The X-Files: Pusher   Rewatch 
September 13, 2015 7:57 PM - Season 3, Episode 17 - Subscribe

Mulder and Scully pursue a dying man who can apparently bend others to his will and convince his victims to severely hurt or even kill themselves.
posted by town of cats (6 comments total)
This episode didn't actually make a huge impression on me when I first saw it. Well, my friends and I would sneak up next to each other and say "ceruuuulean blue" as a joke, but I just remembered it as the "cerulean blue" episode, haha. It's a very solid MOTW, Mulder is very valiant in it, it showcases their relationship nicely, but honestly I don't think it was in a whole lot of top 10 lists before Vince Gilligan got more famous in his own right. And then suddenly it was one that a lot of people were interested in revisiting.

Which is great, honestly? This the sort of archetypal meat-and-potatoes X-Files episode that people tend to overlook when they're trying to get a handle on the nine years of the show's run, because there are so many and some of them are so bad, and it's hard to know which ones to bother with. This is definitely worth your 45ish minutes! The pacing is fantastic. The suspense builds beautifully over the course of the episode. As you watch Mulder walking through the hospital sweating bullets, you are right the hell there with him. The bad guy is terrifying, a sort of Heath-Ledger-as-Joker with nothing to lose who can make anyone do anything up to and including have a heart attack just by asking, played by a fellow who looks like a young Jack Nicholson's less sexy brother. The direction is claustrophobic, the deaths are all unique, Modell trespasses into an FBI facility by writing "PASS" on a piece of paper and sticking it in his breast pocket, at one point a nice young woman beats the hell out of Skinner (btw, is this the first time we've actually seen Skinner this whole rewatch??). It's a really strong episode.

I remember thinking it was "shippy" when I watched it when I was younger, which was a big black mark against it in my book. And watching it now, sure, I guess it is. Not in a "let's make out" sort of way, but the episode hits home in part because of the intensity of the relationship between Mulder and Scully - that she even thinks she has a chance of talking over Modell in Mulder's head only makes sense if she and Mulder are pretty deeply involved. Is it romantic? No. Is their relationship an active, important character in this episode, to a greater extent than many other episodes? Absolutely. I seem to recall Gilligan was known for episodes where M/S was a little more "front and center" and this was definitely one of them.

It's clear that the story of the regular schmoe with an average life who gets sick and veers off in another direction is one that Vince Gilligan loves to tell. Hell, we'll see it again in "Drive" and arguably somewhat in "Small Potatoes" as well, and we're watching just a tiny fraction of the show over the next few months. There's an interesting "white male entitlement" thread that runs through these stories that might be worth discussing, but I'll think about it more as I watch the other episodes I mentioned.

BTW, I decided to skip War of the Coprophages after all. I did rewatch it but other than the classic line "This is no place for an entomologist" I just don't love it that much. If anyone wants to chat about it, chime in and I'll loop back, maybe midweek.
posted by town of cats at 8:00 PM on September 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

My favorite part of this episode was seeing the divine Robert Wisden in a big part on a hit American show. I loved him on Canadian TV as a kid. I think the first time I saw him was in Glory Enough For All, in which he played one of the co-discoverers of insulin. What a dish.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:15 AM on September 14, 2015

It occurred to me that this same episode has both that Russian roulette standoff scene (y'know, Duchovny looking all deadpan when he gets psyched into pointing his gun at Scully is MAGNIFICENTLY creepy) and it also has the line "please explain to me the scientific nature of the whammy". Fantastic range.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 PM on September 14, 2015

Definitely in my top 10 X-Files episodes. I cannot look at the word Cerulean without giggling, and the whammy quote is one of my faves (next to basically anything angsty Scully says in Syzygy). Just rewatched it last night. He's one of those characters I would not be upset if they, ya know, just happened to bring back in the miniseries. And Eugene Tooms.
posted by danapiper at 12:40 PM on December 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

I can't help being amused that Skinner, who is ordinarily a badass who can put Mulder in a headlock with ease, gets taken down by a tiny young woman in an administrative position and winds up with a shoe print on his face. If I were Mulder I would be terribly embarrassed by what that indicates about my combat skills.

This is a solid episode. Even though I had seen it several times before and remembered it very well, I still found it a suspenseful and gripping watch. Man, that Russian Roulette scene.

Scully: I say we don't let him take up another minute of our time.

posted by orange swan at 8:58 AM on May 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

The rewatch thread for the sequel episode to this one, "Kitsunegari", is up.
posted by orange swan at 8:52 PM on June 10, 2020

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