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Back to the Hospital Room of Depression and Sadness and Hippies. Actually we're only there for a moment, checking in on Scully, who's still taped and tubed and wired and unconscious. Then it's the hospital lounge -- maybe the same one as before, I'm not sure -- where Mulder, Ma Scully, Melissa, and Dr. Daly are discussing, as we soon realize, whether to turn off the breathing machine. Oh, hooray! This will be more fun than a basket full of tiny, fluffy kittens. Daly and the Scullys are sitting; Mulder's standing up, agitated. Maggie's hair is in a French braid, which I always like to think Melissa did for her in an attempt to distract her a little. "Discontinuing the respirator does not necessary mean pulling the plug and ending her life," Dr. Daly is saying, trying his best to be understanding and compassionate and frank and encouraging and thorough and oh my God, I could NEVER be a doctor, and it wouldn't be the blood and poop and guts and everything, it'd be this part. However, he believes that in Dana's case, she probably won't last long after turning off the respirator; he thinks she's been like this since she disappeared (which was, you know, either five months ago or four weeks ago, depending on which episode you're watching) and her condition isn't going to change. Melissa asks if her sister is below the criteria established in her will. Yes, she is. Mulder, who's pacing around as they talk, says maybe branched DNA can be treated with designer antibiotics. "Agent Mulder, I don't know where you've developed this bizarre diagnosis," Daly starts, sounding tired, "but I do believe you're in no position to continue here." Ouch. Teeth gritted, Mulder says they need to study her. Melissa says she's not a piece of evidence, and that it's not natural to prolong her life this way when it should end. She's tearing up as she says this -- I mean, Melissa has a point; she's not really the total asshole that some make her out to be. If you guessed, however, that Mulder does not agree with this assessment, you would be right. "That's very politically correct," he grits out. "That's very human," Melissa shoots back.

Maggie sits in the middle of it, and finally takes a deep breath: "Dana has made our decision." Mulder turns toward the door at this, very upset, and she calls him back: "Fox." I just love how she delivers that, and how he obeys her right away, turning back. I am such a sucker for Ma Scully/Mulder interactions. WELL, NOT LIKE THAT. Eww. She says that he and Dana had a friendship built on respect (yes, respect, and hot hot sexual tension). She's lost her husband this year, and doesn't want to lose her baby girl (sob), but she respects her too, and therefore -- this part's unsaid -- her wishes as stated in the will. Mulder looks defeated. "Fox, this is a moment for the family," she continues, standing up, "but you can join us if you want." He just shakes his head, staring at her with those puppy-dog eyes. Oh, poor, poor Mulder. Can I just point out, by the way, what a much better, more nuanced, and more genuinely wrenching portrayal of a should-they-pull-the-plug situation this is than the one in "Audrey Pauley"? It's true, the decision to pull the plug on Scully does turn out to be the "wrong" one in this case, but at least in this one there's no EVIL DOCTOR WHO'S LURKING AROUND WAITING TO STEAL PEOPLE'S ORGANS BEFORE THEY'RE REALLY DEAD. Like there's not enough drama in this situation without having to add that kind of bullcrap. God, I have no patience for that episode. Though Lucy Householder is good in it, I guess.

Maggie and Melissa walk out, leaving Mulder alone in the room (I guess Dr. Daly split already). Mulder keeps staring into space, as we hear the sound of Scully's respirator.

It's the boat again, Nurse Owens standing on the dock. The water's a little more choppy now. Scully's staring blankly, looking tired (I guess being almost dead and/or having just had a baby will do that to you). The rope holding the boat to the dock snaps. The boat and Scully drift away -- no worried trumpets, no screaming in horrible pain (I'm looking at you, "Audrey Pauley"), just Scully floating backwards in the boat, away from the dock and Nurse Owens and everything else she's ever known. Commercials.

Hey, I remember these people! We're in Skinner's office, and good ol' Cigarette-Smoking Man is there, his pack of Morleys on Skinner's desk presaging his appearance. He tosses a folder on the desk: "Read it. It's all there." Suuuuuuuure it is. In Season 2? Please. CSM starts to light up a C; Skinner jerks his head defiantly at the "Thank You for Not Smoking" sign on his desk. Oh, Skinner, that's adorable. Nice try. CSM doesn't even flinch, lighting up, taking one puff and putting it out in an ashtray on a table (uh, Skinman? If you don't allow smoking in your office, you probably shouldn't have an ashtray at the ready in there. Mixed messages, my friend), just to be an asshole, I guess. He leaves out the secret door (I guess -- I've never seen anyone other than CSM use that door), and just as it shuts there's a knock on Skinner's regular door. It's Mulder, who grumpily takes a seat in front of the desk. He's been called in because Skinner heard about the "incident" at the hospital. "Is this about the tooth that was found in the cafeteria Jell-O?" Mulder asks innocently. No, no it is NOT about that tooth, and you might want to watch your smart MOUTH, young man. Skinner mentions the killin' in the laundry room -- ah, so that's where it was. We were definitely in a parking garage for at least a little while though. Mulder denies it wholesale. Skinner tries to get him to fess up, but Mulder keeps up the deny everything routine until Skinner gets pissed and tells him to knock it off. Mulder asks him how it feels. Skinner just wants to know what happened, damn it! "Him," Mulder says, indicating the butt in the ashtray. "Cancerman. He's responsible for what happened to Scully." I think this is one of the only times CSM is actually referred to as "Cancerman" on the show. We used to call him that all the time, though I don't anymore because it makes me uncomfortable to be flippant with the word "cancer" over and over again; it just feels like bad vibes. Mulder demands to know who he is. Skinner balks, and Mulder interrupts: "You can have it all. You can have my badge, you can have the X-files. Just tell me where he is." Skinner sneers that they're not the Mafia. Mulder says he just wants justice. Skinner inadvertently twists the knife a little by saying that he respected Scully, and then uses a sports metaphor that I'm too lazy to transcribe. Mulder looks stricken -- damn you, cruel sports metaphor! "What if I -- I knew the potential consequences, but I -- never told her?" Poor little Mulder. He's hurting so badly. And he's somehow managed to make this his fault, as usual. Skinner says, "Oh, Mulder. It's not your fault. Scully knew what she was getting into; she's a big girl, and sometimes bad things just happen that no one could have prevented. She knew you always had her back." Oh, no -- my bad, I'm sorry. He says, "Then you're as much to blame for her condition as the Cancerman." Goddamnit, Skinner! Mulder runs off crying. Well, he may as well have.

Ohhh dear. OK, yeah. I don't really understand this choice either, but, I just report it. Scully's lying on a wooden table in an empty white room, in a long white dress, her eyes closed. We see her first from above, and then the camera swoops around so we're alongside her. And...yup. They're still there. They're higher than her face. Like, SIGNIFICANTLY higher. People...seriously? There was no other way you could stage any of this? REALLY? You're all a bunch of pervs. I just want you to know that. Anyway, none of that means that this scene isn't moving as hell. But still. We circle around her, so we can get every angle. Of them. Sigh. I'm not imagining this, people. Also, that table is really fingerprinty. Hee hee. Ah, DVD quality. One side of the room opens into a tunnel, which I assume is actually a large blue screen, and down it walks a figure in a white uniform, carrying his hat. It's Ahab! Otherwise known as Scully's dad. He stops in front of her: "Hello, Starbuck." Awwww. We've been nicely and unobtrusively set up for this moment, BTW, because we saw Pa Scully in the teaser and we were reminded a couple of scenes ago by Mrs. Scully that he died last season. (For the record, the Ahab/Starbuck thing has always struck me as a little precious, but that's OK.) With a Star Trek-y halo of light around him, Pa Scully starts to talk to his unconscious daughter. He says that despite people's warnings, he never felt that life went by too fast -- until the moment he knew he was dying and he'd never be able to tell his daughter how much he loved her: "Then, my life felt as if it had been the length of one heartbeat." Title alert! Sad, sniffly title alert. He finishes by saying, "We'll be together again, Starbuck. But not now. Soon. Also, that evil doctor wants to steal your organs, so you're RUNNING OUT OF TIME!" Action! Adventure!!! Except he doesn't say that last part. I just WISH he did! Ahab walks off, into the nothingness, Scully still lying on the table.


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