Monday, September 14, 2015

The X-Files - S3:E22 "Quagmire"

[ S3:E21 "Avatar" <<< Season 3 >>> S3:E23 "Wetwired" ]

It was only a matter of time before Mulder and Scully encountered the Loch Ness monster. Frankly, I'm surprised it took this long - I would have expected this episode to appear in the first season, alongside The Jersey Devil perhaps. But, it has the benefit of appearing in the third season, when these kinds of episodes were of a higher quality. Even the nature conservationist angle is less preachy (not that I've ever counted that as a strike) than in episodes like Darkness Falls, or season 2's Fearful Symmetry, mostly because it seems to take itself less seriously. And the location - a misty lake (allegedly) in Georgia (if it looks more like Vancouver than Georgia - I've never been to either place, so I don't know - then that can be forgiven by the incredible atmosphere it lends the episode) - is beautifully eerie. For better or worse, this is the episode in which Scully's dog, Queequeg - which she picked up in Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose, and was subsequently seen in that other Darin Morgan episode, War of the Coprophages - (highlight spoiler to read): meets its end.

The episode (written by Kim Newton) incorporates an admirably subtle dose of straight-faced humor that contributes to its fun, but doesn't threaten to overpower the science fiction, horror, or mystery of its script, as tends to be the case in Darin Morgan's episodes, which we've become accustomed to this season. There is also an excellent scene in which Mulder and Scully have to wait out the night stranded on a rock in the middle of the lake, and have a little heart-to-heart that runs the gamut of subjects from cannibalism, to Moby Dick, and the psychological advantages of being handicapped, all while notably developing our main characters (we learn why Scully called her dad Ahab, and he called her Starbuck, and she then describes Mulder's quest for the truth as a "white whale"). Quagmire rides in the wake of Jaws, and the slasher craze of the '80s, but despite featuring a premise that sounds like a cheap sci-fi channel movie, it manages to be a thoroughly enjoyable episode, and very much the epitome of the literal "monster"-of-the-week format.

Memorable quotes:

Dr. Farraday: A frog holocaust is currently being executed, Dr. Bailey, and man is the executioner.

Dr. Farraday: You can't turn your back on nature, or nature will turn her back on you!

Scully: So you think that there's a serial killer at large?
Mulder: The operative word being 'large'.

Dr. Farraday: You expect me to cry for one man when entire species are perched on the brink of extinction?

Mulder: Sounds like you know a little something about the subject.
Scully: I did as a kid, but...then I grew up, and became a scientist.

Stoner: Dude, what's wrong with you? You made me drop my toad.

Mulder: You know, living in the city, you forget that night is actually so, uh...dark.
Scully: Living in the city, you forget a lot of things. You know, there you're always thinking about being mugged, or hit by a car; it's not until you get back to nature until you realize that everything is out to get you. So my father always taught me to respect nature, 'cause it has no respect for you.

Mulder: Hey, Scully, do you think you could ever cannibalize someone? I mean, if you really had to?
Scully: Well, as much as the very idea is abhorrent to me, I suppose under certain conditions, a living entity is practically conditioned to perform whatever extreme measures are necessary to ensure its survival. I suppose I'm no different.

Scully: You're like Ahab. You're so consumed by your own personal vengeance against life, whether it be its inherent cruelties or its mysteries, that everything takes on a warped significance to fit your megalomaniacal cosmology.
Mulder: Scully, are you coming on to me?
Scully: It's just - the truth or a white whale, what difference does it make? I mean, both obsessions are impossible to capture, and trying to do so will only leave you dead, along with everyone else you bring with you. You know, Mulder, you are Ahab.

Mulder: If you have a peg-leg, or hooks for hands, you know, maybe it's enough to simply carry on living, bravely facing life with your disability - it's heroic just to survive. But without these things, you're actually expected to make something of your life, achieve something - earn a raise, wear a necktie. So, if anything, I'm actually the antithesis of Ahab, because if I did have a peg-leg, I'd quite possibly be more happy, and more content, and not feel the need to chase after these creatures of the unknown.

Mulder: I guess I just wanted Big Blue to be real. I guess I see hope in such a possibility.
Scully: Well, there's still hope. That's why these myths and stories have endured. People wanna believe.

(And that's why we watch The X-Files). -_^

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