Saturday, September 26, 2015

The X-Files - S4:E13 "Never Again"

[ S4:E12 "Leonard Betts" <<< Season 4 >>> S4:E14 "Memento Mori" ]

In a bout of depression, a reluctant divorcé in Philadelphia gets a tattoo, then starts to hallucinate that it's talking to him, mocking him (featuring Jodie Foster's voice!), making him paranoid to a homicidal extent. It's a bit of a hokey premise - one that you might expect more from the first season. Meanwhile, the bureau is forcing Mulder to take a vacation against his will (since he hasn't taken a day off in four years - it's funny how much he hates the idea of taking a vacation, and yet it's so totally in his character), and Scully is getting sullen and introspective about the course of her life. In Mulder's absence, she reluctantly follows up on some of his leads, but soon bumps into the divorcé and fancies herself a little fling. They have a few drinks at the bar, Scully talks about her daddy issues, and then gets a tattoo.

Yeah, I know. It's a credit to the writers that, when you're watching it, it doesn't seem as out there as it sounds, in the context of the episode - but it's still pretty weird. And if you think this whole romance business is a little flippant after the revelation at the end of the last episode, it's because these episodes were aired out of production order, so that Leonard Betts could be played after the Superbowl, when audiences would be at their peak. On the other hand, Scully's soul-searching may make more sense in light of said revelation, as she is suitably melancholic in this episode.

The quarrelling between Mulder and Scully is uncomfortable to watch, though. I don't want to be unfair - they've worked together for four years, and even between the best of friends (or closest of partners), sometimes the relationship gets strained. But it's still not fun to watch. Especially seeing Scully get disillusioned with her work on the X-Files. It's the kind of attitude you would expect to precede a resignation (or reassignment), and the thought of Scully not being a part of the X-Files is, frankly, depressing. I prefer to see her being at turns frustrated, but at turns fascinated with the work, like she was when she was first brought on to the project.

It's also interesting that even though the show doesn't put Mulder and Scully together in a romantic relationship - and I don't think I'd even want to see them that way - it still never feels quite right when they're split up, and either of them starts to pursue an outside romantic interest. I guess it's not fair to them, but it just doesn't feel right. I wouldn't want to discourage the writers from exploring new ground, and keep them trapped within what they might see as a decaying formula, but all I can say is that the kind of interactions we see in this episode are not very fun to watch. It would seem that despite their pedigree on this show, Morgan & Wong's episodes are either hit or miss - although that's not entirely new to this season, as some of the less esteemed episodes they contributed to include Shadows, Blood, and the much-maligned 3.

Memorable quotes:

Mulder: I made a last ditch effort to get out of it, but the bureau is holding fast to its federal employees vacation policy. I haven't taken a day off in four years, so either I take a week vacation now, or they start not paying me for eight weeks' vacation time. I don't like it, but I gotta do it; I gotta pay the rent; I gotta eat.

Scully: I feel like I've lost sight of myself, Mulder. It's hard to see, let alone find, in the darkness of covert locations. I mean, I wish I could say that we're going in circles, but we're not, we're going in an endless line. Two steps forwards, and three steps back. While my own life is...standing still.

Comrade Svo: I tell him, everyone gets tattoo they deserve. Beautiful, cheap, thought over, impulse. Tattoo reflect on body what lies in person's soul.

Scully: So what makes this place a good place to go when you're feeling down?
Ed Jerse: Ah, it's kinda - everyone here looks like their problems are worse than mine. Makes me feel good about myself.
Scully: Yeah, well, you can't tell what's going on in somebody's head just by looking at them. I mean, they're probably thinking that we're the ones that are screwed up.
Ed Jerse: Are we?
Scully: Who knows.

Mulder: Congratulations for making a personal appearance in the X-Files for the second time. It's a world's record.

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