The X-Files: Monday   Rewatch 
December 12, 2015 2:20 PM - Season 6, Episode 14 - Subscribe

A woman is trapped in an endlessly repeating time loop that ends in a tragic bombing in which Mulder and Scully lose their lives every time.
posted by town of cats (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This episode has a special place in my heart because the only XF fanfiction I ever published on the web was a Groundhog Day story, and I got to it a year or so before this aired. When I heard that Gilligan and Shiban were going to use the same plot conceit I'd already used I basically died of delight. Happily I no longer remember much about the fic other than the fact that I wrote it and was proud of it and it had a time loop in it, so I couldn't even google it if I wanted to. Which is great, because it was certainly terrible.

This episode is good at some things, bad at others. With any Groundhog Day style storytelling a major issue is making sure it doesn't get boring for viewers. It's very easy to lose the audience if you strike the wrong repetition balance. I think this episode does a good job of changing it up, by having Mulder slowly wake up to what's going on and react accordingly and by varying what happens just a bit each time. I also like that there's a little bit of philosophizing about time and free will. And I think my husband has the same edition of Gravitation you see above Mulder's bed. Since I was initially attracted to my husband in large part because he bore superficial similarities to Mulder I'm always amused to find a parallel between them I hadn't seen before.

As an X-File, though, this episode is pretty shaky. The agents never investigate what happened; it's unclear why they were caught in a time loop, how long it went on, etc. The woman who was able to remember the previous iterations was clearly the key to the phenomenon somehow, but I feel like a truly classic X-Files episode would have had the agents somehow examining the time loop while caught in it.

Also, I realized watching this episode that I have become way, way more sensitive to gun violence in entertainment in the last few years. There is a fair amount of gun stuff in this episode and I don't think I'd have even noticed that when it aired. But now it really bugs me.

Finally, I love when the X-Files writers inflict something out-of-character on Mulder or Scully and then destroy it violently a few episodes later. Queequeg and Mulder's poor, ill-fated waterbed are the two best exemplars of the genre. I loved Mulder's pathetic attempts to avoid explaining that he did not, in fact, purchase a waterbed and doesn't know how it got into his apartment. So funny.

I've got family and friends galore descending on my house through the holidays, so I'm going to post this episode right now, then watch Field Trip tomorrow and post it, and then consider myself finished with my mini-rewatch and ready for the new mini-season in January. I would be delighted to discuss other episodes if someone else wants to post any I skipped, though!
posted by town of cats at 2:23 PM on December 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

This episode made Shaenon K. Garrity's 'top five X-Files episodes not written by Darin Morgan' list. She also mentions the waterbed:

'The show’s homage to (or ripoff of, depending on how kind you are) Groundhog Day, “Monday” forces Mulder, Scully, and everyone inside a downtown bank to repeat the same disastrous bank robbery over and over again…and only the robber’s accomplice/girlfriend is fully aware of the time loop. A cool idea, nicely executed, with lots of gloomy cinematography and shots of Mulder looking downcast–that’s what a solid “X-Files” episode is all about. Plus it ties up the all-important loose end of the waterbed Mulder acquired in the two-part body-swap storyline “Dreamland.”'
posted by jwgh at 5:23 AM on December 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

The young lady also affected a bit of a 'Run Lola Run' vibe, another recurring-day themed story.

The actress (Carrie Hamilton, Carol Burnett's daughter) playing Pam would have been 36, Bernard 33. Bernard's actions feel more appropriate for someone younger.

Pam's watch is a Lorus, a lower end Seiko that's still really solid mechanistically.

I liked this episodes take on the recurring-day theme in that people retain residual memories of each iteration - and Mulder picks up enough on that (eventually) to try to make his next iteration remember the bomb.

What I couldn't figure out is how Pam found out about Scully and Mulder's names and place of work, or Skinners, if the day loops at the point of the explosion (or does she continue through the day until reset time?).
posted by porpoise at 8:43 PM on July 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

I didn't know before now that Carrie Hamilton was Carol Burnett's daughter, though there's a strong resemblance between them, nor that Carrie died of lung cancer three years after this episode was made, at the age of 38. Shit. She was clearly extremely talented. I cannot imagine any other actress doing a better job with this role than she did. Pam was living through a horrific experience countless times, powerless to stop it or escape from the chain of events no matter what she did. She would have been deeply traumatized, emotionally exhausted, frantic, and despairing. Carrie Hamilton nailed all of that -- you could see it in her face. And then all along the outcome that was meant to happen, that would allow time to go on naturally, was her own death -- she was supposed to go into that bank herself and try to stop the robbery. Phil of Groundhog Day never knew how good he had it.

I think the idea is that Bernard was supposed to be uneducated and possibly not too bright. The stick up note he keeps writing looks like it's written by a fourth grader, and he looks at it as though he's frustrated with his inability to write a better note, and then just pulls out his gun and yells that it's a robbery.

Let's remember that Pam has lived through this day hundreds of times -- possibly more. She would have learned people's names over that time. It does seem like a stretch that she would be able to get Mulder's home number, but who knows... perhaps he was in the phone book.

Is predicting the statistical growth of crime really a thing? And why would Mulder and Scully be sitting in on such a meeting, much less have a report to present on the subject?

Waterbeds don't spray upwards like that when they leak -- they just leak, and the water follows the path of least resistance. Mulder would have woken up lying in water long before the water soaked through to the lower floor rather than in dry-looking linens and pajama bottoms, and if the waterbed had leaked that much water, it would have looked much less full than that. It was funny to see that his apartment, which Morris Fletcher had cleaned up and decorated so nicely, was gradually regaining its usual messy, disorganized look. There were plastic storage boxes full of stuff stacked on his bedroom floor, and by the end of the episode he was sleeping on his couch again.

It's fun that an episode about a time loop refers back to an episode about a time loop. Mulder and Scully are so used to living in a strange reality where weird shit happens that they don't have the time or headspace to deal with everything.
posted by orange swan at 6:23 PM on July 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

I had assumed that the stats thing was specifically to signal that it was a stupid and boring and technical and irrelevant meeting, something we'd expect Mulder to blow off and expect Scully to sit through (which she doesn't!).

I'm baffled as to why they're in a Skinner-led group, unless it's bureaucracy and meeting rosters haven't been updated yet. HR would be fired for screwing up a cross-department meeting by slotting in former reports with a former immediate supervisor - so quickly, and under the controversy.

And/ or an older script and the non-existent continuity department missed that.

But yes, statistics and modeling are A Thing. At the AD level, it's either making structural changes to policing/ investigations or figure out a way to fudge the data (to present to politicians to maintain/ expand one's budget).

Yeah, lol, Mulder reverts to form (and iirc continues to do so).

The X-Files kept consistently getting prestige guest stars (often before they were prestige) - simply an amazing casting department, or TXF was so desirable that casting/ writers got their choice of actors, or bit of both?
posted by porpoise at 12:19 AM on July 9, 2020

so melancholy
posted by Monochrome at 9:33 AM on July 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

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