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Sharna Pax

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  1. Season 6: Humongous Fungus Among Us

    Here I am, spamming the thread again. Milagro is one that I rewatched fairly recently, though I'm not sure why, because I never liked it. I think in the past I always focused on the relentless purple prose voiceovers and "Agent Scully is already in love," a line which annoys me in a multitude of ways. This time through what jumped out at me is that neither Mulder nor Scully uses the word "stalker." I can't remember exactly how Scully words it, when she first tells Mulder about Padgett, but it's weirdly flowery and circuitous, even for the X-Files. And Mulder doesn't seem nearly as concerned as he should be at the idea that his next-door neighbor is stalking Scully, and I'm concerned that this show doesn't know what stalking is, any more than it knows what medical rape is. It actually seems like Mulder's response to Scully being stalked is to get suspicious of her, and I would be mad at him for that but it's all of a piece with this episode's weird, weird sexual politics. Anyway, I was thinking about the whole meta aspect of the episode, and it made me think of an episode of Classic Doctor Who called The Mind Robber, where the characters find themselves in the Land of Fiction. The great danger, in that episode, is a constantly running ticker tape that narrates the characters' adventures a moment before they happen. If the characters do exactly what is written for them - if they grab the sword and slay the dragon, or what have you - they become fictionalized and are trapped forever in the land of fiction. So it's partly about the idea that characters - real characters, like the Doctor and his companions - act in a way that their creators didn't anticipate. But it's also about the risk of letting another person's vision of you guide your actions. Now, I think Milagro is also supposed to be about both those things - it's about Mulder and Scully and their growing independence as characters, but it's also about the danger of being trapped by another person's image of you. But it's so very muddled in the way it tries to explore these ideas that it totally undercuts them both. If this is an episode about Mulder and Scully's independence from their creator, why does Scully spend the whole episode drifting around like she has no agency at all? If Scully is able to resist Padgett's hold on her because she's in love with Mulder, why do we never see her resisting it? Why does she drift into his bedroom, when she obviously doesn't feel comfortable being there? Does Scully, in fact, resist being fictionalized? Who even is she? What does she want? What draws her to Padgett, if indeed she is at all drawn to him? I can't tell. And it seems like a terrible mistake for this episode that should celebrate Scully's personality and independence to instead turn her into a zombie with nice legs. On another note, Padgett's book sounds really terrible. On top of the awful, awful prose, it sounds like the plot is just a series of identical murders intercut with sex scenes. Why would a writer that bad have any power over anyone, let alone Scully?
  2. Season 6: Humongous Fungus Among Us

    I don't mind Season 7 - in fact, I quite like it. Yes, it bugs me that Mulder and Scully's relationship is unacknowledged, as I think the season fundamentally ended up being about the relationship and the way it was changing Mulder and Scully's lives and priorities. And it doesn't really make any sense to have a season about a relationship that doesn't acknowledge that relationship's existence. But at least the dynamic we're shown in Season 7 feels consistent. Mulder and Scully seem to be together, in some sense, and to be happy about it, so even if we never know the details of their relationship, I still trust that they have it worked out. What bothers me about Season 6 is that Mulder and Scully aren't together, as far as I can tell, and yet there's no good reason why not. If you leave out Season 6, the arc of the Mulder-Scully relationship makes sense to me. Yes, it takes them forever to get together, but there are reasons for that. They're partners, so they're not supposed to think of each other romantically. They've been through Scully's abduction and her cancer, and Mulder's response to both of those experiences has been to try to reset their partnership to where it was before the trauma, as if there's some kind of safety and stability in keeping things exactly the same. And of course their friendship is so important to them that they don't want to jeopardize it. So it makes sense to me that they would get to the end of Season 5 before declaring their feelings for each other. But once they do that - as they do in the movie - there's no reasonable way for them to go back. If we had gone straight from the movie to the kind of dynamic we see in Rush, I think I would have loved it. For Mulder and Scully to slooowly inch their way toward a relationship, but then commit to it and enjoy it once they get there? That would have been a lovely depiction of a functional relationship between two adults who know what they want. But instead, we get an entire season of stalling. By now, Mulder and Scully know how they feel about each other, and yet they're not together, and there's no good way to explain that except by having them both act like irrational children all the time. So we get the awful Fowley love triangle, we get Mulder taking back everything he said in the movie, we get episode after episode where Mulder and Scully make some kind of connection in a dream sequence or an alternate reality or where their memories get erased. We have endless secondary characters yelling "YOU TWO LOVE EACH OTHER NOW MAKE OUT!" at Mulder and Scully to no effect. (And though I love The Unnatural with a passion, it is absolutely ridiculous to think Mulder and Scully didn't have sex after that baseball lesson. No two people who are attracted to each other AT ALL can stand like that for any length of time without at least making out. It is a scientific impossibility. Also, that's clearly why Mulder set the lesson up the way he did. A man does not teach a woman to play baseball in that particular fashion unless he's trying to get in her pants.) So to me, the problem with Season 6 is not the individual episodes - it's that the overall arc of the season asks me to believe things about the Mulder/Scully relationship that just don't make sense. I think most of the romantic-comedy episodes work just fine as stand-alones, especially if you assume that Mulder and Scully hooked up right after the credits rolled. What doesn't work is the way their relationship gets rolled right back to zero for the start of the next romantic-comedy episode, so that the episode can once again end with them just on the verge of hooking up for the first time.
  3. I refuse to watch any episodes with My Struggle in the title, but I'm still mad about Scully giving up William in the first place. Chris Carter needs to stop adding a new dead/missing/sick kid to the show every time he wants to give the plot another turn of the screw. Samantha was the perfect backstory for Mulder; it was terribly sad and gave his character depth, but it also made us hope that one day he would find something to fill that gap in his life. But Scully finding and losing Emily, and then both Mulder and Scully losing William - that's too much. I thought for the longest time that the X-Files was going to be a story about someone losing one family and eventually finding another one. But it turns out it's just a record of loss after loss, and I'm not saying that's unrealistic, but it's very hard to watch. To me, the most heartbreaking moment of the whole damn show is Mulder's dream of watching 2001: A Space Odyssey with William in Founder's Mutation. It's partly how young he looks - the lines smoothed out of his face, the weight lifted from his shoulders. It's partly how casually he leans over and drops a kiss on William's head, like he knows how lucky he is to have this wonderful kid. That's the happiest I've ever seen Mulder, and it kills me that he never got to be that happy in real life. Taking away Mulder's last tenuous connection to William is a final pointless cruelty, but really it's all unforgivable.
  4. S11.E10: My Struggle IV

    I think it's a great pity this episode was so terrible, because it's overshadowed what I think was a surprisingly good season, with excellent performances by Duchovny and Anderson (Anderson's voice is a handicap, but aside from that I thought she was much better than in the previous revival season), and some nice work from new writers and directors. I felt like this season had a much stronger reason to exist than the 2016 season. Recent political developments have made The X-Files topical again, and the show ran with that, and I thought it was great. I was really invested in this season, and I deliberately avoided watching the finale because I didn't want that ruined. But I've been sorry to see that this season is generally regarded as a failure - because to me the X-Files has never really been about seasons or finales or the long-term story arc, it's been about tuning in once a week, knowing you're going to see Mulder and Scully investigating something wacky, but never knowing exactly what you're going to get. And with a few exceptions (and there are always exceptions, that's just part of The X-Files) the show delivered on that. I will be rewatching at least five of this season's episodes, and they're all very different from each other. To me, that's a success. I understand why people are so disappointed, and I understand why Anderson is angry. I'm angry on her behalf. But I don't want that to make everyone forget the wonderful job that she and Duchovny did in Ghouli, or how brilliant and bittersweet Forehead Sweat was, or the sublime absurdity of Mulder and Scully and the blobfish.
  5. Season 6: Humongous Fungus Among Us

    I have such mixed feelings about Season 6. I guess I think it's a great collection of episodes, but not a very good season? It has some of my very favorite episodes, including Monday and Field Trip, but there's such an uncomfortable dynamic between Mulder and Scully in all the mytharc episodes, and to me that doesn't pair well with the over-the-top romantic comedy vibe of the rest of the season. I think the reason the Mulder and Scully relationship feels so different from all the other boy-girl detective pairings on TV is that in the early seasons it really doesn't feel like the show is pushing them together. It feels like this is just something that's happening naturally between the characters. But in Season 6, all of a sudden the show is actively writing this relationship as a romance, and it's using all the cliches that shows use to manufacture sexual tension between characters who don't naturally have it - pushing them into one pseudo-date situation after another, having everyone around them tell them they should be together, writing whole episodes that are about Love with a capital L. And despite all that they don't seem to be getting together, and when I watch too many of those episodes back-to-back it all feels strange and unhappy and wrong to me. And yet I wouldn't want to skip Season 6, because it has a lot of the episodes that would go on my favorites list. Monday. Field Trip. Tithonus. The Unnatural. How the Ghosts Stole Christmas. I like Drive, too, and while the Mulder section of Triangle is a bit too cheesy for me, I adore the part where Scully is flying around the FBI like an avenging angel, threatening people's lives and kissing Skinner and generally being a badass. And Field Trip is a reminder that anything can be a catchphrase if you repeat it often enough. The line, "I think his body was stripped and then skeletonized, possibly by boiling, or the use of an acid solution," is a perfectly standard, unremarkable X-Files line, but it is now permanently embedded in my memory.
  6. S11.E10: My Struggle IV

    I guess the old saying is true: you can't dump your father's corpse in the same river twice.
  7. I don't think Hank sees them that way, but I do think the show does. I just binge-watched this show, and one thing I noticed was the massive double standard in the way the actresses are filmed. The show has this endless conveyor belt of little-known actresses, most of them young, and their sex scenes are always the same - woman on top with the camera focused on her boobs. But when it comes to Hank's sex scenes with women he's serious about, it's very network TV - a tasteful nightgown or Sex Bra, closeups of their faces in profile, and then it cuts away. Given the difference, it's hard not to think that the show is treating young aspiring actresses as so much disposable meat. However, that wasn't actually what I came here to complain about. There's one specific thing that's been bothering me (well, lots of things about this show bother me, but there's one that I actually feel like going on a rant about.) The apparent suicide attempt in Season 4. It's ambiguous, but it seems to me that it should be seen as a suicide attempt, even if it's not a conscious, deliberate one. When someone takes a handful of sleeping pills, washes them down with whisky, and leaves a letter for his daughter telling her how depressed he is and how much he loves her, he's obviously not massively invested in waking up again. I think the question of what Hank meant to do is pretty much moot; at the very least, this is a serious cry for help. But Karen acts as if this is a completely black and white situation. Either Hank tried to kill himself, in which case he's a beautiful tragic hero who should be welcomed back into the bosom of his family, or he didn't, in which case he's just a toxic fuckup who doesn't deserve any sympathy. So one moment she's telling him she'll always be there for him and he can call, text, whatever, any time, and the next moment she's pushing him out the door. Nobody on the show seems to entertain the possibility that the truth is somewhere in between - that Hank is a confused, deeply depressed fuckup who's very close to the edge, and that he doesn't need googly eyes and sympathy sex but does probably need someone to talk to. And yet that seems like it should be the obvious conclusion. Now, the show obviously wants us to sympathize with Hank, because it always does. So we see Hank go up to his lonely hotel room and stare out over the ledge and think about jumping, and we understand that he's not going to do it because of Becca, and that he'll push on through and Karen will never know how much he's really struggling. It's all very sad, and David Duchovny does a very good job. But I think the show did its work too well, because at this point I'm convinced that Karen is a soul-sucking monster who doesn't understand human emotion, and that Hank needs to stay the hell away from her for his own mental health. Does anyone else have this reaction to Karen? And does anyone else have a problem with the show trying to tell us that what we saw in "Suicide Solution" was not a suicide attempt? While I'm going off about this show, I will add that to the extent that I ship Hank with anyone, I ship him with Trixie. They just seem so happy to see each other in "Perverts and Whores," and there's something so comfortably domestic about their little getting-ready-for-bed routine - him on one side of the bed, her on the other, the two of them having an open, honest conversation about their lives while they casually undress and get under the covers. They seem more like a real couple, in that little scene, than Hank and Karen ever do.
  8. David Duchovny: Why Won't You Love Me?

    If you were going to watch more (and there's no reason you should), I'd say Season 4 is the way to go. The show pretty much treads water for the second and third seasons, but at the end of Season 3 all the Mia stuff comes back to bite Hank and his world falls apart, and that at least is a story. The scene that I really have a hard time putting into words is the one just before the dream-vision, when they go to the nurse's house and Mulder hangs back and lets Scully and Harold talk to her for him. Duchovny plays it like part of him is already on that hill with the ghost children, like he's so deep inside his own mind that talking to another person would be unbearably jarring. He's tuned to another frequency; he's listening for something that we can't hear. So that when the ghost child appears, and the music starts, it seems right.
  9. David Duchovny: Why Won't You Love Me?

    Well, if you don't mind spoilers - I can't say I recommend it. And I'm not crazy about the show's blend of pointless crassness and maudlin sentimentality. I did find Hank's character compelling, though, which is why I kept watching in spite of myself. I'm a sucker for those stubbly substance-addicted antiheroes.
  10. David Duchovny: Why Won't You Love Me?

    I totally agree. This is something I've been noticing too. Mulder is such a fascinating character in part because you don't see everything about him at first glance; he seems like a cool jock, but he's actually a painfully isolated weirdo. He seems like the chillest guy you'll ever meet, he has a joke for every occasion, and yet there's this core of fanaticism that drives everything he does. He's someone who could have had one life and has chosen another, and you can see those internal contradictions in the way Duchovny plays him. (This is one reason why I'm fascinated by that scene in Tempus Fugit with the birthday keychain. Mulder is trying so hard to be a normal, fun, supportive friend that he overcompensates and dials the mania way, way up, and you get a glimpse of what the show would be like if Mulder's outward energy matched his inner crazy. It's compelling to watch, but it's also slightly unsettling.) I love that moment in One Breath too. I also like the early scene where Mulder gets the call to tell him Scully's in the hospital - he looks at the ringing phone and you can feel how listless and depressed he is, like just reaching for the phone might take more energy than he has. It's such a change from that to the later scene, where he's dreading the news but he's also very present in the moment, and you see him make up his mind to take the call and face whatever is waiting for him. I love how the episode is bookended by these two silent scenes, and all you have is body language to show you how far Mulder's come over the course of the episode. I could list favorite Mulder moments till the cows come home. "I will be right there." The way he loses his voice when he's talking to Marita in Herrenvolk. The moment in the pilot when he's telling Scully about Samantha and you see the light of fanaticism in his eyes for the first time. The bit in Sein und Zeit when he says, "These parents who have lost - who have lost their children," with that little halt in the middle as if just getting through the sentence is physically painful. My favorite Duchovny performance, though, is in Closure. It's an episode that's loaded with silly plot contrivances and could so easily not work at all, but it rings true to me on an emotional level, and most of that is down to Duchovny. He plays Mulder with this eerie, unnerving quietness, like he's halfway in another dimension; he has so much to process that he's not quite all there. He doesn’t spend the episode sobbing; instead he seems like someone who’s all cried out. I find the scene where Mulder reads Samantha's journal to Scully particularly moving, the more so because Mulder never loses control. And you can see the moment – a few seconds after Samantha hugs him - when he finally accepts that this ghost child is his sister. You don’t fully appreciate how tense Mulder usually is until you see the tension leave him. And when he comes down from the hill and Scully asks him if he’s okay, and he says, “I’m fine. I’m free,” you know it’s true. My mind boggles at the thought of how good the acting has to be here, to make Mulder’s realization that Samantha suffered for six years and died at fourteen into a transcendent moment.
  11. David Duchovny: Why Won't You Love Me?

    Having now skimmed my way through all seven seasons of Californication in about a week (easy to do if you skip everything that's gross, stupid and/or pointless), here's what I've taken away from it: David Duchovny looks great with stubble, he's really good at acting depressed, he can have chemistry with literally anyone, and he manages to get through seven seasons of misery and self-pity without once busting out the dread Mulder cryface. I wonder if it was in his contract that he wouldn't have to cry? But seriously, he's very good. There's a bit in early season 6 where Hank is in a pit of depression and doing his best to drink himself to death, and he finally talks to Karen about it and tells her, "It hurts to be awake." And that's a line that could have gone horribly wrong and maybe deserved to, but the way Duchov says it, it's so weighted with bone-deep sadness it makes me feel a little bit sick just hearing it. Californication doesn't deserve a performance that good. And honestly I'm sort of shocked. Like, I thought he was very good at playing Mulder, but watching Mulder's big emotional scenes on The X-Files is sort of like watching an Olympic figure-skater set up a jump. You know he can do it, but you're never quite sure if he will do it, and there's always the potential for a spectacular crash. On Californication, as far as I can tell, he never puts a foot wrong. Too bad the show is so terrible 95% of the time.
  12. David Duchovny: Why Won't You Love Me?

    So to my intense shame, I just broke down and watched the first season of Californication. I hate it, and yet I can't stop watching. Goddamn you, David Duchovny. I will say, though, that he's very good in it. I was sort of expecting Hank Moody to be a sleazier version of Fox Mulder, because the accepted wisdom on DD is that he has zero range as an actor, but actually he seems totally different and I'm very rarely even reminded of Mulder.
  13. Between this episode, Demons, and Detour, I'm starting to think that Scully diagnoses Mulder with shock whenever she wants an excuse to put her arms around him.
  14. One thing I forgot to mention: Scully running through the park after Mulder is so Run, Lola, Run it's ridiculous. I have no idea how to post a gif so that it actually plays, but I'll try.
  15. Yes! Rabbit hole is right. I think I'm somehow more obsessed with the show now than I was back when I first watched it. This may have something to do with the fact that I now live in Alaska and it was snowing this morning when I left my cabin. I don't think summer is ever going to come. So I rewatched "The Pine Bluff Variant," and this is one of those episodes where I can't quite believe they fit it all into 45 minutes of TV. It works, I think. The plot is convoluted and hard to follow, but it's supposed to be, and it all more or less makes sense in the end. One thing I didn't quite realize before, but that jumped out to me on rewatch, is how central Scully is to the plan to set Mulder up. They arrange for Mulder to let Haley go, ostensibly to build Haley's trust, but also to give Scully a chance to see it and become suspicious. Then they hold a fake hearing - again, ostensibly to allay suspicion on the part of the militia, but also so that Scully will think Mulder is lying and getting away with it. They set the whole thing up so that Scully won't be in on it from the beginning, and won't be able to discuss the operation with Mulder in a secure location, because they know that she'll track him down and confront him once she knows the truth. And they also know that Mulder won't be able to resist the temptation to talk to her, and thus Bremer will get the proof he needs to discredit Haley. In The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, this role in the plot is played by Liz, the woman Leamas falls in love with just before he goes undercover. I find it adorable that this episode just slots Scully neatly into the girlfriend role in the story. I have to assume that the government chose Mulder in part because of his relationship with Scully - they needed someone with radical views and a very close relationship with his partner, and Mulder fit the bill. But what the government didn't see coming was Scully being smart and persistent enough to bust them. The big mystery at the end of the episode is why Bremer doesn't kill Mulder, since I'm pretty sure that was the plan as originally conceived: use Mulder to discredit Haley, then kill both Mulder and Haley to consolidate Bremer's power with the militia. Pretending to execute Mulder and then letting him go makes no sense - how is Bremer going to stay in charge of the militia when he's got a dead henchman and a live FBI agent to explain away? Sure, it will probably be a while before someone checks on whether Mulder is alive or dead, but once they find out he's alive Bremer's days are numbered. The only way I can explain it is to assume that Bremer got word that Scully was onto them and decided it was better to close down the operation than to kill Mulder and have Scully blow the whistle. (And really, the government trying to rope Scully into their plans for Mulder and getting more than they bargained for is this entire show in a nutshell.) A few more thoughts: Mulder's shady motel of intrigue is the Aaron Burr Motor Court. Hee hee hee. I'm sure there's some metaphorical significance there, with the two men vying for control and all that, but mostly it just cracks me up that there's a motel named after Aaron Burr. Good job by Duchov when Mulder thinks he's about to be shot. Really, the trauma that Mulder's been put through in this episode alone is off the charts. Torture and thinking he's being executed? How is he still even remotely functional? That's a gorgeous scene, by the way - that torn-up greenhouse, with all the drifting sheets of Visqueen. I like the way Mulder just wordlessly gestures to his face when Scully says she recognized him in the video, and his little laugh when she says, "Your finger." So much nonverbal communication between these two. But what really gets me is the moment where Mulder opens the door of his apartment late at night after the Pepsi Challenge and finds Scully there. Even though I know it's all part of the setup, I'm still glad Mulder doesn't have to come home to an empty apartment when he's frightened and in pain.