What I remembered most about this episode was the overhead shot of the papers forming Ruby’s face. I’d forgotten so much else.
Early on the acting seemed so young and stilted from all involved, more so than in the last 2 episodes. Perhaps because it had to do with exposition involving the Samantha Mulder case file, with Scully reciting what she knew to Blevin. But even the scenes with Mulder and Scully traveling to Ruby’s home were as stiff as cardboard in a collar.
The capture above reflects how Mulder often gets physically close to Scully. Slightly mocking her skepticsm, he mouths a sentence into her face. The fact that he likes to do this tells us it’s remotely plausible that someone could think she’s hot even before Mulder actually says it. When he gets up close and personal, Scully doesn’t exactly reciprocate, but she doesn’t pull away either. She is not immune to his appeal, but doesn’t react to it.
Blevin tells Scully that Mulder has booked them on a flight. He hasn’t bothered to inform her of this. He’s taking for granted that she’ll go where he decides he’ll go. Rather than waiting until Never Again to check such behavior on his part, she should have simply fold him that she wanted to be consulted before he booked flights for her, right there at the start. It would have saved us all a lot of heart ache. But she doesn’t address his dictatorial habits. Instead, she focuses on the fact that she doesn’t think he has a case. That’s almost inconsequential to him. To him, that’s no reason why he should change their plans. So they disagree, he remarks. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. His statement is not adversarial and he doesn’t discard her feelings, because he doesn’t value her opinion. Instead, his tone indicates that he anticipates and even welcomes the fact that she doesn’t agree with what he’s doing, but still looks forward to what their “journey” together will bring, and assumes that she will too, reasoning that as a scientist she should want to ask questions, just for the sake of it. Impertinent questions may uncover pertinent facts. But Scully isn’t interested in facts, not even scientific ones, unless there’s a point to them. Mulder already sees their differences as a plus in their dynamic. Scully likes him and, I suspect, already likes being with him, but she doesn’t relish the discord and sparring, doesn’t seek it for sport. I don’t think she gets pleasure from it. She enjoys the company, not the conflict. She’s uneasy changing or expanding longheld precepts.
When Blevin questioned Muderl’s interest in a case that wasn’t a case, Scully’s comment that the conduct was strange, “even for Mulder,” was surprising. Certainly not something that an older Scully would say to anyone other than an intimate like Skinner or the LGM. She doesn’t blurt out everything Mulder has told her though, not until Blevin assures her it is not a breach of confidence, since Mulder opened a file on his sister’s case himself. Well, if Blevn has the file and Scully already knows (and can read the file), why must she tell Blevin what she knows? Her recitation sounds unnatural, but it also hints of betrayal that’s uneasy to watch. Though perhaps it sets the stage for Scully to tell NSA where Mulder got the “document” from later.
As the agents go to Ruby’s house, I’m struck by how big the purse or brief case that Scully is carrying is. Glad she ditched bags like that later on, because considering their need to move quickly in some circumstances, it’s impractical. Of course, with Gillian‘s pregnancy, they were probably looking for camouflage.
As Kevin derives his drawing messages from the snowy tv screen, I think of Wetwired. There, the government was doing the programming. This time the aliens are, presumably, telling the boy conduit where his sister is. Having been exposed to them during the abduction, he can communicate. Of course, maybe the messages are coming both from the government and the aliens. Perfectly in keeping with the conspiratorial collaboration we will learn about in years to come. Our nation’s defense secrets are intermingled with alien location information in encoded tv signals, because our government is no stranger to alien communications and location information.
When Blevin suggests that Mulder may be too personally involved to be objective about a case involving an abduction, Scully says she doesn’t think so. But then when we (and she) see him fingering that picture of Ruby, it reminds me of Closure and his desperation to understand his own loss by retracing (if not reversing) someone else’s. Truthfully, the way he fingers that photo borders on creepy and I think we’re lucky that the loss of his sister didn’t leave Mulder with an unnatural fetish for young girls!
I’m not sure why we had to see NSA wake Scully up first looking for Mulder. But we did see her in bed, clock by her side (set up in motel rooms the same way it’s set up in her home), clothed in the standard pajamas. I don’t think it’s wise for her to sleep with her gun half way across the room. Anyone who broke in could get to it long before she could.
Mulder apparently sleeps without a shirt. He refuses to tell them where he got the diagram. I’m reading of Dreamland when Mulder is dragged out of the convenience store shouting, “Would I do this?” Scully learned early on that Mulder doesn’t rat out the people who give them information. Of course, Scully perturbs us here as much as she does Mulder. If she didn’t know they would go after Kevin, her disclosure might have been understandable. But it seems she could have guessed what would happen, because she’s not surprised. She tells Mulder that Kevin might be a security threat. Huh? Certainly she can’t believe he has security information himself can she? If she thinks it is being fed to him, doesn’t she have any desire to find out where he’s getting it from in a gentle way that won’t further traumatize a boy who has already lost his sister? Scully can be insensitive to the people they encounter, but her seeming disregard to what happens to a child is a bit hard to swallow.
Furthermore, when we watch the scene play out as Kevin is separated from his mother, we don’t see her looking especially concerned or guilty. It’s Mulder who has the angst as he fingers the room the NSA has destroyed in their search.
Even though she doesn’t look repentent, I think Scully has learned a lesson because she doesn’t throw people under the bus as easily in future episodes. She may voice suspicion about them to Mulder, but doesn’t let their superiors in on what they are doing so much. That’s why it’s natural by the time we get to Dreamland that she’s so shocked at the way Mulder’s acting. He’s the one who taught her to be secretive.
I marvel at how closely the dialogue in this episode resembles IWTB. Is 1030 continuing a theme or just being hopelessly redundant. “I know what you’re thinking.” Mulder is determined to find the lost girl. Scully tells him she knows why it’s so important to him. He’s still trying to find his sister. Words she will say again in 2008. He tells her that she can come or don’t come. “I’m not giving up.” Of course, in IWTB, the overriding theme is “don’t give up.” There, he doesn’t tell Scully to come with him. He knows that she won’t, but in Conduit she still does. Did Frank and Chris remember Conduit when they wrote IWTB? Was it deliberate reinforcement of major points in the MSR or do they just repeat the same dialogue over and over again for lack of originality?
When the analyst shows them all the information that the boy’s coding contains, Scully recognizes the classical music piece immediately, which reminds me of the recital she’s going to in Fire. We get a snippet of her interests outside of science.
When they are in the house that has just been ransacked by the NSA, they are rather estranged. Mulder doesn’t stop talking to Scully — although I would have, if I thought she’d caused the boy to be taken from his mother and wasn’t even that sorry for having done so. Still, there’s a quiet friction. Looking out the window, Mulder sees the tarred roof of the RV. He is the one who sees the tree tops have been burned when they are by the lake. In one scene she tells him that he’s not looking at the big picture. That’s why it’s fitting that she is the one who goes upstairs and looks down to identify Ruby’s face in the papers. Finally, SHE is able to see the big picture. Daniel Sackheim directed and it’s nice the way he used aerial shots to make a plot point.
As they are driving along, Scully has to ask where they are going. She thought they were headed back to town. Without asking her again, Mulder takes a different direction. Of course, he does this in The Truth and she doesn’t mind, even though jail (and his death) await her should they get caught in that finale episode.
Mulder’s practice of just taking her along for the ride without asking is established in this episode.
Although Scully doesn’t actually take him anywhere, she does guide. At the grave side, when she tells him not to disturb the crime scene, puts her hand out and says “Stop,” it’s very intimate, because he does stop. He seems to ask her permission to continue, saying that he needs to know if it’s her. Scully sighs, closes her eyes and draws back her restraining arm. Mulder wouldn’t have continued if she hadn’t “let” him. It’s like Paper Hearts (there she helps him dig the grave). But it’s also like Closure, where he turns to her and silently asks if it’s ok to go forward, after she has expressed skepticism.
In the car Mulder tells Scully he used to play a game, closing his eyes before he entered his bedroom, thinking that one day he would open them and his sister would be there again. She’d be back. He’s still doing that today. Scully doesn’t reach out to him. She remains on her side of the car, soaking in his pain. This is the beginning of what remains unsaid between them being more important than what is verbalized.
What Mulder says about thinking he will open his eyes one day and his sister will be there reminds me of when I first moved to California in 1987. I went down to the parking space at my apartment complex and found my new car window had been smashed in. I couldn’t believe it. Every time I left and returned to the car, I half expected to find the window magically unbroken. It would have seemed less unreal to me to have it repair itself than it did to see it smattered in the first place. I was just 23 then. That was the first minor taste I would have of dealing with things that could not be undone. Of course, a car window is reparable. Your brain knows that some things aren’t, but when you encounter finality for the first time, it’s not believable. Tragedy seems illusory. You’re so shocked that it happened in the first place, you would never question its unhappening. More than loss or pain, grief is sometimes just a continous wait for the unhappen that never comes.
Mulder tells Darlene that some day Ruby will remember what happened, even if it’s only in dreams and then she will need to talk. Again, I am reminded of Scully and the way she repressed what happened. Initially. Mulder would argue with the mother longer about telling the truth, but Scully reaches up and puts a hand on his shoulder. She has to stretch high to reach his tall shoulder, but however attenuated, her grasp is enough to make him stop in his tracks. However light, her touch can steer or detain him. We learn this in Milagro too, when just a light hand keeps him from going after Padgett.
Strange to go back and see Mulder in a church. If it had been a scene in the case, he might end up there at the end, but “our” Mulder would never go to God with his pain, spontaneously. Sure, he might end up there via Scully’s faith, but not on his own. That is a path I think he turned away from long ago. He wouldn’t go to a church even to assure himself, once again, that God is indifferent. I wonder if this is a plot point that Carter would have changed later, after the characters were more established. I would not say that Mulder is an atheist or an agnostic either way. I’d just say that he doesn’t seek answers or solace from religion or he wouldn’t in 1993. Maybe following William’s birth he might.
Fourth episode gives us a great overview of Mulder’s lasting torment and a great ending. Scully listens to Mulder under hypnosis regression (as he will later sit on the couch and listen to her IN regression. He says, he can’t see his sister, but he can hear her calling his name over and over and asking for help. Just like Scully calls him on that answering machine message when she is abducted. “Mulder, I need your help.” I don’t know if it was clear to me the first time I saw this episode that the voice inside of his head wasn’t an alien force. It wasn’t the mysterious “they” who ordered Ruby not to tell anyone of her experience. Instead it was Mulder’s own voice saying it will be all right. No harm will come to her and she’ll be back. The doctor asks if he believes the voice. Mulder says, “I want to believe.” Miraculous use of that catch phrase. Mulder didn’t start out wanting to believe in aliens or a conspiracy. He only wanted to believe that the hurt would stop, the hole would be filled. The wrong would be righted. Scully listens to the tape from the past while present day Mulder cries.
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 must have been a good 9 years since I’d last seen this episode and I found that my memory of the plot was virtually nil. Upon reintroduction, I was surprised to see how similar Mulder’s first meeting with Deep Throat was to the bar encounter with Kurtzweil in FTF. I thought I saw a lot of the echoes, themes and patterns in the show when I was watching it the first time through, but I must have missed far more than I caught. Knowing now that aliens were earth’s first inhabitants, Deep Throat’s words, “they’ve been here for a long, long time,” resound with meaning. It makes it seem that Chris Carter planned what was to come in 1998, as early as 1993. I won’t actually give him that much credit, though. He didn’t always build the show with a plan, but did use the foundation that formed, to inform the structure as it was completed. You put in the initial ingredients and soon they react with each other. The creation creates, which, I suppose, is what Milagro is all about.
It’s funny how Mulder and Scully could be much more formal with each other after having partnered for 6 years than they were in the very first episodes. When Mulder comes upon Scully in the bar, he leans into her so closely that her personal space almost seems to be invaded. It’s often the way they look at or lean towards each other that makes them appear to be so intimate, even when their words are merely professional. Of course, conversely, when their words are personal, they’re often standing apart (i.e. the “remotely plausible” line.
I notice Mulder’s hand on Scully’s back to guide her in and out of a place. It reminds me of Dreamland when Mulder is in the other body and Scully puts her hand up and stiffens when he touches her back with familiarity. Well, this is how that familiarity formed.
It’s amusing when Scully says, “If I was that high . . . ” and Mulder interjects, “If you were that high, what?” Is he calling her staid? Is he already wondering what she’d be like if she let down her guard?
That Scully does not miss too many zzzzzzzs. She can sleep laying down, sitting up, in a car, on the sofa, on the floor (i.e. Albert Hosteen‘s). Here she is asleep in the car when an excited Mulder pulls her out by the hand, so she can witness the lights flying in the sky. Mulder’s boyish wonder is one of his most endearing qualities and this is the first time we see him trying to get Scully to share in the enthusiasm, as he will again in Field Trip and FTF, to name a few. Of course, Scully is capable of such excitement herself. We see that in her proprietary marveling over the invisible corpse in Je Souhaite. However, more often she stands back, curious, questioning, but reserving judgment, when Mulder would rather she jump in with both feet.
What I take away most from this viewing is how much Scully sacrificed for Mulder. She holds someone who is working for the government at gunpoint. Now, the odds that she really would have fired are so small that I think it’s unrealistic that the man did anything she said. Still, that doesn’t make what she did less actionable. she was trespassing on government property and they had every right to tell her and her partner not to be there, but when Mulder goes missing, she takes steals a car, holds a gun on the owner and demands that she be taken to the restricted territory. She could not only be fired for such conduct. She could be jailed. She risks that for a guy she has no reason to trust just yet. Aside from withholding information from her, about why they’re there and what he suspects, he outright lies and tells her he’ll leave with her, then takes their car, stranding her at the motel. Yes, it’s the first of many ditches., but this time, it’s too early in the relationship for Scully to assume that Mulder has a good reason.
Of course, the way the government agents manhandled them when their car was stopped, probably convinced her that Mulder was more deserving of her respect than they were. Still, even though she had cause to think that the government was acting wrongly (even if she doesn’t believe they were concealing alien existence) in the way they seized evidence and assaulted them, it takes a lot of chutzpah to confront them as she does. Love it when she says she chose that method because she sees how far you get with a tear and a sad story.
The subtle way she reacted by simply turning her head when Mulder was punched was our initiation into Scully’s way of coping. Her eyes are often glistening with tears, but she seldom cries out loud. Her averted eyes and set mouth tell us what is going on inside. And we see this early on that she is already silently absorbing Mulder’s pain, incorporating the wrongs he suffers into her own life, her own mission.
And too, we see them shift positions already. The balance of power tilting so constantly and quickly back and forth, that it remains reassuringly steady and equal in the end. In the pilot, we saw a scared Scully run into Mulder’s hotel room with a mosquito bite. Uncertain, in new territory and ideas. In this second episode, after Mulder has his memory erased, he stumbles through the government gates dazed, vulnerable (much like he was in Demons) and Scully’s in the driver’s seat, strong, determined, ready to take him to safety, but quickly learning how difficult that is to be found.
They sit easily on the bed together, looking at the phone book.
Don’t know if the reference to the letter 69 was meant to be a dirty joke or not.
Had no idea Seth Green was on the show.
They are driving an Oldsmobile. Usually their rental cars are Fords.
The way they look at the map and are chased by the helicopters reminds me of FTF.
Six years after the series finale, as I opened up the first boxed DVD set and began my trip down memory lane, I’m fascinated to discover how so many scenes and lines of dialogue remind me of pivotal moments in the series and I see them all as one. It’s amazing to me that Chris Carter repeated the same things so often and they never lost their effect. In fact, it is almost subliminal. I never realize that so many threads that run to the very end of the show, to the season finale, were first introduced in the pilot. Obviously, I knew that the last scene of the series revisited the hotel scene with Mulder and Scully from the first episode, but there were so many other things I’d forgotten. The pilot was one big archetype for the more than 200 shows that followed.
Ah, yes. The first meeting. When Mulder emphasizes the word “Scully,” just to let her know he doesn’t necessarily think she comes in peace. I suppose this is the last time that Scully ever knocks before entering the office. That’s something that struck me in IWTB. When Scully first entered the secluded house, I didn’t know she was living there with Mulder, but I did see that she was comfortable enough there that she didn’t bother knocking before entering his lair. In retrospect, there’s something about their first meeting that seems classic and auspicious from the very start. It doesn’t feel like a show that is still stumbling to find it’s footing, as we watch unknown characters greet each other for the first time. It already seems that we’re viewing the first encounter in a relationship that will be important. Of course, I can say that 15 years after the fact, knowing what I know. But I’ve seen pilots of other shows that became hits and that feeling of moment and gravitas isn’t in all of their pilots. The first meeting between Mulder and Scully played like a flashback, rather than a pilot scene. It felt like we were looking back on something that had already been established. You can almost sense the future in their initial handshake.
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.
Later, when she’s examining Billy Miles and learns that Mulder has information that he’s been keeping from her, she leaves the hospital in a hurry. Surprised, Mulder hurries after her and jokes about her not saying goodbye to the patient. I’d forgotten that Scully walked away then, fed up, alienated. It’s not unlike the (rather annoying) stance she took in IWTB, not to mention the (rather childish) way she ran away when she saw Mulder with Diana Fowley.
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.
When Mulder knocked on Scully’s door to ask if she wanted to go for a run, she said she was sleepy and even yawned. He asked her if she figured out what the metal thing in the nose was and she said she wasn’t losing sleep over it. She lied. She didn’t go to bed after closing the door because she was still thinking about that thing.
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.
I think the rain scene is more famous from the blooper reel than it is from Pilot. When Scully finally finishes her sputtering, shivering sentence, that laugh we hear is Gillian’s not Dana’s. Mulder is nodding and grinning, but I don’t know what his reaction means in terms of the plot. Is Scully laughing because his theory, as she’s crazily articulated it, is ridiculous? Is he laughing with her, at her, at himself? Would the moment have played the same way if Gillian could have gotten it in one take? The finished scene reads like an outtake actually.
Mulder in the opening is everything he always is, everything that David is. A jerk,: spitting out sunflower seeds , smirking, wisecracking, withholding. Sensitive, solid, vulnerable, unbelievably intelligent, obviously trustworthy. She tells him to trust her. She already seems to trust him. Flings herself into his arms after he diagnoses her mosquito bites. He’s filled her head with unscientific nonsense and, against her will, a small part of her believes in it, because she already believes in him. And I think already she’s fighting not just him and his zany suspicions but herself and that part of her so ready to be persuaded and influenced.
In Scully’s first scenes Gillian is . . . well, the most incredible thing that ever drew breath. I could try to be thoughtful about it, but I just don’t have too many viewpoints where that is concerned.
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.
7. Of course, the writers pay homage to the scene in the hotel room when they spend the night talking in both Requiem and in The Truth. What strikes me is how he basically shares his whole life story with her that evening. In the years to come, we will be frustrated at what Mulder and Scully don’t say to each other (at least not on screen). Each will be given a piece of the puzzle and we don’t see them divulge it to the other. Not only do they keep things that would help them defeat the enemy to themselves, but they are also largeely silent about what motivated them. In this show, so much is hidden from the audience, but sometimes it seems like one partner knows even less about the other than the audience does. So often, I’m wondering, “Did Mulder ever tell Scully what he learned from so-and-so?” With Memento Mori, for example, Mulder learned a little from Scully’s diary, but does he know that Penny comforted Scully during the treatments. Does he know that Penny said that she was with Scully during her abduction? Probably not. Scully wouldn’t want Mulder to know about that, because she didn’t want to deal with it herself. But after 9 seasons of them not telling each other things, it was so refreshing to revisit the pilot and think that they spent a whole night revealing to one another. Well, at least Mulder did.