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Back in the hospital, Scully's still lying in the bed, looking somewhat less terrifying -- she still has wires everywhere (and is it really necessary to tape wires to her hair? Like, is that really secure? God, you are the worst nurse ever, Nurse Howard Graves Is Very Dead), and an oxygen tube in her nose, but her eyelids aren't taped anymore and all the scary crap that accompanied the respirator is gone. Nurse Owens is leaning over her: "I know death is at arm's reach tonight. But Dana -- your time is not over." Her nametag, by the way, reads G. Owens. What does the G stand for? GOD!?!?!!? Holy crap, I just freaked myself out!!! Or maybe it's Gertrude. EITHER WAY! Oh, and she's wearing an angel pin. Subtle. Must! Nitpick! Scientific! Inaccuracies! Hee.

Hospital cafeteria. Melissa is squeamishly holding a doughnut the way I might hold an old piece of toast that I found behind the refrigerator. Mulder's face is on his hands, which are on a cup of what I'm certain is some extremely delicious coffee. "You know, Fox -- " Melissa says, then interrupts herself. "Sorry. Mulder." You know what -- I bet she actually read Scully's diary or something. Faker. I love how Morgan and Wong only reference their own episodes, by the way. Honestly, I'd probably do that too. Melissa says that chasing after the men who hurt Scully won't solve anything: "Whoever did this to her has an equal horror coming to them." Like being Yielded on The Amazing Race, in a way completely within the stated rules of the game! That would show them! Karma. It never fails. Melissa's no dummy. Mulder looks at her with haunted eyes. "Including myself?"

Before Melissa can answer -- or, more likely, smirk and not answer, which is what she likes to do -- some creepy lady in a purple suit comes over and asks if Mulder has change for the cigarette machine. Mulder doesn't. Ha ha, cigarette machine. Did those still exist when this was filmed? I can't remember when they were phased out. Wait, do they still exist now? Maybe that's a Massachusetts thing. We love to engage in liberal hijinks like that. Melissa's just asking Mulder what he meant by that last remark when the lady speaks again, now at the cig machine: "There's a pack already here. Morleys. Not my brand." She gives Mulder a Significant Look and slinks out. Mulder finally clues in and rushes over there. He snatches up the pack, rips off the cellophane (!) and opens the carton. Tucked inside is a Post-it, which has an address on it: 900 W. Georgia St. Do you think it's a clue?

OK, let's just review this one more time. (It was louloublu, BTW, on the TWoP XF board who recently got me thinking about the implausibility of this whole scenario, and this expands on her musings, so: hee, and props to you, louloublu.) It's Skinner who gives Mulder this address, right? So let's really think about how elaborate this setup had to be. It's one thing that he pays off some lady to enact this rather goofy scene with Mulder, and also probably to wait around for two days until he happened to be in the hospital cafeteria. I guess she could have palmed it down there after talking to him, so at least we don't have to worry about MIBs hovering around the machine in shifts in case some other stressed-out person, of which there might be more than one here in this, you know, hospital, spied a free pack of cigs and went to grab it, whether it was their brand or not, so that's good. And who is this lady anyway, since Skinner doesn't really have access to the MIB pool? His neighbor? A starving art student who couldn't turn down the money? Someone from the local community theater? But all that is the easy part. This isn't just any pack of Morleys with a Post-it tucked inside it. IT WAS WRAPPED IN CELLOPHANE. I'm not talking wads of Saran Wrap, here. It's shrink-wrapped. Does Skinner have a shrink-wrapping machine? Does he work in a candy factory part-time? Maybe he knows someone at a cigarette factory and he bribed them to sneak in after hours and shrink-wrap this one pack? Alternatively, maybe the cellophane was breached at the bottom, which means we get the mental image of Skinner with the Scotch tape painstakingly sliding the plastic it back on and taping it up. Did he do it in his office? His apartment? My point, here, is that THIS IS A HELL OF A LOT OF TROUBLE TO GO TO to get Mulder this address. He couldn't have slid it under his door, or paid the art student to do it if he didn't want to be seen? I know they want to be secretive, but this one-act guerilla-theater piece about the cigarette machine isn't exactly LESS conspicuous than just sticking something inside Mulder's morning paper. Anyway. Skinner apparently needs some busywork to do or something.

I think we can all figure out whose address this is. Sure enough, here's CSM in his sad shabby apartment, watching a war movie on TV, drinkin' beer and smokin' Morleys, several of which are in the ashtray already. He hears a noise and is immediately on alert, but it's too late -- Mulder's behind him, screaming at him to sit down and shut up. CSM actually looks a little nervous. (I also think it's kind of neat how they shoot CSM at an angle that makes him look like a sort of awkward, not especially attractive middle-aged man, which is what he is.) "Don't try and threaten me, Mulder," CSM says, getting his poker face back. "I've watched presidents die." Well, la-dee-da! I saw Yul Brynner in a touring production of The King and I, so suck on it! He tries to light a cigarette, but Mulder knocks it out of his hand. "Why her?" he asks, and David's voice cracks really awesomely on that line, which I love. "Why her and not me?" Oh, Mulder. At CSM's non-response, he screams "ANSWER ME!!!" Wisely, CSM starts bullshitting: he likes Mulder; he likes Scully, which is why he gave her back. Lord, you're so full of it, CSM. Mulder's too far gone to really see this, though; he rasps that CSM should be the one to die. Being the improv master that he is (man, would I have enjoyed seeing CSM go head-to-head with Ryan Stiles on Whose Line Is It Anyway?), CSM works with what he's got, which is the obvious pitifulness of his apartment and his general lame life. He points out to Mulder that he's got no wife or family, just "some power." He doesn't even have to mention that he's also a failed novelist. He says he believes what he's doing is right. "Right?" hisses Mulder. "Who are you to decide what's right?" "Who are you?" CSM counters, quite reasonably. Damn, you're good, CSM! Look at you, you totally just played Questions Only right there without even meaning to. You would KILL in Scenes From a Hat.

"If people were to know of the things that I know," CSM continues, "it would all fall apart." I still think he's completely bullshitting -- like, that may be true, but he's not particularly feeling it; he just wants to throw Mulder off. It is, however, a cool line, and this is one of my favorite of the Mulder/CSM scenes, which are so often overblown and repetitive. Probably the fact that this one is so early on doesn't hurt either. Mulder looks unsure. CSM presses the advantage, saying he told Skinner that Mulder shot the man in the hospital but didn't really believe it, but look at him now with a gun to his head. He tells Mulder he's becoming a player. Oh no! Just what Mr. X said not to do! It's like this whole episode is about the battle for Mulder's soul or something. (Internal conflict, I [heart] you.) Mulder looks even more unsure. Oh, shit, Mulder. You just don't have the balls for this, sweetheart. And you shouldn't; it isn't you. Knowing he's got him, CSM pulls out his usual trump card: If Mulder kills him, he'll never know the truth. STUPID FRICKIN' TRUTH! That's how they always get you, damn it! Mulder's finger tightens on the trigger, but we already know this little confrontation is over. As he lets it go, CSM says, "And that's why I'll win." He lights up a cig. Hey, you know what would be awesome? If sometimes they used those cigarettes in like, kind of a symbolic manner. Like say, CSM could light one up and it would sort of indicate something significant, like a symbol of his power. I don't know, I think that could be kind of cool. Of course there would be a danger of overdoing it and having every single fucking shot of this man involve him either lighting or stubbing out a cigarette in some overly meaningful way, but I don't think that would really happen. CSM tells Mulder that this will be their secret. Mulder is eating it up like pudding. You just don't have a chance, Mulder. In this game of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, CSM is Ryan Stiles and you are the girl from the audience sitting on the stool being sung to in the style of Motown about her name and occupation. Or maybe, on a really good day, Drew Carey reading the suggestions from the hat.

Back in his stupid pathetic dumb office, Mulder is sort of randomly mashing letters on the keyboard (David? You do know how to type, don't you?), then he hits print. It's his resignation letter, and he signs it determinedly, so upset that his signature doesn't look anything like the one on his ID that we see in the credits every week. Also, he's typed his name in the signature line with a period after it for some reason, and when he signs his name, he also puts a period. For...some reason. Who does that? There are other typos/weird formatting things in this one-sentence letter that I'll not address, even though my proofreading finger is a little itchy. Mulder sits back in his desk chair as we go to commercial, staring into the middle distance and thinking about what he's wrought, or maybe about how your name is not a sentence.

Back in on Mulder, different shirt and tie so I assume different day, packing up his crap. Skinner opens the door. He looks around. "When I started out this room was where they kept the copier," he quips. Funny line, but it also kind of makes it sound like the whole FBI has one copier, which they kept in the basement. Now, granted, that is true of my office, but we have ten people working there. I can just imagine hordes of secretaries going up and down the jammed elevators all day and standing in hour-long lines to use the copier. Mulder shoots back, "At least then it wasn't just wasted space." Oh, give it a reeeeeeeeesssssssst, Mulder. Seriously. Sometimes the martyr complex he's got going on is kind of noble, but a lot of times it's just really irritating. Not everything is about you, which you'll have pointed out to you a couple seasons from now in another Morgan/Wong ep. Skinner decides to play enabler today, fortunately for Mulder and his career, and makes a big show of ripping up the resignation letter, saying it's unacceptable. Mulder continues poutily packing up books. "Look, I know you feel responsible for Agent Scully," Skinner says, "but I will not accept resignation and defeat as self-punishment." Seriously. Thanks, Skinner. With all the work they've done, says Mulder, "to still know lose myself, and Scully...I hate what I've become." Nicely played, CSM, you ass.


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