Tag Archives: The Beginning

Season 6 Wrap Up: Maybe I did want to be out there with you.


This is one of those seasons in terms of its popularity that gets polar opposite responses depending on which faction of the fandom you ask about it. It’s trying too hard to be funny, it’s not funny, it’s hilarious. Too much MSR, not enough MSR, just the right amount. I miss the Syndicate, I was sick of the Syndicate, what’s with this new mythology?

You can’t please all the people all the time, especially if your name is Chris Carter.

Personally, I adore Season 6. But I can understand why some fans don’t. If Season 5 would throw fans a knowing smile every so often, Season 6 is constantly, flirtatiously winking at us. The X-Files has become not only much more self-conscious and self-referential, it also acknowledges its fan base and fan expectations in a more direct way than before.

Previous episodes like “Small Potatoes” (4×20) have toyed with the ever-present subtext of Mulder and Scully’s burgeoning romantic relationship (MSR). But fast-forward to “The Rain King” (6×7) and it’s not a subtext, it’s the only text, and the characters around Mulder and Scully directly confront them with the feelings fans had been harboring for years.

I mean… you spend every day with Agent Scully, a beautiful, enchanting woman. And you two never, uh…? I… confess I find that shocking. I… I’ve seen how you two gaze at one another.

Not even a kiss?

Sorry, my NoRoMo friends. You’ll have to forgive me for indulging in some MSR talk. It’s a major, major component of Season 6 that can’t be ignored. In fact, I don’t think it’s a reach to say it’s the main component. Not only does it drive many stand-alone episodes, the Mulder-Scully-Fowley love triangle becomes such a major issue that it largely drives the mythology this season. You can’t discuss Season 6 without discussing MSR.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m about to plagiarize myself since I can think of no more effective way to explain my position.

Back in the not so distant day, a Shipper had to hunt for little romantic gems in an episode. A brief hand-hold here, a golden moment of banter there… it was a game looking for these affirmations of the Shipper faith since it wasn’t as though the writers were putting them there on purpose. We had to take what we could get. Now, however, the game has changed completely and after the events of the movie, Chris Carter & Co. could no longer believably ignore either the mounting anticipation of their audience or the romantic tension that they inadvertently created between their two lead characters. So, what to do, what to do? They had no choice, really, but to officially script the MSR subtext into the series. Now Shippers no longer have to hunt for sustenance like wild animals, it’s being fed to us in golden bowls like house pets.

If that sounds like a complaint, please know that it’s not. As I said, I don’t see how the show could have believably evolved any other way. What could Chris Carter have done? Turned back the clock and pretended that millions of people had never seen that scene outside of Mulder’s apartment? Or worse, should he have taken character development back a few seasons in order to halt the progression of this budding romance between his leads? Never. Looking back it was inevitable that the romantic undertone of the series would become more overt. And however people may complain that it made The X-Files look silly, it would have looked a heck of a lot sillier if they had stubbornly ignored the obvious.

And in the profound words of Mr. Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

The only check mark in the negative column against Season 6 is that while the great majority of episodes, as individual episodes, are great, on the whole it may be slightly unbalanced. Particularly in the beginning of the season, the scales are tipped toward the lighter side of things which is a disappointment, I’m sure, to the fans who prefer grittier Monster of the Week and Mythology episodes. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if episodes like “Tithonus” (6×9) had come along sooner rather than later if Season 6 would still have quite as featherweight a reputation. After all, for the shortest season ever (twenty episodes) Season 5 gave us its fair share of less than super serious material: “Unusual Suspects” (5×1), “The Post-Modern Prometheus” (5×6), “Detour” (5×4), “Bad Blood” (5×12), “Folie a Deux” (5×19). And that’s not even counting Mulder’s hilarious phone calls to Scully in “Chinga” (5×10).

I calculate Season 6 at 40% funny vs. Season 5’s 30%, give or take. Perhaps the team at 1013 wanted to leaven the heavy drama of the mythology episodes this season by giving the fans an emotional break during the stand-alone episodes. I still consider “Arcadia” (6×13) a humble apology for forcing us to watch Mulder and Scully nearly split up for good in “One Son” (6×12). That fight was so bad even the Lone Gunmen had to look away. And while we’re at it, maybe Chris Carter meant “Triangle” (6×3) to be a peace offering after he had Mulder nearly take back in “The Beginning” (6×1) everything he said to Scully in the hallway last summer. You bet your cheap weave Mulder owed Scully more than one “I love you” after that.

Speaking of “I love you’s”, somewhere along the way this season, probably without us even noticing, I believe Mulder and Scully passed the point where a love confession was even necessary.

I can safely say that by the events of “Biogenesis” (6×22) Mulder knows that Scully is in love with him and not just because he can conveniently read minds. I don’t know by what work of the Devil I didn’t talk about this in my “One Son” review, but Mulder knows. Even the first time I saw it, I was certain of it. It’s all in the way he says, “No. Actually, you hide your feelings very well.”

Now, I will often, in the heat of my Fangirl passion, yell things at Mulder and at my television screen and “Stupid” is an adjective I use for him regularly. However, Mulder is not actually stupid. He’s a very intuitive, very perceptive character. He couldn’t have helped but read the not so subtle subtext during Scully’s heated interchange with Fowley in the aforementioned episode. That wasn’t purely righteous indignation on Cassandra’s behalf that Scully was acting out there. And even before that, he was in that hallway too. He knew she was about to kiss him just as sure as he was about to kiss her, though judging by his somewhat nervous confession in “Triangle” I’d say he wasn’t confident as to whether she’d be willing to start a relationship or not.

But, I digress. Mulder knows and I believe that’s part of why Padgett’s “Agent Scully is already in love” pronouncement in “Milagro” (6×18) doesn’t elicit a major response from him. It also doesn’t elicit a response from Scully because she knows too. And, at this point, I think she knows that Mulder knows and that he knows that she knows. I think there’s mutual knowing all around. Mulder certainly didn’t wrap his arms around her in “The Unnatural” (6×20) like a man who thought his attentions might not be desirable.

A question less easy to answer is does Scully know how Mulder feels about her? To that I’d give a qualified “Yes.” She knows he loves her dearly; he did go to Antarctica to rescue her after all. She knows he’s attracted to her since he’s not too subtle with his looks in either “Two Fathers” (6×11) or “One Son”. There’s even something about the look on her face when Mulder tells his tall tale in “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” (6×8) that makes me think she knows she’s supposed to be “Lida”, the brooding yet heroic “Maurice’s” ethereal love. But, ah, that Fowley woman. I don’t think Scully’s going to pick up what Mulder’s puttin’ down as long as Fowley is around. Cue Season 7.

And on a final note, how awesomely amazing is Scully this season? She steals the show pretty much from beginning to end. From being boldly faithful to slapping suspects, from becoming open-minded to learning how to play baseball, my girl has been on fire. If we could say nothing else in favor of having a comedy-heavy season, I’m so glad it affords Scully the opportunity to show us all her different sides.

——————

Assuming your teeth aren’t already aching with sweetness, you tell me:

And the Awards go to….

“How could you do this to me, Chris Carter?”

The Beginning

“You’re forgiven, Chris Carter.”

Triangle

“Most Underrated”

Drive

AND

Trevor

“Most Overrated”

How the Ghosts Stole Christmas

“Not Rated”

Alpha

“Best Use of a Guest Star”

Dreamland/Dreamland II

“Scully for Queen”

Tithonus

“Coulda Been a Contender”

Agua Mala

“Don’t Judge Me”

The Rain King

“David Duchovny, why won’t you love me?”

The Unnatural

How the Ghosts Stole Christmas 6×8: I just gave myself chills.


The romance is the first thing to go.

I have had a revelation. It only took thirteen years and several cups of coffee.

“How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” is essentially the story of what happens when Mulder tries to romance Scully in his own strange, Mulderish way. Back in the day, I used to think he’s merely lonely and wanting for company, but he plans this evening. This isn’t a spur of the moment outing brought on by boredom. And then he tries to impress Scully with the spooky atmosphere of his story the way that normal men take their dates to scary movies in hopes that their ready arms will look more masculine and appealing when their date has no place else to run to. Why else take her on a scary Christmas Eve rendezvous traditionally taken by lovers?

Notice the way writer and director Chris Carter chooses to shoot both characters from the back as Mulder weaves his winter’s tale in the dark car. No sooner does he start discussing the story of Maurice and Lyda than Mulder and Scully are framed in a rather romantic looking portrait. Oh, yes. Brooding hero Maurice is Mulder and Lyda of the sublime beauty is Scully. Perhaps as a Christmas present to the fans, Chris Carter doesn’t even attempt to be subtle about it. Thank you, Chris.

Mulder: His name was Maurice. He was a… a brooding but heroic young man beloved of Lyda, a sublime beauty with a light that seemed to follow her wherever she went. They were likened to two angels descended from heaven whom the gods could not protect from the horrors being visited upon this cold, grey earth.

Yeah, methinks Mulder was trying to get his mack on. Well, sorta. I’m not trying to say that Mulder was about to put the moves on Scully. But does he know what he’s saying when he tells her the story of Maurice and Lyda? Oh yeah. He’s acting the teenage boy here, no doubt about it, and that’s the backdrop for our story at hand. Any excuse to bring television legends Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin into The X-Files family is just fine. They’re supposed to steal the show here and indeed they do.

Actually, Ed Asner was originally intended for the role of Clyde Bruckman in “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (3×4), but glory be, Peter Boyle owned that character and we still get to relish Ed Asner’s charm in the role of Maurice. See? Everyone wins.

Already Season 6 has set itself apart with an impressive list of guest stars. Bryan Cranston before he was famous in “Drive” (6×1), Michael McKean and Nora Dunn in “Dreamland” (6×4) and “Dreamland II” (6×5), Ed Asner and Lily Tomlin here, next up will be Bruce Campbell in “Terms of Endearment” (6×6) closely followed by Victoria Jackson in “Rain King” (6×7), and it won’t end there.

To what do we owe the pleasure? It has to be the move to L.A. Now there are all sorts of actors willing to share screen time with Mulder and Scully who wouldn’t have been available for the trek to Vancouver. And I suppose it doesn’t hurt that Season 6 was the heyday of a television phenomenon. Who doesn’t want to be a part of history? It’d be like turning down a guest spot on Star Trek.

Whatever the sentimental loss over the built-in atmosphere of Vancouver and the original production crew that turned The X-Files into the legend it became, we can’t deny that the move to L.A. has not only brought great side benefits like impressive actors, the production quality hasn’t suffered in the least. The set of “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” is absolutely stunning; it’s a character unto itself. This is especially important because ninety percent of the action happens in this one place with only four actors involved, the smallest cast of any episode of the series. The cast is so small and the action so relegated to one spot that it feels very much like a stage play. And if going off with the family to watch a staged performance isn’t Christmas, I don’t know what is.

If I’m to be honest (there’s no need to be but it’s Christmas so why not?), I never much cared for this episode before this rewatch. Not to say that I didn’t like it, but I always felt that something was missing, that it was a little soulless, perhaps. I didn’t see that it had a point. And it doesn’t, really. It’s a festive frolic, a Christmas card to the fans, and that’s all it’s meant to be. And why not? Episodes previously had acknowledged the Christmas season, “Beyond the Sea” (1×12), “Christmas Carol” (5×5), but neither of those had ever acknowledged the audience on the other side of the television screen. Now The X-Files has reached its zenith and is understandably a little self-conscious about its legion of fans, enough that rather than scare them it deems it better to send a little Christmas spirit their way. An episode like this couldn’t have been attempted in any season previous except possibly Season 5; it’s too meta for a show that doesn’t know its own power.

There’s another element of this episode that The X-Files never would have attempted before it was an official piece of pop culture history. Back in the not so distant day, a Shipper had to hunt for little romantic gems in an episode. A brief hand-hold here, a golden moment of banter there… it was a game looking for these affirmations of the Shipper faith since it wasn’t as though the writers were putting them there on purpose. We had to take what we could get. Now, however, the game has changed completely and after the events of the movie, Chris Carter & Co. could no longer believably ignore either the mounting anticipation of their audience or the romantic tension that they inadvertently created between their two lead characters. So, what to do, what to do? They had no choice, really, but to officially script the MSR* subtext into the series. Now Shippers no longer have to hunt for sustenance like wild animals, it’s being fed to us in golden bowls like house pets.

If that sounds like a complaint, please know that it’s not. As I said, I don’t see how the show could have believably evolved any other way. What could Chris Carter have done? Turned back the clock and pretended that millions of people had never seen that scene outside of Mulder’s apartment? Or worse, should he have taken character development back a few seasons in order to halt the progression of this budding romance between his leads? Never. Looking back it was inevitable that the romantic undertone of the series would become more overt. And however people may complain that it made The X-Files look silly, it would have looked a heck of a lot sillier if they had stubbornly ignored the obvious. As it is I believe the writers did an excellent job of utilizing the MSR subtext without relying on it. “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” works because it’s funny. If you happen to understand the layer of meaning just beneath the surface then so much the better.

I must admit, though, that watching this episode when it originally aired was my first “Danger, Will Robinson” moment. Why? I’m glad you asked.

First there was “Triangle” (6×3), a lighthearted tale meant to cleanse the palette after the high emotional tension of “The Beginning” (6×2) and to reward the fans whose hopes were thwarted during that infamous hallway scene in Fight the Future. It was incredibly well done and almost universally praised. Do you see a problem there? No? I didn’t think so.

Directly after that was “Dreamland”. Sure, two lighthearted episodes in a row is unheard of on The X-Files but production order gets switched around sometimes and besides, “Triangle” wasn’t really a comedy. Ah, but then we have “Dreamland II” which of course must follow part 1. We can’t find fault with that, can we? It just so happens that having three of these episodes in a row is the way things played out.

But now we’re at “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” and a disturbing pattern begins to emerge. Yes, I’ve already said that I appreciate that the show was willing and able to do something fun for Christmas for once. I’m all for it. And yet… part of me is starting to worry. No, nothing has been bad by any means. This string of episodes has been fabulous! Still, my spidey sense is atingle: where are the X-Files? At what point does the show become too self-conscious?

Verdict:

A quick word of caution about this episode: the whole thing is tongue-in-cheek. Yes, that seems obvious and why would I warn you about that? But I fear that the pop psychology invoked here, the witty observations of Maurice and Lyda that Chris Carter never intended to be taken as gospel truth, has been accepted a little too literally over the years. Read the fanfic, don’t let it corrupt you.

Yes, Mulder is prone to a self-centered form of tunnel vision. But a narcissist? Hardly that. And while Scully may enjoy a good intellectual tête-à-tête with Mulder, who would believe that she’s spent so many years with him risking life and limb merely for the right to say “I told you so?” Part of the point of this episode is that Maurice and Lyda misread Mulder and Scully, assuming that they’re much lonelier and less balanced than they actually are.

However, if you want to take away anything about the psychology of the characters please note that Scully does admit she really wanted to be out there hunting things she doesn’t even believe in with Mulder. Yet again Chris Carter sets up the tension between Scully’s overt desire for normality and her unacknowledged desire to travel a bumpier road with Mulder. For some reason, Scully has a hard time understanding herself and why she’d rather suffer with Mulder than live out her life in peace with anyone else.

A-

P.S. Speaking of Christmas, I suppose you already know what day it is. So allow me to wish a very Merry Christmas to you and yours! A huge thank you to all of you who follow along because you make this a blast. See you in the new year!

Armchair Psychology:

How can Mulder possibly be surprised that Scully doesn’t believe in ghosts? Wasn’t he there for the events of “Shadows” (1×5)?

Did anyone else catch the moment where Mulder pauses during the telling of his gothic tale to wiggle his eyebrows?

I love that telltale heart moment.

The shot where you can see Scully’s face through that hole in Maurice’s head still impresses me. I wonder how much that cost…

So, Chris Carter knows exactly what Mulder and Scully gave each other for Christmas and he refuses to tell. Scrooge.

*MSR – Mulder/Scully Romance

Best Quotes:

Scully: I see. The dark, gothic manor the, uh, omnipresent low fog hugging the thicket of overgrowth… Wait… is that a hound I hear baying out on the moors?
Mulder: No. Actually that was a left cheek sneak. {Editor’s Note: I JUST got that. Sometimes I wonder about myself.}

———————-

Maurice: You drink? Take drugs?
Mulder: No.
Maurice: Get high?
Mulder: No.
Maurice: Are you overcome by the impulse to make everyone believe you?

———————-

Maurice: My specialty is in what I call soul prospectors, a cross axial classification I’ve codified by extensive interaction with visitors like yourself. I’ve found you all tend to fall into pretty much the same category.
Mulder: And what category is that?
Maurice: Narcissistic, overzealous, self-righteous egomaniac.
Mulder: Wow, that’s a category?
Maurice: You kindly think of yourself as single-minded but you’re prone to obsessive compulsiveness, workaholism, antisocialism. Fertile fields for the descent into… total wacko breakdown.
Mulder: I don’t think that pegs me exactly.
Maurice: Oh, really? Waving a gun around my house? Huh? Raving like a lunatic about some imaginary brick wall? You’ve probably convinced yourself you’ve seen aliens. You know why you think you see the things you do?
Mulder: Because I have seen them?
Maurice: ‘Cause you’re a lonely man. A lonely man, chasing paramasturbatory illusions that you believe will give your life meaning and significance and which your pathetic social maladjustment makes impossible for you to find elsewhere. You probably consider yourself passionate, serious, misunderstood. Am I right?
Mulder: Paramasturbatory?
Maurice: Most people would rather stick their fingers in a wall socket than spend a minute with you.
Mulder: All right, now just, uh… Just back off for a second.
Maurice: You spend every Christmas this way? Alone?
Mulder: I’m not alone.
Maurice: More self-delusion.
Mulder: No, I came here with my partner. She’s somewhere in the house.
Maurice: Behind a brick wall? How’d you get her to come with you? Steal her car keys?
Mulder: [Guilty silence]

——————–

Scully: Not that, uh, my only joy in life is proving you wrong.
Mulder: When have you proved me wrong?
Scully: Well… Why else would you want me out there with you?
Mulder: You didn’t want to be there? Oh, that’s, um… That’s self-righteous and… narcissistic of me to say, isn’t it?
Scully: No, I mean… Maybe I did want to be out there with you.

Drive 6×2: At this point, I want to see him alive even more than you do.


Space: The Final Frontier

You should know that before I wrote up this review I spent my morning watching a longwinded interview of Vince Gilligan by the Archive of American Television, the joy of which may be found here.

I want to upfront about this because yes, watching this may have slightly elevated my bias, but I want to assure you that this highly favorable and unbalanced accounting of my thoughts has in no way been altered from it’s original intent which was already decidedly favorable and unbalanced. Thank you for understanding.

———————-

 I love this episode, and I may even love it a little bit harder knowing that I’m somewhat alone in my regard for it; someone has to make up the fan slack. All I can say is that between “Drive” and Breaking Bad, when writer Vince Gilligan and actor Bryan Cranston get together good things seem to happen.

True to his unofficial title on The X-Files as the King of Continuity, Gilligan opens on Mulder and Scully this episode by cluing us in to the fact that our two leads are working Domestic Terrorism now. This (belatedly) explains the entire beginning of Fight the Future and why Mulder and Scully were in Dallas searching for a bomb in the first place. Since Mulder and Scully haven’t earned reassignment on the X-Files, they’re still stuck in this department. And, unfortunately for Mulder in particular, most of their work isn’t as exciting as combing federal buildings for bombs. However, why are Mulder and Scully being sent places like Dallas and Iowa? The local field offices can’t handle that? Think of the expense! No wonder our government’s in debt.

Another one of the more clever ideas used in this episode is that not only are Mulder and Scully investigating separately as they sometimes do, but they’re stripped of the crutch of constant communication with each other. Mulder’s cell phone dies a painful death on the highway and Scully is forced to figure out what Mulder is up to from a distance based on vague clues in his behavior. Not only does this highlight the different ways that Mulder and Scully have of getting to the truth, with Mulder intuitively piecing together clues as to how to keep Crump alive and Scully using her science to find the source of the problem, but it also shows just how great a team Mulder and Scully are even apart and how far they’ve come to trust each other that Scully is so easily able to interpret Mulder’s puzzling actions from afar.

I’m also impressed that since the move of the entire production to L.A., the crew at 1013 has been able to keep the interiors dark and the aesthetic of The X-Files intact even though the blinding California sunlight is hard to ignore. There’s also a great, otherworldly scene where Scully and a group of scientists go investigating Crump’s trailer at night, a great way to avoid the issue of glaring sunlight altogether. Between the eerily lit anti-contamination suits and the myriad flashlight beams the trip to the trailer looks like a walk on the moon. And if we have to be in California, they might as well put California to good use which they do by taking us all the way to the Pacific Ocean in that lovely finale to Mulder’s roadtrip with Crump.

All of these things are good things and already more than sufficient for an enjoyable episode, but the real heart and soul of “Drive” is Patrick Crump himself, played by the then relatively unknown Bryan Cranston (Malcolm in the Middle wouldn’t premier for over another year).

His character is an odd mix of red neck and patriot and provides an interesting foil to the East Coast ease of Fox Mulder, not that the two men are completely different. In fact, there are times when Mulder doesn’t sound much saner than Crump himself. But when even Fox Mulder rolls his eyes at your conspiracy theories, you know a hard line has been crossed. The unlikable Crump makes for an unlikely character to drive (no pun intended) the story, but he successfully does this for a couple of reasons.

First, despite Crump’s overt racism, you get the feeling that underneath the garbage he’s been taught beats the heart of a true man. Why? Because of his determination to live, and more than that, to live with dignity and without interference from outside forces. It’s not the same desire to survive that we see in the Syndicate, a sort of sinister selfishness. Crump wants to live because it’s his American, scratch that, his human right to do so. Just like it’s his right to let trash spill out of his mouth if he so chooses.

Second, Crump’s philosophies aren’t all that dissimilar to our beloved Mulder’s which creates a chemistry and connection between the two men, despite their overt antagonism, that’s fun to watch. They have a certain mutual understanding and respect by the end of the episode, a bromance, if you will. Despite their obvious differences in lifestyle and opinion, both men have attitude in spades and both men possess a fierce determination to survive and by doing so, stick it to a government that invaded their lives and tore them apart.

Yet, Crump doesn’t seem to get much love on the internet and a guest spot that probably deserves legendary status in retrospect is largely ignored. Could it be that Bryan Cranston does so good a job that some in the audience take his racist rantings seriously? I don’t think that’s the spirit in which it was intended. You’re meant to roll your eyes at his nonsense, not shake your fist.

For me, it’s the strength of character, the determination in this otherwise offensive man that gives him enough recognizable humanity so that I can’t help but sympathize. By the end I’m rooting for him wholeheartedly and the moment when both Mulder and we realize that he’s not going to make it is unexpectedly heartbreaking.

At least Scully bravely standing up to Kersh, who proves in this episode to be just as inflexible and unsympathetic as his expression promises in “The Beginning” (6×1), lightens the emotional load in the final moments of this episode. I can’t wait to see what other plans he has to make Mulder and Scully’s lives miserable.

Verdict:

Would “Drive” make my top 10 list of favorite episodes? Probably not. But that’s not because I can find anything wrong with it. And I absolutely do get a kick out of it, several in fact. From Mulder’s classic impatience in the beginning to Scully’s deliciously gross autopsy and one heck of a guest star, I can’t see where it makes a misstep. Well, except for maybe that hokey newscast it opens with. But that’s easily forgiven, especially as I suspect it was meant to be cheesy.

Both the sense of urgency here and the, well, head-explosions remind me forcefully of “F. Emasculata” (2×22) and that’s a good thing. But I hesitate to call this a Half-Caff episode because while there is a dangerous science involved, the government isn’t seeking to control it but instead may have accidentally and unknowingly unleashed it. The jury is still out as to whether Crump and his wife were unofficial or inadvertent test subjects for the Navy.

Either way, this is an unexpectedly poignant story about citizens losing their dignity at the hands of a government that’s supposed to preserve it.

A

Sugar Beets:

Fun Moment – When Virgil Nokes opens the door for Mulder and Scully only to let it slam back on them.

Am I the only one that gets a kick out of the fact that Mulder says “stoopid” rather than “stupid?”

When Crump first notices his nose bleed a high pitched ringing is cleverly inserted into the score, mimicking Crump’s symptoms for the entire audience. That’s brilliant. Except that I’m surer than ever that tinnitus could drive a person mad.

The scene where Scully calls Mulder when Crump has him at gunpoint and he calmly answers as if nothing’s wrong forcefully reminds me of “Herrenvolk (4×1). But that time it was Scully being held hostage by the Alien Bounty Hunter and Mulder calling her on the phone, oblivious.

Oh, how I begged Scully to stop poking around in that dead woman’s ear.

I’m digging Mulder’s knew haircut. The Elvis look was wearing thin.

There are clear echoes of the movie Speed here, which makes me want to take a trip down pre-adolescent lane and go rewatch it.

How about that needle Scully’s sporting is the stuff of nightmares?

Best Quotes:

Scully: Uh, Virgil Nokes? I’m Agent Scully. This is Agent Mulder. We’re with the F.B.I.
Virgil Nokes: Jehovah’s Witness?
Scully: No, sir, Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mulder: But we do have a free copy of the Watchtower for you, if you’d like.

———————-

Mulder: If you stop moving you die? I think I saw this movie.

———————-

Mulder: Crump? Crump, what else can you tell me about what’s happening to you?
Patrick Crump: Mr. Crump. You call me by my last name, you say Mister in front of it.
Mulder: Mister. I got you.
Patrick Crump: Not Crump. Mr. Crump.
Mulder: I can think of something else I’d like to call you. I could put Mister in front of that too if you’d like.
Patrick Crump: You know, what kind of name is Mulder, anyway? What is that, like… like, Jewish?
Mulder: Excuse me?
Patrick Crump: Jewish. It is, right?
Mulder: It’s Mr. Mulder to you, you peanut-picking bastard.

———————-

Mulder: Well, on behalf of the international Jewish conspiracy I just need to inform you that we’re… almost out of gas.

The Beginning 6×1: I see your renowned arrogance has been left quite intact.


Puh Puh Puh Poker Face.

Fox Mulder is having a poopy day.

His boss sides against him, his former lover steals his job, and Scully… yes, Scully… leaves him blowing in the wind.

Don’t adjust your T.V. sets. That bright sunlight you see is meant to be there and you are still watching The X-Files. The crew at 1013 is taking advantage of their new filming environment by setting the first episode produced in L.A. in the bright desert of Arizona. If they can’t rely on the built-in atmosphere provided by the Vancouver weather, then they might as well make things interesting by taking the audience to places The X-Files couldn’t really go before, bright places.

Thankfully, the story isn’t any less dark than usual and we pick up right where we left off at the end of the movie, with the Syndicate running experiments on a pre-historic cache of the Black Oil, a version that turns humans into incubators. Unfortunately for one of their scientists, he has been infected with the Black Oil virus and accidentally turned himself into a one-man nursery for a very large, very dangerous alien baby.

But this is television we’ve returned to, not the big screen any longer, and the budget that the movie had for rubber alien suits has dried up. It’s a good thing then that The X-Files’ special talent is scaring its audience to death by showing them… nothing. And the alien attack scenes work all the better for us not being able to see the creature.

Death-by-alien moments aside, the best parts of this episode belong to the recently returned Gibson Praise, particularly when he protects Mulder and Scully from Cigarette-Smoking Man by luring him away from the scene of the alien attack and when he dramatically takes sanctuary in the back of Mulder and Scully’s car while they’re distracted. Although I must say he’s become a little too much the prophet for my taste, revealing to the people the truth of their sins. I’m not sure where he got the idea that countering everything someone says to you by telling them what they’re really thinking is a good way to win friends and influence people, but while he’s at it he should really pass a few chastisements Fox Mulder’s way.

Not that I blindly begrudge Mulder his attitude this episode since his world is falling apart like so many pieces of a burnt X-File.

First, Mulder gets spanked at the O.P.R. panel, a plot device recycled from the movie for the purposes of recycling the movie plot; summer was a long time ago and who knows what the audience doesn’t remember? While it makes for a convenient plot device as far as exposition goes and it also serves to push Mulder and Scully into the proverbial corner, the problem is that the seriousness of the panel belies the inherent silliness of the plot.

Everyone at the F.B.I. knows how crazy Mulder’s theories are and in the context of his working on the X-Files, it’s easier to believe that Mulder could go to Skinner, more his friend than his boss, with a working government conspiracy theory that involves corn, spaceships and bees without being laughed out of his office. But in front of a panel of humorless faces made up of strangers and superiors, it makes both Mulder and the plot of the entire mythology look foolish – more foolish than he’s already supposed to look. It’s hard to believe the F.B.I. would actually cut this man a paycheck.

If that wasn’t enough trouble, Scully has professionally bailed on him. Scully doesn’t remember most of what happened to her in Antarctica other than that Mulder saved the day, and the proof of the alien virus that was supposed to be inside the bee that stung Scully isn’t materializing. And you know Scully, she won’t believe anything until the lab results come in.

That’s who Scully is and she’s not about to change, but after everything they’ve been through Mulder is finally fed up with her denial and his frustration isn’t completely unmerited. He just bared his soul and begged this woman to stay by his side, trekked the frozen North to bring her back from the brink of death, and carried her away from danger as alien monsters snapped their spiky teeth at his heels. No doubt he feels a little entitled to some blind faith from her whether she actually witnessed anything or no. And after he’s finally seen the alien life he’s sought for so long with his own eyes, coming home to the same old act from Scully has to be grating.

Still, that’s no excuse for this:

Mulder: Agent Fowley took me to that plant at great risk to herself, where I saw something that you refuse to believe in, saw it again, Scully. And though it may not say it in her report, Diana saw it too. And no matter what you think, she’s certainly not going to go around saying that just because science can’t prove it, it isn’t true.

Or this:

Mulder: What does it take? For this thing to come up and bite you on the ass? I saw these creatures. I saw them burst to life. You would’ve seen them too, but you were infected with that virus. You were passed out over my shoulder.
Scully: Mulder, I know what you did. I know what happened to me, but without ignoring the science, I can’t… Listen, Mulder… [Grabs his hand] You told me that my science kept you honest, that it made you question your assumptions, that by it, I’d made you a whole person. If I change now… it wouldn’t be right… or honest.
Mulder: I’m talking about extraterrestrial life alive on this planet in our lifetime, forces that dwarf and precede all human history. I’m sorry, Scully, but this time your science is wrong. [Walks away]

Tell me, can you hear me dying from where you are?

Poor Scully. She’s so desperate to make Mulder understand that underneath her skepticism beats the heart of a wannabe believer that she tries to recreate “The Moment”… and Mulder shoots her down.

Coming from the high of the movie where Mulder and Scully were joined in an almost poetic unity a la the greats like Kirk and Spock, to this… Well, it’s like a splash of ice water to the face. I’d almost go back and rewatch Fight the Future to see if what I saw was really what I saw but I just watched it multiple times and I’m quite sure that what I saw was what I saw. I swear, if the events of the film hadn’t happened this would be less painful.

I know that for the sake of television drama Chris Carter couldn’t have Mulder and Scully continue on in such carefree, like-minded bliss. But I’m a closet sap and it’s not even the Shipper in me that this bothers so much, I just hate division between close characters of any kind. I love it when I see teamwork and unselfish love and idealism come through my television set in waves of red, green and blue light. Watching the trust between my favorite team of all wane cold, even temporarily, is like a knife through this grown geek’s heart. And for Mulder to compare Scully unfavorably with Fowley… Thrust the blade in deep and get it over with why don’t you, Chris Carter?

The only benefit to this painful rift I can see is how impressive Scully is throughout it. She behaves as a true friend, giving Mulder not what he asks for or what he wants, but what he truly needs. All along she works behind the scenes to get Mulder the proof that would validate his theories, and his very existence, really. That she does so despite Mulder’s coldness is a testament to her integrity.

I can safely say that Scully is in love with Mulder because if she wasn’t before Antarctica, she is now. You can call me “Mulder” but I don’t need scientific proof of that. It’s understood, woman to non-existent woman. But I love that she compartmentalizes that fact so well, even in the face of Mulder’s emotional rebuffs. It looks like the confidence she gained in their relationship through the events of the movie is still carrying her through, enough that she knows Mulder needs her even when he doesn’t realize it.

Meanwhile, Diana blindly accepts every word that proceeds out of Mulder’s mouth. What does that tell you?

I do like the fact that her character has become more of an enigma. Is Mulder right and she’s a closeted ally? Or is Scully wise to be suspicious of her loyalties? Last we saw her she was shot protecting Gibson, a fact that lends itself to Mulder’s point of view since if she were playing for the other team she would have handed them over. No need for a near death experience. But her coming onto the scene just as Gibson the Boy Wonder is revealed… you’d be crazy not to question her motives.

Her new partner on the X-Files, Agent Spender, is also becoming more interesting. He’s sold his soul to the devil, his own father, CSM. For doing his bidding and making Fox Mulder’s life miserable he probably expects to advance up the ranks in the F.B.I. However, he doesn’t appreciate daddy hovering over him and we can wonder at what point he’ll turn on CSM, career or no career. Meanwhile, Mulder’s greatest antagonist at the F.B.I. now has charge over his precious files.

Or maybe his greatest antagonist is his unsympathetic looking new boss, A.D. Kersh.

And the Verdict is…

I’ve been trying hard to understand why it is I don’t care for this episode even though it gives us so much information and so much drama and, no, it’s not because of anything to do with the Fowley-Mulder-Scully love triangle. Somehow, it’s all a little lackluster. In fact, it’s slow in parts and bogged down by (probably essential) exposition. The climactic hunt in the nuclear plant lacks urgency. Maybe if Mulder and Diana had any real chemistry or if they had done more than watch the alien through a window. Mulder is on the verge of finding all the answers he’s sought. Heck, he actually has tangible proof for once! And yet I find myself not particularly invested. Scully hands Mulder test results confirming alien life and still I find no reason for my butt to leave its comfortable spot on my chair, whereas the best episodes have me squirming in nerdy excitement.

In particular, the big reveal, that the alien monsters from the film and the little green men we’ve seen doubtful glimpses of before are one in the same, is disappointing. Clever, but disappointing. The alien monster is merely a gestational stage; probably its lethality is an evolutionary form of protection while the more vulnerable adult form continues to develop on the inside.  Me, I prefer the scary monster. Can you imagine if the earth were repopulated with those? But that’s a pipe dream. We’ll never see those well-manicured claws again.

I understand why this episode is titled “The Beginning” because there are a slew of changes here and with the pace that new revelations are coming at, it’s clear this is the beginning of the end as well. How Mulder copes with it all remains to be seen, but let’s hope he does what Scully asks and starts trusting her again because that’s not just the foundation of their partnership, it’s the foundation of the X-Files.

His boss secretly aids and abets him, his former lover takes him on a field trip to see an alien, and Scully… yes, Scully… gives him the proof he’s been searching for all these years.

Maybe things aren’t quite so bad after all.

B

Mind Reading:

Why do Mulder and Scully walk away from Gibson to talk as though he can’t read their minds from across the room?

This episode could be subtitled: How Scully Got Her Groove Back Only to Have Mulder Strip it Away Again

Whatever happened to Scully being assigned to Salt Lake City Utah? When she took back her resignation did that plot point just disappear? Did Skinner pull some strings?

Pardon me, but didn’t Scully confirm the existence of alien life in the form of bacteria back in “The Erlenmeyer Flask” (1×23)? Purity Control, anyone? Does switching it to a virus radically change anything?

What exactly did Mulder plan to do once he found the alien? Lasso it?

You know, the joy of having favorite fictional characters like Fox Mulder is that they live on in your mind and memory, timeless. But then there are moments like this, where Mulder openly compares Scully to Diana and finds Scully wanting, that indeed I wish he were real so that I could end his existence.

Even if the DNA from the virus, and from the claw and from Gibson all match normal, junk DNA, does that really prove that DNA is alien? Couldn’t it all just be perfectly human? What if the “aliens” came from us rather than the other way around?

In “The End” (5×20), Chris Carter was moving around his pieces, now he’s called checkmate on Mulder.

Best Quotes:

Assistant Director Bart: These spacelings, Agent Mulder, they weren’t something I saw in Men in Black?
Mulder: …I didn’t see Men in Black.
Assistant Director Bart: Well, a damn good movie.

———————–

Smoking Man: You can kill a man. But you can’t kill what he stands for… Not unless you first break his spirit. That’s a beautiful thing to see.

———————–

Mulder: It’d help if you’d shut the door. It would make it harder for them to see that I’m totally disregarding everything I was told.

The Rain King 6×7: We usually just say, “Please.”


Trust me, the man knows how to kiss.

This is probably the cutest X-File ever, and for that reason, fans either love it or hate it. I’m of the love it variety.

If some shudder at the mere thought of “cute” and “X-File” in the same sentence, I can understand why. What do cheesy romantic storylines have to do with a show about mutant monsters and alien probes? Nothing. That is, of course, unless said show had reached the point where mutants and abductions were so commonplace that small town love triangles made for a nice distraction from the gravity of the overarching themes.

But I’m not here to defend “The Rain King” as no defense is necessary. Much better writers than this mere mortal liked this script so much that it got freelance writer Jeffrey Bell hired as a full time staff member. He would go on through Season 8 gracing us with some hits and some misses, but for this episode alone I could plant a big wet one on him.

Which would be plagiarism.

Besides, I could never do it better than Sheila Fontaine does it to an ill-prepared Fox Mulder – Sheila who is played in shameless yet sympathetic fashion by Saturday Night Live alumnus Victoria Jackson.

Does that sound like déjà vu? It should because Jackson is the third Saturday Night Live member to show up on The X-Files this season and she won’t be the last. That will be Charles Rocket in “Three of a Kind” (6×19). Season 6 could be subtitled The Year Saturday Night Live Abducted The X-Files.

In a season that is undeniably more light-hearted than any before it, all this Saturday Night Live style energy is a good fit. Admittedly, “The Rain King” dabbles in some pretty obvious forms of comedy. But is that so wrong? The days of the dark, macabre comedy of writers Morgan and Wong have passed and Vince Gilligan has almost single-handedly caused the advent of an era where Mulder and Scully drink wine with shapeshifters and dodge flying cows. It’s like graduating from High School to college; both periods are precious in their own way.

Okay, enough context. I know this is what you’ve been waiting to read:

Scully: Well, it seems to me that the best relationships, the ones that last, are frequently the ones that are rooted in friendship. You know, one day you look at the person and you see something more than you did the night before. Like a switch has been flicked somewhere. And the person who was just a friend is… suddenly the only person you can ever imagine yourself with.

Whoever thinks Scully isn’t talking about her own feelings for Mulder, raise your hand… and then put it back down. Stop embarrassing yourself.

It wouldn’t be hard to make the case that the whole point of the plot here is to out Mulder and Scully to themselves, or rather, to let them know that the rest of the world is onto their little charade. And not the fictional world they reside in only but the real world of their television audience as well; Chris Carter & Co. throw an exaggeratedly knowing wink to the viewers at home who they acknowledge have been saying the same things for years – “I see the way you two gaze at one another.” Mulder and Scully are the only ones not in on the joke, not realizing how obvious they are.

Back to the statement at hand, I can reasonably hypothesize that the “suddenly” Scully alludes to probably occurred during the events of “The End” (5×20) and possibly around the time of Fight the Future. I can say with scientific certainty that her pause before she shakes her head “No” to Sheila’s query as to whether or not she’s ever kissed Mulder is because she’s recollecting the events that took place in a certain hallway. Will she ever admit as much in a less veiled fashion? Maybe to herself.

Mulder isn’t any better with his bald faced lie to Holman (“I do not gaze at Scully.”), although he does find much amusement when he and Scully are constantly mistaken for a couple. Then again, Mulder said they should pick out china patterns long ago. At least he has the decency to be embarrassed by Sheila’s attentions. Oh, and as an aside, it’s not surprising that Sheila develops a thing for Mulder. What’s surprising is that more women don’t on this show. That’s how you know it’s not real. Men that good looking don’t come around often enough for the female population to be indifferent, fictional or otherwise.

I realize that “The Rain King” and its brand of overt Shippiness is a turn off to some fans. Yes, Holman’s parting, “You should try it sometime,” in Mulder’s direction may be a tad much. But the show had to throw long-suffering Philes a bone. If Mulder and Scully’s relationship isn’t going to move forward any time soon, they have to toss Shippy bait into the water every so often to keep the fish biting. I remember those days and I know I needed confirmation and validation on some level at least. If Season 6 is a little heavy on that validation in the standalone episodes, it’s only to cover the emotional trauma of episodes like “The Beginning” (6×1) and the soon to come “One Son” (6×12). I said I wouldn’t defend this episode, but there you go.

There’s only one thing that concerns me and that’s that post season opener, we’ve only had one serious episode, the kind you watch through your fingers, and that was six episodes ago. We’re overdue for some high stakes, don’t you think?

Verdict:

“The Rain King” may not be the crafted genius of “Bad Blood” (5×12) or “Small Potatoes” (4×20), but it’s a fully entertaining hour of television. Perhaps it’s because I’m 1/64th Cherokee, but when Sheila starts screaming, “Darryl, no! Not the face!!” I jump up and down in unbalanced laughter.

I will not apologize. I cannot. This episode isn’t a guilty pleasure because I feel no guilt. It’s my right as an X-Phile to mop up silliness like soup at the bottom of the bowl when I see fit.

A

Somewhere Over the Rainbow:

Reason #1 to love this episode – “Okay, Rhonda, that’s enough! Go find yer mama!”

It has been a looooong time since Mulder gave us an Elvis joke.

What garbage can did Mulder sneak this case file out of? There’s no explanation given for how Mulder and Scully found a way to investigate an X-File behind Kersh’s back again, but it’s not hard to imagine Mulder pulling some stunt off camera.

Mootz has made it through surgery, rehab, and been fitted for a prosthetic leg in only 6 months? And he has time to set up his Rain King operation? He’s had 40 customers by the time Mulder and Scully arrive.

That’s not the only timeline issue here. The events of this episode take place in August but it aired in January. And I haven’t delved into it, but I’m pretty sure that it conflicts with the timeline of earlier episodes.

The Rain King has a rock star rider attached to his contract. Maybe he really thinks he’s Elvis.

Knee-jerk Skeptic Scully is back. A man can’t control the weather? Didn’t she ever watch “D.P.O.” (3×3)?

We got robbed – a scene between Mulder and Scully after they’re forced to spend the night in the same motel room could have afforded us priceless humor.

Who is Scully kidding? She wasn’t checking Mulder’s head for injuries and she wasn’t just making a joke either. She was looking for an excuse to play in his hair.

Much like in “Small Potatoes”, there’s some gentle mocking of David Duchovny’s status as a heartthrob happening here.

Reason #63 – the look on David Duchovny’s face as he mentally tracks the cow flying overhead.

From Cherish the Past: Speaking of flying cows, Kim Manners said that if he had to do it all over again, he would go back and change one small but significant detail of “The Rain King.” “I screwed up big time,” said the director, “which I realized while I was driving along the Ventura Freeway two months later. When that cow dropped through the ceiling, I should have had David ad lib ‘Got Milk?’ I’m still pissed at myself that I didn’t.”

Reason #106 – Mulder and Scully swaying to “The Things We Do For Love”.

Best Quotes:

Holman Hardt: Well, you gotta help me.
Mulder: I got a plane to catch.
Holman Hardt: You can’t go. If you don’t help me, who will?
Mulder: I am meeting my partner at the airport. [Mulder’s phone rings] Excuse me. Hold on. [Answers] Mulder.
Scully: Mulder, it’s me.
Mulder: I’m on my way.
Scully: I’m not so sure. Have you looked outside lately? It’s pea soup. Our plane can’t take off until after this fog lifts.
Mulder: Fog? Holman!
Holman Hardt: [Shrugs]
Scully: Holman?
Mulder: Yeah… he wants advice. Dating advice.
Scully: Dating advice? From whom?
Mulder: Yours truly.
Scully: [Silence]
Mulder: Hello? Hey, Scully. Scully, you there?
Scully: I heard you. Mulder, when was the last time you went on a date?
Mulder: I will talk to you later. [Hangs up]
Scully: The blind leading the blind.

———————–

Holman Hardt: I’ve been envious of men like you my whole life. Based on your … physical bearing, I had assumed you were… more experienced.
Mulder: [Silence]
Holman Hardt: And you spend every day with Agent Scully, a beautiful, enchanting woman.
Mulder: [Silence]
Holman Hardt: You mean you two never, uh…?
Mulder: [Silence]
Holman Hardt: I… confess I find that shocking. I… I’ve seen how you two gaze at one another.
Mulder: [Impassive silence and then…] This is about you, Holman. I’m here to help you. I’m perfectly happy with my friendship with Agent Scully.
Holman Hardt: So according to your theory I walk in there, tell her I love her and the drought will end?
Mulder: [Fixes his tie and pats his face] Just tell her how you feel. And Holman… I do not gaze at Scully.

————————

Sheila Fontaine: You love him, don’t you?
Scully: Wha…?
Sheila Fontaine: You’re jealous because Agent Mulder and I have a special connection and you’re trying to divert me to Holman.
Scully: What? {Editor’s Note: The look on her face. The look on her face.}