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.
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…
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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)
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)
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)
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.
d. Tuna (Arcadia, season 6)
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)
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.