Tag Archives: The Blessing Way

Within 8×1: Nice to meet you, Agent Doggett.


Within55.jpg

Hallo from the outside.

Aliens are eliminating evidence. The X-Files department is over budget. Cigarette-Smoking Man is… dead? Krycek’s not. Skinner’s a believer. Scully’s pregnant. Mulder’s been abducted by aliens. Chris Carter got us into this mess, how’s he going to get us out?

And so begins the much maligned Season 8 of The X-Files. I’ll admit I was filled with as much trepidation as anyone at the prospect of a season half without Mulder. Mulder! Chris Carter swore he wouldn’t do The X-Files without David Duchovny, but contract negotiations are a fickle thing. Anyway, there was no way my viewership was about to drop off. I needed resolution. I needed Mulder back.

Scully does too because she’s having his love child. (Boy, I never thought I’d have to type that sentence.) She’s not supposed to be able to get pregnant, so there’s some mystery surrounding that, but Scully seems not to be overly concerned with that right now. Her first priority is finding her baby daddy. Fortunately-Unfortunately for Scully, she and Mulder are still so connected that she’s witnessing his alien torture sessions in her sleep. I’m glad to see that psychic link the two had in “The Blessing Way” (3×1) is still live and intact.

In keeping with Scully’s new position as the Queen of Angst, she’s been given new theme music so that every time she thinks sad thoughts about Mulder we can know about it. It’s good. It’s mournful. Slightly hopeful. It gets old fast. Fast. For those of you who are starting Season 8 for the first time, just you wait, Henry Higgins, just you wait.

For the sake of interest, Chris Carter can’t let Scully find Mulder too quickly or easily. Here to serve as roadblocks are the newly promoted Deputy Director Kersh, back as the Boss from Hell, and Agent John Doggett, Kersh’s current golden boy who’s been assigned to find Mulder.

We haven’t seen Deputy Director Kersh since “One Son” (6×12), when he was still Assistant Director Kersh and he handed the X-Files back over to Mulder and Scully, and Mulder and Scully back over to Skinner. Kersh was always a bit of a mystery, since he never quite appeared to be a part of the Syndicate conspiracy, yet he was an unsympathetic obstacle who wouldn’t give Mulder and Scully a break. It seemed he was written to thwart them for thwarting’s sake.

And now? Well, he’s here to thwart Skinner. I’m sure of that. Skinner’s a new believer in aliens, and like any good convert, he wants to share his convictions with the world. Kersh has made it clear that if he does his job is finished. Scully can’t afford to lose both of the g-men in her life, so she persuades Skinner to stay in the closet for the time being. We’ll see how this mini drama plays out over the course of the season, because for the life of me I can’t remember.

Kersh is also here to thwart Scully. I’m sure of that too. What I’m not sure of is whether he’s doing it because he’s a grumpy old man who likes to be difficult or whether he’s receiving orders from on high. If he’s receiving orders from someone, who? CSM is dead(?). The Syndicate is dead. Is there a new conspiracy we need to know about? Please let there be a conspiracy…

As for Doggett, I’m not going to get into a comparison of him and Mulder just yet. We’ll wait until he’s officially Scully’s partner. For now, all we know about him is that he’s capable, trusted, and his experience and assignment both put him at odds with Scully.

What I will talk about are the ridiculous ideas that come out of his mouth. Ideas that make no sense. Ideas that we all know Chris Carter put in his mouth just to tick me off. Because he’s a sadist and he enjoys frustrating his fans.

Doggett implies that Scully may not know Mulder as well as she thinks she does and he keeps on implying it. It becomes a theme of the season: Make Scully doubt her relationship with Mulder.

First of all, Doggett is making the same mistake that Diana Fowley made back in “Biogenesis” (6×22). Never question Mulder’s trust in Scully. That kind of crap she can smell without wind.

And then, what? Mulder was dying before he disappeared? What???

Stop it, Chris Carter. You stop it right there.

What in the Good Queen Bess are you trying to do to me now? 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.

You know how I know it’s BS?

“You were my constant, my touchstone.”

That’s how I know. So stop trying to mess with my head. Scully doesn’t appreciate it.

But back to Doggett. His practical methods only emphasize the loss of Mulder who is anything but practical. 1013 is taking the “make it hurt good” approach. They don’t merely leave a hole where Mulder once was, or fill said hole with a replacement of the same ilk; they give us someone completely different so that we’ll feel Mulder’s loss more keenly, so that we’ll resent Doggett and resent him but good. They want to heighten our resentment so as to let it run its course as quickly as possible.

If we had to lose Mulder, I think that the characterization of Doggett and Robert Patrick’s approach to playing him was a perfect choice. As I said, I’m going to hold off on discussing his character a little bit until we get to see him on a real X-File, but he serves as a foil to Scully in her current state; Scully, who misses Mulder so much that she’s trying and failing to become him. I guess that’s supposed to be an interesting bit of character development. I find it annoying and easy, which is why it’s too bad that it’s another theme that sticks around for a while.

Scully is emotionally overwhelmed. She’s so desperate for Mulder, she’s falling asleep in his bed in one of the saddest scenes that ever aired on The X-Files. She’s lashing out at Agent Doggett as though resenting him will somehow bring Mulder back. And she’s referring to the basement office as “Mulder’s office.” Huh? Since when?

Mulder’s become a larger presence absent than he ever was in person.

Verdict:

This can only loosely be called a mythology episode. What it really is is an emotional exploration of the aftermath of Mulder’s disappearance. And it’s a setup for a new web of relationships. It also introduces new recurring themes for the season, mostly centered around Scully’s emotional journey. Lastly and only just barely, it leads us into the next chapter of the mythology.

Interspersed we get a few shots of Mulder Torture. I feel bad for him and all, but I told him not to get on that ship.

On top of that, I’m a little concerned that they might not be using David Duchovny’s eleven episodes wisely. But this is just the beginning of the season and only the first in a two parter. They’ll give him much more to do than this. Right? Right?

For all my irritation and misgivings, I’m relieved. I’m relieved to be into the storyline again. I’m relieved to care. At last, something’s at stake.

B

Fish Food:

The new opening credits are a little on the nose, don’t you think?

The teaser was too, but I liked the lead in from the beating heart of Scully’s baby to Mulder’s heart racing as he’s in the clutches of the aliens. And love that Scully is somehow a conduit for them both.

I know they were making a point of it, but that cup of water to Doggett’s face felt good.

Scully, you’re a doctor. Wash your hands in between touching the toilet and wiping your face.

The idea is to find Mulder’s ship. What do they do once they do? Do they climb aboard? Do they call him to come down?

So Skinner’s calling Scully “Dana” now?

Kersh’s reintroduction is delicious. He starts off nice just to be extra cruel.

The way to ingratiate Doggett to the fans is not by using him to drive an arrow through the heart of the memory of what Mulder and Scully once were. Thanks for that. Thank you soooo much.

The jump from spaceship sightings over Arizona to Gibson Praise is a big jump. How does Scully know he’s still in Arizona?

I assume Gibson’s at a school for the deaf so he doesn’t have to listen to people say things they don’t mean.

Best Quotes:

[Morning in Mulder’s apartment]

Scully: [From Mulder’s bed] What are you doing here?

Doggett: I could ask you the same.

Scully: I came by to feed Mulder’s fish.

Doggett: And then you got tired and decided to take a nap.

————————–

Scully: [In front of the fish tank] What do you want to get on me, Agent Doggett? What is it you hope to find?

Doggett: I’m just trying to find Mulder.

Scully: You wouldn’t know where to look. [Searches shelves for fish food]

Doggett: It’s in the desk, middle drawer.

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S.R. 819 6×10: At least you didn’t get your ear bit off.


Call Dr. Scully.

I’m in love with Assistant Director Walter Skinner.

And I know I’m not the only one. For all those who have gone into withdrawal after the admittedly extended period of light-hearted antics that make up the first third of Season 6, we’re about to have four heavy-duty episodes in a row. Sigh no more, ladies. Sigh no more.

Krycek was a deceiver ever. And the official battle between him and Skinner has begun, though it’s been brewing since “The Blessing Way” (3×1) when Krycek and Luis Cardinal put a hurtin’ on Skinner in the stairwell of a hospital. It escalated after Skinner handcuffed Krycek to his balcony in “Tunguska” (4×9) and left him to suffer from exposure. See why revenge is never the answer?

Not that the stoically upright Skinner is a vengeful kinda guy, though it’s clear from his introspective soliloquies in this episode that he doesn’t consider himself any sort of hero.

Well, I do. And Scully’s right, Skinner judges himself too harshly.

Yes, he had to compromise himself early on in his relationship with Mulder and Scully, but it’s obvious Cigarette-Smoking Man had an unpleasant hold on his career, perhaps even wielding blackmail as a weapon. But no sooner does he get the chance than Skinner bucks CSM’s authority and aids Mulder in his quest as early as “Ascension” (2×6). Even before that he showed signs of sympathy. Remember his, “This should have been an X-File” comment in “The Host” (2×2)?

He proved to be Mulder and Scully’s protector in episodes like “End Game” (2×17) where he pummels Mulder’s location out of Mr. X in an effort to save his life and in “Paper Clip” (3×2) when he extorts the safe return of Mulder and Scully out of CSM by threatening to release classified information on the conspiracy. In fact, it’s that episode where Skinner officially crawls out from under CSM’s nefarious shadow. Too bad his hard-won independence doesn’t last long. By the time we reach “Avatar” (3×21), CSM has cooked up a cold dish of revenge framing Skinner for murder. And while Mulder and Scully… and his soon to be ex-wife… deliver Skinner out of that trap, he willingly walks back into CSM’s clutches in “Memento Mori” (4×15) in order to, what else? Save Scully. By “Zero Sum” (4×21) he’s a patsy again, but though his position may be compromised his loyalty never is.

Despite not being much older than they are, Skinner plays the harsh but protective father to Mulder and Scully. He’s willing to get his hands dirty so that they don’t have to, not because his conscience is seared but because the soldier in him is willing to sacrifice to win the war. If Skinner were to die now he would not die in vain. Mulder and Scully would have been dead long ago if not for him.

But not once did it occur to me that Skinner might actually die, no more than I though Mulder might really be dead at the end of “Gethsemene” (4×24), which is the best evidence I can give of Skinner’s unofficial status as the third lead on The X-Files; so indispensable has this character become, this character that was never intended by Chris Carter to be a major role, that it’s hard to take the threat of his death seriously.

I never believed they’d do it, but Chris Carter & Co. did consider it. Mulder and Scully no longer worked under Skinner so he was no longer absolutely vital to the plot and because he had changed over the years from a mysterious and potentially dangerous figure to a stalwart ally, he had become too predictable, too reliable. Fortunately for Skinner lovers, the plot potential in this new hold Krycek gains over Skinner convinced The Powers That Be that interesting things could still be done with the character. Thank heavens because can you imagine Season 8 with no Skinner? ::shudders::

The question is, how does a man as self-sufficient as Skinner, who has already escaped the clutches of CSM himself, wind up with his life in the hands of Ratboy? I confess, I never really understood the plot till now so for those fans as slow on the uptake as I am, here’s a rundown:

It all starts with Tunisia. And if that sets off bells of recognition in your head, it should. If I didn’t know better, I’d say there were some oblique implications here that Syndicate leader Strughold who, as we see in Fight the Future, has his base of operations is in Tunisia, is behind the S.R. 819 conspiracy. That would also explain how Krycek originally got involved since last we saw him in “The End” (5×20) he was working for the Syndicate under the authority of Well-Manicured Man. Since Well-Manicured Man is now deceased (sniffle), it’s safe to say Krycek’s loyalties within the organization have moved on. Or safer to say that his only real loyalty is to himself.

Krycek is working on his own in keeping Skinner alive. We can assume he wants him alive and at his mercy so that he can use him for his own agenda later. The Syndicate has a man at the F.B.I. in Jeffrey Spender, now Krycek has his own man on the inside, reluctant though he may be.

The original plan was to export this potentially dangerous nanotechnology to Tunisia, and possibly into the hands of Strughold and the Syndicate, under the guise of the World Health Organization. Before that happened, S.R. 819 had to pass inspection by scientist Kenneth Orgel and the F.B.I.’s own Skinner, a safeguard that was usually a mere formality. However, Orgel understands the potential consequences of the nanotechnology falling into the wrong hands and goes to warn Skinner, but is infected to keep him from talking. Skinner too is infected and is supposed to be killed but Krycek intervenes.

From what Mulder says to Skinner at the end of the episode and the surprised look on Scully’s face when Skinner claims not to be able to recognize the bearded man who tried to kill him, it looks like Mulder and Scully are aware that Krycek is behind all this. But they still don’t know what he’s up to and they certainly don’t know why Skinner refuses to give him up. As in the first Skinner-centric episode, “Avatar”, Mulder and Scully’s concern for their former boss is touching. As before, they drive the investigation to save Skinner only this time to better effect because Skinner doesn’t sit passively, fatalistically by while they work. The determination he starts this episode with must make it especially grating on him to have to slip right back into his old compromising ways.

Verdict:

I can’t say I love “S.R. 819” the way I love Skinner himself because though there’s a tangible sense of urgency, the plot is a little obscure and aside from Skinner’s pulsing veins, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. But I do appreciate the potential mythology implications and I welcome the return of Krycek with open arms. I was one of those taken by surprise when he reappeared. Maybe even “Stevie Wonder would see that one comin’”, but I didn’t.

If my memory serves me correctly, and that’s by no means a guarantee, this was the series’ final Skinner-centric episode. That’s rather surprising considering there are three more seasons to go but it makes it all the more irritating that there’s no resolution to what happened to Skinner’s wife Karen, a character both introduced and discarded back in “Avatar”.

I wasn’t looking for anything detailed. A brief mention from a hospital orderly would have sufficed. “The patient is Walter Skinner. Widowed. Works for the F.B.I.” or “Walter Skinner – Divorced. No known relatives. In case of emergency contact Special Agent Dana Scully.” See how easy that would have been?

My only consolation is that I think there could be a cleverly veiled reference to “Avatar” here:

Mulder: This morning, you woke up…
Skinner: I woke up.
Mulder: Alone?
Skinner: Yes. Alone.

Then again, that’s probably wishful thinking on my part.

B+

The Peanut Gallery:

While I don’t think anyone fell for it, those opening moments of the episode where they would have us believe that Mulder is the F.B.I. agent about to die are well done. I quite like the idea of scaring the audience. If only that silly episode preview hadn’t ruined the surprise…

We haven’t seen Senator Matheson since “Nisei” (3×9) and the truth is, I don’t even remember him in it. The connections in congress Mulder so famously depends upon in the “Pilot” (1×79) have all but become obsolete in the current stage of the mythology. However, I’m glad they brought Matheson back one last time, if only to drive home the point that Mulder has fewer people he can trust than even he once believed. That makes the fact that one of his allies is now seriously compromised… and that he doesn’t know it… even more poignant.

Wouldn’t it have been awesome if Senator Matheson were secretly a member of the Syndicate?

It makes me a little sad to think the ear-biting references might be lost on this new generation.

Mulder and Scully are forbidden any contact with Skinner. Don’t they know there are cameras at the F.B.I.?

Parts of the movie score are recycled several times in this episode. And there’s an overhead shot of the highway that looks recycled as well – there’s no way that shot was in a television budget.

I’ve never read the fanfic, but I’m sure the Skinner/Scully Shippers had a field day with this episode.

That abandoned warehouse set is striking. I especially enjoy the lighting when Mulder walks in on the Senator.

I recently found out that Nicholas Lea (Krycek) is about to guest star on Supernatural. That’s an interesting coincidence since both Steven Williams (Mr. X) and Mitch Pileggi (Skinner) have guest starred on that show for a series of episodes. Ah, when fate binds souls together…

This reminds me of the good old days when Scully often stared in wonder and computer screens looking at scientific data that shouldn’t exist.

I dig the “Chinga” (5×10) reference, John Shiban. I dig it.

Best Quotes:

Skinner: I was boxing. I must’ve gotten tagged.
Nurse: Yes, you did. At least you didn’t get your ear bit off. That’s something, right?

——————-

Dr. Plant: Well, the good news is… your dilation’s back to normal. Plus you still have both your ears.
Skinner: I heard that one.

——————-

Dr. Plant: Well, you’re lucky. He’s on a government HMO – no one’s even bothered to handle the samples yet.

The Red and the Black 5×14: I heard about this office. It really is in the basement.


Bon Voyage, Cassandra.

Cigarette-Smoking Man is back. You didn’t really think he was dead, did you? You can’t have Christmas without the Grinch.

Interestingly enough, he still fancies himself a sophisticated writer if the letters he’s vainly churning out for his son Agent Spender are anything to judge by.

That’s right. His son. And here we were puzzling over whether Mulder or his sister Samantha was Cigarette-Smoking Man’s illegitimate child. It turns out he had a legitimate one all along. If Cassandra’s tales of abduction have even a modicum of truth to them, then the Mulder family isn’t the only one to sacrifice a member to the Colonists. Does this have something to do with whatever arrangement the Syndicate has with the Alien Colonists? Regardless, it looks like that arrangement is in danger.

The Syndicate now realizes that there’s another species out there fighting the Colonists and they’re the ones staging these mass killings in an effort to prevent colonization. The Syndicate now has two choices, as Krycek so aptly put it, Resist or Serve; they can take up arms with the Rebels to avoid the enslavement of the human race and risk utter destruction at the hands of the Colonists, or they can continue to cooperate, save themselves, and secretly plan and scheme against the Colonists in hopes eventually being able to deliver humanity.

I’m not so sure one choice is actually more righteous than the other, but one is clearly more idealistic and that’s to joint the Rebels and openly fight. Well-Manicured Man is sure leaning that way, Krycek too, ostensibly, although he’ll lean any way the wind blows. The rest of the Syndicate, however, doesn’t see potential for success that’s worth bucking the status quo for and in order to preserve their relationship with the Colonists hand over the Rebel Alien they capture against Well-Manicured Man’s wishes. After all, if the more advanced vaccine that the Russian’s have developed can’t save Marita Covarrubias, how can they hope to oppose the Colonists? Too bad they made their decision before the vaccine kicked in.

Watching the tensions play out in these group is probably more enjoyable than it should be. Back in Season 3, Cigarette-Smoking Man was on the outs, held in loathing by Well-Manicured Man more than anyone. To say he saw him as…. Is to put it mildly. The whole thing culminated in an unsuccessful assassination attempt on Cigarette-Smoking Man’s life in “Redux II” (5×3). How many people know you can’t kill a cockroach?

Now it appears that new tensions are simmering as Well-Manicured Man’s conscience is the least seared among his peers and he’s desperate enough to enlist Krycek to beg Mulder for help behind the Syndicate’s collective back. How will it end? Wait for the movie.

Onto the subject of our two leads, the last time Scully was hypnotized in “The Blessing Way” (3×1), she thought it was nonsense and walked out. The last time Mulder went through a similar process, in “Demons” (4×23), it nearly killed him. So I’m not sure why Scully is so willing to jump into the experience again here except that recent events have scared her into being open and maybe in some perverse way Mulder’s resistance spurs her on because if Mulder is currently in denial about the existence of aliens, Scully believes her own story way too willingly. She’s nearly as well versed in abduction lingo at this point as Mulder is and yet it doesn’t occur to her without Spender’s prodding that she could have made up the memories she “recovered” during the hypnotherapy session?

Poor Mulder, for his part, is clearly uncomfortable with the whole thing. It’s touching, really, because his discomfort is both for and because of Scully. Mulder refuses to believe in aliens any longer because of what these men in the Syndicate have done to her and now here she is crossing over to the dark side herself. Now that he’s come to his senses she’s mentally abandoning him in a way. Mulder has a hard time hiding his disappointment at that.

Fortunately, it doesn’t last because Krycek kisses some sense into Mulder in a scene that’s probably my favorite ever between the two of them. By the end, Mulder and Scully’s reversed opinions are reversed yet again… sort of. They both still seem a little unsure of themselves.

I, on the other hand, am left more sure than I’ve ever been at the end of a mythology episode. “The Red and the Black” is the clearest, most straight-forward presentation of the mythology plot we’ve received to date and even I can follow it. No doubt we’re being prepped for the feature film.

Verdict:

I love Mulder and Scully. I love them. Love them. Love. As in I could bust out some Nat King Cole and sing L-O-V-E in their honor right now.

For all the distance that Mulder’s current belief system puts between them in “The Red and the Black”, this episode is kind of a Shipper’s Joy. The hair stroking, the handholding, the hypnosis scene where I melt into a puddle of DNA on cue – proof that these two are connected even on a subconscious level.

The X-Files is proof that make out scenes on television are grossly overrated.

A

Annoying Comments:

That Navajo story Cigarette-Smoking Man relates to Spender, about twin war gods coming to their father for magic to eliminate the monsters, is especially meaningful in retrospect. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

I don’t want to give too much away too soon, but how familiar is that scene between Mulder and the military guard? “I’d hate for somebody to die because you were uninformed.” I’m glad Chris Carter is economical enough to reuse material. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

It sounds unlikely on the surface but Spender persuades Scully and Krycek convinces Mulder. What an odd turn of events.

Nagging Questions:

I still don’t have a handle on when the Black Oil “infects” vs. when it “possesses.”  It infected the young boy that Marita kidnapped but then decided to wake up and possess him when it saw a way of escape and hopped over into Marita’s body. But her infection was different than his infection. She was comatose whereas he was conscious. I guess the Black Oil just does what it wants when it wants to?

What was Syndicate minion Quiet Willy doing at the site of the mass murder? Was he an abductee too or was he sent to keep an eye on Cassandra Spender?

So what happened to the Alien Rebel and the Bounty Hunter? Who was abducted by whom?

Best Quotes:

Krycek: Remind me to complain to the captain about the service.
Well-Manicured Man: You may have that opportunity. This ship is bound back to Vladivostok tomorrow. I gather there’ll be quite an enthusiastic homecoming.

——————-

Mulder: The truth I’ve been searching for? That truth is in you.

——————-

Mulder: If those were my last words, I can do better.

——————-

Krycek: Here this, Agent Mulder. Listen very carefully because what I’m telling you is deadly serious. There is a war raging and unless you pull your head out of the sand you and I and about 10 billion other people are going to go the way of the dinosaur. I’m talking planned invasion, the colonization of this planet by an extraterrestrial race.

The Field Where I Died 4×5: I could’ve lived without that just fine.


Well, at least the shots were gorgeous.

You have no idea how I had to brace myself for this one. I seriously considered breaking my own cardinal rule and jumping ahead to “Sanguinarium” (4×6). Then I briefly considered skipping this one altogether in the hope that no one would notice, and if they did notice, that they probably wouldn’t miss it. My obsessive compulsiveness has prevailed, however, so let’s get this over with…

When writers Morgan and Wong left in Season 2, Mulder and Scully were close partners. Nearly two seasons later when Morgan and Wong come back on board, Mulder and Scully’s relationship has taken on epic proportions, both within the show itself and even more so in the minds of the viewers. When they left, there had been no ultimate trade in “End Game” (2×17), no psychic connection in “The Blessing Way” (3×1), no sacrifice of the Holy Grail in “Paper Clip” (3×2), no “Pusher” (3×17), no “Wetwired” (3×23), etc. etc.

This may be blasphemous, but I think the justly praised writing team who helped shaped The X-Files into greatness had lost touch to an extent. Maybe they’d spent too much time away. All four episodes they would write for this season seemed to be forcing new ground on the audience rather than breaking it. A couple did it successfully, like the glorious “Home” (4×3), while others did not.

For this outing, I think it’s clear where Morgan and Wong stood on the topic of Mulder and Scully. Not that there’s anything wrong with their Noromo position. Heck, that was the 1013 party line at the time. But I think what they failed to take into account, maybe because they had been working on other things and didn’t understand it, was the current state of the fandom and the pseudo-sanctity of the Mulder and Scully relationship.

I’m going to set all Shipperhood aside for this one. I don’t even need it. Even under the premise that Mulder and Scully are and should remain perfectly platonic, I have to have reason to believe that Mulder has suddenly made a connection that has a gravitational pull more powerful than or at least equal to the one he has with Scully in order for this episode to work. That doesn’t happen.

Kristen Cloke, the actress who plays Melissa Reidal and who happened to be engaged to Glen Morgan at the time, called the episode “a love letter from Glen Morgan to me” and indeed that’s what it feels like; a personal exploration of themes more so than an X-File. Darin Morgan used to do this except that somehow his themes always added to rather than subtracted from the series as a whole. He gave new dimensions and flavors to something that was already familiar.

This episode is barely connected to the rest of the series either in tone or content. As such, it feels like a personal indulgence. It fails to consider the ramifications of what it’s proposing and it fails to consider the context of the series at large. Take, for instance, this issue of continuity: In one of Mulder’s past lives CSM was a Nazi Gestapo Officer. Yet CSM would already have been alive in WWII, a fact that you would think couldn’t have escaped Mulder once he was no longer hypnotized. How could he be in both lives at the same time? Hmmm?

It’s moments like this that prove the episode doesn’t really serve the characters either. It reduces Mulder to a fool and Scully to a sidekick. “The Field Where I Died” takes place in an episodic vacuum where the events don’t make sense and it doesn’t matter anyway because the emotional ramifications of these revelations will never be dealt with. Mulder’s supposed past life and the loss of his soulmate are issues never to be seen or spoken of again.

Issues of context and continuity aside, even without that problem and taken just by itself, this episode is almost as boring as “Space” (1×9), and it would be if it didn’t get my adrenaline fired up through irritation. I tried to imagine as I watched what I would be thinking if I were watching this and it were just another TV show, not The X-Files at all. Would I have responded more favorably? I think so, but only by about 20% more. Reincarnation is a hard sell to a Western audience and the advertisements here aren’t appealing. It’s a concept that really has to be done well to be engaging, a feat that’s rarely achieved outside of anime.

Melissa’s voices are too goofy to take seriously so the performance is comical instead of affecting. Sidney in particular is way over the top. And since he’s the first voice we’re introduced to, it’s hard to climb back up from there. Then in a chain reaction, since what draws Mulder to her character is something that I find ridiculous, I find Mulder ridiculous. And if I find both Mulder and his X-File ridiculous there’s little left to enjoy. Ah, those hypnosis scenes are like pulling teeth.

Worse than anything is Mulder who is more caught up in himself than we’ve ever seen him. In fact, he’s a selfish bastard in this one. According to Morgan, in the 20 minutes of footage that had to be cut from the episode were some scenes that supported Scully’s point of view, that Mulder’s past as dredged up under hypnosis was false, a result of mixed-up memories and wishful thinking. It’s too bad they weren’t able to fit more of that plot in to balance the story out. Mulder needed a little undermining here.

Once again, he’s out to save a lost young woman who the world would rather forget than help. I’d like to love him for this, I really would, but he’s drawn to women who have already given up on life, who’d prefer to sink than struggle for air. Watching him try to save women who don’t want to be helped, knowing that his mission is doomed, is not television for the faint of heart. I’d rather watch “Oubliette” (3×8) and you know that’s saying something.

What glimpses of magic this episode does have are largely due to consummate director Rob Bowman, who makes it beautiful to watch if nothing else. In fact, I highly recommend just turning the sound off and letting it play. Oh, but then you’d miss a luscious score from Mark Snow so that won’t do. I guess you either just grit and bear it or you don’t.

As I don my Shipper cap again for a moment, let me just say that this episode feels slightly mean-spirited (an unintended slight, I’m sure). Like pouring cold water over a fresh hot meal so that no one will be able to eat it.

Just as uniting Mulder and Scully in a cloud of romance would have drained tension from the show, so too would have building an unequivocal “No” into the narrative. It would have taken away the hope of many. Indeed, I remember feeling rising panic after I first saw this episode (it was already in reruns and nobody warned me), but the fact that Season 5 had already begun to air and there was no trace of the ghost of Melissa Reidal buoyed my spirits.

“The Field Where I Died” takes itself too seriously, bloated on its own weight and import. Overwrought is a word that comes to mind and it’s probably the one episode in The X-Files’ cannon that I would willingly erase, yet…

Entertainment Weekly once famously called this episode “Stultifyingly awful.” In retrospect, I wouldn’t go quite that far. The production value is too high. All in all, it certainly has the best of intentions and you can tell a lot of effort went into this one on everyone’s part. But when I ask myself if I’ll ever watch it again… I get queasy.

It’s Over at Last:

There is that one, brief moment of lightness and joy…

Mulder: Dana, if, um, early in the four years we’ve been working together… an event occurred that suggested or somebody told you that… we’d been friends together, in other lifetimes… always… wouldn’t it have changed some of the ways we looked at one another?
Scully: Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn’t change a day. Well… maybe that Flukeman thing. I could’ve lived without that just fine.

But then…

“I wanted to sum up Mulder and Scully’s entire relationship with that question Mulder asks Scully afterwards, if we had known from the beginning that we had lived all these lives, would it change anything, how would you feel?’ ” Morgan said. “I just wanted to raise that question between the two of them. I’m not sure what the answer is. My feeling is that she is holding on to some skepticism. Her answer in the episode — “I wouldn’t change a day” – might be a little ‘tee-vee.’

Way to quench it, dude.

D+

Keeping it Brief:

John Mark wasn’t the writer of The Book of Revelations. It was another John.

Exactly which version of Mulder was a soulmate of Sidney’s??

The quote from Kristen Cloke is nabbed from here:
http://www.littlereview.com/getcritical/interviews/cloke.htm

The quote from Glen Morgan is shamelessly lifted from here:
http://etc1013.wordpress.com/1997/10/01/cinefantastique-4/

Nisei 3×9: Monsters begetting monsters.


$29.95's worth.

“Nisei” is about foreign scientists, war criminals, allied with the Federal Government and more specifically, The Syndicate, who experiment on unwitting citizens in an attempt to create an alien-human hybrid. If that sounds familiar, it should. It was the plot of “Paper Clip” (3×2). The main difference is that we’ve moved from talk of the Nazis to another World War II Axis power, Japan.

There are other repeats such as Mulder seeing what he thinks is a spaceship hidden from perfect view. That happened in both “Deep Throat” (1×1) and “Fallen Angel” (1×9). Scully has also confronted X over Mulder’s whereabouts before in “End Game” (2×17), but of course that time it was the other way around and she wanted to find him not keep his location a secret. And as I’ve already mentioned, as in the season opener the writers are using the horrors of history to scare us. What’s more frightening than the truth?

Since we’ve already heard this tale told in a different way, Chris Carter had to find a way to set this one a part and I think he successfully did that by tying in this set of experiments to Scully’s abduction in a more specific way: These Japanese scientists were the ones who performed tests on her when she was taken.

Now we know for sure that the chip found in the back of her neck during “The Blessing Way” (3×1) is connected to her abduction. If that weren’t enough, we find out that Scully wasn’t alone and we meet the other women who were there with her for at least part of her ordeal. Imagine walking into a room full of people who know all about you but you don’t know them. Talk about creepy.

Scully’s character certainly gets an uplift from the previous couple of episodes where she is relegated to the role of Debbie Downer. Here she’s still the skeptic but she’s a thoughtful one and gives this investigation the attention it deserves. It’s about time the question of why she still doesn’t believe is brought up as we’ve reached a point in the series where it makes less sense for Scully to even be a skeptic in the face of all she’s been exposed to. That’s why some of the previous episodes didn’t work as well as they might have because her knee-jerk skepticism seems out of place, as though she were just going out of her way to be difficult. The tantalizing teasing that goes on about the mystery of Scully’s abduction is a set up to explore her character further in future episodes. It pays off well.

The mythology keeps expanding to include more conspiracies within the conspiracy. It’s exciting and yet… this is both good and bad news. While the scope of the conspiracy is why it attracts an audience, it’s also part of its eventual, inevitable decline. You can only push the circle outward for so long before people forget the juicy center.

Conclusion:

You’ll think me shallow, but what I love most about this episode is that it’s a party. So many honored guests are in attendance: Skinner, Mr. X, The Lone Gunmen, even Senator Matheson who is no doubt summoned because Skinner washes his hands clean of this situation. We also have a first-time participant in Agent Pendrell. We’re only missing Krycek who Chris Carter is saving for later in the season.

Mulder again proves there’s no length of crazy he won’t go to. He’s such a wonderfully frustrating hero. You want to punch him then hug him all in the span of two seconds. Scully’s parallel journey for the truth is just as compelling, but in a less action packed, more emotional sort of way. It’s fun to see them investigate on their own and then come back together and share notes, so to speak. Whether they’re communicating over the phone or in person they make such a great team. And the banter and humor sprinkled through this two-episode arc still makes me smile.

If “Paper Clip” was about the Germans, “Nisei” is all about the Japanese. It’s a natural progression to move on to the next Axis power. But whatever happened to the Italians? Not scary enough?

A-

Lingering Questions:

Why wasn’t Scully subjected to the hybridization tests that created mutants out of the others? Maybe that was reserved for the sick and they used healthy young women for another, equally sinister purpose…

We know Scully is going to get cancer, it’s only a matter of when. The question is, why does she end up with cancer relatively quickly when the other abductees took years and many abductions before they died? I would guess that the abductions themselves somehow saved them.

I still don’t understand why this episode is called “Nisei”. The scientists involved are first generation Japanese immigrants, not second generation Japanese-Americans. Surely there’s a clue that slipped by me.

Random Musings:

The Japanese “diplomat”, Kazuo Sakurai, doesn’t sound like a Japanese diplomat at all, judging by his speech patterns. He sounds more like a Yakuza gangster. I’m wondering if it’s an element of the plot that they didn’t have time to delve into, that he’s an agent of the conspiracy posing as a diplomat for nefarious purposes.

Sakurai: [Japanese] M***** F******, I’m absolutely gonna kill you.
Mulder: You speak English?
Sakurai: [Japanese] What are you babbling about? *Editor’s Note: This is much more offensive than I can translate.
Mulder: Great.

And then he knows Karate, because all Asians know some form of the Martial Arts. *Eyeroll*

Best Quotes:

Scully: That’s not your usual brand of entertainment. What is it?
Mulder: According to the magazine ad I answered, it’s an alien autopsy. Guaranteed authentic.
Scully: You spent money for this?
Mulder: $29.95… plus shipping.
Scully: Mulder, this is even hokier than the one they aired on the Fox network. You can’t even see what they’re operating on!
Mulder: But it does look authentic, I mean the settings, the procedures. I mean it does look as if an actual autopsy is being prepared, doesn’t it?
Scully: Well technically, I don’t know why they would be wearing gas masks.
Mulder: Well maybe it’s because of this green substance they seem to be extracting from the subject. Can you identify that?
Scully: Olive oil? Snake oil? I suppose you think it’s alien blood?
Mulder: It’s widely held that aliens don’t have blood, Scully.
Scully: I guess this begs the question, if this is an alien autopsy…
Mulder: …where’s the alien? But what so intriguing to me is the striking lack of detail here.
Scully: Well, what do you expect for $29.95?

——————

Scully: I don’t know, Mulder, it just doesn’t track. What would a Japanese diplomat be doing in that house with a dead man with his head stuffed in a pillowcase?
Mulder: Obviously not strengthening international relations.
Scully: Well, what do you want to do now? Drop it?
Mulder: I’ve paid my $29.95, Scully. I think I’m entitled to a few more answers. Don’t you think so?

——————

Mulder: Scully, after all you’ve seen. After all you’ve told me you’ve seen. A tunnel filled with medical files, the beings moving past you, the implant in your neck. Why do you refuse to believe?
Scully: Believing’s the easy part, Mulder. I just need more than you. I need proof.
Mulder: You think that believing is easy?

Paper Clip 3×2: Progress demands sacrifice.


Smoke this.

“I was a dead man, now I’m back.” – I just want to start this review by congratulating David Duchovny on delivering this line with a straight face.

With that out of the way…

If “Anasazi” (2×25) is when the scope of the conspiracy is hinted at, “Paper Clip” is where it begins to take shape. The Syndicate, just like the legitimate U.S. Government, was willing to strike a deal with the devil in order to achieve their goals, and the project impacted nearly every American child born during a certain time period; every American that was given the Small Pox vaccine. Chris Carter has often said that The X-Files is only as scary as it is real and grounding the events of this episode in a framework of legitimate facts gives the events that take place a deeper sense of possibility and makes them all the more disturbing.

Introducing the real world history of Operation Paper Clip into the narrative poses some interesting parallels. If the U.S. Government was willing to make a Faustian bargain for the benefit of its citizens, might not these shadow men who have far less accountability on their shoulders? We know that these men are trying to use alien DNA to make an alien-human hybrid, and not to give out a huge spoiler, but we eventually learn they’re in cahoots with the aliens. The question is never sufficiently raised of whether these men were actually evil in making such an alliance. There’s an argument to be made that they felt they were doing the best thing at the time, much like men in the U.S. Government may have felt that it was better to make the Nazis work for you then to leave them to their own purposes.

Now, no doubt in the real instance it was a vile transaction. But the aliens weren’t vanquished Nazis, they were an uber powerful galactic force that could wipe us out anytime they wanted to with or without our cooperation. Call me a sympathizer, but maybe Mulder could have cut The Syndicate some slack. Regardless, it’s certainly no stretch to think that same Nazi scientists who experimented on innocent Jews would be willing to test alien DNA on American civilians. That it’s done through something so innocuous as an inoculation is truly classic X-Files.

It’s an interesting choice to bring Mulder so close to the whole truth and nothing but the truth this early in the game. We know now that everything he’s been saying all these years is true and the proof exists, but he was faced with a decision: know the truth and have no way of disseminating the information or give up the truth and live to fight another day. It’s obvious what Mulder would have chosen if it hadn’t been for Scully and her sister, which is why all those “Mulder is a selfish bastard” haters need to take it down a couple of decibels.

Speaking of Mulder and Scully, I always thought, as most do, that MSR was purely a result of Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny unwittingly creating it out of the passion and tension that played out between their characters. Almost like magic, it was there before anyone knew what was happening. That’s fair enough and I still feel that way for the most part. But watching this episode again it occurs to me that the writers are nearly as much to blame. OK, maybe it’s 70/30, but still. They were complicit the Shipper Shenanigans that went on.

Mulder and Scully became larger than life because they wrote them as such; they gave them a freaking psychic connection and thought that, what? The audience wouldn’t respond to it emotionally? The characters were written into a corner and eventually they had nowhere to go but into each other’s arms. I mean, imagine just for a second that Scully, even this early in the series, decided to start dating. I can just hear her explanation to her significant other now:

Dear, let me tell you about my friend Mulder. Yes, he’s straight and he’s hot, but he’s really just a friend. A very good friend. We have such a spiritual connection that I even know it when he stops breathing. And when in mortal peril, he visits me in visions. But like I said, friends. There’s no reason this should come between you and me.

It would be a futile exercise. Mulder and Scully have passed the point of no return. No, they’re not in love. But there are only two real options at this point. Their bond can weaken and they grow distant and divided, an idea that the writers toy with for part of Season 3 and even Season 4. Or their bond can grow, in which case, unpolitically correct as it is, it would no longer be believable if the relationship remained forever platonic. If I had to pinpoint it, I’d say this is the moment when, as Nina mentioned in her guest post, they become each others’ “significant other.” It’s not romance in the erotic sense but it’s beyond mere friendship.

Back to the story at hand, Mulder and Scully finding all those medical files hidden away at an abandoned mining company has to be one of the most iconic moments of the series. Vaccinations are as American as apple pie. Even now, all but the most paranoid of parents make sure their children receive them. That something so innocent could be used by a shadow government to track and test its citizens is almost as creepy as the fact that Social Security Numbers were created with the promise that they wouldn’t be used for identification purposes. Interestingly, identification was the cover story for these vaccinations; the government was gathering genetic data so that citizens could be identified in case of a nuclear holocaust. It was the Cold War, you recall, and that would have been a believable party line.

Bill Mulder himself believed it, which brings us to the other major revelation of this episode: Samantha wasn’t randomly abducted. She was chosen by her father to be the “guarantee” for the family. Mulder was the one originally scheduled to rendezvous with the Mother Ship. Finally we know what Bill Mulder was trying to say to his son before he was killed. What a sadly powerful moment when Mulder confronts his mother about having had to make a choice. It wasn’t the abduction itself that drove the Mulder family apart.

Now there’s another family suffering. If we thought Scully was “involved” before because of her abduction, it’s even more personal now that her sister Melissa has been White Buffalo sacrificed on her behalf. Finally, she shares Mulder’s quest. And poor Maggie Scully is just put through trauma after trauma. The writers need to stop making bad things happen to that woman. The nobility on her face kills me. Somehow, though, I never do miss Melissa…

Conclusion:

This episode is full of lots of fun, memorable moments. The scene in the mine when Mulder and Scully stumble upon rows of endless files I’ve already mentioned but there’s also CSM turning on Krycek, his mini-me, with a car bomb and my personal favorite, watching Skinner finally give CSM the old what-for with Albert Hosteen at his side. It’s worth all the magic and mysticism we had to put up with in “The Blessing Way” (3×1) just for that moment.

Another highlight for me is watching Scully get mad which, like smiling, she doesn’t do nearly often enough. I can only imagine that as a physician she is particularly offended by the atrocities conducted not only by men like Klemper but that the government would abuse citizens’ trust by taking vaccinations meant to help and using them to test and catalogue people.

We don’t learn much else about The Syndicate. Apparently they just sit around in a smoky room and rule the world. But it’s enough for now to know that they’re so powerful that even CSM has to answer to them. There’s no need to rush the reveal.

A-

P.S. This is where the mythology starts to edge its way towards massive. If you’re having trouble keeping track, like me, go to: http://www.eatthecorn.com/eps/2X25_3X01_3X02.htm

Questions:

We’re told that the DAT copy is protected and can’t be printed or copied, but didn’t we see Scully give a print out for a lady to translate in “Anasazi” (2×25)? And hasn’t Albert Hosteen been walking around with his translated copy that can be copied over?

Why is Well-Manicured man helping Mulder, really? I guess we’ll have to watch and see.

Comments:

When conducting secret experiments on innocent civilians with the help of Nazi scientists, it would probably be best not to take damning photographs together.

Please note that Skinner had to be double-teamed in the stairwell for those wimps to take him.

Napier’s Constant is actually 271828 not 27828 as Scully claims.

Best Quotes:

Scully: I went to your father’s funeral. I told your mother that you were going to be okay.
Mulder: How did you know?
Scully: I just knew.

——————-

Well-Manicured Man: What is it Victor?
Victor Klemper: Oh, I was just paid a visit by the son of one of our old colleagues.
Well-Manicured Man: What did you tell him, Victor?
Victor Klemper: I told him that you were the most venal man I’ve ever met. Beyond that I told him nothing.

——————-

Scully: What do you think your father would have been doing here?
Mulder: I don’t know, but he never came home wearing a miner’s cap.

——————–

Mulder: Lots of files.
Scully: Lots and lots of files.

——————–

Mulder: Why are you telling me this?
Well-Manicured Man: It’s what you want to hear, isn’t it?
Mulder: Is there more?
Well-Manicured Man: More than you’ll ever know.

——————–

CSM: Are you sure?
Krycek: I’m sure of this. If I so much as feel your presence, I’m going to make you a very, very famous man. You understand?
CSM: Yes. Thank you. I’m going to report that to the group.

——————–

Scully: I’ve heard the truth, Mulder. Now what I want are the answers.

The Blessing Way 3×1: Well, it’s definitely not buckshot.


Mr. Hosteen says "Hello."

“Memory, like fire, is radiant and immutable.” First off, this is the most ridiculous thing ever said in an X-Files voiceover. Ever. And that’s saying something. Second, do those sound like the words of an American Indian wise man to you?

It’s almost as though someone told Chris Carter that there wasn’t enough buttercream icing on the cake so he made a fresh batch and poured that on top too. Now, lest you think I would commit blasphemy against the creator of my favoritest show ever, let me just say that I consider Chris Carter a brilliant writer. His writing only suffers when he waxes philosophical.

It’s not entirely his fault. This episode is completely on trend with the 1990’s fascination for all things American Indian. For those old enough, I’m sure you can find in your “immutable memory” films like Geronimo: An American Legend (1993), The Last of the Mohicans (1992), and the still famous Dances with Wolves (1990) which featured a slightly younger Floyd Red Crow Westerman… that’s Albert Hosteen to you.

Looking back, it’s not a trend that aged well. Just because you put the phrase “ancient Indian saying” in front of a sentence does not make it profound, or more importantly, believable, or even more importantly, interesting. Please understand, I’m not denigrating ancient Indian sayings, I just question this episode’s heavy reliance on spiritualism. It’s distracting. It’s idealized. It’s hokey.

And before I jump off this bandwagon, let me give you the worst example of mysticism run amok. After breaching the barrier to the spiritual world through a hypnosis session, Scully has a vision of Mulder back from the (near) dead. So what does he tell her? The secret of life? The secret of death? Oh no.

Mulder: I have been on the bridge that spans two worlds. The link between all souls by which we cross into our own true nature. You were here today looking for a truth which was taken from you, the truth which was never meant to be spoken, but which now binds us together in a dangerous purpose. I’ve returned from the dead to continue with you, but I fear that this danger is now close at hand and I may be too late.

Did you just laugh out loud? I rest my case.

At the risk of sounding like a Negative Nancy, this episode has another flaw, one that I don’t think is nearly as obvious. On paper, it only makes sense that Scully would feel defeated after losing Mulder. Despite her valiant efforts in “The Anasazi” (2×25), Mulder is supposedly dead and she’s left holding the bag; no disc, no job, no honor. Even with that in mind, the first half of the episode plays out as though Scully is more concerned with her flickering career prospects than the fact that her best buddy was just blown to bits. I’m not saying there should be weeping and gnashing of teeth, but some kind of emotional acknowledgement would be nice.

There is a single moment where we see Scully show up at her mother’s door in tears. If you have the DVD and can access the deleted scene that pops up right after this, you’ll understand why they mercifully cut this scene short in editing; it only makes it painfully clear that Scully is agonizing more over potentially getting fired than the loss of Mulder. I realize it’s only natural that Scully would question the wisdom of her actions in the previous episode under the circumstances. And I also realize that this is supposed to play into the fact that Scully is spiritually connected to Mulder and knows deep down that he isn’t dead. But how did she go from Wonder Woman to Stick-in-the-Mud so quickly? She may question herself, but I just can’t believe that Scully would ever regret saving a friend.

She isn’t a complete loss this episode, however. The writers are finally addressing what happened to Scully during her abduction last season. We were tantalized back in “One Breath” (2×8) with visions of experiments being performed on Scully. Now her repressed memories are coming up for air and that bodes well for the mythology of Season 3. And that little surprise in her neck… this is why I love The X-Files. Where else can you watch a scenario as creepy as going through a scanner and then finding out there’s been a computer chip implanted in your body?

That significant event aside, Scully’s real shining moments are reserved for her interactions with other characters. It’s great to see Scully get someone else to play with besides Mulder. His character is normally the one hobnobbing with informants and geeks. Her scenes with Skinner in particular are quite juicy. Scully is The Good Child so watching her have at her boss makes for some wonderful tension. Naturally, Skinner gives back as good as he gets culminating in that final cliffhanger. I think we all know who is going to walk through the door by the end but that doesn’t make the moment any less great.

Scully also has her first interaction with Frohike since Season 1’s “E.B.E.” (1×16), their brief meeting while she was comatose not withstanding. Yes, if you can believe it, we’ve had to wait that long for Frohike to get another shot at her. I must say, The Lone Gunmen and Frohike in particular, even though we’ve only seen them briefly in 4 episodes up to this point, are incredibly endearing. From the way Frohike shows up in a tux to visit the dying Scully in “One Breath” to him coming to her door bottle in hand, wounded over the loss of Mulder, the man is a Mensch. (Yiddish. Look it up.) That The Powers That Be did what they did to them in Season 9… I’ll never recover.

But the interaction that I most enjoy is Scully’s introduction to Well-Manicured Man, played effortlessly by John Neville. My personal highlight of the episode is the way he delivers the line, “Do you have someplace you might stay?” The subtle changes of expression on his face are just amazing and I find myself wishing that The Syndicate had been explored more as individual characters.

Ah yes, The Syndicate, or The Consortium. They go by both names even in this, their introductory episode. It’s like a perfect nightmare: The world is secretly run by a group of ruthless, wealthy old men. Finally, we have a set of faces to go with the eponymous “They” that Mulder keeps referring to. Whoever “they” are, they’re powerful enough that even CSM has to answer to them. Was Deep Throat once a part of this group? More than likely.

Speaking of Deep Throat, it’s a bit of a shame that his “return” is marred by a plethora of Purple Prose. Bill Mulder’s message from beyond the grave isn’t any better. “The lies I told you are a pox and poison to my soul.” Seriously, why not just put a plague on both their houses while you’re at it?

Conclusion:

Alright, that’s enough of my complaints. Other than being tainted by overdone mysticism and suffering from the natural curse of being the second part in a three-episode arc, there are some very fun elements to this episode. Its weaknesses don’t destroy it, they just mean that there are lower lows between the highlights. In fact, if they had found a way to weave the story together without relying so heavily on spiritualism and Shakespearean prose, I daresay it would have been fantastic.

“The Blessing Way” is the reverse equivalent of “One Breath”; this time Mulder is the one laid up in limbo between life and death and Scully, unable to help him, is left to find the answers. It’s a great chance for her character to go out and explore the world on her on, unaided by Mulder’s quack theories. There are also some exciting hints that the circumstances of her abduction will finally be addressed this season.

And while I still wouldn’t call The X-Files an ensemble show, the current cast of characters means that every scene is potentially touching or explosive. Yep, the crossroads of Season2/Season 3 was a good time of life for the show.

There’s so much going on in this episode that I won’t bore you by attempting to cover it all. By now you’ve noticed that I didn’t even address Melissa’s shooting. We’ll save that last one for “Paper Clip” (3×2).

B+

Comments:

Skinner refers to Mulder’s apartment as “a place we can talk in private.” Did someone not tell him about the listening devices, poisonings, and assassination attempts?

Now I’m sure. CSM really didn’t know he’d (almost) killed Mulder. An argument could be made that he hoped he had, but it’s entirely possible that he was still “protecting” him in his own mind.

Best Quotes:

Frohike: He was a good friend. A redwood among mere sprouts.

——————

Smoking Man: Did you ask her about the tape?
Skinner: She says she doesn’t have it.
Smoking Man: Is that what she says?
Skinner: Yes. That’s what she says.
Smoking Man: Well that’s unfortunate for everyone.

——————-

Albert Hosteen: You must be careful now to end the ceremony properly. If you leave, you must not do any work, change clothes or bathe for four days.
Mulder: That’s really going to cut into my social life.

——————-

Scully: Who are you?
Well-Manicured Man: I’m a member of a kind of consortium, we represent certain global interests.
Scully: What kind of interests?
Well-Manicured Man: Interests that would be extremely threatened by the digital tape that you are no longer in possession of.
Scully: Threatened enough to murder?
Well-Manicured Man: Oh my, yes. – *Editors Note: Brilliance.

——————–

Scully: You’re not protecting me, you’re protecting yourself.
Well-Manicured Man: Why should that surprise you? Motives are rarely unselfish.
Scully: What kind of business are you in?
Well-Manicured Man: We predict the future. The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Good day young lady.