Tag Archives: Sein Und Zeit

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.}

 

Sein Und Zeit 7×10: If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.


 

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The Easter Bunny is fair game.

Last we saw Teena Mulder she was selling her son to the Devil in drag, Cigarette-Smoking Man as you might call him, in “The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati” (7×4), an issue that was never, ever discussed. I had a few questions for her then, I don’t mind telling you. Well, I have several more questions on my mind now.

Why is it, somebody tell me why, that just as characters start to get interesting on The X-Files, they die? Deep Throat, X, Agent Pendrell (sob!), Diana Fowley (dry eyes), Jeffrey Spender… Is there an unwritten rule somewhere? Is it written into the actors’ contracts? I realize no one ever really dies on The X-Files, but do they have to die at all?

It’s not that I was ever particularly attached to Teena Mulder, or even attached at all. But…  dagnabit, woman!

Did you have to leave your son to cry with that face?

Was her disease about to disfigure her in the next few days that she couldn’t have waited to die until she talked to Mulder? She’d rather leave him floundering, wondering forever than take an extra day or two to give him what answers she has? And she couldn’t just die without saying anything she had to burn what little proof Mulder would have found? Why did she let him flail about like an idiot looking for Samantha for so many years when she knew she was already dead? There are answers I need from this woman.

And that final phone message. Do parents, even emotionally distant parents, speak to their children with phrases like, “I hoped you’d call upon your return,” with anything other than irony? Then again, Mulder and his mother have always seemed to have an affectionate, but slightly formal and distant relationship. Very New England. It doesn’t help that every member of the Mulder family seems to have secrets. Except for Mulder. He’s an open book. Too open at times.

Well, I’m done kvetching at a fictional dead woman. But I still think that after watching her burn the last pictures that she had of Mulder and Samantha that she killed herself more from guilt than fear of a painful death. Also, think of the timing. This missing girl case has clearly rattled her.

Ah, Amber Lynn LaPierre. The JonBenet of The X-Files. Even her doting parents are duly under suspicion. Not that the police don’t have reason to suspect them. Their story is suspect. And Mrs. LaPierre is the one who wrote the not-quite-ransom note, after all.

We’ve had missing girl cases before: “Conduit” (1×2), “Oubliette” (3×8) and “Paper Hearts” (4×8). All of them make obvious parallels to Samantha and Mulder’s continued emotional turmoil over her loss. Scully warns Mulder in “Sein Und Zeit” that he’s personalizing this case. But Mulder personalizes every case. Or at least he used to. I miss the days when Mulder looked emotionally invested in an X-File.

When Scully first shows up at Mulder’s California motel room I’m a little worried she’s going to turn into an insensitive nag the way she did in “Conduit” and “Oubliette”. She doesn’t, thank goodness. She’s just a little annoyed that Skinner has sent her all the way across country just because Mulder refused to pick up his phone. She tries to keep Mulder from going off the edge and lectures him about playing well with others, but she always does that.

Scully’s sensitivity actually shines in this episode and the next. That scene where she has to break the news to Mulder that his mother’s suicide was real, not staged, when Mulder breaks down and she steps in seamlessly to comfort him… X-Files Gold.

Finally! Some meat! Season 7 is cute and all but a girl can’t live off of popcorn and Skittles. I need some sustenance. I need an X-File with protein. I need something to get excited about.

Skinner: Billie LaPierre is asking for him. She’s got something to say and she’ll only talk to Mulder.

Scully: It’s not a good…

Mulder: What is it?

Skinner: This case has heated up. I’ve booked two flights for us.

Scully: Well, then you better book three.

My girl.

All that said, this is an episode that’s hard for me to enjoy absolutely, not because it isn’t a good episode, but because it’s a dark one. Not darkly titillating like the previous “Signs and Wonders” (7×9), but darkly somber. There’s a sense, even from the opening teaser, that sweet little Amber Lynn is never coming home. From Amber Lynn’s disappearance and the specter of Samantha’s continued disappearance, to Teena Mulder’s suicide and the shocking final shot of a field full of tiny graves, the grimness of death hovers over this episode.

I confess I can’t wrap my heart around this walk-in version of the afterlife (and there have been many competing, conflicting, and even coexistent versions of the afterlife on The X-Files). The short story goes like this: The walk-ins are good spirits who step in… sometimes… when they see a child about to die a horrible and painful death. They spare the child that painful experience changing them from matter into energy, effectively taking them straight from life to death without the nasty business of dying. Their energy resides and manifests itself in starlight, occasionally making return visits to earth and to their unsuspecting parents’ bedrooms. Said parents may or may not be blamed for their child’s disappearance adding yet another layer of tragedy to their loss. I thought the walk-ins were supposed to be helping?

It feels like a saccharine fairytale to me – Children rescued from pain, living and playing (eternally?) in the starlight. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather spend eternity with my loved ones in heaven.

But I think the idea touches a spiritual nerve. That nerve that tells us that life can’t be defeated by death. The life of these children may be over here on earth, but it’s not over ‘cause it’s over. Ironic given the source of the episode’s title.

Forgive me for waxing philosophical here since I’m not qualified to do so. It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve taken a class or touched a book on the subject. However, given the direction this story is taking I feel like I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the meaning of Sein Und Zeit or “Being and Time” in English. It’s a reference, one can only assume, to philosopher Martin Heidegger’s magnum opus, in which he, well, philosophizes over what it means “to be.” From what little I know about it, a simplified version of his conclusion might be that existence is fundamentally linked to time, or rather, that being is time and that human existence is the span from birth to death and that to truly live, we have to live with a conscious anticipation of the end of our existence.

I suppose that sounds deep on some level, but “Sein Und Zeit” is really about the continuation of souls, in starlight if you must, whose existence can’t be defined or swallowed up by death. They exist now outside of time, not hemmed in by in, and ride on waves of light that started eons ago. Chris Carter seems to be getting back to his “I Want to Believe” roots, with spiritual hunger and the desire for hidden truths overrule the need for scientific proof. This sense of hope, that one should hope, is dauntless and compelling. Universal and compelling.

Verdict:

After seven seasons, we’re finally nearing the truth of a mystery that’s been a bedrock of the show since the Pilot: what happened to Samantha.

We’ve found out bits and pieces, there’s been a lot of red herrings and misinformation, outright lies, in fact. But with all this talk about walk-ins and starlight you should be getting the nagging feeling by now that Mulder will never see Samantha on this side of terra firma again.

And don’t make yourself interesting on The X-Files. It’s a death sentence.

A-

Automatic Writings:

Besides the scene in Mulder’s apartment, my next favorite part of this episode would be the teaser, when Chris Carter uses Bud LaPierre to defend his doomed series, Harsh Realm, that was canceled after only three episodes made it to air.

Bud LaPierre: [Watching Harsh Realm] This is great.

Or maybe this part…

Bud LaPierre: I was watching TV in here.

Mulder: What were you watching?

Bud LaPierre: I never heard of it before. It was good.

That moment when Chris Carter sneaks in yet another indignant defense of Harsh Realm.

Watching the authorities swarm the LaPierre residence, for the first time it occurs to me that there must’ve been a similar scene in the Mulder household when Samantha was taken. Even if Samantha’s parents knew the truth about her abduction, for appearance’s sake there would have been police all over – questioning, searching.

How did Teena Mulder understand the connection between Amber Lynn and Samantha when the information about the ransom letter hadn’t yet been revealed in the media? I have even more questions about this next episode…

Boy, Mulder keeps making awfully good time on those cross-country flights. I know this was pre-9/11, but still.

Those little graves in the final shot make for a startling image. But one has to wonder, why didn’t he bother burying them deeper? No one goes back there? He must really not have been concerned about getting caught.

I may be the only one who cares, but the guy who plays Bud LaPierre is definitely the cult leader from “Red Museum” (2×10).

And to top that nugget off, “Red Museum” was when the topic of walk-Ins first came up.

One wonders how Skinner ever explained to his superiors how he, Scully and Mulder discovered “Santa” and his field full of graves. “Well, sir, we went to interview the LaPierres again and the mother said she’d had a vision of Amber Lynn repeating the number ‘74,’ then we drove up Route 74 and Scully saw one of those year-round Christmas places on the map and she remembered the letter, so we stopped and there were videos and the man ran and… graves.”

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


They’re heeeere!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the Verdict is…

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

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

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

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

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

C+

Bepuzzlements:

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

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

General Observations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Quotes:

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

———————-

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