I read that David noted that it was in Ice that he knew the show was really starting to rock. Well, if it wasn’t already rocking in this third episode, it was certainly vibrating violently. I first saw this episode in a double feature with Tooms. So, maybe that’s why the villain stood out most of all for me in memory. Sure, I remembered the “territorial” necklace play and Mulder wondering how he could get the bile off of his fingers without portraying his cool exterior. But I had forgotten how chock full of MSR this entry really is.
Aside from making us snarl with indignation, Tom Colton also gives us insight into who Dana was. She was not only an excellent student, but she was well-liked by her peers. I’d even say she was popular, before being sucked down into that basement office. People expected great things of her. It does make one a bit sad, knowing the future pain and isolation that awaits her. Yet it also causes you to admire her resilience. You wouldn’t know from her “every girl” image that she was capable of withstanding everything that will soon be thrust upon her. But we begin to get more than a glint of the steel beneath the smile here. Speaking of that smile, Gillian‘s beauty lies not in her features. She has a fresh-freckled face, not necessarily jaw dropping. But, it’s what she does with her voice and her eyes that complete the picture. She smiles with those, as well as her lips. Her eyes flash emotion, in ways that you wouldn’t think existed outside of a dime store novel.
From the first two episodes, we aren’t surprised that she defends Mulder to Colton and says that his ideas may be out there, but he’s an excellent investigator, a great agent. When she is called “Mrs. Spooky,” I’m not sure how she takes it. As time progresses, it’s not only personal frustration that she begins to feel. She wants a home. She doesn’t want to work 24/7. She doesn’t want to chase or be chased by demons her entire life. She wants children. But she also regrets the fact that her career has gone no where, the loss professional esteem. Is she beginning to feel that loss even now. Does she realize that since she didn’t discredit Mulder as she’d been expected to do, her own future at the bureau has now been tarnished and her continued association with him can only bring permanent damage? Perhaps this hasn’t dawned on her yet, because she tells Mulder that it’s his attitude that made Blevins keep him in the basement. He shoots back, “You’re down here too.” I think at this point she believes her role on the X-Files is a choice, rather than a sentence. But these are early days. Right now, she’s still proud of her assignment. When Colton describes his case, she quickly states that it sounds like an X-File. I can’t remember her claiming an unexplained phenomenon as “hers” or her “type” of case again — not unless you count the last years of the show when Scully is teaching Doggett the X-Files ropes. In this episode, I sense a pride and proprietorship in Scully regarding the X-Files that won’t remain.
Talking with Colton, her deep admiration for Mulder’s skills is already showing. What about Colton’s? I’m not sure if he actually wanted Scully to bring Mulder in on the case or not. Part of me is wondering if he asked for her hoping to get him. Of course, when Scully presents it to Mulder, she makes it sound like that was the case, saying that they didn’t come straight to him, because they knew her better. I’m not sure if that was true or if she was just making Mulder feel better. Of course, he’s not as careful of her feelings. Irritated by Colton, he doesn’t think twice about embarassing Scully in front of her old friend, by acting even crazier than he actually is. I notice that the handshake he gives Colton is decidedly firm as well. He seems to go in there to prove a point. I don’t know if he’s proving it to Scully from the start or just reacting to the Spooky perception.
I’m not sure if Mulder is smart or if the rest of them are abysmally dumb. Yes, a normal man can’t get into the room through a heating vent, but you would still check that vent for prints. It’s within arms length of any person of average height. It can easily be reached and touched. It’s unbelievable that Mulder is the first one to think to dust it for prints.
When Mulder goes out of his way to intrude on Scully’s stake out, it’s one of those times when I’m not sure his charm outweighs his “punkishness”. Even if he thinks she’s wrong, he’s not just questioning her, he’s insulting her, by yelling out to her across a parking lot, when she’s supposed to be undercover. Since she still hasn’t gotten in too deep yet, I’d advise her to ditch him as a partner for that alone (and for the way he ran off and left her in Deep Throat), before it’s too late to get out. When they see Tooms and he says “you were right” he sounds incredulous. He may think she’s a great doctor and scientist, but he doesn’t really respect her as an investigator. Even years later, he’s still surprised when she puts together clues before he does (as in Elegy). That’s why I’m skeptical when he tells her that maybe he disagrees with Colton’s group because he believes her profile is correct — after they’ve just discounted it. Scully felt aligned with him before that, but this comment seals the deal.
Yes, Mulder’s crazy theories frustrate her, but people who think conventionally are close minded. In the X-Files universal, they don’t only reject extreme possibilities, but are resistant to different ideas in general. They demand assimiliation, bringing out Scully’s rebellious instinct. She finds those in the establishment are intolerant. Judgmental. Refusing to believe in the fantastical is one thing, closing the door to progress, change and any one with an alternative idea is another. Scully doesn’t believe in Mulder’s space ships, but she respects his open mind. Further, Mulder is not unselfish, but he’s unself-aggrandizing, which cannot be said about those around them. Scully could get along with them, but she’d have to go along. Scully cannot succeed in their world, without bolstering them, while suppressing a part of herself. Of course, Mulder and Scully are models of repression, but with Muder she’s holding things inside, not having them pushed down or stifiled from the outside.
I grimaced when listening to Gillian’s audi-commentary for All Things. She said that Scully learned that she has more freedom with Mulder than she did with someone like Daniel, who cuts her off and tosses her ideas aside. Why was Scully just learning the difference between a man like Mulder and a man like Daniel in All Things? It was clear as far back as Squeeze! Mulder not only believes in extreme possibilities. He believes in Scully and her extreme possibilities. As he tells her, they may not agree, but they “respect the journey.” Men like Colton and Daniel don’t respect Scully, unless she’s agreeing with them.
Mulder tells her that he won’t hold it against her if she works with Colton, while Colton will write her off as crazy if she continues to want to work with Mulder. What’s apparent here, which isn’t always apparent to Scully (i.e. Never Again) is that Mulder puts strings on her, but they’re strings of love, not power. He wants her to work with him and to believe what he says, not because he’s the boss and thinks he’s always right, but because he likes being with her, craves their interplay, and feels that her faith in him (despite the fact that she doesn’t agree with his views) is a measure of her affection. He doesn’t want power over her. He doesn’t need the control. He just wants her. He thinks she makes him stronger. Men like Tom and Daniel would gain their strength only through her complaisance. Perhaps its because her feelings for Mulder are as strong as those she had for her father, that Scully sometimes sees him as one of the “authority figures.” He’s actually anti-authority. And the influence he wields over her, doesn’t spring from power.
We see their equality in the apartment when she puts her gun in her waistband and heads into the hole first. I don’t know if Mulder is surprised that she does it, but I think that Scully was making a point, because her eyes lock fully on his face as she prepared to descend. Of course, by Tooms, Mulder says that he’ll go first (which probably had to do with Gillian’s growing pregnancy at the time) and she lets him, which is the trend with them. He goes first. He usually stands in front of her too, so that he’ll get the brunt of any confrontation. However, he knows that once he’s in danger, she’s firmly got his back. He may go first, but when she senses he’s in trouble, she’s right behind, with no sense of self-preservation.
In this episode we also have an outsider underestimating the bond that Mulder and Scully share, for the first time. Tom doesn’t know that Scully has already developed a loyalty to Mulder. Because their personalities would seem to be naturally opposed to each other (which is what Blevins must have thought when he made them partners), they have a bond that’s so often invisible at first glance (Padgett didn’t see it until he was in jail). Tom quickly finds that Scully is an adversary — and that she doesn’t mind being one. She doesn’t waiver when asked to choose between making a name for herself and doing what is right. For her, it’s no choice. In the end, what she and Mulder have in common is much greater than any surface differences. This is true in the 3rd episode and true in I Want To Believe. Even when she is no longer Mulder’s (business) partner, Scully is still an outsider. Still fighting those who would choose what is safe for them over what could be lifesaving.
Tom tells Mulder that Scully said Mulder was “out there.” Mulder glances at Scully. She didn’t really say that. She said that Mulder’s ideas were out there. But Colton doesn’t draw a wedge between them. Mulder doesn’t have to ask Scully what she said. He messes with peoples’ heads as a defense mechanism, even knowing the millstone of humiliation it will bring him. But he lets Scully in. Gives her all the ammunition against him she would ever need to hurl millstones, knowing she won’t misuse it. His vulnerability — especially when it comes to her — balances out, plays against, any power he has.
When Scully tells Mulder he seemed territorial, but then cuts herself off, I’m not sure where she’s going with that. I didn’t think Mulder was especially territorial over the case. He never tried to take it away from Colton. He never tried to take Scully away from him either. But the way she let her “territorial” sentence fade off unfinished, I’m not sure if she sensed a certain possessiveness on Mulder’s part where she was concerned. If she did, she must’ve liked it, because she’s certainly smiling when she follows him up the stairs and says she wants to hear his ideas. You pull a girl’s necklace and she’ll follow you anywhere. Yeah, that necklace was a plot point, because it had to tip Mulder off. Still, moving a hanging necklace to the middle of a woman’s chest is an awfully personal thing. And let’s not forget he offered her “seeds” in the parking lot stake out. Yep, there’s already sexual tension in this show!
When Mulder gets to Tooms’ building and finds there is no one there, I don’t think I noticed before that when he started running in, he was already afraid for Scully. He was calling her name. Once he entered Tooms’ lair and found her necklace, he panicked, but he already feared for her before that. First instance of Mulder fearing for Scully’s safety! Always makes my heart pound.
I’d forgotten that Scully was about to take a bubble bath in this one. Reminds me of Hollywood A.D. After fighting Tooms off, she is breathless, but not shaken as she is with after her close calls in Beyond the Sea, Orison, Unruhe. Tooms didn’t get under her skin.
So, we had the first time Mulder kicked down Scully’s door. Also, the first time a MOTW went after Scully’s innards. They wanted her cancer cells in Leonard Betts, wanted to pull her brain out through the nose in Unruhe. Milagro’s psychic surgeon wanted her heart and Tooms wanted her liver. This gal can’t let her feelings out and can hardly keep her organs in.
In the end, the way Scully pulled Mulder away from Tooms cell by curling her hand around his upper arm was quite sensual. It was almost a caress. She could’ve just said, “let’s go.” Instead, the intimate touch and the way Mulder obeyed wordlessly was quite stirring.
It was strange to hear their voices sound so high and young. Gillian’s was lilting. The show became known for its robotic characters (famously lampooned on the Springfield Files episode of The Simpsons), but Mulder and Scully weren’t speaking in monotones in the Pilot. They had an exuberance I had not remembered. Scully smiled more easily. Looking back, I can see the way the characters changed over the years is actually realistic, because what they experienced would naturally have immunized and hardened them a little. It’s like the president aging after he’s been elected and taken office., the weight of his responsibility making him older, more somber than his years. I see that in Mulder and Scully, even if the actors didn’t intend it.
The thing about the show is that so much of it is artificial. That unreal dialogue that they speak and the unnatural way it’s delivered. Sometimes they talk by rote, as if they’re reciting rather than expressing. You’d think you would discard it as phony immediately. But for me, although their words are stilted and unbelievable, the emotion in their eyes and faces is so genuine that I buy the dialogue. I buy those people unconditionally.
I was trying to get a friend hooked on the show and she told me she was interested, but that she was afraid of aliens. She said even if they’re fake looking aliens, they scare her anyway. I told her not to worry. That she wouldn’t see a real alien on the show, fake or not, for about 5 years. I had totally forgotten there was an alien corpse in a coffin in the first episode!
One thing that stuck out to me as far as the MSR goes (Mulder and Scully relationship) is the way Mulder was taking pictures when Scully performed the autopsy and she ordered him to please stop pointing that flash in her face. I’m not sure why that line was there and I don’t know quite what it says. I guess it showed that Scully can draw boundaries, even though Mulder is the one usually in charge. She did get to show her commanding side, as she pulled her gun on the Sheriff. She identified herself as an agent and told him to drop his weapon. The sheriff did not. So, assertive Scully did not prevail, but I liked seeing her that early on in the show.
I’d forgotten that Cigarette Smoking Man was in the very first meeting that Scully was seen having with FBI supervisors. Chris Carter says they lucked out with WBD. They didn’t need the actor to speak, so they didn’t look for talent when they cast the role. They just sought someone who could LOOK the part. But they picked the right time, because when it got to a point when they wanted to give him dialogue and drama, William was more than up for the part.
I’d forgotten that Mulder mockingly called her “Dr. Scully” in that first show. He called her “doc” in the last movie too.
She’s striking a facade that early on. I guess this is where, “I’m fine” is born. Another thing we see in the pilot, that is repeated throughout the series is Scully in bed, but not asleep. Awake, thoughtful. Clock on the bedside next to her. Mulder calls and says they need to talk. Already he’s gone from thinking of her as the enemy sent to debunk him, to thinking of her as the partner he needs to make plans with. She says ok they’ll talk tomorrow. Her response is hard to read. She’s not upset that he’s calling so late, yet not overly-anxious to speak with him to discuss the conspiracy he perceives. She’s not reluctant, but not eager either. There’s a strange ambivalence. He told her he was not crazy and I think she believes that already, but does she suspect he’s paranoid? It’s too early to pinpoint what she feels about him or her new job. Maybe we’re spying a woman at a cross-roads, just steps before she reaches a point of no return. Lying there in the bed, her countenance is impassive.
Looking at Mulder put his hand on Scully’s back as he tells her they are going back to their hotel or the way they lightly touch hands when they come together in the rain, it occurs to me that they became much stingier with physical contact during the course of the series than they were in the Pilot. Compared to what evolved, they almost seemed touchy-feely in the pilot by comparison. I know in Squeeze he’s fingering her jewelry. Yet, by the time we get to “Ice” I’m so surprised when he places his hand on her neck that it’s both chilling and sensual. By the 7th episode, the characters have already practiced such an economy of touch that any suggestion of contact heightens the tension. I’ve already been conditioned, after a few hours of shows, but in the pilot Pavlov’s dog is fed a bit. It’s in the episodes to come that Chris Carter simply ring — well, just gives us a glimpse of — the bell.
Other things that carried on throughout the series that I noticed in the Pilot:
1. The calling each other, “Mulder!” “Scully” Yes, it’s a way of summoning, but for them its so much more. Saying the other’s name is almost some kind of validation. Anne Lindbergh wrote that she awoke from sleep and said “Charles” and she wasn’t really calling out to her husband, beckoning or making a request. She simply thought that saying his name had its own meaning., “just Charles.” And that’s how I feel when Mulder and Scully call each other. They are both asking a question and receiving an answer when they say the other’s name. Of course, they usually have a reason to address each other in such fashion, but so often they convey whatever message they have, with the name alone and no more. For instance, in Requiem, when Scully walks into the office and sees Mulder huddled together with their enemies, she doesn’t ask what he’s doing or why he’s doing it. She simply says, “Mulder,” and the word is both a question, a demand, of him and a denunciation of the others in the room. The scene ends with her saying his name. “Mulder” . Scully? It’s a question, a command, a search, a hope, a plea, a caress. a validation. From the woods of the pilot to the cornfields of the movie, this namecalling carries such power.
2. Scully told him he had to trust her. And even in those first days after they meet, we can see that he is already beginning to. Trust is a core theme, explored repeatedly even in that premiere season. A ball they toss back and forth for 9 years. YOU’RE the only I trust, she tells him later. You’re the ONLY one I trust he responds some time after that (Wetwired).
3. They had their first phone conversation. He says, “Scully’s it’s me” for the first time. She hangs up on him without saying goodbye, as they always do.
4. After the blinding light comes and takes the girl from Billy Miles’ arms, Mulder’s first thought is Scully and he goes running to look for her. He told her in the hotel room that getting to the truth about his sister was the ONLY thing he cared about and the series’ most thrilling ride is seeing how Scully not-so-slowly begins to take priority for him, over Samantha.
5. Bleeding from the nose. I’d forgotten that it happened in the Pilot. When people discuss Orison and whether or not Mulder was yelling to Scully “don’t shoot” I think they overlook the fact that she was bleeding from the nose when he broke down the door. He was already fearful for her safety, seeing her with the blood coming from her nose must have brought her abduction and cancer to the forefront of his mind, not to mention Unruhe. It was like all of the times he had nearly lost her were flashing in front of his face. I think that telling her not to shoot in that moment must have been the last thing on his mind. At any rate, the blood from the nose is born in the pilot. Chris hadn’t thought about the chip being placed at the back of the neck yet, back then. But it’s amazing how the seeds for almost every major event and emotion expressed during the series were there from the beginning, right in the opener.
6. Scully walking up to the desk and presenting her “evidence,” the metal communicator she took from the nose of the corpse. She did the same thing , when she dramatically presented the bee to Blythe Danner’s character in FTF and I didn’t realize that that move came from the Pilot. When the supervisors ask her what Mulder thinks, she pauses, considers, then says: “Agent Mulder thinks we are not alone.” She is not mocking him, not disloyal and doesn’t divulge some of the more personal things he’s revealed to her. Still, even with that short sentence she gives those in control, insight and , in doing so, is less protective of Mulder than she will soon become.