Handcuffs & Food

This was a great episode. Perhaps that assessment is a product of the dumpster fires leading up to it, but I want to believe — nay, choose to believe — that it can take its place among the Pretty Good tier of X-Files MOTWs on its own merit. I liked it enough that I’m willing to break with this blog’s style book and call it “This” instead of This, even if it’s just once for the sake of clarity.

After the transgression of my previous post, I’d also like to reinstate my self-imposed rule of avoiding episode reviews. That ground is well-covered.

Instead, let’s give a couple of the themes from This a Mulder & Scully-focused back story. I think we can all agree that I need to start with…

1. Handcuffs

It’s a show about two law enforcement agents, so handcuffs abound. But we all know what kind of handcuff usage this is really about.

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The main downside to this scene from season 6’s Dreamland pt II is that Scully’s leisure-time suggestion is merely a ruse to entrap Morris Fletcher, an Area 51 employee (and 3rd worst minor recurring character in the series) inhabiting Mulder’s body. Where oh where, the more degenerate among us wondered, was Mulder and Scully’s official Fun with Handcuffs?

“You want handcuffs?” Glen Morgan asked rhetorically. “Oh, I’ll give you handcuffs.”

Handcuffed fleeing…

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Probably not the first time Skinner has walked in on them looking like this

Handcuffed roleplay…

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If I were Langly, I’d have been more cautious about uploading my consciousness into a building whose security is *wink*

Handcuffed banter…

5handcuffs

Each knowing line is a piece of shipperdom brought into canon. Please continue.

And on behalf of all X-Files fans, thank you, Glen Morgan. Thank you for keeping Mulder and Scully together on-screen for almost every second of this episode, and thank you for the portions of it that are in handcuffs.

2. Food

Dana Scully is a scientific mind and an independent, crime-stopping woman of law enforcement. Therefore it is unduly precious to hear Mulder and Scully discussing the merits of a muffin that may or may not have come out of an alien’s butt.

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Make your own here!

Perhaps we relish scenes of quiet food appreciation because of the pause they offer in a whirling swirl of conspiracies and shadow governments. Some of the best moments of X-Files happen when the aliens are away, leaving Mulder and Scully to their own devices, and what better way to make the unsolicited Syndicate calls go to voicemail then to sit down to a nice dinner. To wit:

a. Ribs (Red Museum, season 2)

7ribs

You’ve got a little something on your platonic relationship

I can’t write this section without being jealous that they’re eating ribs. That said, given the farflung and isolated locales they frequent, who knows how many of these greasy spoon dates have gone on the FBI Amex? It will remain a statistic known only to Mulder, Scully, and expense processor Layla Harrison.

Side note: the speaker at the Church of the Red Museum notes that they are “18 Earth years from the beginning of the new kingdom.” That places their new kingdom squarely in 2012, a popular year for universal upheaval. I didn’t notice the sky change color that year or anything, but maybe the new kingdom did rise and chose to maintain the status quo so as not to rock the boat. Or maybe we’re all in the Matrix.

b. Cake (Tempus Fugit, season 4)

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Serves you right for not finishing your nachos

It’s Scully’s birthday, and by season 4, Mulder finally remembers it. What’s great about this particular meal of bar food, though, is that Scully doesn’t find out it’s a birthday surprise until the singing troupe of waiters comes out with what looks like a sparkler stabbed into a Hostess Sno Ball. Until that point, they were just out having dinner — no case, no furtive meeting point with an anonymous government insider, just Mulder calling up Scully and being like, “Hey, you eat yet?”

While their normal-people evening is interrupted by a harbinger of doom, at least they had their nachos.

c. Wine and Cheese (Detour, season 5)

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Wait… the conference reception was potluck? #skipit

Mulder and Scully are saved from a professional development seminar by a roadblock and a nice unsolved disappearance. Since they missed the wine and cheese welcoming reception, Scully opts to host an impromptu one in Mulder’s hotel room. Fox “Suavecito” Mulder then breaks into a rhetorical debate about the nature of predators and bolts out the door to investigate, and I quote, “something.”

Some day I should do a blog post on all his missed opportunities.

In the meanwhile, another side note: the copy on these old websites is classic. I’m sure Facts & Information Encyclopedia was the Wikipedia of its day.

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I prefer the Lies & Speculation Encyclopedia, myself 

d. Tuna (Arcadia, season 6)

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As long as the garnish doesn’t violate the CC&Rs

Mulder and Scully are undercover as Rob and Laura Petri, and they have a nice suburban dinner party at the neighbors’ place. Mulder ruins everything by asking nosy questions and lauding the virtues of eating dolphin. In between the beginning and ruin of the dinner, though, he shares Laura Petri’s affinity for UFOs and magnetic bracelets with an enthusiasm that suggests he was projecting when he asked Scully whether she took this assignment just to play house.

e. Beer and Popcorn (Je Souhaite, season 7)

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Don’t look like no poppin’ corn to me

After a long day’s work of wiping humans off the planet and then freeing a genie, Mulder decides what he and Scully need is some popcorn, a couple Shiners, and Caddyshack. As a resident of Dallas, I approve; this almost makes up for when they blew up our federal building in Fight the Future.

Side note: I recall as an obsessed teenage shipper that there was speculation on alt.tv.x-files that Mulder’s third wish was for Scully to be happy. There was also speculation that he wished for her to be pregnant, given that we find out in the next episode that she is, followed by the season 8 revelation that she had asked Mulder to be the donor for her IVF procedure.

I stand by the default explanation that he pulled an Aladdin and wished for the genie’s freedom, but I would also strenuously prefer either of those explanations to our current CSM + science baby. And we are in dire straits when any plotline looks like a worse option than season 8.

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Hold me tight, precious 2001 mytharc

 

Open an X-File on these muffins

Scully doesn’t care whether these muffins came out of an alien’s butt; she’s still gonna eat the whole thing. And now you can, too!

Play along at home with this muffin recipe, a modified version of a recipe I found at Prepared Pantry.

muffin2

Alien Butt Muffins

1 1/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Zest of 1 lemon

1/4 cup chopped pistachios
1/4 cup processed pistachios (almost ground)
1 stick butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp rum extract
2-3 drops green food coloring

1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped pistachios

Mix all dry ingredients above (flour to processed pistachios). In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and mix. Add vanilla, rum extract, and food coloring; mix until just combined.

Gradually mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients, alternating with buttermilk. Spoon batter into lined muffin pan. Sprinkle remaining chopped pistachios on top.

Cook at 375 degrees. Check muffins at 15 minutes and remove when an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Makes 12 muffins.

My Struggle 3: Why. Why. Why. Why.

I. Intro (AKA the part you’ll skip)

It’s been over a year since I posted here. I’ve thought of a few topics that I might come back around to (1990s fashion in seasons 1 -3, anyone?) but the motivation always petered away, lost somewhere in the exploding backlog of my Netflix queue.

00ST

Someday, season 2…

I also have a rule for myself that I won’t write a post that does nothing but complain about an episode, regardless of which episode it is. That’s how my blog ended up with a post centered around TrustNo1 that somehow managed to go 500+ words without calling it out for the out of character, canon-busting fanfic that it is.

My Struggle 3 resolved both of these issues. I was motivated to write this post, and it’s nothing but complaining about an episode. I’m sorry. If it helps, I’ll save you some time and criticize myself for it so you don’t have to (or as a baseline for you to build your insults from):

Why would anyone just read a long rant?

I’m not sure they will.

Chris Carter created a hit television show loved by millions. What have you ever done?

I have not created a hit television show loved by millions. You got me there.

Why watch a show if you hate it so much?

It is my love of X-Files that drives me to hold the show to the high standards it set for itself. I can’t imagine it would be hard to find other examples of angry, obsessed nerds, though. Comic Book Guy comes to mind. Me and him should hang out.

001CBG

Get a life.

Never!

II. Nothing but complaining

a. Monologues

We’ve been on the “let’s explain” train for a couple seasons already, but My Struggle 3 reached new heights of soliloquy. Now on top of all the conversational exposition (e.g., between Monica and CSM) —

1Monica

TFW you have just been subjected to an 86-word monologue (actual count)

— and on top of the opening musings —

2CSM

We found out his name is Carl Gerhard Busch, so maybe this monologue can stay

— we can fill the space in between with key characters’ spoken thoughts, serving to translate the parts of the show that were conveyed through action and acting into statements of the obvious.

3Mulder

Wait… Mulder is worried about Scully? This changes everything.

 

b. Convenience and coincidence

This is also known as lazy writing, but arguably the previous section also falls under that designation, so in the spirit of being MECE, here we go.

Scully tells Mulder that CSM can be found in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Therefore, Mulder gets in his car to go to South Carolina.

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Set address to… ‘House’

Fortunately, he takes a quick break to film a Ford Mustang commercial, after which the driver who was tailing him thinks to himself, “Well, shoot. I lost him. Better drive to Spartanburg right now.”

And a few other characters join in on the improbable fun. From the fact that Mulder’s half-brother has kept his estranged family in the loop about his contact information —

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New phone. Who dis.

— to the doctor at the public hospital where intelligence agencies have been dropping off participants in their top-secret experiments, which seems reckless but whatever —

6Doctor

Thanks, Obamacare

— to the chance appearance of the twin banes of my existence, Miller and Einstein, who come back from their Starbucks run just in time to witness Scully’s accident and to drop her off at the hospital before disappearing into the night.

Perhaps any and/or all of these shortcuts will be explained in later episodes, at which point I am ready and willing to have my mind blown.

c. Telegraphing a spin-off

I’ve expressed my feelings about Miller and Einstein before. It perplexes me that someone would want to base a series on two flat characters with no chemistry, but who am I to argue with Chris Carter’s consistent new-series success.

Maybe their derivative presence has got me over-sensitive to new characters, but it sure feels like Mr. Y is a (slightly) younger Cigarette-Smoking Man who can serve as a foil for Miller and Einstein. At least, that’s all I can see when I look at him.

8MY

You’re not officially a member of the Syndicate until Mulder threatens you with a gun

And really, who cares how a hardcore fan feels about the setup for a spin-off? If only hardcore fans watched the spin-offs, they’d never stay on air for more than half a season. If Fox wants to pick up a newer, younger X-Files, then I wish them happy trails. Just one request — can we treat this season as the grand finale of a classic show and not a launching pad for the direct-to-video version?

d. Ret-con

Building and maintaining a myth-arc is hard. Following a complex myth-arc is hard. For X-Files fans, trying to explain post-season 5 myth-arc is really, really hard.

9Shannon

“And then the super-soldiers were weak against magnetite, but then baby William was born as a super-soldier, except actually he was a Christmas miracle, and uhhhhh”

But how in the name of Alvin Kersh are we supposed to keep track of the myth-arc when Chris Carter reaches into the past and changes it?

In the scene in question, from season 7’s “En Ami” (quoth high-school me: “WHOA it’s like ‘enemy’ but means ‘as a friend’!!!! HOLY CRAP!!”), Cigarette-Smoking Man has driven through the night to the quaint riverside cottage where he plans to share the cure for all diseases with Scully. She wakes up in a strange bed in pajamas and accuses him of drugging her.

10Scully

Line: “I carried you. You’d been up for over 30 hours, you were delirious.”

Putting aside how many Cracker Barrels they’d have had to stop at to make a trip from DC to Pennsylvania last 10+ hours, it was a characteristically creepy explanation, but one that she accepts and that neither Scully nor the series ever refer to again.

Not creepy enough for Chris Carter, mind. The new version runs a little different. And in case you missed it, it’s now framed as the forced conception of William, science-child of Scully and CSM.

10Scully

Line: “We carried you, my housekeeper and I. You’d been up for over 30 hours, you were delirious. You can ask her.”

Chop that together with some slo-mo reaction shots from different episodes, and a previously innocuous shot of him putting on one glove (which, granted, was followed in the original episode by him tenderly pushing her bangs out of her face), and now you’ve cranked your run-of-the-mill creepiness up to 11!

The inclusion of the housekeeper is an interesting, if non-sequitur, choice at this point, serving either to make him look more defensive and guilty, or to set up the involvement of a character we’re already familiar with.

12consuela

“Medical rape afuera.”

Putting aside (for a moment) the horrific implications this change has for a character that always seems to get the short end of the stick anyway, Chris Carter is poking at a Jenga tower here. There have been stray instances of inconvenient pieces falling out of the mytharc before when overlooked or inconvenient — Mulder claiming not to be a psychologist, Scully accusing Mulder of emotionally associating the victim in I Want to Believe with his sister even though that was soooo 5 years ago — and there have even been add-ins — Scully’s IVF comes to mind.

But reaching back and changing scenes that we’ve already seen really does not inspire belief in Chris Carter’s contention that everything is part of a plan. If that was your intent with the mytharc, would you have let the series expire without hinting at it? Would you need to change dialogue to make it seem plausible?

Though if we are going to bring unused cuts from old episodes into canon, I have a few suggestions:

13pmp

14mm

15ftf

e. The disenfranchisement of Dana Katherine Scully

If you’re reading this blog, then you probably read other, better X-Files blogs, too. Many of them had responses to Scully’s treatment in this episode that were appropriately negative.

Before I quote a few of them, let’s recap — this is an iconic, independent female character, who during the course of the main series is abducted, made to have a baby without her consent, found in a coma, gets cancer, finds and loses a child she didn’t know she had, loses her partner to abduction, loses her partner to death for like 8 months, gives up her baby for adoption, and is subjected to all manner of capture and beatings, though the latter two are part and parcel of being a main character on an hourlong dramatic TV series for 200+ episodes. On top of that, she also lost every family member except her estranged brother and her mother. And then in the most recent season, she loses her mother.

Since her life has been so much wild and crazy fun up until this point, the first episode of this season sees her wake up in a hospital after having severe seizures, get in a car accident, and get nearly choked to death by an assassin.

Oh, and everyone’s favorite: Cigarette-Smoking Man says he impregnated her without her permission.

I shouldn’t need to explain why this is a cheap plot move, or why it’s not a great time to medically rape your strong female lead.

Even if this were the suspenseful stroke of carefully-orchestrated genius Chris Carter thinks it is, what it does is leave Scully with very little say in anything that happens to her, basically throughout her entire life, but especially so in this episode. She’s left to play a Cassandra role, trying to get Mulder to believe her prophesies while incapacitated. When she does take matters into her own hands, she’s swatted back down again by crashing her car three feet away from the FBI building.

And her visions themselves are due to her connection with her son or something. Motherhood is a powerful bond with its own well of mystery and mystique, but especially as a woman with no plans for kids myself, it pains me to see her only point of plot influence in this episode is as a conduit for her child.

Now onto the other blogs you can read for more insight:

“The objectification of women takes many forms. In Scully’s case, it’s not sexual objectification but lack of agency. Scully is an object used to literally and figuratively give birth to other plot devices. She has no control over her own body, and her decisions are made for her. ”

Meghan M (@knifeink) of Knife Ink Reviews, in Medium

“If she’s evolved to be a believer in a way that we haven’t seen before, and she’s the independent woman, with non-standard, non-traditional views of what roles and life can be – why can’t her actions within the storyline also evolve to be one that satisfies that aspirational desire to find justice where there’s none, and have some rewards at it? It seems like there’s a lot of resignation when it comes as to how others see her and no real moment when she’s not a damsel in distress.”

Avi Quijada (@AviQuijada) in X-Files News

“Of all the disgusting, stomach-turning, hurl-inducing retcon crap. You’re gonna dig into the archives, after blatantly ignoring and shedding the series canon because you couldn’t keep track of it yourself, to find a long forgotten (if admittedly underappreciated) episode buried in the doldrums that was Season 7, a season most people didn’t much watch, and bubble back up to the surface with this pile of manure? Really?”

Salome (@xmusings) in Musings of an X-Phile

 

My List of Demands

In 24 hours, the last episode of the X-Files revival will air. It seems like just yesterday I was waiting for the NFC championship game to hurry up and end so that all my childhood dreams could come true.

022116 mushroom

From “OMG they went back to the original credits!!” to “OMG why is Mulder on placebo mushrooms?”

Speaking of high, given the ratings, Fox has expressed interest in continuing this miracle into another season. Whether that happens or not depends on the busy schedules of the talented actors, but regardless it confirms that the Monday night episode will not do what I had rather hoped it would do — answer all the questions and wrap it up.

Just remember last year, learning that X-Files was going to come back. The last thing you’d seen of it was an underwhelming movie designed to appeal to everyone (and therefore no one). These six new episodes were a chance to give the characters the closure that they’d never had. Instead, I fear tomorrow will stack even more questions on top of our already teetering mytharc like a pile of bodies used to escape a cave.

I feel like I’m standing behind Chris Carter at a roulette table. He’s just won big, and I would really like to drag him over to the front to cash out. Instead, he takes all the chips and puts them on red.

022116 reynolds

Burt Reynolds.

Regardless, here is my list of three demands for the final episode of season 10. In the interest of realism, I’ve also included a list of what the closest compromises will likely be.

As a good fan, I guess I should want the show to go out with a bang and resolve all the things. As a needy fan, I say we drag this thing out one more season.

Demand #1: Mulder and Scully reconcile with a passionate kiss.

Likely compromise: A tepid, sisterly kiss in the last five minutes.

022116 kimmel

For example.

I buy the argument that Scully would leave Mulder. I do not buy that they went from unresolved sexual tension to old married couple with a kid, leaving all the satisfying resolution off-screen.

022116 ftf

I’ll have you know I tried to rewrite that without using sexual analogies and failed.

This relationship was one of the great “will they or won’t they”s of television history, and Chris Carter decided that the answer to that question was, “They already did while you weren’t looking, so let’s build some more mytharc.” I demand this be rectified.

Demand #2: Cigarette Smoking Man commits a dastardly act of self-preserving evil worthy of his cameo.

Likely compromise: CSM tells Mulder & Scully that they’re messing with powers they don’t understand. Mulder points a gun at him and slowly lowers it. CSM disappears into the night.

Bonus: CSM reveals that he was able to survive the missile strike to his face because of “determination.”

022116 alien

“The real alien vaccine is love.”

Cigarette Smoking Man is part of a cadre of cowardly villains who were willing to sacrifice all of mankind to alien slavery in order to save themselves. He allowed his wife to be abducted and tortured countless times. He killed JFK, for God’s sake.

I’m gonna need to see him do something really, truly effed up.

The only other thing worthy of bringing back William B. Davis would be for him to die a spectacular death… but despite the fact that he’s been killed off three times, you can’t kill off CSM in the season finale when another season is at stake. Instead, let’s have him nuke New York, or put alien virus in the water supply of Beijing. Food for thought.

Demand #3: Agents Miller and Einstein quit the Bureau or die.

Likely compromise: Agents Miller and Einstein get more screen time than viewers’ lack of emotional connection with them warrants.

022116 miller

The only thing the casting call specified was hair color.

I don’t like having Mulder and Scully split up to work with Miller and Einstein. I don’t like the amount of Miller and Einstein that I’m seeing in the preview for the final episode. I’m ambivalent about the characters themselves, but there’s no place for ambivalence in a season finale, so get ’em outta here.

There are whispers of an X-Files spin-off featuring Miller and Einstein. Having seen their episode, I’ve come to believe that these whispers were only a ruse to get people watching, as no show could stand on a foundation of caricature and complete lack of chemistry. Just to be sure, though, in this last episode they should develop a sudden urge to move to North Carolina and start a goat farm. Or be thrown off a bridge.

 

Crazy like a Fox

Spoiler warning: don’t read this post if you haven’t watched the first episode of the new season yet. In fact, don’t do anything if you haven’t watched the first episode of the new season yet. Don’t you want to count toward the ratings? Do your part for 1013 and watch it now.

I won’t do a full run-down of the episode, though it was pants-peeingly exciting to see the original credits on live TV again. There are already plenty of reviews online, ranging from mainstream critics who drowned in Chris Carter’s exposition-filled monologues to thrilled fans who have learned to swim in such waters.

I want to talk about one moment that pulled the whole episode together for me. It’s when Mulder the Disheveled Hobo lays out his unified theory of everything for Tad, Sveta and Scully.

012516 monologue

The mark of a good theory is when you can’t mumble through all of it without stopping to breathe.

We’re used to Mulder having some crazy theories. In fact, we’re used to other characters using “You’ve had some crazy theories Mulder, but…” as a preface to dismissing whatever paranoid (though 99% accurate) claptrap he’s decided to buy into this week.

This one goes a little above and beyond, however. To wit, here are the collected works of the new Corporate Conspiracy, according to Mulder and Tad O’Malley:

  • All so-called alien abductions were staged by a secret coalition of world leaders who picked up some scrap UFO technology from Roswell et al. and tested it on humans, including alien-human hybridization efforts.
  • This shady government/corporate alliance plans to take over the US and then the world.
  • Weapons at their disposal include violent uprisings, weather wars, perpetual war, the Patriot Act, militarized police forces, FEMA prison camps, the agriculture and pharmaceutical industries, consumerism, and NSA monitoring of private data.
012516 data

I, for one, look forward to the uphill battle the government will have in trying to get my data back from Google.

At first glance, this is a rant worthy of that guy on the subway with mismatched shoes and an open 12-pack of fruit gummies. But really there’s two ways to look at this. One viewpoint is that this conspiracy salad is the only way one could hope to unite X-Files’ sprawling mytharc.

012516 csm

“Remember when it was just me you had to deal with? Kids could walk to school, movies cost a nickel…”

Or — and this is why I liked the scene — Mulder has fallen off the deep end. There’s three reasons why this is cool.

1. We’ve lost our reliable narrator.

012516 truth

I don’t know what to believe anymore. Next I suppose you’ll be telling me the truth isn’t out there.

You’d think that the skeptic scientist would be the one keeping us grounded, but Scully has two things working against her, neither of which are her fault. One is her inconvenient habit of being absent or semi-conscious when proof of the paranormal is nearby. The other is that Mulder’s gravity-defying leaps of logic almost always turn out to be accurate.

Once the two settled into their comfortable repartee, what that meant for the viewer was that when Mulder is telling Skinner or a roomful of FBI agents that their suspect is a liver-eating mutant or a shapeshifter, the empathetic embarrassment is lightened somewhat. Sure, he looks ridiculous now, but he’ll have the last laugh.

With this last break, we no longer have that comfort. Now he’s just your uncle at Thanksgiving.

012516 shaft

“I’m just saying, what kind of country is this where we don’t take care of our veterans but we’ve got illegal aliens crashing their UFOs into our Roswell? Thanks Obama.”

2. It fits his continued degradation from the second movie.

2015-09-19 17.48.47

“I’m just fine. You’re the one who needs to go outside and stop throwing pencils into the ceiling.”

As I’ve discussed before, Mulder was not in good shape in X-Files: I Want to Believe. The X-Files closed, prompting Scully to go be a productive member of society and Mulder to hole up in a den, making a nest for himself out of newspaper clippings as though there were no irony in that.

In this new episode, we see that Scully has finally pulled the plug on this relationship, and we even get a bonus diagnosis — endogenous depression. Which I had to look up. 

Perhaps Wikipedia is leading me astray, but I do take issue with this diagnosis. Apparently endogenous depression is brought on by chemical imbalances in the brain and is congenital, as opposed to being triggered by major life events. It wouldn’t surprise me the least if among the mysterious brain diseases that Mulder has faced, a predisposition to depression popped up. But I’d also argue that anyone who went from having a mission and a career to becoming a professional beard-grower for 14 years is courting a mental health issue or two.

3. It invites nostalgic recollections of other times he was crazy.

012516 pilot

“Scully, I’m not crazy.”

012516 folie

“Five years together, Scully. You must’ve seen this coming.”

012516 what day

“I don’t know. What day is it?”

012516 punch

*punch*

2015-11-02 22.42.30

I have zero nostalgia for this arc. Why did I even include this picture? Why am I still typing?

Scully the Perennial

By now, you may have seen the below hints about the resolution of one of many X-Files mysteries, as covered by outlets more mainstream than expected. The press junket has gone into full force this week, so it’s not weird that they’re talking about X-Files (which hereby and temporarily makes it not weird that I’m talking about X-Files). The weird part is that of all the theories one could address and publicize addressing, this one is pretty far out there on the obscurity list.

011416 ew

“And stay tuned for episode 5 of #TheXFiles when Chris Carter reveals the continuation of the fluke monster storyline from the season 10 comics series! The whole world is on tenterhooks!”

So just in case you’re a fan but have no idea what the hell Chris Carter is referring to, allow me to sum it up shortly. This includes my understanding of the cause, but — again — there are other theories. There are always other theories.

Theory: Scully is immortal.

2015-11-02 23.08.38

Exhibit 1: her flawless immortal face #ScullyFIF

Says who?

011416 cb

Surely you’ve seen this man in line at a CVS somewhere.

None other than Clyde Bruckman, from the classic episode Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose. If you haven’t seen this episode, I demand that you stop reading and go watch it. It will ruin you for other television shows.

Clyde Bruckman can foresee people’s deaths and does so on multiple occasions throughout the episode, leading to such zany hijinks as Mulder stepping in banana creme pie and Scully acquiring a Pomeranian. Toward the end of the episode, while awaiting the final confrontation with the antagonist, Scully finally bites the bullet and asks:

S: All right. So how do I die?

C: You don’t.

Pretty straight forward. As I’ve pointed out before, writer and creative genius Darin Morgan thinks viewers have blown this way out of proportion and that it absolutely does not mean that Scully is immortal. I’m just saying, Clyde Bruckman has a pretty good track record.

011416 dm

Darin Morgan shown here, regretting his decision to use symbolism.

Cause: An immortal crime photographer stole her death.

111416 tithonus

“I don’t see your name on it.”

Scully works a case with The Guy from Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place But Not That One You’re Thinking of Ryan Reynolds in search of a photographer who is usually the first one on the scene to get shots of a dead body, even when the police haven’t been called yet.

As you might expect, he was supposed to die of yellow fever at a young age but instead turned away from Death and let Death take his nurse. Since that moment, he has lived 100+ years and has spent the last few decades trying either to kill himself or to capture the arrival of Death in a photograph and then look into its eyes.

Fellig knows when someone is about to die, giving him a power that somehow makes him the Debbie Downer version of Clyde Bruckman. He senses that it’s Scully’s time to go —

011416 bnw

Maybe Clyde Bruckman was wrong and Scully is about to die in the middle of season 6. That seems likely.

— and then a little misunderstanding with Not Ryan Reynolds’ gun seals the deal.

011416 blood

“I curse you with obscurity… eternal obscurity…”

Fellig recovers nicely from his gunshot wound to the stomach and reaches for a little point-and-click to catch Scully’s death. Just then, she spots Death with her own eyes.

011416 death

She sees him; we don’t. Otherwise we’d be dead. Keep up, people.

Fellig, sensing his opportunity, tells her to look away. He then proceeds to look Death square in the face and keel over dead.

So what are we left with? Trusty, dependable Clyde Bruckman has said Scully will never die, and then her meeting with Death was stolen by an immortal photographer. Therefore, Scully is immortal.

For the sake of completeness, I’ve listed a few more pieces of evidence below from the X-Files wiki.

  • In season 4, Scully gets a tattoo (and it’s a weirdly hot scene that you should watch). Scully’s tattoo is an ouroboros, which is a symbol of immortality.
  • In season 6, Mulder and Scully have a Groundhog’s Day-esque time loop where they relive a bank heist over and over. The heist ends with their deaths, and <fan theory> since Scully can’t die, time cannot continue until the day happens in a way that Scully lives </fan theory>.
  • In season 8, Cigarette-Smoking Man implies that the chip in Scully’s neck is the key to curing diseases and eventually immortality.

And now we are all up to speed.

 

 

Creeper vs. Creeper

For those of you keeping up with the #TheXFiles201days daily rewatch, you’re now slogging through season 9, and I apologize. Though I do stand by Teenage Me’s conclusion that if you look past the William and Super Soldier episodes, you are left with a solid collections of MOTWs.

Yesterday’s episode was TrustNo1, in which Mulder and Scully have prearranged for Mulder’s return because of precisely forecasted loneliness, which they discuss in super-secret emails.

011116 email

On public internet? And a Hotmail account? And using your password as your email alias? HAVE YOU LEARNED BUT NOTHING.

And while it is taking all of my albeit limited restraint to keep from diverging into a post about everything wrong with TrustNo1, the biggest shock for many re-watchers was the revelation shared by the Shadow Man.

011116 aubrey

Shown h… wait, wrong episode

011116 movie

Shown h… wait, that’s the movie.

011116 locke

Shown h… wait, wrong series.

After blowing up her car for secrecy (Editor’s note: There are better ways.), he lists off an assortment of deeply personal tidbits about Scully, up to and including a tryst with Mulder.

cc draft

Oh now that clip makes sense.

Shadow Man declines to share where his authorization comes from, but in many ways this was post-9/11 X-Files’ first dig at the Big Brother intelligence collecting that we were moving toward at the time. Disgusting, isn’t it? To think that all of her private moments from childhood onward were never really private at all. That this random bald guy with more than a passing resemblance to SAC Darius Michaud —

011116 shadowman

Shown h… wait, that’s Shadow Man.

— has seen her alone in her apartment, sleeping, eating, chatting with Mulder, working with Mulder, <Ed. censored> with Mulder. What a horrid and unimaginable violation.

BY US.

Haven’t we watched Scully when we she thinks she’s alone, whether that’s bathing her dog or having a date with a tattooed mystery man? Even worse, haven’t we seen danger coming from over her shoulder in the form of shape-shifting aliens and subliminal VHS messages and failed to warn her? Haven’t we seen her hold back from sharing her feelings and known what they were regardless? And then judged her for hiding them?

But we can’t be just as bad as Shadow Man. Fortunately for us, Scully is fictional and we don’t share a plane of existence. Or so I thought, until the first minute of the #XFilesRevival episode was released today.

Admittedly I melted into a puddle of goo upon hearing David Duchovny’s voice, but after I reconstituted myself, I noticed something about the stack of pictures we’re flipping through. It’s possible to ID the episode for each picture, from the rain-drenched Mulder and Scully in the pilot —

011116 pilot

Aww.

— to their 8th season hug, standing a little closer this time.

011116 requiem

Bow chicka bow-wow.

Why are these pictures so immediately familiar? Possibly because they’re exact screenshots from those episodes. Pictures taken from where we were standing. Everyone say it with me…

“I made this.”

Why won’t you just die.

Sometimes we kill off characters because it makes for good theater, but then we look back a few days later and realize our shortsightedness. “Hey,” we say to ourselves, “that person added a lot to this show.” But then what are your options?

  • Bring in a new character to take their place. This person should have some surface differences from your original character but really not affect the plot in any other way. Give your “new” character an accent, for instance.
121515 10th doctor

This option is integral to the continued existence of Doctor Who. Also I’d like to thank this entry for allowing me to spend 20 minutes Googling pictures of David Tennant.

  • Write yourself into circles trying to resurrect your character
121515 csm

Guess which this post is about?

Now, I love Cigarette-Smoking Man as much as the next guy, and he has certainly earned his place on this show, what with directing the shadow government and siring 30% of the agents assigned to the X-Files at some point.

But maybe it’s time we give William B. Davis a break. He is not a dog; he should not have to play dead whenever we ask.

Also, fun fact: David Duchovny is now the same age that William B. Davis was when X-Files began. Time keeps on slippin’ into the future.

121515 10th doctor nude

Not for everyone. Editor’s note: why the shirtless pic? If you have to ask, we’re not friends.

Death #1: Just shoot him in the face (“Redux II,” season 5)

Pros: Simple, direct, and to the point

Cons: Terrible hired assassin fails to kill an elderly man by shooting him in the face

121515 csm shot

“Must… grab… something symbolic and meaningful…”

The Syndicate decides to pursue a little re-org by sending an assassin after CSM. When at last someone goes to collect the body, they find instead “too much blood for anyone to have survived.” We all know what that means.

Death #2: Undignified wheelchair toppling (“Requiem,” season 7)

Pros: Full of symbolism of how the mighty have fallen, involves Krycek

Cons: Just not dead enough

121515 wheelchair

Putting the “whee!” in wheelchair.

Krycek and Marita double-cross CSM, and for some reason he is surprised by this. Krycek wheels him to the top of the stairs, to which CSM warns, “As you do to me and to Mulder, so you do to humanity.” Then Krycek shoves CSM (and, by extension, humanity) down the stairs.

I really wish this was how CSM had died. He tries to finagle one of his schemes using his go-to mercenaries, he fails miserably, and then he gets trampolined down the stairs without so much as one last cigarette for his tracheotomy hole.

Supposedly the original plan was to end the series here and continue later on with movies. I cannot stress what a truly wonderful world that would have been. Intensive resources would have gone into the next steps in the story, rather than inventing new ways to dole out Duchovny’s 13 episodes of season 8. Super soldiers would just be someone’s fever dream. Mulder and Scully would be together forever. 9/11 never would have happened.

121515 tlg

Without season 8, no Lone Gunmen spin-off. Without the Lone Gunmen spin-off, the terrorists never get the idea to fly a plane into the towers. Right? That’s where they got the idea?

Death #3: Helicopter missile to the face (“The Truth,” season 9)

Pros: Sends an unequivocal message to the viewing audience: This man is dead forever. You just watched his face melt off his skeleton.

Cons: Just kidding, he’s not dead

121515 skeleton

For real, though.

In the last few minutes of the last episode of X-Files, CSM finally eats it. He’s holed up in a cave village in New Mexico, and a pair of helicopters — which the X-Files Wiki tells me were sent to kill Mulder and Scully, though I cannot imagine a world in which this was the option most in line with “plausible deniability” — instead blast his new home full of missiles, dramatically pause, and then missile him right in the face. Then the show spent some ungodly amount of money showing us his CGI death, from the flaming glow and blown-back straggles of hair to his charred skeleton.

His charred skeleton. We have seen it.

AND YET, this:

121515 csm news

Et tu, Den of Geek?

At this point, he just can’t die. Ever. There can be no CSM death written into this show that I will ever fall for again. When this universe ends and/or the aliens stop procrastinating and finally colonize the Earth, it’ll just be CSM and Scully hanging out in an empty void, one offering awkward come-ons and one scowling.

I’ll leave you with my desperate attempt to guess how CSM could possibly be alive. Commence the brainstorm!

  • CSM was really a super solider, so whatever is left of his skeleton will regenerate into a person, like the piece of spine in Essence/Existence (season 8). Perhaps this seems implausible since the whole point of the cave village is that it contains enough magnetite to render the human out of super soldiers, but joke’s on you! — the one cave he was in didn’t have any of it or something.
  • CSM closed his eyes at the end and sent his consciousness into the dreamcatcher between him and the helicopters. The dreamcatcher fell off its perch and dropped to the ground when the missile breezed by, and then someone recovered it and used the trapped spirit to animate a clone of CSM that they made using genetic material from the various alien/brain experiments he had undergone. Oh wait, that’s a good one…
  • CSM has a clone from the various alien/brain experiments he had undergone, and it was the clone that blew up. The real CSM is in great health because he used the clone CSM for parts, like an old car.
  • The last actions of the old woman caring for him were in fact the last in a sequence of steps to program a hologram of CSM having his face melted off so that the helicopter pilots and viewers would think he was for-real dead this time. God rest her hologram-programming soul.
  • CSM is still dead but will appear in the X-Files Revival through flashbacks, hallucinations and voiceovers, a la season 8 Mulder. This is proven to be a satisfying and effective way to include a beloved character.
121515 dreamcatcher

I vote for the magic dreamcatcher.

 

They’re playing our song, Scully — Licensed Music of The X-Files

It didn’t happen often, and when it did happen it was sometime just a cover, but there are, in fact, enough instances of licensed music on X-Files for me to make a list about it. Thank God, otherwise I’d have to write actual transitions and content.

10. “The Hokey Pokey” by Ray Anthony 
Episode: Chinga (season 5)
II would do the same thing if I was stuck in this episode.

I would do the same thing if I was stuck in this episode.

Why did they let Stephen King call his episode Chinga? Was there not one Spanish-speaker in all of Vancouver who could have averted this? In any case, in spoooooky Stephen King fashion, this episode features an accursèd doll who telekinetically inflicts justice on grown-ups who disrespect the little girl who owns her. “The Hokey Pokey” plays on the little girl’s toy record player as the doll forces people to stab their own faces and take hammers to their heads, in a less-effective use of the contrasting soundtrack technique in “Home” (see entry #1).
9. “Bad Boys” by Inner Circle
Episode: X-COPS (season 7)
You do the hokey pokey and you... wait that was the previous entry

You do the hokey pokey and you… wait that was the previous entry

It’s an episode of Cops starring Mulder and Scully (side note, season 7 was terrible). In keeping with this, the film quality is different, there’s bleeped out swearing, and the aforementioned Cops theme plays at the beginning. Supposedly this was a fitting way to celebrate the 150th episode of this groundbreaking sci-fi program.
Side note: I had to rewatch pieces of this episode just now to get the screen grab and found them playful and enjoyable. Is this age speaking? Is it wine? The world may never know.
8. “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night
Episode: Detour (season 5)
Scully and Mulder fight mothmen, Richard Gere starred in Mothman Prophecies, and Mulder suggests Richard Gere play him in the movie based on the X-Files. THIS MEANS SOMETHING.

Scully and Mulder fight mothmen, Richard Gere starred in Mothman Prophecies, and Mulder suggests Richard Gere play him in the movie based on the X-Files. THIS MEANS SOMETHING.

Mulder and Scully get lost in the woods while searching for a camouflage monster that may or may not kill people. That night, Scully offers to keep watch because Mulder is weak from an encounter with the monster. He asks her to sing something so he knows she’s awake, and she gives an off-pitch rendition of this song while holding him in her lap. Such squee, very romance.
7. “The Sky is Broken” by Moby
Episode: all things (season 7)
I think some other things happened in this episode but I don't remember what.

I think some other things happened in this episode but I don’t remember what.

Gillian Anderson decides Scully needs to be more like her, and so she directs this episode in which Mulder traipses off to Stonehenge while Scully discovers the spiritual connection among all things with the help of local hippie lesbians and a Buddhist temple. On occasion, to mark the points where the universe is giving Scully signals that she pauses to notice, we are treated to this song. My personal favorite is the slow-mo at the end of Mulder pushing Scully’s hair behind her ear after she falls asleep on his couch… but that’s just me.
Oh right, this happened too.

Oh right, this happened too.

6. “Bei mir bist du schön” by the Andrews Sisters (maybe?)
Episode: Triangle (season 6)
If falling through time in the Bermuda Triangle is what it took to go to a supper club like this, it would be worth it.

If falling through time in the Bermuda Triangle is what it took to go to a supper club like this, it would be worth it.

Mulder is looking for a boat that reappeared after disappearing into the Bermuda triangle 50 years earlier, and in the process he falls into the Bermuda Triangle. He finds himself on the same boat but during WWII, and the characters on board are all reimaginings of his present-day companions (a la Mrs. Gulch –> Witch of the West). Scully and the Lone Gunmen find the ghost ship in present day, and this song plays as they run around the boat looking for Mulder, while Mulder and alt-Scully (an American spy) run away from Germans in 1939.
I put a big ol’ question mark next to the Andrews Sisters because, while this is the most likely recording one would use to set the stage, I’ve been burned before by sound-alike covers used on X-Files soundtracks (see entry #1 again).
5. “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin
Episode: Beyond the Sea (season 1)
"Bye forever."

“Bye forever.”

Kind of hard to miss the usage of this song as the send-off at Scully’s father’s funeral. Even harder to miss the vision she has of his ghost singing it in the middle of an interrogation of a serial killer on death row.
4. “Come and Go with Me to that Land” by Bernice Johnson Reagon
Episode: The Unnatural (season 6)
Come and go with me to that 'ship.

Come and go with me to that ‘ship.

The least self-aware of David Duchovny’s three directorial outings, The Unnatural explores the trials and tribulations of an alien in a black man’s body playing baseball in the segregated leagues of 1940s New Mexico. At the end <spoiler alert> our alien friend is assassinated by the Alien Bounty Hunter… but he bleeds red! Guess he became human or something! This song plays. He still dies.
3. “The Things We Do for Love” by 10cc
Episode: Rain King (season 6)
Well good, Darryl Mootz can have heart-shaped ice in the cold pack he puts on the stump where his leg used to be.

Well good, Darryl Mootz can have heart-shaped ice in the cold pack he puts on the stump where his leg used to be.

This episode also featured “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters — because let’s be literal — but the 10cc song greets us at the class reunion prom at the end of the episode, where a man whose unrequited love for his former classmate (Victoria Jackson) was so passionate that his heartbreak brought the rain finally gets the girl. As a bonus tease, we get a cutaway from Mulder and Scully dancing, to a little more plot progression, and back to a shot of a red-head and a tall brown-haired man kissing. HA HA, ‘shippers, IT’S NOT THEM.
2. “Walking in Memphis” by Cher
Episode: Post-Modern Prometheus (season 5)
2015-11-08 21.09.59

I’m starting to realize that if you just look at the pictures I use from these episodes, you’d think this series was one giant love story. Well, it is.

This episode may or may not actually have been a comic book (the ending is ambiguous), but throughout, we’re in a town that’s being threatened by a monster, who turns out to be the kind-hearted but misunderstood result of a genetic experiment by his scientist father… gone awry! The monster (Mutato) is really into Cher, and the episode ends with Mulder and Scully taking him to a Cher concert, where she (a.k.a. the back of her head) sings this song.
1. “Wonderful, Wonderful” by Johnny Mathis but not really
Episode: Home (season 4)
The romance continues.

The romance continues.

This lovely song is played every time the murderous inbred protagonists get into their antique car. Therefore we get to hear it during such gems as the time they beat a man and his wife to death with a baseball bat, or when the quadruple-amputee mother gets into the trunk of said car with her lover/son to have sex.
Wikipedia tells me that Johnny Mathis read the script and wouldn’t allow his song to be used in the episode, so they had a sound-alike record it. What is it about this wonderful, wonderful episode that he could have found offensive?

You may have a gun, but I have a tumor

For those of us who choose to plug our ears and squeeze our eyes shut when there are spoilers about, there is still plenty of speculation fodder to feed on in the series of trailers that have been released over the past few weeks. One of those trailers included the image below —

110215 brain

— which elicited the following measured response from fans on Twitter.

110215 twitter

As background for people who gave up on X-Files/life after season 5, apparently Mulder’s prior exposure to the black oil mixed with alien characters carved on a stone to yield terminal brain disease of some unexplained type.

To be clear, I too experienced twinges of PTSD when I saw Mulder grabbing his head and staring off into the distance as though he’s hearing alien voices AGAIN even though he already had his slate wiped clean when he came back from the dead.

"Whatever neurological disorder you were suffering from is no longer detectable. Now let's never discuss this again. Never ever ever ever ever..."

“Whatever neurological disorder you were suffering from is no longer detectable. Now let’s never discuss this again. Never ever ever ever ever…”

However, in the world of X-Files, it would work in Mulder’s favor to have a relapse of his brain disease. Didn’t you know that sabotaging the intricate functions of your brain gives you superpowers?

1. The Modells (“Pusher,” “Kitsunegari”)

Prognosis: death and superpowers

Prognosis: death and superpowers

The crappy part about having an inoperable brain tumor is its effect on your life expectancy. The great part, though, is being able to push your will onto others by talking to them. Seeing as oncologists don’t have to wear foil hats to work every day, this is probably just some fluke occurrence brought on by Robert Patrick Modell’s obsession with the ronin lifestyle and oh wait just kidding, his sister has one too.

Though her psychic paper leaves something to be desired.

Though her psychic paper leaves something to be desired.

2. Reverend Orison (“Orison”)

"Let's take communion FROM MY SKULL."

“Let’s take communion FROM MY SKULL.”

22 years in prison taught the Reverend Orison little about patience, since he can’t be bothered to wait for a power-bestowing tumor and instead has a hole drilled in his head to unlock his psychic influence.

Blood flow to his brain is three times that of normal people, which is all it takes for one to trick a roomful of people into letting an escalating death fetishist walk out of prison. And there’s your answer for why we have separation of church and state.

3. Augustus Cole (“Sleepless”)

It's like a threatening yawn.

It’s like a threatening yawn.

One little lobotomy and 25 years without sleep, and all of a sudden you can kill people with hallucinations. If that sounds like too much trouble, you could probably get to the killing-people part just with 25 years without sleep.

Side note: I’m picturing an elite military squad made up of Vietnam vets with superpowers. Augustus Cole and Nathaniel Teager are definitely in. The A Team can provide backup.

Additional side note: this picture from the next episode. Now that I post this, I see there's more information in this particular still than usual. Maybe I should take it down.

Additional side note: this picture from the next episode. Now that I post this, I see there’s more information in this particular still than usual. Maybe I should take it down.

4. Gerry Schnauz (“Unruhe”)

Es gibt keine Untertitel in dieser Episode. Aber ich weiß nicht Deutsch sprechen.

Es gibt keine Untertitel in dieser Episode. Aber ich spreche kein Deutsch.

No, of course a lobotomy didn’t give him the ability to imprint the future onto undeveloped film. That would be ridiculous. He can do that because was in an insane asylum.

Additional side note: the series could have continued even if Scully had been lobotomized here and not saved at the last minute. The back-and-forth repartee would have just been different.

Mulder: Did you finish the autopsy? What was the cause of death?

Scully: UNRUHE

Mulder: Again? It’s always unruhe.

Scully: UNRUHE

5. Fox Mulder (The entire series, you should know who this is)

I mean...

I mean…

He just...

He just…

Let's never do this again.

Let’s never do this again.

Exceptions

Seeing as Agent Mulder falls into one of these five categories, he’s likely to find some unexpected upsides to his terminal illness, if indeed Chris Carter does decide to wheel out that old trope again. But lest we think we have the X-Files universe completely figured out, we should note that there are exceptions to the rule.

1. Christian Fearon (“X-Files: I Want to Believe”)

"Do I get superpowers too?"

“Do I get superpowers too?”

Christian has Sandhoff disease, and apparently there is a negative correlation between how explainable your brain disease is and how many superpowers you get because he gets none. Unless you count the superpower of living in a hospital for weeks on end. Or the superpower of having Scully practice her stem cell therapy skills on your exposed dura mater after a rigorous Google training course.

2. Dana Scully (Even more episodes than Fox Mulder)

There's no happy story that begins with you holding an x-ray of your own skull.

There’s no happy story that begins with you holding an x-ray of your own skull.

Far be it from me to suggest that one of our two main characters gets the short end of the stick here, but let’s examine this for a second. Mulder gets a brain disease, and it yields clairvoyance. Scully gets a brain disease, and it yields nosebleeds, chemo, radiation therapy, and very nearly, her death.

I guess it makes sense. After all, Mulder’s got a lot going on, and he deserves a break. Scully has had almost a couple dozen episodes to deal with the loss of her father and sister, so she’s due. In fact, maybe she should lose a daughter in a few episodes, just to keep things even.

At least she can’t die.

#ScullyFIF. Also cram it with your naysaying, Darin Morgan, you're not the boss of my wild speculation.

#ScullyFIF. Also cram it with your naysaying, Darin Morgan, you’re not the boss of my wild speculation.