Tag Archives: Per Manum

Founder’s Mutation 10×5: You don’t like cats?


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All right. There were a lot of feelings to sort through for this one. I’m still not sure I’ve sorted them through completely. I’m not sure I ever will.

I was thoroughly bummed out at the end of this episode. And, no. I don’t mean that I was an emotional wreck grieving the plight of Mulder and Scully. I mean I was disappointed, out of joint, and incurably grumpy.

I realize that doesn’t make sense on the surface, especially since the storytelling has undeniably improved this week. “My Struggle” (1×01) was an aging crackpot of an episode, talking loud and fast, writhing in labor and giving birth to wind. But it was a familiar wind, so supersized shenanigans though it was, I couldn’t help but feel the daffy draft as a gentle breeze, cerulean blue style. Yep. Chris Carter put the whammy on me.

The truth is, though, that I never held out much expectation for the premiere to begin with. Most of the bad habits The X-Files ever had were connected to the mythology, and those habits manifested in increasing frequency and strength the longer the show went on. The mythology was epic in its heyday, but it self destructed somewhere in Season 6 and, unlike Mulder, it never made it back from the grave. Nothing could be worse than the mythology of Season 9 and the nosedive nadir of “Provenance” (9×10) and “Providence” (9×11). If my obsession could survive those, it could survive anything.

I was always more of a Monster of the Week gal, anyway. So who cares, right? But what I didn’t realize was that while I had steeled myself against disappointment in terms of the overall six episode storyline, there were still hidden hopes that I didn’t know I had. Those hopes, as always, centered around Mulder and Scully.

Things start out well enough. Better than well, even. There are little things, like the acting and direction around Mulder and Scully being distinctly of a modern style, for better and worse. Some things can’t be helped and when it comes to acting especially, times have changed – Ironically, they’ve changed largely because of the influence of The X-Files and other shows born in that era. I certainly didn’t expect things to be exactly the same and in fact am rooting for the show to evolve. No, we were still good.

Then we get a few cracks about just how 90’s Mulder and Scully are and it’s sorta cute. Okay. And then the show reverses its position and tries to prove that we’re not in the 90’s anymore, Toto. I get it. You can stop namedropping current events. You’re relevant. I know.

Like I said. Little things. Things that didn’t really bother me in and of themselves, just things I noticed. What mattered was that Mulder and Scully were back in my life calmly discussing theoretical science while a cadaver chilled in the background. YES.

The cherry on top was Mulder breaking the rules and stealing evidence. “Rebel.” It was almost like old times. Almost. It was somewhat disguised by the chaos of urgency and exposition in “My Struggle”. But now I’m sure: Something’s missing between Mulder and Scully.

I know, I know. It’s William, you say. Their grief over William has come between them and there’s some tension what with the breakup, that’s all. The distance is supposed to be there!

Maybe that’s what I’m meant to be seeing, I don’t know. But this doesn’t read as tension to me. Tension is not disconnect. There was tension in “My Struggle”, but at the same time there wasn’t this distance between them. There was tension between Mulder and Scully loads of times in the series proper, and sometimes they were going in polar opposite directions personally and emotionally. Yet they were always connected.

This may sound blasphemous, but their chemistry is wanting. There’s a spark missing. Where’s the Mulder/Scully bubble that existed as early as Season 1? That little world between the two of them that they used to create subconsciously? Fear not, NoRoMos. It’s not MSR I’m talking about or looking for, it’s the bond that set the ship a sail.

It probably shouldn’t concern me as much as it does. However, while this is the second episode to air it was the fifth episode filmed. Fifth! And there are only six. Their game should be on point by now. The fact that I’m seeing so little chemistry in what is effectively the penultimate episode… yeah, I am concerned.

You’re never just anything to me, Scully.

You know, there was a time when Dana Scully never had to say a word. I could read her every nuance of emotion, her every changing thought in her eyes. Scully was aloof. Scully was reserved. Scully was composed. Scully was in control. But Scully was not inscrutable. And her mouth wasn’t immovable.

Move your mouth, Scully. You’re allowed. Then again, maybe Scully shouldn’t open her mouth because every time she does, the croak of a ninety-year-old ex-smoker comes out. This bothers me. I’m bothered.

And what do you mean, “My baby”???

Mulder’s voice isn’t much better. And both of them are noticeably lacking in energy. Somebody get them some Wheaties, stat, because things can’t continue like this. I know they’re older and I want them to act like it. They can’t be wide-eyed with wonder the way they were in the early seasons of the show. That would be disingenuous. But that’s no excuse for Mulder and Scully on Valium. They’re middle aged, they’re not aged.

Again, I hear perfectly reasonable voices telling me this is all because of William. They’re emotionally beaten. They’re tired, they’re worn. They’re grief-stricken and world-weary.

Yet the answer that they lost their baby can’t be the excuse for every problem. Their chemistry is lacking – they lost their baby. Scully’s face is frozen – they lost their baby. Their conversations are stilted and subdued – they lost their baby. It gets old fast, doesn’t it? If they’re here to fight then there has to be some fight left in them.

I’ve ranted and I’ve snarked, but in all honesty I’m 80% sure that this discomfiture is a temporary state of affairs. And while I don’t think William should be a blanket excuse, this is an episode about William and it’s Mulder and Scully’s long overdue chance to mourn him.

In fact, the fantasy sequences prove to me that the Mulder and Scully I know and love are still alive somewhere in their own souls. Scully’s still Scully in her head! She even has her voice back! And you know what? Both of their individual scenes with imaginary William were more powerful than all of their scenes so far together.

These daydreams aren’t just fantasies about what life would have been like with William. They’re also their worst nightmares given a voice. Both Mulder and Scully long for their individual relationships with their child, and at the same time, they suspect that William was never theirs at all. Not really. It’s the same fear that torments Scully in “Per Manum” (8×8), that something was wrong with her pregnancy and her child from the beginning. But these are fears that should have been put to rest long ago.

These scenes, beautiful as they are, resolve nothing. They’re exercises in emotion. Mulder and Scully still don’t know whether or not they owe the birth of William to a sinister science, despite the fact that that question was answered in Season 9. (In case you were wondering, Season 9 no longer exists.) And they have absolutely no idea where William is or what’s happening to him, a question that I suspect will be revisited later in the season.

If these poignant daydreams accomplish anything, however, they succeed in amplifying my not so latent frustration over the William storyline. I know the world of The X-Files isn’t exactly family friendly, but I don’t think I’ve crumbled my cracker when I say I can easily imagine Mulder and Scully as parents… good parents. That’s why despite the weakness of “Existence” (8×21), its final scene felt right as a potential series finale.

For Mulder especially, who had spent the entire series trying to make sense of the loss of his sister and the destruction of his family, to find through his quest the family he had lost, to find something he was willing to leave the X-Files behind for, to find the very meaning he had been searching for in the X-Files, that was a great evolution for his character. In many ways, I think Mulder needed fatherhood more than Scully needed motherhood, despite the fact that the focus has forever been on “Scully’s baby”, even here where Scully still refers to William as her own. Yet, as sweet as Scully’s scenes with her imaginary son were, Mulder’s were gut-wrenching. That was exactly how I’d always imagined he’d be as William’s dad. And now I’m emotional all over again. Thank you, everyone. Thank you soooo much.

And thank you for making me more sure than ever that William” (9×17), the adoption, and the entire plot surrounding Mulder and Scully’s son was the worst sin The X-Files ever committed. I know it would have been harder to write our leads crusading against epic alien invasions with a baby in tow (Colonization with The Mulders), but good things don’t come easy. And you know what? The epic alien invasion never happened, which only adds insult to unmitigated injury.

Scully is already a bad mother shut-your-mouth. But if she had been fighting for her home, her family and her baby, she would have been a BEAST. It could have been done. It should have been done. It has been done… in my head.

Verdict:

As you can see, the William issue doesn’t make me sad so much as it makes me resentful and indignant. I can’t cry over it. I’m too annoyed to cry.

Mulder and Scully don’t seem to have moved on either. This episode was not a catharsis. It was not a release like “Closure” (7×11). This was a glossy 8×10 of sadness and guilt put in a pretty picture frame and hung on a wall for all to see. If an angst party was the point, they have proven it. They have partied the house down.

And so my resentment roosts in an episode that is otherwise decent. It’s not great television but it’s a distinct improvement over last week. The case itself is only moderately interesting and the resolution even less so, but the theme of it ties in perfectly to the William storyline and consequently, “Founder’s Mutation” is an emotional continuation of the premiere. Now I understand why they moved this episode up from when it was originally scheduled to air. Per “My Struggle”, Mulder and Scully got back in this paranormal rat race in order to investigate the genetic manipulation of humans with alien DNA, a horror that hits all too close to home for them. This episode connects their work in the paranormal to the mythology at large as well as to their individual lives and their relationship. They have ample reason to be back on the X-Files.

Now if they would just get back that old Black Magic…

Then again, it occurs to me that diamonds are born under pressure. Since I’ve already exposed myself as a heretic, before I close I’ll add some wood to my own flames. It’s quite possible that the intensity of the Mulder and Scully relationship was directly tied to the intensity of the circumstances Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny found themselves in. They were young, relatively inexperienced actors who were hungry for work. They were on a show that wasn’t just a hit, it was a cultural phenomenon. They spent nearly nine months a year, sometimes eighteen hours a day, being Mulder and Scully. Gillian has even said (somewhat facetiously?) that she spent more of her 20’s as Scully than as herself. On top of that, the show itself became progressively more intense plot-wise, and their characters progressively more isolated together.

It’s no secret that under those high pressure circumstances, David and Gillian didn’t always get along. But they always managed to perform like their lives depended on it. Maybe they did. And maybe… though this is pure speculation on my part… maybe that tension drove them into a place where they had to be Mulder and Scully in order to git-r-done. Because on screen, they would go into a mental and emotional place between the two of them where they became just the two of them. And all the way up to the series finale, these characters and their relationship flowed from them like it was second nature.

Now we’re down to six episodes from up to twenty-four. Now everyone’s in a great place emotionally and relationally. And our leads only see each other every once in a while. In summary, it’s quite possible that our favorite duo will never be the same outside of the extreme possibility of circumstance that created them.

I’m at peace with that… I think? Or am I pouting because I wanted this MOTW to feel like old times? It kinda, sorta, almost did there for a minute. I know we can’t go back again and we shouldn’t. Consciously, I don’t want to. It wouldn’t be believable or even healthy. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t keenly feel the bitter in the bittersweetness of “Founder’s Mutation”.

B

Mutated Musings:

Kyle Gilligan. Kyle “Gilligan”. GILLIGAN.

Skinner’s beard is everything to me right now. It’s the unsung hero of the episode.

Closely followed by Scully’s 9ft. legs in Mulder’s office. Dang, our cast is hot.

Help me, Darin Morgan. You’re my only hope. #GreatWhiteHope

It’s good seeing them in Skinner’s office again, though it’s almost jarring how easily Skinner accepts their crazy theories now.

The new, modern office is right, but it’s going to take a little getting used to. Meanwhile, the F.B.I. must be flush with cash.

The new “I Want to Believe” poster in the back corner… I guess we’ll hear that story soon.

I’m sorry. I was watching The X-Files when the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver showed up. Did I cross fandom beams?

And now that I think of it, this episode would fit well in the X-Men universe.

The scene in the bar was an excuse for some much needed humor. It didn’t end up being relevant to the plot.

To me, this feels more like modern TV does The X-Files than The X-Files does modern TV. Yes, Virginia, there is a difference.

I don’t just hate that she says, “my baby,” I hate the way she says it. I keep hearing it on repeat. Anybody got a letter opener?

Why does Scully stand outside the school just to say hi and bye?

There are echoes of Mulder’s brain pains in “Demons” (4×23) here and of the victims’ symptoms in “Drive” (6×2). There’s also a government conspiracy behind the genetic manipulation of babies in vitro as early as “Eve” (1×10).

Scully takes Kyle into custody a little too easily considering his powers. And Mulder recovers the pain without showing any signs of having been in any.

Sister Mary was Scully’s psychologist in “Irresistible” (2×13) and “Elegy” (4×22).

What are the odds that Kyle Gilligan would get a job working as a janitor at the same mental hospital that his mother was institutionalized at?

Best Quotes:

Scully: I’m a doctor. You can tell me anything.

—————–

Mommy Gilligan: Bad things happen when the birds gather.

—————–

Scully: This is dangerous.

Mulder: When has that ever stopped us before?

—————–

Mulder: All we can do, Scully, is pull the thread and see what unravels.

 

Providence 9×11: You don’t need to put yourself through this.


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Whew. I’m so relieved to be able to say I like this more than “Provenance” (9×10).

When we last spoke, The X-Files had bitten off more than it could chew in the storytelling department. Does “Providence” aid in digestion? Well, let’s sum up the mythology as stands as of the end of this episode, shall we?

Once upon a time, there was a man with the improbable name of Josepho. Josepho fought in the Gulf War and led a squad of soldiers on a failed mission. All of his men died. Josepho himself was about to die, when he saw men, like angels, throw themselves into what should have been certain death and survive. On that day, Josepho realized that he’d been given a vision, a vision of otherworldly beings come to deliver mankind. And you know he had a vision because he cried blood. Yes.

Josepho took his message to the people and started his own UFO cult. The cult worshipped the aliens as gods who would eventually return to earth to save humankind. Josepho himself heard from “God” on the regular.

Then one day, Josepho learned of a prophecy, either from “God” directly or he read it on one of the Holy-Special-Sacred Spacecraft. The prophecy was similar to the Navajo one alluded to by Albert Hosteen in “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×2), because as you know, Native Americans are automatically closer to “God” than the white man and with indigenous peoples lie the secrets of life.

Albert Hosteen: I was hoping to see your partner.
Scully: He’s missing.
Albert Hosteen: You must save him.
Scully: He’s very ill.
Albert Hosteen: You must find him before something happens not only for his sake, for the sake of us all.

Scully: [Regarding Native American Beliefs and Practices, Chapter 3 – “The Anasazi – An Entire Native American Indian Culture Vanishes Without a Trace – History as Myth and end of the world symbolism. Apocalypse and The Sixth Extinction.”] It’s all here, sir. A foretelling of mass extinction, a myth about a man who can save us from it. That’s why they took Mulder. They think that his illness is a gift, protection against the coming plague.

The prophecy said that there would be a messiah. (FYI: Mulder wasn’t it.) It also said, apparently, that the messiah would bear a strong resemblance to Darth Vader because he could play on either side of the force. If the messiah and his human father lived, the messiah would lead humanity against colonization. If the messiah lived and his father died, he would lead the Super Soldiers in the colonization charge. Ergo, from the point of view of the UFO cult and the Super Soldiers who both want colonization, the father had to die so that the messiah could lead them. Or, if the father remained alive, then the messiah would have to be killed so as to kill the resistance.

And so, Josepho and his people made it their business to try to kill Fox Mulder because, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, William is the “Jesus” of our little Space Soap Opera. The F.B.I. found out about these threats against a former one of their own and sent Agent Comer in undercover to find out what the cult was up to and stop them. Comer heard about the prophecy and witnessed enough to believe it. He also heard that Fox Mulder was dead.

Then, like any sane human being who wants to prevent the end of the world, he made it his personal mission to kill William. After all, if Mulder is dead and William lives then colonization will most certainly take place. However, Comer didn’t count on Scully who went all Psycho Mama Bear on Comer, put brotherman in the hospital, and saved her baby.

If you’re keeping track, this now means humankind is in danger since Mulder is dead and William is alive.

Scully only temporarily saved her baby, however, as he’s then kidnapped by Overcoat Woman. The inventively named Overcoat Woman brought him back to the UFO cult and they just held him and stuff.

Again, if you’re keeping track, she didn’t kill him because they believed Mulder had already been killed and they wanted William alive to lead colonization.

Josepho, who I now pronounce the villain of our tale, called Scully and dangled William’s life in front of her. He and Scully met and he revealed that Mulder was likely still alive, but he wanted Scully to rectify that.

Josepho: If you want to see the boy, you’ll bring me the head of Fox Mulder.
{Editor’s Note: Snort.}

Scully had no intention of doing that so she and Reyes secretly, and rather easily, followed Josepho back to his lair. They arrived right as the Holy-Special-Sacred Spacecraft Josepho had been trying to open activated at William’s cry. Unfortunately for Josepho, the Holy-Special-Sacred Spacecraft liked William but didn’t feel the same about his new friends. “God” killed the cult, left William alive for Scully to find, and flew off into the night.

Is that all vaguely clear? Is the mythology coming together for you?

Now let this sink in: You can disregard almost everything you learned in “Essence” (8×20) and “Existence” (8×21). The Super Soldiers never wanted to kill Baby “Jesus” William. Quite the contrary, they wanted to protect him. Oh, and you can likely discount “Nothing Important Happened Today” (9×1), “Nothing Important Happened Today II” (9×2) and “Trust No 1” (9×8) because while there may be many Super Soldier babies, there is only one messiah. William’s conception was different than the others.

Mulder: [Voiceover] How did this child come to be? What set its heart beating? Is it the product of a union? Or the work of a divine hand? An answered prayer? A true miracle? Or is it a wonder of technology, the intervention of other hands? – “Essence”

Scully: I need to know if it’s really God I have to thank. – “Provenance”

Skinner: [To Krycek] You wanted to destroy her child.
Krycek: I wanted to destroy the truth before they learn the truth.
Mulder: That there’s a God… a higher power. – “Essence”

This plot is crazy, so let’s have a rundown, shall we?

Where did William come from?

Mulder and Scully had sex. And God.

So basically he’s just like everyone else?

Yes. Only with superpowers.

Why did God create William?

Probably because God loves humanity and these aliens attempting colonization are messing with His children. He gave mankind William to save them.

I thought Scully was infertile?

She was. But God gave her back her fertility because… William. Quite likely, the contact she made with the spaceship in “Biogenesis” (6×22) brought her womb back to life. Those ships bring everything else back to life, so why not?

The spaceship made her pregnant?

Sorta kinda. It’s like the virgin birth only it’s nothing like the virgin birth.

And that’s why William has superpowers?

It was an alien influence, yes.

I thought the spaceship belonged to the colonists?

At this point, not much is clear. At no point will it be.

Why did Krycek want to kill William?

Because Mulder was dead/dying in “Deadalive” (8×15) and he wanted to kill William so that he wouldn’t live to usher in colonization.

Then what was Krycek up to in “Essence”?

He really wanted William to live now that Mulder was okay. He was likely telling Mulder the truth, for once. He was on the side of the resistance and was double crossing the Super Soldiers by leading them away from William.

Then what was Krycek up to in “Existence”?

He had likely switched sides yet again, had given up on keeping William safe and had joined up with the Super Soldiers. That’s the only reason he’d be willing to kill Mulder with William still alive out there somewhere.

So the Super Soldiers didn’t kill William at the end of “Existence” because…

Because they want him to lead them.

So then, the Super Soldiers didn’t kill Mulder at the end of “Existence” because…

I don’t know. You got me.

Whew! Okay. There you have it, folks. The “Provenance” of William is that “God” healed Scully and allowed her to conceive for the purposes of “Providence.” He’s living proof that God is at work. It only took nearly three years to make any sense out of what I saw as far back as “Biogenesis.” Strike that, it took me seventeen years. But I was really paying attention this time.

Dear X-Files, I love you. But let’s leave the Space Saga to Star Wars, shall we?

Verdict:

“The Truth” was out there, but it’s been buried under cryptic revelations and misleads for so long that, quite frankly, I care one minced oath less than Rhett Butler.

Even if I did care, the whole thing is hard to believe even within the context of the series. William as the new son of God? Does that seem like too much to you? It is. It’s too much. Mulder and Scully were just a guy and a gal solving cases, fighting spooks and beasties, and searching for the truth in life. Now Mulder and his miracle son are the subject of ancient prophecy and destined to change the fate of the cosmos.

One thing I must say, Chris Carter is often accused of having made it up as he went along, but I finally see in this episode that he was planning for the eventuality of these developments as far back as the end of Season 6. There is a plan here. But it’s much harder to follow than the mythology of the early years and even harder to swallow. It’s too crazy, too grand, too epic and too mythic.

Still, it was a crazy, grand, epic, mythic ride while it lasted.

B-

Thoughts:

Who *is* speaking to Josepho?

Where does this cult get the money or the technology for these digs? How did they find what the rest of the world hasn’t? Through whoever or whatever is speaking to Josepho?

The verse Josepho quotes is not from Ephesians, it’s from Ezekiel. We know Scully went to Sunday School so I’m not sure how she got that pop quiz wrong. I realize both books share an “E” but they’re otherwise separated by about three hundred pages and five hundred years. All that effort to find a relatively unknown Bible verse to suit the story and no one checked the reference?

All three of the Lone Gunmen wouldn’t ID the suspect in the same place at the same time.

If they had a tracker on the baby why didn’t Scully try that immediately?

I’m not buying Scully as Jack Bauer. A few seasons ago she was much more believable when she threatened somebody.

If Scully was given her fertility back in “Amor Fati” then the doctors’ reports were most certainly wrong in “Per Manum” (8×8) OR the events of that episode took place before “Amor Fati” in Season 6, which would certainly make more sense in terms of where Mulder and Scully appear to be in their relationship. Raspychick even suggested that in the comments for “Per Manum”.

Scully runs in the darkness yelling for William as she approaches the cult’s base. Shhh, woman! They’ll know you’re coming!

And it’s official: Reyes is a sidekick.

Doggett’s experience in the hospital also underscores the message that there’s a God, Providence, working behind all of this.

Josepho worships the aliens as God, but you see where that left him. Fried, died and laid to the side.

So Toothpick Man, the new Cigarette-Smoking Man, is an alien replicant/Super Soldier. That reveal isn’t as shocking or interesting as it should be.

When did God come to Jesus on a mountain top? I know Satan came to Jesus in the wilderness…

Trust No 1 9×8: You can’t do that to me!


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I always feel like somebody’s watching meeee!

No.

No, no, no, no, no.

Noooo.

Nope.

The first time I saw this episode I remember thinking, “Somebody, END THIS.”

Funny. Fourteen years later and nothing has changed.

As a genuinely grateful and devoted fan, I planned to watch till either The X-Files died or I did. And as of “Trust No 1”, death by cancellation was preferable, anything was preferable to watching the sanctity of MSR desecrated by paint gallons of pink tinted goop. Ending it is the only mercy left.

Oh, who am I kidding? I wanted the show to end after “Existence” (8×21).

But this, THIS, was worse than I ever imagined it could get.

“Dearest Dana”?!?!?!?!?!

Who are these people?????

They must be alien replicants. They can’t be Mulder and Scully. Mulder fell in love with “Scully” and “Scully” she shall be.

This woman is an imposter. This woman is an idiot. This woman leaves her Super Baby unattended while she goes to see about somebody else’s baby. This woman not only invites strangers into her apartment when her baby’s under threat, she lets them spend the night. This woman let’s them spend the night alone in the same room with the baby. This woman.

“I’m physically shaking right now seeing your words.”

You know what I’m physically doing? I’m physically pressing the pause button because I need a minute to compose myself.

Let me try to focus.

The NSA is watching… everyone. That includes Scully. One NSA agent tasked with spying on Scully and his wife come to Scully for help. They have a baby showing similar signs of abnormality as the little uber Scully. The NSA agent’s supervisor has been trying to contact Mulder on his behalf both to give him information and hopefully receive some answers. It’s too bad the supervisor, the Shadow Man, is actually a Super Soldier trying to lure Mulder out into the open so he can kill him because as he cryptically states, “Mulder must die. Mulder or your son.”

To which I state, “Well then why don’t you just kill her son since Mulder appears to be unavailable?”

Come to think of it, I haven’t watched Season 9 in so long… do we find out before the series ends why the Super Soldiers keep eschewing chances to kill William? Will I care once we get there?

If I may indulge in one more shipper tinted rant, I’m as disgusted as Scully at the thought that she and Mulder’s first time together was watched. I also hate the idea that after all they’ve been through, Scully initiates a relationship with Mulder because she’s lonely one night and doesn’t want to sleep alone. So desperation was the final nail in the coffin, eh?

I’ll yet repeat my oft repeated request of Season 8: Please stop going back and adding drama where there was none instead of propelling the story forward in new and interesting ways. Thank you for your consideration.

I’m not going to drag my complaints out. The bottom line: watch at your own risk. I’m sure there are fans out there who enjoy or can at least tolerate Mulder and Scully’s newfound Hallmark card sentimentality. If you’d rather skip it, all you need to know is that the Super Soldiers’ weakness has been discovered and it’s magnetite, not to be confused with kryptonite. When around it they shake like a Weeble having a seizure and then they blow apart. Now you know.

Verdict:

The one thing that does work for me in this episode is the teaser, and that despite the highbrow language. The weight and history of Mulder and Scully’s relationship actually stands up to the heaviness of the words. But the retrospective is a poignant reminder of what we’re missing and consequently sabotages the rest of the episode when it’s supposed to set it up. Yes, I do remember when magic happened here. What did happen to the comfort and safety we shared for so brief a time?

Melissa Scully: She’s dying. That’s perfectly natural. We hide people in these rooms because we don’t want to look at death. We have machines prolong a life that should… that should end!

That’s probably what happened.

To the fans for whom this is a happy indulgence and felt they needed a little more gross affection out of Mulder and Scully, I judge you not. Neither do I judge Messrs. Carter and Spotnitz. In fact, I beg your forgiveness and understanding of my ravings. I’m known to get protective of characters that don’t belong to me. I’m working on the problem.

Until next time, I remain forever yours…

D

Surveillance:

They keep changing taglines, yet I’m not intimidated.

If I believed that this episode ever happened, and I don’t, I’d suspect the “one lonely night” of being the day Scully came home with bad news in “Per Manum” (8×8).

It’s Terry O’Quinn again. Chris Carter, understandably, loved to use him in his various shows. For The X-Files alone he appeared three times. The original movie and “Aubrey” (2×12) were the first two.

Doggett can’t seem to catch a clean shave.

No explanation is given for when or why the NSA started surveilling all the people at all times. It’s more important that every shamelessly sappy emailed word be read and savored.

There’s no real tension in this trip Scully takes at the insistence of Shadow Man. I’m supposed to feel something might happen to her, but I never do. Are we to be impressed with this dated subterfuge?

And I still don’t get why he blows up the car. If there was tracking on it, they’ll still know where to find you.

Doggett and Reyes feel more like Scully’s sidekicks than the new leads.

Shouldn’t an infant that young be sleeping in the room with mom?

Mulder and Scully prearranged the manner of his return before he left. So Mulder knew before he left that the Super Soldiers were vulnerable to magnetite and picked a train that would pass a quarry that contained it?

Whatever Happened to Baby Joy?

 

Season 8 Wrap Up – Can’t we just go home and start this all over again tomorrow?


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It’s been a hard road. But for all the frustration of David Duchovny being half in, half out all season, and the blasphemy worthy of Beelzebub that is Scully having a partner who’s not Mulder, the bald-faced truth is I actually prefer Season 8 to Season 7.

Stop, stop! Don’t panic! Everybody breathe!

Better?

Okay.

It may not have been the way I would have preferred it to happen, but David Duchovny’s absence woke everybody up. There was passion again and a sense of urgency, from the acting to the writing. For too long, for all of Season 7 – which is ironic since “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×2) was all about Mulder’s renewed will to fight – there had been nothing driving Mulder and Scully, nothing that you felt like they were fighting for. Come Season 8, Scully’s fighting for Mulder’s life and their future with their child, the latter part of which fight Mulder joins when he graces us with his presence again. Also, Mulder leaving meant we had a reunion to look forward to and, while it may have been rushed, these two characters did not disappoint.

But if I may back it up for a moment to the improved writing again, when it comes to Monster of the Week episodes, Season 8 may be the scariest season of them all. I don’t scare easily and while The X-Files has regularly thrilled me, it’s never actually made me uneasy before. But there were moments this season that I thought were honestly frightening. Moments I wouldn’t watch in a room with the lights off. I’m thinking of you, “Via Negativa” (8×7).

I think the writers lost their crutch and found out they could walk again unassisted, albeit with a limp. They couldn’t rely on the failsafe of that old black magic that was the Mulder and Scully partnership. Together, those two could elevate even the most mundane episodes, make an insignificant finding appear the key to all mysteries. And it was on that foundation that Season 7 leaned a little too heavily, with lackluster plots and performances sneaking through and held afloat by desperate appeals to the characters’ chemistry.

In Season 8, since they couldn’t give us Mulder and Scully, and since Mulder and Scully couldn’t give them a head start off the mark every episode, 1013 pulled out all the stops to remind its audience that The X-Files could be freaky. Period. It’s like they figured if they couldn’t squee us, they’d scare us. I honestly have no idea whether it was in desperation or confidence, but our favorite writing team definitely upped their game.

That praise delightfully and duly given, Season 8 still had its problems. Serious problems.

1. Scully starts to slip.

Now, when I say this, it has nothing to do with Gillian Anderson’s performance as Scully. Season 8 is, without question, Gillian’s best year of acting on The X-Files and that’s saying a lot… a lot, a lot. Probably more than we should get into at this hour.

No, Scully was acted beautifully. Some of her characterization, though…

Scully doesn’t have much to do except miss Mulder and worry about her baby…. Scully will never again have much more to do except miss Mulder and worry about her baby. Oops. Spoilers.

Of course she needs to be upset about Mulder, but I wish she’d been given a more active role in investigating Mulder’s abduction. I realize the abduction plot was stretched out to make room for David Duchovny’s return in the latter half of the season, but the result is that Scully spent long stretches of time not even mentioning Mulder let alone looking for him. Instead, she was working through her mixed feelings about her new partner who was both worthy and unwanted.

Some of that may have been necessary, but not all of it. We’ve seen Scully work with temporary partners before. And she did so while still remaining true to her core characterization. Yep, I’ll see your “Chinga” (5×10) and raise you a “Tithonus” (6×9).

This Scully takes ten standalone episodes to gel with her partner and ten episodes to realize that she can’t solve cases pretending to be Fox Mulder. Why would she need to? *whispers* She’s solved them as a skeptic before.

I get that she’s on an emotional rollercoaster and it makes sense for her to resist liking Doggett and it makes sense for her to try to feel closer to Mulder by thinking like he’d think and doing what he’d do. But Scully is a smart and sensible woman. Having her work through the same issues for so long felt like the series had her caught in an ouroboros… and me stuck on a treadmill.

2. In with the new before we’re out with the old.

I’m a fan of Doggett and I like Reyes too. What I wish for them and for the series is that they’d had time to develop as characters away from the looming spectre that was Mulder and Scully.

The idea was to get the audience interested in and attached to them by the time Season 9, if there was a Season 9, started. Season 9 wasn’t confirmed till after the season finale was shot and not long before it aired. If and when Season 9 did come, it would come without Mulder.

Again, I get it. We needed to bond with Doggett and Reyes in time for us to want to tune in to the premiere of a Mulder-less Season 9. But I submit that this plan backfired. Or maybe it was destined to fail regardless, I don’t know. All I can say is that as much as I kept my mind open to Doggett and Reyes and even appreciated their contributions in Season 8, the new skeptic and the new believer sharing screen space with the old skeptic and the old believer only made me more sure that while the show might be able to survive, the magic would be gone.

Episodes like “Empedolces” (8×17) and “Alone” (8×19) showed a promising dynamic between Doggett and Reyes, but up against the hard earned connection Mulder and Scully showed us in their brief scenes in both those episodes, Doggett and Reyes couldn’t help being less interesting in comparison.

It’s impossible to ever know and I may be wrong, but I suspect Doggett and Reyes as a team would have benefitted from being completely removed from Mulder and Scully and given a fresh start Season 9 or placed in their own spinoff.

3. Is that a mythology or are you just happy to see me?

Season 8’s mythology was a jumbled mess of the old and the new, as if 1013 wanted to change things up but were afraid to flip the switch outright. To be sure, most casual fans were so confused by the mythology as it already stood, both the core mythology of Seasons 2-6 and the brief pitstop into creation theory that was the beginning of Season 7, that springing something totally new on them without any connection to what came before probably would have lost them completely.

I concede that the transition to something new needed to happen, but it was a rough, uncertain transition. The character of Gibson Praise was brought back after a two year absence, Jeremiah Smith after four. Both were again dropped unceremoniously, Gibson when he was on the verge of finding Mulder, Jeremiah when he was on the cusp of saving him. And two things we haven’t heard about since the 1998 movie, the Black Oil that was to be the means of alien invasion and the phrase “Fight the future”, both showed up once more only to just as quickly die in episodes “Vienen” (8×16) and “Three Words” (8×18).

1013 is dropping large hints that old things are passed away and all things are become new. At the same time, they’re making inconsistent connections between the old and the new, basing the new mythology of the Super Soldiers on what came before without giving us a reason for or a logic behind the evolution.

I humbly submit that we needed a clear end to the old mythology, with the loose ends tied up and Mulder and Scully set free from their quest, before we moved into a completely different conspiratorial territory that would be uniquely suited to Doggett and Reyes.

4. That’s just my baby daddy.

Baby William. Sweet little baby William. He, for me, becomes the major headache of both Seasons 8 and 9.

We first found out about Scully’s pregnancy in the heart-wrenching cliffhanger that was “Requiem” (7×22). Then and in the Season 8 premiere, Scully seems to be living with the assumption that, despite being declared barren, she and Mulder are having a baby. She all but admits to Skinner that her drive to find Mulder is fueled by her pregnancy, i.e. I don’t want to have this baby and lose its father at the same time.

But thenPer Manum” (8×8) comes along and with revisionist history comes perplexities of nations. Now we’re told that at some point in Season 7, when we were previously led to believe that Mulder and Scully were having a sexual relationship, Scully either before or after or in the middle of said relationship asked Mulder to donate sperm to her quest for conception. Shocker – the IVF treatments Scully underwent were administered by a fertility specialist who had secretly worked for the Syndicate and was still carrying on experimentation in alien-human hybridization with unsuspecting mothers. Shocker – Scully may have been one of them.

But thenEssence” (8×20) comes along and we’re told that this is a very, very, very special baby. No, it’s not normal. It’s an uber Scully, a super human. And the Super Soldiers want to kill this Super Baby because it carries within itself the potential to resist colonization and possibly save humankind.

But thenExistence” (8×21) comes along and… Psych! Just kidding. Everything’s exactly the way you thought it was at the end of Season 7. We were just messin’ with ya.

Somewhere and at some point, I imagine the conversation went a little like this:

How do we get our audience back? I know! We’ll make them wonder again whether or not Mulder and Scully are a couple. Hey, it’s not like we absolutely said that they were sleeping together, we just showed Mulder splayed out naked in bed. There’s deniability there. And then we’ll tease them with whether or not Scully’s baby is Mulder’s. That’ll work because we know they lurve Mulder and Scully. That’ll get them to stick around all the way to the finale. We’ll make them beg for it, then give the people what they want.

Stop it. Tricks are for kids.

Which brings us to…

5. Lot’s wife syndrome.

Season 8 spent too much time looking backward to Season 7 to spark interest in current events. It should have spent more time making current events interesting.

Everyone knows that Mulder and Scully’s partnership is at the heart of the show, however you may feel about ships and the destinations they sail to. 1013 knows it too and Mulder being gone for half the season only served to intensify the palpable presence of Mulder and Scully’s history, not diminish it.

Since there was bound to be a void due to Mulder and Scully being apart, and since fans were and are ravenous when it comes to the two of them, it seems like the idea was to fill that void by continuing to evolve their relationship… by devolving it.

What I mean by that is that we were retreading old ground. Mulder and Scully are in a romantic relationship… or are they? Mulder and Scully are having a baby together… or are they? Mulder and Scully don’t keep secrets from each other… or do they? Mulder and Scully were having the time of their lives Season 7… or were they?

There’s a real irony here because while Chris Carter once swore that Mulder and Scully would never become a couple, by playing these mind games with the audience, their coupling ended up dominating the series and the search for clear answers about their relationship ended up being the main draw for those loyal enough to tune into the Season 8 finale. This is a tragedy.

All this hemming and hawing and revisionist history also resulted in a crazy pregnancy timeline and, even more irritatingly, Mulder’s magically disappearing brain disease. It’s not even subtle. Mulder was retroactively made to be dying in Season 7 not because the plot would move the characters forward, but to shock the audience. It was shamelessly designed to manufacture tears. Then, that job done, it all goes away like nothing ever happened. Mulder hears the good news of his recovery and couldn’t care less. Scully doesn’t so much as broach the conversation of why Mulder kept her in the dark.

Okay, so I had more to gripe about than I thought.

But I really do prefer Season 8 to Season 7. I’ll take being frustrated over being bored. Though there’s nothing worse than being bored with being frustrated and that point also can and will be reached.

Like I said, Season 8 has momentum. And for all the focus backward, you know that Mulder and Scully are headed toward something: Freedom, if you can believe it.

We needed Mulder to reach this point. We needed him to willingly walk away from the X-Files. If he hadn’t, if things had ended the way they did in “The End” (5×20) and his work was taken away from him, then his era would have ended in tragedy and not in victory. And what a waste of eight years that would have been. No, he had to make a choice.

The Fox Mulder who started the X-Files didn’t have anything more important in his life to rival his work. He lost his family that day when Samantha was taken and his work was all about redeeming that loss and finding Samantha. But now he’s found the truth, more or less and there are two people that now mean more to him than the work that used to give his life purpose. Mulder never said he wanted to spend the rest of his life hunting demons, he said he wanted to find his sister. Well, he found her and he’s found his family.

If he could get the hang of the thing his cry might become: “To live would be an awfully big adventure!”

If our Paranormal Peter Pan is going to grow up, we have to believe that Mulder is leaving behind one great adventure for another, even greater adventure; the adventure of loving and being loved and passing on that love.

And I do. I want to believe.

—————–

So without further ado, the Season 8 awards:

Best Episode You Haven’t Watched Because You Skipped Season 8

Roadrunners

You’re Not Missing Anything

Surekill

AND

Salvage

Work it Doggett

Via Negativa

Gillian Anderson for All the Awards

This is Not Happening

Best Old-School X-File

Invocation

Believe the Banter

Empedolces

 

Essence 8×20: Pissing people off comes with the territory.


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Of course it’s a conspiracy, Scully.

The essence of “Essence” is the question posed by Mulder’s final voiceover on The X-Files: Was Scully’s baby conceived by human intervention, alien intervention, or by a miracle of God?

If that question sounds familiar, it’s because it was the same question posed in “Per Manum” (8×8).

I did warn you they’d drag this issue out, didn’t I?

Scully’s baby has taken over the mythology. It’s the sun that everything else orbits around, for good and for ill. The episode even opens with Scully’s baby shower because, surprise! Scully still has friends. Though I confess I think there a disproportionate number of redheads in the crowd, one of whom is the suspiciously accommodating Lizzy Gill. Lizzy is introduced to Scully by Maggie Scully, who at long last has been written back into the series, as a potential nursemaid. That whole switching prescription pills behind Scully’s back thing should probably disqualify her though.

While Scully’s celebrating with the girls, Mulder is exploring doubts we never knew he had. It looks like Scully filled him in on the events of “Per Manum” and he enlists Doggett in attempting to make absolutely sure that Scully’s baby isn’t actually some alien abomination.

What they find out with the help of Krycek and Lizzy Gill is that Dr. Lev and Dr. Parenti of “Per Manum” fame both worked for the Syndicate. The Syndicate sponsored their experiments on human cloning and alien-human hybridization. Even though the Syndicate is long gone, their money continued and so did the work.

That much I understand, but I’m having trouble understanding how all this fits together with what we already learned in “Per Manum”. So please pardon me while I try to gather my thoughts:

  • Scully sees Dr. Parenti as a fertility specialist.
  • The IVF treatment isn’t successful.
  • Scully gets pregnant, possibly the old fashioned way.
  • Dr. Parenti, with scientists Duffy Haskell and Lizzy Gill, recognizes that Scully’s baby is something special. They monitor her pregnancy.
  • Duffy Haskell poses as the husband of an abductee and visits Scully at the X-Files in order to tip her off about Dr. Parenti’s experiments.
  • Duffy Haskell indicates over the phone to an accomplice, probably Lizzy Gill, that this is all in an effort to gain access to Scully’s baby.
  • Scully is suspicious and has her baby’s health and status verified independently. Everything checks out.
  • Because of Scully’s suspicions, the plan to gain access to Scully by making her suspicious fails. Go figure. Lizzy Gill resorts to posing as a nursemaid instead.
  • Dr. Parenti and Duffy Haskell are both killed by the human replacement version of Billy Miles who is destroying the work of the alien-human hybrid experiments on behalf of the aliens.
  • Lizzy Gill doesn’t confirm or deny experimentation on Scully, but she insists that there’s nothing wrong with Scully’s baby, that quite the contrary, it’s a perfect human with no frailties, and that it wasn’t created in a lab.
  • Lizzy Gill gives no indication of how she could possibly know this.

I still don’t understand how hinting to Scully that there might be something wrong with her baby because of Dr. Parenti would in any way give them greater access to her. Maybe I never will.

I’m not sure Mulder fully grasps the situation either, but Lizzy Gill’s assurances that Scully’s baby is not alien only serve to make him for frightened for Scully and her baby’s safety. Sure enough, Billy Miles is on his way to.. what?

It seems like Billy Miles is going to kill Scully right before Krycek comes and saves the day. But then again, the events of the next episode make me wonder what it was he was really planning to do. We’ll leave that question in the air until next time.

Ah, yes. Krycek. He’s back. I admit that as happy as I am to see him… those old guard villains on The X-Files had a certain something, didn’t they?… I’m growing weary of the way he’s being used. Krycek has always been an enigma, conveniently allying himself with one side and then the other. But since the end of the Syndicate he seems to show up not according to rhyme or reason, but when the story needs a way out or the audience needs to wake up. He’s been reduced to a plot device, an unusually good looking boogey man.

I’m not saying he’s completely useless here. If his intel is to be believed, and all indications is that he’s mostly telling the truth this time, then he’s given us invaluable information on the human replacements. They really are trying to eliminate any attempts at alien-human hybridization and therefore take away our ability to survive the coming colonization. That’s why they killed Dr. Lev, Dr. Parenti and Duffy Haskell.

The replacements also have their sights on Scully’s baby, not because it’s a successful experiment, but because it’s better than that. It’s a miracle. How they know that, we don’t know. But they’re afraid that the human perfection that Scully’s baby represents will present a threat to them and to colonization. And they aren’t the only ones who pose a threat.

Skinner: You wanted to destroy her child.
Krycek: I wanted to destroy the truth before they learn the truth.
Mulder: That there’s a God… a higher power.

Whew! There’s a sentence I never thought I’d hear Mulder utter. It seems that Chris Carter is trying to take the parallels about the search for God hidden in Mulder’s search for the truth and make them overt again, although admittedly and gratefully in a different way from what he tried in “Biogenesis” (7×22). Then the aliens were God, now they have to answer to God. I rather wish he’d taken Mulder’s spiritual evolution somewhere, and this idea that the baby was a gift from God not only to Scully but to humanity, a little further.

Part of what makes me think Carter was headed somewhere along those lines was the naming of these two episodes, “Essence” and “Existence” (8×21). They’re philosophical terms describing more or less “what we are” and “that we are”; in other words, “what is the baby” and “the baby is.” Likely he wanted to get into the baby’s cosmological purpose somehow, but that goal seemed to get lost in the shuffle of Season 9. We’ll get there.

As Doggett points out, Krycek’s words and his actions toward the baby are inconsistent. What else is new, right? I do wish I knew why a man who when we last saw him was planning to Fight the Future then tried to kill the future in the form of Scully’s baby. You’d think he’d try to kidnap it instead. But like I said, Krycek as a character doesn’t make much sense anymore. He was always wily, but he used to make sense.

Mulder believes him enough to entrust Scully to him, though, and that’s enough for me complete insanity.

Verdict:

I was oddly into “Essence” this watch. Season 8 has been hedgingly vague and somber, even for The X-Files. I finally got some answers and some action. I’m still not exactly clear on everything, but I’m clearer.

Considering this is Mulder’s second to last episode, I could still wish he and Scully had more time together. But all hopes of enjoying their teamwork right up until the end are dashed. There’s too much information that needs to be disseminated, too many characters that need to be worked into the plot. Not to mention, Scully’s physically out of commission and Mulder’s officially out of the F.B.I..

We did get a very cute, domesticated moment from the two of them, though. And in front of Agent Doggett, no less!

What always cracks me up, though, is Skinner giving Mulder the “What are your intentions toward my daughter” speech. Mulder tries to do the honorable thing and not say, but by not saying he’s saying. If he weren’t in the running to be the father, he’d just say so.

Somebody, anybody just say so. I’m weary of waiting to hear the official word on where this baby came from. Out with it already.

B+

Cryptic Comments:

So now we know what Doggett does on his days off. He cleans his gun and watches Nascar.

Mulder keeps saying “your baby” and “her baby.” Own it, dude. We know whose bed your boots have been under.

Denise Crosby’s playing doctor again. She was also in “Empedolces” (8×17).

Curiosities:

Mulder and Doggett break into Dr. Parenti’s office and no alarm goes off. That wasn’t a clue that someone was in there?

Later, why does Billy Miles leave Mulder and Doggett alive in Dr. Parenti’s office?

Best Quotes:

[As Billy Miles advances toward them]
Scully: Mulder, lock your door.
Mulder: I don’t think that matters much, Scully.

———————

Doggett: What is it exactly we’re looking for being I’m starting to piss a lot of people off, Mr. Mulder?
Mulder: Pissing people off comes with the territory, Agent Doggett. It’s part of working on the X-Files.
Doggett: Well, at the risk of pissing you off I think I’ve wasted about enough of my weekend.
Mulder: Hey, I told you Dr. Lev was a founder of the clinic. Would you like to know who his cofounder was? Dr. Parenti. Agent Scully’s obstetrician through the first two-thirds of her pregnancy.
Doggett: And you think he burned down this clinic?
Mulder: I don’t know, but if I’m the Agent assigned to the X-Files, I sure as hell would want to ask him. Worst it could do is piss him off.

Three Words 8×18: Fight the future.


 

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That sound you hear is me sobbing with joy.

Scully: Mulder, I don’t know if you’ll ever understand what it was like. First learning of your abduction, and then searching for you and finding you dead. And now to have you back and, uh… [Her voice cracks]

Mulder: Well, you act like you’re surprised.

Scully: I prayed a lot. And my prayers have been answered.

Mulder: [Indicates her growing belly] In more ways than one.

Scully: Yeah.

Mulder: I’m happy for you. I think I know… how much that means to you.

Scully: Mulder…

Mulder: I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be cold or ungrateful. I just… I have no idea where I fit in…  right now. I just, uh… I’m having a little trouble… processing… everything.

If you expected Mulder and Scully’s reunion to pick up at the warm and fuzzy place where it left off in “Deadalive” (8×15) you were mistaken. Mulder’s been abducted by aliens, tortured for almost a year, been returned dead or something that looked a little too close to it, been buried, exhumed, hooked up on tubes and given a rigorous course of medical treatments that barely allowed him to escape transforming into something inhuman. He’s come back to find he’s not dying despite having shelled out for a tombstone, his position on the X-Files has been filled by a stranger, and his partner and lover is knocked up. Oh, and Molly his fish died. He has some things to work through.

It makes sense for Mulder to feel out of sorts and angry. If anything, I wish he’d been given more time to work through those feelings. But with only six episodes left to wrap up David Duchovny’s time on The X-Files, his character doesn’t get that luxury. Mulder’s clock is running out and before he goes he has to wrap up his personal issues, say goodbye to the old gang, meet and greet the new crew, and give some clarity to his relationship with Scully.

Scully appears a little put out by Mulder’s lack of enthusiasm at being back. But she doesn’t show hurt until he acts too emotionally removed from the baby situation. “I’m happy for you?” “I know how much that means to you?” Those are the words of a mere sperm donor.

Excuse me? Oh, are we going to start this now? So now you’re going to make Mulder and Scully dance around whether or not they’re having a baby together? You’re going to pretend “all things” (7×17) never happened? Play like they aren’t a couple? So it’s like that, huh, Chris Carter? Okay. Fine.

I wish I could just ignore this plot and I usually do. But because of “Per Manum” (8×8), for the rest of Season 8 it becomes the main question right up until the last scene of the finale. So for the purposes of this rewatch I can’t escape it. And for those of you who are watching for the first time, you can’t escape the wait. Put your patient panties on.

Before I stop complaining and move on to the rest of the episode, let’s take a moment to discuss Mulder’s magically disappearing no-name brain disease because we will never hear of it again. Yep. After the tears, trauma and drama… that’s it. It’s gone and even Mulder doesn’t care. This plot existed purely to put extra emotional pressure on the viewing audience. It was never an integral part of the overall Season 8 storyline or of Mulder’s character development.

With Scully’s cancer, there were things that led up to it and things that derived from it, connections with other storylines that were made stronger because of it. There were places that it took the characters that they otherwise wouldn’t have gone. This brain disease… this was useless. And for it to miraculously go away and never be mentioned again adds insult to storytelling injury.

I’ll discuss this more in the Season 8 Wrap Up, but one weakness The X-Files had that came to a head in the last two seasons especially was the habit of wriggling out of difficult plots by invoking a miracle at the last second. We’ll get to that. For now, this is one more miracle. Mulder is cured. The end.

I know that so far it sounds like I hate this episode but I don’t at all. So let me finish with the gripes and get on to the good stuff.

The old team is finally back together but instead of teamwork we get tension. I’m glad it happened, though, because it needed to happen. As I said, a man can’t just walk back into his old life after all the people in it have emotionally and physically buried him. There is a sad moment, though, when Mulder is back at his desk and Skinner and Scully don’t look at all happy to see him there.

Since Mulder’s back, Skinner and Scully are free to go back to being skeptics. Which they do. Immediately. Scully now claims Absalom defies all standards of credibility when she believed he and Jeremiah Smith could help her save Mulder a mere two episodes ago.

O Absalom, Absalom! We barely knew ye before the conspiracy killed ye. But at least you served to open Doggett’s eyes to the possibility that he was being used. This episode was not poor Doggett’s happiest hour. After working so hard to save Mulder and being genuinely happy to see him back and healthy, Mulder returns the favor by hating him instantaneously and irrationally. It’s irrational but it’s understandable. Doggett is the kind of stubborn unbeliever that Mulder naturally dislikes, and it’s a man like him of all men who is running his precious X-Files division and has taken up affection space in the hearts of his loved ones. All this while Mulder was being tortured and buried. Poor Mulder. Poor Doggett.

At least we finally get an emotional reprieve from all this angst when Mulder is reunited with the Lone Gunmen. Finally! A heartfelt Welcome Back and a little funky poaching. I am appeased, gentlemen.

Verdict:

This episode makes me wish so hard that we had had Mulder for more time in Season 8. He needed more time to work through his trauma. And he needed more time with Doggett… with whom he had a good antagonistic kind of chemistry. I’ve said it before, but I enjoy Skinner and Doggett as a pair more than Scully and Doggett. More Mulder and Doggett could have been delicious too. But that’s a subject we’ll pick back up a couple of episodes from now.

If it seems like I’m spending an unbalanced amount of time on the series’ relationships it’s because I am. As for the plot of “Three Words”, like much of the mythology this season, there isn’t much to it. We learn precious little more by the end of the episode than we did at the beginning.

Basically, it’s been confirmed yet again that the alien invasion is still going forward. As a matter of course, that information is being covered up. It’s also confirmed yet again that the coming invasion won’t look the way we expected it too. So I’m assuming that means the Black Oil infection has been rendered passé. We’ll hear one last gasp from that old plot before it sizzles out for good.

Even the revelation that there are creatures running around that look human but aren’t is really confirmation of what we suspected in “Deadalive”. The only telltale sign that they’re not normal is a bump on the nape of the neck. What’s with The X-Files and the nape of the neck? Oh yeah, and Doggett’s formerly trusted source is one of them. I guess there’s something new after all.

B+

Comments:

Scully just got Mulder back and she doesn’t want to risk losing him again. That’s a tough battle considering Mulder has always been irreparably reckless and self-destructive.

Doggett realizes that he too has been lied to and that there’s a conspiracy afoot. That’s always the first step in inextricably intertwining oneself with the X-Files.

When this first aired, I totally assumed that the eponymous three words would be “I love you.” I know I’m not alone.

Interrogatives:

Kersh says Scully and Doggett had a higher arrest rate than when Mulder was on the X-Files. Huh? I didn’t witness that.

The Lone Gunmen tease Mulder over their suspicions that he’s the father of Scully’s baby. Scully has almost no reaction. Mulder looks at her questioningly. Is the question, “You mean you didn’t tell them?”

Why does Mulder still have an apartment? Who’s been paying his rent this whole time? Even for three months after his death? Scully? Was she using Mulder’s savings? G-Men have savings?

Best Quotes:

Mulder’s back again so I have more to choose from… Hooray!!

Scully: Mulder, I know you know this, but if anything leaves this room you could be in violation of the law.

Mulder: Really? When I was dead I was hoping maybe they changed the rules.

Scully: Mulder, just being here could be used by Kersh as cause for dismissal.

Mulder: Then why don’t you shut the door so he doesn’t find out.

———————

Frohike: You know, it’s really not fair. You’ve been dead for six months and you still look better than me. But not by much. [They hug]

Mulder: [Chuckles] Melvin. I’d be a whole lot happier to see you if you’d just take your hands off my ass.

Frohike: [Lets go] Sorry.

———————

Mulder: [On communicator] Frohike? Langly? Byers? Let’s go. I’m dying out here.

Frohike: [On communicator] Well, let us just finish our cappuccino and biscotti, and we’ll see what we can do.

This is Not Happening 8×14: No frickin’ way.


ThisIsNotHappening293.jpg

They’re coming to take me away, ha ha.

Not that it was intentional as they weren’t filmed in this order, but “This is Not Happening” effectively and emotionally winds up as the second of a three-parter, being sandwiched between “Per Manum” (8×8) in which Mulder’s paternity of Scully’s baby is questioned for the first time and “Deadalive” (8×15) in which Mulder… well, spoilers. “Per Manum”, besides making our heads hurt with timeline questions, builds the unction and the drive to find Mulder and makes us ready for this episode. Now Scully has to find Mulder so that together they can figure out whether what’s growing inside her is a baby or an abomination.

Joining Scully, Skinner and Doggett in the hunt for Mulder is Doggett’s friend, the quirky Agent Monica Reyes. I honestly didn’t remember that this was the moment she first showed up. I skip so much of Season 8 so often that I had forgotten. Shame on me.

Monica Reyes is our new resident believer since David Duchovny’s, and therefore Fox Mulder’s, days on the show are numbered. Played by Annabeth Gish, Reyes is a breath of fresh air. She’s childlike. No, she’s not childish, but she’s childlike. She has an awkward, cheerful air about her and a naturally open and trusting disposition. Unlike Mulder’s brooding belief in the paranormal, Reyes’ take on the supernatural has more of a spiritual, New Aged tinge. And whereas Mulder’s humor was pointed and sardonic, it’s Reyes’ unintentional goofiness that gives her a certain charm.

How good her chemistry proves to be with Doggett remains to be seen, but at least she isn’t a copycat of Mulder just like Doggett isn’t a copycat of Scully. I’m still not convinced that the Unbending Skeptic/Knee-Jerk Believer dynamic is fundamentally necessary to The X-Files, that it’s not merely the way the Mulder/Scully dynamic expressed itself instead of being in and of itself a requirement for solving strange cases. But Fox and 1013 Productions appear to be unwilling to move forward without the familiarity of this established dynamic and, if that’s the case, Doggett and Reyes are about as good a team as I could ask for. I still fear that echoes and ghosts of Mulder and Scully will only prove to be the show’s undoing, however. It’s impossible to compare two very similar partnerships and not find one wanting.

I am impressed by how effectively and efficiently they introduced Reyes considering how much else is going on in this episode. We also have the introduction of Absalom, the return of Jeremiah Smith who we haven’t seen since “Herrenvolk” (4×1), and most importantly of all, the hunt for Mulder has reached its crescendo.

The threat to Mulder has multiplied triple fold. Not only is he at the mercy of the aliens, not only does he have a brain disease, but now we find out the abductees are being returned dead, a development we’ve never seen before in The X-Files. That means that even if Scully finds Mulder she’s likely to find him dead. And even if she finds him and finds him alive, he’s likely to die anyway. This is what Doggett means when he says Scully’s afraid to find Mulder. At least with him missing, there’s a vague hope that he can be saved.

Scully is afraid and we don’t see her like this often. It’s heartbreaking watching her realize what Mulder must have gone through, and even worse, watching her realize that she probably won’t be able to save him. Her vulnerability is a great excuse for some much needed Skinner/Scully bonding, but Skinner’s slightly awkward ministrations only remind me that he can’t comfort Scully like Mulder can.

Doggett feels for Scully too, but from a distance. He’s still too new in her life to reach out to her the way he seems to want to. There are more hints courtesy of Reyes that Doggett has experienced the loss of a loved one and can identify with what Scully’s going through. But it still remains to be clarified exactly what that loss was. You have to feel bad for Doggett, though. He really wants to help Scully but he can’t give her what she needs. What she needs is Mulder.

Meanwhile, Mulder… is already dead. Despite the seeming close call of the emotional ending, Scully first realizes Mulder is dead when she has that dream of him looking decayed in his torture chair. Then she sees his soul in starlight which is a dead giveaway (no pun intended). It’s even confirmed later in “Deadalive” that Mulder was dead for days before they found him.

I kinda wish that hadn’t been the case, not only because seeing Mulder’s spirit visit Scully from the beyond felt like a knife through my heart, but because knowing Mulder is already dead takes away from the tension and anticipation of finding him. Absalom and Jeremiah Smith had already indicated that if Teresa Hoese had died it would have been too late for them to help her. If that was the case, then a dead Mulder was already beyond saving and all that was left for me was to watch Scully’s heart break in two. And boy, did it break.

Gillian Anderson gave one of her best performances of the series in this episode; actually, in this episode and the next. There are so many little moments… like when you see the tears in Scully’s eyes as she questions Absalom. And then there are the big moments… like the very tangible anguish of Scully finding Mulder dead and trying and failing to bring Jeremiah Smith to save him.

THE PAIN.

Ugh. Why must The X-Files keep trying to kill me? I’m only a fangirl. I’m not indestructible.

Verdict:

The mythology seems to be headed somewhere, but it’s still unclear whether we’re going backwards to answer questions raised by characters like Jeremiah Smith years ago or whether we’re going forward into something new or both. This is the last we ever see of Jeremiah Smith, but before he leaves he and Absalom drop some knowledge on us: that the invasion is still on and that it looks different than we thought it would.

Right now we think Jeremiah Smith was saving the abductees from death, we’re about to find out he was saving them, and the world, from a lot more than that. We were told in “Requiem” (7×22) and in “Within” (8×1) that the aliens were taking these abductees in order to clean up evidence of the hybridization project. If that were the case, they wouldn’t be dumping the abductees back to earth. No, it appears we were deceived, but it’s one of the lesser reneges of Season 8. The aliens weren’t cleaning up, they were restarting the project in a new form. And Mulder’s a part of it.

A-

Random Musings:

Really though, that moment when Mulder visits Scully in starlight is physically painful.

Reyes is a less aggravating, more intelligent take on the late Melissa Scully with all her talk of “cosmic energies.”

Reyes recognized this guy Absalom after seeing him from a distance in the dark?

The phrase “This is not happening” also showed up in “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’” (3×20).

Wait. This counts as one of David Duchovny’s eleven episodes doesn’t it? Dagnabit.

Best Quotes:

Doggett: I got 46 of your followers rounded up out there at your compound. You make me go to them for a straight answer it’s only going to make it worse for you.

Absalom: How many times can I tell you?

Doggett: Night’s early. Coffee’s hot.

———————–

Scully: What is it you specialize in again? Ritualistic crime?

Reyes: Right. Satanic ritual abuse. Or, I should say claims of it. We never found any hard evidence.

Scully: We should talk sometime.