The X-Files: Sein und Zeit

Case: A child is kidnapped under very strange circumstances.

Destination: Sacramento, CA, D.C., Greenwich, CT

The X-Files ventures towards closure on the Samantha Mulder mystery in the first half of a mythology duo, 'Sein und Zeit'. Anchored by a story told in the vein of JonBenet Ramsey, this episode profiles perfectly blended images and concepts to evoke proper amounts of psychological dissonance.

I've always had a fondness for this pair of episodes. They are strong, gutsy and what turned out to be just the right move for the series, at this point in its run. Carter, preparing for the seventh season to be the last, wanted to bring a conclusion to the particulars surrounding the abduction of Samantha. But something happened here that was unusual for the show, the writers ended the 'search' for her mid-season and they did it in a way that took a huge leap of faith, for them, and for the audience. But, you know, after analyzing it over time, what the writers did to 'answer' this question was truly courageous and evolutionary.

Somewhere along the way (I'd like to think 'Paper Hearts' had something to do with it-- gracias a dios, Vince Gilligan), Carter and company realized that it was more satisfying and heartfelt to have Mulder come to terms with an answer -- whatever answer that may be -- that this was the answer, in and of itself. Like I said, gutsy. And it worked. In a world of causes and effects, human beings have the luxury(curse) of making connections between two things any way that they so desire. The Samantha story has been Mulder's, from the beginning, to reconcile, and now he finally can.

As is true for this season, Mulder and Scully's love for one another provides specific pinpoints of light. Scully's protection of Mulder's feelings results in her trademark hardass demeanor we've come to know. She is on edge most of the episode until Mulder's breakdown in his apartment. When she tell him his mom has died, she removes any trace of emotion from her own voice, to allow him the grace of his own experience. Her insistence that an autopsy is not a good idea, then the only idea, is also heartbreaking and wonderful to watch. Of course the climax of Mulder accepting his mom's suicide (she was diagnosed with a particularly grueling disease that she didn't want to die from), in his apartment with Scully, remains one of my favorite moments between these two, of all time. I think the best thing about Mulder and Scully is the consistency with which they protect the other's sanctity of their own mind and heart. Their support for one another is so specific -- it always always comes from a place of respect.

All in all, it's a very beautifully drawn story where Mulder, without any other living member of his family around, must let go, find meaning in the life he has and move forward -- that's the essential nature of the story The X-Files is telling and what a good one it is.

Other Thoughts

* I didn't focus on the details of the plot because while they are commendable, there is a greater good here at work. Having said that, I thought the parents of Amber Lynn LaPierre were wonderful, the Santa Claus Village was horrifying, the scenes with Kathy Lee Tencate -- convicted murderer of her son -- were very chilling and effective. And as an aside, I hope there's a world where Ryan Murphy has the wherewithal to tell the JonBenet story on a season of American Crime Story because it would be a fascinating look into our psyches.

* Did I say anything about aliens, Scully?

* The directing is wonderful. Kudos, Michael Watkins. The last few shots, of the burial mounds with rays of sunlight coming from each one, are so inspired I have tears in my eyes just typing this.

* Intensify our search -- where? The Twilight Zone?

* Whomever decided that Skinner, Mulder and Scully should follow a lead and capture a suspect in the fourth act together deserves a round of applause.

* She just wanted to take away your pain. (Kill me now.)

Quotes: The Harsh Realm Edition

Bud LaPierre: (watching Harsh Realm) "This is great."

Bud LaPierre: "...I was watching TV in here."
Mulder: "What were you watching?"
Bud LaPierre: "I never heard of it before. It was good."

Final Analysis: I love these two episodes and find it remarkable that there's any juice left in this aspect of the mythology. As the first part of two, this one stands strongly on its own with a tightly-told story full of tension.


Mallena said...

So what you're saying is, that as long as Mulder is satisfied with the answers that this episode and the next provide regarding Samantha's abduction, then that is wonderful for him? He's got his answer and he can live with it. I suppose I can see that, but the mystical forthcoming "explanation" does very little for me. More on that next episode, I suppose. This is a good episode and very well done, especially on that breakdown scene with Mulder and Scully. So sad! I liked your review very much Heather, and hope you do the next one as well. I do have a small quibble. Mulder is shown as never having much money in the series. In "Monday", he couldn't pay for damages until his check was deposited. He lives in a small apartment. I don't think he even has a car that is not provided by the bureau. His parents had nice houses, one of them on the beach, even. As a surviving only child, after both of their deaths, he should have had lots of money, even just with the sale of those houses. Doesn't the FBI pay well, also? I don't know why, it just always bothered me that Mulder was always portrayed as having little monetary assets, when his parents looked pretty rich to me.

Heather said...

I think that this rewatch and reviewing of this show has allowed me to reframe my feelings about the first run of many of these episodes. I did always love 'Closure' even though a part of me wasn't satisfied either, with the ethereal explanation, when it first came down the pike. I guess now I feel I can live with it for the reasons I said here.
That's such an interesting observation about Mulder's money. You're right, it doesn't make sense when you lay it out like that. I think I sort of see Mulder as austere but not broke... more of a minimalist, unconcerned with material objects for no other reason than he's driven to obsession about, er, other things. :D I'll have to think about that one for a bit though!

Mallena said...

Mulder probably gave all the money he inherited from his parents to organizations that study UFO's or something. He might have loved his parents, but he hated that they let bad things happen to his sister. My love for the X-files has been tainted by the recent revival, which started out promising, but left me extremely disappointed and disheartened by the end. I erased it from my DVR, and don't think I can ever watch that again.

Heather said...

I hear you... :/