Tag Archives: Pilot

Terms of Endearment 6×6: Hey, come on, you’re makin’ me feel weird.


Sympathy for the Devil

This is one of those episodes, and it won’t be the last this season, that I’m not really sure how I feel about. The issue isn’t that I don’t enjoy it because I do. It’s that “Terms of Endearment” is somewhat schizophrenic; this episode isn’t sure whether it’s an homage to Hitchcock, a Rosemary’s Baby knockoff, a comedy, a tragedy, or an X-File. It’s also undecided as to whether its protagonist is an F.B.I. agent with an uncanny mind, a demon with an identity crisis, a naïve wife or a diabolical one.

Yes, the point of view changes so often in this episode that rather than what evil the demon villain is up to, the main mystery is which character is actually the protagonist. Whose perspective are we supposed to be seeing the story through? Ultimately, I believe the protagonist is meant to be Wayne Weinsider. In a twist on Rosemary’s Baby, the story is told from the viewpoint of the devil rather than that of the hapless female. However, the references to Hitchcock’s Suspicion, such as the glowing glass of poisoned milk Wayne carries up the stairs to his wife, and consequently the audience’s identification with the wife who doesn’t know if her protector is actually her destroyer, causes some confusion. Throw scenes with Mulder and his uncanny intuition into the mix and it’s hard to hold out for a hero… as there isn’t one. This is almost an ensemble piece.

The main source of confusion, however, lies with the demon character of Wayne Weinsider himself. This is one of the rare X-Files where the guest star is actually the protagonist. Actually, it may even be the first depending on how you think of previous episodes such as “Leonard Betts” (4×14). Yes, it’s a joy to have Bruce Campbell, previously of Hercules, Xena and now Burn Notice fame, on board for an X-Files adventure and as much as lies within him, he does an excellent job with the role. But there’s weakness in the Wayne Weinsider character that has nothing to do with how he’s played.

The way the character is written it’s hard to either hate him or love him. He’s neither an underworld nemesis worthy of an exorcist nor is he a sympathetic soul in his quest for normalcy. He’s doing the unspeakable, killing his own children, and yet he’s so harmless a few mere bullets can incapacitate him. Tell me, what kind of demon is felled by bullets?? They’re not even silver bullets! You just shoot the devil’s minion a couple of times and he goes down? That’s all it takes? Where’s the holy water? Yegads.

It’s inevitable that the devil loses his impact when there’s no God for him to rebel against. Rosemary’s Baby pulls this off, depicting a fight against the king of evil without claiming any standard of good, but it can do that because the claustrophobic nightmare of its heroine, her rape and the ongoing violation of nourishing within her own body a monster not of this world, is enough to convince anyone of the evil of her enemy. Here Mulder is so unimpressed by Wayne Weinsider that he baits him, teases him, and initiates a campaign of harassment against him all without any fear of being pulled into the lake of fire.

I also wonder if the homage to Rosemary’s Baby, the decision to depict Wayne’s true demon identity in a distinctly 1960s style, may have been lost on the audience. Those horns, those rubbery looking hands, they’re hardly the stuff of horror in recent years. The demon that a 1990s audience would nightmarishly conjure up at the food of their beds wouldn’t be so… Harryhausen-esque. The demon baby too, with its claws peeking out over the car seat in a direct reference to the earlier film, I fear isn’t as impactful as it could be. Perhaps this is all too stylized for primetime television. Perhaps the elemental horror of the Rosemary’s Baby storyline keeps the special effects from being perceived as hokey and “Terms of Endearment” doesn’t have that built in fail-safe.

There was a golden opportunity here to turn an insurance salesman into something more nefarious than his job already makes him, but I suppose that wasn’t the point. The point was to have a sympathetic villain. The problem is, since when is the devil sympathetic? How do you make him a well-rounded character? He loses all his power that way. He’s supposed to be the devil, dang it. Turning him into a sentimental family man is laughable. And yet, this isn’t a comedy. Neither is it a horror story despite the brooding gothic manor Wayne resides in. It falls into the nether regions in between – a fate that also awaits first time writer David Amann’s sophomore attempt, “Agua Mala” (6×14).

I say this isn’t a comedy, but I don’t mean to say that it isn’t funny or that the laughs are all unintentional. I enjoy watching David Duchovny and Bruce Campbell play in the same sandbox. And I can’t deny that my 14-year-old self and her best friend giggled for days over Wayne being blindsided by wife number two and the cool factor of her subsequent joy ride. The use of the band Garbage’s music in the soundtrack didn’t hurt either.

And the Verdict is…

Too bad the devil isn’t so easy to identify with. If he had been, this could have been a rousing success. Turning his nefarious plans back on him in a twist ending isn’t quite enough to create sympathy for the devil, though his decision to give life back to his victimized wife comes close. Then again, I would have preferred it if it had been completely, well, devilish. If he had been an unapologetic villain along the lines of Eugene Victor Tooms I could have relished the story more.

But now that I’ve poked my fingers in all of this episode’s open wounds, let me also attest that I do enjoy it and I find most critiques of “Terms of Endearment” to be unduly harsh. This isn’t the first X-Files episode to fall slightly short of its promise and it won’t be the last, that doesn’t mean it’s a dismal failure. By no means is it “Teso Dos Bichos” (3×18).

We have a very talented guest lead, some memorable visuals, funny moments and taboo subject matter – All the makings of an X-File. The disparate elements are here, if only they worked in concert.

B+

Demon Seeds:

How would you prosecute a demon for killing his demon spawn? Is that even a crime?

I realize much has been made about Mulder’s “I’m not a psychologist” comment and it’s hard to defend since Scully introduces Mulder to the audience as an “Oxford-educated psychologist” way back in the “Pilot” (1×79). But though this offhand comment may smack of discontinuity, it doesn’t bother me in the least. I can’t excuse it by claiming that Mulder was being sarcastic since his tone doesn’t bear evidence of that, but does it really matter? Besides, it’s not like he went to graduate school in the field.

How does Betsy know just where to find Mulder and Scully in the middle of the night? If demons read minds, surely Wayne would have better avoided detection… and would have picked up on his wife’s duplicity.

I see you, Mark Snow, throwing in that Gregorian chant.

Maybe Bruce Campbell’s just too funny. It’s hard not to interpret his actions as comic because he’s so naturally hilarious.

Best Quotes:

Deputy Stevens: I know this went right into your caseload but I never imagined you would get here so soon, Agent, uh…
Mulder: Oh, Mulder. Fox Mulder. Though I ask you not to make that known to anybody. The F.B.I. likes to keep our work on these cases very hush-hush. [He holds a shredded report that’s been taped back together]
Deputy Stevens: Sure, of course. But I would like to thank Agent Spender.
Mulder: Oh. No, no, no. I’ll thank him for you because I have to call in my, uh, progress report.

——————–

Mulder: Scully, this is a classic case of demon fetal harvest, what they called in the middle ages “atum nocturnem,” the impregnation of an unwitting woman by a dark lord of the underworld…
Scully: As host for his demon seed.
Mulder: Exactly.
Scully: I saw Rosemary’s Baby on cable the other night, Mulder.

——————–

Mulder: [Carrying out a large container of dietary fiber supplements] Whatever else we find, I know everybody in this house is regular.

Patient X 5×13: A conspiracy, wrapped in a plot, inside a government agenda.


Constipation.

After a long string of stand alones and a couple of character driven rather than mytharc progressing token mythology episodes, we’ve been overdue for a classic, alien invoking mythology tale. Season 5 is famously short due to filming for The X-Files feature film that was due that upcoming summer so unlike Season 3, it’s not heavily mythology driven. The mythology episodes we do get this season are heavy duty in content, which is probably why we get less of them. That, and with the movie to think about Chris Carter had to pace out his story revelations so as not to give out too much information too soon or so little that the ongoing plot would lose its sense of urgency by the time Fight the Future came along.

I love this two-parter because Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz toe that line well, explicitly confirming more information than I think a mythology episode had ever done before but at the same time opening up a whole new, deeper set of mysteries and twists. The Syndicate members nearly spell out their entire arrangement with the alien colonists and yet now we have these Alien Rebels on the scene that even these experienced men don’t know what to make of. Who are these Rebels and how do they relate to the Alien Bounty Hunters? For that matter, how do the Alien Bounty Hunters relate to the Colonists? Are they a separate race who, like the human Syndicate before them, made a deal with the Colonists to become slaves in order to survive? Are the Rebels a remnant determined to resist both their own enslavement and to prevent the Colonists from repeating the cycle? Chris Carter is too clever to say so in so many words, but it’s sure starting to look that way.

It’s interesting that Chris Carter would bring the idea of the Alien Bounty Hunter back when his existence is one of the biggest arguments against Mulder’s current theory that there are no aliens but a corrupt government purposefully perpetuating a myth to cover its own sins. If this theory that Mulder accepted back in “Redux” (5×2) is correct, how does Mulder explain men who can shapeshift? Men who bullets don’t kill? Are they merely byproducts of some incredibly advanced government experiment like the clones introduced in “Colony” (2×16)?

One could wonder Mulder how Michael Kritschgau ever convinced Mulder that all he had seen and heard was an elaborate con and if you wondered too hard the plot would fall a part. Mulder’s a smart man. A little too eager and willing to believe at times, but he’s not without any reason. How could he just stop believing after all he’s seen? All I can say is don’t bother questioning it because it’s irrelevant.

To argue that there’s too much evidence of alien involvement for Mulder to stop believing is utterly beside the point. Mulder hasn’t stopped believing because there’s enough evidence one way or the other, Mulder has given up the game because he’s angry. He’s angry because whether there are aliens or not, the humans involved in this conspiracy are responsible for abducting Scully, giving her cancer and making her infertile all in an effort to manipulate Mulder and his work. They’ve tried to destroy his only friend to get to him. Out of guilt Mulder wants to distance himself from this sad little history, and out of anger he refuses to be manipulated any longer. That’s why he’s so stubborn over the course of these next two episodes. Scully could point out the odd coincidences between these mass killings and her own abduction to him until the Loch Ness Monster decided to hold a press conference; he’s not budging because he’s bitter.

And Mulder isn’t the only character holding grudges. It would appear that Krycek still isn’t over the Syndicate arranging a car bomb in his honor because he’s made it his mission to wrest power from their white, wrinkly hands. He’s not alone either and Marita Covarrubias is finally given something interesting to do in helping Krycek double cross the Syndicate an then double crossing the double crosser, ditching her lover and taking his hostage, his leverage, for her own. They’re each playing both sides, manipulating the situation to their own ends. What exactly those ends are remains obscure, but probably it’s to tip the balance of power in their favor. Why should the Syndicate, like Robber Barons, have all the fun? Putting them together is a smart twist.

I wouldn’t quite call The X-Files an ensemble show, but I can’t deny that part of its success came from a strong cast of supporting players, each bringing a complicated history into the mix. Not only did this keep Mulder and Scully more interesting by giving them something to play off of and a more sinister sandbox to play in, but it prevents the audience from getting bored easily. Yes, I look forward to every moment Mulder and Scully are onscreen, but even when they aren’t the supporting characters are so interesting that they only serve to make Mulder and Scully’s scenes more enjoyable by creating a more gripping plot for our two leads.

Veronica Cartwright is marvelous here giving a performance that got her nominated for an Emmy award. Her character, Cassandra Spender, is a much sweeter, politer, and   psychotic version of Season 2’s Duane Barry so it’s interesting that she brings him up to Mulder at their first meeting. What she says is just as crazy sounding, she just says it in a more palatable voice. And the aliens in her testimonies of alien abduction are liberators not sadists.

Then how could we ignore the introduction of her son, resident weasel Jeffrey Spender? There’s something both clever and frustrating about the way Chris Carter throws his character into the fray since he and Mulder become antagonists more through a series of I Love Lucy style misunderstandings than anything else. Perhaps if Mulder had bothered to defend himself he would have made one less enemy, but then, Mulder may have traded his alien theories for slightly more mainstream views, but he still enjoys being the resident rebel. He could care less if Jeffrey Spender likes him or not. It’s a great start to what will develop into a long and very complicated relationship.

And the Verdict is…

Some fans feel that the mythology began to fall off around Season 5 and took a nosedive in Season 6, but episodes like this make me beg to differ. There’s action, intrigue and ridiculously sophisticated special effects. So what is there to complain about? I think Mulder and Scully’s characterizations in Season 5, their complete reversal of positions, are a stumbling block for many.

If Mulder’s unwillingness to believe is slightly puzzling, the quickness with which Scully accepts Cassandra’s story is a mystery of Ellery Queen proportions. Scully has believed for a long time that “these men” were responsible for what happened to her, but she’s never before attributed her abduction to aliens and nothing she sees here would be enough to convince Scully on her best day that there was something intergalactic going on. Again, as with Mulder, if you try to rationalize her motives here you’ll give yourself a headache. And yet, the reversal of positions between Mulder and Scully, him becoming the skeptic and her the believer, are not as arbitrary as they seem on the surface.

For Scully, we can only assume that the chip, the homing device in her neck, is somehow telling her heart what her brain can’t understand. She instinctively seems to know that Cassandra’s story has merit, it’s not a reaction based on overwhelming evidence.

I don’t think Chris Carter did any of this for kicks. Mulder’s doubts, his dark night of the soul, was a necessary development for his character whose arrogance and gullibility without regard for the consequences to him and his partner couldn’t be allowed to go unchecked for ever. Mulder needed to be mad at himself. It shows a sense of self-awareness that’s been a long time coming. And it shows that his feeling of responsibility for Scully has come to supersede the quest that it grew out of.

As far as Scully’s transformation, if we can even call it anything that dramatic, it allows Chris Cater to put her back on the frontlines of the mythology and confirm suspicions for the audience without expressly revealing anything to the two leads and so bring the show to a close.

Will Mulder make an about face? Will Scully still have a face after the Rebels get to her? I guess we’ll have to watch Part 2 to find out.

A

Here nor Theres:

There are early hints here of the future “aliens as God” story arc – both in the panel that Mulder attends and in the obligatory heavy-handed opening voiceover.

We finally get a good look at Dr. Werber who we only saw briefly at the end of the “Pilot” (1×79).

How are the Alien Rebels able to summon the abductees using the Colonists’ technology?

Mulder’s a little too disinterested in these mass gatherings of abductees. Even if these people are delusional, even if they’re in a cult, couldn’t the government be behind these killings and wouldn’t he want to expose the conspiracy?

Best Quotes:

First Elder: What does Krycek want?
Marita Covarrubias: I don’t know.
Second Elder: How do we find out?
[phone rings]
Well-Manicured Man: Hello?
Krycek: [Over the phone] Well, look who’s answering the Bat Phone.
Well-Manicured Man: Alex Krycek.
Krycek: Those guys too cheap to offer you a pension plan?

———————–

Mulder: Do I look like I’m having fun, Scully?
Scully: You look constipated, actually.

———————–

Scully: Mulder, why are you tiptoeing around the obvious fact here? I mean, this is Skyland Mountain. We’re right back here on Skyland Mountain.
Mulder: And you think it’s related to your abduction from the same place?
Scully: Well, you can’t deny the connection.
Mulder: You think this is some kind of an abduction scenario?
Scully: No. I’m not saying that.
Mulder: Do you have any evidence of that?
Scully: What do you mean by evidence?

Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man 4×7 – This isn’t the ending that I wrote.


You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

“No one would kill you, Frohike. You’re just a little puppy dog.”

Oh, if he only knew.

Mssrs. Morgan and Wong are back in a slightly different format this time. Rather than co-writing, Morgan authors the script while Wong sits in the director’s chair. In fact, for his directing debut Wong would go on to win the Emmy for Best Direction. That’s no mean feat.

As they would in all four of their offerings this season, Morgan and Wong try their best to think outside of the frame of a typical X-Files episode, in this case changing up both form and content. Besides giving us an almost Shakespearean play quite clearly delineated into four acts, there’s a fluctuating tone to the tale so that we’re never quite sure from one act to the next whether we’re watching a history or a parody, if this is CSM’s view of himself, Frohike’s view, or the view put forth by the seedy magazine Frohike nabbed the story from.

Even more significantly, this is the first episode where David Duchovny doesn’t make an onscreen appearance. He’s essentially limited to a book-ending set of voiceovers. Gillian Anderson narrowly misses this technicality by appearing in a single scene in flashback. At first watch, I remember missing Mulder and Scully. Over a decade later, I appreciate getting a more in depth look at such a fabulous character.

Certainly CSM deserves it by now.

Part I – An Extraordinary Man

Here’s where everything starts going Forest Gump on us. We always knew CSM was a significant man behind the scenes, but just how significant is he? Well, it turns out that he was the lone gunman that day on Dealey Plaza. Oh, and he didn’t always smoke cigarettes.

Actor Chris Owens makes his X-Files debut here. He would go on to play CSM again in flashback, as well as two other memorable characters, The Great Mutato and Jeffrey Spender. He plays the role with such seriousness that you can believe in this young CSM, that he wasn’t always evil, just pragmatic and ambitious, and that it was a downhill spiral from there.

Part II – A Jack Colquitt Adventure

And now we jump forward in time to CSM the would-be Civil Rights activist, AKA author Raul Bloodworth.

This CSM has successfully and speedily climbed his way up the middle management ladder of the netherworld. Young though he is, he’s powerful enough to chastise J. Edgar Hoover to his face. It seems that the F.B.I. has been under his control since long before Mulder and Scully came into play.

But what’s striking is how typically unfulfilling his day job is. He spends his nights typing pathetic manuscripts living off of beer, cigarettes, and unfulfilled dreams. And while his job description requires that he root out Communism in all its forms, he secretly sympathizes with liberal dreamers, thinking so highly of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that he honors him with a more… personal assassination.

At this point, I’m starting to believe we’re hearing less of Frohike’s news article while more of CSM’s sense of self-importance is creeping in.

Part III – Buffalo Wants it Bad

If we thought CSM was stuck in a crappy boardroom job before, now his position has rusted into the downright mundane. CSM has successfully defeated the Communists. But like every man who reaches the pinnacle of his profession and finds there’s nowhere else to go, he’s left weary and unfulfilled. He goes from killing presidents to rigging football games because, well, what else is there to do? Now it’s hard to see this as anything but a parody.

Getting to see Deep Throat again is a real treat. And their brief, opaque and slightly comical conversation is the highlight of the whole episode. It’s hard to put much stock in their talk, however, as some points don’t agree with the larger mythology arc. But since this is fantasy anyway, you can take and leave what you will.

Part IV – Pack of Morleys

And now, like any great hero, it’s time for CSM to have his heart broken.

I love that they work in that flashback to the “Pilot” (1×79), where CSM was more an enigmatic if ominous presence rather than the Darth Vader that he’s become. This way we can consider who he was and who he’s come to be.

He’s no longer an idealist. He’s not even a realist. He’s just a middle-aged man stuck in a shallow life whose memories of youthful dreams grow duller with every year.

I remember at the age of 14 how my best friend and I found that monologue hilarious. In fact, I had it memorized… and tacked up on my wall. That’s 14 for you. Always drawn to the innocent and uplifting.

Now it’s a bit tedious, and, dare I say it? It tries too hard. It’s amazing how our tastes change.

Conclusion:

Originally, the title was supposed to be “Memoirs of a Cigarette Smoking Man”, reflecting Morgan’s intention that this be a true account of CSM’s past. Chris Carter came in and added both ambiguity in the title and in the narration. Not only can we not be sure of the accuracy of CSM’s memories, we can’t even be sure the plot is being driven by CSM’s mind or by Frohike’s.

The seriousness of the story was supposed to be driven home by the killing of Frohike at the end of the episode, a plot point that 1013 Productions justifiably balked at. While I enjoy that Morgan and Wong weren’t afraid of thwarting the party line, the desire to kill off Frohike represents a serious misjudgment of the tone of the series. Sure, Chris Carter liked to claim that no one’s really safe on The X-Files. But then, he also likes to say that no one ever really dies on The X-Files either. Just like Deep Throat in this episode, ghosts return without warning.

Why? Because Deep Throat’s presence adds value to the series’ development at this point? No. Because the fans love him and nostalgia is a powerful force.

Even aside from emotional reasons, killing Frohike would have ill fit the tone of the episode, which lent itself to something just short of a parody. Taken as a whole, it makes CSM, as Chris Carter so appropriately put it, “sort of a silly person.” I’m not so sure he can be silly and frightening at the same time, despite the fact that Morgan’s goal was to make CSM a real threat again:

“I told Chris, ‘Look, the Cancer Man is becoming a bore. When you get to episode one hundred and he and Mulder have the guns to each other’s heads, I’m not going to worry, because the Cancer Man has never done anything. I’m telling you right now, you’ve got the Cancer Man as a wuss ball. He’s nothing. He’s got to do something dangerous.’”

Maybe they missed that CSM had both men exposed to the Black Oil’s radiation killed and his henchman, Luis Cardinal killed in “Apocrypha” (3×16). Or that he keeps trying with all sincerity to kill Krycek. Or that he just had X killed in “Herrenvolk” (4×1).

The truth is, whatever the pile of murders on his conscience, the audience will never seriously believe that he’ll kill either Mulder or Scully. We’d have no show if he did. It’s enough to show that he’s willing. Suddenly turning things deadly serious by killing Frohike would have lent credence to the whole tale, which would have made some obvious issues of cannon more of an issue.

Besides, Morgan and Wong created the Lone Gunmen. Why so eager to kill one of them off? (As an aside, it’s interesting how in television you can create something only to find that it’s no longer yours. Not only do they characters take off on their own based on an audience’s response and interpretation of them, but production companies and film studios end up having more of a say in their future than you do.)

The best thing about this episode is that it’s clever, in both form and content. Is it great? I can’t quite call it that because I still get bored at moments, but I appreciate what Morgan and Wong were trying to do here. Once again, they’re pushing the boundaries of the show. In that regard, it’s not as successful as “Home” (4×3) but it’s surely not as polarizing as “The Field Where I Died” (4×5)… thank goodness.

At times the story is a little bogged down by the nitty gritty of History. Because of this, it moves slowly. And there’s nothing paranormal to speak of save for a fleeting view of a dying alien. But looking back on the history of the show, it’s nice to have this change of pace, if only to prove that The X-Files could do it.

B+

Comments:

Whatever details Morgan and Wong may have missed, there’s a nice thread of continuity with Deep Throat. He mentions having served in Vietnam and in “Little Green Men” (2×1), Mulder claims to have seen his funeral at Arlington Cemetery. That explains that.

Even the acts are filmed in different colors. Saturated 1960’s hues for the Kennedy assassination, black and white for the second act, reflecting the majority of photos of the Civil Rights era.

Questions:

Who is CSM writing a letter of resignation to? How do you resign from The Syndicate? Do they have a payroll? And why is he purposefully leaving a paper trail??

Best Quotes:

William Mulder: My one year old just said his first word.
Smoking Man: What was the word?
William Mulder: JFK.
Smoking Man: Catch you later, Mulder.

———————–

Smoking Man: What I don’t want to see is the Bills winning the Super Bowl. As long as I’m alive that doesn’t happen.
Third Man In Black: Could be tough, sir. Buffalo wants it bad.

————————

Smoking Man: So did the Soviets in ‘80.
Third Man In Black: What? You saying you rigged the Olympic hockey game?
Smoking Man: What’s the matter? Don’t you believe in miracles?

————————

Deep Throat: I’m the liar, you’re the killer.
Smoking Man: Your lies have killed more men in a day than I have in a lifetime. I’ve never killed anybody.
Deep Throat: Maybe I’m not the liar.

————————

Smoking Man: Life is like a box of chocolates. A cheap, thoughtless, perfunctory gift that nobody ever asks for. Unreturnable because all you get back is another box of chocolates. So you’re stuck with this undefinable whipped mint crap that you mindlessly wolf down when there’s nothing else left to eat. Sure, once in a while there’s a peanut butter cup or an english toffee but they’re gone too fast and taste is fleeting. So you end up with nothing but broken bits of hardened jelly and teeth-shattering nuts. If you’re desperate enough to eat those, all you got left is an empty box filled with useless brown paper wrappers.

————————

Smoking Man: I can kill you whenever I please… but not today.

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

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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…

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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.