Tag Archives: Redux II

The Gift 8×11: Are you calling Mulder a liar?


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Sniffle.

We’ve had a string of episodes I don’t care for and they culminate in this, “The Gift”. I warn you here and now that I have mixed feelings about it. That said, maybe because I’ve been so bored lately, or maybe because I missed Mulder more than I realized, but seeing his face in the opening teaser is such a joy and relief. In fact, I may have teared up a little.

I used to think I hated “The Gift” but I realize now that isn’t true. I only have one problem with the gift, it’s just a really, really big problem: The entire premise rests on a storyline I despise. That’s right. Not only is Mulder missing, even if he weren’t missing, he’d be dead or dying. Mulder has a deadly brain disease that he never saw fit to tell a soul about. So go ahead, steal Mulder back from the aliens. His eventual death remains inevitable.

I’ve already expressed my opinions on this ridiculous, horrible, abomination of a distraction from the primary plot in my review for “Within” (8×1). It went a little like this.

“It’s not enough that Mulder’s gone, you’ve gotta ruin the memories too? Stop retroactively killing what little joy I found in Season 7! He was happy in Season 7! This doesn’t even fit the timeline!

Let me try to get this straight. In Season 7, Mulder and Scully are sleeping together, but she has no idea he’s traveling nearly four hundred miles round trip every weekend. Mulder’s dying of an incurable disease, but devastated as he was when his mother killed herself after hiding her illness, he plans to keep his disease a secret from Scully. Scully and Mulder are happy as clams almost all of Season 7, but what we didn’t know was that Mulder was merely hiding his suffering. He was showing “clear signs of decline” but they didn’t catch that when Mulder went to the hospital in “Signs and Wonders” (7×9) and “Brand X” (7×19), just to name a couple of times. Things are so dire that he already had his name etched on the family grave stone. And all this he manages to hide from Scully, a doctor so brilliant she can diagnose nearly any disease from a single symptom despite never having practiced medicine.

I call revisionist BS.”

My feelings remain unchanged.

So now we’re back to that, are we? Doggett has suddenly and conveniently remembered that X-Files assignment aside, he’s still charged with the task of finding Mulder. He remembers just as the audience is starting to grow restless… though I’m sure the timing of this episode and bringing David Duchovny back had nothing to do with that… or with February sweeps.

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. The thought of Mulder dying makes me cranky, that’s all.

Let me focus on the positives because, as I said, I don’t hate this episode the way I thought I did.

Like #1: Skinner and Doggett make a good team.

Every thundercloud has its rainbow and the rainbow in the storm of Mulder’s disappearance is Skinner. Our dear A.D. needed to get out more and it’s good to see him investigating a case again. This is a trend that started towards the end of Season 7 with “Brand X” and “Requiem” (7×22) and I see no reason for it to stop. Besides, he and Doggett have more onscreen chemistry than Scully and Doggett. They genuinely challenge each other instead of just assuming the position.

If we’re going to lose Scully for an episode and have an abundance of untempered testosterone, then I’m glad it went down like this. I would hate to see her absence wasted.

Like #2: The monster is unsettling.

And so are the monstrously selfish humans. Yes, the monster is gross, but more than anything it makes you wonder how far you yourself would go if you found yourself incurably ill, if you could live with saving yourself at the expense of someone else’s pain. Are the suffering entitled to the sin-eater’s help? Is their desperation excusable?

There’s a Christlike allegory in here somewhere…

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a Man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem. Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:3-5 (NIV)

The difference is that while Christ died willingly, the sin-eater has no choice. He’s dying a constant death because no one is brave enough to bear their own suffering, not when there’s someone else who can pay the price instead.

It may sound like I’m pulling this out of nowhere, but I think this is actually a parallel that writer Frank Spotnitz wanted us to see, especially in the scene of Mrs. Hangemuhl’s deliverance.

Watching the sin-eater stretch its mouth to eat her alive while her husband recites The Lord’s Prayer in the background, I’ll admit it’s pretty disturbing. It’s supposed to be.

Like #3: Mulder makes sense.

His dying makes no sense, but if he were dying, it would be completely in character for Mulder to destroy the means of his own salvation if by doing so he could save someone else.

One thing the series has lost sight of as of late is the original vision Chris Carter had of Mulder and Scully as romantic heroes, and I do mean romantic in the literary sense. Their main purpose is to seek the truth and to do right even if it costs them. To that end, Scully was originally imbued with a strong sense of justice, Mulder with compassion. Sometimes Mulder empathizes with victims to an almost frustrating extent, but that’s who he is. He’s a compassionate human being who would rather die than force someone else to suffer for him.

Heck, when Scully was dying in “Redux II” (5×2) he wouldn’t let her take the blame for his killing a man who was spying on him. He wouldn’t let her reputation suffer for him even though she wouldn’t be alive to feel it. That’s my Mulder.

Like #4: Doggett bonds with Mulder.

This is The X-Files. You don’t ever have to have met to develop a spiritual connection.

Somehow, despite having been a confirmed skeptic as recently as the last episode, Doggett puts together the pieces of this case so well you would think he was reading from Mulder’s playbook. While that does move my eyebrow up toward my hairline a tad, I’m glad that if Doggett finally experienced the paranormal in his own person, it’s Mulder who led him there. Mulder is the emotional and spiritual center of the X-Files, which started out as the expression and fulfilment of his own passion, the vehicle for his quest. He’s the one who initiated Scully on this journey of discovery, and it’s only fitting that he should initiate Doggett, even if it’s in his absence.

Doggett also finishes what Mulder was trying to do. Through Doggett’s death he saves the sin-eater. Ah, there’s that cycle again: death – resurrection – salvation.

In saving the sin-eater an emotional link is created between Mulder and Doggett. Mulder shoots it to save it, Doggett stands up for it and is shot. I’ve avoided this episode for so long that I didn’t remember the ending. I had forgotten that Doggett died and came back. I like it.

Mulder’s a good man. John Doggett’s a good man too.

Verdict:

I’m both relieved that they brought Mulder back and more than slightly resentful that they brought him back this way and to serve the purposes of this storyline. But it is what it is and if it has to be, at least “The Gift” makes better use of the characters than the last several episodes.

Well, most of the characters. Mulder could’ve remained completely unseen and the story wouldn’t have suffered at all.

For the love of all that is Scully, stop wasting David Duchovny’s eleven episodes!!!

A-

The Peanut Gallery:

All this time and no one had given Mulder’s apartment a proper search before?

So, in order to be healed, you get eaten and come back as monster vomit.

The monster vomit and the yellowish underground caves remind me of “Gender Bender” (1×13). That was my very first episode of The X-Files.

We’re getting so much of the Lone Gunmen this season that I’m starting to feel spoiled. Another silver lining to the Mulder is Missing rainbow.

There’s a great shot director Kim Manners does in the hospital scene. We can see Mr. and Mrs. Hangemuhn lovingly celebrating her recovery in Doggett’s reflection. That’s a beautiful shot.

That rustic woman’s accent throws me off.

Best Quotes:

Byers: We learned what we could. This is somewhat short notice, of course.

Frohike: And a little outside our area of expertise.

Langly: Plus the fact we were sleeping.

Doggett: You wearing pants, Langly?

Langly: Uh… yeah.

 

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Closure 7×11: I guess I just want it to be over.


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Don’t look any further.

I want to believe so badly, in a truth beyond our own, hidden and obscured from all but the most sensitive eyes, in the endless procession of souls, in what cannot and will not be destroyed.

Sure, I’ve skipped the more annoying parts of this voiceover. But if there’s anything an X-Files voiceover does, besides aggravate us with misplaced poeticism, is it gives us a shortcut to the heart of the matter. And this one picks us up emotionally, thematically and chronologically where “Sein Und Zeit” (7×10) dropped us off. The kids are dead, but the kids are alright. We don’t have proof of it, but we want to believe it. We know we should believe it.

I won’t bore you with a rehash of the discussion of being, death, life and walk-ins that was the “Sein Und Zeit” review. That was then. This is Samantha.

The search for Samantha has been the bedrock, the backbone of the show. Even Mulder’s search for the truth of alien life was fueled by memories of his sister’s abduction and his desire to find her or at least find out what happened to her.

Well, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Mulder hardly mentions Samantha anymore. He’s mostly moved on. Oh sure, she comes up as a token topic of conversation every mythology two-parter. But if you’ll cast your mind back to “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×4), you’ll remember that even during Mulder’s famous dream sequence, when he imagines his life through a Leave it to Beaver lens and is reunited with his long-lost sister, their reunion lasts one scene. That’s it. “Hey! Luv ya, how ya doin’?” And it’s over. He spends almost no time on her mentally.

I see three main reasons for the growing lack of interest in Samantha:

  1. Hearing about her without making any real progress toward seeing her gets old after a while.
  2. Scully has taken her place emotionally, insofar as Mulder has found the family that he was missing and that Samantha’s abduction destroyed. Way back in “End Game” (2×17) we saw that Mulder was willing to trade the woman he then thought was Samantha for Scully. And in “Redux II” (5×3) we found out that the deepest desire of his heart was not to be reunited to his sister, to find out what happened to her, or to know the truth of alien life. It was to find a cure for Scully’s cancer. Mulder still misses Samantha, of course, but he’s lost the urgency of loneliness.
  3. We really already know what happened to Samantha. We just don’t know what happened after that.

Chris Carter was right to finally give us the last word on Samantha. Like Cigarette-Smoking Man says, “There was so much to protect before. It’s all gone now.” I know Carter wanted to take people by surprise by presenting this story in the middle of the season rather than waiting till the end for the traditional mythology finale. Considering where the series ends up going, and the mythology ends up going, and David Duchovny ends up going, it likely wouldn’t have been possible to give Samantha her proper treatment come season end. And we needed, we needed some emotion from Mulder at this point. Some people say David Duchovny was phoning it in this season. I say there wasn’t much else for him to do. After all, what’s driving Mulder? What’s pushing him? What’s pulling him?

Samantha’s storyline needed an end and we got one. Good. Yet, I still have mixed feelings about the way it went down. Overall, this episode was very well done. Some eye-rolling over the concept of the walk-ins and over the melodramatic language in the teaser aside, this and its predecessor are the most emotionally compelling episodes we’ve had in a long time. However, after all the ups and downs we’ve been through over Samantha… seeing her as a clone (Colony), a drone (Herrenvolk), and even an unknown (Redux II), the repressed memories (Conduit), the new and improved repressed memories (Demons), the strong hints that she’s alive out there somewhere (every frickin’ season)… to have it all end so matter-of-factly, to say that she just disappeared one day into the starlight, feels anticlimactic. And to effectively say all hope was lost long ago, before you ever started watching and wishing, is a bit of a let down.

Ah, Samantha, we never knew ye. You were abducted one night by the Alien Colonists, taken to ensure your father’s cooperation in the plot to take over the human race. Then you were returned and handed over to the Cigarette-Smoking Man, subjected to a series of experiments to try to turn you into an alien-human hybrid because, of course, the Syndicate betrayed the Colonists by trying to create a hybrid race that could withstand takeover by the Black Oil. You suffered for two years, then like the biblical Enoch, you were not, for God took you.

It was over before it had begun.

Mulder’s entire family is officially dead. Ponder that, if you will.

Mulder, for all his grief, or maybe because of it, is more himself than he’s been in a while. He’s sneaking into air force bases again, he’s following his instincts no matter how irrational, and he’s hanging up on Scully like he’s got a bad cell phone plan. He’s irritating. He’s classic. He even drops a flirt in the middle of a seance to find his sister.

Scully: Oh, yay. A seance. I haven’t done that since high school.

Mulder: Maybe afterwards we can play postman and spin the bottle.

How does he drop a gem like that at a seance to find his sister and say it that way? The inappropriateness. The melts. The rewinds. Oh, Mulder. Why do you make me love you so much more after I hate you?

Samantha may be gone but Mulder’s here. God is in His heaven, all’s right with the world.

Verdict:

Dear David Duchovny,

I’m so glad you exist.

A-

Lack of Closure:

It’s never directly stated, but some of Mulder’s speculations in “Sein Und Zeit” had to have been wrong. Teena Mulder probably didn’t have a vision of her daughter dead and never wrote a note. Nurse Ray saw her dead because she was with her and there probably was no note, since Samantha’s death turns out to have had nothing to do with Ed Trulove, the serial killer discovered in the previous episode. It’s only the walk-in connection that ties Samantha to Amber Lynn. Probably Teena Mulder saw a vision of her daughter in starlight at some point afterward and realized she was dead, she just didn’t have the heart to tell Mulder.

But if that’s the case, will someone please explain “Colony” to me? Because that Teena Mulder had no idea her daughter was dead.

At the very end, when Nurse Ray confirms to Scully that Samantha disappeared from the hospital mysteriously, every time I think to myself, “How did we get here? How did we get from walk-ins to Samantha to murder to Samantha and back to walk-ins again?” Every time.

For reals, though. Mulder finds this case that matches another unsolved case. The mother from the first case explains to him about walk-ins. His mother kills herself, probably unrelated to any of this directly. Mulder assumes that his mother must have known about the walk-ins and that his sister is one of them. Then he thinks his sister has been murdered by a serial killer. A random psychic comes and tells him Samantha has been taken by the walk-ins after all. Mulder develops a new theory that Samantha was abducted by aliens, but was returned afterwards to CSM who raised her for a period – true. He also believes she wasn’t taken by walk-ins and is alive somewhere – false. And then, boom. She’s in starlight after all. The story comes full circle but it isn’t the easiest to follow.

The diary idea seems an almost too convenient way to have Samantha speak to Mulder from beyond the grave. But it’s a touching scene nonetheless. Scully’s compassionate reaction to Mulder’s grief is perfect. She doesn’t drop stilted wisdom. She doesn’t try to talk him out of being sad. She’s just doesn’t let him grieve alone.

Who is this Agent Lewis Schoniger that Scully consults with about Mulder’s recovered memories? And why do I have to go to the credits to get his name?

David Duchovny’s 1989 Wig. It should get its own special.

That scene with Scully and CSM – we don’t get enough of those. Apparently, William B. Davis agreed, because soon he’ll give us “En Ami” (7×15). Meanwhile, a juicy little tidbit is embedded in that brief conversation: CSM is sick. In fact, I’d be willing to bet Chris Carter brought him physically to Scully just so we could know that.

Back to the serial killings, was Ed Trulove ever in Idaho? Because if not, he didn’t kill the boy in Mulder’s original X-File about the walk-ins and the mother writing a note referencing Santa Clause doesn’t make sense.

It looks like it isn’t just the walk-ins and the souls they help that live in starlight. All dead people do.

It’s very cool to see Anthony Heald from Silence of the Lambs, even if psychic Harold Piller is so annoying even Mulder almost throws him out.

Scully’s wearing a leather jacket.

There’s this great moment in the diner after Mulder calls out Harold for hiding information only to be persuaded by his words yet again. The expression on Mulder’s face says, “Well, Scully? Can I go with him? Can I?”

Jeffrey Spender spent at least a couple of years of his childhood raised alongside Samantha Mulder by CSM. How did Spender not ever mention this? That’s a pretty significant piece of information we learned this episode. A piece of information I don’t believe ever becomes relevant again.

As Mulder sleeps, Planet of the Apes plays in the background and we hear, “Don’t look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find.” This echoes what Scully said to Mulder in the previous episode. “Don’t go looking for something you don’t want to find.”

Oh, how I had Moby’s Play album on repeat back in the day and his music here is perfect. The vibe actually reminds me a lot of the aesthetic composer Mark Snow has already established for the show.

So that moment in the seance makes me wonder if Mulder and Scully are already sleeping together. But we’ll get to that.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: I have this powerful feeling, and I can’t explain it, that this is the end of the road. That I’ve been brought here to learn the truth.” {Editor’s Note: Just in case the audience was tempted to think otherwise.}

 

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


They're heeeere!

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

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

And it’s not Jeffrey Spender.

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

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

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

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

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

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

:::Gut-Wrenchingly Painful Silence:::

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Verdict:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A-

El Rico:

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

Fort Marlene:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Quotes:

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

———————

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

———————

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

The X-Files Movie Part 2: I had you big time.


Scully: [Jiggles door handle] Oh! Now what?
Mulder: It’s locked?
Scully: [Jiggles handle again] So much for anticipating the unforeseen.
Mulder: [Tries the door in panic and it opens easily]
Scully: [Smirks widely] I had you.
Mulder: No you didn’t.
Scully: Oh yeah. I had you big time.
Mulder: You had nothing. Come on, I saw you jiggle the handle.

Before we can talk about the infamous hallway scene, we have to discuss how well Chris Carter set it up for us.

I mentioned in Part 1 how effective the introduction of Mulder and Scully is on the rooftop in Dallas. Not only does the movie establish, in a funny and memorable way, the personality of these two individuals, it also perfectly illustrates the dynamics of their relationship and, more importantly, it waves a magic wand and turns the entire audience into lifelong Shippers.

I kid, but not really. It’s important that the connection and affection between these two is such that you want them to kiss by the time we make it to the hallway, or else the moment has no power. For long time fans of the show, we’re already there – well, the sane among us, anyway.

Don’t think I exaggerate when I say that the success of the whole film rests on this two-minute scene. If the dynamics here don’t work, then the audience sure as heck won’t understand why Mulder later braves a frozen wilderness to bring this woman home. Emotionally, the rest of the movie won’t make sense.

Scully: Are you drunk, Mulder?
Mulder: I was until about 20 minutes ago, yeah.
Scully: Was that before or after you decided to come here?
Mulder: …What exactly are you implying?

That’s a good question. I certainly didn’t understand what she was implying till, oh, about this time last year. That’s twelve years of ignorance.

Why would Scully think that Mulder would drop by her place drunk and stupid to say or do something he shouldn’t say or do? Well, her threat to quit is weighing heavily on her sleepless mind and she knows it must be weighing on Mulder’s as well. Perhaps she thinks he might put the moves on her with alcohol clouding his judgment, which would mean she already knows there’s something between them. If she does, this is the first she’s ever indicated it. Or perhaps she’s afraid he’ll make an embarrassing scene by begging her not to leave. But he’s not ready to do that quite yet.

I personally lean toward the latter based on their history, but then the dialogue implies that Scully thinks Mulder is there to hit on her like a drunken frat boy. Maybe in another twelve years I’ll get it.

Mulder: What are my choices?
Scully: About a hundred miles of nothing in both directions.
Mulder: Well, which way do you think they went?
Scully: Well, you got two choices. One of them’s wrong.
Mulder: I think they went left.
Scully: I don’t know why, I think they went right.
Mulder: [After a moment’s mental deliberation, speeds off straight ahead into the desert, avoiding both choices] Five years together, Scully. How many times I been wrong?
Scully: [Silence]
Mulder: Never!
Scully: [Silence]
Mulder: Not driving, anyway.

Thanks to a significant hint from the movie itself, (Actually, it’s less like a hint and more like a neon sign when Strughold discusses the thing that Mulder can’t live without and looks up meaningfully right before we cut to a screen full of Scully), the audience now knows that Mulder and Scully aren’t merely partners and friends, Scully is the most important thing in Mulder’s life.

This is another one of those moments with double benefits. Those new to The X-Files can now be sure of the depth of Mulder and Scully’s relationship, something they need to understand before the intensity of the hallway scene shocks them. And for us regulars, we finally get to hear it since neither Mulder nor Scully have ever openly admitted it. Everything about their relationship is implied and understood, it’s never been explicit… until now.

We jump from that gleeful revelation to another scene that’s symbolic, indicative of Mulder and Scully’s entire partnership. Do we go left? Do we go right? No. We split the difference and that’s how we arrive at the truth. Alone, neither Mulder nor Scully would get anywhere. Yet another moment to illustrate the fact that Mulder really can’t succeed in his quest without Scully. Without her, he would have turned left and missed the evidence he was looking for.

So now we’re sure Mulder is both emotionally and practically dependent on Scully. Cue the bee.

Mulder: What’s wrong?
Scully: Salt Lake City, Utah. Transfer effective immediately. I already gave Skinner my letter of resignation.
Mulder: You can’t quit now, Scully.
Scully: I can, Mulder. I debated whether or not even to tell you in person, because I knew…
Mulder: We are close to something here! We’re on the verge!
Scully: You’re on the verge, Mulder. Please don’t do this to me.
Mulder: After what you saw last night, after all you’ve seen, you can just walk away?
Scully: I have. I did, it’s done.
Mulder: I need you on this, Scully.
Scully: You don’t need me, Mulder. You never have. I’ve just held you back.
Mulder: [Stunned silence]
Scully: I got to go. [Walks out]
Mulder: [Chases her down the hallway] You want to tell yourself that so you can quit with a clear conscience, you can, but you’re wrong!
Scully: Why did they assign me to you in the first place, Mulder? To debunk your work, to rein you in, to shut you down…
Mulder: But you saved me! As difficult and as frustrating as it’s been sometimes, your G-d-d strict rationalism and science have saved me a thousand times over! You’ve kept me honest! You’ve made me a whole person! I owe you everything, Scully, and you owe me nothing. I don’t know if I want to do this alone. I don’t even know if I can. And if I quit now, they win.

Oh, where to start?

Let’s start back at the end of Season 5. Remember, even though the plot of this movie is meant to be such that a new viewer can follow along it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Yes, you can absolutely understand and enjoy what’s going on here without the backstory, but to fully appreciate the depth of it you have to have been watching for a while, long enough to know what a breakthrough this moment is for these characters, long enough to consider the emotional context.

When we left Mulder and Scully in “The End” (5×20), they were not only dealing with the trauma of the X-Files being burnt to a crisp, but an emotional monkey wrench was thrown into their relationship with the arrival of Diana Fowley, Mulder’s one-time partner and lover. Fowley, like Mulder, is a true believer and Mulder for once gets to enjoy having someone accept his theories at face value rather than pick them apart. To his credit, though, when Fowley hints that her Yes Man services would have been more useful to him than Scully’s science he straightens out that misunderstanding right quick.

The problem is, he forgot to straighten out that same misunderstanding with Scully herself. See, Scully has always prided herself on two things: Being the person that Mulder trusts (an issue that will be addressed in the Season 6 premier) and being the person that Mulder needs. However unscientific Mulder himself may be, nary a case goes by that he doesn’t coerce Scully into some all important autopsy or beg her to run tests on some barely tangible evidence. Rather than Scully’s science debunking Mulder’s work as the conspirators originally intended in sending her to him, Scully’s science has been the one thing that’s given the X-Files legitimacy.

Why then would Scully say something as silly as, “You don’t need me, Mulder. You never have. I’ve just been holding you back?” Well, the shorthand that Mulder has with Fowley and their obvious meeting of the minds has eroded Scully’s confidence in her relationship with Mulder and this is really where this statement of hers comes from, not from anything that’s happened over the course of the film, which is evidence that she’s been indulging in a pity party long before the hallway. It’s not that she’s so juvenile as to think he doesn’t value her at all, her behavior up to this point doesn’t indicate that. But the idea has entered her mind that Mulder needed and preferred a type of Diana Fowley all along, someone who understands and believes in what he does. Scully doesn’t believe in what Mulder does, she believes in Mulder.

It’s a good thing that her faith in him is precisely what Mulder wants. For his part, Mulder responds to this seemingly random admission the only way he can, stunned silence. After her statements earlier in the film it doesn’t come as a surprise to Mulder that Scully wants to quit, what stuns him is why she’s ready to go and that it has nothing to do with Dallas. He can’t possibly have known what Scully was feeling and you can watch realization and the emotions it brings cross his face once she tells him. I could play indignant and try to blame Mulder for never telling his partner how much he appreciates her, but it’s not his fault. This is how Mulder and Scully’s relationship works; it’s like an iceberg where the bulk of their emotions are kept down below with just the tip visible, and that only in good weather.

Yes, their relationship is mainly built on what they don’t say, but that doesn’t mean they don’t communicate their feelings, quite the contrary. They do it all the time! They just do it silently in a mix of intense In fact, most of Mulder and Scully’s best moments involve little to no dialogue. They don’t need it and it would be superfluous. For instance, even in this scene most of the intensity builds after Mulder stops talking. You can read every emotion that crosses their faces as if they were written words. But I digress.

Normally, the understanding between them is rock solid because their eyes and actions perform a more efficient service than their words could ever do. But the recent erosion of Scully’s confidence means that, for once, Mulder is going to have to be explicit. He has one shot to convince Scully of how much she means to him because if she makes it to the elevator, she’s gone.

A touching speech ensues where Mulder lays his neediness out for Scully’s inspection. Never one to resist Mulder’s puppy dog face, Scully silently caves in. Now the two of them are basking in the shared glow of mutual adoration and those still watching are either silently holding their breath or squealing in anticipation. Finally, all those years of pent up attraction are about to be rewarded – is that what’s really happening here?

A passionate kiss is on the verge of taking place, but I don’t believe it’s passionate because their lust boileth over, it’s an overflow of mutual admiration. It’s not that Mulder and Scully aren’t attracted to each other as people, it’s just that I don’t think typical boy-girl attraction is what ignites this moment or their relationship in general. These sentimental emotions of theirs in regards to each other have reached the point where they are so powerful that they have no way to express themselves except in the physical. Once you love someone that much how can you merely say it? Mulder and Scully keep a sharp leash on their emotions, so once they finally boil over keeping them in check is impossible and the kiss is inevitable.

That is, it would be if evil didn’t run rampant in the earth.

Before these two can consummate their long-simmering feelings, before the audience can experience the sweet release of the butterflies in their tummies, a bee buzzes in and takes it all away.

It’s sadism. Pure and simple.

I can’t say I expected any different from Chris Carter, although every time I see this part of me thinks he gets a special sort of pleasure from torturing his audience. No, we all knew it wasn’t really going to happen. For myself, I knew I wanted it but I also knew I didn’t really want it. If they had actually gone through with the kiss us fans wouldn’t have had as much to look forward to. Worse, if they had, for the sake of drama there would have been nothing for the writers to do but split them up again. And God forbid that the Mulder/Scully relationship had turned into an on again off again soap opera.

This is still a point of no return because even if Mulder and Scully don’t kiss, it’s obvious that they wanted to, and both of them know that the other wanted to, which is even more significant. The question is, how long can they feign ignorance and ignore that fact? As I said, they’re experts at keeping silent.

Mulder: [Performing CPR] Geez, breathe! Breathe, breathe, breathe!
Scully: [Coughs]
Mulder: Breathe in, breathe in, breathe!
Scully: [Mouths something]
Mulder: [Leans in to hear]
Scully: I had you big time.
Mulder: [Chuckles]

The kiss is a no go, so 1013 compromises and gives us a mouth-to-mouth resuscitation scene. And it’s not just a physical resolution to the earlier hallway scene; it’s emotional as well with Mulder stroking her face and her teasing him. For a moment they smile at each other in a room full of ravenous aliens as if they have all the time in the world.

[Imbecilic Grin]

The entire sequence where Mulder (mostly) carries a barely conscious Scully through the spaceship and out to safety… Mulder’s finest hour. I willingly ignore how impossible it all is, the climbing, the falling, the survival, because the whole thing makes me teary eyed and, dang it, that’s a rarity. I can almost hear what Scully’s thinking after they’ve made it to safety and she cradles an exhausted Mulder in her arms, “This precious, precious man.”

So they (inexplicably) make it home and life returns to normal, no evidence and no honor. Mulder is acutely aware of that fact but Scully… she’s holding her head a little higher. Could it be because someone in this world could sing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to her and actually mean it?

Is this what causes Scully’s newfound confidence at the O.P.R. panel? Well, I can tell you what doesn’t. It’s not that Scully has seen anything more to convince her of the truth of what she’s saying. She was knocked out after that virus hit her and she has no real knowledge of what went down in Antarctica. No, I think Scully is more certain than ever that her place is at Mulder’s side and if that means that along with him she’ll be a martyr before the panel or the entire F.B.I., so be it. She’s needed.

Mulder: No. No. How many times have we been here before, Scully? Right here. So close to the truth. And now with what we’ve seen and what we know to be right back at the beginning with nothing.
Scully: This is different, Mulder.
Mulder: No it isn’t! You were right to want to quit! You’re right to want to leave me! You should get as far away from me as you can! I’m not going to watch you die, Scully, because of some hollow personal cause of mine. Go be a doctor. Go be a doctor while you still can. {Editor’s Note: ::noisy sniff::}
Scully: I can’t. I won’t. Mulder, I’ll be a doctor but my work is here with you now. And that virus that I was exposed to, whatever it is, it has a cure. You held it in your hand. How many other lives can we save? Look… if I quit now, they win. {Editor’s Note: She’ll forget every word of this speech in 5, 4, 3, 2…}

Verdict:

Lovely Reader, if you had any idea how much mental energy I expended on this movie this weekend you would be ashamed for me. I am ashamed for me, but it had to be done. This is my Once and For All.

What else can I say that I haven’t already exclaimed over in detail? I could nitpick editorial goofs, or run through a play-by-play of every emotion on Mulder and Scully’s face during the hallway scene, but all things must end and this is as good a place as any.

I merely add that the only OTP is this OTP. All others will try and fail.

A+++

Bee Pollen:

After having deep, heartfelt discussions with myself about this movie and this scene all weekend and coming to the conclusions above, I watched it yet again with both the 2008 and 1998 commentaries and was rewarded not only by hearing Chris Carter confirm that the mouth-to-mouth scene was indeed meant to bring the hallway scene full circle physically, but by Rob Bowman beautifully explaining that the kiss Mulder and Scully verge on completing comes not out of lust but out of overwhelming respect. I feel so justified and self-complacent right now that I have, quite literally, patted myself on the back with both hands.

The near kiss is preceded by the first kiss of any sort they’ve ever shared that was initiated by Scully. Mulder kissed her forehead in “Memento Mori” (4×15) and Mulder kissed her hand in “Redux II” (5×3). Maybe it was the fact that Scully showed some blatant affection this time that made Mulder think he could take it a step further since we know that some romantic notions were already a-twinge in the man’s soul.

That “I have no allergy” line may be one of the most foolish lines The X-Files ever gave us, since a preexisting allergy isn’t in the least a prerequisite for an allergic reaction. You can eat sunflower seeds all your life and then one day, boom. Scully, being a doctor, would be aware of that, bee sting or no bee sting. But, hey, I guess they had to establish for the audience that what was happening to Scully was diabolical and not routine.

When Scully says, “Please don’t do this to me,” it gets me every time.

Who else thinks Mulder and Scully disturbed the neighbors?

I don’t believe I’ve ever made it the whole way through the hallway with two eyes wide open. I have to squint like a schoolgirl or watch through my fingers.

“That’s the theme of the movie: Mulder needs Scully. And never before has he come to that understanding quite so strongly as he does in this story.” – Rob Bowman

It’s a not-so-well-kept secret that Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny asked to film a version of the hallway scene where they went through with the kiss. This version, different than the gag reel one, is now loose on the internet. Search at your own risk.

“I’m not gonna watch you die, Scully, because of some hollow, personal cause of mine.” I’m sorry, what was that, Mulder? Please repeat.

To show you how observant I am, I have seen this film exactly 1,976 times and I only just realized that while Mulder is wearing a t-shirt up on that Dallas rooftop, Scully has on a full suit under her F.B.I. jacket.

Season 5 Wrap Up – Do you think it’s too soon to get my own 1-900 number?


"A Howler? But this isn't Harry Potter..."

Season 5 is The X-Files at the height of its powers.

I couldn’t possibly tick off all of the memorable moments: Mulder and Scully dancing in “The Post-Modern Prometheus” (5×6), Mulder nearly eating Scully’s hand off in “Redux II” (5×3), Scully jonesing for buck teeth in “Bad Blood” (5×12), Stephen King joining the party in “Chinga” (5×10), Scully hunting for bimbos in “Kill Switch” (5×11). I’m teary-eyed with nostalgia just thinking about it all.

No. Really. I am.

However, I don’t want to drench you all with my gushing. So before I get too carried away, let me lay out the one main negative, if you can call it that, which Season 5 has.

Frankly, there are fewer significant mythology events than in seasons past. As far as revelations go, compare it to Season 3 where there was both a fresh answer and a fresh mystery every mythology episode then it comes up lacking. Episodes like “Christmas Carol”/”Emily”, “Patient X”/”The Red and the Black” and even my beloved “Redux”/”Redux II” were more like character studies disguised as mytharc than they were plot progressors.

Not that the plot of the mythology stayed stagnant, oh no. Krycek returned from the hallowed halls of a Russian concentration camp only to become Well-Manicured Man’s errand boy. Cigarette-Smoking Man’s fellow conspirators attempt to have him assassinated and fail only to bring him back when they fail at yet another assassination. Scully finds out she’s barren and discovers she has a child only to lose her and return to childlessness. Mulder went from belief in extra-terrestrials, to disbelief, and back again. But all this amounts to is shuffling.

Where’s the sense of deepening mystery? It’s there. It just comes in the form of new faces rather than old favorites.

The Alien Rebels: Who are they? Why are they fighting against the colonists and killing innocent abductees in the process? Most importantly, how is it that they look like The Alien Bounty Hunter after an attack by angry Silly Putty?

Jeffrey Spender: CSM is his deadbeat father. It may be too little too late to turn that relationship around, but CSM’s sure trying by secretly pulling strings in order that Jeffrey can more quickly advance at the F.B.I… at Mulder’s expense. Jeffrey isn’t quite a villain, but he’s not shaping up to be Mulder’s best friend either. It’s doubtful he has any idea who CSM really is. What will he do when he finds out?

Cassandra Spender: Currently MIA. If CSM is her baby daddy, that automatically lends credence to her tall tales of (benevolent?) alien abductors. But what’s his angle in all this? And was he ever married to the woman? It’s not easy picturing them together at the family table.

Gibson Praise: The Official Key to Everything. Gibson’s “more human than human” mind hasn’t saved him from the machinations of the Syndicate. Mulder’s proof has been snatched from his grasp yet again, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of this munchkin.

Diana Fowley: We haven’t seen the last of her either. She drops out of nowhere, mainly to stir the pot between Mulder and Scully. Could she serve another, slightly less nefarious purpose as well?

See? It isn’t all fun and games. There are actual developments occurring as well. But Chris Carter can’t give too much away when major excitement has to be reserved for the upcoming feature film. Instead, he’s maneuvering his pawns into place so that they’ll be in the right position for the movie and then for the season beyond it. Mulder has to believe in aliens again or how can he chase them? CSM has to come back from the dead or what will the film do for a villain? Scully has to be childless or, what’s she going to do? Stick the kid in daycare while she dallies across the big screen with Mulder for two hours?

Trouble is, he has to create something intriguing enough to make you run to your local theater, present something in said theater that will satisfy long-time viewers and attract fresh meat, then bring it all home for the new season opener in such a way that both the previous season’s finale and the stand-alone movie both make sense. I get anxious just thinking about it.

I won’t yet speak for the movie or the seasons to come, but in regards to Season 5, all I can say is that I’m truly and well satisfied. Nearly every episode is a fun-filled adventure. There is the occasional, expected hiccup (“Shizogeny”, I’m looking at you.), but overall it’s hour after hour of solid television – that is when it isn’t being hour after hour of amazing television.

But Enough About Trivialities:

If you haven’t already read, and if you’ve read you’ve probably read it so many times your eyes are strained with rolling, I have a theory that Mulder Scully-crushed Season 5. Her cancer is gone, the clouds have broken, Mulder’s interactions/reactions to his partner have been noticeably tinged with boyish admiration. Sure, one or two of those sentimental moments I could write off as Shipper fantasy. But four, five and six? I see a trend.

So, what say you?

And last but not least, the Awards…

“The Well-Intentioned Misstep”

Emily

“Underappreciated and Underwatched”

The Pine Bluff Variant

AND

Folie à Deux

“Please, sir, I want some more”

Detour

“The Riskiest Experiment”

Travelers

“Best Cameo Performance”

Unusual Suspects

“Biggest Disappointment”

Kitsunegari

“The Mini Summer Blockbuster”

Kill Switch

“Pure, Unadulterated Television Joy”

The Post-Modern Prometheus

All Souls 5×17: I’m immune to your mockery.


All the captions I think of feel somehow sacreligious…

Ah, the Enigmatic Dr. Scully. It turns out that on the sly, or in between commercial breaks, however you choose to see it, the formerly lapsed Catholic has been attending church almost on the regular since the events of “Redux II” (5×3).

Why do I suspect Mulder knows nothing about this development?

But why doth our lovely doctor look so solemn on Easter Sunday of all days? Could it be there’s a little Catholic Guilt weighing her down.

More than it is a spiritual follow up to “Revelations” (3×11), “All Souls” is an emotional follow up to “Emily” (5×7). Scully is questioning the decision she made at the end of “Emily” not to fight to save her own daughter, but to allow her to die a relatively peaceful death rather than live in potential agony only to have certain death to look forward to. Scully feels very sure at that moment of a decision that I on the other side of the television screen still have qualms about, but now it seems that her conviction has grown thin. I wonder how she’d feel if she knew about that little green vial Mulder kept hidden from her…

Scully now wonders whether it was really God’s will that she allow Emily or the young disabled girl to die, whether she was working as His instrument or not. And more than that, she’s having a Job moment; Scully can’t understand why God has allowed these girls and herself to be in such a painful position in the first place, why the innocent sometimes reap the reward of the guilty.

It’s a question older than the Book of Psalms and one that writers Spotnitz and Shiban wisely don’t attempt to answer. Instead, they choose to reaffirm Scully’s faith that reasons exist even if she doesn’t know what they are.

Yet despite it’s worthy motives, “All Souls” falls somewhat flat. Maybe if more time had been spent elaborating on the implications, spiritual and otherwise, of the apocryphal legend of the Nephilim. Or maybe if there weren’t quite so many red herrings leaving the viewer even more unsure of what just happened than Scully herself. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s a little boring and a tad confusing. Even Gillian Anderson’s valiantly acted angst fails to completely pull me in to the story.

Speaking of which, I think I’ve officially had my quota of Sad-Eyed Scully for one season.

I always thought that up until Season 8, Season 4 was Scully’s angstiest season but it appears I always thought wrong. I can think of 3 episodes in Season 4 where Scully faced some sort of emotional crossroad: “Never Again” (4×13), “Memento Mori” (4×15) and “Elegy” (4×22). Season 5 is already at 4: “Redux II”, “Christmas Carol” (5×5), “Emily” and “All Souls”. This isn’t even counting the emotional slap in the face she’ll receive in “The End” (5×20)…

I realize that Scully’s lovely when she’s somber but would it have been possible to have an episode centered around her faith that left her cheerful rather than crying in a confessional booth?

Maybe because I have a tendency to skip both “Revelations” and “All Souls” on my usual rewatches, I never appreciated how exactly the director referenced the previous episode’s shots of Scully in the confessional – just in case we missed the fact that both episodes center around Scully’s Catholicism. “All Souls” even ends exactly like “Revelations” with Scully beautifully lit in a confessional booth giving us a pithy statement about faith. It’s not quite as compelling the second time around, but the continuity is noted and appreciated.

And the Verdict is…

Amazing how Mulder flat out refuses to believe there’s anything spiritual going on when it comes to Christianity. Vampires? Sure. Werewolves? Why not. Jesus? You must be kidding.

I’m sorry, but Mulder, my dearest Mulder, is a right and proper jerk this episode. Didn’t he learn anything from the ending of “Revelations” when he realized that he’d been wrong to write off those involved in the case as religious wackos and that he’d alienated his partner through his insensitivity?

Judging between the two episodes, and a couple of earlier ones, I think Mulder’s problem is that when he’s skeptical, which isn’t often, he has the undiplomatic habit of scoffing at other people’s credulity. It’s not pretty. Scully, for all she may raise an eyebrow at Mulder’s theories, usually respects the man if not the idea. Mulder has a way of dismissing both the message and the messenger.

He doesn’t say, “Willikers, Scully, we both know that stranger things have happened but I just don’t think this is the case here and here’s why.” Oh no. Instead he makes quips about psychotic believers convinced they’re hearing from a non-existent God – a category that Scully is uncomfortably forced to conclude she falls into.

No doubt about it, Mulder has a chip on his shoulder when it comes to the church. Praise be, he’ll later redeem himself (no pun intended) in “Signs & Wonders” (7×9) after “Orison” (7×7) softens him up a bit.

B

Apocrypha

I’ve seen “All Souls” probably 6 or 7 times but I only just figured out that the Seraphim is a separate entity from the demon caseworker – a clear reflection of my level of interest in this episode.

I’m not Catholic so I’m no expert, but why were Dara’s parents having her baptized on a dark and stormy night 6 years down the road rather than immediately or thereabouts after she was adopted? Like baptizing an infant, wouldn’t they have wanted some insurance for her soul sooner instead of later?

Scully goes to church on Easter Sunday, stops at the family’s house and learns about their daughter, then goes to the pathologist’s office on the same day. That’s one busy little bee.

Mulder doesn’t even show up until 14 minutes into the episode not counting commercial interference. And once he shows up I’d rather he weren’t there.

Best Quotes:

Scully: As much as I have my faith, Father, I am a scientist, trained to weigh evidence. But science only teaches us how… not why…

——————

Mulder: Look, Scully, I know you don’t… really want my help on this, but can I offer my… professional opinion? You got a bona fide super-crazy religious wacko on your hands.

——————

Mulder: I know people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones blah blah blah, but that guy is paranoid!

Travelers 5×15: That’s what I did until I ran out of room.


Mad Men 1013 style.

Like when “The Unusual Suspects” (5×1) followed after “Redux II” (5×2), I’m looking for an emotional follow up to the previous drama-heavy mythology episode and instead I’m bereft of Mulder and Scully almost altogether. Only this time, instead of go-to, familiar characters to rely on, we’re given a supporting cast that’s nearly completely new and the weight and responsibility of carrying an hour of one of the most popular shows on television falls on their shoulders. This is an ambitious episode indeed.

The opening teaser is one of my favorites in terms of sheer grossness. If they were looking for a way to catch my attention sans Mulder and Scully they found it. And for the record, there is no way, in earth or the world below, that I would kneel down on a cockroach infested floor coated in the grime of a thousand years in order to better inspect a rubber mummy in a tub. In case you wanted to know.

Now on to the meat of the episode… If The X-Files is about anything at all, it’s about distrust of authority. More specifically, it’s about distrust of the government. Imagine if the nation that fed you, that bred you, were actually out to get you.

With that in mind that the decision to place this flashback tale within the context of the McCarthy hearings makes a lot of sense. If you trust what you read in the history books, paranoia was running rampant at the time and the American government, in an attempt to control its citizens, found “communists” hiding in every nook and cranny. Chris Carter is often quoted as saying, “The X-Files is only as scary as it is real,” and what’s more real than things that have actually happened? It’s why previous episodes like “Paper Clip” (3×2) used real life holocaust atrocities as a base.

On the one hand, it’s easy to take a topic like McCarthyism or the House Un-American Activities Committee and use it to vilify the establishment. On the other hand, it fits like a hand in glove with The X-Files’ overall theme of government distrust. The men in charge have no desire to find the truth, they’re about establishing order and control even at the expense of innocent citizens. And what do you know? Even the F.B.I. is complicit.

Bringing Agent Mulder, I mean, Agent Mulder Sr. into the mix was a wise choice. (So was using the actor we already knew). Not only to we get more insight into his strained relationship with his son before he was killed but we learn about what kind of man he was. “Travelers” confirms a lot of what’s been hinted at about his character over the years. Here was a man who, though compromised, ultimately had a Jiminy Cricket sized conscience. Too bad that unlike his son, he was unwilling or unable to openly fight for what he believed it. It doesn’t look like he had the courage. But at least we know where Mulder got his subversive streak.

Speaking of Mulder, this is the second time this season we’ve seen Mulder in flashback. This time, though, he seems a lot less sure of himself. There’s no swagger like we saw in “The Unusual Suspects”, instead he’s full of nervous ticks… nervous ticks that conveniently display his wedding ring.

Oh, David Duchovny, why must you toy with the masses?

Word is, the wedding ring was little more than a joke on his part having been recently married in real life to actress Téa Leoni. Joke or not, it caused an uproar online. I have to admit that for my part, I didn’t even notice it. Which just goes to show that my powers of observation are dull and you shouldn’t read a word I type.

And the Verdict is…

One of these days I’ll probably get around to making a series of Top 10 lists and when I do, “Travelers” will be on the list of underappreciated episodes. It’s fairly quiet, I know, but I wouldn’t call it boring. Brief though they are, Darren McGavin’s scenes with David Duchovny are a treat, so much so that I wish his character could have been brought back more than once. In fact, I could almost wish that we had one season in flashback a la Nina’s suggestion in her Shipper’s Guide. Arthur Dales’s story and its overlap with the Syndicate’s Shenanigans, not to mention the Mulder family history, could have made for good television… especially if it was paralleled with the X-Files of the future.

B+

Fiddlesticks:

So, supposedly, Edward Skur & Co. had an actual animal/insect/creature grafted inside of them. But what in the heck kind of species is that? What could kill people in such a fashion? Of all the things the government could do to make Super Soldiers, they attach arachnids to their innards?? Why am I thinking this hard about it anyway?

The director of this episode, William Graham, hasn’t been seen on The X-Files since “E.B.E.” (1×16) and had the dubitable honor of directing “Space” (1×8), yet he has a long and very impressive resume including the classic television show The Fugitive. I wonder if the fact that he was active in television during some of the communism scare is what caused Chris Carter to bring him back. At the very least, I’m sure his experience in classic television is part of why this episode has such an authentic feel. Period pieces can so easily end up “costumey.”

Fredric Lane, who plays the young Arthur Dales, was on Castle last week. That show is a veritable parade of X-Files alumns.

There is a string of episodes this season where the narrative is driven by recollection and voiceover. “Redux” (5×2), “Bad Blood” (5×12), “Travelers”, “All Souls” (5×17). By the time we get to “All Souls” it begins to lose its impact.

Now we know there’s a reason the X-Files are the “X-Files” other than just that “X” is a cool letter.

Best Quotes:

Arthur Dales: Do you know what an… X-File is?
Mulder: It’s uh.. yeah, it’s an unsolved case.
Arthur Dales: No. It’s a case that’s been designated… unsolved.

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Arthur Dales: Have you ever heard of HUAC, Agent Mulder? House Un-American Activities Committee? No, no, no, it was before your time, you wouldn’t know. They hunted Communists in America in the 40’s and 50’s. They found… practically nothing. You think they would have found nothing… unless nothing… was what they wanted to find? Hmm?
Mulder: I’m sorry, sir. I, uh, I don’t… I don’t see the connection.
Arthur Dales: Maybe you’re not supposed to. [Slams door in Mulder’s face]

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Dorothy Bahnsen: But, I recognize one of these names. It’s in an X-File.
Agent Dales: X-File?
Dorothy Bahnsen: Yes. Unsolved cases. I file them under “X”.
Agent Dales: Why don’t you file them under “U”… for “Unsolved”?
Dorothy Bahnsen: That’s what I did until I ran out of room. Plenty of room in the “X’s”.