Tag Archives: Theef

Season 7 Wrap Up – You don’t want me looking foolish.


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Let me preface this by saying that I don’t mean this insultingly. But if I had to pick one keyword for Season 7, it would be “Self-Indulgent.”

At this point in the series, the cast and crew of The X-Files have been churning out classic television at an unbelievable clip for the past seven years. Their work schedule was famously insane, averaging almost twenty-two one hour episodes a season. Somehow, despite that, they were able to function at such an impressively creative level that the numbers of the show’s fans keep increasing with time, some thirteen years after it went off the air. Not only was it a pop culture phenomenon in its day, but it remains such a present part of the public’s consciousness that Fox is airing a six episode revival of the series starting in January. If it’s successful, there have been hints of more to come.

I know I’ve just jumped from Season 7 into the future, but my point is that the talents behind The X-Files had earned a little self-indulgence by the time Season 7 rolled around. They had worked hard, they had made the show a success and, what was key, they had no idea if they’d be back for an eighth season. Fox didn’t officially renew the series until almost a week before “Requiem” (7×22) aired, meaning the final episode of Season 7 was written and shot without Chris Carter being sure whether he was ending the season or ending his series. From what I’ve read, the vibe behind the scenes was “This may be it.” And if Season 7 was “it,” then it was their last chance to say what they had to say and try what they wanted to try. I can’t blame them and I don’t.

How does Season 7 indulge itself? Let us count the ways.

  • Chris Carter’s Basic Instinct homage in, and frankly all of “First Person Shooter” (7×13)
  • Vince Gilligan creates a crossover of two of his favorite shows in “X-Cops” (7×12)
  • William B. Davis writes himself real screen time with Scully in “En Ami” (7×15)
  • Gillian Anderson cues us to the importance of chakras in “all things” (7×17)
  • David Duchovny hosts a block party in “Hollywood A.D.” (7×18)
  • Mulder & Scully flirting like they didn’t know how to stop in almost every episode
  • A third of the episodes taking place in the production’s home state of California
  • The mythology’s loose threads are ignored in favor of the new alien-gods

Deserved? Yes. And some moments are more successful than others. The overall result, though, is that the season feels largely unfocused. It’s like a free for all. Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we get canceled.

I think part of the lack of focus and direction is due in part to the mythology not serving as the series’ backbone any longer. The X-Files is wobbling around without an alien conspiracy to hold it together. Not that there weren’t still unanswered questions about the conspiracy that the fan’s wanted addressed, but they weren’t vital questions and the series seemed content to move forward without answering them. But if “Requiem” proves anything it’s that there was still life left in the pre-Season 7 mythology.

Season 7 doesn’t act like it, but the human race is on the verge of complete annihilation. The threat of alien takeover is still there, it’s just not being addressed. Why isn’t there a fire lit under our heroes? ‘Cause Mulder and Scully certainly aren’t acting like they have anything to be concerned about. They’re flaunting their flirtation at the Bureau’s policy against male and female agents consorting in the same motel room while on assignment. But, they’re together now, as the not-so-subtle jabs to the audience’s ribs often remind us.

And I’m glad of their togetherness, don’t get me wrong. It was well-earned and well-timed. Stringing the fans on too long becomes palpably artificial past a certain point. Season 7 was that point. Stringing Mulder and Scully themselves along would have felt disingenuous too. They had reached a catharsis in their relationship and that’s good. You don’t have to keep ribbing me about it. That’s bad. The end result is that Season 7’s main legacy is the ongoing debate over when Mulder and Scully started having sex. That’s really bad.

So, the mythology is largely resolved. Mulder and Scully are at peace. Samantha’s dead. What are we here for? The Monster of the Week episodes? Most of those have been lackluster and weak. There’s no driving force behind the season, no push or pull, no sense of urgency or adventure. When The X-Files first started, Mulder and Scully were on a quest. Now there is no quest, just a rag-tag mix of episodes. The result is that Season 7 feels like a coda to Season 1-6’s main piece. Mulder and Scully have done all they came here to do and things are winding down.

It may just be the natural progression of things. Everything has a beginning, middle and end. The story and relationship arcs The X-Files started off with have inevitably run their course.

Maybe.

I can’t help but wonder inf 1013 Productions had known early on that there was going to be a Season 8, if they could have planned ahead and plotted out the show’s trajectory for Seasons 7 and 8 the way they did for the mythology of Seasons 4, 5 and 6… I wonder what the show would have been like.

Shoulda, woulda, coulda territory, I know….

We have what we have, and what we have is a stagnant series. Season 7 is standing still instead of heading somewhere. It’s not going backward towards the show’s roots or forward into a new battle for Mulder and Scully. It’s just kind of biding its time, spinning in circles until the show ends.

What I’m seeing on my screen is a show that’s suffering from chronic self-awareness, that’s bored with itself, and that reads a little too much like childish fanfic: “What would I make Mulder and Scully do if I could make them do anything?”

Maybe it’s me. Maybe it’s the Season 7 Year Itch. When it first aired, there were five episodes I actively resented, and seven more I passively disliked. Twelve out of twenty-two ain’t good. The rest I found middling with a few bright spots dispersed here and there.

I came to a sober realization this rewatch –  most of Season 7 I will never watch again.

On that sad note, here are the awards for the season…

Most Improved

all things

Least Improved

First Person Shooter

Missed Opportunity for Backstory

The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati

Deceptively Deep

Signs and Wonders

Successfully Experimental

Hungry

Overrated

Je Souhaite

Underrated

Theef

Brand X 7×19: They say these things kill people.


 

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I’m having War of the Coprophages flashbacks.

I was really excited to watch “Brand X” again. Honestly, my memories of the last few seasons are a lot fuzzier than the early parts of the series. (You can probably guess which episodes I watch more often.) The hidden blessing in that is getting to relive episodes afresh. And what I did remember of “Brand X” was good. Very good.

We have Skinner in play, and he so rarely gets to move from behind his desk. I think Mitch Pileggi was brought on the court mainly because Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny were still busy in post-production for “all things” (7×17) and “Hollywood A.D.” (7×18) respectively, but I’ll take any excuse to see more of Skinner.

I also haven’t seen a Half-Caff episode in nigh forever and I’ve missed them. For those who don’t know, Half-Caff is my own obsessive-compulsively subclassed category of X-File that involves a newly discovered science or technology with world-changing implications. Here-to-fore, however, they’ve also included a government conspiracy to get a hold of or control said science. “Brand X” is slightly different since there’s no government conspiracy, only a corporate one. But I’m counting it because I can.

Morley Tobacco takes the place of the government this episode and so is appropriately shady and secretive. Except for the good Dr. Voss, who shows signs early on of wanting to switch allegiances to the good side of the Force. He smirks in response to Mulder’s sarcasm at the conference table, anyway. But Dr. Voss has a problem. He and Dr. Scobie’s noble experiment, to genetically engineer a tobacco plant that wouldn’t cause cancer when smoked or inhaled, backfired. Oh sure, they developed a non-toxic plant. However, the tobacco beetles evolved to match the new supply and now their eggs are being inhaled along with the smoke. Needless to say, it’s not a pretty picture when the eggs hatch. Just ask the late Dr. Scobie.

Initially, we think Dr. Scobie’s been killed because he’s a whistleblower and the company didn’t want him revealing their nefarious secrets to the world. Whistleblowers were a hot topic in the 90’s and so was Big Bad Tobacco. I wonder if generations of X-Philes to come will recognize the plot of The Insider buried in all this. Even if they don’t, in a world where the GMOs vs. Non-GMOs debate has only gained traction over the years, this episode is oddly still relevant. Can we make nature better? Will we kill ourselves trying?

For first time writers on the show, Steve Maeda and Greg Walker give us a pretty classic X-File, the anomaly of Skinner being out in the field notwithstanding. Steven Maeda will go on to write several more episodes including one of my later season favorites, “Audrey Pauley” (9×13).

There are lots of little moments, especially in the beginning, that I enjoy about this episode. I love the opening shot of smoke billowing out of a chimney and how it subtly introduces our subject. Seeing Dr. Scobie’s glass of icy water with pinkish swirls of blood floating around in it gives me a delicious sense of foreboding. It also warms my Philish heart to see Mulder and Scully coming to Skinner’s aid. I realize he’s their boss and technically they have to show up whether they want to or not, but it’s nice that they want to. Oh, and it’s the first time, probably all season, that I’ve felt like either Mulder or Scully were in real danger. “Signs and Wonders” (7×9) didn’t convince me. This actually feels like Mulder’s on the verge of death.

The atmosphere, particularly in the indoor scenes where they could block out the L.A. sunlight, is perfect. (The X-Files was gorgeous.) The villain is vile. (That’s right. You go ahead and smoke your neighbors to death. ‘Cause this is America, man. E Pluribus uh…) The deaths are disgusting. (And I take perverse viewing pleasure in that.)

Everything’s moving with tense, expectant energy and then… the ending flattens like Coke in a cup.

Sigh. It pains me to admit it, but the 4th act starts to fizzle right when it should sizzle. It’s a sad reminder of what happened to “Theef” (7×14), another episode this season that was leading somewhere good and then choked right at the climax.

In particular, that scene where Skinner can’t make up his mind to take down Daryl Weaver goes on two minutes too long. I mean, I get it. If Daryl keeps on living he’ll keep on smoking and more people will inhale tobacco beetle eggs and die. And if Daryl dies then the doctor’s may not get the scientific answers they need to save Mulder and anyone else who might get infected. But Skinner is an Assistant Director at the F.B.I. I’m pretty sure he knows how to shoot a suspect so as to disable them rather than kill them, especially when that suspect is standing still. His hesitation, no, procrastination doesn’t make sense. Not to mention, Daryl’s bad guy speech would have been much more effective cut in half.

Verdict:

Is it too late to create a “Coulda’ been a contender” category? Because “Brand X” had the potential to be a classic. Instead, it’s just a really solid offering. Warts and all it’s still a far sight more entertaining than most of what I’ve seen this season.

B+

Bugs:

Skinner makes the idea of killer bugs sound so fantastic. Wasn’t he around for “Zero Sum” (4×21)? I know, I know. The bees carried a virus. They still behaved abnormally.

Are those pencils in the office ceiling the same ones from “Chinga” (5×10) or does Mulder still get bored often?

Correction, Scully. If Mulder were to pick up that pack of Morley’s he wouldn’t be taking up smoking, he’d be falling off the wagon. Mulder smoked back in “Travelers” (5×15).

If the situation was dangerous enough that Skinner needed to put a detail on Dr. Voss’ family for their safety, why did he let Dr. Voss travel home alone?

Is there any particular reason we’re supposed to believe Morley Tobacco would go so far as to kill Dr. Scobie for testifying against them? When did the mafia take over Big Tobacco?

PSA: It was implied by this episode but never directly stated that the smoke and tar from tobacco plants causes cancer, not nicotine. The smoke chronically irritates the lungs, leading to cancer and a whole other host of issues. Cigarette smoke also contains over forty known carcinogens, marijuana smoke over thirty. Though whether or not marijuana directly leads to lung cancer is still under debate. It’s been linked to testicular cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer and leukemia in the babies of women who smoked while pregnant, though.

Actor Tobin Bell, who plays Daryl Weaver, is our second Goodfellas alumnus of the season and our second 24 alumnus. Or at least, he’s the second of each that I’ve recognized and counted.

The actors must have killed themselves coughing from this episode.

Best Quotes:

Mulder: [Looking at a gruesome picture of Dr. Scobie’s corpse] Can’t blow the whistle with a mouth like that.

———————–

Mulder: Mr. Weaver, did you see or hear anything unusual last night?

Daryl Weaver: Little Korean fellow down the hall dresses like Wonder Woman. But that’s every night.

———————–

Daryl Weaver: Toodles.

 

Chimera 7×16: You and me got more in common than you know.


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‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.

‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’

‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.

‘You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’

Ah, suburbia. Where happy little families live happy, normal little lives.

Unless they’re on The X-Files in which case unhappiness is bound to find them. And if they won’t admit it’s found them, someone might just go mad. Or grow feathers. It’s a toss-up, really.

Take Ellen Adderly, whose pent-up anger has turned her quite mad. She’s so upset that her Norman Rockwell life is falling apart that her dissociative rage has manifested as a split personality disorder. When she’s not Susie Homemaker, she transforms into a… a what? A crow monster? Is that even a thing?

Let me preface my complaint by saying I quite like this episode. In fact, I like it so much I’ve surprised myself. I remembered enjoying it originally, but the details were fuzzy so I got to relive it, not quite from scratch, but with eyes ready to observe. I consider that a plus since, up until recently, there were no new X-Files forthcoming and, inevitably, there will always be a finite number of them. Anything akin to a newish watch is appreciated by me.

But this otherwise classically trained Monster of the Week episode has a few weaknesses, the main one being that the monster isn’t scary in the least. The second is that despite attempts to distract the audience, the answer to the mystery is fairly obvious within the first ten minutes of the show. Sure, the teaser makes it look like we’re in for an X-Files/Mean Girls crossover, but no one believes that the working class Jenny Uphouse is the killer. That would be too easy. The next suspect in line is Ellen Adderly, since she’s the only adult the monster appears to who doesn’t wind up dead.

The third weakness is that the monster feels familiar. We’ve seen something similar in “Arcadia” (6×13), another episode that exposes the seamy underbelly of suburbia. Though there, the homeowners collectively created a monster through their out of control desire for perfection. I’m also reminded of “The Walk” (3×7), even though there Leonard Trimble uses astral projection to psychically take vengeance on his enemies when he’s physically unable to.

So, the monster doesn’t excite me. Then again, neither did The Flukeman.

What does excite me is that, like with “Theef” (7×14), I get a vintage X-Files vibe from this episode. I’m happy to report that the weather is dreary and atmospheric. Not that they could have planned that, but it looks like rainy season in Southern California was working to the production’s advantage. The story, maybe by virtue of feeling familiar, comes across as something that would have fit well in Season 3 or 4. Also like the old days, it manages to be quite humorous without ever feeling “light.” (You know I love “light,” but they can’t all be like that.)

The interactions between Mulder and Scully over the phone are priceless. Over fifteen years after first seeing it I was still laughing aloud. I’m surprised I don’t see this episode quoted more often, especially considering how ship-heavy the fandom is. We haven’t had a game of Telephone this good since “Chinga” (5×10)!

Seeing Scully stuck in squalor while Mulder lives it up in Leave It To Beaver land, eating gourmet meals and having his shirts pressed, is a hoot. And we all enjoyed Mulder admitting that he has an atypical “significant other,” right? Because he doesn’t have a significant other, he has a Scully. But since round about Season 2 or 3, the depth of their relationship has basically precluded any other significant others for either of them. “Not in the widely understood definition of the term” is right. Then again, if that’s the case, then it would seem to contradict the upcoming “all things” (7×17), but we’ll get to that.

Verdict:

Just because there are roses in the garden doesn’t mean crazy isn’t in bloom. They’re all crazy in this town. They’re mad to think that they can live phony lives and get away with it.

That Sheriff especially must’ve been crazy to try to juggle three women at once. I’m surprised he made it to the end of the episode alive. Or maybe he’s supposed to live with the knowledge that his behavior triggered all this death and mayhem. Ellen had to break every mirror in sight to avoid seeing who she really was. What did he have to do?

All in all, a good solid offering and the best writer David Amann has given us so far.

B+

Crow’s Feet:

In which Mulder gets beaten up by a girl.

If you wanted a divorce, Sheriff, why did you impregnate Ellen so she could “lock you up good?” She didn’t get pregnant on her own, you know.

What’s with The X-Files and mirrored ceilings?

It turns out that Gina Mastrogiocomo, who plays Jenny, died in 2001 and this was her final performance. That made me sad! She was in Goodfellas and that’s one of my favorite movies.

Best Quotes:

Scully: Well, I hope we catch her so she can tell us… before I have to spend another night here. You know, Mulder, I don’t know about you but I find this all very depressing, this round-the-clock exposure to the seamy underbelly.

Mulder: That’s the job, Scully: vigilance in the face of privation, the sheer will that it takes to sit in this crappy room spying on the dregs of society until our suspect surfaces. There’s something ennobling in that.

[Mulder’s phone rings]

Mulder: [On phone] Mulder. Now? All right. [To Scully] I got to go. [Leaves]

Scully: [In disbelief] Mulder…?

———————–

Mulder: [On phone] Well, she’ll come, you know? It’s just a matter of time. She’ll show up. I’m sure of that.

Scully: [On phone] Yeah, well not before I die of malnutrition. [Disgustedly picks up and drops a gross-looking slice of pizza]

Mulder: [On phone] Hey, Scully, tough it out. Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?

[Ellen Adderly goes to dress up Mulder’s plate of gourmet food with the fixings]

Mulder: [To Ellen] No, no, no, no. No capers, thank you.

Scully: [On phone] I’m sorry, what?

Mulder: [On phone] I said, “What a… what a crazy caper.” I’ll talk to you later and, uh, keep warm. Bye.

———————–

Mulder: [On phone] Mulder.

Scully: [On phone] Mulder, when you find me dead, my desiccated corpse propped up staring lifelessly through the telescope at drunken frat boys peeing and vomiting into the gutter, just know that my last thoughts were of you… and how I’d like to kill you.

Mulder: [On phone] I’m sorry, who is this?

———————–

Ellen: Do you have a … a significant other?

Mulder: Um, not in the widely understood definition of that term.

———————–

Mulder: So you were having an affair with both Jenny and Martha Crittendon?

Sheriff Adderly: [Nods]

Mulder: I got to hand it to you, Sheriff. You put the service back into “protect and serve.”

Theef 7×14: Stinky’s good.


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‘Ello, poppet.

Think of me what you will, but when this episode started playing I dry sobbed.

Finally. An X-File.

All pretentious analysis aside, I watch this show for the high it gives me. Endorphins, dopamine… I don’t know how it works. Whatever. I don’t run. I don’t do drugs. I watch The X-Files.

Even the worst episodes, with a few noticeable exceptions, give something, something I crave. Lately, though, I haven’t been getting it. I’ve been getting things that resemble it, I’ve been getting watered down versions of it, I’ve been getting glimpses of it, but not it. My withdrawal symptoms have included restlessness and indiscriminate irritation.

I needed a fix and I got one in “Theef”. Don’t judge me.

“Theef” is about as quintessential an X-File as it gets and it’s directed by the show’s go-to man for horror, the late Kim Manners. John Gillnitz* wrote it. Even the atmospheric dreary rain we miss from the show’s Vancouver days is back! In fact, the feel of it all is so familiar that even Mulder and Scully rib each other over it.

Scully: Well, that’s certainly one question. I’ve got many.

Mulder: [Mimics a purse-lipped Scully] “Mulder, why are we here?”

Scully: [Slyly] To be fair, I might have used the words “Mulder, how is this an X-File?”

Mulder: You see that, Scully, you always keep me guessing.

I’ve been mostly immune to the Mulder and Scully flirtation going on all season (that irritability I mentioned), but they kill me here. The looks. The looks! Knowing what we know now about “all things” (7×17) being a confirmation rather than an introduction of their relationship, if I had to guess, I’d say Mulder and Scully’s romantic relationship started right around here. But I know that’s up for debate as Mulder and Scully have been flirting all season… and all last season… and much of the season before… I really don’t care when it started, I only care that wherever they are in their timeline they’re making me all kinds of happy.

The rest of the episode isn’t too shabby either. We’ve got a really creepy villain in Oral Peattie, an Appalachian mountain man, doubtless inbred, who uses hexes and something akin to voodoo to take out his more well-educated enemies. Frankly, he seems like he must’ve lived a life so isolated that it’s hard to believe he knew any people whatsoever that he could have practiced his occult moves on previously. In fact, if the plot suffers anywhere it’s in the fact that Orel occasionally comes off too ignorant to be believable. How far back in the backwoods is he that he’s never seen a vending machine or a microwave by the year 2000? And if he’s really so primitive that he lives without electricity and doesn’t understand basic kitchen appliances, how did he successfully make the trip across country from West Virginia to San Francisco? One has to wonder.

Nevertheless, Peattie is creepy. He’s also a good foil for Dr. Robert Wieder, Peattie’s ignorantly sworn enemy. It’s Medicine Man vs. “medicine man,” though the only thing Dr. Wieder is guilty of is making a hard call in the treatment of Peattie’s daughter, one that’s surprisingly meaty as food for thought. What do you do when someone’s suffering and science can’t save them? Do you ease their suffering? Do you still ease their suffering at the risk of hastening death? And are there powers more powerful than medicine that can save the dying when science can’t?

The questions make for good discussion as do the murders, which are the freakiest we’ve seen in a good long while. The MRI scene in particular is memorable, if suspiciously well-timed. There are also a couple of great side characters like the proprietress of Peattie’s boarding house and the magical shop owner in San Francisco.

It’s only regrettable that the ending peters out instead of explodes. You would think Scully going blind would be scarier than it is. But something about her conveniently leaving everything Peattie needed to hex her in the rental car, then Mulder showing up and taking his sweet time to look over the scene, casually taking the needles out of the eyes of her representative poppet doll… If Peattie had outwitted them or surprised somehow and put them in a precarious situation, that would have been better. I do realize, of course, that Peattie isn’t working with much.

Verdict:

It’s not perfect, but I consider it tragically underrated. The atmosphere is note perfect, the deaths horrifying, the characters like something out of Season 2. And I don’t know but that however flirtatious Mulder and Scully tend to be on the regular, they have suddenly, distinctly upped their game.

I confess myself sad that this episode loses some steam right at the critical moment. If there had been more tension when Peattie goes up against Scully, I don’t hesitate to say this would have been a classic. As it is, it’s my favorite episode of the season so far. It may even remain so.

Or perhaps I’m feeling generous because I’m a little too happy right now.

A-

Questions:

Where is this hillbilly getting these diseases from? Did his family pass down some old medical almanac that he has hidden away in his cabin? If so, can he read it?

How did Peattie find out what became of his daughter and track down the doctor who treated her? Magic? And how did he find out what the doctor did? Even if he had her medical records, I doubt his understanding was advanced enough to realize what all that morphine meant.

How does Peattie track Scully and crew to the cabin in the woods when he didn’t have a car to follow them in? And even before that, it didn’t occur to anyone that Peattie might be watching the house and it use evasive maneuvers?

Poppets:

I should not love these characters this much. I should not. It can’t be healthy.

Mulder and Scully have been in California for the last five episodes now. I realize that the production has moved and all, but let’s up our creative game, shall we?

Episodes like this make it really, really hard, nay, impossible for me to understand a particular plot line come Season 8.

I love James Morrison as the slightly overconfident Dr. Wieder. My mom had such a melodramatic response to his character’s death on 24, it’s legend in our house.

In the end, it’s modern science that treats Peattie. Cosmic irony alert.

*John Shiban – Vince Gilligan – Frank Spotnitz

Best Quotes:

Scully: Hexcraft, as in, uh, putting a curse on someone? Murdering them magically?

Mulder: Yeah, that’s what it looks like to me. Now, I know what you’re going to say, Scully.

Scully: No, hexcraft. I mean, I’ll… I’ll buy that as the intent here. It certainly jives with the evidence. I say we talk to the family.

Mulder: [Shocked Silence]

Scully: I’ll always keep you guessing.

————————–
Mulder: Go ahead, Scully. Keep me guessing. {Editor’s Note: I die.}

Monday 6×15: Any moment I’m about to burst into song.


Can’t trust that day.

Oh, Mulder, Mulder, Mulder… I feel your pain.

I mean, I’m laughing at your pain. But still.

Really, you never should have trusted a mysteriously appearing waterbed. That’s like something out of a Fractured Fairy Tale. What if an evil MIB put a curse on it??

I’d say that writers Vince Gilligan and John Shiban have outdone themselves this time. But they flash their brilliance at us so often it’s beginning to become run-of-the-mill. I guess we’ll have to wait for them to take us by surprise with a tedious hour of television because “Monday” isn’t it.

One of the more striking features about this episode is that so much of it happens from the point of view of a character that we never do know much about. Actually, we never get much by way of concrete fact about either Pam or her bomb-happy boyfriend Bernard. And that’s okay because all that we really need to know about them is cleverly revealed in the way they’re presented.

Scruffy boyfriend who won’t go to work? Check.
Jittery girlfriend with a do-it-yourself dye job? Check.
Ratty apartment that they’ll lose their security deposit over? Check.

I think it’s safe to say that neither character has much by way of either education or prospects and that either may quite possibly be nursing a drug habit. And my spidey sense is telling me that Bernard may have hit Pam a time or two in the past. There’s no overt indication of it, but Pam is definitely intimidated by him and I don’t think it’s just because he happens to have a bomb strapped to his chest on this particular day. She’s clearly under his thumb. Whether or not there’s any physical abuse going on, we’re given the distinct impression that their relationship is already dysfunctional. Not absolutely devoid of affection, mind you, but not at all healthy.

Vague though it is, their relationship is all-important because the events of the episode hinge on Pam’s ability to overcome her practiced passivity and stand up to Bernard. Oh sure, she claims she tried to stop him innumerable times. But her efforts were all passive aggressive: stealing his keys, drugging him, etc. Does she boldly confront him with what he’s about to do? Run into the bank ahead of him to warn all the innocent patrons of what’s coming? Shoot him? Surely going to jail for murder would be better than being trapped in the hellish loop she’s in. For that matter, Pam could have run over Mulder to prevent him from entering the bank if she were really desperate. She didn’t have to kill him. Just break a leg.

No, instead Pam opts to focus her efforts on convincing everyone else to change. She whines, she begs, she gives frustratingly obscure warnings. She goes from Skinner to Mulder to Scully in hopes that one of them can fix the situation by altering their actions. Not once does it occur to her that maybe she should be the one changing. That by altering her own actions she could “be the change she wishes to see in the world.” In the end, only she can stop Bernard from killing everyone and end this vicious cycle. No one else can.

The irony is that this endless series of repeats only begins because Bernard is desperate for change. This is a little guy who’s sick of being a little guy. He’d rather go down in history as a mass murderer than eke out a monotonous life as a janitor. I guess going back to school or making a career change would be too time consuming. He could’ve started with a shave. That would’ve worked.

But I’ve gone off topic. Anyway. Bernard is so eager to change both his and Pam’s fates that he takes a decidedly proactive… and immoral… step. How different a personality he is from paralyzed Pam who only becomes progressively less proactive as the Mondays go on. It’s a good thing that Mulder, spurred by his miraculous intuition, pushes her to action. From there, she instinctively takes it the rest of the way, at long last standing up to Bernard in one final, empowered act. If there’s a message here, it’s to take control of your own life and your own choices. As much as lies within you… try.

However, I prefer to think that there is no message. Why weigh down perfectly good entertainment with depth and profundity?

Verdict:

I love “Monday” and the more I think about it the more I wonder why it’s not a fan favorite. I love the use of the waterbed from “Dreamland II” (6×5). I love watching Scully fight back her emotions as Mulder dies in her arms. And I love, love, love the unique format of the storytelling.

And before you say it, no. This isn’t an homage to Groundhog Day… which is an interesting surprise. Gilligan got the idea for “Monday” from an episode of The Twilight Zone, which when you think about it, is the perfect place to glean inspiration for The X-Files. But fun though it is, watching Mulder repeat the same day over and over again could have easily turned tedious. Kudos has to go to director Kim Manners for filming it in such a way that the loop doesn’t make us loopy like a slowly dripping faucet. Mulder’s routine picks up speed as the story progresses, finally culminating an a silent montage of shots.

This episode may be proof more than any other that The X-Files could be both hilarious and gripping in the same breath. Unlike “Agua Mala” (6×14) where the creepiness of the case was undermined by an overabundance of comedy or “Terms of Endearment” (6×6) which can’t make up its mind whether it wants to be funny or serious, “Monday” is the perfect blend. You can laugh out loud at an X-File and still take it seriously. It doesn’t have to be either or. If this is “X-Files Light”, sign me up for another helping.

A+

Leftover Nags:

During one scenario, Mulder definitely has the opportunity to shoot Bernard in the head before he flips the switch. So why doesn’t he? Sure, the bomb may go off inadvertendly, but it’ll absolutely go off otherwise.

Dangit, Pam, stop dropping vague hints and allusions and spell it out for Mulder. Write him a letter if you have to.

Wasted Opportunity #1,785: How about just telling Skinner that Bernard has a bomb, huh Pam?

Leftover Comments:

How much do I love Fox Mulder right now? Comforting hysterical women on the fly. Go on with your sensitive self.

So Darren Burrows, the actor who plays Bernard, is the son of Billy Drago who guest stars in “Theef” (7×14).

And the family connections continue. Carrie Hamilton, who plays Pam, is the daughter of Carol Burnett. You can see the resemblance, right? Sadly, Miss Hamilton died in 2002 at the age of 38.

Best Quotes:

Scully: What are you doing down here, Mulder?
Mulder: Having the best damn day of my life. Any moment I’m about to burst into song. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah.

———————

Scully: Look, I got to call you something, right? How about Steve? It’s a nice… honest name. Steve.
Bernard Oates: Bernard.

———————

Scully: Since when did you get a waterbed?
Mulder: I might just as easily not have a waterbed and then I’d be on time for this meeting. You might just as easily have stayed in medicine and not gone into the F.B.I., and then we would never have met. Blah, blah, blah…

———————

Mulder: I mean, I woke up, I opened my eyes, I was soaking wet… It’s a long story, but I had the distinct sensation that I had lived that moment before.
Scully: Well, you may have. Did you do a lot of drinking in college?