The X-Files: all things   Rewatch 
August 1, 2020 7:28 PM - Season 7, Episode 17 - Subscribe

While Mulder takes a trip to England to investigate crop circles, Scully remains behind, and a series of coincidences lead her to a meeting with a former medical school professor and lover, a near car accident, a woman who researches crop circles for a living, a Buddhist temple, and Mulder himself.
posted by orange swan (9 comments total)
I remember that when it was first broadcast, my roommate and I were watching together. During that very opening scene, when Scully is getting dressed and then leaves someone in the bed, we watched the camera do that long, long pan up from the foot up the body, and then when the camera was just about to reveal the face, she and I both simultaneously tipped our heads sideways like parakeets so we could get a good look at "Who is it".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:43 AM on August 2, 2020 [1 favorite]

Cool, Anderson wrote and directed this one!

Jebus, amazing performance by Anderson, too. The writing tops Davis' and Duchovny's.

I can't remember at the time, but I thought this was the episode where that Moby song that was playing everywhere else showed up. The sound mixing of it was great, though, like they realized that it was trite and were low level trolling with it by cleverly using it within the actual score/ sound effects.

Scully's salad had a sad amount of added fats/ sugars. Light coloured, too, so probably not all that much vitamin B in there. Mulder's petulant burrito was a nice touch, and something that Scully would swear that Mulder would do but Mulder would never admit to being so "sloppy" (much less the real reason).

"What it means, Mulder, is that I'm not interested in tracking down some sneaky farmers who happened to ace geometry in high school."

One of the best Scully first impression takedowns of a Mulder conjecture.

lol 'Fung Sui Life' - Scully knows it's a bad idea/ wrong. Yikes, a former teacher. But she's 100% team paranormal-happens, now.

Excellent example of how the show would have benefited from having more non-white dudes in the writing room. Also keeping it vague - recommending a moderate dose of prednisone. When in doubt and you don't want to admit it (and the patient is suffering from discomfort from immune inflammation), recommend a moderate dose of prednisone. That's what real doctors do.

The dialogue is standout, and especially shames that from 'First Person Shooter.'

Scully entertaining "faith" in new ageism and recognizing all of the con/ scam pulls yet...

The new agey lady's story rings surprisingly true, if taken on face value. Successful female academic physicist who spectacularly burns out (and goes full woo) after a real but difficult-to-diagnose medical condition is another unfortunate day and another unfortunate casualty.

The Occidentalism is a bit offputting. Surprising amount of FX budget, unless they managed to license the (existing) CG for cheap.

Ugh, Mulder. Take off your shoes when you're visiting Scully's.

Her parent's house might be something else, but you guys are in the city.
posted by porpoise at 1:25 AM on August 3, 2020

Mulder's expression when Scully tells him she's not going to England is that of a small boy who has just discovered that someone's taken a shit on his train set. He just can't stand to not have Scully by his side in his work.

Ugh, Mulder. Take off your shoes when you're visiting Scully's.

They're at Mulder's place, not Scully's.

I can't help but like this episode, even though it doesn't seem to know quite what it wants to say. I like the concept that Scully finds herself being directed by unseen currents to assess the life that she has, comparing it to some of the possible paths that she turned from, and while she probably does realize she needs to slow down a little, her response to seeing the road not taken is to re-commit to the one she's on at a whole new level by getting it on with Mulder, even if she doesn't stay for breakfast. (Knowing him, he wouldn't have had any breakfast-type food to offer her anyway.)

In my head, what happens after we see Mulder covering Scully with a blanket and getting up from the couch is that he goes off to bed in his room. They've spent the night at each other's places before purely platonically, so that's no big deal, and he doesn't want to wake her. Then in the middle of the night Scully wakes up, realizes where she is and spends a few minutes thinking, and then gets up and goes to his room. Perhaps he wakes up when she appears at the side of his bed, or perhaps she touches Mulder's hair in his sleep and he wakes. The Scully indicates what she wants in some verbal or non-verbal way, and he... does not need his arm twisted.

What I can't quite imagine is what happens after Scully leaves the apartment in the morning. Do they talk about it and agree it's a one-time thing? Do they do it again and we just don't see it?

Dr. Daniel Waterston is such a an off-putting character. His daughter is almost hysterically hostile to Scully in a way that doesn't make sense according to the finished text -- a 32-year-old woman is acting that way about her parents' divorce that happened 10 years ago? Really? -- but in the original script the story was that Maggie's mother committed suicide over her husband's affair/their divorce. They should have included a reference to that, because it puts Maggie's behaviour in a much more comprehensible context, and makes sense of Scully telling Daniel he needs to address the issues Maggie has with his behaviour.

I feel moved to review Scully's romantic history as we know it...

-- In "The Jersey Devil", Scully goes on a blind date with a friend of a friend who talks about how he wants to run over his son's stepfather with a vehicle, and declines to go on a second date with him. (Good instincts there, Scully.)
-- Scully is attracted to Brother Andrew in "Gender Bender", but that was pheromone-induced and more akin to being roofied than being a matter of choice, so it's no reflection on Scully's taste in men.
-- In "Lazarus", we meet an ex of Scully's Jack Willis, whom she says she dated for almost a year. He seems like a reasonably decent guy in the little we see of him before his body is taken over by a violent bank robber, but he was one of Scully's instructors at the FBI academy. The actor who played Jack, Christopher Allport, was born in 1947, whereas Scully is supposed to be born in 1964, so that's a 17-year age gap.
-- In "Never Again", Scully goes out on a date with Ed Jerse, and spends the night at his place with at least some fooling around. (He of course proves to be driven to murderous psychotic behaviour owing to hinky tattoo ink.) She tells Ed the last time she was on a date, she saw a movie that was released in 1992, but I think she might be exaggerating a bit as her date with the guy in "The Jersey Devil" would have taken place in 1993.
-- She was somewhat attracted to Sheriff Lucius Hartwell in "Bad Blood" and thought he was attracted to her, though she never acted on it.
-- In "Milagro", Philip Padgett is obsessed with Scully, and she seems... drawn in by it. (Why Scully? Whyyyyyy?)
-- In this episode, we find out that, circa 1990, Scully had a relationship with Dr. Daniel Waterston, who was not only 20 years her senior (Nicolas Surovy was born in 1944), but also her medical school professor and married. And, apparently, so dysfunctional that, after she ended their relationship, he left his wife and moved to the city where she was and spent ten years waiting to cross paths with her/for her to come to him. Then, when he does see her again, he assumes she has come to find him and they are going to get back together. (Ick.)
-- Then there are the men who are interested in Scully, but in whom she has no interest. Agent Pendrell had a huge and obvious crush on Scully but she seems not to have even quite realized that he did, although Mulder was certainly aware of it. In season 8, John Doggett is interested in her, but by that point Scully wanted no one but Mulder, and John recognizes this and wisely doesn't even bother making a play.
-- Mulder.

What does this list of men tell us about Scully's taste in men? She is a very beautiful woman and probably gets overtures from men all the time, and probably learned young to be guarded, partly in order to fend all that unwanted attention, but partly because of her exceptionally independent nature. It's very seldom that she has any real interest in a man. She seems to be attracted to older men in authority (she explicitly acknowledges this in "Never Again"), and her few past relationships that we know about (Jack Willis, Daniel Waterston) have been inappropriate ones by today's standards, when there are usually policies in place barring faculty from dating students, though there weren't in 1990.

Interestingly, Mulder, who is by far the most significant relationship in her romantic history, doesn't quite fit that mould. In the show he is less than 2.5 years older than her (it's an 8-year gap between Duchovny and Anderson in real life), and they are partners -- though Mulder does tend to take the lead and regard the work on the X-Files as primarily his work. In his case I think the draw is the challenge and excitement of his work. Brutal as their work can be, it would offer an adrenaline hit like no other. They also have a relationship that evolves over the long term, and is primarily a work relationship, so that Mulder has a unique opportunity to earn Scully's trust and love at a pace and in a setting that doesn't threaten her need for distance and independence, while it feeds her need for hard work and professional challenges.

I don't think Scully's interest in Ed Jerse or Sheriff Hartwell were any real reflection of her taste or judgment in men. They were simply handsome, personable men who at first gave no indication that they were bad news, and she noped out of those situations immediately once she had reason to believe that they were. So often women get blamed for "choosing bad men" when it's simply a case of us not knowing they were bad until we'd had a chance to spend some time with them in order get to know them a little. And then there's the implication that is is women choosing bad men that is the problem, rather than the men choosing to be bad.

Philip Padgett might be explainable in that he seems to offer her something that's compelling and extraordinary in the same way that Mulder's quest is, and she wants to explore that a little.

And the poor departed Agent Pendrell had no chance with Scully, given that he was both young and subordinate, didn't offer anything out of the ordinary, and didn't work that closely with her so as to have the chance to develop a relationship with her.
posted by orange swan at 10:51 AM on August 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

In my head, what happens after we see Mulder covering Scully with a blanket and getting up from the couch is that he goes off to bed in his room. They've spent the night at each other's places before purely platonically, so that's no big deal, and he doesn't want to wake her.

That's what I thought too, except that's where my speculation stops. She spent the night on the couch, she woke up at like 4 am and had a moment of "wow I gotta go home and get ready for work", and pulled herself together, poked in to check if Mulder was awake so she could say "see you later", but he was asleep so she left. Maybe left a note like "I'll pick up coffee for you on my way, thanks partner" or something.

I was solidly 100% "noromo" back in the day, though, so that's a bias. Not, like, a "because they hate each other secretly" one, but more like "there are more ways for men and women to connect with each other except for the romantic, it's possible for them to love each other but just not in that way".

And I still think that that's what went down.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:36 AM on August 5, 2020

Okay, so if that was the scenario, why is Scully putting her clothes back on in the bathroom, which is in Mulder's room, when she fell asleep fully clothed on the living room couch? She's seen pulling her top down, so it wasn't just because she used the toilet.

I also submit that, in a later episode when Mulder has a monologue in which he speculates about William's conception, he says, "Was it a union?"

Sorry, they had sex -- if not in this episode, then at some point between now and the time Scully realizes that she is pregnant.
posted by orange swan at 1:38 PM on August 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Okay, so if that was the scenario, why is Scully putting her clothes back on in the bathroom, which is in Mulder's room, when she fell asleep fully clothed on the living room couch? She's seen pulling her top down, so it wasn't just because she used the toilet.

...She took a quick shower?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:24 PM on August 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

Her hair wasn't at all wet. You're really reaching here.
posted by orange swan at 8:47 PM on September 2, 2020

You saw my admission that I was a hardcore noromo, yeah? ;-)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:43 AM on September 3, 2020

Yes, I do get where you're coming from. You want Mulder and Scully to have the kind of loving and deeply bonded long-term platonic relationship that doesn't often get represented in media. But the thing is, that's not what they have. There is a romantic and physical/sexual side to their relationship.
posted by orange swan at 6:48 PM on September 3, 2020

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