Tag Archives: The Rain King

The Goldberg Variation 7×2: Maybe your luck is changing.


The Goldberg Variation 2

The unluckiest by far.

I hate to come back after an extended hiatus and bring tidings of mediocrity, but alas, I paused where I paused in this rewatch and must return where I must. And this just isn’t a great episode.

Let’s start with the good. “The Goldberg Variation” does have some cute moments. “Moments” so far being the key word of Season 7, a season that sporadically throws us knowing winks of familiarity, humor and emotional significance, but that mostly sits stares at us with bored, half-lidded eyes.

Here it takes a vain stab at touching humor a la “Small Potatoes” (4×20). It’s trying to do everything right  – We have a quirky, socially awkward anti-hero who’s lovable despite himself, an X-File that’s fantastic rather than frightening and Mulder made a mess of. What’s not to love, right? But I can’t love it. I haven’t even been able to watch the entire episode in a single sitting since it first aired. I keep getting distracted by things like my dog snoring and my overgrown toenail cuticles and have to rewind.

The highlight of the episode for me happens very early on, within the first quarter. Scully’s stifled smile as Mulder tries and fails to go from G-Man to handyman makes me laugh every time. So there is that.

But for an episode based on the inescapable force that is Cause and Effect, the plot feels like a loosely connected series of coincidences rather than a logical chain of events. And even if in hindsight we’re supposed to see that there was a reason for all this madness, that a force was behind the plot and driving it to an inevitably good conclusion, it still feels haphazard and goofy rather than controlled.

That’s too bad since this episode’s two main guest stars, prolific actor Willie Garson and soon-to-be prolific actor Shia LaBeouf, could potentially have given us some real television memories. And writer Jeffrey Bell already has – Some good (“The Rain King”) and some not so good (“Alpha”).

The Mulder/Scully dynamic is enjoyable as always, but perhaps they’ve been feeding on too much L.A. sunshine in the absence of alien angst. Neither of them are dealing with drama at the moment and it shows. There’s no conspiracy and no cancer. There isn’t even an X-File that poses any actual danger. What are they to do but crack jokes and smirk at each other?

They deserve it after all this time, to be sure. So why do I suddenly miss the driving sense of urgency that characterized earlier seasons and the built-in mystery that the Vancouver fog used to lend to the production? I know I’m a hypocrite since I loved the famously lighthearted Season 6 which was also shot in L.A.. But cheeky and experimental as “Triangle” (6×3) is, it still has an intensity that episodes like this one lack.

Verdict:

So what separates the “Small Potatoes” from episodes like “The Goldberg Variation”? In a word: soul.

It’s not the acting talent. It’s not the writing talent. It’s not the production budget. It’s that “something” that’s impossible to define but that you can’t forget once you encounter it. That “something” that brought us all to The X-Files in the first place.

Somehow, all the moving parts were there but didn’t come together with any chemistry. The result is a cute but lackluster forty-three minutes and thirty-three seconds.

Gone, perhaps, are the days when I would call up my best friend during commercial breaks going, “OMW, did you see that??”

C

Unnecessary Comments:

Mobsters using words like “impervious.” *mildly amused smirk*

The props department outdid themselves with those Rube Goldberg machines. Or where they borrowed?

This won’t be the last time Lady Luck stars as an X-File…

Quotes:

Mulder: Hey, nice outfit! {Editor’s Note: Funny, I was thinking the same thing. Scully looks awfully well-tailored for a government worker.}

————————

Scully: So, basically, we’re looking for Wile E. Coyote.” {Editor’s Note: Would that you were, Scully. Would that you were.}

————————
Scully: I like baseball too. {Editor’s Note: I see what you did there, Jeffrey Bell.}

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

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.}