’s name.

On that note, it’s sweet of Doggett to be so concerned about Scully’s welfare right after his own near death experience.

Watching a man take a razor blade and slice his forehead open is not something I ever want to do again.

At the time, memories of the mass suicide of the Heaven’s Gate cult were still fresh, so this kind of story resonated.

Our first look at Doggett’s place – the first X-Files agent with a house.

Those aren’t the footprints of someone who’s walked in blood. Those are the footprints of someone whose shoes are bleeding.

So Scully really is going to be in the hospital every other episode this season.

Yo, 1013. If there’s nothing wrong with the baby, don’t make us think there’s something wrong with the baby. The welfare of The Scully Spawn automatically trumps in importance anything that might happen in a one-off episode. A plot point that major shouldn’t be used as a distraction or, worse, a way to merely get rid of Scully. Thanks. Peace.

Curiosities:

Since when would Mulder consult the Lone Gunmen on paranormal cases? Did I miss something? Am I wrong or did he not use Chuck Burke for that?

Agent Crane is working under Skinner now?

I don’t get Kersh. I don’t get him at all. First he wants real world answers. Then he doesn’t care if he gets any answers. Is he really acting on someone else’s orders or does he just have a psychological disorder? Right now he’s being difficult just to be difficult, and that isn’t the behavior of a character acting logically within his universe but a character who’s being used to create a problem whenever a problem needs to happen.

Why Doggett turns off the lights after having a vision like that is a mystery that will never be solved.

Best Quotes:

Doggett: A third eye?

Frohike: We all have a third eye. If we could open it, we’d see a new reality, one closer to God. At least that’s what Kesey told me on the bus back in ’64.

Langly: You were not on the bus with Kesey in ’64.

Frohike: Hey, I got the pictures to prove it, my long-haired friend.

Langly: Before or after you partied with the Stones at Altamont?

Frohike: Don’t be a boob, Altamont was in ’70s.

Langly: Whatever.

——————–

Doggett: What if Tipet could invade his victims’… consciousness in their sleep? I mean, that’s why you’d be afraid to fall asleep, right? If you thought your nightmares might come true?

Byers: You believe that?

Doggett: No… but if Tipet does… he’ll need more drugs… to keep killing. [Leaves]

Frohike: That’s not bad for a beginner.

 

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.

Detour 5×4: That’s pretty sophisticated for government issue.


All the boys and girls...

We’re going to skip over the issues of preserving the environment and encroachment upon nature in this episode because, well, they already speak for themselves and we have more important things to attend to. Save the earth later, philosophize about Mulder and Scully now.

From the moment we open on our two leads, this episode is already memorable. After many, many days of angst, the team is back together and they’re both very much alive! There isn’t a dark rain cloud hovering conspicuously over their heads either.

That doesn’t mean they’re not in immediate danger, however. They’re on the road headed toward an F.B.I. team-building seminar and if their destination weren’t bad enough, their companions ensure that this will be the road trip from hell. Seeing Agent Stonecypher and Agent Kinsley together, we realize how lucky we are to have Mulder and Scully.

If I were to compare the humor of this scene in the car where Mulder and Scully exchange conspicuously knowing glances to, say, the hilariously underplayed scene in “EBE” (1×16) where we first meet the Lone Gunmen, or even to the entire episode of “Humbug” (2×20), it’s certainly a little more exaggerated and self-conscious than humor on The X-Files used to be. Not that I’m necessarily complaining, because it is funny and at this point, The X-Files is pretty much at the height of its popularity so if they indulge their audience a little bit by playing up Mulder and Scully’s partnership, so be it. It’s been well earned.

This was the meat and potatoes episode I was craving as an emotional resolution to Scully’s cancer after “Redux II” (5×2). Not only is it classic in every sense of the word, it harkens back to The X-Files’ early era. Think of those rag tag team adventures out in the middle of nowhere that Mulder and Scully used to go on in episodes like “Ice” (1×7) and “Darkness Falls” (1×19). We haven’t had one of those since “Firewalker” (2×9), which is a sad shame when you think about it. Then there’s the blessed fact that there’s a lot of  “Scullay!” and “Mulder!” being bandied about which instantly makes for quality entertainment. And finally, where I was looking for a post-cancer “conversation on the rock” a la “Quagmire” (3×22), we get the now famous “conversation on a log.”

God Bless Frank Spotnitz.

Now, here’s the thing about writer Frank Spotnitz: up until Season 8, he rarely ever (officially) wrote episodes by himself. He was Chris Carter’s right hand man when it came to the mythology, so much praise is due. And he was also a member of the “John Gilnitz” trio along with John Shiban and Vince Gilligan, the three of them together penning some of the most memorable episodes of the series including “Leonard Betts” (4×14) and “Dreamland I/II” (6×4/5). But you’ll notice a trend… he was a team player.

“Detour” is his first solo effort since Season 3’s “731” (3×10) and if you can believe it, setting aside the group venture of “Leonard Betts”, his first Monster of the Week episode since Season 2’s “Our Town” (2×24).

Well, we waited long but we were not disappointed. In some ways, “Detour” resembles “Our Town” in its use of dark humor. Where Scully once nibbled on greasy chicken wings while surrounded by boiled human bones, now she and Mulder team-build by piling up corpses rather than office furniture.

Oh, yes. Such hilarious shenanigans would have been enough. But Spotnitz doesn’t stop there. Instead he delivers one of the most memorable scenes between Mulder and Scully that The X-Files ever graced us with. You all already know where this is going.

Just like the writer was brave enough to stop the story and give Mulder and Scully a few minutes to have at it over nothing for the audience’s sake, I’m about to stop in the middle of this review to post this little conversation in the entirety of its glory… because it deserves it… and because I’m about to discuss it at length.

Prepare to scroll.

Disclaimer: The following is not intended to encourage sleeping bag nakedness in any way. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

Scully: You were an Indian guide, help me out here. [Trying to light a fire]
Mulder: Indian guide says maybe you should run to the store and get some matches.
Scully: I would but I left my wallet in the car.
Mulder: What are you doing?
Scully: Trying to open my gun. If I can separate the shell from the casing, maybe I can get the powder to ignite.
Mulder: And maybe it’ll start raining weenies and marshmallows.
Scully: Do I detect a hint of negativity?
Mulder: No! Yes. Actually. Yeah.
Scully: Mulder you need to keep warm, your body’s still in shock.
Mulder: I was told once that the best way to regenerate body heat is to crawl naked into a sleeping bag with somebody else who’s already naked.
Scully: Maybe if it rains sleeping bags you’ll get lucky.
Mulder: ……
Scully: You ever thought seriously about dying?
Mulder: Yeah, once, when I was at the Ice Capades.
Scully: When I was fighting my cancer… I was angry at the injustice of it, at its meaninglessness. And then I realized that that was the struggle, to give it meaning, to make sense of it. It’s like life.
Mulder: I think nature is supremely indifferent to whether we live or die. I mean if you’re lucky you get 75 years. If you’re really lucky you get 80 years. And if you’re extraordinarily lucky you get to have 50 of those years with a decent head of hair.
Scully: I guess it’s like Las Vegas. The house always wins. Oh! [Separates the shell from the casing] Taa-daa!
Mulder: Go girl. Hey, who did you identify with when you were a kid, Wilma or Betty?
Scully: I identified with Betty’s bustline.
Mulder: Yes! I did, too.
Scully: Could never have been married to Barney, though. Their kids were cute.
Mulder: But where are they today?
Scully: [Powder flashes but doesn’t ignite.] Moth Men. Really?
Mulder: Yeah. But there seem to be only two of them.
Scully: [Scully maneuvers Mulder into her lap.]
Mulder: I don’t want to wrestle.
Scully: Come over here, I’m going to try to keep you warm. [Strokes his arm]
Mulder: [Winces]
Scully: Sorry.
Mulder: One of us has got to stay awake, Scully.
Scully: You sleep, Mulder.
Mulder: You get tired, you wake me.
Scully: I’m not gonna get tired.
Mulder: Why don’t you sing… something?
Scully: No, Mulder…
Mulder: If you sing something I’ll know you’re awake.
Scully: Mulder, you don’t want me to sing. I can’t carry a tune.
Mulder: [Mumbling] Doesn’t matter, just sing anything.
Scully: …Jeremiah was a bullfrog.
Mulder: [Slowly and silently looks up.]
Scully: Was a good friend of mine. Never understood a single word he said… but I helped him drink his wine…
Mulder: Chorus.
Scully: Joy to the world… All the boys and girls…. Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea… Joy to you and me…

Oh, dear. Now I feel a little teary eyed.

If I had one wish for The X-Files in retrospect, it would be that we could have had just a smidgeon more of moments like this. In fact, if some subsequent seasons lacked anything it was a chance to listen to Mulder and Scully shoot the breeze with each other for more than just a line or two. Scenes like the one above, where Mulder and Scully just sit back and kick it in conversation, should’ve happened at least once a season.

“Detour” is one of the best examples of why I love Season 5. This is tense, this is scary, this is touching, this is imaginative, and above all else, this is fun. Not even fun just for us as the audience, but for the characters too! There they are, lost in the woods with no food and water, one of them injured, and being hunted by Moth Men. And yet, I’ll be darned, Mulder and Scully are enjoying themselves.

Fundamentally, here is what makes The X-Files great. Some shows try to be scary and succeed. Some try to be funny. Some try to be mysterious. But how many can work in all the elements with such balance to give you 42 minutes of television that leave you grinning the whole time? Somebody tell me. Most lean too hard in one direction or the other. The X-Files knows just what to do.

Verdict:

You can put me down as one very satisfied customer. I’ll even sign the guestbook for this one.

Is the X-File itself that compelling? Well, the Moth Men are about as interesting as boogey men ever are, but the episode isn’t so much about how freaky they are as it is creating a threat that pushes Mulder and Scully into a precarious corner because that’s where we can watch them shine.

Make no mistake, “Detour” is a post-cancer arc celebration. It’s written all over Mulder and Scully’s faces how glad they are to be back in form. Maybe that’s why being lost in the woods doesn’t bother them so much. And the truth is, they’re only reflecting what the audience is already feeling. This episode is a really satisfying way of acknowledging that sentiment.

And Chris Carter, if you’re reading this and there’s an X-Files 3, a mere five minutes of Mulder and Scully shooting the breeze wouldn’t hurt anybody. Much love. Peace.

A+

Musings:

Scully’s “How could you leave me here??” face when Mulder ditches her in the car with the Geek Squad = Awesome.

Scully is openly flirting. Now we can be sure she really did have a near death experience.

Mulder clearly wasn’t expecting a response to that line about sleeping bags. Who here thinks the look on his face spoke volumes? Just us shippers?

That little factoid Scully delivers about ticks really freaks me out.

Mark Snow does a particularly great job with the score in this one. Those primitive drums…

Fact: Mulder picks up on things no normal human should.

Best Quotes:

Agent Kinsley: I couldn’t believe how hard it was not to use the word “but!”
Mulder: I’m having that same problem right now!
Agent Stonecypher: Have you ever been to a team seminar, Agent Mulder?
Mulder: No. You know, unfortunately around this time of year I always develop a severe hemorrhoidal condition.

———————-

Scully: Mulder. We’ve got this conference. They’re waiting.
Mulder: Yeah. How do I say this without using any negative words, Scully?
Scully: You want me to tell them that you’re not going to make it to this year’s teamwork seminar.
Mulder: Yes. You see that? We don’t need that conference. We have communication like that, unspoken. You know what I’m thinking.

————————

Scully: You know, Mulder, sometimes I think some work on your communication skills wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Mulder: I’ll be back soon and we can build a tower of furniture. ‘Kay?

————————

Scully: It sure is beautiful, though.
Jeff Glaser: That’s what happens. People get to looking around, next thing they know something eats them.
Scully: What do you think killed those men?
Jeff Glaser: Nature is populated with creatures either trying to kill something they need to survive or trying to avoid being killed by something that needs they to survive. If we become blinded by the beauty of nature we may fail to see its cruelty and violence.
Scully: Walt Whitman?
Jeff Glaser: No, When Animals Attack on the Fox Network.

————————-

Mulder: Witnesses described them as primitive looking men with piercing red eyes. Became known as the Moth Men. I got an X-File dated back to 1952 on it.
Scully: What would that be filed next to? The Cockroach that ate Cincinnati?
Mulder: No, the Cockroach that ate Cincinnati is in the C’s. Moth Men is over in the M’s.

————————–

Mulder: Too bad we don’t have any office furniture. [Piling up corpses]
Scully: I can see us now.
Mulder: Go team! There’s plenty more bodies, we may have won the honey-baked ham.

Our Town 2×24: How long before it’s any one of us?


Some people collect dolls, and others...

We’ve reached the last stand-alone episode before the season finale. It’s an episode that should be played again upon finishing as there are subtle hints that can’t be fully appreciated until after you already know what’s going on: A bent fork in a field, Chaco’s speech about the perils of getting old, the Sheriff attempting to “comfort” Doris Kearns, etc. I enjoy this episode’s dark sense of humor.

On the visual tip, there are those memorable images The X-Files is famous for: a girl’s body sinks into a vat of chicken goop, Scully crouching among a room full of bones with a bucket of fried chicken, a fishnet full of human bones being pulled from a bloody river. This is the stuff classic television is made of.

I hear this episode brought up most often as a horrible example of Scully being forced into the position of Damsel in Distress, passively waiting for Mulder to come to her rescue. I don’t see it that way. In fact, for once, Season 2’s over-protective Mulder throws Scully directly at danger and says, “Catch!”

I kid, I kid. That’s what it feels like, but in reality in makes practical sense for one to keep an eye on the threatened Doris Kearns while the other goes and arrests the man who’s threatening her. Logic aside, the setup leads to a tiny but sweet shipper moment at the end of the episode that’s worth a revoked N.O.W. membership or two. So it’s Mulder’s turn to save Scully this time, it’s not a big deal. She’s saved him often enough. I think we all know by now that Scully is a fully capable woman and a strong female character. If you’re still not convinced, wait till the next episode.

Like “The Calusari” (2×21) this episode is mostly about the fear factor over character development but this time with a subtle message thrown in. I just saw the movie Downfall recently, which if you haven’t seen I highly recommend. For those that don’t know, it’s a film about the last 10 days of the Third Reich and the downfall of Hitler’s regime. Oddly enough, it’s only after so many years and after watching a movie about Nazis that I fully understand what Chaco was getting at when he insisted that only outsiders be targeted, not that he fully understood it himself.

What he didn’t realize is that once you choose to benefit yourself at expense of others, no one is safe, insider or outsider. To use Nazi Germany as an example, once they decided that it was OK to persecute an “other”, a group of people different from them, it finally resulted in them destroying themselves; the German army was hanging its own citizens by the hundreds in the streets of Berlin in the final days of the war. In a similar vein, Chaco thought that limiting their murders to those who were “other” would keep their own little group safe. He didn’t realize that the town was doomed the second they agreed to take any human life, long before they took one of their own. One by one they would each become the “other.”

I realize I just used a rather graphic example, but this episode of The X-Files is expressing a very deep and painful truth in miniature, and in an entertaining format at that. The people of Dudley excused the killing of Kearns because he was no good, he was a philanderer, he didn’t fit in, etc. In the end, none of that mattered. It’s not merely gross that some were poisoned by eating his flesh, it’s symbolic. By destroying him they destroyed themselves unwittingly.

…And the Verdict is:

Now that I’ve waxed philosophical about Nazis and nets full of bones I’ll hedge my analysis by stating that writer Frank Spotnitz (I ❤ Uncle Frank) probably only intended to give us a good scare, not throw us into a moral debate. It’s a testament to the level of writing on The X-Files in general that you can discuss these episodes a la Oprah’s Book Club and find important realities cleverly hidden among tales of aliens and mutants.

On the lighter side, “Our Town” is also full of the sort of grim humor The X-Files is so good at, both visual and verbal; not so much in jokes but in ironies. And while they might become cliché I love these small town X-Files. There’s something inherently creepy about Mayberry.

B+

Questions:

Mulder breaks into Mr. Chaco’s cabinet sans warrant or even permission. Doesn’t that mean that anything he finds would be inadmissible in court? Do I just watch too much Law & Order?

Am I the only one who didn’t think Chaco’s granddaughter looked as shockingly young as the characters seemed to believe? That really threw me my first watch.

Meanderings:

There are a couple of background pieces of information that aren’t specifically addressed but are most likely supposed to be inferred. First, Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease is considered to be the human form of Mad Cow disease. Scully makes a connection between the two but doesn’t quite go all the way. That’s probably because the science wasn’t confirmed until a year or so after this episode aired. Second, the disease Kearns suffered from leads to personality changes and other disorders. That may be meant to explain his loose behavior. With that in mind, why didn’t his wife try to get him medical/psychiatric help rather than help herself to his entrails? Odds are she already knew he was sick since he was popping pills. I’d wager the method of contraction never entered into her considerations…

I still laugh out loud at that scene in the field where Scully smirks at Mulder and he grimaces right back. It’s amazing that even after all these years they have such great subtle interplay.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: A documentary I saw when I was in college about an insane asylum. It gave me nightmares.
Scully: I didn’t think anything gave you nightmares.
Mulder: Eh, I was young.

——————-

Scully: I just came up with a sick theory, Mulder.
Mulder: Ooh, I’m listening.

——————-

Scully: All of them share one strange detail, Mulder.
Mulder: Well they seem to have lost their heads.

——————-

Mulder: Scully… I think that the good people of Dudley have been eating more than just chicken.
Scully: You think these people were eaten?

——————-

Mulder: Do you know what’s in here?
Maid: I wouldn’t know.
Mulder: Can you open in?
Maid: I don’t have the key.