The X-Files: Never Again   Rewatch 
October 18, 2015 8:25 PM - Season 4, Episode 13 - Subscribe

Scully takes some time off from Mulder and discovers a man with a jealous tattoo.
posted by town of cats (10 comments total)
I think I may never have watched this episode all the way through before? I seem to remember parts of it...but I'm SURE I would remember Scully busting out an encyclopedic knowledge of Rocky & Bullwinkle and it took me by complete surprise. Looking at the rest of the episodes in my list, I'm dead sure I've seen them all, so this may be the only "rewatch" episode that might have actually been partly new to me.

I'm so glad I got to see it, in any case. Scully-centric episodes of X-Files are a rare treat (um...other than Beyond the Sea and this one, I can't even think of any off the top of my head). I love the idea of Scully as someone who just fucks off to Philly, gets some ink done, and bones a guy she just met. It's so entirely out of line with the usual workaholic Scully but kind of fits what we know of her as a character: i.e., we don't actually know much of her as a character. We've gotten to season 4 knowing Scully as a consummate professional who doesn't really have a personal life per se. We know her relationship with her dad was intense and complex, that she has (had? is Melissa still around at this point in the series? Maybe not) a new-agey, kind, but ultimately pretty distant sister, I remember literally nothing about her mother...I think she had a brother too? Given her work schedule and frequent, unpredictable travel, the idea of Scully being able to maintain friendships outside of work, let alone romantic relationships or any kind of serious hobby, is laughable. The closest thing she has to extracurricular interests outside her work on the X-Files is occasionally publishing medical papers. So Scully's non-work personality is pretty much a wild card to us, as people who have seen her in all kinds of intimate and vulnerable moments over the last four years of the show.

In season 4 she's meant to be 33 years old, and it seems a theme of the season is that she's not sure she wants the life she has. All three S4 episodes we have in the list touch on this to some extent: Home on her wish for a family, Never Again on her wish for a personal life and/or some scope for professional advancement, and Small Potatoes on her willingness to take her relationship with Mulder someplace a little less strictly platonic. And, I mean, as a woman who's currently a couple years behind Scully age-wise, if I were a woman with an MD working in a basement office with no desk after multiple years, no clear path to career growth, no relationships in my life, no hobbies outside work, you damn well BET I'd need to have either a deep commitment to the mission itself (nope, in Scully's case) or an all-consuming crush on a colleague to keep me going to that damn job every day. I don't care where you stand on whether M/S would be good for Mulder, good for Scully, or good for the show, it's clearly on some level keeping Scully where she is. Because, what else would be??

Anyway. This episode is a lot of fun. It's fun to see Scully in such a different mental place than usual, and satisfying to see her grouse at Mulder about his supreme gullibility and self-absorption, and entertaining to learn that Mulder's quest for self-discovery apparently takes him to Graceland. It's great that it takes just a slight perspective shift to show Mulder as a horse's ass who thinks he's the center of the universe, rather than his usual driven, monomaniacal one-man army in search of the Truth. It's also really nice that in this Scully-centric episode, the "paranormal" phenomenon has a reasonably plausible chemical basis. And the music in the episode is great! And Jodie Foster is too! It's definitely not the most important episode of X-Files ever, but I'm glad I took some time out to appreciate it. I wish there were more like it.
posted by town of cats at 8:28 PM on October 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

"Not everything is about you, Mulder."

Love it. Great episode.
posted by brundlefly at 12:24 AM on October 19, 2015

is Melissa still around at this point in the series? Maybe not

She died at the beginning of season 3.
posted by brundlefly at 12:26 AM on October 19, 2015

What's awkward to me about this episode is its timing. It's after Scully is given the hint that she has cancer, in Leonard Betts, but because this ep was originally meant to air before that one, there's no mention of it. So you have Scully acting all YOLO as you would expect after she realises she may be dying, but without any reference to it; her behaviour seems more out of the blue somehow. I kind of wish it had been intended to be post-cancer-awareness so she could have reflected that more. Could have been so interesting.

I think I maybe only saw this once originally but I seem to recall it was somewhat hated by most fans. (Or just Shippers?) I didn't hate it that much though. Didn't love it, but it was an interesting character study.

More so now watching it that I'm the same age as Scully is in it. As a teenager she was perpetually adult while I was not, so her "fuck it I'm getting a tattoo and sleeping with this cute guy" resonated really differently than it does with me now. Go Scully!
posted by olinerd at 3:13 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

That scene in which Scully is getting the tattoo while her cute if sadly afflicted date is watching her is kind of hot.
posted by orange swan at 8:37 AM on October 19, 2015 [2 favorites]

"Kind of" hot? Hmph.
posted by town of cats at 10:00 AM on October 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Interesting episode, shame it got flipped with the Betts episode.

Scully's, "... and it's become mine." with a sigh is classic burnout, as is the whole "do I get a desk," etc. Fair enough, though.

The dried up petal from a red rose is a touch heavy handed.

Noticed that 'Yakov Smirnoff' is on the list of names Mulder wants Scully to check.

On the better depictions of hallucination. At least with psilocybin and lysurgic acid it's not seeing or hearing stuff that isn't there, it's misinterpretting senses and the brain fills in a lot of gaps. That psychedelics are usually accompanied with a(n intense) sense of pleasure is often omitted.

The effect/ molecules wouldn't persist nearly as along as depicted.

Apparently Scully slept with her stockings/ pantyhose on, or took the time to put them on before dressing for the detectives?

Interesting that Scully cops to sneaking her mom's cigarettes as a kid.
posted by porpoise at 5:50 PM on May 23, 2020

I think that the stockings on was a Chris Carter dictated dodge so he could be all innocent if challenged and say "oh, mercy no, Scully didn't have sex with him, she just slept there!"

That scene between her and the detectives the next morning was just so delightfully awkward.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:21 AM on May 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

I don't care where you stand on whether M/S would be good for Mulder, good for Scully, or good for the show, it's clearly on some level keeping Scully where she is. Because, what else would be??

I agree that Scully's staying with the X-Files in large part because of her bond with/love for Mulder, but I don't think that's all of it. Notice that she didn't quit the X-Files later on, when Mulder was gone, not even when she believed Mulder was dead. Part of it might be that, while she doesn't have the obsessive drive that Mulder does, she may still find the work fascinating, exciting, and challenging. It's possible that she's gotten hooked on the adrenaline rush of exploring the supernatural, which is reasonable enough.

There is plenty of room in that fucking office for a second desk. Where on earth does Scully work? No wonder we always see her typing up her reports at home.

Poor Ed. He seemed like a decent guy who was a wreck about his divorce but who probably would have pulled through that (hey, he was able to attract Scully, so he still had it going on), and then he got that ill-fated tattoo and murdered his poor neighbour and completely ruined his life.

Did Scully bang Ed? It seems odd to me that they would have sex, and yet Ed still slept on the couch while Scully took the bed. My working theory is that they fooled around but that one or both of them put a stop to it short of intercourse, and then they slept apart.

I read on the Wikia entry for this episode that Scully was inspired by Clarice Starling. Makes total sense to me -- they are very similar characters.

The downstairs neighbour lines her her birdcage with a copy of the issue of Entertainment Weekly that has David Duchovny on it, heh.

Gillian Anderson volunteered to have the ouroboros actually tattooed onto her back during filming, although they didn't do it for real because it would take too long to be filmable. My goodness, that is commitment to a role. We never see the tattoo again in the show, do we?

From the Wikia entry on this episode:

Scully tells Ed Jerse that her last date was to see "Glengarry Glen Ross," and that "...the characters had more fun than I did." The 1992 film, based on a play by David Mamet (who also wrote the screenplay), takes place in a real estate office with an extremely high-pressure sales incentive program. Praised for its drama by some, the film and the play are considered tedious and lacking action by others. Presumably, Scully is one of the latter. Assuming both that the show's chronology roughly matches the original broadcast dates and that Scully saw the movie when it was first run, this means she has been dateless for nearly five years.

Five years!!!! And poor Scully -- when, just for once, she cuts loose and tries to pick up a hot guy in a tattoo parlour, she winds up with a guy haunted by Jodie Foster who tries to kill her.

The idea of Jodie Foster telling Ed to go pyscho is a reference to John Hinckley Jr.'s claim that he tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan to get Jodie Foster to notice him. That's... dark.

If the show's creators were going to play around with the episode order, Scully's fear/denial of her cancer diagnosis should have been seeded into this episode.
posted by orange swan at 7:45 AM on May 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Holy cow, that is Jodie Foster's voice!
posted by porpoise at 9:19 AM on May 26, 2020

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