The X-Files: Mind's Eye

Case: A woman is found at the scene of a murder and knows details of this and other crimes. The twist is that she is fully blind.

Destination: Wilmington, Delaware

This "MOW" is one of my favourites. It is one of those gems where the person who plays the central character has the acting chops to stand up to Duchovny and Anderson. Lili Taylor plays Marty as a strong and defiant woman who takes care of herself despite her challenges. It isn't enough that she has been blind her entire life, it turns out that she can see through the eyes of another, a newly-released prisoner and a murderer. The fascinating thing about Marty is that this doesn't break her or the fact that this murderer killed her mother and caused her blindness. Even when Mulder tells her that the murderer is her father, she just responds with a "Hmmm". She then sends Mulder and Scully on a wild goose chase while she prepares to kill her murderous father herself.

There doesn't seem to be the usual camaraderie between Mulder and Scully. Mulder admires Marty and her fierce independence. The patter between them is wonderful. Marty is quick-witted and bitter. Mulder meets her word for word. Scully doesn't have the same connection. She is more than ready to peg Marty as the murderer. What is particularly interesting, especially in TVland, is that neither of them see Marty as an incapable victim. This is in contrast to many others who are too ready to offer Marty assistance when 1. she doesn't need it and 2. she doesn't want it. The X-Files often made it their business to address social issues. We tend to treat those with physical challenges, like sight impairment, with a mixture of pity and ignorance. It is refreshing to have a very different portrayal of a blind woman under threat.

I also appreciated the complexity of Marty's character. From the beginning, it is pretty clear to the audience that Marty can see through the murder's eyes and she is trying to stop him. What we can't figure out is why she doesn't just turn him in. I wondered if he was her brother or partner but we find out she doesn't know who he is. She doesn't want to turn him in because he is her eyes and all they have seen for most of her life is prison. While he has been free she has seen many things including the ocean. If she turns him in, all she will get to see is prison again. While he is murdering drug dealers it doesn't seem so bad but once he starts murdering innocents, her choices are less clear. If she confesses then perhaps she can do penance for the murderer while still getting to see the outside world. Finding out that Gotts is both her father and her mother's murderer tips the scales for Marty and she is willing to sacrifice both her freedom and her 'sight' to kill him. It made me ask myself, what would I do to keep my sight?

Scully seemed somewhat flat in this episode. She doggedly pursued Marty as the killer until the blood results proved she wasn't the killer and then she just seemed to follow Mulder's lead. On the other hand, Mulder was intuitive and clever. It reminded me why someone like Scully might get drawn into Mulder's orbit never to escape. We should have been reminded at the same time why Scully, with her own charm and wit, is a full partner now. I guess two strong women in one episode would have been too much.

Other Thoughts

I would argue that Marty actually saved Pennock's life when she knocked him out since the murderer was pretty nasty, but he obviously didn't see it that way.

I'm still not sure why Marty wouldn't let Mulder talk to the judge for her. Did she believe she deserved to be in prison? Was she afraid to be out in the world now that she was absolutely blind?

I find it hard to believe that even in a back alley nobody would have heard that woman scream. It was the middle of the day. Also, didn't anyone notice Gotts forcing her out of the bar?

The bit at the end of the episode when 'lights out' is called is brilliant. Literally, it doesn't mean anything to Marty but figuratively, now that Gotts is dead she is truly blind.


Mulder: “I have the same pair of pants.”

Marty: “It’s not magic, it’s your crappy cologne.”

Marty: “Let me guess, the killer was O.J. Simpson.”

Mulder: “Even if the gloves do fit, you can still acquit.”

Detective Pennock: “You know the thing I find most surprising about this case is you. You are one skeptical guy, Agent Mulder.”
Mulder: “Skeptical?”
Detective Pennock: “Oh yeah.”
Mulder: “I’ve been called a lot of things. Skeptical, however, is not one of them.”

Marty: “I never wanted to spend my life in a place like this. I had no choice.”

Mulder: “Well, you're lucky he wasn’t a fan of the Ice Capades.”


Heather said...

What an extraordinary review. You really got to the heart of what's special and outstanding, to me too, in this ep. I always loved this one, as well. Especially for Lili Taylor who really has the gravitas as you pointed out to tussle with M&S. But I think the last line of your review sums up my one tiny quibble with the episode with startling clarity -- that Scully at the helm instead of Mulder in this one was one bridge too far for TPTB. Incredible.

drnanamom said...

Thanks Heather!

ChrisB said...

Heather's right. This is an extraordinary review. I'm not a huge fan of this one because, as you point out, Scully seems off. But, the Marty/Mulder dynamic is stunning to watch.