Updated on September 18, 2016
It’s our first real Monster of the Week (MotW) episode! And despite only being the 3rd episode of the show, it’s managed to give a really lasting impression to viewers. Our monster, Eugene Victor Tooms, is certainly among the most memorable of the various XF villains.
It’s our first time seeing Scully outside of her new assignment, with other colleagues who respect her — but who clearly don’t respect her new partner. And so it’s also our first time seeing Scully’s real feelings on this assignment, and how she feels when people reduce her partner to “Spooky” Mulder.
There’s a very interesting comment at the start of this scene, as Scully is catching up with her old FBI Academy classmate (Tom Colton). In discussing a bit of acceleration he got in his career, Scully notes that he “lucked into the World Trade Center bombing.” While, obviously, this is referring to the 1993 bombing attack rather than the 2001 plane attacks, it’s no less odd to hear about it being a “lucky” thing. I don’t necessarily doubt that some might have considered those kinds of high-profile assignments as “lucky”, I wonder if it’s still considered that way these days. Does a terrorist bombing still get seen as an opportunity for career advancement? (It probably does, because human beings don’t necessarily change that much.)
The line is probably lost pretty quickly, because that’s when Colton starts ripping on Mulder and Scully is not having it. He mentions that if Scully does a good job helping on this weird case of his, maybe he can “rescue” her from the X-Files and she “won’t have to be Mrs. Spooky anymore.” Please, nerd. I also have serious doubts that other people call Scully “Mrs. Spooky”. This definitely feels like a dude who always wanted to get with her, missed his chance, and now could have a new chance, but he thinks he needs to rescue her. Dude needs to chill.
I like that Scully goes and tells Mulder about what people say about him, too. Mostly because it gives us this moment:
While Colton is trying to drag Mulder as loon — and Mulder plays into it gleefully by giving a lecture on the skin color of aliens — Mulder several times shows his respect to Scully. While at first he doesn’t expect the killer to return to the scene of the crime, he readily admits to Scully that she was right, and he backs her up to the other agents who say she just missed this one. He also gets a little territorial, at one point reaching out to pull at her necklace:
Throughout this episode, Scully is not her own woman. Mulder gives her more respect, but only just. He’s okay with her going to work with the Violent Crimes team to investigate this from the “normal” side of things, but he still does his own investigation from the “paranormal” side. When Scully is happily assisting the VC team, they constantly throw disrespect at her. And yet, it’s not disrespect about her, but it’s all about Mulder. She’s just a target, a safe place to aim their mudslinging. Which means that this woman, who’s just happy to be invited to provide some insights to an interesting case, ends up covered in mud.
But it’s okay, because Scully is a bad ass, and she can handle a bit of mud:
SCULLY: Is this what it takes to climb the ladder, Colton?
TOM COLTON: All the way to the top.
SCULLY: Then I can’t wait ’til you fall off and land on your ass.
Alas, this bad-assery isn’t enough to keep Scully from getting attacked by our bad guy, who I realize I haven’t talked about much here, after starting off talking about how memorable he is. Really, he’s like the creepiest. Santa. EVER.
He builds his 30-year hibernation nest by basically doing paper mache with newspaper. Makes me wonder: If he were to be back in 2023, would there still be newspapers that he could use? Hmm. Makes you think.
Also, we have the prediction by Mulder that Scully will be running the FBI by 2023. She’s got 7 years. Make a note.
This post ended up being focused a lot on how Scully was treated by a whole bunch of men around her. It’s something I didn’t notice when I was first watching the show, and it’s something I was interested to see if I picked up on it in this rewatch. Well, not the specific situation of everyone in the FBI fighting over Scully like she’s a prize to be won, but just from a more feminist slant. Considering how much of an icon Scully has become, it’ll be interesting to see how she was handled in the “text” itself. It’ll be interesting to me, for sure, so I hope you’ll be interested as well!
Coming a little later this week will be “Conduit”, and then next week there will be just one post. More on that later! Hey, if you’re reading and enjoying, feel free to leave comments, or to retweet my tweets or share Facebook posts. Spread the word! I’m doing this for me first and foremost, but it’s always fun to have friends along for the ride.
Updated on September 21, 2016
The show officially begins! We launch ourselves into the real rhythm of the show by giving Scully a haircut and starting a pattern of helping Mulder’s reliability by drugging him. It also introduces us to a Beloved Supporting/Guest Character, and provides some iconic images.
Let me start by addressing a pretty important issue, and since this is the first time the opening credits played, it’s a good time to get it out of the way: The remastered files, for blu-ray and Netflix and such, are not only adjusted for today’s widescreen TVs, but also the fonts changed.
I’m not the only one who has noticed this, and in fact this post shows a number of differences and explains the reasons. In the end, it’s not the big X-File I was hoping it’d be, but it makes for an interesting note. From a nostalgic perspective, it actually throws me out of my moment a lot, since not only did the font change, but it changed to something that wasn’t available in 1993.
All right, so into the episode itself. In theory, it’s about Colonel Budahas, an Air Force test pilot who goes a little goofy and gets whisked away by the government for a few months, which is what catches Mulder’s interest. Col. Budahas isn’t very important. His wife, however…
If you recognize her from somewhere, it’s probably because Gabrielle Rose is credited with 155 credits on IMDB and you probably know here from a few things. To me, whenever she pops up in a one-off episode in some show probably filmed in Vancouver, I say, “It’s Mrs. Budahas!” I’ll even admit, I had to find her IMDB page by first going to this episode’s page and finding her in the cast. I don’t know if I’ll remember her actual name after this. She’s just Mrs. Budahas to me, and seeing her always makes me feel warm and happy. That nostalgia, it’s strong with me.
Oh, also Seth Green’s in this episode.
The episode builds on the foundation set in the pilot, as Scully remarks a few times on how she is going to write this up in her reports. She’s up for looking into why the USAF is holding a pilot without any word to his family for four months, but she is Not Impressed when UFOs become part of the conversation. Super cute moment when Mulder buys a photo of a UFO from a roadside diner, and Scully Doesn’t Approve.
You really get the idea that on this trip, she’s really starting to wonder just what she’s gotten herself into.
One odd bit of, well, it’s not exactly nostalgia, but it’s certainly a signal of the times, is how phones are used. Specifically, the fact that right now, they aren’t using cell phones. Scully doesn’t give Mrs. Budahas her cell number, she tells her what motel they’re staying at, and Scully goes to the front desk for messages. She gets an idea about who to call, and she picks up a phone book. And really, imagine if they had a smart phone to capture video of those lights in the sky over Ellen’s AFB? I feel this a lot when watching TV shows from the 90s — but oddly, I don’t feel it while watching anything older. I don’t think cell phones were really taken for granted until the early 2000s, so I’m not sure why it feels so funny to see early- or mid-90s media to not have them. But it does! I like it, though. It feels innocent, which is probably one of the purest feelings of nostalgia.
At one point, the agents drop off Seth Green and his girlfriend, and Mulder says, in a moment of being a Hip Fed, “Later, dude!” to Green’s character. I mention this because at some point (definitely in college my freshman year and maybe before in high school) I had a sound theme on my Windows 98 PC that used XF .wavs for the system sounds, and shutting down my computer gave me a “Later, dude!” every time. Whenever I hear that, it sends me back to life with a big CRT monitor and a wired keyboard and mouse with a ball. (I found cleaning the lint from that ball very satisfying.)
I can’t end this recap without touching on the name of the episode, which is for a character who only appears briefly, but has some Important Things to say, and of course becomes so important to the rest of the show. Portrayed by Jerry Hardin, we get our meeting of Deep Throat.
It’s funny how much we loved Deep Throat. He wasn’t really in that many episodes. But he cares about Mulder, in his own way. We’ll see him again, and we can watch how this relationship develops. I got to see Jerry Hardin at DragonCon in 2015 (on a panel with Nic Lea, gosh, it was so great), and he’s just such a Kindly Ol’ Grampa. I love him to bits.
“They’re here, aren’t they?”
“Mr. Mulder, they’ve been here for a long, long time.”
Ultimately, “Deep Throat” isn’t, on its own, a magnificent episode. And even though it’s considered a “mytharc” episode, it’s probably a tentative link at best. Deep Throat’s presence is what really ties it to the greater mythology. But that’s all right, because it’s early days still. Next up is our first Monster of the Week (MOTW) episode, “Squeeze”, and gosh it’s a good start to the type of episode that will keep this show going for 200+ episodes.
Updated on September 10, 2016
So, we’ll start from the beginning. Which, oddly enough given how I watch TV now, which was not actually my beginning with this show. Honestly, I can’t remember exactly where in the process I watched the pilot episode. There was no Netflix or On Demand when I started watching, and there weren’t even DVD sets yet. When you started a show late, you had to wait until the syndication came back around to start from the beginning! These days, I prefer to start from the first episode of something. I don’t know if TV is just created to have every episode watched in order now simply because we can start from the beginning and we don’t need to make it easy to join at any time, or if I’ve just come to prefer to do it that way. I feel like it might be the former, though — TV has changed, because TV is easier now.
(For the record, the first episode I saw was from Season 2, and I started watching regularly in Season 4.)
Anyway, the fact that this pilot episode wasn’t, really, a pilot for me, it definitely puts a different spin on my emotions attached to it and how I remember it. There’s still that happy moment when we’re first introduced to Our Heroes, and when they are introduced to each other, but while I know That’s When They Met, for me they had known each other a long time already.
I guess it’s sort of like when you really start to get to know someone you’re close to, and you start to see their pictures from when they were growing up, when you visit their parents and you hear stories about what they were like in high school. You know this person, you know how to relate to them, know what to expect from them, but you start learning the backstory and things start to really make sense. You see their dad’s goofy humor and their mom’s patient smiles, and it’s like, oh, this is why my friend is this awesome person. It all makes sense.
That’s how the pilot episode has always felt to me. It’s this extra bit of information that tells me, oh, yes, this is why they’re like this. From Mulder’s first explanation of his sister’s abduction, to Scully’s embrace of scientific rigor, down to a certain shadowy figure’s bad smoking habit — as often as you see all of this over the next 10 seasons, this is where it started, where everything was first laid out.
And, essentially, that’s what truly makes this episode so rewatchable. The story itself is pretty meh, especially as the details of the abductions are ultimately ignored for almost seven full seasons’ worth of alien conspiracy episodes. But it’s Mulder and Scully meeting and getting to know each other that is an absolute delight in coming back after seeing the rest of their time together.
Even in their first real discussion/argument, there’s such great chemistry.
SCULLY: Logically, I would have to say “no.” Given the distances needed to travel from the far reaches of space, the energy requirements would exceed a spacecraft’s capabilties th…
MULDER: Coventional wisdom. You know this Oregon female? She’s the fourth person in her graduating class to die under mysterious circumstances. Now, when convention and science offer us no answers, might we not finally turn to the fantastic as a plausibility?
SCULLY: The girl obviously died of something. If it was natural causes, it’s plausible that there was something missed in the post-mortem. If she was murdered, it’s plausible there was a sloppy investigation. What I find fantastic is any notion that there are answers beyond the realm of science. The answers are there. You just have to know where to look.
MULDER: That’s why they put the “I” in “F.B.I.”
It’s a great set-up for how they will relate to each other. And it goes along very well with the mosquito bites scene, which could have absolutely been sexualized or played out more silly. It’s not, though. Scully is scared and Mulder addresses her fear and doesn’t make a comment on how she disrobes down to her undies in front of him. I also love how there’s just the briefest moment of hesitation in Scully, that she knows this might be a mistake but her need to know the truth is bigger. For both of them, a lot of this whole series is one big disrobing despite their fear.
To end on an appropriately nostalgic note, here’s this bit of nerdy self-history. During the episode, you may recall that as Mulder and Scully are driving down a road, the radio does some funky stuff, and Mulder pulls aside to mark that spot:
Well, nearly 10 years later, I was visiting one of my friends for the (at the time) series finale so we could cry together. Brie told me there was a road near her where there was a big ol’ “X” painted on the road! So, naturally, we headed over there and took pictures with this “X”.
You wish you were as cool as we were, don’t lie.
So that’s the start of The X-Files, and the start of this blog series, officially! Coming next will be “Deep Throat”, and if you haven’t seen the episode, no it isn’t about that.