Times Mulder and Scully Should Have Made Out This Week: “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”

Yeah, this is how I like my X-Files.

Times Mulder and Scully should have made out in “Were-Monster”:

  • Darin Morgan, you had me at:
xfiles-masmtwm-scully-mulder-my-poster

She bought him a new one after he kicked the last one into oblivion and you just know she lords that over him every damn day

  • Season 11: Mulder kills a man with this pencil.
'mmm' - gillian anderson

‘Mmm’ – Gillian Anderson

  • Okay SHUT THE DOOR
xfiles-masmtwm-mulder-throws-file

Mulder, keep throwing!

xfiles-masmtwm-scully-basement-in-love

Throw everything off the desk and do Scully on it!

  • As always, Mulder is too busy being dramatic about ice creatures to notice that he could be getting some.

xfiles-masmtwm-just-ice

xfiles-mulder-je-souhaite-drama

Scully’s skepticism used to put him in this position; now he does it to himself.

  • I guess it’s really no surprise that a mid-life crisis would hit Mulder with the speed of a thousand phantom tanker trucks. He’s never felt anything halfway.

xfiles-masmtwm-mulder-middle-aged-1

xfiles-masmtwm-mulder-middle-aged-i-am

xfiles-masmtwm-scully-not-arguing

She’s like, ‘Did you see me arguing?’

  • I really was all in from “my poster.” This first scene between them is so sharp: Everything that works for the jokes works for the characters. Mulder worrying restlessly while Scully sits, long-suffering but into it, is funny, but it’s also them in a way that this episode in particular needs them to be. Darin is giving us a commentary on the average monster-of-the-week episode, so he starts with the basics. Scully is steady; Mulder is in motion. But the twist is that Mulder is running for what Scully’s already found—the fun in this job—and in that sense, they’ve switched. They’re doing the same things for opposite reasons.
  • “It has a monster in it.”
I know you better than you know yourself bud

I know you better than you know yourself, man

  • Yay Piper!

xfiles-masmtwm-sketches

  • “Notice they didn’t get a picture of it, which is odd, because everybody always has a camera on them these days.” This is peak grumpy Mulder and a sly acknowledgment of the fact that this case is going old school. Pre-Google.
  • Nothing like an impractical pantsuit in the woods when your file has a monster in it.
xfiles-masmtwm-scully-woods-gazing

control your gaze

xfiles-masmtwm-scully-gazing

um

  • “Mulder, I can see that you’re going through a questioning phase of some sort, but people have been killed here. And if we can help stop that and save some lives, I think that is a unquestionably worthwhile thing for us to do. Regardless of whether the thing we find is animal or human or…”
xfiles-masmtwm-scully-otherwise

“…otherwise.”

  • Now that’s vintage Scully logic. That’s stuck-in-an-Alaskan-outpost-with-a-parasitic-worm Scully logic—just do the work in front of you—and it’s not how she thinks anymore. I’m pretty sure she stopped thinking that way in Alaska, when she saw that she could let these cases touch her and still come out okay. But if Mulder needs to find his place on the X-Files again, she’s going to show him how she found hers, starting at the beginning.
  • “It had a horn? Like a… unicorn?”
xfiles-masmtwm-scully-boxers-or-briefs

This is Scully’s life now: A man-size horned lizard is spotted at a gas station wearing underwear and she’s just like, ‘Please be more specific’

  • Winona Ryder I love your work!

xfiles-masmtwm-pasha-2

xfiles-masmtwm-pasha-4

xfiles-masmtwm-pasha-7

xfiles-masmtwm-pasha-8

No face journeys

  • Bye

xfiles-masmtwm-pasha-run-2

  • He’s a middle-aged man, Scully.
xfiles-masmtwm-mulder-new-camera-app

It’s not

  • MULDER: Can’t wait to get a pic of this monster. Nice glossy 8×10?? Hang it over the bed??? SCULLY: Okay I’m gonna snuff out the light behind its eyes but have fun.
xfiles-masmtwm-scully-emptying-clip

  • Bye pt. 2
xfiles-masmtwm-mulder-runs-phone

He died doing what he loved: running phone first at a monster

  • Not that I doubt that a cooped-up Fox Mulder would tape over his laptop camera, but this is the relationship between Mulder and tech that I imagined, because for all his paranoia, Mulder is awful at “trust no one.” He pretty much trusts everyone who doesn’t wear a suit and give him direct orders, so unless Scully wants to put a suit on his phone, he’s going to treat that thing like another appendage. Endless answers and speculation at the tips of his fingers, and maybe more people who think like him? Everyone getting equal access to the same information? Please. He dreamed this up.
  • “Go to the settings.”
it wouldn't do any good but i have a weird desire to fax this to everyone in the senate

It wouldn’t do any good but I want to fax this to everyone in the Senate

  • [squeaky worried voice] “Mulder!”
xfiles-masmtwm-scully-mulder-cheek

CLASSIC Dana Scully, M.D. move: He’s covered in blood and she lightly caresses his cheek

  • How dare this gas station porta potty make me so nostalgic.

xfiles-masmtwm-run-portapotty

her body language!!

SHE’S SORRY

  • Everyone runs in this episode like they’ve never seen anyone else run before.

everyone runs in this episode like they've never seen anyone else run before

  • Local Federal Agent Needs Attention

Helpful demonstration of squinting there Mulder

  • He still won’t say “monster,” so Scully just jokes about a mangy sasquatch on his behalf.

The only thing more important to Mulder than shoving his phone in his partner’s face for the 30th time is acknowledging that he likes her joke.

  • “It shot blood at me. From out its eyeball, Scully.”

Schroedinger’s bloody eyeball

  • Finally Scully gets a chance to naysay for a second.

  • As always, he’s got receipts.

same

  • Mulder can fight it all he wants, but he’s already playing the game. It’s instinct: One of them has to challenge what the other one thinks. (“Let’s just keep this in the realm of the natural sciences, shall we?”) The rest—the specifics of who believes and who doubts—is all superficial by this point, because they’ve both picked up so much of each other. Scully needs Mulder to get his faith back because it’s a part of him, but it’s a part of her now, too. They aren’t as simple anymore as the believer and the skeptic. They’re older and more experienced, which means accepting more possibilities and fewer certainties. But they only know one way to work a case. So they’re just feeling it out, debating as usual—same debate, new sides—pretending any of their opinions are as absolute as they used to be. But they never were absolute, really, and that’s why they’re here.
  • “So we’re looking for a man-sized horned lizard with human teeth.”

You’re the one who said it

  • Scully could not be happier to be having a “silly”-sounding conversation in a morgue with Mulder.

We’re back

  • This is their old dynamic in reverse: Scully enjoys the work, and Mulder enjoys that Scully is enjoying herself (and keeps quiet about the fact that he’s having fun, too).

  • Darin Morgan just crumpled up I Want to Believe and slam-dunked it into a trash can. He’s putting right everything that second movie got wrong, because this job isn’t all darkness, and it’s not an obstacle to their relationship. It’s the best place for them to heal. We’re already seeing the way they use these cases to work through the hopes they aren’t ready to express, but the really important thing here is that Scully is ready to express that she’s having fun. And that’s enough. Years ago, Mulder needed a story about an alien playing baseball in 1947 to remind him that loving something is purpose enough in itself. That goes for solving cases, too—and the only story Scully needed to remind her was the story of Scully and Mulder.

SURE WHY NOT

  • After everything, Mulder’s still soft. That was a wonder even in the pilot.

  • Sure, he’s all “I didn’t say monster” with Scully, but someone else cries monster when Scully’s not around, and Mulder is ready to listen. Try him. He wants to believe. He always did find it easier to be vulnerable with complete strangers, but it’s not out of lack of trust for Scully; he just doesn’t want to get her hopes up.
  • I’ll let David and Gillian take this one:

  • I just want to take Guy Mann’s face in my hands and shout that he’s not alone.

hard same

  • Sometimes the monster is the “plain and simple” answer. And sometimes the “plain and simple” answer is followed by four hypothetical and very un-simple explanations, because you know—nothing’s ever absolute. But the more questions Mulder wants answered, the more sure he is of himself.
  • And he’s always sure of Scully. He knows what she’ll say.

You can actually see her decide to ride this one out

  • I’m hung up on this: “Is it so outlandish to believe that some legends are based on actual occurrences and not just ignorance?” That’s Mulder and Scully. The legend of the life they led has been looming in their memories, and they’re only just now realizing that yes, it did happen, and it can happen again. They can have that life back.
  • He doesn’t even need Scully to be here for this conversation; he’s already having her half of it. But her half is really his half right now, and he’s talking himself out of that skepticism, and he basically just wants her in the room because he always does.
  • “But Mullllder.”

  • When he brings up science in the bedroom

and you’re not wearing pants

  • This time, when Mulder comes back around to scientific possibilities, it’s to make the case that science and monsters aren’t mutually exclusive. No matter the origin, the outcome is the same. A whammy by any other name is still put on you.

[Mulder runs out into the woods singing Hilary Duff’s “Coming Clean”]

OWN YA MAN, SCULLY

  • Her Mulder. He’s her Mulder and she likes him like this, and this time, she’s not only communicating that she’s happy to be working with him—she’s communicating that she’s happy with him. As a person. Scully has a way of saying in a few (or no) words what Mulder says in whole speeches. This is her, “But you saved me.” This is her, “You kept me honest. You made me a whole person.” Fox Mulder’s goddamned unfailing belief saved Dana Scully a thousand times over. She owes him everything, and she doesn’t want to do this alone. Her actions have been saying as much for the past two decades, but I think she’s had some time to understand that sometimes he needs to actually hear it. And she wants to tell him.

He’s lost

  • Mulder, please. When has this partnership ever required agreement?

Just let her say it, FOX, let her say it

  • Reminder that she’s wearing his shirt.
  • “But what about the FACTS?” Fox Mulder exclaims, emphatically tapping a file with a sketch of a man-sized three-eyed horned lizard.
  • Scully’s pumped to talk to this smartly dressed possible lizard guy with her partner.
  • He keeps pointing at her because he can’t believe he can.

boop

  • I have a feeling that the last thing Darin Morgan would want me to do is break this episode down into symbolic pieces like some high school English teacher introducing the concept of literary criticism. There’s a sweet, lively joy in this hour when you just take it as it is: It’s the story of Mulder and Scully having fun again. That’s purpose enough. But I’m here, so bear with me.
  • Mulder and Scully are Mulder and Scully, right? Guy is humanity. The psychiatrist is critics, I think—and not necessarily negative critics, just literary critics. People who analyze the truth out of every story. Me, maybe. He wants the truth to be something theoretical instead of literal. Mulder won’t bite. One of the most interesting and, to my mind, overlooked aspects of The X-Files is its refusal to paint belief as easy; no belief can stand until it’s been tested. If proof sometimes eludes, the search for proof never stops. When people talk about this show’s clear delineation between faith and skepticism, they tend to forget that, just as the psychiatrist does when he suggests that believing in actual monsters is easier than taking a look at ourselves.
  • And yes, the real monsters dwell within us; this week’s “monster” is literally a representation of us, while the men in suits who conspire behind closed doors are still the real enemy. But those old guys aren’t going anywhere. Accepting the existence of monsters doesn’t mean ignoring our own monstrosity. It means facing it head on, in senses both external (the conspirators’ selfishness and greed have made Mulder and Scully’s fight harder every step of the way) and internal (Mulder can’t see the truth until he works through his issues). The psychiatrist thinks value and meaning are inherently separate from the things we can touch. But it’s the tangible—this job, their relationship, a were-lizard’s handshake—that saves Mulder and Scully, giving them something to put their backs up against in a world that offers them little certainty. And still they keep searching. That’s the opposite of easy.
  • Of course, if you take that a step further, the fact that I’m looking for morals and lessons in this story totally defeats the purpose, and we’re right back to that thing where nothing matters except Mulder and Scully having fun.
  • This is definitely a Darin Morgan episode.
  • “Mulder, it’s me.” Old school.

Telling Mulder she found a horny toad lizard man really turns Scully on

  • SMART PHONES IS US
  • The Nighthawks of our time:

Morgan, Darin. Man at Work. 2015. Film. Museum of Modern Art, New York.

  • “You know it’s not safe to approach a dangerous suspect without backup.”

Don’t test her

  • Nooooooo.

“No matter what we do, eventually you end up in a place like this.” But this gravestone is already here to lend some hope to the story: If we kick it in the ass, we’ll at least be remembered.

  • “I’m just gonna… kill you. You ready?!”

“You’re like the only nice person I’ve ever met.”

  • Obviously Mulder has no intention of killing him, but I think this is more than just a self-serving trick for information. He’s banking on the idea that having someone to hear (and, Mulder hopes, believe) his story will help Guy. Sometimes you need someone to listen.
  • “I didn’t even get the chance to shoot blood out of my eyeballs.” SCIENTIFIC FACT.

“Three eyes?!”

I will protect him, I want to see him grow up healthy, I want to tell my friends and neighbors about him

  • Help this poor lizard; he’s more lost than Tyra Banks in Life-Size.
  • “For some unknown reason there was a bunch of dead bodies lying around.”
  • “3,000 gigaburtz of pixel bits”
  • “You can see from the shape of it that it’s quite rectangular.”
  • “I don’t understand half the things I’m telling you.”

  • DISNEY I AM HANDING YOU A LIFE-SIZE SEQUEL.
  • I feel so exposed…

“But I was too overcome with human fear to quit.”

  • “If I haven’t written my novel by now, I’m never gonna write it, you know?” I don’t think we appreciate this line enough.
  • “No, I got a puppy!”

Me when it’s Daggoo time

Beautiful

  • “And I quickly realized that the only way to be happy as a human was to spend all of your time in the company of non-humans.”

Mulder gets that.

  • Mulder, as always, wants internal logic. But Guy can’t even see any external logic, even though he’s buying into our ingrained sense of the “right” way to live. His story seems like it’s about how we operate within societal constructs, but it’s actually about the constructs themselves: how we impose order and meaning on a world that doesn’t make sense. If any of these ideas about human nature are cliché, that’s because we made them that way; it’s how we find it in ourselves to get up with the alarm clock. Mulder and Scully impose meaning through their job. We, the people watching this show, impose meaning through the clear definition of a monster-of-the-week episode, the callback to the red Speedo, the theme song that tells us what show we’re watching. The title of this episode is the only one of the whole series to mention Mulder or Scully (much less both of them) by name—it’s about the telling of the story as much as it is about the story itself. We’re Jose Chung in this scenario.
  • “DAGGOO?!”
  • “Well I’d like to see you explain that to my dead friend George!”

AAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

HHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  • We have been uniquely blessed.

“That did not happen.”

  • Unmoored as he is, Mulder does know the difference between fantasy and reality when Scully is involved. She’s his benchmark.
  • If Guy is all of us and he lies about his sex life… and we’re watching this show that never wanted to show Mulder and Scully having sex…

  • “That’s my life you’re talking about.”

We have our “Never Again” answer.

  • Look at the man the FBI hid in the basement, owning his life and his place in others’ lives!
  • For those of you just joining us, Mulder and a lizard are doing a close reading of the First Folio edition of Hamlet.
  • It is a comforting thought that we’re all ignorant, “because if there’s nothing more to life than what we already know, then there’s nothing but worries, self-doubt, regret and loneliness.” The good and tangible things in their lives keep Mulder and Scully going, but the hope that there’s more out there is what gives them a reason to keep going. That’s the tension. The opposite of belief isn’t disbelief but apathy, and hope isn’t just what we hold on to in the face of adversity. It’s how we impose meaning on adversity. When Mulder and Scully set off on the run, “maybe there’s hope” seemed like the promise that they’d keep searching for answers. Now it seems more like an answer in itself—the best one there is.
  • He’s so proud to be FBI again.

Hell yeah he’s the fuzz, look at his SUIT

  • “J’accuse, Monsieur Mulder!”

This is rocketing up the list of X-Files lines I quote the most

  • Can you even believe

  • Mulder is still framing “monster hunting” as a destructive kind of addiction, but Scully knows better. You can see it in the way she says, “Some jobs keep pulling you back.” There’s something to be said for not fighting that pull.

“I guess maybe he’s like us”

  • When is this woman going to stop sticking her fingers in cages? Hopefully never.

  • Shout out to Queequeg. RIP, buddy. #gonebutnotforgotten
  • Mulder. Pup. She’s telling you she misses you.

“Just go to sleep. Let me curse God for a while.”

  • CLASSIC Mulder move: storming in worrying about Scully and she’s fine.

  • “I have a whole speech prepared!”

Nah

  • Great job not gazing, you grown-ass adults.

I can think of someone else Mulder wants quality time with

  • Look at the way she tips her chin up at him in the end. This is an argument, and she’s winning. This whole episode, Scully is trying to get Mulder back on his feet, but she isn’t gentle about it. She’s throwing him in his own face (her poster, which she bought for him; her immortality, which is definitely his theory) and daring him to take his identity back. It’s a challenge. That’s been their language since he showed her a chemical formula in a slide show, and she knows he’ll rise to it.

Some people keep pulling you back

  • I don’t believe Dana Scully has ever paid for a dog in her life.

She isn’t fooling anyone with this cute little look around the shelter. Like being watched would change anything about what’s happening here

  • “You want a hat?”

Have you seen my hair??? No

  • The beauty of this line is all in the way he says “constructs.”

  • A BREAKTHROUGH AT LAST

HEY BUDDY YOU WANNA COME HOME WITH SCULLY

  • “I don’t mean to get too personal…”

  • Mulder was right when he talked Guy into telling his story. Sometimes you need someone to listen. (“Just having someone like you to—look, what I’m trying to say is: I’m glad to have met you.”) He should know; he’s always been that someone. Scully knew that this was the kind of quality time that could bring Mulder back, even more than time with her. (She’s already his touchstone; the person Mulder is unsure of right now is Mulder.) His beliefs, big as they are, require listening to a relative stranger. Shaking a hand.

OH

I miss this lizard already

What a shot

He’s back

  • After 20 years, Fox Mulder just saw Big Blue. He found proof and shook its hand. Nothing “maybe” about it—there is hope. We just can’t find it on our own. I think when we’re struggling, it’s tempting to think that if we could just stand in a place where our lives once went right, we’ll be okay. Everything else will fall back into order. That’s not how it works. Nothing can ever be re-created that perfectly; our own desperation to re-create it pretty much guarantees that. Mulder thought sitting at his basement desk would be enough to save him, but what he needed was to get past the surface of this job and find the heart of it: the fun (with Scully) and the purpose (with Guy). The fun of it is the meaning he and Scully impose: the banter, the poster they can’t do without. But even when you strip that away, the work itself has intrinsic, tangible purpose.
  • There’s objective meaning and there’s the meaning we assign, and both are valuable, if different. But there is objective meaning, however much it might seem to us and to Guy like there isn’t. That belief is what unites Mulder and Scully. I came into this post thinking my thesis would probably be something nice about how great it is that Mulder and Scully are able to make their own order in a disordered world, but I’m leaving it convinced that there is something real waiting for them. Mulder just touched it. Somehow, this hour by The X-Files’ most meta, most existential writer is also one of its most encouraging. Sure, these fleeting moments of happiness are still surrounded by “crushing loss and grief,” but the truth is out there with an outstretched hand. There’s a concrete difference between a man who turns into a lizard and a lizard who turns into a man.

Hi everyone! Like Mulder, I’m back. So sorry for disappearing. Thing happened. Some of them happened to America; some of them happened just to me, and I’m very okay now, but it took me a while to find it in me to write this, even though I knew (thanks Darin!) that writing it would help. That’s part of it, too: I wanted to get this one right because I like what this episode has to say. I’ve still probably just scratched the surface. But I never intended to go this long between posts (I had it in my head that I’d written the last one in May and was at least scraping by at 11 months, but NO. A YEAR. AN ENTIRE YEAR).

I’d like to say I’ll be back very soon, but I have a work project that’s going to require me to pretty much rewatch four complete seasons of television (rough life) over the next month, so I should get that done first. But I’ll be back after that. I forgot how much fun these posts could be.

26 comments

  1. Very well written. Can’t stand that Were-Lizard/Scully sex scene though. I fast forwarded through it. But that aside I kind of viewed it as what he wanted/wished for versus what Scully wanted: Mulder. So that kind of makes me ok with it.

      1. Yep. But I am a bit tired of the guy fantasy thing though. Annoying trope that it is. XF played off of that one too much at times.

      2. If this episode weren’t so lovingly, intentionally tropey (and commenting on those tropes), I’d agree with you. In all other cases, I do agree: It’s played out and was never a good bit to begin with. But I just can’t hate it here. I love this episode too much to hold it accountable for the sins of the rest of the show.

  2. Of the reboot episodes, this is the one I’ve watched over and over because in addition to more or less everything you said about Mulder and Scully, Rhys Darby is genius in a lizard suit/seersucker suit AND we get superfan and fine actor Kamail Nanjiani. It’s just so much deliciousness. Oh, and GA’s cleavage.

  3. Glad you are back! As always, your insights are much appreciated. This was just a FUN episode! And the banter! Oh M&S, how I’ve missed you.

  4. I’ve waited so long for this!!! And you nailed it. So fun to read. The end even made me tear up at bit (as did the end of this episode).

  5. Kelly, you made my day! I was headed out for work this morning, for what promised to be a difficult day and I saw the post for your latest entry on Facebook. And oh, how it lifted my spirits right away! So glad you’re back and as usual, it was totally worth the wait. I love this episode so much. It really exemplifies everything that Mulder and Scully’s relationship is all about.

    This is how I like my Mulder and Scully!

  6. Season 10 had some serious issues but I’ll never not be grateful because the love I have for this episode is unreal. And nothing will ever change that. It’s an instant classic and that last scene still makes me tear up, even a year later.

    Hope your life is treating you well, Kelly. Can’t wait to read your insights on Home Again – my second favorite from the revival.

  7. That moment in the hotel room where Fox Mulder is babbling on about monsters and Dana Scully is clad in a shirt and not much (if anything) else. She also says “This is how I like my Mulder” while still being clad in a shirt and not much else (and apparently not too perturbed by it). Fox Mulder can be dense for such a brilliant man….

  8. I am so chuffed you’re back! I love your posts so much! Hope to read more soon! Hope you’re keeping well and keep up the great work!

  9. Thank you for another one of your insightful, lucidly written posts. I had to tear my hair out in frustration as Mulder’s obliviousness to what had the potential to develop into a great evening for him and Scully when I viewed that scene in the motel room. This is even more blatant than “Detour.” I mean come on! If I had to talk to Mulder, I would say, “Dude! Half-naked woman who says ‘this is how I like my Mulder’…Do I need to paint a picture for you?!” I mean, really….

  10. I so love your reviews and comments of The X-Files!
    I swear, sometimes I laugh and sometimes I’m like “mmh, now I understand better, thanks”! And I can’t wait to read your thoughts for the next episodes… Especially the next one… Jeez, that’s an hard one!
    Hope everything is fine and that you can post soon! 🙂

  11. I absolutely love your insights into the show, they are genuinely hilarious. I did lose an entire day reading through all of them though, so thanks for that 😕 Once I started reading, I found it difficult to stop! So excited about the upcoming Season 11! I would love it if they showed M&S as a couple, but at the same time it makes me sad that this was never shown in series 1-8 (let’s pretend 9 never happened). I’d much rather have seen 30-something M&S getting it on than 50-something M&S. Mulder, I still would though!

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