The X-Files: Arcadia

Case: Mulder and Scully go uncover to investigate a series of mysterious deaths.

Destination: San Diego County, California

“Admit it -- you just want to play house.”

Every show that has a will they/won’t they couple does an episode in which said couple, for whatever reason, must live as though they are married. Often, it is the writers and producers throwing a bone to the shippers, allowing those of us who long for this particular couple to get together to see them together. This episode was just such a bone, but it manages to rise above the silly or facile.

While the actual monster is a bit daft (garbage held together by one man’s thoughts), what does frighten me is the community itself. It is a community that is all about control, about conformity, where even the mailboxes have to be a certain shade of paint. Even worse, like the era when Rob and Laura were originally on the air, the women are seen as second class. They are sent to the kitchen to do the dishes while the men discuss the important business.

This episode works because Mulder is not, nor ever has been, a conformist. He has gone up against stronger foes than Gogolak and survived. I love the scene where the backhoe is digging up the front yard. Neighbors stand around in horror while Mulder calmly points out that nowhere in the CC&Rs does it say he cannot have a reflecting pool. What’s fun about this scene is that, for once, Mulder goes up against the majority and wins.

While this episode is truly scary on some levels, it is now remembered as the episode where Mulder and Scully live together. While the scenes are a lot of fun to watch, they also serve to remind us where both Mulder and Scully are emotionally.

Ever since "Triangle", it has been clear that Mulder is in love with Scully. He is fully aware of it; he’s even told her. He is having a great deal of fun in this situation, using every opportunity he has to touch her and to be close to her. While there is an element of teasing to all of it, when he pats that bed, he is only half kidding.

Scully, however, is not there. Obviously she cares deeply for her partner, but she is not ready to move their relationship to a new level. While she tolerates what Mulder is doing and she plays along, she is also very uncomfortable with all the touching. It could be argued that she does have feelings she’s not ready to address, but the fun is watching these two in such different emotional places.

The fun is also in watching the friendship these two share. There is a scene where Mulder comes in from working outside and takes his sweater off, throwing it on a chair. There is an implied intimacy in that act. He doesn’t hesitate to undress in front of her; what annoys Scully is the sweater on the chair. These two may not be married, but their friendship is about as intimate as it can get. One could argue that these two are already an old married couple.

Other Thoughts

-- According to Wikipedia, Arcadia is an area in Greece that came to symbolize an unspoiled wilderness. Click here for an interesting discussion of the word Ubermensch and here for an equally interesting discussion of a tulpa.

-- Mulder as a preppy just doesn’t work for me. Interesting, as I usually like preppy men and I love Mulder. The combination just seems so off.

-- The original Rob and Laura Petrie. “Mulder, if we ever go undercover again, I get to choose the names, OK?”

-- Scully walking through the house with a video camera is a good way to get a lot of exposition out of the way quickly.

-- The documentary that Mike is watching is a tad on the nose.


Mulder: “You didn’t let me carry you over the threshold.”
Scully: “You ready?”
Mulder: “Let’s get it on, honey.”

Mulder: “Woman, get back in here and make me a sandwich.” The look Scully gives him as she snaps off her gloves and throws them at him always makes me laugh.

Final Analysis: An episode for the shippers that manages to be both creepy and fun.

ChrisB is an unabashed shipper.


Mallena said...

One of my favorite X-Files episodes ever. Loved creepy Gogolac, Big Mike, the cc&r' s, playful Mulder, and testy Scully. Loved the scene on the couch where Scully pats Mulder' s hand without thinking and then snatches her hand away. She is still fighting her feelings for him. Though would a beautiful woman really put on that hideous mud mask on her face in front of a man? Mulder is so funny in this one and I love his defiance of all the rules. Lots of great acting in this one by all the guest stars. Really liked it, even the garbage monster.

Heather said...

Chris, I love this review! Yes! You hit the nail on the head why this episode is really fun. As an aside, my favorite all-time character trait of Fox Mulder's is his opposition defiant disorder. No one wears it better. And I seriously mean no one!

Jason Farrell said...

An underrated episode, if the "best of" lists all over the internet is any indication. One of my favorites, funny and scary in turns.