The X-Files: Scully’s Journey (Season one-part three)
Well, it’s Spring 1994 now. Crushed velvet dresses (with lace chokers) are the height of elegance, crop tops with high-waisted jeans are the depths of casual wear, Weezer is about to become one of my most consistently loved bands of all time, and a couple of snarky, pretty FBI agents are still the best thing going on Friday night!
You know, in last week’s recap, I nearly forgot to talk about another prominent ship: Mulder/slide shows. No photos, on screen or in hand, will do for our Mulder, not when he can dim the lights and break out the overhead. Anyway…
In a nutshell…
“Go home, FBI. I could smell you a mile away.”
Our fearless duo head to a town bordering a Native American reservation. A farmer who’s been on the bad side of the tribe for grazing his cattle on their land, has killed what he thought was an animal attacking his son, but turned out to be a man…itou. Yes, manitou, a spirit of nature that can make men change shapes (title drop!). In this case, we’ll just call it a werewolf. Long story short: it bit the son, the son wolfs out, kills the father, then almost gets Scully.
Ah, the overhead fang reveal. A visual staple of the werewolf genre!
There’s not much in the way of character development in this one, unless you count Scully feeling especially sympathetic to that werewolf son after losing her own father and Scully kind of maybe sort of wondering if there was some lycanthropic action by the end. The most amusing parts are how the actress playing the victim’s sister plays jumprope with the line between under-acting and over-acting and how Mark Snow hits that fake oboe button on his Yamaha and doesn’t question that choice throughout the entire episode.¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Also, our duo grab each other desperately in the darkness.
Next, we have an outdoorsy jaunt, which means Scully’s hair will try valiantly, but ultimately fail to be straight.
But their jackets will not fail to be puffy!
There are all these dead loggers, see…
…which are either the victims of eco-terrorists or deadly glo-bugs that only swarm when darkness falls (title drop!). This is X-Files, so guess which one we’re looking at?
Scully isn’t skeptical on the ancient glo-bugs in old growth theory. I guess that happens when people hoist you up a tree to find a human cocoon.
Our duo end up trapped in a cabin. Sadly, not alone with limited ways to keep warm, but with Park Ranger Jason Beghe (you keep fighting that good fight, brave soldier!) and The Man in Black. They figure out quickly they need the lights on all night, so the glo-bugs don’t swarm, but the cars are ruined and there’s little gas for the generator. Can I interject an idea? Fire? Lanterns? Makeshift tiki torches? There are other sources of light. No one’s listening to me, I guess. At one point, our duo give into cabin fever and make out angrily — no, they just argue, then make up just as quickly.
And they’re awfully close and touchy about it.
Scully does have a “get them off me!” freak out at one point, which is pretty much the first time we’ve seen Scully actually afraid of something icky. I never fully appreciated what a trooper she usually is.
Anyway, by the end, our duo come the closest they ever have or will to dying together in a cocoon, but they make it out, courtesy of the CDC, who may or may not be able to eradicate this abomination. At least Carter didn’t have them all exterminated, just to reveal a “THE END?” nest.
Next, our duo finally meet SKINNER! I mean, he’s hanging out with Smoking Man and berating Scully for being unconventional with Mulder, but SKINNER!
Basically, the events of our duo’s last tango with Eugene Victor Tooms (title drop!) are being hand-waved, like Tooms just attacked Scully because of frustration at his false arrest and not because he’s an immortal, liver-eating, elastic man. So his bile nest making is hand-waved as what? Arts and crafts? Once again, it’s a concept that doesn’t sell itself to the point of a second episode. It all hangs on how creepy Doug Hutchison makes it.
And he’s even creepier these days. Gah!
Anyway, Tooms was one liver away from completing his pre-hibernation cycle last time and Mulder urges the court to keep him from it. But nobody believes Mulder’s evidence and it doesn’t help that he comes off a little (or a lot) like a lunatic. Tooms is let out on some conditions like therapy and job stability and vegetarianism (not that last one, but it could have been a good fail-safe if just anyone listened to Mulder).
Anyway, our “unorthodox” duo is on it. Scully digs deeper into those past murders, while Mulder pretty much stalks Tooms and prevents at least two murders. For a MOTW, there’s a good deal of character development. The stake-out scene is one of my all-time favorites.
“They’re out to put an end to the X-Files, Scully. I don’t know why, but any excuse will do. I don’t really care about my record, but you’d be in trouble just sitting in this car. I’d hate to see you carry an official reprimand in your file because of me.”
Such a damned tease!
Anyway, Scully makes Mulder go home and get some sleep, not knowing Tooms has hitched a ride in his trunk. Not for lunch (that would have been more expedient for him, though), just to bust through Mulder’s heating vent, self-injure while staring creepily at sleepy Mulder (much like I would, TBH), then plant Mulder’s shoe print on his face. Skinner kicks Mulder off the case, even when Scully tries to cover for him.
Anyway, Scully’s research into the old murders has hit pay dirt in a skeleton encased in cement with teeth marks that match Tooms, but it’s too late. Tooms eats his therapist’s liver, then goes into hiding. Our duo find the body, then track him to his old nest, now with a mall instead of a decrepit apartment building over it. Mulder (of course!) jumps right into a trap door and has a mighty battle with Tooms that ends with him covered in bile.
There’s a disturbing escalator kill (the kind of thing I’ve been trying to avoid since I was three. See? It can happen, Dad!) and Eugene Victor Tooms is no more.
The Hutchison/Stodden marriage is also no more, but that doesn’t wash away the creeps!
Skinner goes over Scully’s report with Smoking Man and asks if he believes this shit. We hear him speak, finally: “Of course I do.” Mulder ponders caterpillars with Scully, worries about the change to come for our duo.
Well, it doesn’t come right away as our next adventure is another character actress/creepy kid combo. Detective Janice From Friends finds a lost girl who’s at least an 8.1 on the creepy scale.
After the kid makes one of her fellow detectives leap from a window somehow, she calls in our duo. The kid’s creepy enough that even her mother’s not a fan. Long story short, the girl is a reincarnation of a police officer who was betrayed by some dirty cops. Born again (title drop!) in this kid, he’s been getting revenge with the girl’s telekinetic abilities. She doesn’t kill the last guy, sparing him off his wife’s pleas, and she doesn’t remember anything afterward. Does she lose her telekenisis, too? Was that even necessary? I mean, I’m just saying we could have left the telekinisis out because we had reincarnation, so it’s just gilding the lily and I’d rather have seen a kid carrying out murderous deeds than standing there staring while stuff explodes. No wonder I forgot this episode completely. It’s not a bad episode, but nothing super memorable happens for our duo.
They still look pretty, though.
Next, we have a Good Will Hunting situation years before the movie came out. A janitor is a secret mathematical genius and all that, except with MURDER and not exactly. Turns out Roland (title drop!), the mentally-challenged janitor in question, is murdering some scientists and finishing up some projects — all under his estranged, cryogenically frozen, twin brother’s thrall. I would say the performance from Zeljko Ivanek as Roland was pretty solid. Also Mulder’s father is mentioned as part of a dream he uses to encourage Roland to speak freely. But it’s another watchable, but not fantabulous episode (I can tell others agreed when gifs are hard to find).
They still look pretty, though.
Incidentally, this is the first episode where the music seemed especially interesting in and of itself. Not just atmospheric enough to blend in or so distracting it stands out. It’s a lovely leitmotif and I’d put it among Mark Snow’s best work.
Finally, we have a genuinely compelling, character-driven, exciting mythos episode. Remember when mythos episodes were awesome? This is back in those days, you guys!
Mulder is taking leads from Deep Throat again and Scully is tired of trusting in them, but they’re off on a goose chase anyway. This time, it’s a doctor who the police on a hyped up traffic charge and who bleeds green and is presumed dead. Our agents are led to one of his doctor pals, Berube,and he gets killed right after speaking to them, though it’s made to look like a suicide. In the crime scene, Mulder finds an Erlenmeyer flask (title drop!) labeled “purity control” and sweet talks Scully into examining it.
Meanwhile, he goes to Berube’s house and intercepts a call from not-dead Secare. The call is cut short, but he chases another clue with a key while Scully has Dr. Anne Carpenter (Anne DeSalvo, kind of a HITG as I know her face, but I can’t think up specifics even when reading her body of work. This is going to keep me up, trying to remember which damned thing has me knowing her do well) examine the substance. She finds there’s genetic mutations, plant life, and unknown substances. Mulder finds that key leads to a storage locker full of people in a suspended state in tanks. He’s chased by Department of Mysteries henchmen, but he gets away. Scully’s just gotta see this shit!
Yes, we’re being set up.
Dr. HITG tells Scully further tests on the substance in the flask reveal there are thingies in that are not known on this earth!!!! When Scully joins Mulder for him to show her that storage locker, she regrets doubting his instincts and wonders if she puts too much faith in science. They have a moment.
“Whatever you do believe, Scully, when you walk into that room, nothing sacred will hold.”
Yes, our duo will finally be on the same page, seeing and believing and…
Yeah, the locker’s empty now. But Deep Throat pops up, finally meets Scully, and claims not to know what the Department of Mysteries is up to for sure, but that Berube and Secare were toying with gene therapy with alien viruses. Secare was a hybrid with toxic blood and the Department of Mysteries was trying to clean up the evidence. He tells them to put together whatever evidence they’ve found to keep it safe.
Sadly, Scully finds Dr. Carpenter (and her whole family) suddenly died in a car accident (seriously, D.O.M.? You had to off her family, too?) and her research has gone poof. Mulder goes in search of Secare and finds him just before he’s shot up by those D.O.M. bastards. His toxic blood infects Mulder’s beautiful eyes!
It turns out Deep Throat is on Team Basement after all. He engages Scully and subterfuge to get an alien embryo from a secure facility…
That frog’s doing a little jig right now.
…with the plan to trade it for Mulder’s life. Of course, it’s not all him as Scully correctly guesses the password to get in, the label on that Erlenmeyer flask (title dro… Oh, I already did that), “purity control.” Despite Scully’s protests, Deep Throat insists on making the trade… and gets killed in exchange. Mulder is dumped on the road. Once Scully’s sure he’s okay, she checks her new pal.
God, this episode! But it’s not over yet.
The Smoking Man shuts that embryo into another Pentagon box and this is how you end a season, Carter! Cliffhangers be damned. If the show had ended here, it would have been a satisfying ride.
By the end of season one, Scully has definitely become more open to other possibilities. I maintain that Scully has never really been closed-minded. She just needs solid evidence or something that seems possible to her, given her scientific nature. Those glo-bugs made sense. Aliens… well, not so much. I do think, had the show ended at season one, that alien embryo and her talk with Mulder would have been the end of her journey from skeptic to believer, at least in this case. As it is, and if I recall correctly, Scully will be resetting to an extent and probably dismissing what she’s seen as scientific experiments of the more earthly variety. I don’t blame her. Dramatic tricks keep leaving her out of the believer action and… well, she’s a woman of science. Eliminating all other possibilities before taking fantastical leaps makes sense to her as it would to most of us.
My favorite lady this season was poor Dr. Ann Carpenter. She did not deserve a shady death, especially one that involved her family. I bet if those D.O.M. jerks had tried to just take her research, she would have given it up to keep them safe. That’s the kind of hairpin I believe she is… after our brief acquaintance.
My least favorite has to be Judge You May Step Down from “Tooms.” Yes, he sounded like a loony, but she was very dismissive of Mulder and too darned easy on Tooms.
Mulder had, IMO, gone a little light on the flirting in the last leg, but he definitely starts stepping it up again, the more Scully seems to outwardly enjoy his company. I believe Mulder is very insecure. He’ll flirt overtly, but only because he knows he can pass it off as joking later if rejection’s in the air.
Scully is still pretty reserved, despite her trust in him, so she’s ready to take it as a joke, even if a tiny part of her knows he’s in earnest.
I forgot to mention that flirty handwriting analyst lady and that over-excitable fire-loving agent last leg. I like these quirky types and wish Carter would have found a reason to bring them back more often. I liked our duo having somebody with a sense of fun to play with in the bureau, rather than being such isolated outcasts surrounded by naysayers all the time.
Next up: Season Two (part one)
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All images from The X-Files are property of 20th Century Fox Television and Ten-Thirteen Productions. I can’t even begin to catalog the ways I rabidly hunt down gifs, but I get a large number of screencaps here.