Tag Archives: Pilot

Quagmire 3×22: Well, Captain, what now?


Romancing the Stone.

This is one of the most oft quoted episodes for understanding Mulder and Scully’s psychology and more importantly, the dysfunctionality of their relationship. The X-File itself isn’t very good, but the episode is quite fun. I wouldn’t quite characterize it as a comedy episode, but it is “light”, possibly due to the influence of Darin Morgan on Kim Newton’s script.

Before watching this again, I was prepared to write a speech about how it’s no coincidence that the two episodes that offer the most insight into Scully’s character this season were written by a woman. After all, Kim Newton is also the writer who brought us “Revelations” (3×11) where Scully’s background of faith is explored. And yet, it turns out that Darin Morgan is an uncredited writer on “Quagmire”. Rumor has it that the famous “conversation on a rock” is entirely his. Not only that, but according to Chris Carter, Morgan also contributed a “tremendous” amount of work, uncredited, for the script for “Revelations” as well. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent so much time mentally dwelling on his episodes lately, but I never really appreciated how truly Darin Morgan-esque this episode is. True, it’s written by Kim Newton and Darin Morgan is only an uncredited contributor, but his stamp is unmistakable.

Is that not Morgan’s voice we’re hearing again after all? The characterization here is in keeping with his previous episodes. Mulder is chasing after the ridiculous and rather than looking like an abnormally clever investigator he’s painted as obstinately, if endearingly foolish. Scully, on the other hand, is chock full of insight. Then there are the recurring characters like the stoners, and even Queequeg, who were introduced in his earlier work. Not to mention the tone of certain characters like the Sheriff, and certain gags like Bertram‘s trashy hat are telltale signs. You can tell Morgan didn’t write the whole thing but it smacks of his scent. The tone actually reminds me of “War of the Coprophages” (3×12) in a lot of ways.

But enough about a question we’ll never know the answer to and back to the episode at hand. This is one of those episodes that everybody enjoys and yet it’s somehow not a fan favorite. I suspect that’s because the X-File itself isn’t very interesting. The charm of this episode is in watching Mulder and Scully interact in a most domesticated fashion. From their first moments on the screen in that funny little car ride, instead of having their typically clinical conversation about a mysterious case, they’re bickering over bringing the dog rather than putting him in a kennel.

It’s hilarious. And it’s a nice change of pace because it’s been a while since we’ve been reminded that Scully actually finds Mulder amusing. This was more their relationship dynamic in Season 1. Season 2 they were almost romantically devoted to each other (we’ll get to that definition in a moment) but Season 3 has been devoted to taking the bloom off the rose; all their faults are out in the open. This episode continues that theme by delving into the psychological complexities of their unusual relationship.

The X-Files itself has always been a romance on several levels. Setting aside for a moment the more obvious definition of romance as an idealized love, friendship or otherwise (which The X-Files also depicts), first it’s a literary romance, and I don’t mean the kind of fiction with Fabio on the cover. The Oxford English Dictionary defines literary “romance” as “a work of fiction depicting a setting and events remote from everyday life.” (And wouldn’t you know it, the theme of the episode, Moby Dick, is a famous romance novel from the 19th century.) Connected to that definition, “romance” is also considered “a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.”

Now, store that information away for a moment while we discuss Scully. The question that’s subtly addressed in this episode is why is Scully still here? After all, she clearly doesn’t believe in the work; most of it, like this case, she finds patently ridiculous. True, over the past year she’s become personally involved by a set of tragic circumstances. But the man who killed her sister has been killed and she’s shown some serious reluctance to address or even try to remember the circumstances of her abduction. By the end of the last mythology episode, “Apocrypha” (3×16), she infers that the answers aren’t sufficient because they won’t bring justice. So again I ask, what is she still doing here?

Back when I reviewed the “Pilot” (1×79) I argued that despite her protestations, Scully enjoys the mystery and excitement of the X-Files and of Fox Mulder himself. Mulder gets so much flack sometimes because he’s not a realistic character and he isn’t meant to be, that’s Scully’s job. Mulder is Don Quixote, he’s Hamlet, he’s Captain Ahab. He’s given himself a monumental, otherworldly quest, one that’s dangerous, ridiculous, and incredibly exciting all at the same time. Truth be told, there’s a fantasy element to The X-Files and Scully is the audience’s stand-in; she’s whisked away into events that can’t be possible yet suddenly are.

So how does she feel about that? Well, usually she protests that the whole situation is either too dangerous or too absurd, and yet… Notice that when Mulder brings up similar legends to Big Blue, Scully is already familiar with them! As a kid she read up on them, but then she “grew up and became a scientist.” Again when they’re on the lake in the middle of the night searching for this legendary Big Blue, Scully starts to believe herself as she sees that blip coming toward her on the boat’s monitor. The look on her face isn’t that of a clinically detached scientist.

As I said earlier, Mulder, even in the context of the reality of The X-Files, is a fictional character; he’s the type of person you meet once in a lifetime. And he’s invited Scully to chase the “white whale” of alien life with him. For all her science and practicality, it’s a proposal she can’t resist because at heart, Scully is a little girl who used to read stories about men like Mulder and live vicariously through them. He’s her childhood bedtime story come to life.

Might she not be finding in Mulder a childlike faith that she thought she’d lost? I wonder whether if she had never met Mulder or seen what she’s already seen working on the X-Files if she would have returned to the church the way she did in “Revelations”. Perhaps she would have gone through life distancing herself from what she used to believe as though faith without proof was a game for children and she was a grown up. I think Mulder’s faith inspires her even as she scoffs at what it is he has faith in.

Much is made in later seasons of the idea that Scully sees Mulder as a father figure, a jumping off point from Scully comparing Mulder to Captain Ahab in this episode and from the fact that her nickname for her father was Ahab. However, I think that to take the logical leap that since both men are “Ahab” to her that they both occupy a similar place in her life is faulty. It’s true that both Mulder and Captain Bill Scully are strong and smart, but there isn’t much to compare between them besides that.

Scully sees Mulder as Captain Ahab, a romantic and tragic figure doomed to chase something that he’ll never catch and drive himself to madness in the process. In contrast, Bill Scully’s disapproval when Scully dared do something as “reckless” as join the F.B.I. was enough to cause tension between a once close father and daughter. The man was as straight-laced as it gets. He served his country, he served his family and he came home. Despite his nickname, Bill Scully was no Ahab. Bill Scully is called Ahab but Mulder is Ahab.

Now, Captain Ahab is hardly anyone’s knight in shining armor so let’s be clear, that’s not how she sees Mulder. This whole season has been an eye-opener for Mulder and Scully’s characters in regards to each other. They’re not faultless, two-dimensional characters any longer. There’s been a tangible amount of tension as well. But it seems as though when the varnish wears off they actually love each other more, not less.

Conclusion:

Now that we know more of the history of her character, Scully’s instant like of Mulder in the “Pilot” makes sense. Rather than putting her off with his ridiculous theories the way he does most of the F.B.I. is, he intrigues her. Just because Scully realizes that Mulder is off his rocker doesn’t mean she doesn’t admire his insanity and stubbornness

Despite the danger and loss, and mostly in spite of her own disbelief, Scully sticks around because of the romance of the situation she finds herself in. Sure there are moments where she winds up wet on a rock in the middle of the night, but that’s the price that has to be paid. Her eyes are open to Mulder’s weaknesses and faults. And yet that element of romance, of mystery and excitement is still there… sometimes.

Whether they catch the whale is superfluous. It’s adventure on the high seas regardless. And if some days are more mundane than others, if more often than not she ends up stranded on a rock, at least her life isn’t mundane as long as she sticks with Mulder.

B+

P.S. Another sub-genre of Romance is the chivalric tales of knights errant. I suppose that would make Mulder the rusty armored knight and Big Blue the dragon he failed to kill.

Comments:

Oh, Queequeg, we barely knew ye!

In Moby Dick, the character of Queequeg was a cannibal. Make of that what you will.

Best Quotes:

Queequeg: [Barks]
Scully: Nature’s calling, I think we should pull over.
Mulder: Did you really have to bring that thing?
Scully: You wake me up on a Saturday morning, tell me to be ready in five minutes, my mother is out of town, all of the dog sitters are booked and you know how I feel about kennels. So, unless you want to lose your security deposit on the car, I suggest you pull over.

——————–

Dr. Farraday: See this is what always happens. This is how it starts.
Mulder: What?
Dr. Farraday: The deflection, sleight of hand… See, whenever an issue requires any real thought, any serious mental, effort people turn to UFO’s and sea serpents and Sasquatch. Afternoon talkshows and tabloid TV, they’ve reduced our attention span to the length of a soundbite so that soon our ability to think will be as extinct as the Rana sphenocephala frog.
Mulder: I’ll take that rambling diatribe to mean that you don’t believe in the existence of such a creature.
Dr. Farraday: I’m not even going to grace that statement with a reply.

——————–

Mulder: Hey Scully, do you think you could ever cannibalize someone? I mean if you really had to.
Scully: Well, as much as the very idea is abhorrent to me, I suppose under certain conditions a living entity is practically conditioned to perform whatever extreme measures are necessary to ensure its survival. I suppose I’m no different.
Mulder: You’ve lost some weight recently, haven’t you?
Scully: Yeah. So I have. Thanks for… [Glare]

———————

Scully: I called him Ahab and he called me Starbuck. So I named my dog Queequeg… It’s funny, I just realized something.
Mulder: It’s a bizarre name for a dog, huh?
Scully: No. How much you’re like Ahab. You’re so… consumed by your personal vengeance against life whether it be its inherent cruelties or its mysteries, that everything takes on a warped significance to your megalomaniacal cosmology.
Mulder: Scully, are you coming on to me?

——————–

Scully: Well, you slew the big white whale, Ahab.
Mulder: Yeah, but I still don’t have that pegleg.

Guest Post – X-Files: A Shipper Guide, Part 1


*Editor’s Note: I’m so excited about this, our first guest post!

Nina is a long time X-Phile and shipper extraordinaire. (Seriously. You guys thought I was rabid.) You can find more of her humorous insights into The X-Files, Supernatural, 24 and other fandoms on her tumblr at myspecialhell.tumblr.com. Here’s the first part of her rundown on Mulder and Scully’s relationship in Season 1. Agree/disagree with her observations? Duke it out in the comments section. We can’t wait to hear what you guys think!

And with that, take it away, Nina!

Rambling, biased, totally personal opinion, written with tongue firmly planted in cheek, except when I talk about Mulder.

Premise

.

.

.

It’s been  years, since the X-Files took off the air. To be completely honest I had to distance myself from the show, and the wreck the last seasons had been after it ended. I was too involved in the show, I daresay I was obsessed with it, I took every bad script, every jab at the characters I loved a bit too seriously.

Did I say I was obsessed with the X-Files?

For me, The X-Files was all about Mulder, and the relationship between Mulder and Scully. The mytharc[1][2] stopped making sense whatsoever around the fifth season, to this day I still haven’t gotten all the facts straight, and honestly? I doubt Chris Carter and co, do. The monsters of the week were mostly cool, but to me, as I said, the X-Files was all about the characters: Mulder, Scully and Skinner.

Mulder and Scully shared a very complicated, sometimes dysfunctional relationship, which without a doubt changed all the television standards; it was a relationship, which crashed all the existing clichés.

Up until Mulder and Scully appeared on the screens we were used to star crossed lovers, to relationships a là Moonlighting.

With Mulder and Scully it wasn’t just the matter of: “are they in love or not ?”, because they clearly were…  or “will they or won’t they ?”, because given Scully’s eternal pregnancy in eight season they clearly did, and the surfer dude managed not to show it to us. What Mulder and Scully had was far more complex than the usual relationships seen on TV.

With a few exceptions (such as John Sheridan and Delenn from Babylon 5 and Michael and Nikita from La Femme Nikita) I don’t think TV has given us another couple like that. And I doubt it ever will.

I am a shipper, yet in my utter naiveté I had really thought I had become a noromo[3]…I mean, I had watched the last episode of the series and Mulder and Scully acting like a couple, the admission they were indeed lovers, left me cold…except for the part where I would have ripped the lawyer’s throat out!

It was 2002…fast forward a few years, and my being shipper has come back…with a vengeance! And hey, if I choose to overlook a few things (a few seasons, maybe!), I can even like Scully again!

So I am a shipper, and like any other Mulder and Scully’s shipper on this planet I can tell you the key moments of their partnership/friendship/relationship. I can quote dialogues, things said by Chris Carter and the gang…

That’s cool, and I’ll get to that…but what I really want to do is trying to write a throughout, in depth analysis of their relationship.

Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ll try and  write something about Mulder too… since I do believe he’s one of the most fascinating characters ever created. He’s by far my favorite fictional character, ever!

So, guys, fasten your seat belts, grab a pack of Maalox and follow me…

I’ll try to stay as far away as humanly possible from the fanon.

What is fanon you ask?

Fanon are all the common ideas that are shared among fans, through discussions, fan-fictions and the like… fanon is not something written in stone…heck, it’s not even true…but it sorts of become true…

And as much as The X-Files’ canon wasn’t written in stone either (continuity guys, is a bitch!) I’ll try to stick to the facts. I’ll try to channel my inner Scully; hey it worked while I studied physics in high school!

It goes without saying, that here and there I’ll throw in personal comments, thoughts, ruminations, ramblings, bitchings, fanwankings[4] and some of the things are to be considered written with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

I can be a snarky bitch sometimes, but to my chagrin I discovered that my snarkiness and dryness leave the house as far as the X-Files is concerned.

I said that I was obsessed with the X-Files, didn’t I?

So, here it goes…

.

.

.

Chapter one

The first season

It was the year they met, the year when their lives changed forever.

It was the year they got to know each other and learned about trust, about partnership and something about themselves.

It was the year of Tooms, of Ellen Air Base, of Max Fenig and Luther Lee Boggs.

It was the year Scully got kidnapped for the first time and Mulder got shot in the leg.

It was the year they met ghosts and werewolves, miracle men and killer bugs, it was the year of reincarnated cops into little girls and twins with a vendetta.

It was the year they met Skinner and Smoking Man was just a creepy guy who lurked and didn’t talk.

It was the first season of the X-Files.

The Beginning

~ Sorry, nobody down here, but the FBI most unwanted.

–  Mulder (pilot episode)

Let’s begin with the dates, guys…6th March 1992, that’s when Mulder and Scully first met. Now, I don’t know why they have forgotten about that. I don’t know whether it’s been a mistake in the close caption made by some wacky editor, but fact is, Mulder and Scully met for the first time on 1992, and I still cringe every time this is not mentioned.

So ok, I guess I’m a bit anal about it…but hey, from the pilot episode to Deep Throat, the first regular episode of the series, there’s a whole year and half we haven’t seen!

Eighteen months, guys…that’s a whole heck of a long time!

Anyway, back to the pilot episode…

For those who are not familiar with the show, and its mythology, Dana Scully, an instructor at Quantico was called to the FBI Headquarters with an assignment: the X-Files and the hidden agenda to debunk its supervisor work on it.

For those who don’t know whom the supervisor of the X-Files is I’ll give you a hint: he’s the guy with the big nose and the to-die-for hazel eyes!

Fox Mulder.

Fox Mulder was a legend within the Bureau: an excellent profiler, a brilliant Oxford graduated psychologist…a rising star at BSU until in 1991 he left it to work on the X-Files.

What are the X-Files?

You know? I refuse to answer to this. If you don’t know what the X-Files are, it’s gonna be tough!

Anyway, I’ll give you another hint: unexplained phenomena. Mulder investigated on them, he pissed off a lot of people, hence Dana Scully’s assignment to the X-Files.

Why Dana Scully? Well, she was supposed to be the skeptic, those crazy, crazy kids at the Consortium – or Syndicate, or whatever the gang at 1013 called them – believed that since she was a scientist and an ambitious woman it would be simple.

Yep…they were so screwed…!

The reasons behind Mulder’s career suicide were rather personal.

One name guys: the name of the recurring character which together with Skinner and Scully’s cross deserved to be in the credits

What…you say that Skinner was in the credits? When? In ninth season you say? Oh…well…I was under the impression the ninth season had just ONE episode…

And for the record: I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the credits of the last two seasons. I never watched them and I don’t mean to. Ever.

Petty of me? So what?

Samantha – insert a second name of your choice in here, since the gang at 1013 couldn’t stick to one to save their lives- Mulder. The brat little sister, except she wasn’t really a brat and I cried my eyes out when I saw Closure…BUT I’m getting ahead of myself…sorry.

She was abducted when Mulder was twelve and she was eight never to be found again. After he came to believe she was abducted by aliens, Mulder went working to the X-Files and being the genius he is, he started pissing people off…and getting close to the truth.

Now, he wasn’t that close to the truth…he kind of danced around it, got drunk during the movie so that when he was told the truth he probably forgot everything about it and we had to sit through Law & Files to know that gee! We Earthers are screwed…

And once again I’m getting ahead of myself…sorry!

So Scully walked into the basement office to meet Fox Mulder, whose nickname among his peers was spooky Mulder.

Before I go on, it’s interesting to notice that although Mulder and Scully hadn’t met before the pilot episode, they knew each other…by reputation…heck! Scully even knew Mulder’s nickname!

Since Mulder was supervisor of the X-Files, he was probably notified of Scully’s arrival. But you know what they say: once a profiler, always a profiler. So it’s within the realm of possibilities that Mulder profiled Scully before meeting her.

‘Cause, guys? Two things: I don’t really think Mulder had Scully’s thesis about Enstein’s whatever paradox handy.

And second…you know how Scully writes, we’ve heard it in various episodes, and mostly it was her frigging journal! Can you imagine her senior physics thesis?

Anyway, Mulder read it and he claimed he liked it.

I first watched the Pilot episode on 1994, I wasn’t even eighteen, and after watching it I used to have all this theory about Mulder: it was a very romantic theory, very fanon-ish and a bit delusional, but I loved it so very much…and then X-Files’ 5th season came  …and along with it Diana Fowley[5], and Chris Carter screwed it!

Anyway, part of my theory still applies. I’m one of those shippers who think that Mulder and Scully fell for each other at first sight.

Let’s get this straight: I said I was obsessed and I said I was a bit delusional, ok?

When Mulder saw Scully for the first time he actually blinked…he did some kind of double take. Now, maybe he thought: “My God…is she even legal to have a beer? She looks fourteen!”

But I’ve always thought that it was the moment he fell for her…and she wasn’t even SeventhSeason!Wonderbra!Scully! She was just cute…in a: “I’m barely more than a rookie and you have no idea whatsoever of what a pain in the ass I can really be” way.

Mulder put on a show with her, complete with a slideshow, cockiness and all the trademark Mr-Smart-Ass-Mulderisms.

Yet, despite all of the above, two things happened that convince me, even en lieu of my new found bitchiness of my previous theory:

1) Mulder kept invading Scully’s personal space (and Scully didn’t seem to mind)

2) Mulder’s knees kind of gave out when he finally sat and dismissed Scully.

I rest my case about it.

I was talking about my original theory: how Mulder was the lone wolf, the man on the edge of a cliff and how I saw Scully as the light who entered his office and his life.

Carter, thank you ever so for Diana Fowley, the Unusual Suspects and Travellers (Although, speaking of Travellers, I watched it again a few weeks ago and I loved it to pieces! Why didn’t they make the eight season set in the past? The adventures of young Arthur Dales – who was hot in his own way and was a very interesting character – told in flashback to Scully as she tried to really look for Mulder!)! *Editor’s Note: Dang, that would’ve been good.

Fanon wanted Mulder to be this pathetic creature who was alone, had always been and was kind of nut.

Want to know what I think it really happened? And what it has to do with Scully?

Mulder is a survivor and a fighter…we have seen it time and again throughout the series, heck…the guy was buried alive and survived without even bedsores!!!

I think that what happened to Samantha scarred Mulder, but until he underwent regression hypnosis he led a somewhat normal life: he excelled in sports, excelled in academics, was a rising star at the Bureau…and he had partners at work (Jerry Lamanna), he was respected by his peers (Reggy Purdue) and he had relationships…

He was married guys…let’s not dance around the subject…it was kind of hard to miss the wedding ring…it was huge! It was like a frigging flying saucer!

Whom was he married to? It’s not clear, Carter didn’t go out on a limb and said out loud it was Diana Fowley, he probably had still some self preservation instincts…because if you were a fan of the X-Files back then, you recall how liked Diana Fowley was. Not.

So let’s examine the facts and throw away the fanon, shall we?

Mulder was indeed a loose cannon, but he hadn’t always been that way. He was obsessed with his job…but he hadn’t always been that way. The guy used to have a life, then it was torn asunder and he dedicated himself to the X-Files and the truth.

I’ve always thought Mulder is a hero, a real, honest to God, hero…like those in epic tales. Well, the knowledge of his past hasn’t changed this notion one bit.

Ok, ok, at the time it did…but it was a selfish thing…and way too many fan-fictions I had read. And I was younger…don’t forget that.

I find it even more fascinating now, knowing that he had a life, he had basically everything a man could look for: a good job, the respect of his peers, a woman he loved (never mind that she had worked with the Consortium all along and that she was a bitch!) …yet, he consciously gave up on everything…in order to find out the truth.

The truth about his sister, but knowing Mulder? How long did it take him to see that something was rotten in the state of Denmark?

Of course at the time the pilot episode was written, all those pesky things like a former wife didn’t exist…so can you blame millions of people for falling for the “tortured- broody-lonely-on-the-edge-of-a -cliff” guy routine? Bet you can’t.

So, Dana Scully entered his office, as his new partner, and Mulder made no mystery out of the real meaning of Scully’s presence in the basement.

Really? I was under the impression that you were sent to spy on me…

On a side note: let’s make one thing clear…as much as a shipper as I am – and please believe me, despite everything I’ve said so far I am…I’m, like, THE shipper – I want something to be clear: Scully was assigned to the X-Files not as an equal to Mulder. Mulder is the senior agent in charge, even later this hierarchy doesn’t change. If you don’t notice that is because Mulder didn’t really care about those things, but actually? Mulder was Scully’s boss.

Back to our dynamic duo: there were sparks flying between them in their first scene together, I think their chemistry was palpable in it and so was what was going to become the general tone of the show.

Their very first case together, took them in Oregon to investigate on the deaths of a group of teens. Mulder had his suspicions about what really happened, but he didn’t let Scully on them, he played the cliché of Spooky Mulder, up until the autopsy scene.

I love that scene, it’s one of my favorite of the pilot episode, it gave us an insight into Mulder’s mind.

I’m not crazy, Scully! I’ve got the same doubts you do…

Mulder knew that whatever he said wasn’t going to make any difference to a spy. Yet, he felt compelled to tell Scully he was not crazy. He was compelled to let her know that he had doubts, that he just wanted…

Guess what?

The truth.

There is something else I’ve always loved about the pilot episode: the way Mulder and Scully worked as partners since the get go. They worked well as a team…and it showed.

Chris Carter claimed he didn’t want Mulder and Scully to be a couple. You have heard him saying it millions of times. In hindsight I can say that he fooled us all…because he created one of the most compelling love stories ever written, which transcended sex, romance and the usual clichés…

Anyway, he claimed he wrote the scene where Scully undressed in front of Mulder with the precise intent to show that he didn’t want them to be a couple.

Huh?

I never got this.

I swear I didn’t get it when I was eighteen and I don’t get it now, that I’m thirty four! If Carter’s purpose wasn’t that…then why in the hell didn’t let Scully wear a pair of shorts and a t-shirt? Why couldn’t she have just lifted her t-shirt to let Mulder see the marks? Why undressing?  To let us see that they weren’t going to crawl in bed and have sex?

Well…duh!

Mulder knew she was a spy, he knew she could screw his career if her ever attempted something funny…but there wasn’t even a shadow of doubt when he saw Scully on his doorstep.

The scene is filled with tension, and I clearly remember while I watched that scene for the first time that I took a look at my watch and said: “Wow…twenty minutes and they’re already going at it?”

Was it a: “gotcha?”

Nope, it was a red herring. The scene that turned millions of people into helpless and hopeful shippers, was another one…the following.

Nine years – ten and half if you count the original timeline-, countless hugs, chewing of arms, sucking of eyebrows, kisses, and that scene still kills me, every time I see it.

That was the moment where their partnership began. I’ve always loved the setting of the scene…there were those people, who barely knew each other and talked, lit only by lightings and candles.

Mulder told Scully why he worked on the X-Files, he told her about his sister and told her the only thing it mattered to him was to find her.

Now, back then I accepted it as gospel. I thought that it had always been that way…that he had always been that obsessed

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I think that Mulder didn’t give a damn about his sister before he underwent regression hypnosis…on the contrary, I think that one way or another he had always looked for her. Look at the guy’s background: he excelled in sports, couldn’t it have been a reaction to his immobility the night Samantha was abducted?

He was a psychologist recruited by the Bureau even thanks to his thesis about serial killings. He worked for the Bureau in the Violent Crimes Section…wasn’t it a way to look for his sister? To know whatever happened to her? To try and prevent such things, from happening to any other little girls?

I think it did. He never forgot about Samantha, given his way of thinking is only natural that he wanted the truth.

There was probably a lot of guilt involved when the repressed memories were restored. So at that point of his life, it was true…the only thing that mattered to him was to find his sister, to bring her back, to have closure.

Mulder didn’t know what hit him when he met Scully…and boy, the guy was in for a hell of a ride!!

Scully said to Mulder what he had probably known ever since they had met in his office: she wasn’t a spy, she wasn’t one of them, she just wanted to solve the case.

Just like him she wanted the truth.

I love the last few minutes of the episode: the way Mulder and Scully looked at each other through the fake mirror is a classic moment which, in my opinion, offers an interesting metaphor for what their relationship was going to be: they could reach each other against all odds, but they were somehow divided, by walls which took them ultimately a decade to break down.

In my opinion it’s very important the pilot episode’s last scene.

Mulder called Scully, to tell her that the case files about Billy Miles disappeared.

He whispered to her: “We need to talk, Scully” I think, that her simple answer: “Yes, tomorrow” was a promise for the future.

Scully’s soft spoken words let us understand, that, everything, from that moment on, was going to be different, for both of them, no matter the risks, the sorrow, the tears…the pain and tribulations they might face, they were not alone anymore.

As I previously said, Chris Carter, DA man himself, claimed he didn’t want Mulder and Scully to get together. I don’t want to dwell on why he was so adamant in keeping their relationship chaste and platonic…I don’t know if the surfer dude has issues, or if he just wanted to drive the fans stark crazy with the waiting, but anyway while he said that hell would freeze over before Mulder and Scully ever kissed, on the other hand he got rid of Ethan Minette, the infamous Scully’s boyfriend, whose scenes were filmed but never made it to the episode.

And there is something else: I don’t know if any of you have ever taken a look at the original script of the pilot episode, besides the differences (i.e.: Mulder was kind like a v-jay from Mtv, he was way more a loose cannon than in the episode), I love the way he describes Scully’s reaction to Mulder’s phone call.

To those who have complained time and again about how Scully put up with Mulder and that crazy job they had…I want to say this: she knew. She knew that meeting Mulder, entering that office would change her life forever; she knew things would be different, and she accepted it.


[1] The Mytharc is how we Philes call the episodes, which dealt with the conspiration and the colonization…the sweeps episodes, where Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz came up with always new ideas to mess with our heads…and Mulder and Scully’s relationship.

[2]

[3] Noromo short for not romance. Noromo are the fans who don’t want a romantic relationship between  Mulder and Scully.

[4] A fanwank is an explanation given by the fans to certain events…a fill in the blank for  a scene and stuff like that

[5] Played by Mimi Rogers

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


That would be bad for the fish.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

C

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

Head Scratchers:

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

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

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

Here nor There:

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Best Quotes:

 

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

———————

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

———————

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

———————

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

———————

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

The Erlenmeyer Flask 1×23: I know it’s not Silence of the Lambs, but it’s what we do.


Maybe this time we can just cut out the Obi Wan Kenobi crap.

This is it, we’ve finally reached “The Erlenmeyer Flask” AKA “Scully Takes a Stand, Then Takes it Back” AKA “People Die on This Show.” Recurring themes to follow.

We open with a high speed chase, mainly to prove that X-Files don’t just hang out in dank, dark corners anymore. Apparently, neither does the show’s budget. The story takes place on a grander scale than any other X-Files episode up to this point. As a mystery, the pacing of this episode is great. In the beginning there are lots of clues, but as Scully points out, no connection, which is how I like it. Anticipation is better than fruition. Well, when it comes to well-written mysteries, anyway. But this is not just the beginning of real action on The X-Files, it’s the beginning of the mythology. Hip hip hooray! The series’ backbone is starting to take shape like a supersoldier’s spinning metal spine.

That crucial revelations in this episode take place at 1616 Pandora St. is so perfect one would assume the writers had to make it up, but my sources tell me they didn’t. (By “sources” I mean one source and by “source” I mean the DVD documentary.) Regardless, it’s an appropriate location for secrets to start to shake loose. And like the original Pandora, Mulder is delving into mysteries that can hurt as quickly as they can help. As asked earlier in Season 1, what will he do with the information once he has it? He wants to go public for the sake of the freedom of information. Yet, it doesn’t sound like he’s bothered to ask himself what good that will actually do. But I digress.

Why Mulder trusts Deep Throat again after the debacle that occurred in “E.B.E.” (1×16), that’s the true X-File. Nothing here to counter my theory that Mulder is actually trusting by nature, if a little jaded. The man’s loyalty outstrips his reason. It’s as obvious as Gillian Anderson’s baby bump. But I digress. Again.

Once more Scully is the voice of reason, airing doubts about Deep Throat that any rational person would be thinking. Only this time she’s wrong. So wrong. It’s only occurred to me for the first time this go-around, but Deep Throat must’ve known he couldn’t blackmail his fellow conspirators, not without giving up his life. This is why he is so insistent that he physically make the trade for Mulder and not Scully. Mulder refers to himself as the “dutiful son” early on in the episode. I suppose Deep Throat wants a chance to repay his trust by sacrificing himself like the father figure Mulder once thought him to be. His final speech to Scully while he’s still in the car is, in essence, a passing of the baton. He’s hoping that if he gets Mulder released, Mulder will find out the truth and put a stop to these men. Something that whatever strings he can pull, Deep Throat can’t seem to do himself.

Deep Throat has good reason to believe that Mulder won’t rest until he’s exposed every last conspirator. Chris Carter has stated that Mulder’s search for his sister, his search for extra-terrestrial life, is a pseudo-religious experience. He goes from being your average guy (albeit with excellent prospects) to alienating himself from family, friends and colleagues all for the zealous pursuit of his “cause.” He clearly doesn’t think God can offer him any answers. Perhaps he thinks the aliens will? I wonder if at this point in the series the character bothers to ask himself what he would do if he found Samantha, if he was able to confirm the existence of other life out there… somewhere. What would he do then? He’d hitchhike a ride on a space ship for some god-forsaken reason and goes who knows where, that’s what. But that’s a rant for another episode. Suffice it to say that Deep Throat can go to his grave assured that Mulder will let it all hang out one day.

There isn’t too much to say on the Mulder and Scully partnership front, except that we see Scully being refreshingly vulnerable with Mulder by admitting that she was wrong and confessing that she’s not sure she can trust her beloved science anymore. But Scully need not fear. This show is based on science, really. What makes The X-Files stand out from the paranormal pack of vampire slayers is that it uses science to give creditability to the spiritual; it uses science to prove what science hasn’t been able to prove up to this point. That’s its intelligent allure. The only reason Scully believes Mulder is because science has proven he’s right. So maybe she need not give up her belief in science, just remember that science hasn’t finished revealing its secrets.

Chris Carter is a sucker for parallels and bookended stories (I am too), and so the episode ends just like the “Pilot” (1×79), with Scully in bed taking a midnight call from Mulder. Only this time, instead of distancing herself from Mulder, she finds that they’ve been ripped a part by outside forces as punishment for getting too close to the truth. It’s like when God confused people’s languages at The Tower of Babel because they could do too much damage when they were unified and left to their own devices. (Except that God was justified.) Similarly to the human race, broken up or not, Mulder and Scully will find a way to make trouble together anyhow. Thank goodness.

Final Answer:

Mythology episodes, even though this can only loosely be called one, have a reputation for suggesting much and revealing little. A reputation that’s been well-earned. So let’s take a moment and take stock of what the writers did give us, shall we?

  1. There is a conspiracy. (But you guessed that, didn’t you?)
  2. This conspiracy is about more than the existence of alien life. (Bet you didn’t guess that one.)
  3. Alien life, at least its DNA, exists. (What would be the point otherwise?)
  4. This DNA is being tested on the population without their knowledge. (This is what makes the bad guys “The Bad Guys.”)
  5. The conspiracy revolves around cloning a virus. (Because the world needs more of those).
  6. Those involved in the conspiracy may or may not bleed green blood and have super powers. (It’s a bird, it’s a plane…)
  7. The conspirators have the cure for cancer but have no intention of sharing. (Maybe if we ask nicely.)
  8. The conspirators also have no intention of making the conspiracy successful. (That would ruin everything.)
  9. Even the conspirators aren’t safe. (No honor among thieves and all that.)

All in all, it’s not a bad set of revelations. It’s certainly more than we’ve gotten the whole season long. Up to this point, the conspiracy has been suggested but hasn’t shown any real signs of taking form. Truthfully, it still won’t until Season 2 rolls along. You can’t see it, but I’m rubbing my hands together gleefully.

A-

Random Thoughts:

Mulder’s penchant for B Sci-fi is far preferable to his predilection for porn.

Mulder is incurably snarky even when he’s blind and in the hand of his captors.

Mulder says, “Skinner!” with the vehemence of a mental patient.

I could be wrong, but I believe this is Danny’s first “appearance.”

Scully holds an alien fetus in her hand and a reputable, objective scientist tells her that she’s stumbled upon alien DNA. And yet, she doesn’t believe for another 6 seasons or so…

Unanswered Questions:

What makes Mulder pick up that random flask to get tested, anyway?

How did Scully sneak that Alien baby out of the facility? Stuff it in her pocket?

Who else thinks Dr. Carpenter would’ve called the CDC and made copies of her findings before she went home for fried chicken with the family??

Is the green blood toxic or isn’t it? The officer that shoots Dr. Secare at the beginning of the episode is unaffected, while Mulder later folds like a schoolgirl. Scully steps in alien blood herself, but only her shoe is the wiser. Maybe the blood has to be uber fresh? This will be one of my standing questions for years to come.

Did Scully leave Deep Throat’s body there in the street, or did she call the Police? And if she called the police, how in the heck did she explain what went down?

Best Quotes:

Mulder: You think he does it because he gets off on it?
Scully: No, I think he does it because you do.

—————-

Scully: OK, Mulder, but I’m warning you… if this is monkey pee, you’re on your own.

—————-

Scully: I should know by now to trust your instincts.
Mulder: Why? Nobody else does.

EBE 1×16: Don’t stop swimming.


Exit. Stage Right.

I’m going to step out into precarious territory here and say that I think Fox Mulder is a naturally trusting fellow. Don’t believe me? Well, he certainly trusts Deep Throat without question. He lets Jerry and Phoebe back into his life in “Ghost in the Machine” (1×6) and “Fire” (1×11) respectively. And most of all, in the “Pilot” (1×79), he’s skeptical of his skeptical partner and yet he reaches out to her anyway… in hope. What hope? Hope that he can trust her.

This is all a part of Mulder’s tendency to naturally give trust based on his instincts. And once he believes in a person he’s reluctant to throw that trust away unless given a significant reason to do so. He does that with Skinner in “Redux II” (5×2), Diana Fowley in multiple episodes. And here we see him live out the same pattern with Deep Throat. Has Deep Throat ever given him any hard reason to trust him? As Scully points out: not really. But since he hasn’t given any particular reason to distrust him either, Mulder is inclined to think the best of him.

The man is a sensitive soul at heart. There’s a reason he’s downright gullible sometimes. He wants to believe, not only in aliens and the paranormal, but in people too. Unfortunately, this idealism doesn’t serve him well and he grows progressively cynical and distrustful as time marches on. Still, even as of Season 6 he’s reluctant to suspect anyone he has a history or relationship with. That’s my theory and I’m stickin’ to it.

Regardless, as usual, Mulder’s gut instincts are right. Deep Throat is on his side. But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t mislead him for the sake of his own agenda. As Mulder eventually learns, the only one he can count on, the only one who doesn’t have their own agenda tied up in a musty closet somewhere, is Scully. It’s not that Scully is the only one he would trust, rather, as the mythology spreads out, she’s the only one he can trust. All other options and allegiances are taken from him. There’s food for thought. Chew on that cud.

Whatever the reason he trusts Scully, if we were ever unsure before now we know that Mulder truly does rely on her. He even switches from saying “me” to “us” by the end of the episode. How does he put it? Deep Throat “tried to deceive us.” They’re a team on this. Finally. Now Scully is in on the conspiracy for the first time whereas before she was clueless on the outskirts. I mentioned before that there is a moment in Beyond the Sea that could possibly be considered the moment when Mulder and Scully become Mulder and Scully. Well, this is the second contender.

Scully, on her part, finally admits that it’s Mulder’s passion she admires. And truthfully, their relationship follows the outline of this exchange for much of the rest of their partnership. Scully knows the world is out to get Mulder and she’s trying to keep the world at bay. Mulder wants to jump off the deep end and Scully desperately tries to rein him in for his own good. He wants to believe too much, she’s too reluctant to believe… world without end, amen.

One thing I never appreciated properly before when it comes to “EBE” is its subtlety. Take the interchange of the cup back sliding back and forth on the interrogation table between Scully and the truck driver. A lesser show would have put too much emphasis on it with close ups on the actors’ drawn out, exaggerated reactions and such. The X-Files just lets it sit there for you to notice it or not. Same thing when Scully receives the bugged pen. Never, ever had I caught that bit about the pen at the rent-a-car agency. Not only that, I didn’t even catch it during the re-watch for the review. I was enjoying myself so much that halfway through I rewound the episode to the beginning to savor it even more and that’s when I caught it. How sad is that? Feel free at this point to dismiss all the rest of my reviews as obviously my powers of observation encountered kryptonite somewhere along the way.

However, I don’t need any particular powers of observation for this next part. Not enough can be said about the introduction of the Lone Gunmen and the way it’s underplayed. Once again, there are no exaggerated, lingering close-ups. I could almost wish we had more time to watch the characters respond to one another, but in the end I prefer it this way. It’s funny to think that Morgan and Wong initially thought that they had somehow missed the mark in the depiction of these three amigos. Thankfully, nothing could be further from reality. They are a nerd’s joy and a geek’s delight. And so is this entire episode.

And the Verdict is…

I really, really enjoyed watching “EBE” this time around. Maybe it’s the beauty of hindsight, who knows? Being aware of what happens at the end of the series certainly makes the beginning more poignant, not to mention it makes me feel like a bit of a wise old owl superciliously dropping knowing nods in the characters’ directions. Whatever the more primitive psychological reason, the acting and directing here points to the extreme possibility of this turning into a dang good series. If there’s any disappointment in this episode it’s that it didn’t have time to develop both the characters’ relationships and the conspiracy. We really don’t learn much about the government conspiracy except that it exists. Oh, and that Scully seems to have started believing in it too, minus the part about aliens, of course. One can’t have it all.

We finally see the mythology start to blink its sleepy eyes. It’s not quite awake yet, but it’s peeking!

A

P.S. If that’s not enough, check out the obscene amount of quotable moments I felt compelled to tag onto the end of this review.

Little Nags:

Roswell being lumped in with the Tuskeegee experiments? Really, Mulder??

The spaceship parts are supposed to be making this truck heavy, right? After all, little green men don’t weigh 2 tons. That’s why we say they’re “little.” And if the truck is overloaded with spaceship pieces, how is Mulder shoving these boxes around like they’re full of Styrofoam popcorn? Moreover, if those are car part decoys, where are the alien gizmos?

When did Mulder learn where Scully lives? For that matter, how did he know where she lived during “Squeeze” (1×3)?? I can’t exactly see them hanging out with each other on the weekends at this point. Maybe he picked her up on the way to the airport before or something.

How did the grandmotherly covert agent fit the pen properly with the bugging device without knowing what pen Scully would use ahead of time? It hardly looks like the expensive type of pen that you’d keep your eye on.

General Observations:

Scully doesn’t use nearly enough creamer in her coffee.

Did Mulder and Scully spend their own personal money on those extra plane tickets? Talk about conviction for a cause.

After Mulder’s touching declaration of blind trust does Deep Throat feel guilty? We hope so.

Aliens abduct humans out of their beds yet they can’t abduct one of their own out of a truck before the government gets to him?

Did anyone else notice that at the beginning of their interview of the truck driver Mulder had his leg up on the table? He really has always been like that.

Mulder totally saw that $20 bill thing coming.

This is the second time that Mulder and Scully have been blinded eyewitnesses to an alien abduction. Of course, this is the first time an alien is the abductee…

Best Quotes:

Scully: From the trucker’s description, the shape he fired on could conceivably have been a mountain lion.
Mulder: Conceivably.
Scully: The National Weather Service last night reported atmospheric conditions in this area that were possibly conducive to lightning.
Mulder: Possibly.
Scully: It is feasible that the truck was struck by lightning, creating the electrical failure.
Mulder: It’s feasible.
Scully: And you know, there’s a marsh over there. The lights the driver saw may have been swamp gas.
Mulder: Swamp gas?
Scully: It’s a natural phenomenon in which phospine and methane rising from decaying organic matter ignite, creating globes of blue flame.
Mulder: Happens to me when I eat Dodger Dogs.

————-

Byers: Vladmir Zhirinovsky, the leader of the Russian Social Democrats? He’s being put into power by the most heinous and evil force of the 20th century.
Mulder: Barney?

————-

Deep Throat: Mulder, if the shark stops swimming it will die. Don’t stop swimming.

————-

Langly: Is this your skeptical partner?
Frohike: She’s hot.
Byers: You don’t believe that the CIA, threatened by a loss of power and funding, because of the collapse of the cold war, wouldn’t dream of having the old enemy back?
Scully: I think you give the government too much credit. I mean, the government can’t control the deficit or manage crime. What makes you think they can plan and execute such an elaborate conspiracy?
Frohike: She is hot.
Mulder: Settle down, Frohike.

————

Scully: Those were the most paranoid people I have ever met. I don’t know how you could think that what they say is even remotely plausible.
Mulder: I think it’s remotely plausible that someone might think you’re hot.

————

Byers: That’s why we like you, Mulder. You’re ideas are weirder than ours.

————

Scully: Please, will you just hear me? I have never met anyone so passionate and dedicated to a belief as you. It’s so intense that sometimes it’s blinding. But there are others who are watching you, who know what I know, and where as I can respect and admire your passion, they will use it against you. Mulder, the truth is out there… but so are lies.

———–

Deep Throat: You’re awfully quiet, Mr. Mulder.
Mulder: I’m wondering which lie to believe.

Beyond the Sea 1×12: I tore this off my New York Knicks t-shirt.


'sup witchoo?

What modern TV doesn’t allow for anymore is the chance for a show to grow into its own. Either you’re a hit right out of the gate or you’re canceled. Series no longer have the luxury of discovering themselves as they go and this is a shame. It used to be that you could count on any Season 1 to be rather rough, but you knew whether or not it was going to be a good show based on the gems you found hidden in the briars. “Beyond the Sea” is one of those gems. This is the first teaser that features one of our stars, so you already know this is set up to be a special episode. In fact, it’s Masterpiece Theater care of Messrs. Morgan and Wong.

I think between this episode and “Fire” (1×11) we can officially say that Mulder and Scully are friends, buddies even. Of course, this is a fairly recent development in their relationship and there are splendid moments of awkwardness sprinkled throughout this episode that let you know Mulder and Scully are still working on this newfound intimacy. Mulder calls Scully “Dana” three times and three times I get a cold chill. Ironically, what would be a sign of closeness between two normal people sounds like misplaced formality between Mulder and Scully. Scully agrees with me, but her initial sardonic dismissal of Mulder’s attempt at overt friendship doesn’t deter him from trying.

Mulder is the instigator (isn’t he always?). Scully doesn’t turn to Mulder for emotional support so much as he sticks his foot in the door and refuses to move. Scully, for better and for worse, is more closed off than Mulder. He’s the one in touch with his instincts, who obeys his emotions, and he does so here regardless of whether or not Scully reciprocates them. She does reciprocate them, of course, she just takes a little longer to become comfortable with her own feelings.

Would it be sacrilegious if I say that the chemistry wasn’t quite there in every scene? As I said, Mulder and Scully don’t look like they’re used to this (and neither to David and Gillian for that matter). I might be the only X-Phile in the world that finds Mulder’s ministrations somewhat awkward. However, I don’t think their being awkward is wrong. In fact, it makes sense. This is new territory in their relationship.

It’s not that their scenes together don’t feel real, it’s that they don’t feel natural, not until that wonderful, gorgeous scene it Scully’s motel room: The Great Sit Down. Was there a moment, any moment throughout the series that you could pin down as the point where Agents Mulder and Scully became Mulder and Scully? You could argue that there was or wasn’t. But if you were to argue that there was a moment, a place where they became more than partners, more than just buddies in a police procedural, it’s safe to say that this one gesture would make the short list for consideration. Not only are they completely in sync, there’s nothing strange, unnatural, invasive, or dare I say, even sexual in this moment. It’s as if they’re in their own Mulder/Scully universe.

Why does the personal space bubble exist? Because I am me and you are you and the twain should never completely meet. Why don’t Mulder and Scully practice the personal space bubble with each other? They don’t exist separately. Oh, sure, they’re different people, but they’re kind of like spiritually conjoined twins; separate yet always together. At Scully’s saddest and most vulnerable, having Mulder glued to her side is as natural as it gets.

But enough about Mulder and Scully. Brad Dourif gives a superb performance as Boggs without which the entire episode would have fallen apart. The perfectly timed tears… I almost want to salute in admiration. Sheila Larken shows up in her first guest spot as Margaret Scully. Here she’s so wrapped up in her own grief that she barely acknowledges her daughter’s. That’s why it feels so right.

Then there’s the biggest guest star of all: Bobby Darin. Who could forget him? The song Beyond the Sea is the perfect backdrop to the emotions of this episode. My own father played it often when I was a kid as it’s still one of his favorites. I wonder if everyone’s dad is a Bobby Darin fan? Maybe that’s why Scully feels like the every-daughter in this episode; almost every child will face a crossroad where they have to disappoint the parents they love to do what they feel is right for them. Scully’s meticulous science may be hard for many to understand, but at last, in this, she becomes relatable.

And the Verdict is…

This episode was so successful that it can serve as the cornerstone of Scully’s psychology for the rest of the series.  If the writers knew what the show would become, would they have killed Scully’s father off so soon? It would probably still be the wisest decision. For one thing, watching Scully lose her father allows us to see a depth of emotion in her that was only hinted at in the “Pilot “(1×79). Vulnerable Scully now makes an encore appearance and she’s a welcome departure from the slightly cocky Scully we’ve been exposed to thus far. Not only that, but when Scully’s penchant for following older, wiser men is revealed later on in the series we can better understand why she so willingly followed Mulder into madness. And that element of her personality only makes sense in light of her relationship with her father.

Scully believes… and then she takes it back. Why make it easy? But now we know that Scully is capable of believing even when Mulder doesn’t, as long as she has a personal stake in the matter, that is.

More than that, now we know that The X-Files is capable of being a great, great show.

A

It Doesn’t Make Sense:

Here’s an angle to Scully’s history that I’ve never, ever understood: Why are her parents so disappointed with her becoming an FBI agent? Is it less prestigious working for the FBI? If anything, they could say their daughter was a doctor and an investigator. Talk about bragging rights. It just feels like a stretch to think that this would be a point of contention within the family.

How did Mulder’s blood splatter so high up on the white cross? He’s not 8 feet tall.

Here and There:

His name is Luther Lee Boggs. That’s our first clue. Only southern boys or serial killers go by all three names: John Wayne Gacy, Lee Harvey Oswald, Henry Lee Lucas, etc.

Boggs channels a Mafioso? Here it works. In “The Field Where I Died” (4×5)? Not so much.

Boggs’ red jumpsuit is a great touch. Hot orange would have done horrible things for his complexion.

Not until about my tenth time watching this episode did I catch the fact that in the face of Scully’s obvious lie, Mulder intuitively knows that Scully has experienced an “extreme possibility” in regards to her father. Scully gives him a look of mild surprise when she realizes he’s guessed. In tune much?

Best Quotes:

Scully: Did Boggs confess?
Mulder: No, no, it was five hours of Boggs’ channelling. After three hours I asked him to summon up the soul of Jimi Hendrix, and requested All Along The Watchtower. You know, the guy’s been dead twenty years, but he still hasn’t lost his edge.

———–

Mulder: Dana, after all you’ve seen, after all the evidence, why can’t you believe?
Scully: I’m afraid. I’m afraid to believe.
Mulder: You couldn’t face that fear? Even if it meant never knowing what your father wanted to tell you?
Scully: But I do know.
Mulder: How?
Scully: He was my father.

The Jersey Devil 1×4: I’m not far from where you left me.


I'm hunting wabbits.

This largely ignored episode may never be completely forgotten if only for one reason: We delve into our favorite agents’ social lives… or gross lack thereof. While neither Mulder nor Scully have much of a life outside of the FBI, Scully seems to be faring better than Mulder. Still, her weekend highlight is little more than a kid’s birthday party. I suppose she’s making an effort.

Speaking of the party, Scully’s knee-jerk, “He’s a jerk” in response to her girlfriend’s suggestion of Mulder as a potential love interest shows just how thoroughly she’s ruled him out as a prospect. OK, as Scully concedes, he’s not a jerk. He’s definitely not boyfriend material either. Case in point, the way he ditched her earlier that day.

But might not there be hope? After all, she’s clearly thought about the possibility! Before we shippers tip ourselves into over-excitement, we can’t read too much into this. She considered the possibility of dating Mulder, yes. Most girls consider their prospects in regards to the men in their lives if only in passing, not necessarily with any seriousness. And Scully wisely comes to the conclusion that Mulder is in no shape for marriage or any other serious relationship. Remember that porn fixation of his?

Meanwhile, Mulder blasts Detective Thompson, with all indignation, for protecting the city’s financial interests and keeping this Jersey Devil thing under wraps. But even if that’s exactly what the detective is doing, is he supposed to cause a mass panic by claiming there’s a monster on the loose? Should he have let the Jersey Devil live to kill again or be studied in a glass cage? The Detective Thompson character is deliciously malicious, but it’s a little wasted on such a relatively benign conspiracy. I only wish his motivations had been more sinister and less pragmatic.

As for Mulder’s character evolution, we see an expansion on what we glimpsed in him during Conduit (1×3). Here is the Mulder that empathizes with monsters and outcasts, particularly the female ones. We see more of this identification in later episodes like Oubliette (3×8), yet even here he expresses fascination for this cannibalistic cave woman as if she were a piece of art in the Louvre. Nevermind the fact that she’s killing innocent strangers, why quibble over trifles? What’s a modern human or two compared to the survival of Captain Cave-man? At least Mulder’s psychology is consistent if not altogether reasonable.

Scully brings in a scientist, an anthropologist, to lecture Mulder. It’s nice to delve into the character’s history a little bit. But just like Scully’s godson, her professor goes the way of the dinosaur after this episode. Things get a little expositional at this point, but isn’t the point of The X-Files to force the audience to ponder the possibilities?

Now for one of the best parts, Scully ditches her date. For all her talk about wanting to have a life, Scully apparently isn’t as interested in a normal family life as her friend expects her to be. She enjoys her career. She displays no hankering after children, no biological clock ticking like the Tell-Tale Heart, merely a mild regret at not having time to explore the possibility of having a family. Her friend pounces on it.

Even her date seems to be entered into with some reluctance. She’s just going through the motions with this incredibly interesting accountant. And despite her statement to Mulder earlier, she’s not at all bothered when he calls and interrupts her evening. At the end of the episode, she easily turns down a domesticated day of bliss with her date and his son in order to continue her investigation with Mulder. I said it for the Pilot and I’ll say it again: Mulder, and by extension the X-Files, is the most interesting thing that’s ever come into Dana Scully’s life. At this point, she’s loathe to give it up. Ethans, accountants… they can’t compare. I’m not saying she has a thing for Mulder, I just think Scully’s more of a glutton for excitement than she would even admit to herself.

And the Verdict is…

This is as close as the series ever got to Big Foot. As the show progressed, they steered further away from urban myths and more toward the straight-up paranormal. Quagmire (3×22) is the only real exception I can think of.

Like in “Quagmire”, here we see Scully questioning the trajectory of her life and whether or not her partner needs a psychological intervention. If she doesn’t come to an ultimate conclusion, she does make a decision and happily trails after Mulder by the end of the episode. Mulder, for his part, is busy as ever writing the book on how to not make friends and alienate people. His hunches hold up, his emotions are on his sleeve. In short, it’s comforting to know that he’s quintessentially Mulder this early on in the series. He even ditches Scully with practiced aplomb.

The Jersey Devil is definitely good for some Mulder/Scully funny. Mulder lands himself in some rather amusing trouble and Scully rescues him with a self-satisfied smirk. Later on, Scully feigns innocent as she mentions her date while Mulder doesn’t feign his inability to care when he assumes she’d want to cancel.

The ending is as vague and open-ended as we come to expect from the first season. Are these Devils truly Neanderthals or a relatively modern family that happened to get lost in the forest a really, really long time ago?

All in all, it’s a little disappointing to find that The Jersey Devil is just a human. Primitively human, maybe, but merely human.

B-

Bepuzzlements:

Why is Mulder willing to infest himself with lice based on nothing more than the crude drawing of a man? Considering this is a homeless colony in a big city, what’s so strange about a wild looking man digging in the trash for food?? No one else would have entertained the possibility of their being anything to it except for Mulder and his (in)famous intuition.

Why would a “carnivorous Neanderthal” occupy a space above us on the food chain? Wouldn’t our advanced intelligence win the day?

The Jersey Devil looks distinctly Caucasian. Yet, supposedly, they’ve been hiding out from the evolutionary chain in these American woods for thousands of years. I smell inconsistency.

Even if the Jersey Devil was killing to protect her young, why cannibalize? And how does that explain the unprovoked killing of the father in the 1940s?

General Observations:

Somebody catch me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is our first glimpse into Mulder’s porn fetish.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Hey, what do you say we grab a hotel, take in a floor show, drop a few quarters in the slots… Do a little digging on this case?
Scully: You’re kidding, right?
Mulder: OK, we can skip the floor show.

————————

Mulder: Don’t you have a life, Scully?
Scully: Keep that up, Mulder, and I’ll hurt you like that beast-woman.

Conduit 1×3: I’ll send him a bundt cake.


They’re heeeere!

If the “Pilot” established that Samantha’s abduction was the driving force behind Mulder’s crusade, “Conduit” takes the idea further by proving that it’s also a deep source of emotional pain for him. While not the scariest or most inventive episode, “Conduit” successfully provides the groundwork for Fox Mulder’s character over the next 9 seasons and so it holds up over time.

There’s something touching about the way Scully, if she doesn’t directly stand up for Mulder, keeps Blevins from breaking his heart. Mulder doesn’t know it, but Scully’s trying to help him by asking her skeptical questions. She’s looking for a reason to defend this case to their superiors. Yes, Scully cares enough about Mulder’s feelings not to tell him what went on with Blevins. Apparently, she hasn’t forgotten their motel bonding in the “Pilot”. Even her later attempt to get him to stop looking for his sister was probably a well-meaning effort to end his suffering. Well-meaning. Misplaced.

Call me over-analytical, but I think this exploration of Mulder’s motivations means that other aspects of the series make more sense as well. Most notably, Mulder’s pain over Samantha’s abduction is easily identifiable with his innate empathy for anything that hurts, be it man or beast. This plays out all the way into Season 8’s “The Gift” (8×11).

In particular, Mulder has the oftentimes irritating desire to rescue maidens all forlorn. No Rapunzels, mind you. They might be in distress but the women Mulder feels drawn to are hardly damsels, they’re damaged. And they are legion… “3” (2×7), “Oubliette” (3×8), “The Field Where I Died” (4×5), “Mind’s Eye” (5×16) and we could keep going. Conduit’s Ruby Morris is the forerunner of all these. Somehow these troubled women are the way that Mulder sees his sister; left to rot, ignored or shunned by the rest of society. I won’t go too much into it here, there are still 9 seasons to go. But it’s gratifying to see the character continuity the show was able to maintain despite the army of writers that came and went.

This episode contains, for me, one of the most uncomfortable moments in the entire series. Scully crossed a line here. She had no business telling Mulder to stop looking for his sister. Who is Scully at this point, to Mulder, that she can take that kind of liberty? This isn’t her emotional battle and she hasn’t been with Mulder long enough in the trenches for her angry plea to carry any wait. I think she’s aware of it since for the rest of the episode she’s more subdued and less argumentative. The expression on Mulder’s face makes you wonder for a moment if he’ll ever forgive Scully. It’s a testament to the trust they’ve already built that he ever lets her in again. But he does, even before the end of the episode. As much as I love Scully, I hope she felt guilty. (Not too guilty, though. She did allow Mulder that illegal grave dig, after all.)

I must admit, that image of Kevin standing in the woods before the light is quite effective. But the off-roading bikers? How many fake-outs can they give in one episode without anything truly dramatic happening? The note from a mysterious stranger, the men in black, none of it panned out into anything interesting. This is a character piece loosely disguised as a mystery.

In the end, we don’t know anything other than that Ruby was abducted, which is exactly what we learned in the teaser. At least now Scully understands the little boy inside her partner better. Maybe that will cause her to be more sensitive in the future… and maybe not. Should I mention “Sein Und Zeit” (7×10)?

And the Verdict is…

Apparently, this episode had to rely on atmospheric gimmicks; a note on the car, a girl who disappears too quickly to be relieved, g-men knocking down the door, and white wolves out of nowhere. However, none of those things bring to mind alien abductions and maybe that’s why this episode doesn’t really work. It’s just a little too introspective for my taste.

It does, however, give us more insight into the psyche of Fox Mulder. It also shows us that while Scully pities him, she’s also frustrated by his annoying ability to see his sister in the face of every missing girl.

This may be where I officially got sick of Samantha Mulder, and it’s only the second episode her ghost shows up in. The obvious parallels between Samantha and Ruby exhaust rather than intrigue me. The matching swimsuit pictures, well… I must be the most cold-hearted X-Phile in the nation, but I remain unmoved.

Still, it’s good to see Mulder’s character fleshed out and explained. It’s one thing to think your sister was taken by aliens, it’s a much more powerful thing to be so consumed by guilt and loss that the only outlet for your grief is tilting at windmills. And if the series hadn’t laid the foundation early on for Mulder’s angst, this whole search for the truth would have seemed hollow, as though Mulder merely wanted to show-off.

So, is Fox Mulder crazy or crazy like a Fox?

C+

Bepuzzlements:

Why are defense satellite transmissions coming through little Kevin’s TV screen? How does he hear/see all those little ones and zeroes? And what on earth is the connection to Ruby’s disappearance? What good does it do the aliens to read our transmissions and then transmit them back to the American public? And if they aren’t defense transmissions but important pieces of high culture (where was Bugs Bunny?) then how did the NSA mistake them for defense transmissions?

Is the white wolf the new red herring? What was the point other than to freak out the audience? Oh, wait…freaking out the audience….

General Observations:

There are some series continuity errors here in regards to Samantha’s abduction, but we have to cut the writers some slack. They had no idea how big the show would be and once it was popular, they had to spice up the abduction scenario a little bit.

This is the first and probably last time we’ll see Mulder seeking solace in a church. Was the voice he mentions at the end the government, the aliens, or God? And please don’t say CC was already going all “Biogenesis” (6×22) on me.

I do believe this is also Mulder and Scully’s first interrogation. I can’t say I pictured Mulder as the bad cop.

Love the creepy note-giving. But doesn’t their running across the street give away the charade?

The soundtrack when Tessa disappears in the library is classic Mark Snow. It gives the case an element of eeriness even though nothing special is actually going on.

Call me easy, but I really liked tough biker dude.

Best Quotes:

Blevins: In essence, Mulder is petitioning the Bureau to assign a case number to a tabloid headline. (Post-Modern Prometheus, anyone?)

———————-

Mulder: Who, me? I’m Mr. Congeniality.

Deep Throat 1×1: You believe it all, don’t you?


It’s a bird, it’s a plane…

This is where the conspiracy really begins and the first in a long line of enigmatic informers side-steps his way into Mulder’s life. It’s also the first time that we see parts of the story unfold from Mulder’s POV rather than Scully’s.

In another sense, the series takes two steps back here. Scully plays the archetypal skeptic in this episode more so than she ever did in the “Pilot” (1×79), which is disappointing. She’s indignant at a “UFO goosechase” whereas previously she was intrigued, entertained even by Mulder’s ideas. Part of what made the Pilot interesting is that she started to molt her skeptic skin. In Deep Throat, she wears hard-headedness like a war medal. In case you can’t tell, I’m not a particular fan of this side of Scully. I like her better when she’s more interested in solving a mystery than in purely refuting Mulder. Even “El Mundo Gira” (4×11) gives her that much. The subtlety of her personality shines in those types of cases. This Scully bears a close resemblance to Mulder’s skewed version of her in “Bad Blood” (5×12). Too close a resemblance. She even stifles his benign overtures of friendship. “Agent” Mulder? Really??

While Scully smirks a lot in this episode, she comes off as less amused at Mulder and more amused at his expense. It’s inconsistent. From what we can tell both in the “Pilot” and in the next episode “Squeeze” (1×3), part of Scully’s value to/for Mulder is that she takes him seriously as an investigator even when she finds his ideas absurd. This is a more antagonistic Scully than we’ve seen previously, which, no doubt, is part of why Mulder ditches her eventually.

Thank heaven Scully isn’t completely humorless. There is that wonderfully exasperated way she closes her eyes in the town diner… And she more than redeems herself when she kidnaps the “reporter” at gunpoint: Scully Squared ™. She has the bravado to hold a government agent hostage. The same woman who argued about the government’s right to keep secrets now threatens to expose them all if she doesn’t get her partner back on demand. And to be fair to stick-in-the-mud Scully, Mulder jumping to conclusions on the basis of those mealy photos is laughable. He’s supposed to be an investigator. Her mockery of him is annoying, but earned.

Even if character development suffers a little bit, this episode is our true introduction to the government conspiracy plot. It was only hinted at in the “Pilot” by the presence of CSM. Along with Scully’s too standard portrayal, the reason this is being explored in the second episode is because there’s no guarantee that anyone saw the “Pilot”. The assumption is that this is the first glimpse of the show for most of the audience. Hence there isn’t a MOTW in sight. This is still about establishing the core premise of the show: two very different agents chasing down a government cover-up about the existence of extra-terrestrials, and one of them unwillingly. The mythology hasn’t quite raised its seven heads yet, but it’s stirring.

An interesting issue does come up that I could wish had been explored further. Just for a second at the motel we wonder, are Mulder and Scully on the right side? If Mulder is right and the government is hiding its advanced testing from the American people and, by extension, the rest of the world, isn’t it reasonable to think that they have a responsibility and a right to do so? After all, not keeping our full capabilities on the down low would be the height of foolishness as a nation.

And the Verdict is…

This isn’t one of my favorite episodes of the first season, but some aspects of it are much better on the re-watching. Since 3 of the first 4 episodes all revolve around an alien/government conspiracy, the beginning of Season 1 feels a little top heavy; a necessary evil since the writers have to establish what the show’s all about.

One thing that is nice is that we start to see the story unfold from Mulder’s POV and not just Scully’s. From the introduction of Deep Throat to his kidnapping, now we, the audience, know what Mulder knows… and can’t remember.

Another check mark in the plus column is, of course, the M/S banter. Scully does give him the old what for.

However, the story does Mulder’s character a bit of a disservice. His conspiracy theories are correct, but that’s sheer luck. Mulder doesn’t have any real evidence that would lead to the conclusion that this is anything more than a test flight program by the military. Why is it alien technology just because the pilots can’t handle it? Where’s the Mulder who finds evidence no one else bothers to look for, like in “Squeeze”? Those fake looking, Cracker Barrel photographs don’t count.

Scully doesn’t come off any better.

“Deep Throat” pits Mulder’s blind faith against Scully’s rigid science. But why do faith and science have to contradict? They’re not mutually exclusive; they’re linked. That may be a philosophical conversation for another time, but The X-Files works best when Mulder and Scully aren’t quite so glued into their respective corners.

B

Nagging Questions:

Why did the military let Mulder and Scully go? Why weren’t they both put under arrest? Surely they could’ve overpowered a 5’2” redhead with a mere government-issue gun.

General Observations:

If Scully says, “my field report” one more time…

This is the first Scully voiceover. I actually start to miss that device later in the series.

Scully is already wearing her cross. Though I’m not sure how much we’re supposed to read into that at this point, it does tie in with Scully not being as averse to faith and belief as she would appear to be on the surface.

Scully doesn’t know any better than to believe Mulder when he says he’s going to be a good boy. My, these are the early days.

How brave of Deep Throat to meet with Mulder right out in the open. Any half-decent sniper could’ve taken them both out. Didn’t Deep Throat see “Redux II” (5×3)? Oh, wait…

Best Quotes.

Scully: Sucker!

——————–

Mulder: Tell me I’m crazy.
Scully: Mulder, you’re crazy.

Pilot 1×79: Who did you piss off to get stuck with this detail?


I think I'm gonna like it here.

So, here we are, at the start of everything. The X-Files Pilot is in a lot of ways more satisfying than most episodes of the first season, really a television feat when you stop to consider it as most pilots prove to be little more than a shell of the series to come. In contrast, this episode plants seeds, some of which don’t fully blossom until almost the end of the series. It’s more like the start of a species’ evolution than a sketchy rough draft. Aspects of Mulder and Scully’s psychology that aren’t explored for years to come can first be recognized here if you know how to look; it’s like a pop culture Rorschach test.

More to the point, even though the style of the series would change significantly, becoming dramatic and polished where it was once charmingly underwhelming, the characters as laid out only seem to become more themselves as time goes on. Let’s start where it all starts, with Scully.

Scully’s character is set up to be the rational lens by which we, the audience view both Mulder and his precious basement files. Like her, we travel from the normal realm of the real world to a world where the impossible seems reasonable by the end of the episode. Accordingly, Scully grows almost more paranoid than Mulder by the end of the episode.

It isn’t her experience as an FBI agent but her credentials as a scientist that get her this gig. She would ordinarily be way out of her league with the likes of Mulder. From the set up in Blevin’s office, he’s something of a genius and was not long ago considered the golden boy of the Bureau. Whereas Scully would seem to have little if any field experience. She’s been teaching at Quantico most likely since she came out of the academy since no mention is made of her working in any other unit. Yet even Scully, not too far out of the academy herself, knows enough about Mulder to name his course of study as an undergrad.

I may be reading too far between the lines but I can only surmise from this that Scully, a girl in a boy’s world at the FBI, probably makes an extra effort not to be intimidated when she walks down into the basement. More accurately, she exudes the type of personality that would refuse to be intimidated. Still, her ever so slightly too emphatic scientific assertions would lead one to believe that she’s more impressed by Mulder than she lets on. It also highlights a part of Scully’s character that was mostly lost after the first season; she’s a bit of a cocky upstart.

Despite the pure motives she ascribes to herself, joining the FBI probably was an act of rebellion on Scully’s part. It becomes clearer as the series progresses, but Scully, despite her protestations, obviously needs and wants something more than a normal life. Hence she rejects her date in “The Jersey Devil” (1×4), etc. She’d be bored and unfulfilled without Mulder and the X-Files.

Now we move forward to the justly famous basement scene. Here’s why this works: Scully is obviously amused rather than offended by Mulder. This is a delicate balance since she can’t be either too irritated by him or too taken with him in order for the audience to take this seriously as a partnership. One would think that Scully would be slightly offended by his sarcastic and dismissive manner but evidently she’s not. And despite the somewhat cutting, cocky remarks she makes herself (Isn’t she only two years out of the academy acting like a know-it-all?? And while we’re about it, why is she teaching with so little practical experience as either a doctor or an agent?) Mulder doesn’t take offense either. After all, at least she’s being honest rather than making fun of his ideas.

On the subject of their partnership, I find it plausible (thank you, Scully) that either character on their own would be too annoying to be watchable. Maybe this is where part of their chemistry comes from. Mulder is abrasive and illogical, albeit he has his own charm. Scully is too straight-laced to be any fun. Well, almost. Her barely hidden enjoyment of Mulder’s antics lets us know that there’s more to her personality than is evident on the surface. Despite expectations, she doesn’t take life as seriously as she appears to, though she wisely hides her amusement from Mulder for the time being. To put a period at the end of this lovely phrase of a scene there’s that great smile that Scully gives to camera at the end. Is it only me, or is it possible read the entire future of the series in that grin?

And now for a not so clever segue into Mulder’s character…He asks her if she believes in E.T. on the off-chance that maybe she’s open to the idea, but it’s clear from the way he nods his head that he expected her negative response. Poor Mulder has clearly resigned himself to being alone in his beliefs, at least among the educated elite at the FBI.  Here’s what makes it interesting, though. Mulder seems to bear Scully no real hostility. He seems entertained by her investigative efforts, even. The Mulder we get to know later resents intrusion into his work. Yet it’s Mulder who makes most of the friendly overtures and who even asks Scully to go for a run. Mulder? Sociable? Is this the same Mulder that shot arrows at Krychek when he came around, this despite the fact that he professed to be an admirer of Mulder’s work? True, the circumstances were different with Krychek. And since the characters were still being developed, dear CC probably didn’t mean much by it. Mulder wasn’t established as incurably antisocial yet. Still, it’s definitely interesting looking backwards to see that his response to Scully was atypical.

We see little from Mulder’s point of view. As I mentioned before, this is really Scully’s story; so most of our observations of Mulder are from the outside. What we make of his character we have to glean from his body language and expression. What we can tell is that he’s conflicted; his reason is telling him not to trust Scully any more than he trusts his superiors at the FBI. Obviously, Mulder isn’t a character driven by reason and Scully’s response to this case leads him to the conclusion that she isn’t consciously a part of any conspiracy. Her reaction to the case as it unfolds, particularly her genuine fear both upon seeing the marks on Peggy and suspecting that she has them as well, that would seem to be what finally pulls down his guard against her. Adding to that, even if Scully is skeptical, she’s not cynical. She gives this case, and by extension, Mulder, a fair assessment. It’s evident that Mulder wants to be able to trust somebody, and while Scully is no believer, she’s honest and she’ll do.

Moving back to Scully, she is definitely more interested in this case, and in Mulder (no ship in sight, people), than she would like to let on. She blew Mulder off a little quickly for someone who smiled so warmly when she realized he was at her door. And despite her protest that she wouldn’t be losing sleep over this implant thing, that’s exactly what she proceeds to do.

And now for the mosquito bites: This kind of vulnerability is something we won’t see again from Scully for a while, that’s why it’s so important that the “Pilot” established that her character possesses it. This is a different Scully from the self-assured agent that shook hands with Mulder in the basement. Her voice is breaking; she covers her mouth. This is a scared Scully. It would be a wonder that she went to her near stranger of a partner except that there was no one else. Maybe more importantly, it’s appropriate that she goes to Mulder because this is his paranoia that she’s getting caught up in. No one else would give much credence to her anxiety in this situation. One has to wonder if without this scene in the motel Mulder and Scully would ever have become “Mulder and Scully.” This moment is the basis of their mutual trust. See why you shouldn’t swat at mosquitoes?

While I confess freely and happily that I’m a shipper, this scene would never have worked if the MSR ship was already at sea. It is precisely because Scully can trust Mulder not to ogle her that this relationship has the potential of being something really pure. There isn’t even a hint of Mulder taking advantage of the situation. Scully, the scientist, just exposed her rather unscientific fears to her eccentric partner and he didn’t throw it back in her face. Instead, he calms her down with genuine concern. And now we know that these two can trust each other without worrying about ulterior motives.

As a side note, here is where more recent shows, trying to follow in The X-Files’ footsteps have come up lacking. Mulder and Scully’s relationship was a slow build. It wouldn’t have been compelling if it started off with mere sexual tension. It started off with mutual respect, not attraction… not in the lustful sense. They were clearly attracted to each other as people. Then they progressed from respect, to affection, to trust and ultimately to co-dependence.

Moving forward, we see that the partners that gravedig together stay together. This scene, I think, is our first exposure to Mulder’s uncanny intuition. There is also something endearing about this moment. Maybe it’s the way that Scully laughs at the absurdity of the situation. Or is she laughing because part of her actually believes him? No doubt both. From this point on the two characters seem to be in sync. Scully sounds downright Mulderish during that great scene in the hospital hallway. She goes from calm and poised as she’s examining Billy Miles to being a crusader. We knew she had it in her. Maybe she’s more like Mulder than either of them realize.

The final scene of Scully answering Mulder’s call in bed would seem to be the start of Scully keeping Mulder at a distance, despite her own doubts. And Mulder, of course, assumes that Scully has nothing better to do that dwell on the case…. Which she doesn’t. In actual fact. (I’m nodding in your direction, Agent Reyes).

And the verdict is…

It’s interesting looking back because TV in those days didn’t have the shine and gloss it does now. It was a raw, slightly rough around the edges medium. And The X-Files, wisely, played that up.

Ultimately, I don’t think the success of the pilot is due to the plot, which is a little here and there at times. And even though aliens make for interesting subject matter a la Star Trek, what we do see of abduction in this episode is creepy but not compelling. I think that despite Chris Carter’s best intentions, this show was wrapped up in its characters from the beginning. If Mulder had only been the stereotypical irrational believer and Scully merely the stoic scientist, I truly believe it wouldn’t have worked. Instead, it’s not enough for Mulder to be the believer; he desperately wants to be believed. That’s why Scully is a blessing in disguise. She may not subscribe to his theories, but she believes in him as an investigator. As to the rest, he makes it his mission to convince her. Scully in her turn isn’t just a cold, calculating skeptic. She relates to and feeds off of Mulder’s passion. Not to mention she quietly gets his sense of humor!

Mulder and Scully as partners are charming together where either of their characters alone would be frustrating. Their subtle interplay is rewarding and looking back, the whole series really does take its cues from this episode. Even the way Scully distances herself from Mulder at the end of the episode, probably due to fear of what she might find, is a recurring theme.

This is what the audience is really responding to: two people connecting. Already we see that they don’t even need words to communicate, they use their eyes. First when Peggy throws herself on the floor in the hospital, and then there’s that spooky moment when Mulder makes eye contact with Scully through the two-way mirror. Scully is unsettled by the connection, but the audience is intrigued. Maybe it’s the way Mulder says, “I’m not crazy, Scully” with all kinds of vulnerability, or maybe it’s the way she smiles to herself when he knocks on her door, but you just know this relationship is going to work.

As for Scully’s boyfriend, Ethan, suffice it to say… well, let’s be real. Ethan was cut because Scully’s scenes with Mulder were just so much more electric. Even though Ethan’s scenes were cut and can’t be considered cannon, they give credence to my pet theory; Scully’s life was more interesting with Mulder around. But more on that as the season continues.

There are moments in this Pilot that later become part of what makes the show iconic, i.e. Searching with flashlights in the dark, Mulder cracking jokes at inappropriate moments, Scully performing an autopsy. It’s delightful to watch it all unfold.

Scully’s smile at the end the basement scene says it all: this is going to be fun.

A

Best Quotes:

Mulder: Sorry. Nobody down here but the FBI’s most unwanted.

————-

Mulder: That’s why they put the “I” in the FBI.

Nagging Questions:

Where did the candles in the motel come from??

This is only a question that can be asked in retrospect, towards the end of the series. But why DID CSM choose Scully to keep an eye on Mulder? Did they think she was capable of being manipulated like Diana Fowley? Did they think she was ambitious enough to throw Mulder under the proverbial bus? Or did they just want a straight man?

“We lost 9 minutes… I looked at my watch just before the flash and it was 9:03. It just turned 9:13!” – Um, isn’t that 10 minutes, Mulder?

Why isn’t Theresa killed by the aliens? Did Mulder and Scully somehow put a stop to it?

General Observations:

If there was one overdone moment, it was when Mulder and Scully reunited in the forest after Theresa was spared. In my best Chandler Bing impression: Can we breath any harder?

As ever, Scully is on the verge of seeing but never sees enough to make her believe. That won’t happen till “Patient X” (5×13).

The abductees were genetically altered by the tests done to them. Is this the first stirring of the alien-human hybrid storyline?

Does anyone else find Mulder’s passionate outbursts a little frightening? Does anyone else think Scully does too?

I think this may be the only episode where we ever see Scully with a purse…