The X-Files: The Unnatural   Rewatch 
July 12, 2020 7:53 PM - Season 6, Episode 19 - Subscribe

Arthur Dales, the brother of a retired FBI agent with the same name, tells Mulder about an alien who played baseball for the Roswell Grays in 1947.
posted by orange swan (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
David Duchovny could be weird sometimes, but I will always be grateful to him for finally letting us hear Scully laugh in this episode.

I also think that casing Jesse L. Martin as the alien ball player Exley was spot-on. At some point during Exley's conversation with Arthur Dales, after Dales has discovered his secret, Exley says something like "I don't know if you noticed from the way I really looked, but my people have really tiny mouths so we don't smile or laugh very much." Martin has this amazingly lovely, big, broad smile, and it makes poetic sense that an alien who discovered the beauty of doing things just for fun would choose a human avatar that was capable of such a broad smile.

And that final scene - with Mulder and Scully taking swings at balls together...(chef's kiss)

I really want a copy of that recording of Jesse Martin singing "Come And Go With Me To That Land".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:52 AM on July 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

Darren McGavin was too ill to portray Arthur Dales for this episode, so Dales was given a brother also named Arthur Dales, played by M. Emmet Walsh.

At the time, after being buffeted by garbage monsters, stupid tornado mutants, Gibson Praise and Fowley, I was just relieved this episode was not a disaster. Now, I have to say, I find it a bit "writerly". For one thing, the whole episode is a parable-flashback that has little connection to season 6's alien myth-arc (not that that's exactly a bad thing) and isn't believable outside of the parable-verse. For another, the whole explanation of Arthur having a brother named Arthur just highlights the overly-precious cleverness of this episode. It would have been fine to have Walsh play the original Dales and we would have understood. Still, for season six, this was a good episode.

I think it was only after "Hollywood AD" that it was clear I wasn't imagining the overly-precious cleverness.
posted by acrasis at 4:43 PM on July 13, 2020 [2 favorites]

I unreservedly love this episode so much.

Evidently David Duchovny's writing and directorial debut.

This really "gets" the X Files, and adds colour to the mythology.

Great (if type) performance by M. Emmet Walsh. That McGavin was too ill to play the part, recasting Walsh as the brother with the same name feels very Mulder type humour. This is a jokey episode but tastefully done, especially with the other themes that it explores.

Jesse L. Martin is a gorgeous human, and touchingly played.

Fredric Lehne was no pushover, either.

"Mr. Exley, I'm not a big sports hero like yourself, sir, and I really don't have an opinion on Negroes. Or Jews or Communists, or even Canadians and vegetarians for that matter."

I want to believe that the analytical chemist dude's touching everything with his gloves was deliberately played for laughs.

EmpressCallipygos - close enough?
posted by porpoise at 7:04 PM on July 13, 2020

I do like this episode, even if I have no interest in baseball and I wish some of the twee-ness could have been dialed back.

I loved Jesse L. Martin in Law & Order, and loved him here. I think I need to make a point of watching more of his work. He's sooo handsome, charming, and funny, and a good actor, and the man can wear clothes with a careless elegance that few men can.

Even if it is twee, I can never resist the transition of the little urchin appearing at Arthur Dale's door in the present day, and then running back into the baseball field/1949.

Both the opening scene with Mulder stealing a bite of Scully's ice cream cone and the closing scene with Mulder and Scully playing baseball together are not to be missed.

David Duchovny's older brother, Daniel Duchovny, plays the role of bench jockey Piney in this episode. I can see a resemblance, though Daniel is clearly the older brother of the two.

Mulder: All right, what you may find is you concentrate on hitting that little ball. The rest of the world just fades away-- all your everyday, nagging concerns. The ticking of your biological clock.
How you probably couldn't afford that nice, new suede coat on a G-Woman's salary. How you threw away a promising career in medicine to hunt aliens with a crackpot, albeit brilliant, partner. Getting into the heart of a global conspiracy. Your obscenely overdue triple-X bill. Oh, I... I'm sorry, Scully. Those last two problems are mine, not yours.
Scully: Shut up, Mulder. I'm playing baseball.

posted by orange swan at 10:24 AM on July 15, 2020

I loved Jesse L. Martin in Law & Order, and loved him here. I think I need to make a point of watching more of his work. He's sooo handsome, charming, and funny, and a good actor, and the man can wear clothes with a careless elegance that few men can.

It is a wee bit tacky to name-drop, but I only do so whenever the stories I have reflect very, very well on the people involved. To whit:

I went to the same acting studio as Jesse L. Martin back at NYU, and was a year behind him. So we weren't in the same classes at all - but we did end up passing each other in the halls a lot, and developed a "hey, it's that person from the studio" level of recognition with each other. And this was a good enough reason for him to give me a broad smile and and say "Hey, how you doin'?" whenever he saw me anywhere on NYU's campus.

So I know for a fact that Jesse L. Martin has always been delightful.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:26 AM on August 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

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