Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sundays with The X Files - Season 7


One of my bigger pet peeves is when real-life happenings end up interfering with the direction or writing of a favorite TV show.  I realize that real people and their lives are more important than fictional people and their lives and thus it is completely unfair of me to resent this but I do.  I like to maintain the illusion of the fictional world and want only things to happen that make sense in the context of that world.   This rant is probably more appropriate for season 8 and definitely for season 9 but season 7 is where it starts.  The creeping in of the real life, actors getting bored and tired. 

Season 7 feels very much like a final season.  It feels final right up until the very last scene in the season finale. That episode feels like they could have shot a completely different ending which they scrapped at the last minute when they were surprised by season 8 being approved.  Along with that the whole season was a little lackluster, whether it be from the actor's boredom, or the mythology  having nowhere else to go, or lackluster writing, or for us shippers the fact that the anticipation was finally over, who knows?  Likely it was a little bit of everything.  It wasn't a bad season but it felt very blah.

Even with the season 7 blahs, it seemed like the X files still had some life left in it; which is proven out by the fact that there are two additional seasons with, in my opinion, some pretty decent episodes.  So why did it feel like everyone had given up on it in season 7?  Season 6 was pretty fantastic and only a year previous they had produced a hit feature film.  I mean how many ginormous TV shows end after one blah season?  The point is, season 7 feels like the beginning of the end which made the whole act of watching it for me anxious and upsetting.  I know what's coming and I don't want to get there.

But enough feelings and impressions!  Lets get down to the nitty gritty.  What happens in the mythology?  Not a lot and any that does happen is either baffling or kind of dumb. The season starts off with Mulder having some horrible brain malfunctioning caused by....something.  Why this happens to him in particular is a little unclear to me but it is triggered by a rubbing of an artifact which turns out to be from the hull of an alien spaceship.  The hull of the spaceship is covered with  the texts of all the World's major religions.  Conclusion is?  Aliens were the original inhabitants of earth.  In the end CSM kidnaps Mulder and has part of Mulder's brain implanted in his own which saves Mulder and starts to kill CSM.  It is not clear at all how on earth that worked and what the hell went down.  Also there are homicidal scientists.

A little bit later in the season, in Episodes 10 and 11 (Sein and Zeit and Closure), Mulder and Scully are investigating a serial killer which seems in some way to be linked to his kid sister Samantha's abduction.  The end  point of all of this is that Samantha was first taken by CSM and experimented on but when she was about 14 she was taken away by some force to go live in the starlight with other kids who were about to die violent deaths.  Or something like that.  It is the most ridiculous and least satisfying thing EVER but Mulder seems content with this conclusion to his sister's story hence the episode name Closure.  A little further into the season Scully takes a road trip with CSM to get the cure to all illness but things don't go that well. Illness remains uncured. Finally in Requiem, the show comes full circle back to Billy Miles and Oregon from the Series' pilot and Mulder is abducted.  CSM is pushed down the stairs by Krycek and "dies".  Despite having no ova, Scully announces in the very last scene of the season that she is pregnant.

What else happens in Season 7?  Scully starts dressing in a lot of black.  On New Year's they bring down a cult of zombies set on ending the world, they investigate some teenagers who are obnoxious and can move really fast, they encounter a man who has an over abundance of luck, Donnie Faster makes another appearance, the spend a little time in the sordid world of magicians, and the sordid world of snake handling religious men, they make an appearance on the TV Show Cops while investigating a monster who can be anything you most fear, and they also become players in a virtual video game.  They investigate the mysterious deaths in a prominent doctor's family, then they split up and Mulder spends some time in suburbia with the ultimate Stepford wife and Scully spends an episode wondering if she has indeed made all the right decisions in her life.  Mulder then has his lungs infested with these gross, gross, really gross insect larvae, a really terrible movie gets made about their partnership, they investigate the existence of doppelgangers played by Kathy Griffin which cause mayhem wherever they appear together and finally they meet a real live genie.


For our two favorite dysfunctional FBI agents, Season 7 is all about coming to some decisions about who they are and what they are to each other.  Episode 2, The Sixth Extinction Part II Amor Fati is a particularly important episode for Mulder.  The internet tells me that Amor Fati is a latin phrase that means "..."love of fate" or "love of one's fate". It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one's life, including suffering and loss, as good."  In order to embrace Amor Fati, Mulder has a vivid dream where all his burdens are lifted from him and he is given a normal life married to Diana Fowley.  At first encounter, this dream is infuriating.  Mulder wanting a normal suburban life?!? In what universe??  And Diana Fowley being his dream mate?  With a little distance though it starts to make a little sense.  While Mulder keeps it well hidden he is wracked with a serious amount of guilt; about his sister, about the deaths of compatriots like Deep Throat #1, about Scully.  He also, no matter how obsessed, must feel the weight of his quest for the truth and the piling on of ramifications that have come with it.  Yes, Scully helps him carry it but she does it mostly for him and not for the cause and he knows this.  Further burden on him.  Who wouldn't wonder, however briefly what it might be like to put that burden down?  Why Diana as the chosen wife?  Because she's safe, and she's from before and he doesn't feel like he has ruined her life.  The dream is really Mulder trying on what it might be like, not to have a different life, but to be a completely different person. In the end Scully yells at him for being lazy and complacent and taking the easy way. He is who he is and who he is is wonderful.  And when he wakes up and is on the mend and Scully weepily tells him Fowley is dead, he says this:
Mulder: Scully, I was like you once. I didn't know who to trust. Then I... I chose another path... another life, another fate, where I found my sister. The end of my world was unrecognizable and upside down. There was one thing that remained the same. (gently holds her face; looks in her eyes) You... were my friend, and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant... my touchstone.
Scully: And you are mine.
And from here on out Scully and Mulder slowly come together in full on 100% co-dependency. Of course the X Files doesn't really show us much of this but in episode 4 Milennium, Mulder kisses Scully full on the mouth to ring in the New Year.  Not the forehead or her cheek or her hand but on the mouth and it's nothing spectacular or uber passionate but it is a start and they are both relieved to find that the world doesn't end.

Episode 15, En Ami is kind of interesting, because for the first time ever it is Scully who takes off with nary a word to go on a mission with CSM to find a cure for all illness.  Of course it ends very badly but from a character standpoint it's interesting as the roles are a little reversed.  It's not surprising that Scully makes more of an effort to communicate with Mulder than Mulder ever does when he takes off.   Mulder is left back at the office declaring things like " She knows I'll find her no matter what."  Finally the end scene, when Scully is back, the dynamic is tense with no eye contact being made and Mulder definitely mad/feelings hurt and Scully feeling guilty.  Duchovny and Anderson are so good at playing these characters by this point!

Episode 17 All Things is Scully's turn to wrestle with some angst and X Files does it's usual annoying trick of implying (or maybe not) that Mulder and Scully are in fact sleeping together at this point.  The episode starts with Scully in Mulder's bathroom putting her clothes back on and questioning the wisdom of her life decisions.  And that's pretty much the whole episode - Scully wondering if she is happy to be where she's at.  To help answer the question a former lover (former professor who was married) shows up in her life again.  In the end she realizes that her decisions have been sound even if it means that she is yoked to a man who can't sit still and dashes off to England to check out dubious crop circles at the drop of a hat.  We also get confirmation that before Mulder, Scully really did have a thing for father figures.
Finally, I think Requiem has Mulder and Scully at their most coupley.  It takes them back to the beginning which gives them both some nostalgia.  When Scully feels sick while they are on assignment in Oregon, she goes to Mulder, no longer afraid to show her vulnerability and he spoons up with her and tells her that she should leave the FBI and be a Doctor again.  When it is discovered that former abductees are being taken he insists that she not go with him to investigate because he's not going to risk losing her and I love that Duchovny reads that line with a pause before the losing her as if it is really unnatural for Mulder to express his feelings so openly like this.  Basically they act like a couple in this episode but it is not overdone.  It would have been a good end point for the story of their relationship as the show had ended. 


episodes with * are my favorites

Episode 1 The Sixth Extinction Part I: Part of the reboot of the mythology after they killed off the syndicate.  Mulder's brain is somehow becoming smarter but it is also killing him.  Kritschgau makes an unexplained re-appearance to help Skinner help Mulder while Scully is having a really bad time in Africa.  Diana reveals that she loves Mulder but she also knows, that now that he can read minds he knows that she's dirty.  Scully doesn't really find anything to help Mulder, she just finds out that all of the world's religious texts likely came from extraterrestrials.  It's unclear what all this means at this point and it will never quite be clear.

*Episode 2 The Sixth Extinction Part II - Amor Fati :  This is the episode where Mulder learns to accept his fate while having a clandestine brain surgery which supposedly saves him but starts killing CSM.  Mulder has the dream where he lives a normal life and he comes to realize that he's all right with that not being his fate.  In the end he and Scully have another very important moment in the hallway outside his apartment and we are really no closer to understanding what the hell is going on with the mythology. 

Episode 4 Millennium: I only include this one for it's importance to the 'ship.  Mulder and Scully kiss for the first time and the world doesn't end.

*Episode 8  The Amazing Maleeni: Some magicians pull a scam which is really pretty clever but Mulder and Scully figure it out just in the nick of time. Basically it's fun and the two guest stars Ricky Jay and Jonathon Levit, both magicians in real life, are excellent.

Episode 10 and 11 Sein and Zeit and Closure:  These are not two of my favorite episodes, in fact I kind of hate them but they are meant to be the closing chapter in Mulder's search for his sister.  They discover a serial killer of children which leads them to a psychic which Mulder totally believes and Scully thinks is a fake.  In the end it leads Mulder to believe that his sister is living among the stars with a bunch of other kids (including the original subject of the episodes' case) who are taken before they meet a brutal end?  Mulder is at his most obtuse.  His mother seems to have killed her self by sticking her head in the oven and Mulder even asks Scully to autopsy his Mom.  Yikes.  Basically I think these two episodes are a mess but there you go.  Samantha is well and truly dead. More than likely.

*Episode 15 En Ami: Scully takes off with the CSM because he has promised her a cure to all disease.  Things are not as they seem though, as is always the case with the CSM.  It's notable because I think it is the one and only time Scully ditches Mulder.  It's a pretty good episode and interesting to see the CSM's somewhat lecherous feelings toward Scully especially since his usual focus is so much on Mulder.

*Episode 16 Chimera:  This episode investigates the lies we tell ourselves and how burying the truth can manifest itself in ugly ways.  It's kind of a Mulder only episode and he has to delve deep into the world of Martha Stewartesque suburban housewives. 
Episode 17 All Things:It's an important episode for Scully's character (though she does all sorts of OOC things) but otherwise I don't particularly like it.  Gillian Anderson directs it and she puts in all these affectations like lots of slow motion moments and this repeated tapping to represent the moments in ones life etc...  It feels like an overly produced song.  It's kind of a shame and unnecessary since Gillian Anderson has no problem as an actress conveying all sorts of nuances of emotion.  And here's what I think happened after the end of this episode.  So as I said above the episode begins with Scully getting dressed in Mulder's bathroom and the episode ends on the night before that first scene with Scully falling asleep fully clothed on Mulder's couch.  This end scene seems to suggest that all us 'shippers may have jumped to the wrong conclusion in the beginning but screw that!  That would mean that Scully woke up full clothed on the couch in the morning and then went into the bathroom and undressed and re-dressed- makes no sense.  What happened is that Scully woke up after an hour or two on the couch and climbed into bed with Mulder as she has done many times before in the previous few months since Millenium.  That is what happened. The End.  Plus this:

*Episode 21 Je Souhaite: There's a genie and she's really grumpy, sarcastic and fun.  Add that with two intellectually challenged brothers and Scully's utterly adorable glee at having an invisible corpse and you've got a light-hearted winner.

*Episode 22 Requiem: This would have been a really nice series ender.  Mulder and Scully come full circle when they get called by Billy Miles, from their very first case together, to come back to Oregon and investigate a crashed aircraft and some weird behavior.  All the former abductees are being abducted again and Scully figures out too late that she thinks they are cleaning up their tracks and that they might take Mulder.  In fact, Mulder does get kidnapped and Scully announces to Skinner that despite having no ova, she is pregnant. Close season.


Episode 2 The Sixth Extinction Part II Amor Fati>>
The scene that ends the episode is so beautifully acted and I think is as close as we'll get to a flat out declaration of love between these two.   I've already quoted it above.  I like that it always comes back to their friendship and respect for one another.

Episode 4 Millennium>>
      I feel like I'm recording milestones in my kid's first year but Mulder and Scully's first kiss is a nice no fuss scene.

        Episode 9 Signs and Wonder>>

        Scully: "Snake Handling. Didn’t learn that in catechism class." Mulder: "Funny, I knew a few catholic girls who were expert at it." Oh, Mulder - sheesh.

        Episode 15 En Ami>>

        CSM practicing a little pop psychology on Scully and basically being full of it: “You’re drawn to powerful men but you fear their power. You keep your guard up, a wall around your heart. How else to you explain that fearless devotion to a man obsessed and yet a life alone. You’d die for Mulder but you won’t allow yourself to love him.”

        Episode 16 Chimera>>  

        Stepford Wife: “Do you have a significant other?” MULDER: “Not in the widely understood definition of that term.” :0) That could pretty much be the best summation of Mulder and Scully’s whole history.
        Episode 19 Hollywood A.D.>>

        MULDER to Skinner: “Sir have a I pissed you off in a way that’s more than normal?”

        SCULLY: “Mulder I have something to confess.” MULDER: Yeah?” SCULLY: “I’m in love with associate producer Walter Skinner.”  Frankly I don't blame her.  Mitch Pileggi's cat's meow.
        Episode 21 Je Souhaite>> 

        Scully's glee over the invisible corpse:

        Episode 22 Requiem>>

        Scully comes to Mulder’s room and feels sick and they spoon up on the bed.  Fraternisation!
        Scully: I, um... I was starting to get ready for bed and I started to feel really dizzy - vertigo or something - and then I just... I started to get chills. Mulder: You want me to call a doctor?  Scully: No, I just... I just want to get warm. Thank you. (she climbs under the covers, he tucks her in before crawling in next to her and spooning with her) Mulder: It's not worth it, Scully. Scully: What? Mulder: I want you to go home. Scully: Oh, Mulder, I'm going to be fine. Mulder: No, I've been thinking about it. Looking at you tonight, holding that baby... knowing everything that's been taken away from you. A chance for motherhood and your health and that baby. I think that... I don't know, maybe they're right.  Scully: Who's right? Mulder: The FBI. Maybe what they say is true, though for all the wrong reasons. It's the personal costs that are too high. There so much more you need to do with your life. There's so much more than this. There has to be an end, Scully.

        Scully: Mulder, if any of this is true... Mulder: If it is, or if it isn't, I want you to forget about it, Scully. Scully: Forget about it? Mulder: You're not going back out there. I'm not going to let you go back out there. Scully: What are you talking about? Mulder: It has to end sometime. That time is now. Scully: Mulder... Mulder: Scully, you have to understand that they're taking abductees. You're an abductee. I'm not going to risk... losing you. Scully: I won't let you go alone.


        No not the real ones.  These are ones I made up.

        Best Episode: Ep. 22 Requiem. It would have made a decent series wrap up.
        Worst Episode: Ep. 20 Fight Club.  I'm not a huge Kathy Griffin fan and I didn't find this episode funny or otherwise very entertaining. 
        Most Paranoid:  Ep. 1 The Sixth Extinction Part I. Even Skinner doesn't know where Scully is because she's in her Trust No One mode. 
        Best Mulder Episode: Ep. 16 Chimera.  He does well unraveling what is happening and handles everyone well.
        Best Scully Episode: Ep. 2  The Sixth Extinction Part II Amor Fati.  She challenges Diana which prompts her to help Scully rescue Mulder and then in the end when she tells Mulder that Fowley is dead she is so genuinely upset for him even though she really hated Fowley.
        Best Episode for Shippers: Ep. 22 Requiem.
        Worst Episode for Shippers: I don't think there is one.


        OVERALL GRADE: B -
        The minus is for the overall lackluster feel of the season.  But it really wasn't too bad. I found half of the episodes to either be favorites or notable in some way and a lot of the other episodes are really pretty good -  X Cops, Theef, Hollywood A.D. and The Goldberg variation are all really good as well.  Except for the lackluster feel to the season it didn't seem like it had jumped the shark or was out of ideas.  It's a solid season even if doesn't have the shine of seasons 3,4 and 6.


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