Eve

EveWhat I remembered about this episode is that the twins were evil (aren’t they always?) and so was Harriet Harris’ character(s).  I had forgotten the whole clone project storyline that could serve as a nice prequel for Orphan Black.

Decades ago, children were cloned for experimental purposes.  The girls were “Eve” and the boys “Adam.”  The girls possessed an exceptionally high intelligence quotient, but suffered from mental psychosis and homicidal tendencies.  They scattered to the winds, but one grew up to be a genetic scientist herself, Sally Kendrick and another is found in a high security prison mental institution, designed along the lines of Hannibal Lecter’s.  Of course, that’s fitting since the character of Scully was modeled after Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling.

The case ends up with Mulder and Scully when a man is killed by what seems to be exsanguination.  After Bad Blood it’s impossible to consider this theory without giggling and the slides that Mulder shows Scully of exsanguinated cows don’t help.  The man’s 8 year old daughter was the only witness to his death and all she remembers is red lightning preceding the incident, then she was left in some kind of daze.  Mulder thinks her memory loss may be linked to alien abduction.

It’s hard to describe Scully’s amused reaction to Mulder.  Neither her eyes or lips actually smile, so I can’t explain how I really know that she’s smiling on the inside, but I do and she confirms this when she mocks Mulder later.  The look on her face is actually so sober that you might think she was fed up with Mulder, but actually her response is much more gentle and affectionate than that.  She’s not against him as she was in Bad Blood or as Mulder sometimes she imagines she is even in less comedic episodes.  She’s doubting, but tolerant and, somehow, still admiring, even when she thinks he’s a nut.

When Mulder and Scully are talking to the 8 year old to investigate one father’s death, they find out the same thing has happened to a man in a different city.  They travel there only to be greeted by another 8 year old, identical to the first.  The girls were both the product of in vitro fertilization.  Mulder and Scully soon figure out that when their parents thought they were having their own eggs implanted in the mother’s, actually they received cloned eggs, pub there by Sally Kendrick, who is now on the lam.

The first 8 year old goes missing and Mulder concludes that Kendrick has kidnapped her and they decide to stand watch over the 2nd 8 year old.  Scully says she’s relieved that Kendrick is the murderer, because she was beginning to suspect the twins.  Mulder poo-poos that notion “no-no-no” he tells her.  Kendrick wanted the parents out of the way so she could reclaim her little Eves.  How I wish that Scully had gotten to say “I told you so” to Mulder before this episode ended!  Well, actually she does.  Once they figure out the clone situation she’s all like, “So, you don’t think it’s exsanguination after all?!”  He just smirks.

This begs the question, why did the twins try to make the murders look like exsanguination anyway?  If their goal was simply to get rid of their fathers, couldn’t they have chosen a more low profile method?  I guess they did it because they are little arrogant geniuses with dark, quirky senses of humor, a lot like Mulder in fact, only cruel where he is compassionate.

Back at their motel, Mulder and Scully are sitting on the bed when the phone rings.  Scully answers and there’s only a clicking sound.  Mulder understand the signal and hurries her outside.  She finds it humorous that he’s obviously trying to get rid of her.  Does he have a girl coming over?  “What’s a girl,” he says.  She’s not threatened by the idea that he might have a date and I suppose that’s comforting.  Maybe I won’t feel so threatened and possessive when I see Phoebe and Mulder together in the next episode, Fire.

When he’s rid of Scully, Mulder meets up with Deep Throat who tells him about the cloning project (again reminiscent of Project Leda on Orphan Black).  I forgot that Deep Throat didn’t just leave an X on Mulder’s window like, um, X does.  Deep Throat too had to earn his nickname in a particular way.  Mulder and Scully visit the mental prison and talk to a strait-jacketed Eve clone.  She’s in there for a gruesome murder.  She screeches whenever the overhead lights are turned on in her cell and so they have to use a flashlight to enter her dark habitat.  So, the most iconic shot of Mulder and Scully using flashlights isn’t because they’re exploring some empty cavernous space.  Nah, they’re just in a tiny jail cell, chatting up a batty woman who’s afraid of the light.

On a similar note, I believe that wardrobe didn’t first put Mulder and Scully in trench coats because they looked cool.  They did it as a pre-emptive strike so they would have something to cover up pregnant Gillian’s burgeoning belly.  The inmate is a first generation clone, just a grown up version of the twins.  One has already been kidnapped (or abducted Scully says, I’m not sure what the difference is, for the plot’s purpose) and they have to watch the other one, for her own good and because she is the lure that will lead them to the killer.

Proving just how abysmal they are as guards, Mulder and Scully only park outside of the 2nd child’s house and gaze up and into her bedroom window, occasionally.  They do nothing to make sure that all of the doors and windows in the abode are secured.  So, they are caught off guard when Sally Kendrick appears in the bedroom window and just snatches the girl from right under their nose.  She got in through the back door, which our FBI agents never thought about protecting.

The twins have actually been taken by an Eve clone, who isn’t Sally Kendrick, who wants to cure them and stop their murdering ways.  They reunite in a motel room where she takes them.  She wonders how they found out about each other.  “We just knew” they say.  Apparently, the could communicate telepathically without ever having met before.  They aren’t interested in being saved and poison Eve.

Mulder and Scully get a tip that they’ve been spotted.  Mulder wants to head to the motel, but Scully thinks they might be at the airport.  Mulder points out that the kid spotted at the motel was giving the gardener tips on what chemicals to use.  She was such a little braniac that she had to be one of the missing twins.  Scully concedes.

When they get to the motel, they find the dead Eve.  The twins tell them that she tried to kill them by putting poison in their drink, but they didn’t take it and she drank it herself.  They pretend to be traumatized and Mulder and Scully comfort and reassure them.  At one point, Scully tells one girl that nothing bad will happen to her.  Oh yeah, look how good of a job she did protecting William!

They start out on the road.  One girl is an orphan, because her father was a single parent.  The other girl is going to be returned to her mother.  It would be nice if the mother would could take both girls, I’m thinking, but that’s not to be.  When the twins find out they are to be separated, they start plotting.  They tell Mulder they have to use the rest room.  He wonders if they can hold it.  Duh!  What’s his hurry?

Scully says she could use a caffeine break, so he stops at a café.  He orders 4 diet cokes.  The girls say they want regular.  Why is he ordering for Scully anyway?  I guess he has worked with her long enough to know what she likes to consume (as we learn again in Dreamland).  They get keys for the restroom.  Scully takes the girls in with her, but one sneaks out and goes to the counter to take the drinks.  The waitress stops her, but she says her dad will pay for the sodas when he returns from the bathroom.  The waitress concedes.

This interests me as one of the first instances when Mulder and Scully are mistaken for husband and wife.  It’s an exchange that shows how devious the twin is, but it makes me wonder if it’s a commentary on Mulder and Scully’s interaction that she correctly assumed that the waitress took them for husband and wife, out with their daughters.

The twin puts poison in the drinks and then tells Mulder and Scully that those beverages are theirs.  It tastes awful sweet and Mulder questions that it is actually “diet” but the twin insists that it is, because she saw the waitress pour it.  Uh, you don’t usually pour carbonated sodas.  I guess she is saying she watched it come out of the dispenser, but just the fact that she said this would have made me suspicious of her.  It doesn’t phase Mulder.

He and Scully head out to the car, but he forgot his keys.  When he returns for them, he sees green substance on the counter and recognizes it as poison.  He runs outside and yells to Scully.  She wonders what his problem is and he says, “I just wanted to open the door for you.”  She looks like she thinks that’s weird, but not as strange as it actually is.  He then knocks the drinks over.  He tells her the girls have poisoned them, but they didn’t drink enough to get sick.  The girls run.

They try to use their innocent appearance to convince passersby that Mulder is harming them.  When good Samaritans try to save the girls and call the police Scully screams, “We are the police!”  Hilarious.  When Mulder finally gets the twins and secures them, they say, “we’re only little girls.”  Sure you are, he retorts.

The girls are locked up in the institution with the other crazy Eve clone.  I’m not exactly sure what type of facility houses children and adults side by side.  Furthermore, that one Eve mutilated and killed with a knife.  At 8 years old, the girls are murderers yes, but haven’t proven as physically violent.  As long as they’re kept away from poison, they shouldn’t need as much security as the grown Eve does, but I suppose we must suspend our disbelief.

As the episode ends we see a new visitor at the institution. She signs in and is led to the prisoners.  It’s Dr. Sally Kendrick.  “We knew you’d come,” say the Eves.  Even though she’s a doctor, since she’s identical to the grown Eve and the hospital must know the whole clone story, I’m not sure why she would be allowed to visit them, unescorted, especially since her medical colleagues have previously informed Mulder and Scully how unprofessional she was when they worked with her before her disappearance.  She shouldn’t be making any facility’s trusted visitor list, let alone this one!  Again, we must suspend our disbelief.

Although, I am aware that in Rain King Mulder claimed he does not gaze at  Scully, I saw him doing it a few times in this episode, peering at her out of the corner of his eye, when her attention is elsewhere.  When it happens in mundane moments, it’s somehow more significant and telling than when it occurs during emotional events (as in Beyond the Sea).

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Monster of the Week | Leave a comment

Fallen Angel

Fallen AngelAnother fun weekend for Mulder. He spends his off-time the same way he spends work time: chasing aliens. Receiving a tip from Deep Throat, he is in Townsend, Wisconsin, hunting a crashed UFO when he crosses into restricted government territory and gets himself arrested. He winds up in a cell next to Max, a nerdy, paranoid paranormal junkie whose similarities to Mulder become more or less obvious, especially when Max says, “trust no one.” Still, Mulder initially writes Max off as cuckoo. Max tells him they’re witnessing a cover up, just like Roswell.

Max would fit in well with the Lone Gunmen.

When Scully shows up at the Townsend prison to bail Mulder out a stream of light falls floods his cell, much like it did in The Truth when Skinner and Scully first see the imprisoned Mulder. There are no kisses this time. The FBI has threatened to close down the X-Files, they have to show up at a hearing in the morning and now Mulder pulls this stunt? He greets her by saying, “I didn’t order room service,” but doesn’t otherwise respond to her scolding.  He scoffs at the government explanation she was given: that they found a downed Libyan warcraft and is not anxious to return for the all-important hearing. He doesn’t care about protocol even if his job is the only thing that allows him to continue tracking conspiracies, even if the limited access it affords him is the only thing that separates him from Max. And Scully wants to follow the rules and save their jobs, even if she doesn’t believe in their work as much as Mulder does.

She believes in what’s “right” as much as he believes in “the truth” but their values converge because her “right” isn’t a hypocritical one. She doesn’t let the people in power define what justice is. She may not share Mulder’s beliefs, but she’s witnesses the dishonesty he’s encountered and that’s what keeps her on his side.

When they arrive at his hotel, it’s in disarray and he guesses housekeeping hasn’t been there yet. They hear noise and he gestures for her to take out her gun. He enters the bathroom and finds Max trying to escape from the window. It turns out, Max is a fan of Mulder’s and just couldn’t resist the urge to snoop around his things. Mulder wonders how Max even knows who he is. They only met in prison hours ago.

Mulder learns that his reputation has proceeded him. There are people watching everything he does (more than one set of people, actually). They know what he’s investigating. Through the Freedom of Information Act, they access his expense reports and know where he goes. Now, I didn’t remember this little tracking detail, but it’s similar to what Mulder and Scully find out later in Alone when we meet Leyla Harrison, who has followed everything that Mulder and Scully have done and to Requiem too, when an auditor questions Mulder about their expenses.

Max not only knows Mulder’s exploits, but is pleased to meet “the enigmatic Dr. Scully” as well. He rises to shake her hand and, before he can, Mulder slams him back into his seat with a firm hand on his shoulder. It doesn’t seem like a protective gesture, but throughout the series, Mulder often places himself between Scully and a third party (he does this at the hospital in Kaddish, for example) and I appreciate the silent, almost unnoticeable, displays of his concern for her even more than the express ones.

Mulder teases Scully about being the enigmatic doctor.  Max says he has something amazing to show them and takes them to his RV outside. Looking at the trappings within, Max seems to be nothing but a tin foil nut, but after some rambling he plays a tape for them in which the government is actually looking for the fallen angel that they would have Mulder believe doesn’t even exist. Mulder gains respect for Max, while Scully looks at the prescription pills on his shelf and concludes that he is schizophrenic.

While the government denies there was a crash, there are burn victims who were in the proximity at the time. An officer orders Mulder and Scully away from the hospital where they are being treated, but a doctor declares that he’s in charge when it comes to health and he wants Scully to stay to help. She does. Mulder returns to the hotel and when he checks in on Max’s RV, he finds Max convulsing on the floor. I don’t know why Mulder doesn’t call 911 immediately. For all he knows the guy could be dying, unless Mulder is an epilepsy expert of some kind and knows the seizure is not life-threatening.

Mulder tries to hold Max’s mouth and body, but I’ve always thought you were supposed to make sure people don’t swallow their tongue as well. Mulder’s not helping on that score. When the seizure is over, Max doesn’t remember what happened. As Mulder helps him into bed, he sees a crescent-shaped scar behind his ears.

Mulder’s at the computer in his motel room when Scully arrives back hours later. She’s exhausted, but still determined to head return to DC in time for their hearing. He tells her about Max’s scar and theorizes that Max has been abducted. As usual, she thinks Mulder is crazy and tells him that Max is on anti-psychotic medicine, but agrees to look in on Max to give her medical opinion on the scar, before they head to the airport.

When they enter the RV, Max is missing. They hear on his scanner that he has invaded a government restricted area and Mulder wants to run off after him. He pats his pocket for his car keys. Scully argues with him that they don’t have time to go running after Max. They have to get to the hearing or The X-Files will be closed and Mulder won’t be in a position to prove anything to anyone.

Finally, he asks her if she has the car keys and she reluctantly gives them to him. I love the little act of passive aggression. She knew she had them all along and didn’t divulge that information, because she didn’t want him to go. I like this small attempt at control from her. It also reminds me of HTGSC and the accusation that Mulder stole Scully’s car keys to keep her from leaving the haunted house on Christmas Eve.

They find Max in some abandoned building. When they hear the military approaching, I think Mulder tells Scully to go out and keep them at bay. At any rate, she doesn’t do anything to try to bar their entrance into the facility. Even though she rolls her eyes when they take away her gun, she doesn’t even vocally protest much and she’s not as alarmed as I would expect her to be at the prospect of them invading a structure that Mulder is in with their guns and explosives. I’d expect her to be frantic about Mulder (and Max’s) safety and she’s not, especially.

The military censors say that THREE people are in the building and this perplexes Scully, who only left two inside. She’s even more puzzled when an update finds only ONE person in the building. Inside, an amazed Mulder sees Max levitate into the air and disappear before his eyes, taken by the invisible alien presence that entered the structure. Wonder suffuses Mulder’s face. It’s an amazement akin to pleasure. Despite his sister’s abduction, whatever pain she suffered and the guilt that destroyed his family afterwards, Mulder is a little boy at heart. He wants to believe in aliens, like other children want to believe in superheroes. Heh, I suppose this is not a revelation, given the omnipresent “I Want to Believe” poster, but from here to Field Trip to Requiem, Mulder wants to see aliens, even if it means physical torture or mental destruction. Yes, he’d protect Scully, but has no sense of self-preservation. Eventually though, he’s got to realize that by not saving himself, he is endangering her. Love is … taking others down the perilous roads you choose for yourself, even if you tell them not to follow.

By the time the military explodes into the building, Max is gone. Back in D.C. Scully is speaking at the hearing. She incriminates Mulder by saying that to her knowledge, they were not assigned to investigate the fallen angel. Yes, Mulder was driving the rental car that invaded government territory. She tries to put in a good word for him, but is cut off. She doesn’t seem too torn up with guilt about it, though. When it’s his turn to testify, she reads the paper and learns that, as usual, the government has concealed everything that happened in Townsend, in the press.

When he testifies at the hearing, Mulder learns that Max’s body was found in a crate and leaves, angry and disheartened. The committee’s recommendation is to close the X-Files, but the head agent, section Chief McGrath, finds that this decision is countermanded by his superior, who turns out to be Deep Throat.

The agent wants to know why Deep Throat isn’t taking this opportunity to be rid of Mulder forever. We get the first of many excuses as to why they can’t just disappear Mulder. He knows too much. Deep Throat says keep your friends close and your enemies closer – and we know that by “enemies” Deep Throat means McGrath, not Mulder.

Posted in Mytharc | Leave a comment

Space

spaceSpace ties with Hell Money as the least liked X-File of all time. Chinga comes in a close third. While I can defend Hell Money, Space?  Not so much.

Who thought that placing 60% of an episode in a control room would make for riveting tv, especially when half of that time is spent observing a forgettable guest character, Michelle, tensely check her monitors, as a worried Mulder grimaces behind her?

Sure, there’s a MOTW, but it’s a … FACE. Ripped from the headlines, it’s an actual image of the moon’s surface that just happens to resemble a human countenance. Somehow the spirit behind this face followed a former astronaut, Lieutenant Colonel Belt, back to earth. He’s now in charge of the space program and when recent NASA launches are plagued with mishaps and dangerous near misses, the chief dispatcher at mission control, Michelle, seeks Mulder’s help. She thinks the space ships (including the Challenger) are being sabotaged from within NASA. Her fiancé is on the next launch and she wants to ensure his safety.

Mulder and Scully head to NASA and are on hand for the launch of the next spaceship OTC.  We’ve never met the astronauts in the spacecraft.  They’re just voices talking to “Houston,” Mission Control.  Our investment in their safety is vicarious at best.  Michelle is worried about them, so we’re supposed to be concerned too.  If you want an audience to feel involved, you have to put them inside the space ship.  The fact that for expository purposes, Mulder has to lengthily explain what’s happening to Scully at every turn doesn’t help.  It makes her look dense and further stultifies an episode that was painfully static already.

There are some cute moments.  When Mulder meets Belt, we see that he’s star struck.  Belt was a childhood hero of his.  Watching Mulder fawn, Scully is amused and teases Mulder that he should have asked for the man’s autograph.  In these early episodes, it’s gratifying just to look at Scully’s placid, freckled face and clear eyes and to remember the loyalty and depth you felt behind her gaze, even before it was fully revealed in the plot lines.

Little things make Mulder and Scully seem closer than Chris Carter probably intended them to be, like when they ascend an escalator side by side, sharing a narrow stair or when Scully passes through a doorway facing Mulder, rather than with her back turned to him, which would be more natural.  But they aren’t the only ones acting familiarly.

To me, there seemed to be a vibe between Mulder and Michelle.  I thought it was curious when she ran down a corridor calling, “Mulder,” although Scully was standing right beside him.  It seemed rather intimate, but only on this show would I think calling someone by their surname is akin to a caress.  As for her ignoring Scully, I suppose that’s one of the series’ conceits.  When you talk only to him, it comes to mean several things:  that she’s only his sidekick (a conclusion she rails against in Never Again and Milagro); that this is his quest and she’s only along for the ride, which everyone senses immediately; that he’s the boss (which he is, technically), that he’s the decider (which is usually the case and there’s beauty in the tension that arises whenever she countermands) or that they are one and if it involves Mulder, then they both automatically take part (the sentiment that most closely expresses Mulder’s view).

At any rate, when Mulder reassures Michelle with his hands on her waist or she jumps up and hugs him in relief when the OTC is out of harm’s way, I start wondering if these two have known each other for more than a day.  Do Duchovny and this actress have a past or something?

Unfortunately, musings like that are about as interesting as it gets.  Mulder is disillusioned when Belt conceals the problems in the space program, to keep from losing government funding.  He seemingly places delivering a payload above the astronauts’ lives.  But once it turns out he’s being haunted by a space monster, Mulder thinks Belt can use his paranormal knowledge to get the OTC back to earth safely.  This part of the plot is murky.  The space monster is sabotaging the launches, but why?  Does it want earthlings to stop coming to the moon?

If so, if Belt wants to be free of the monster, why doesn’t he push to stop the launches? Mulder ultimately paints Belt as a hero, but he was the one who kept putting astronauts in harm’s way, when he knew there was a mysterious force working against them.  I’m as distrustful of Belt’s motives as Scully and Michelle are.

Belt says that “it” doesn’t want them to find out.  But we’re left to wonder who’s not supposed to find out about what?  Does the moon face not want people to find out that the government is in league with aliens? Is it trying to conceal the fact that there is alien life on the moon?  If that’s the case, maybe it could keep it’s secret best if it stopped haunting people!

Belt gives the OTC orders that puts the astronauts at greater risk and when Michelle challenges him, he calls her an emotional female, who is putting her personal feelings ahead of her job.  She runs off crying.  To the extent that Michelle and her fiancé are supposed to be a reflection of Mulder and Scully, I don’t like the comparison.

Belt finally has a nervous breakdown and winds up in the fetal position.  He’s having an attack and Scully calls for a doctor.  Hey, Dana, you are a doctor. When the paramedics arrive,  Scully wants to give Belt diazepam, but Mulder won’t let them, he tells Belt to focus and to instruct them on how to bring the OTC back into earth’s atmosphere without burning up.  Belt says to come in at 35 degrees and change their course.  It’s a solution that works, but Belt wasn’t giving them this advice when he was being possessed or before his breakdown either.  It only comes when he’s near death. So, it seems to me that if he wasn’t actively sabotaging the launches, then he was still undermining their safety by withholding information.  Even when he wasn’t crazed by the Space Face monster, he wasn’t a hero.

Also, I need some explanation as to how Belt knew altering the degree angle would save the OTC.  It’s not that these MOTW plots ever make sense, but there should at least be quasi-logic behind them.  In the end, when he’s in the hospital, Belt is attacked by the Space monster once again and throws himself out the window, prompting Mulder to say, ‘He gave himself for his country.’  Huh?  First of all, he didn’t seem to be sane when he committed suicide.  So, it’s not like he made a conscious effort to save the world from himself (or the demons that controlled him) by jumping.  Secondly, it was never clear to me that the face demon was making him do bad things, because even when he was self-possessed and rational, he wasn’t rescuing anyone.

With Belt dead, Michelle steps into his shoes and, like him, she conceals facts of the imperiled space mission from the media.  Is she going to put public relations concerns above human life, like Belt did.  Her fiancé also saw something strange in space when the OTC was in orbit, will he be haunted by Space Face in the future, like Belt was? The show leaves you with these questions, but without much incentive to ponder them.

I don’t long for action in my plots, but when there isn’t much of a plot at all, movement wouldn’t hurt.  I had more fun watching Tony and Roger run around NASA on I Dream of Jeanie than I did watching Mulder and Scully in Space.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Monster of the Week | Leave a comment

Ice

ice331AI remember Duchovny saying that this is the episode that “rocked” for him.  I did not start watching the show from the pilot.  I had to catch up later and did not watch the early shows in order.  Therefore, I cannot say whether I would have thought Ice was better than the 6 that preceded it, if I’d seen them chronologically, but I do remember how struck I was by the way it stressed concepts that ran strongly through the show for its entire run and how impressed I was by how much tension and suspense could be created by relationship issues alone, little action necessary.

Of course, the episode possesses action, but it’s the psychological impact that reigns.  I was shocked at how deeply I felt Mulder’s sense of betrayal, especially when Duchovny was not chewing the scenery.  The quieter Mulder is, the more intense.  When he puts his fingers on Scully’s neck, I jumped almost as sharply as she did.  Of course, the most delicious thing about that contact is he surprised her, but once she realized it was him, did she feel more attraction than fear?  The sexual undercurrent in that sense was one of the best in the whole series.

In the intro we see two crazed men in an Alaskan silo, amidst other dead bodies.  One has scrawled “we are not who we are.”  When the come face to face, they turn their guns on each other, but then each slowly moves his arm, aims the gun at his own temple.  Then fires.  As we learn more, I don’t really understand why they did this.  Once we see people infected first hand (Nancy and Bear), once they are inhabited by the worm, they don’t have a strong selfless streak.  I don’t think they would have thought about killing themselves instead of everyone else, so why did these two men do it??

After the credits we’re in the basement office where Mulder explains the crime to Scully.  They are being sent to the arctic to find out how and why the crew died.  They’ve been assigned the case even though it’s not an X-File on the surface, perhaps because they’re expendable, he muses.  Duchovny’s case exposition is rather stilted and looking back, one would think that this early episode was filmed before the actors felt completely comfortable in their roles, but as the story continues, Duchovny is fully Mulder.  Seven shows him, he defines in a nutshell we can use as our guide for the next 8.5 years.

They fly to Nome and meet up with 3 other scientists who are supposed to help them solve the puzzle.  They seem suspicious of the government’s involvement and skeptical of FBI agents Mulder and Scully from the beginning, as if they’re there to cover things up, rather than get to the truth.  Given the mass death of the last crew, Hodge is gruff and wary.  He wants everyone to show their credentials to prove who they are who they say they are.  Mulder makes a point of looking at Scully’s badge and saying “yep, that’s you” when she takes it out.  Cute. Bear is an anti-social pilot who is going to take them to the silo, where everything went wrong.  When asked to show his I.D. he tells them either they fly with him or they don’t get there, because there’s no other mode of transportation.  That’s the only credentials he’ll give them.  Putting an arm on Scully’s back, Mulder guides them to the plane.

I recall thinking that Gillian looked pregnant in this episode, but that’s not as obvious now as I remember it having been.

When they get to the compound they find the dead bodies and a wild dog who attacks.  He bites Bear, but Mulder says the canine didn’t scratch the surface on him.  They find a rash on the dog and then see something moving under the skin of his neck.  The rash on the dog soon disappears, but the animal still harbors the deadly worm that makes him violent.  They cage him.

Alone Bear sees the same rash on his own skin that the dog possessed, but he doesn’t tell the others.  He suddenly wants to leave.  He’s told that they have been exposed to some strange parasite and they can’t return to civilization unless they know they aren’t contaminated.  Well, he’s not waiting around to find out.  Either they leave with him or they’ll be stuck there for days, before anyone else can get out there to save him.

Mulder and Scully are armed.  The others are not, but they do find a gun that was used by one of the dead men, which is shoved aside.  Mulder proposes that they detain Bear by force, just to make sure he doesn’t have the same rash the dog had and won’t infect anyone else if he leaves.  They grab Bear who struggles.  As they are holding him down they find the worm moving beneath the skin of his neck.  They pull it out and he dies.

So, the worm makes you crazy and gives you symptoms similar to the bubonic plague, but if you remove it, you die.  Plus, with Bear gone, the others have no method of escape.  They are all worried they might be infected too and decide to check each other for rashes and neck worms.  As the men disrobe for each other Mulder quips that before they judge, they should remember they are in the cold arctic.

Scully and Nancy inspect each other and Nancy is obviously scared.  When Scully finishes looking over her body, she clasps Nancy’s arms across her chest in commiseration, letting her know that (1) she’s ok, and (2) she understands her fear and relief.

Mulder looks at the paperwork left by the dead crew and sees “we are not who we are” scrolled everywhere.  When Mulder a strange species under the microphone, he excitedly calls to Scully.  He’s so eager for her input and I think how he would never have believed the others over her.  Of course, Scully had independent reasons for suspecting Mulder had been exposed.  She didn’t sheepishly follow anyone else’s opinion, but I think he would have doubted her in private (even if it risked their lives) rather than strengthening the others’ stance against her by publicly sharing it.  As she looks into the microscope, Mulder kneels by her side and it reminds me of Pusher, when he says, “smile Scully”.  It’s a gesture that puts them one on one, even when they’re surrounded by people.  Genuflection and all its connotations.

After assessing the evidence, the scientists (including Scully) conclude that the worm came from an ice core that the last team dug up.  It survived in ammonia that would have killed an earth creature.  It originated from a space meteor that hit the earth thousands of years ago and survived under the ice.  It’s alien.

Everyone is on edge, knowing that they are trapped in a close environment with people who, like Bear, could become murderers.  When Mulder and Scully bag the dead bodies, he tells her that they need sleep.  He seems concerned for her well-being and it reminds me of the times she thinks he needs sleep in later years or of his concern for her when she wanted to do an autopsy while very pregnant.  Scully just responds that considering what’s happening, none of them can sleep.  They get into a heated argument.  Scully just wants to burn the bodies and not risk taking them back to the continental U.S., because they’re dealing with an alien worm virus that could infect the whole city of NY in a matter of days. Mulder thinks it’s important to take back the bodies, the worms, the melted ice samples so that they can analyze it, find an anecdote and fight against a possible alien invasion in the future.  “No!’ Scully says.  She is not in the mood for any of his alien talk right now, her tone makes clear.

Outside in the other room, the other 3 hear Mulder and Scully argue at the top of their lungs for an extended period of time which isn’t even in character for the 2 of them.  Mulder and Scully hardly ever exchange more than 4 angry sentences before stalking away or retreating in cold silence.  They certainly wouldn’t be having a loud, circulate debate which, apparently, Mulder won since the bodies weren’t burned.

Ok, just as this episode defines Mulder, it also presents quintessential Scully.  Here she is this medical doctor and scientists, yet she wants to question nothing.  She’s good at figuring things out for immediate purposes, but her fears (scientific or psychological) don’t let her venture further.  She’d rather walk away than investigate the unknown, every time.  While she doesn’t shy away from physical danger, she wants nothing to do with life’s mysteries, but it’s not disinterest that brings her wall up, it’s denial.  Even before her abduction, she seems to have been hiding from, running from, repressing some truth.

The nervous crew retires to their quarters.  As they open their respective doors, Scully says very sweetly “Good night, Mulder.”  She seems to be trying to make up for the outburst they had earlier.  Then again, Mulder and Scully have a very tender way of addressing each other that’s especially obvious in these early episodes.  Victoria Jackson’s character will later accuse Mulder of “gazing” at agent Scully and it’s true, they do use very adoring gestures towards each other — when they aren’t bickering.

Mulder gently answers, “Good night, Scully.”  She says at least none of them are infected.  He, less optimistic, points out, “remember the rash disappears.”  So, just because there were no signs of the worm on them when they inspected each other’s bodies, doesn’t mean it’s not there.  It gives her pause for thought and she blocks her door with a dresser when she gets inside her room.

Mulder is restless too.  He rises upon hearing a noise and checks the lab area.  He finds the barking dog and is about to return to his quarters when he sees blood leaking from a cabinet. He opens it and, Denny, one of the scientists falls out dead.  Scully rushes out and demands to know what he is doing.

Hodge and Nancy accuse him of killing Denny.  Mulder says he found him dead and either Nancy or Hodge did it.   He has his gun trained on the angry Hodge and Scully demands that he put it down.  “Get that gun off of me Scully” and this scene is just beauty.  Even in this tense situation where he realizes there’s a murderer amongst them, he is personally affronted by his partner pulling her gun on him.  He takes offense, but doesn’t take her gun seriously.  I don’t think he believes he will shoot him, but the threat alone stings.  She thinks he’s acting hyper angry because a worm got him, but she actually did that by turning on him immediately.  I know the dog scratched him, but I am disappointed that she distrusted him so easily.  She was within reason, but Mulder wouldn’t have done the same to her, because he is unreasonable, I suppose.  And at times I have to admire that.  It makes his devotion to her seem deeper than hers to him — though, it’s not, because he’s generally a secretive, bossy pain and that didn’t deter her from his side as often as it should have over the years.

Anyway, although he turns his gun on Scully and says that he won’t let them inspect him, because any of them could be infected, you can tell he doesn’t think Scully is.  He turns his gun back on Hodges and Scully tells him to put it down.  “Scully, it’s me for God’s sake.” David blows it out of the park with the “be my partner” frustration in that line and then Gillian says, “Mulder, you may not be who you are,” and brings down the house with her line.  Scully is firm.  She’s not apologetic.  Her voice doesn’t tremble but … it’s as if her soul does.  She’s doesn’t speak to Mulder with anger.  It’s more akin to despair that it’s come to that.  I mean on 20 other shows she’d say, “Mulder I don’t want to have to do this. Blah, blah, blah.”  On this show you have Gillian’s eyes, the tone of her voice and Duchovny’s reaction and that takes the place of 20 pages of script.

They just (Fall 2013) did an Entertainment Weekly 20 year anniversary spread and the centerfold had Chris Carter on one page with typewritten pages spread around him and Gillian and David on the other page holding hands, with Chris’ typewritten pages at their feet and that’s about all that needs to be said.  When it leaves 1040’s heads, the actors bring it to life.  The words alone can litter the floor or line a birdcage.  Mulder and Scully are what shine — but ok, the words here were excellent ones.  “Mulder, you may not be who you are.”

That’s what makes Mulder give in. Not the gun, not angry threats.  Scully’s said she thinks he may not be himself and above his sense of betrayal, he acknowledges her dilemma.  She should believe in him.  She doesn’t.  He’ll go quietly then.  That alone should have told Scully something.  Mulder is acting less insane than either Hodge or Nancy.  He gives up his gun and stops fighting.  Once they march him into a windowless room, since he acquiesces, why doesn’t Scully ask to inspect him THEN, would he still have refused once the shouting dispersed?  We don’t know, because she doesn’t ask him again.  I guess she’s that sure he has the worm.

Before she padlocks him in he says, “I’m safer here than you are out there.”  So, does she think he’s just deceiving her by seeming so calm?  Bear and the infected dog weren’t calm were they?  I’m so annoyed with Scully.  But Gillian is outstanding.  She conveys Scully’s resolve, regret and contrition effortlessly and in one facial expression.  Gillian’s exquisite.  That is all.

She stands guard outside Mulder’s prison for most of the night and then leaves to find answers.  In the lab, Hodge and Nancy are at each other’s throats.  Again, doesn’t it occur to her that they are much more manic than Mulder was?  In the end we learn that Nancy had the worm, so I don’t know what Hodge’s excuse was for yelling hysterically at everyone.  I guess he was just a born jerk. Shrug.

Hodge is worried about how long it will take for the three of them to be rescued. Scully angrily points out that there are FOUR of them.  But Mulder has been infected and Hodge says he won’t let him return to the population, where he can infect others.  Scully says that what happened to Mulder is not his fault and I would like to hear her argue more and affirm that she plans to take him back to civilization, no matter what the risks.  This would be just the opposite of the position she was debating with Mulder earlier.  Of course, she and Mulder were arguing about dead bodies and Mulder’s not dead yet.  So, I’d like to hear her say that Mulder is going back to them no matter what, no matter who dies.  Even if she feels that way, it would be unwise to reveal it to Hodge and Nancy, but it’d make me feel better!

They tell her that she’s the only one who has a gun and if she gets infect, she’ll kill them.  She immediately unloads the two guns she has (hers and Mulders) and throws the bullets out in the snow.  I wish she hadn’t.  I don’t need her integrity.  I’d just as soon she kill Nancy and Hodge for being annoying.

Anyway, Hodge tells Nancy to pair an infected sample with an uninfected one, but she ends up putting two infected ones together and Hodge tells us she’s set their work back by hours. But Scully peers into the microscope and discovers that two worms together kill each other.  They won’t share a host.  So, if you introduce one worm into a body that already has one, you will kill the virus.  They give a worm to the infected dog and he instantly recovers, which proves Scully is right.  They only have one more worm left and they plan to give it to Mulder.

Scully says before they do this to Mulder, she wants to make sure he has the virus and she will inspect him first. She goes in and Mulder is crouching in the dark for some reason.  I don’t know why he doesn’t have the light on.  She flicks the switch and his eyes have to become accustomed.  In this way, he seems more like an animal. She tells him that introducing a second worm is a cure to the infection.  He quietly tells her that if she gives him that worm she will infect him.  She’s proposing her plan to murder him actually and the tone of his voice as he expresses that to her gives me chills.  She says, then why didn’t you let us inspect you then.  He fiercely says, “I would have, but you pulled a gun on me.”

A lot has been made of apple boxes and the height differential between Gillian and David, but it’s used to full advantage in this scene.  Mulder crosses the room, towers over Scully and bends down and into her face when he intensely reminds her that she pulled a gun on him.  Scully doesn’t flinch — and he doesn’t touch her — because Mulder doesn’t touch her when he’s angry and that should tell Scully something about the control Mulder has.  This man is dejected, angry, but not threatening.  Infected people (or dogs) are violent, not deceitful.  Does she think Mulder is just pretending to be normal?  Why is it that no one else in the building has behaved as normally as he is right now, if he’s the one with the worm? Ugh.

He says that Nancy or Hodge is infected.  She says, “well, they’re not here now.”  Well, yeh, but they’re just outside the door waiting to pounce, so if I was Mulder, I still wouldn’t trust you, Scully, but whatever.  Gillian does one of her whispering things when she says, “well, they’re not here now” and it’s incredibly intimate and effective and I’m in love with this thing that Mulder and Scully possess, create between them.

Instead of asking Scully why she didn’t give him a chance before instead of going all Benedict Arnold, Mulder turns and lets her feel his neck for the worm.  She does and it may be my imagination, but I think she was a little more caressy with her fingers on his shoulder blades than she really needed to be and it delights me.  There’s nothing on his neck.  She turns away and should be all, “I’m so sorry, Mulder, please forgive me,” but instead she’s just relieved and happy.  She smiles with pleasure realizing that Mulder is who he is, after all. As she turns to tell Nancy and Hodge Mulder grabs her neck and she tenses.  She was wrong.  He does have the worm? But he puts out a cautioning hand, advising her that his goal is clinical, not homicidal.  She submits and he checks her neck for a worm.

For my money, neck inspections have never been so sensual.

To me, Mulder never thought she was infected anyway.  I took his message to be, “I had just as much reason to fear you as you did me, but I didn’t side against you and lock you in a dark cell, did I?”

Outside Hodge and Nancy say that Mulder is going to convince Scully that he’s not infected, no matter what.  They aren’t going to let the FBI agents collude against them.  When Scully comes out and says that Mulder is clear, Hodges says that he wants to inspect him himself, with everyone watching and they should go to the other building to do so.  As Mulder walks out they throw Scully in the room, lock her in and grab Mulder, trying to put the worm in his ear.

But as Nancy leans over to do it, Hodge sees the worm moving under the skin of her neck and he turns on her instead.  She runs and Mulder goes and gets Scully out of the room.  I’m glad that’s his priority.  He didn’t need her to help in the chase.  He just didn’t want her to stay in there, which is more than she ever did for him. They all tackle Nancy and put the worm in her ear and she recovers.

In the last scene, they are all packed to fly back to Nome, Alaska.  Mulder can’t wait for the experts to get in and investigate everything that went on at the site.  Doesn’t he know asks Hodges?  What? The whole place was burned down to the ground.  Who did that, an indignant Scully wants to know.  It was their government, Hodges sneers.  He can’t believe it comes as a surprise to the agents, after all, they are the government.  He walks off.

Mulder keeps staring back to the compound.  They burned the structure down, but the alien life form is still there, under the ice and has been for millions of years, he says.

“Leave it there,’ Scully says callously and walks to the plane.  Mulder doesn’t move, but realizing she is walking alone, she stops, stands there and waits and he eventually joins her.  I’m glad she waited, rather than just walking and leaving him behind.

She’s content with having saved themselves and is not concerned about the world.  And I feel it’s not because she totally thinks Mulder is out of his gourd about a future alien invasion.  I mean, she does think that, but I don’t think that’s why she wants to get away without looking back.  He wants to believe and she doesn’t.  Literally.  It seems to me that her motto is the direct opposite of his.  It’s not, “I don’t believe” it’s “I don’t WANT to believe.”  I suspect a small part of her always has.  She closes that part out, pins it in.  One more padlock.

As always with the MSR, this episode is about trust, but the curious thing is that even if Scully believes Mulder might be infected at heart, does she ever really distrust him?  It reminds me of a Stevie Nicks’ line from the song Thrown Down.  “I’ve shaken your faith in me.  No, you’ve shaken my faith in everything else.”  That’s what Mulder does to Scully, when he tells her that the sky’s not blue, despite all appearances, he gets frustrated when she doesn’t believe him, but he should take heart in the fact that he makes her disbelieve her own eyes.  She only sees blue, but she’s always haunted by what’s beyond her blue sky, in the world that Mulder always perceives when she doesn’t, when she can’t.

He can’t make her accept his view completely (or at least admit that she does), but he can alter her behavior so that she relies on his instincts over her own, sometimes.  When push comes to shove, she has a blind faith in Mulder and isn’t that more important than whether she believes him or not?

Here, her suspicions that he’s been infected are realistic ones.  It’s not like she panicked illogically.  He feels she’s turned against him, sided with others instead.  But we know (and he does too, at heart) that she was concerned with safety, his as much as her own and theirs above anyone else’s in the group.  Whether he had turned or not, she’d still fight to protect him, even if he’d become a killer, she wouldn’t have let the others harm him, much less take his life to preserve theirs.  In that sense, it was never Them v. Mulder.  It was Scully standing between them and Mulder.

The emotions mount when partners turn their guns on each other and it always works, with Mulder and Scully and even when it happens with Skinner, later on in the series. But this is the first time.  There’s a test the MSR takes and it survives (if not completely passes) it so well that a permanent foundation is laid.  We know they can survive Pusher, even if that alarm hadn’t been pulled.  Would he have shot her?  I can’t believe he would or could have.  In HTGSC, even when one thinks the other has pulled the trigger and killed him/her, they don’t fire back.  Scully is crazed and paranoid in Wetwired, but what she says to Mulder is that he never trusted her, not that she doesn’t trust him.  Ice showed us two people who support and sustain each other even when crazed, possessed, betrayed or accused.  Their interests are not just joint, but joined, even when their minds are torn asunder.

Posted in Monster of the Week, Senseless Shipper, Top Ten | Leave a comment

Ghost in the Machine

GhostInTheMachine134

Despite the memorable blooper gags from the elevator scene, I remembered this as a rather plodding episode, with kitsch, but little content, but I was wrong.  It’s not mesmerizing, but it’s not a Space dud either.  I’d heard of Apple when I first saw this show, but the similarity between Brad Wilczek, who started the company in his parents’ garage, and Steve Jobs completely eluded me then.  I probably didn’t even know who Jobs was, much less grasp the similarity between the surnames Wilczek and Wozniak.

We see computer developer Brad fired by the head of the company at the start of the show.  The company has installed a “Smart Home” (did they exist back in 1993? Wow!) system in the building, the same type that Brad has at his home.  It controls the building’s lights, elevators, temperature and so much more.  It is recording the argument between Brad and the owner.  When Brad leaves, the owner goes into the bathroom to check on an overflowing sink.  He’s locked in and when he tries to open the door with his key he’s electrocuted and killed.

I merged this show with some other one in my head.  I remembered that Mulder’s partner was in this one, but thought his former partner was Reggie, not Jerry.  I also thought this was the episode where we’d flashback and see Mulder using the giant cell phone from years past.  It’s not.  Jerry worked with Mulder in the past, Mulder explains (but Jerry reminds us they were partners, not just colleague) and was overshadowed by Mulder’s brilliance.

Jerry needs Mulder’s help to help him crack the Erisko computer case.  He’s being reviewed by a supervisor that Scully remembers agents used to call, “The Iron Maiden” and he wants to make an impression.  Scully wonders why Mulder and Jerry parted.  Mulder says it’s because he was a pain the ass.  No, really Scully probes.  “I’m not a pain in the ass?”  I do remember that line from Mulder!  Mulder says that Jerry had aspirations of working on the 5th floor, as an FBI head.  And what did Mulder want, Scully asks?  Oh, he was always aiming for a beautiful basement office, with no heat.

Of course, this episode just furthers the image we’ve already gotten of Mulder, hugely talented, envied for his prowess, but “wasting it all” to chase weird cases, rather than the ones that will make his career.  Scully knows this about Mulder already, so instead of asking what his aspirations were, I wonder what hers are.  There are things more important to her than promotions and prestige.  She wants respect, which is something she doesn’t get as Mulder’s partner.  She doesn’t want to be ridiculed by her peers, but doesn’t want their admiration at the expense of ethics.  She has integrity, loyalty and she can appreciate Mulder’s brilliance for it’s own sake — almost as a science — rather than for all the goals it failed to achieve.

It’s funny how even though Mulder never challenged them for the positions they were striving for when he wasn’t, he’s still resented by all of his peers, due to the leaps his mind can make, while theirs are just going through the motions.

Mulder meets Brad who asks him if he knows what Erisko means.  It’s greek, Mulder says.  “I learn.”  Not quite, it means, “I discover.” At Erisko headquarters Mulder wonders who could control the Smart Home computer system.  Brad could, who else.  He never gets a direct answer.  People just keep telling him that very few could access the computer.  The building manager tells Mulder that he’s just a glorified superintendent.  Yes, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to access the computer.  To me, he didn’t answer the question directly.

As they rode up in the building elevator, it jolted.  Scully falls to the floor and Mulder reaches over to catch her.  His “are you ok?” sounds so tender to my shipping ears.  As the elevator continues to ascend, he reaches out to pat her arm.

Watching these early shows, it’s easy to spy the little ticks that convinced the world that these two people have chemistry.  For one thing, I don’t know how Gillian speaks at home when she yells at her kids, but for acting she modulates her voice in a certain way, so that she often sounds pretty sexy even when she’s just discussing the weather.  She also breathes quite audibly.  She keeps this habit in check on TXF more than in other roles (i.e. House of Mirth) but in this episode, there’s lots of exhaling, which is vaguely sensual.  Additionally, For this season Gillian has a haircut where the front curls are always brushing her forehead and eyes.  One can imagine a constant urge to just reach over and pull it back — which Mulder does do in later years, when she faints, falls asleep and whatnot.  I can just see how he probably always wanted to do that, but held back for so long.  I recall Diana Spencer first emerging on the scene and the public called her “Shy Di” because she was always hiding behind her hair or looking up from under it.  Scully doesn’t play such coy, feminine games.  She never flips her head to knock the hair back, but when she looks through it and purses her lips, there’s a sexiness about it, even when she’s in a boxy business suit (designed to hide Gillian’s pregnancy).

Those pursed lips are another thing.  David said that he figured Scully wanted Mulder, because she always had her mouth open.  She doesn’t actually.  More often she presses her lips together, in consternation and in suppressed humor.  She might not smile widely at Mulder a lot, but her eyes smile (as Tyra Banks has taught her) when her mouth doesn’t.  Or her lips do, when her words don’t.  At any rate, she smiles enough at Mulder in these early months that I don’t know how he could not divine she has a thing for him, profiler that he is.

Mulder profiles the case and finds his papers missing.  Scully chides him for never cleaning his desk, making it impossible to find anything.  She also tells him that they’re late for a meeting and hands him his jacket (far from the last time he will do so).  She is already playing a rather domestic role with him.  I like the way they were in a lunch line when Jerry first approached them and she was carrying and buying lunch for both of them ($8.50) when Jerry insisted that he would pay.  Scully and Mulder already have quite a routine.

At the meeting, Jerry presents Mulder’s profile as his own.  Scully recognizes it, but Mulder tells her it doesn’t matter and urges her to keep quiet.  Afterwards, Mulder asks Jerry what he thought he was doing and even shoves him a little.  Jerry gives him one of those, “it’s always so easy for you” speeches and Mulder says, “You could have just asked.”  That’s true and that’s what gets me angry with Jerry.  Mulder has so little ego when it comes to earning brownie points and everyone knows that about him, so I don’t know why Jerry had to steal the profile and then give Mulder the “what are you complaining about” spiel when he’s caught — as he knew he would be.  It makes me mad enough that I wish Scully had told Jerry off and Mulder too, for letting it happen.  Once someone crosses you, stop trying to help them.

Mulder and Scully do voice analysis and conclude that the robotic voice that called the Erisko CEO just before he died was Brad’s.  Jerry immediately wants to go and arrest him. Mulder offers to accompany him, but Jerry says he needs this and wants to go alone.  He is killed when the building’s elevator crashes to the ground and I’m pretty happy about it, although not as happy as when Amanda Peet falls to her death in I Want To Believe.

Brad was in the building at the time, on camera and Mulder doesn’t think he would have let himself be filmed, if he was the killer.  Scully tells him that he’s taking Jerry’s death harder than he might realize and maybe he should talk to someone.  She pulls him aside to say this by pushing lightly at his arm. He responds quickly by walking backwards so she gets him to move without  really having to apply any force.  He yields.  She’s telling him that she thinks he’s bonkers, really and it reminds me of X-Cops when she pulls at him, as the reality cameras roll, and he says that he knows she’s concerned he’ll look crazy and she counters that she’s concerned that she’ll look crazy.  But it’s an echo of their exchange here.  Mulder knows early on that Scully is concerned for him and his reputation even when he isn’t.  She cares about his physical, mental and social well-being, when he doesn’t.  From the start, she gives him the only reason he has to take care of himself.

She tells him he should see someone.  He doesn’t deny being crazy or argue with her.  He just nods — so many times the only answer he’ll provide — and heads off.  Where are you going, she wants to know, as always:  “to see someone.”  People make Christ-like comparisons to Mulder (as Chris Carter intends in the later years) and one of the ways he’s like Jesus is that he can never be bothered to give direct answers to anything.  Jesus was kind of sarcastic.  I wonder what Scully was thinking when Mulder walked off.  I’m sure she knew he wasn’t headed to make an appointment to see a psychiatrist.

That night she’s awakened by her computer modem going off (oh, remember those?) and she realizes that someone is accessing her system.  She has the FBI do a trace.  It leads her to Erisko and she heads off there, which just happens to be where Mulder is.  He’s talked to Brad who plead guilty to Jerry’s murder even though he wasn’t.  Brad doesn’t want to work for the government.  He doesn’t want his invention to destroy the world like Oppenheimer’s did (Hiroshima).  Mulder convinces him that it’s better to destroy the invention, rather than just burying his head in the sand.  Brad was the one who designed the famous chess playing computer that learned to think on its own.  The government wants him to keep developing such technology for it, no matter what destruction it might cause.  Mulder tells him there’s only one way to stop this.  Brad gives Mulder a virus to use to disable the computer.

Mulder wants to know what Scully is doing there.  I do too.  She didn’t know where Mulder was.  Why would she go there without backup?  I’m glad she had a reason to be there other than just following him though.  She’d written her case notes on her home computer and the Erisko system had been reading and erasing them.  I don’t know why because she wasn’t close to the truth about the Erisko system being self-aware and plotting to take over the world, so she wasn’t really a threat to it.

In the parking lot, the parking gate falls on their car.  “Mulder!”  She screams. They can’t use the deadly elevator system, so they climb up 29 flights of stairs to access the computer. The lights in the stairwell go off, “Mulder,” she says. Just Mulder.  It’s not an expression of fear.  If it’s a question, he doesn’t ever bother answering her.  So, I’m not quite sure what it is.  They bring out their trusty flashlights.  They are at the door to the 29th floor, but Mulder stops Scully from touching it.  She could have gotten electrocuted like the Erisko head had.  The door is wired, just as Mulder thought.  He thinks she might be able to drop down and open the door from the other side, if he hoists her into the elevator shaft.  She gets in, but as she gets close to an exit, a vacuum fan knocks her down the shaft.  She is about to fall down to her death, if she can’t stop the force of the fan.  She shoots at the blades and disables it.

Meanwhile, the door to the 29th floor is opened for Mulder, but not by Scully, by the building superintendent.  The guy gives him access to the computer, but just when Mulder unlocks it and is about to insert the virus, the superintendent pulls a gun on him.  He works for the higher ups in government and they want self-aware computers that will help them destroy the world.  So, he is not going to let Mulder disable it.  I am a little miffed that Mulder hasn’t given a second thought to Scully.  Where’d he think she went.  Wasn’t he concerned that she was stuck in the elevator shaft so long?  Apparently not.  So, he doesn’t deserve it when she busts in, aims at the superintendent and tells him to put down his gun.  The guy urges her that she’s helping her government by saving the computer and that she’ll hurt her own career if she lets Mulder infect it.  She is bruised and panting and she looks like she is wavering and uncertain, but she tells Mulder to put in the computer disc and it looks like the virus is working, as it erases everything.

Mulder and Scully look at each other.  It’s not relief that they exchange, exactly.  Not triumph.  Certainly not fear that they did the wrong thing.  Just a glance that says, “It’s done.”  But of course it’s not.  Even when they dismantle the computer, we still see a blinking light that indicates it’s not quite dead yet.

Meanwhile, the government is still holding Brad hostage.  Mulder doesn’t think Brad will do their bidding and program for them, but Deep Throat says the loss of his freedom will do strange things to a man.  The government might break Brad’s will after all.

Posted in Monster of the Week | Leave a comment

Shadows

I remembered nothing about this episode, except to vaguely confuse its title with Shapes.  With Shapes, I seem to remember that Scully was trapped in a dark house and Mulder was pretty anxious to get her out.  That’s it.  I knew even less about Shadows.

The MOTW involves Lauren, a young secretary whose boss has just committed suicide.  She is still distraught over the death, as she packs up his office belongings and her eyes linger on a (stupid) placard which reads, “One today is worth two tomorrows.”

That night, while depositing her paycheck at an ATM (which is conveniently adjacent to a dark, dangerous alley) she is accosted by two men.  They end up dead, falling into a dumpster near a wall where “Jesus is Love” is scribbled in the concrete.  Although the cause of death is unknown.  They seem to have been strangled internally.  We learn that everyone who threatens Lauren  lives to regret it.

The NSA calls in Mulder and Scully because they don’t understand what killed the men and the insurance company where Lauren works is part of a national security investigation.  They think the men who died may be a clue in their case and want paranormal answers from Mulder and Scully, without divulging anything themselves.  Mulder and Scully balk at being used and try to learn more through independent means.  Mulder leads Scully away from the NSA by simply placing a guiding arm along her back.  She follows his lead out of the door.  Again, much more physical contact between them in earlier episodes than there would be later, when he became rather guarded about such gestures.

Mulder notes that the corpses they examined are full of electricity, even hours after death.  He swipes fingerprints from the dead bodies (by sneaking the impressions onto his eye glasses).  He and Scully trace the prints to men in Philadelphia, so they had off to Pennsylvania.  I believe that Scully got her Never Again tattoo in Philly, so that place leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  Mulder also mentions that Elvis successfully faked his own death in this episode, linking it to Mulder’s Never Again trip to Graceland.

When Lauren refuses to answer Mulder and Scully’s questions, they return to their car, which, like an accelerating Toyota, takes control of itself, starts speeding out of control and crashes our duo into another vehicle.  At the repair shop, Mulder discovers that the car’s headlights continue to illuminate, even though they have been turned off.  Like the corpses, the car is also full of electricity.  Mulder concludes that they are dealing with psycho kinetic energy.  Scully scoffs and makes a Poltergeist joke.  I wonder how I fell in love with the auburn beauty when the scripts made her so stupid.  Some times her scientific explanation for events are harder to swallow in light of what she has witnessed than Mulder’s wacky explanations could ever be.  She was in the car.  It locked its own doors.  How can she think what she saw was just a mechanical problem?

Later when Lauren figures out that her boss’ partner had him murdered.  She calls Mulder and tells him to meet her at her house.  Before the FBI agents can arrive there, Lauren is attacked by assailants an invisible force overpowers her attackers.  Mulder and Scully arrive at the curb, as the beating is taking place.  Mulder conveniently gets into the house first and sees one of the thugs floating in mid air, gurgling for breath.  Something unseen is strangling him, just like the other 2 men who went after Lauren were strangled internally.  For reasons unknown (maybe because Gillian is visibly pregnant and slower), Scully gets into the house an eternity after Mulder does and she predictably misses all of the action.  No word on what she thinks happened.  She continues to disbelieve Mulder’s Poltergeist theory, but doesn’t offer an explanation of her own.  Clearly, Lauren, weaponless, could not have overpowered two violent intruders on her own.

I am glad the show cut back on those case status voiceovers that Mulder and Scully used to do so often.  They were a cheap writing gimmick and Carter, thankfully, found other ways to showcase the dichotomy between what was happening and what was being officially recorded and everything in between, that the agents kept to themselves.

Lauren is taken to a police station and Scully tells her she’s not under arrest, so the sooner she answers their questions, the sooner she can leave.  Well, if she’s not under arrest, she has no obligation to answer their questions at all.  She can leave right now!  Unfortunately, she doesn’t know that.  At first she won’t talk to Mulder and Scully or the NSA, but later when Mulder reveals that he knows that Lauren’s dead boss has been watching over her and that he’s the one who killed all of her attackers, Lauren confesses that it’s true.

She says that if they’ve ever been a secretary, they know that sometimes bosses can talk as if you aren’t even in the room and that hurts.  But sometimes you are the only one they have to talk to (this reminds me of Mulder and Scully and those times when they have no one besides each other), so they spill their guts.  Her boss thought of her as a daughter.  He told her about lucrative arms sales within the company.  He wasn’t going to cooperate and so his partner killed him.  Lauren just wants to get away from it all.

Scully tells her that she has an opportunity to help her boss one last time.  She can do what he wants and bring his corrupt partner to justice, if she will help the authorities uncover the truth.  Lauren agrees to help.  When they are alone, Mulder asks what she is doing.  She doesn’t believe that the boss is actually protecting Lauren.  Scully says there is no such thing as ghosts, but she believes that Lauren believes it and that’s all that is needed to crack this case.

Mulder objects that Scully is sacrificing their one chance to learn more about psycho-kinectic energy.  She counters that she is taking their one chance to solve a real, tangible crime, rather than just chasing after shadows.  I agree with her that aside from the arms sales, it is better to capture the boss’, Howard Graves, murderers than to learn more about his haunting activities.  But this statement makes me mad at Scully from the 2008 movie.  She should have been more concerned about helping Mulder solve the tangible crimes in I Want to Believe, rather than so intent upon running away from shadows and her own fears.

Scully’s speech to Lauren  about a father figure’s ghost is interesting, given the fact that the Beyond the Sea episode is coming up.  Scully seemes to be exploiting supersitious beliefs that she herself finds ridiculous and I disapprove of her tactics much like Mulder most.  On the other hand, she seems to feel a real compassion for Lauren, so maybe it’s not so bad.  Still her cynicism makes her far less sensitive than Mulder most of the time.

The NSA, Lauren, Mulder and Scully raid the office where Lauren worked and find nothing.  When Lauren prepares to leave, the shady business partner threatens her and the ghost prepares to kill him.  Lauren implores him not to murder again, but instead to help them find the evidence needed to implicate his partner.  Mulder comes in, just as the ghost begins to oblige, blowing papers everywhere and using psychic energy to (comically) cut open a wall and uncover the floppy disc on which all of the evidence is maintained.  While this maelstrom of activity swirls, Scully is locked outside of the office yelling Mulder’s name.  When they find the floppy disc, all the motion stops and the outer door magically unlocks.  They have the goods on the crooked partner and he can be locked away.

Case over, Mulder and Scully prepare to leave.  He asks her if she believes in an after life (a question to be explored again soon when her own dad dies).  She says she would settle for having a life in this world.  He asks her if she has ever seen the Liberty Bell and she says yes and there’s not much to look at, just a big clacker.  Again, she is not the romantic in this relationship.  If she actually wants a life, she could start by taking time out to enjoy a national tourist attraction with the partner she likes, who isn’t even being a jerk for a change.  Mulder says he still wants to see it, for some reason.  Why now she wonders.  He doesn’t know, but when does it close?

Posted in Monster of the Week | Leave a comment

The Jersey Devil

  

I always had fond memories of this episode, but I see now that I only recalled snapshots of it, rather than fully appreciating it’s exploration of all the themes that propelled this character-fueled show so intensely for 9 years, then quietly re-introduced themselves in 2008’s I Want to Believe.

I’m beginning to realize that the foundation of this show was cemented so strongly in its first weeks of existence, that it’s no surprise that the series still holds up today.  The surprise would be if anything else could hold a candle to it.

First the snapshots:  I’d always remembered Scully saying to Mulder, “or I’ll hurt you like that beast woman!”  But I didn’t remember what she said it in response to.  I thought her remark had something to do with him returning the rental car.  I just thought it was cute and jokingly suggested that she knew she’d like the power to somehow keep him in line. 
 
I remembered Mulder calling Scully while she was on the date.  Shippers bring up this date a lot in their discussions and the Noromos (non-romantics) claim that it’s all in the imagination.  But c’mon guys!  Re-watching the show makes it clear that Chris Carter left nothing to the imagination.  He is juxtaposing Mulder and Scully romantically and there’s no two ways about it.  Carter has sometimes suggested that there was something lofty about Mulder and Scully’s love, that it was more intellectual than romantic.  That’s bologna.  It’s everything that’s romantic, except for the sex.   And perhaps I shouldn’t even insert that exception.  Maybe, TXF does nothing, if not show how unromantic sex, without more, sex really is.
 
 I always say that TXF created a deep love the hard way, without resorting to the physical shorthand that exists in so much fiction.  It takes away the clinches, kisses, and flowery words (which may or may not be genuine) and expresses feeling in small moments and gestures, which go unacknowledged, but not unnoticed.  That’s never truer than in this entry, where Mulder and Scully begin to regularly display the loyalty, understanding, trust, interdependence and companionship that marks great love, next to which all else becomes insignificant.  It’s not that sex is unimportant, it’s just unimportant in comparison to the rest.
 
The last memory snapshot I had from this episode was the recollection of how in awe of the “beast” Mulder was.  Any fear he had for his life fled, in respect for the unadulterated proof she presented about man and nature.  She revealed evolution for both the lie and truth, myth and danger, it is.  We haven’t evolved — or have evolved only enough to destroy.
 
Anyway, as I watched Jersey Devil again, it became clear that my vague memories did not do it justice.
 
We see Scully walking through FBI corridors, pasts desks, co-workers and bustling activity to get to their office.  It’s funny how much more isolated that basement area, and its inhabitants, were to become in later years.  They were no longer just down the hall.  They slid a world away.  Out of reach of everything else.
 
It’s curious that it’s Scully who tells Mulder about the Atlantic City investigation.   It wasn’t already on his radar, but the Jersey Devil was. 
 
She comes upon him with his Playboy magazine.  I think this is one of the first “porn” jokes we get about Mulder.  She is unphased, never begrudges him this indulgence.  She only smirks.  Mulder is not ashamed.  He doesn’t scurry to hide the fold out and makes an offhand joke.  He reads them.  Reads them in the office, with Scully’s knowledge, but (thankfully) not in her presence.  I never minded such proclivities on Mulder’s part until much later on, with First Person Shooter.  I like to think his over-the-top reaction to Afterglow was, in part, aimed at Scully.  Intended to let her know he wanted to explore the sexual desire they touched upon in Fight the Future.  Of course, I also want to think that his “not now” in WOTC was also more reflective of his feelings towards Scully than for Dr. Bambi.  I’m a dreamer that way.
 
At any rate, Mulder’s prurient literary interests are exposed in Jersey Devil to emphasize the fact that he has no social life. 
 
It’s odd to see Mulder stopping (twice) at the desk to “requisition” a rental car.  Although, their cars, who drives, who has the keys, who puts in the gas (Dreamland), is a recurring them throughout the series and also plays a part in IWTB, when Scully points out that it was her car Muldeer was driving when he overturned.  Clearly, he took it without her consent and later apologizes to her for wrecking it, when she saves his life.  The car comes to represent control and the act of sharing it, as is charmingly shown in Fight the Future, when Mulder splits the difference and drives straight ahead, rather than right or left.  Willing compromise works so much better than:  “Sure, fine, whatever.”
 
How amusing when Mulder uses Scully’s medical credentials as their excuse for being in Atlantic City investigating a death over which the FBI has no credentials.  “Agent Scully thought she might have a look.”  He charges her with his own (misplaced) curiousity, much as he does in Arcadia when he tells his neighbors that “Laura” loves the paranormal.
 
When they’re told they have no business on the case, Scully agrees and tells Mulder she has to be back in D.C.  Of course, this won’t be the last time she tells him that, but usually she has to get back for more important matters (like hearings before Blythe Danner).  This time her presence is required at a social event.  Does she have a date, Mulder asks.  Why is that:  (1) any of his business, and (2) the first thing that pops into his mind.  Why not ask her something more open-ended, like what does she have to get back to do.  This specific dating question tells me that Mulder wants to know about his new partner’s love life.  Does she have one?  Does she want one?  Is she actively pursuing it.
 
She tells Mulder it’s not a date.  It’s her god son’s birthday party.  Neither of them seems particularly self-conscious about this conversation, but that won’t be true of the follow up.
 
I remembered that Stevie went to a child’s birthday party, but I didn’t know it was for her god son.  So, she not only had friends before.  She had close friends.  Best friends.  Mulder suggests that they get a hotel, see a floor show, and put some coins in a slot.  He wants to stay and investigate, but puts the suggestion in the form of a recreational invite.  She ignores the recreation part.  We soon learn, she sees Mulder as a man obsessed with his job, to the exclusion of all else.  So, when he says words that are suggestive of other things, she ignores him.  Yet, I don’t think he was ever just joking.  From the start, he was putting out part joke, part feeler.  It took years for Scully to “get” the feeler.  Even as late as the Millenium kiss, I don’t think she thought he meant it that way.  I’m beginning to realize how clear it always was that he did.
 
When Scully says she’s not up for a New Jersey stay, Mulder tosses the car keys to her.  Needlessly risking the veneer on the top of the rental car to skip them across.  That’s his impolite way of telling her to drive back without him.  She protests at taking a three hour drive back alone, in congested Friday night traffic.  He shrugs.  Not his concern.  This behavior is what earned Mulder the nickname “punk.”  I see things like this and could kick myself for feeling sorry for him, when she gives him the cold freeze in Never Again, Milagro and All Things.  I forget how long and how often he has needed to be told he is a jerk.  Of course, Mulder’s brush offs are different than Scully’s.  First of all, when he’s inconsiderate, it’s nothing personal.  We know at heart he greatly considers her.   Secondly, when he brushes her off, it’s usually because he thinks that she can take care of herself while someone else’s life — or just life, in general, is at stake if he doesn’t help out (as in IWTB).  Conversely, on the rare occasions when Scully “ditches” Mulder, it’s usually more personal.  It’s the result of resentment, not distraction.  She does it to take a stand against the pull and hold he has on her.   This is not true in En Ami, but is at work most of the other times.  In Jersey Devil, we see that pull still taking form.   
 
 
 At the friend’s party, we see a Scully help a boy in an ape mask up off the floor.  She leans down over him the very same way she does to Mulder later in the episode.  We see the boy in Mulder then.  She asks the child if he hurt himself, but tells Mulder when he’s been hurt.  She sees Mulder’s pain when Mulder doesn’t and her instinctive need to heal it might just be primal.  Scully’s friend tells her she should be a mother.  Scully hasn’t thought of it.  She doesn’t feel maternal (yet), even though her friend observes that she’s great with kids.  Although, Scully will later tell Daniel she wants what she should want at that stage in her life, in 1993, she’s not feeling those innate needs that society might expect of her.  She doesn’t think she’s cut out for motherhood.  The chaos of domesticity seems more tiring for her than the FBI.  Her friend says that she needs a man to have children and Scully does not reject the notion.  The friend suggests the guy she works with as a candidate, because Scully did say that Mulder was cute.  “Mulder?”  Scully asks in surprise.  “He’s a jerk,” she says immediately, but stops herself just as quickly and more accurately states that he’s obsessed with  his job.
 
I think that “jerk” is what sprang most quickly from her mouth, because she was still feeling that long drive home alone from New Jersey.  But even in her exasperation, she sees beyond Mulder’s surface behavior and doesn’t discount him.  Of course, not to be too girly, but what’s most important about this conversation is that Scully thought Muder was cute!  That was the first impression she had of him, which she quickly passed on to her girlfriend.  Later, we find that Mulder also thinks Scully is attractive (Irresistible).  It’s nice to know that they are not unaware of each other’s physical qualities.  This is not a case of them never seeing each other in that light.  They did, but . . . well, there was always that “but.”
 
When Scully opens the door to a potential suitor, it’s not clear whether she’s attracted to him herself or if she’s just giving in to her friend’s matchmaking endeavors.
I will note that whether Scully would have liked the man on his own terms or not, she seems entirely unimpressed by the fact that he keeps pushing his kid.  He suggests that they go out with the kids two different times and Scully never reacts with enthusiasm.   In fact, at the end of the show, when she answers his phone call pleasantly, I get the impression that he may have fared better with her, if he’d just asked for a date, rather than a date with two tots in tow.  She may want motherhood eventually, but doesn’t seem interested in sharing a parenting job with some random guy.  This makes the Home question she later poses to Mulder about his family genes even more pointed — not to mention the ultimate Per Manum request  She doesn’t simply want to be a mother.  She wants to be a mother to Mulder’s children.
 
Interesting to hear Scully say that motherhood is not for her, while it’s clear that a newly pregnant Gillian is gaining more weight every minute.
 
Returning to the Jersey Devil, Mulder calls Scully from the drunk tape.  Since she is trying to be discreet, I’m not sure why Scully announces he’s in a drunk tank to everyone at headquarters.  She hears hacking in the background and Mulder says it’s someone being sick.  It reminds me of Chimera when he is enjoying a delectable home cooked meal and explaining that he doesn’t have a significant other in the “traditional” sense, while Scully is at work on a stake out watching fraternity brothers vomit.
 
Once Mulder is released from jail, Scully needles him and he asks if she is going to rag on him or get him something to eat.  The way it’s phrased, the way Mulder is asking Scully to nurture him, is poignant to me, especially when compared with the way she helped the little boy at the party,  way the Jersey Devil was protecting its young, and the way Mulder’s perception of the case seemed to changed when he realized that one of the “beasts” was female.   In Home, he tells Scully that he had never thought of her as a mother before.  Yet there are themes of maternity and feminitity floating around in Jersey Devil that are not unrelated to Mulder’s keen interest in Scully’s love life.
 
Scully duly takes Mulder to get some grub, which he chows down indelicately.  Unshaven, hair amiss, with bits of egg hanging from his mouth.  Compared to the fancy dinner Scully enjoys on her date, there’s nothing attractive about the picture Mulder presents.  His sloppiness here reminds me of the way he was brushing his teeth in front of her in Milagro.  They had a “married too long” ease with each other that only seems undesirable at first glance.  Probing deeper, it bespeaks an unspoken comfort level and a familiarity that bred all but contempt.
 
Mulder again tells Scully — apparently more interested in his plate than in her — that he has a hotel room that he’s still paying for.  He is asking her to stay and investigate — or at least that’s what she hears.  I don’t know why he keeps making the request in the form of a hotel.  And he doesn’t even mention hotel rooms, plural.  He just talks about one hotel.  In no way do I think Mulder is propositioning Scully here.  But I do think his wording reveals his appreciation for the time they spend with each other out of the field.  The cozy motel room chat they had in The Pilot?  I think Mulder liked that.  In Detour, Scully asks Mulder if he wants to open a bottle of wine, but he is too intent on the tree monster to take her up on it.  I don’t think a bottle of wine would have been out of the question, if she’s stayed in Jersey.  But she can’t.  Why not?  Another birthday party?  No, this time it is a date.  Scully tells him this almost proudly.  When he asks her if she can break that date, he’s somewhat shy.  He’s not just talking without thinking.  This time he is self-conscious.  Basically, he’s saying, “Will you break your date to stay with me?”  Apparently, men expect something if you buy them dinner, too.  Scully demurs.  Unlike Mulder, she has a life.  She says.  He laughs and says he has a life.   This humor, the teasing and smiles between them  . . . yeah, that’s how the chemistry rumors started.  Oh, it’s there in many other series.  The couples flirt or they flirt and fight.  Mulder and Scully don’t really do either.  Sure, they argue, but not provocatively.  What they do is draw such meaning out of being with each other that you just never want them apart.
 
I think this episode may be the first stop on Scully’s never-ending quest for a “normal life.”  She’s already aware that the nature of her work (and the single-mindedness of her partner) causes the exclusion of all else and she’s trying to find some sort of balance, before the job absorbs her completely.  It will soon be too late for that.
   
Discussing his encounter with the beast, Mulder says that he thinks the Jersey Devil sensed him.  Scully sniffs and says she doesn’t doubt it, suggesting that he smells (reminds me of how he tells her that she stinks in WOTC).  He says that the beast probably felt threatened by him and she interjects that there he goes ascribing human emotion to an unknown creature.  While this might seem like an insult to the leaps Mulder makes, Mulder hears something else.  Her comments mean that Scully believes him.  She says she believes he saw something, but she doesn’t believe it’s what he thinks it is, which is, basically, The Missing Link.  This is the crux of their relationship — or of what Mulder gets from it.  She believes in him, even if she doesn’t believe what he believes in.  He’s hurt most, not at the thought that she doesn’t love him, but that she doesn’t believe in him.
 
“Mulder,” she demands.  “What?”  He asks impatiently.  In years to come, most of the time when she calls his name, he doesn’t bother to answer at all.  There’s really no need.  They often say each other’s name and nothing more.  Not a sentence that needs to be finished.  Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote that she awoke from sleep and called her husband’s name, without really meaning to ask anything of him.  She had no request.  “Just Charles.”  That’s what it is here.  Just Mulder.  Just Scully.
 
I think this episode is the first time I hear Mulder say something is not “outside the realm of extreme possibility,” when talking about whether there’s a creature that might exist that is above humans on the food chain.  The body of the man, but the heart of an animal.  If such a creature does exist, the combination of man and animal does not make him inferior to us, but superior, absent of all the civilized concerns and avarice which cause us to practice inhumanity.
 
When Scully says she has to get back for her date, I expected Mulder to, again, stay behind in Atlantic City.  I’m surprised that he went back home.  Why’d he go?  If there was something left to investigate, why was he less interested in doing so without his partner by his side?
 
Before returning home, they stop by the University to talk to one of Scully’s old professors, who tells Mulder it’s unlikely that the pre-historic, unevolved creature Mulder is imagining can still exist.  Unlikely, but not beyond the realm of exteme possibility, Mulder concludes.  Interestingly, Mulder obediently goes to see this man at Scully’s urging, but the scholar is not unswayed by Mulder’s theory.  Rather than being deterred, Mulder pulls Scully’s prof over to his side a bit, leaving Scully with less ammunition in reasoning with him.
 
Mulder’s back at the basement office, looking at the clock which says 7:55 p.m.  I don’t really think he’s envisioning Scully on her date, because he’s not looking for an excuse to interrupt it.  He doesn’t phone  her until he gets the call about another killing.
 
At dinner, Scully’s date is not the cliche’d boor.  He’s talking about his divorce and competing for his son’s attention once his wife started dating (does Mulder feel he’s now competing for Scully’s?).  His observation is not inherently dull.  He asks about her job and says she doesn’t want to hear about his (estate planning).  So, he’s conscious of what is tedious and what is not.  There’s no reason why he should be putting her to sleep.  But when Mulder calls and says that he’s sorry to be interrupting Scully’s evening, she’s happy to inform him that he’s not doing so.  With her upswept hair and lacy blouse, Scully’s dinner provides a stark contrast to the meal she watched Mulder guzzle down, upon exiting the drunk tank.  As in Squeeze, Scully chooses her new partner.
 
When they return to Atlantic City, Mulder asks her what if the beast is female.  What if she has emotion.  Why is he thinking that being female would automatically imbue the creature with human sensibilities?  I don’t get his connection and don’t understand why the sex of the creature changes Mulder’s view at all, except in the end, when it helps him explain their motives in killing.  They were only protecting their family, not killing for sport.
 
When Mulder speaks of primal instincts, Scully remembers the party of 8 year old boys.  Those boys were pretending like they were in a jungle.  The same type the beast woman inhabited.
 
When Mulder runs off, tumbling over the ground to chase the beast, Scully seems him from an overhead window and runs after him, doing the same.  She runs to protect him, without regard for herself. 
 
The beast woman jumps Mulder and stares at him.  When he is first knocked down, he is almost smiling.  He’s overjoyed to have this proof that his suspicions are correct and she really does exist.  This is satisfying for him,  even if it means his life.  He stares at her in silent wonder and she stares back, straddling him.  She’s on top, her body against his.  There’s a sexual undercurrent here, but it’s about nature and instinctive understanding without language, not about lust.  After initially lashing out at him, the beast woman harms Mulder no further.  Running off, after their long moment of contact and communion.   When he hears Scully, Mulder says only her name.  Then, he tells her he saw the beast woman and she was “beautiful.”  Unmoved Scully says that beautiful nearly ripped out his lung!  She tells him he’s hurt, asks him to lie back (which he doesn’t) and  tends to his injury, as she did the little boy’s at the party.
 
In the ambulance, Mulder holds one conversation with Scully who is on the phone and one with the professor who is asking him questions about the beast woman.  Mulder does not ignore Scully’s queries, saying “what? what?” each time she calls his name, before answering and turning back to the professor.
 
Before his wound is fully dressed, Mulder runs off again, when the beast is sighted.  He wants to have her shot with a tranquilizer to be brought in (alive).  They hit her and she falls, but before they can reach her, she is shot by the New Jersey detective.  Unconscious, she no longer posed any harm to him, so she was killed quite unnecessarily.  Mulder is incensed and, more importantly, saddened.  Empathetic.  He asks the detective why he killed her and he says the same reason you would kill a rabid dog.  He doesn’t care that this “Jersey Devil” was outwardly — and Mulder believes inwardly — just another human being.
 
We don’t know what Scully thinks about the shooting.  Since the beast had killed and was cannibalistic, Scully might think she’s better off dead.  Any scientific curiousity she had might have been outweighed by her belief that justice had been served.  We don’t know what she thinks.  But by touching Mulder’s arm, she ends his hostile confrontation with Detective Thompson, causing Mulder to turn and walk away.  Scully’s gesture is rather dramatic and strikes a false, unskilled note in the episode, which is otherwise very good.   Still, once again it shows how Scully can steer or restrain Mulder with the touch of a hand.
 
Back at the office, as the wonder of the beast woman’s existence is explained away and the storied “Jersey Devil” relegated to mere violent, “Jane Doe”  status, Scully begs Mulder to take time off for himself, assuring him that she will cover for his absence.  He thanks her for the offer, but has more work to do.   He’s still disheartened, having concluded that the beast was a mother who probably came out to hunt only after her mate was killed, in order to feed her offspring.  This wonder of nature was not only destroyed by man, but her very existence was discounted by man’s lies.  The case is not closed for Mulder. 
 
The phone rings and Mulder tells Scully it’s for her, before leaving the room.  She doesn’t sound displeased to find its her date on the other line.  He asks her to pick up her god son and go out with him and his boy.  We don’t hear her answer.
 
The next thing we know, she’s by Mulder’s side as he requisitions another car.  He asks her who it was on the phone.  Why is he so nosy?  Perhaps, because he already knows who it was.  A guy.  The same guy she had dinner with before?  Yes.  He asks if she is going on another date.  Rather forward.  She says she is not.  When Mulder asks if she has no interest, she answers “none at this time.”  This suggests to me that it’s not that the man was unattractive to her.  It’s just that she wasn’t interested in what he has to offer right now.  Maybe she would have been in the past.  Maybe she will be again in the future, but not “at this time.”  She didn’t cancel her date to stay with him the first time he asked, but she’s doing it now.
 
Of course, this whole conversation is held with Mulder’s eyes focused on the rental car paperwork, not on Scully, recalling other “remotely plausible” moments they will share.   What’s most interesting is he doesn’t ask her these questions as one pal to another.  His questions have a somber undertone that suggests her answers hold some import to him.
 
As he turns to leave, she does too.  Where is she going?  She says she’s going with him.  He throws her remark back at her and says she must not have a life.  She threatens that if he keeps it up, she will hurt him like that beast woman.   Oh, that inbred violent streak remains.  He says, “Eight million years out of Africa — “
 
“And look who’s holding the door,” Scully finishes, opening it to let him exit first.  We’ve come a long way, baby!
 
As she follows him to  the door, their difference in height (often hidden by the producers) is very obvious here.  He’s in the lead, she steps behind him and it almost looks like the demure woman, stepping paces behind her man, until Scully turns the table and assumes the male role of holding the door — which actually goes along with her buying him dinner and taking care of him after the attack.
 
Mulder wanted Scully by his side and she chose being there over having a love life or, eventually, any life outside of work.   The episode was light, but not without offering serious commentary on humanity, inhumanity, nature vs. learned behavior, gender, instinct and how that all comes together in the MSR. 
 
Posted in Monster of the Week | Leave a comment