Tag Archives: Trevor

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

Milagro 6×18: I live in my head.


“After having worked on The X-Files for so many years and really spent so much time thinking about these characters of Mulder and Scully, you do fall in love with them a bit, you do obsess about them. You find yourself thinking about them for hours and hours and hours. And that’s what Milagro’s about. It’s about the power of that kind of obsession.”

                                                                                    -Frank Spotnitz

Yeah. Me too, Frank. Only I don’t get paid for it.

You’ve heard it all about “Milagro” before. How writers Spotnitz and Shiban came up with the idea after commiserating over the trials and tribulations of creative life. How the character of Padgett is really a stand-in for the writers on The X-Files, right down to his board full of index cards.

I will let smarter, more academically disciplined heads than I grapple with the more intellectual issues that “Milagro” raises — authorial intent, metafiction and the viewer as voyeur. That’s not why I’m here. I have a simplistic outlook on the “Milagro” message: Dana Scully is a friend of mine.

“Au contraire,” you say, “Dana Scully doesn’t exist.”

“Au contraire,” I mimic, “Dana Scully exists absolutely.”

You’ve heard it all about “Milagro” before. How writers Spotnitz and Shiban came up with the idea after commiserating over the trials and tribulations of creative life. How the character of Padgett is a stand-in for The X-Files’ writing team, even his matching board full of index cards.

I’m going to let smarter, more academically disciplined heads than I grapple with the more intellectual issues that “Milagro” raises – authorial intent, metafiction and the viewer as voyeur. That’s not why I’m here. I have a much more simplistic outlook on the “Milagro” message: Dana Scully is a friend of mine.

“Au contraire,” you say, “Dana Scully doesn’t exist.”

“Au contraire,” I mimic, “Dana Scully exists absolutely.”

“There’s nothing wrong with my state of mental health. I like it here with my childhood friend. Here they come, those feelings again!”

                                                                               –Men at Work

Dana Scully is real. She lives in my head. She probably lives in yours too. She gets around like that.

You see, an idea is real. It’s an intangible reality that’s as real as any physical manifestation. Faith is real. Hope is real. Love is real. No one but of Karl Marx would call me crazy for believing that. But if I said that I would only believe Faith was real if it stood before me and I touched the proverbial scars in its hands, then I’d have earned my right to a padded cell.

Dana Scully is an idea. She started out in the mind of Chris Carter the Beloved; she was translated into the written word by various scribes; she was interpreted in the body of Gillian Anderson the Sacred; she was relayed through a series of messengers, directors, photographers and editors; and at last, she was accepted by faith into the hearts and minds of many a television addict.

Like a game of Telephone, doubtless, Dana Scully as she began is not the same Dana Scully that viewers know and love. Every hand she passes through shapes and creates her, including the audience that eventually receives her, until she is such a recognizable and independent form that even an objective observer can say, “That’s Dana Scully” or “That’s not Dana Scully” the same way they could say “That’s patriotism” or “That’s narcissism.” She’s her own entity, moving at her own speed and toward her own destination despite Chris Carter’s original intentions. At least, that’s what “Milagro” says.

Back when I first started to watch The X-Files, I was watching reruns on FX and was way behind the then current run of the show. Before I swore off the internet and chatrooms (see the upcoming “The Unnatural” review), I couldn’t resist doing a little investigating into the future of the Mulder/Scully relationship. You can only imagine my 14-year-old horror when I discovered that Chris Carter had sworn on a stack of show bibles that Mulder and Scully would never be a romantic pair. I’m not ashamed to say I felt something akin to panic.

So I did the only thing I could and attempted to console myself by watching more of The X-Files. I watched and was quickly comforted — What I saw didn’t match up with what Chris Carter had so adamantly avowed. It’s then that the rebellious thought occurred to me, “That man doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Said thought was accompanied by the dismissive facial expression only a 14-year-old can make.

Arrogant? Yes.

How can the viewer claim to know more than the creator? In my defense, I instinctively knew from watching the real Dana Scully what her Pygmalion-like creator may have still been in denial about, that come what may, she was falling in love with Fox Mulder. It didn’t matter what anyone else said, including Chris Carter. Scully told me. It was the gospel truth.

The more cynical among us might say that Carter eventually caved in the MSR department only because of fan pressure and ratings, but I’m not of a cynical turn. A Mulder/Scully romance would have happened eventually because their relationship naturally evolved irrespective of original intent or outside expectations. By Season 6, to keep them apart much longer would have been more unrealistic than a man-sized worm. My Philey Sense tells me that Chris Carter realized this and just went with the flow.

Philip Padgett, Scully’s creepy admirer, is a not so subtle, if far less socially adept, substitute for Carter himself — a writer whose character has escaped his control long enough to write her own script while he wasn’t looking. Like I said, intangible ≠ unreal. Scully is so much her own person, such a fully fleshed idea, that Padgett can no longer predict her choices. The question is then, did he ever really? Where does the writer’s intention end and the real Dana Scully begin?

I don’t know the answer to that exactly but I know that it’s not just the writer who creates her. According to that earlier game of Telephone, the idea of Dana Scully is communicated to a series of people through a series of mediums and the method of communication itself is in part what shapes her.

In a lot of ways, I bet life is easier for a novelist than a television writer. A novelist creates and idea and shapes it with words, communicating directly with his audience. A television writer sees his vision revised by several sets of minds and hands until what the viewers at home see may or may not be recognizable to him. But that’s just tough cookies.

Is it a wonder fans sometimes act like they own Scully? We’re partially responsible for creating her. Not that any of us can take credit for the original brilliance of idea that she is, but we’ve taken that idea and obsessed over it until it’s taken a concrete form in our own minds; she’s a shared idea. Ten Philes from ten different countries with ten different perspectives could sit around and talk about her like they all know her… because they all do. Great fiction tends to work like that. (For instance, I recognized Hogwarts the instant I saw it on the big screen. I had already seen it in my mind’s eye, after all. Funny, but my best friend and her mind’s eye recognized it too.) And great characters live on long after you stop reading or watching them.

And I suppose that’s why The X-Files was/is a benchmark of fanfiction. It created characters whose adventures its audience couldn’t help but chronicle offscreen because they existed, waiting to be chronicled. After all, how could a TV show hold them any more than it could hold you or me? In fanfiction, the viewer becomes the writer, flipping the natural order on its head, but at the same time, drawing even more attention to the heart of the process of characterization.

The milagro, the real miracle here is the mysterious power of the obsessive mind to create life where there was none. No, these earthly creators can’t breathe the physical breath of life into Dana Scully, but they can do pretty much everything shy of it, to the point where I sometimes find myself wondering how it could be possible that Dana Scully isn’t standing in front of me with eyebrow raised in inquisition the way Naciamento appears before Padgett…. Though I suppose she’d come for Chris Carter first. But I’m next.

Right at this moment, “Milagro” is playing in the background. And if Dana Scully were to plant her fingers on the bottom of my television screen and pull herself out only mild surprise would register on my face.

She already exists in my head, why shouldn’t she exist in my room?

No, I’m not done yet:

The great thing about “Milagro” is that there are so many intellectual and emotional questions raised on various levels that like any good work of fiction, there are many ways to read it. There isn’t another episode quite like it as it’s more meta, and more overtly artistic, than The X-Files is usually comfortable with. That’s why it feels so personal.

While Shiban and Spotnitz rough drafted the idea of “Milagro”, it was Carter, the creator himself who wrote it up which is so fitting you’d think someone had scripted it. What? You didn’t recognize his legendary purple prose? I swear, he must’ve been holding the thesaurus open with one hand for this one. All these years and I never realized he was actually holding back most episodes. Here he lets it all hang out, using his skills in flowery verbiage to purposeful effect, making it difficult to distinguish between the actual goings-on of the Scully mind and the writer’s fantasy, for those are two separate things both in the world of “Milagro” and in this one.

Fortunately for all of us, the well-rounded Chris Carter is no Philip Padgett, though it’s possible he identifies with him all too well in some ways. Padgett is the worst kind of stereotype of a writer: a perfect rainbow of awkward socialization, barren existence, and excessive highbrow language. And in his youthful arrogance, he believes that as the author he actually has authority over his characters. Ha! He learns that lesson.

Padgett is wonderfully played by 1013 repeat offender John Hawkes, who previously guest starred on Millennium and auditioned for the role of Pinker Rawls in “Trevor” (6×17). The part of Padgett was actually written with him in mind so it’s not surprising that he fills it well. Somehow, despite his gratingly calm assurance and his Creepy McCreepy vibe Padgett manages to be an empathetic character. We start to glimpse his humanity when he first confronts Scully before the painting of the Sacred Heart, a scene that quietly reveals the root of this episode that’s all about the relationship between creator and created.

It’s the God-given desire to share love.

That’s what Padgett tries to explain to Scully through the story of Jesus and St. Margaret Mary. That’s why any creator creates, to share their heart, good, bad or indifferent. That’s what humans are designed to do is share the love in their hearts. Maybe for the writer, that love is easier to express in writing. Maybe for the fan, the writer’s love is easier to share in because it takes place in an alternate reality of fiction.

I’m going to shamelessly take Pagett’s story of Jesus’ Sacred Heart even further: in the same way the Creator speaks into existence fully formed personalities and then gives them free will, a human creator is at his best when he, through his love, forms an idea so powerful that it has a life of its own.

Why does the writer write? To share his heart. Why does the reader read or the watcher watch? To share the heart of the writer. Who is Dana Scully? She’s the collective beating hearts of the writers and the watchers. She’s the idea they all love.

“Imagine that.”

            -Philip Padgett

A

The Middle C of Consciousness:

Since when do 16-year-olds take out personal ads?

You want to stop the killings, Padgett? Here’s an idea, stop writing this drivel. You’re not Stephen King.

If I were Scully, no way I would have kept drinking Padgett’s coffee. Freaks like that drug people.

“I think you know me better than that, Mulder.” Scully isn’t good at lying to Mulder. She should stop trying, but she won’t – “En Ami” (7×15).

Scully’s spent so long trying to avoid becoming the object of inappropriate or demeaning sexual desire on the job that she’s thrown out the baby with the bath water. She’s forgotten how flattering it can be to be admired. Well, the camera makes up for that because it takes its time admiring her here.

You’ll notice Scully’s top button stays unbuttoned this entire episode. Or at least when she’s wearing buttons.

I love that Mulder’s biggest argument against Pagett being able to imagine reality before it occurs is that Padgett can’t be accurate in what he wrote about Scully.

It’s interesting that Padgett realizes Scully’s already in love at a moment where, on the surface, she’s protecting Padgett. He knows she’s protecting Mulder from himself.

Hegelian Self-Justification:

My favorite part about Padgett’s “Agent Scully is already in love” pronouncement… well, besides the smug satisfaction of knowing Chris Carter wrote that line himself, is how neither Mulder nor Scully is flustered by it. There isn’t a “What??” reaction. It’s more like, “Hmm… where does this guy get his intel?” Neither of them is taken aback at all.

After that, somewhere in my imagination, I used to think that Scully’s eyes followed Padgett while Mulder’s eyes followed Scully. However, I watched very, very closely this time. Several times. Mulder glances down at Scully, briefly, one time. But it’s a very telling time.

This is one of Mark Snow’s best scores.

According to Chris Carter, this is Sean Penn’s favorite episode.

I have to admit that it wasn’t till about half-way through my first viewing of this episode that I started enjoying it. It’s highly stylized so the tone and intent are not easy (for some of us… me) to lock onto. It took years before the meta-message of the author (Chris Carter) losing control of his characters (Mulder and Scully) sunk in. I still can’t say I adore it the way some fans do, but it does make me think.

That “Titian hair” line makes me smile because it recalls to mind my first obsession: Anne of Green Gables. What is it with me and redheads?

Real? Not real? The conversation continues… Who Really Writes the Stories?

Best Quotes:

Scully: Loneliness is a choice.
Padgett: So how about a cup of coffee?

——————

Padgett: By their nature words are imprecise and layered with meaning – the signs of things, not the things themselves. It’s difficult to say who’s in charge.

——————
Padgett: Big mistake. I misjudged her character, her interest in me.
Naciamento: Now we’re on to something.
Padgett: She’s only trying to get his attention but doesn’t know it.

——————

Naciamento: Why do I want their hearts?
Padgett: You tell me. Why do you do it?
Naciamento: I’m your character. You tell me. My reason is your reason.
Padgett: I want to feel love.
Naciamento: No. No. You had it right up to there. You were a tool of the truth. And when it finally arrives — when I arrive — you don’t want to see it.
Padgett: But what is the truth?
Naciamento: Man imagines that he, too, can open up his heart and expose the burning passion — the flames of charity — like the creator himself but… this is not in his power.

——————-

Padgett: I made a mistake myself.
Mulder: What’s that, Mr. Padgett?
Padgett: In my book, I’d written that Agent Scully falls in love, but that’s obviously impossible. Agent Scully is already in love.

 

Trevor 6×17: I just wanted another chance.


Don’t we all?

Scully: Spontaneous human combustion.
Mulder: Scully…!
Scully: Well, isn’t that where you’re going with this?
Mulder: Dear Diary, today my heart leapt when Agent Scully suggested spontaneous human combustion…
Scully: Mulder, there are one or two somewhat well-documented cases…
Mulder: [Makes an effort at a conciliatory expression]
Scully: Mulder, shut up!

And I could end this review right here.

Believe it or not, my favorite part of that moment isn’t the “Dear Diary” hilarity. It’s when Mulder says, “Scully,” like she just paid him the sweetest compliment he’s ever been given, or rather like she just surprised him with two front row tickets to the Knicks game. He’s inordinately touched.

From the inspired banter to a socially backward antagonist in charge of the forces of nature, “Trevor” is about as classic an X-File as you can get. I may even have to take the title of “Most Classic of Season 6” away from the well-intentioned but flawed “Agua Mala” (6×14) to give it to the more well-rounded “Trevor”.

Its success shouldn’t be a surprise since one half of its writing team is former X-Files production crew Property Master Ken Hawryliw. Having worked on the show in Vancouver for five years, if anyone is familiar with what constitutes an X-File, he is. We’ve seen this kind of behind-the-scenes to front of the class success before with Special Effects Supervisor Mat Beck’s “Wetwired” (3×23) and Executive Producer R.W. Goodwin’s “Demons” (4×23). All three episodes are among the best of their respective seasons, all three are underappreciated. For this one, Hawryliw teams up with writer Jim Guttridge so I can’t forget to spread the credit around, but I am again amazed by the multi-tasking talent on this show.

I’ve never loved Season 6 quite this much before. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed it. I was never a Season 6 hater. But I’m especially struck this rewatch by how frighteningly consistent it is in quality. Okay, there are some slight missteps as there are in every season, but there’s only one trip and fall – “Alpha” (6×16). Other than that, it’s one near perfect hour of television after another.

“Trevor” continues that trend though you may not guess it based just on how often episodes are discussed on the boards. Somehow, this little gem seems to slip under the radar of fans. I can only think that in a season full of more attention grabbing episodes like “Triangle” (6×3)  that it’s easy to get lost in the mix.

But I’m not one to talk because I don’t think I’ve ever fully appreciated “Trevor” before either. I thought about why for a minute and I figured it out: I had never watched it directly after “Alpha” before because I always (accidentally, I swear) skip “Alpha” and go straight to the next DVD and watch “Trevor” right after “Arcadia” (6×13). Watching the already weak “Alpha” crumble like a stale cookie at its climax leaves me with all the greater relief at the tension and emotional high stakes of “Trevor”. This climax delivers. Where I rolled my eyes at Scully’s look of pity for Karin at the end of “Alpha”, Mulder’s bittersweet empathy here for the doomed Pinker Rawls strikes a chord.

You see, Pinker is both the antagonist and the protagonist. He’s the villain and the hero, the victim of his own personal Greek tragedy. All Pinker wants is a second chance at life and the son that was stolen from him represents that possibility. Sure, he’s a cold-blooded psychopath, but psychopaths need love too.

I don’t think there’s ever any question that this man isn’t fit to be loose in society. But it’s hard to fault his desire for fatherhood and the normalcy that comes with it. In Trevor he imagines his chance to finally become the man a young boy would want as a father. It’s only when he sees Trevor’s terror at the end in that phone booth that he realizes he himself is destroying his own chances of experiencing real fatherhood.

On the other hand, June, his former lover whose family he terrorizes in an effort to find Trevor, is far less sympathetic than Pinker. Ostensibly, her only real crime is having hooked up with Pinker Rawls. She’s just a girl trying to make it out of the trailer park and onto Park Avenue. However, she hasn’t chosen to hand over the raising of Trevor to her sister out of some emotional aversion to mothering Pinker’s child but because it’s hard to catch a good man when you’re saddled with a kid.

She’s not trying to become something else so much as she’s trying to pretend she’s someone else. In contrast, Pinker knows he’s a killer and doesn’t attempt to suddenly reform now that he’s loose. But he’s a killer that wants to be more than just a killer and June ultimately takes that hope away from him, not once but twice, the last time for good. Nope, I can’t say I like June.

Verdict:

Please understand that if you’re ever randomly gifted with freaky “gods of Olympus” style powers you cannot use them to force someone to be with you. That’s a no-no. We’ve seen this type of situation go badly before.

There are echoes of “D.P.O.” (3×3) here, not only because we have an… er… less than morally adept gentleman who can control the forces of nature because he survived a freak storm, but because that same dude keeps chasing after someone he can’t have and leaves destruction in his wake. It’s that desperation for another human being who would be good for them but who they themselves are no good for that links Darren Peter Oswald and Wilson Pinker Rawls in spirit. They’re like X-Files blood brothers, both unsympathetic and yet tragic at the same time.

Yes, the look Mulder gives June at the end of the episode says it all: Killing Pinker Rawls was unnecessarily cruel. He had already let Trevor go. Then again, Pinker allows her to do it. I guess he realizes all his chances are gone.

Undeserving though Pinker is, in that moment you know he’s been robbed of something precious.

A

I want what’s mine:

Since when do people board up for tornadoes? Shouldn’t they be bunkered in a basement somewhere? And if a tornado is coming, who has time to pick a fight?

Is it supposed to be ironic that Pinker went to prison with so many condoms on hand meanwhile he had a kid he didn’t know about? Or am I finding things that aren’t there?

Wow. Scully knows the ICD9 billing code for c-sections. That’s ridiculous.

Shouldn’t Pinker have been able to reach his hand through the metal part of the phone booth?

Is Jackie dead?? Pinker seems to be able to touch people like a normal fella when he so chooses. Perhaps all that’s left of Jackie’s face is an ashen hole. Perhaps not.

Give me my son:

That’s a pretty O, Brother, Where Art Thou? style prison we open upon.

I love the way Scully reaches for Trevor’s hand right before they run for the phone booth.

If a naked man is chasing after you in the dark of the Mississippi night, it’s a good idea to run even if he can’t walk through walls.

Best Quotes:

Scully: Should we arrest David Copperfield?
Mulder: [Nods] Yes, we should. But not for this.

The Walk 3×7: Nobody knows how I feel.


Tread lightly.

“The Walk” marks the first solo offering from staple of The X-Files’ writing team, John Shiban. He teams up with the man who is already arguably The X-Files’ most famous director, Rob Bowman, to give us a story taken straight out of The Age of Aquarius – The 1970s.

Oh sure, it’s the Gulf War these veterans are tragedies of, but couldn’t it just as easily have been Vietnam? What with Astral Projection and backwards recordings making a comeback, I was just waiting for Mulder to make a joke about 8-tracks and John Travolta. It never happens, which is a sad waste, but combined with the distrust of government we see in the mythology episodes that no doubt comes out of the writers having witnessed the Nixon administration, “The Walk” only sharpens any suspicions about what generation the creative heads behind The X-Files are products of.

Everything starts out beautifully with a frightening teaser and some poetically filmed opening shots. The scene where we see maimed and wounded veterans gathered for a group psychology session is notably striking. But things start to devolve from there as we’re introduced to our antagonist for the next forty minutes or so, Leonard Trimble. It’s not a name most X-Philes even remember.

I thought long and hard about why I’ve never really liked this episode despite the fact that it contains some very pleasing moments and I’ve finally narrowed it down, mostly, to Leonard. Here’s a man who has lost not one, but two legs and not one, but two arms in service to his country. Even if the audience doesn’t like him, they should be able to feel for him. Certainly, most of us are unable to empathize with such a dramatic loss, but surely we can sympathize. It would be that identification with his situation that could potentially create a powerful dissonance; we know we shouldn’t side with the villain but part of us does. We want him to have some relief. The problem is, that doesn’t happen here.

Leonard Trimble has one note that he plays over and over. He yells and furrows his brow because maybe if he does it enough times everyone will know how angry he is. He doesn’t want pity, he doesn’t want healing, he just wants everyone else to lose too. But this character needed more than anger, he needed pathos. At no point did it really feel like he was hurt or suffering. As Mulder says, his bitterness has left him devoid of humanity. But as the super soldiers prove in later seasons, an inhuman villain isn’t nearly as interesting as an imperfect one. Instead of being frightening or compelling, Leonard Trimble is a punk.

Mulder: You’re a soldier! You knew what you were getting into when you enlisted. Now you want to blame everybody else. Why do you want to blame your C.O.s?

Leonard Trimble: I blame them for what happened to all of us! You don’t know what it was like. You… you sat at home and watched the war on cable TV like it was a damn video game. You have no idea about the guys that died, about the blood and the sand and what it feels like when a hit comes. The thing is you just don’t care, do you?

Now see, there’s a wealth of emotional material right there waiting to be mined. But alas, that’s as far as the episode goes on the tracks of that train of thought. With a more emotional backstory, that indictment of the American public could have been powerful.

This episode isn’t a lost cause, however. In fact, there are positively great moments that would compel me to put a sticker by Rob Bowman’s name if he were in my Sunday School class. The scene where the phantom Leonard Trimble attacks Captain Draper in the pool is a masterful one. It’s filmed like something out of a movie instead of a 1990s TV show. Then there’s the scene where poor little Trevor learns the danger of playing too long in the sandbox; it’s disturbing but wonderfully done.

And surely all who watch this episode point their fingers at the screen and say, “Hey!” when Roach’s character is introduced. Roach is played by actor Willie Garson who has guest starred on just about every television series known to mankind. In case you thought his guest spot here was too brief, he’ll be back in Season 7 for “The Goldberg Variation” (7×2).

One last note about Scully’s characterization: Now, I love no-nonsense Scully as much as the next fangirl. But some episodes it’s as though the writers scripted lemons into her diet and it’s impossible for her to unclench her jaw or unpurse (It’s a word. I made it up.) her lips. It’s noticeable particularly now because Scully so far has had a lot more color in Season 3 than she had in Season 2, more variation. In the episodes to come she’ll branch out even more.

…And the Verdict is:

X-Files fans are already familiar with mutants and monsters that prey on others out of physical need. We saw it in “Squeeze” (1×2) and even as recently as “2Shy” (3×6). But this is a new sub-genre where we have a monster not created by nature, but from disease or injury; a monster that clings to his ailment and chooses to be a monster. This one was so-so, but The X-Files will blow this concept out of the park in “Pusher” (3×17).

This is another episode where Mulder and Scully are helpless to prevent anything, instead they decipher events as they unfold. Is that bad? Well, it would take The X-Files to a whole new level of fantasy a la Dr. Who if Mulder and Scully always found a way to put an end to paranormal phenomenon. Heck, they’re not even trained in exorcism.

I don’t think we ever really understand why Leonard Trimble’s soul was so destroyed that he would be willing to kill innocent children for the sake of revenge. Maybe an answer to that silent question would have transformed the episode.

Whatever the case, I think we’ve had enough Revenge/I Shall Smite Mine Enemies episodes for one season, don’t you?

C+

Nagging Questions:

I know it’s Mulder’s job to make eerily accurate leaps in logic, but this one is just too much for me. How did he know to look for signs of Astral Projection before he even showed up? What was it that made him think what these men were seeing wasn’t a ghost or some far more obscure paranormal phenomenon?

Random Thoughts:

What’s with the writers giving the name Trevor to young boys? They even go so far as to give a boy named Trevor his own episode. “Trevor” (6×17)

Come to think of it, what’s with the name Leonard? “Leonard Betts” (4×14)

This has nothing to do with anything, but Nick Chinlund just came on my television screen as a guest star on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and my heart went, “Donnie Pfaster! Aww!”

Best Quotes:

General Callahan: I want you to know I’ve had the Captain contact the Justice Department and let them know about the F.B.I.’s gross misconduct here.
Mulder: I guess this isn’t a good time to thank you for seeing us, huh?

——————-

Mulder: Sometimes the only sane response to an insane world is insanity.