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RECAPS BY SEASON
FIGHT THE FUTURE
2x08 - ONE BREATH
Recap by As An Amoeba
I've procrastinated sooooo much on this because, well, I love this episode, more than any other, which is why I snatched it up, and I don't know how I'm going to do it justice and also be funny. A lot of the things that TXF is dumb about, and most TV is dumb about, this episode gets right. Despite my frequent irritation with Morgan and Wong, they are unquestionably sharp writers, with a real talent for ducking cliches and avoiding bullshit, and they care about characters, and if they occasionally take those characters places that would probably better be visited by fanfic writers or by stories that didn't involve an already established TV show, I guess that's the price we pay for the good stuff. I'd rather have to sit through a "The Field Where I Died" and a "3" to get a "Beyond the Sea" and a "One Breath" than have an entire series made up of nothing but "Born Again"s and "The Walk"s.
But if they'd really had Melissa Scully sleep with Mulder the way they allegedly originally planned, I'd be taking all this back, rolling it up into a bat shape and beating them with it. Editing! It's a good thing.
We open on a shot of clouds, high up above them actually, the camera speeding across them, and a very pretty bit of Mark Snow music that makes me tear up like a bell makes Pavlov's dog drool. Ma Scully's voice starts telling us a story: "Once, when she was a girl...a very little girl...Dana was in the woods...it was autumn...she had always been a tomboy, unlike her sister Melissa..." Apparently in the original script for this there was a shot of teenage Melissa, sitting on a log or something reading Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which is pretty perfect. I remember being enraptured with that book for about ten minutes when I was 14 or so. I thought it was very deep. Until I decided it was dumb and didn't make any sense. I can see Melissa being into it. The '70s. Ma Scully tells us that Dana and her brothers -- we see a pudgy Bill Jr. (who looks nothing like adult Bill Jr. -- or any other member of the Scully family, past or present; is that the FX guy's nephew or something? -- but he sure has an impressive bowl cut, so that's something) and a skinny little Charlie (who may or may not look like adult Charlie, who might be a gay sea monster for all we know) -- in their dungarees and striped shirts. Dana looks like she's around 9 (so she's not THAT little of a girl, Ma Scully -- when she was really little, she was busy discovering dead maggotty bunnies in lunchboxes, THANKS AGAIN, BILL JR.), and I love the little girl they found to play her -- I can really see preadolescent Dana like this, freckles and curls with the little braids holding them back, and sort of dorky overalls and a round little face. Her brothers got her a BB gun for her birthday, and they're going around shooting stuff like kids who have woods to play in always do, if they're psychos or future FBI agents or...whatever Charlie turned out to be, I guess. They're only supposed to shoot cans -- we pan up the impressively large tum of Pa Scully, a.k.a. Ahab, putting a can on a log and shaking his finger meaningfully at them. But Bill Jr. (of course! Seriously, it's a wonder that kid didn't grow up to be a serial killer with all the dead animals he was responsible for) finds a snake and tosses it on the ground so they can shoot it. This is a great story, Maggie! This is really making me feel better about Scully's abduction. Dana, wearing quite the gleefully bloodthirsty expression, "wanting to fit in with her brothers," shoots too, but then she actually hurts the little bugger, and her face falls. OK, I'm being very light about all of this, but truly, this little story makes me frickin' cry every time.
Despite her fear of snakes, little Dana picks this one up and holds it, tearful and devastated, "as though sheer human will could keep it alive. The snake, its blood on her hands, died...there was nothing she could do to bring it back," Maggie says. Well, isn't that nice! And then they went back home and ate milk and cookies, and then they found out the neighbor child had a blood disease and could never see sunlight again. And then they played Monopoly! And then they learned about homelessness. Thanks, Ma Scully!
We're back in the present, the music is backing off, and Maggie has a beatific look on her face. Cut to a fuzzy-haired Mulder sitting beside her: "It's too soon, Mrs. Scully." Ma Scully looks up, and she does have those big sad blue eyes just like Gillian. They must have searched up and down to find this actress -- nope, she's the director's wife. Sometimes nepotism is good!! Seriously. I adore Sheila Larken. Ma Scully can be a bit much in some future episodes, but she is nothing but awesome all the way through this one.
"We can't give up," Mulder says. Ma Scully finishes the story: "That day in the woods...I felt for my daughter. But at this moment..." Her voice darkens. "I know how my daughter felt." The music darkens too. We pull back a bit; they're sitting in a waiting area in an office of some sort. A door opens, and a guy in a jumpsuit emerges from a back room, holding a flat box. Mulder and Maggie get up and go to look; Mulder turns away after a moment, looking upset. Inside the box is Scully's gravestone. Geez, Ma Scully! I take back what I said about your awesomeness. It is too soon, both to bury her and to tell embarrassing stories about how she cried after shooting a snake. What's next, you pave over her bedroom and tell Skinner all about the time she got her period on the bus to church camp?
Credits. I try to pull myself together, since we're only 2:29 into this thing.
Mulder's lying on the couch in his apartment. The camera passes over Scully's X-file, and the picture of her in Duane Barry's trunk, and some sunflower seeds, and then we see Mulder, lying on his couch. He's lit a candle, and he's reading a little poetry and weeping quietly while softly caressing the petals of a rose -- oh, no, actually, he's watching porn. That Mulder! (cue laugh track) (OK, actually I think it's awesome that he's watching porn, and this is one thing I love about M&W -- they don't go for the easy thing; it's disturbing to see Mulder watching porn when he should be mourning for Scully, but we all know Mulder's a weirdo, and he deals with things in his own creepy way, and it makes total sense that he'd try to deaden his emotions by flooding them with some sex. But do NOT tell them I said that. P.S. Awesome tube socks, Mulder.)