Destination: Washington, D.C.
"What if there was only one choice and all the other ones were wrong?"
So, there are basically two things to know about the oh-so-arty, look-at-my-lack-of-capital-letters, Scully-focused episode 'all things': one, it is the only episode of The X-Files written and directed by Gillian Anderson, and two, it is heavily implied in this episode that Mulder and Scully have sex, possibly for the first time.
Wikipedia notes that this was the first episode of The X-Files to be directed by a woman, which considering we are well into season seven, is somewhat surprising (though perhaps less so back in the 1990s). Unfortunately, I have to confess that much as I love Anderson as an actress, neither the writing nor the direction of this particular episode is to my personal taste. The lack of capital letters in the title gives you a pretty good indication of the tone, which is very self-consciously arty and contemplative, and quite experimental in places. I admire the ambition, but I confess I'm slightly bored by the result.
By this point in the show, David Duchovny had writing or story credits on six episodes and had written and directed one, season six's 'The Unnatural', with another coming up two episodes after this one and presumably already in production when this was made ('Hollywood AD'). Duchovny's episode focused largely on flashbacks, presumably allowing him to focus on directing, whereas Anderson takes the opposite tack, focusing her episode very much on Scully and her personal life. Anderson knows her character very well and the same recurring themes we've seen in earlier Scully episodes - Scully's occasional resentment of the way Mulder's work has taken over her life, her personal ties and relationships, her religion and religious experiences - are all present and correct here, so the episode slots neatly into the overall 'Scully episode' sub-genre of The X-Files.
What both Duchovny's and Anderson's episodes have in common is that they're very 'shippy' - they both feature moments that play up the possibly-romantic elements of Mulder and Scully's relationship. In 'The Unnatural', it was a cute and silly moment involving baseball. The fact that both actors lean towards the shippy when writing and directing is interesting - it certainly suggests an element of deliberate romanticism in the way both play their relationship onscreen.
The developments in Mulder and Sully's relationship in 'all things' are more seriously taken than in the earlier episode. The episode opens with a scene of Scully getting dressed, echoing the famous love scene in Nicholas Roeg film Don't Look Now (so famous I've seen it even though I haven't seen the film). The episode tells the rest of its story in flashback; a story focused on a previous romantic relationship Scully had with someone she worked with, and ending with Mulder and Scully snuggled together on her sofa.
How each viewer feels about this apparent (though not definitely confirmed) development will, of course, depend where they stand on the whole issue of whether or not Mulder and Scully should be in a romantic relationship (and it still leaves open the possibility they've been at it all these years anyway as well, for those who choose to read the series that way!). Personally, I wasn't in favour of a Mulder/Scully romance as a teenager but have become keener on the idea over the years, so I'm fine with it! Assuming this is a new development, the story plays it up as a serious and highly significant development in Scully's life - about which I'll say no more as, keeping things spoiler-free, it may or may not come up again in later seasons.
- Apparently, this is the last of only four episodes of the show to include non-diegetic music (that is, music on the soundtrack that is not heard by the characters in the story) not composed by Mark Snow, in this case 'The Sky is Broken' by Moby. The others are 'My Weakness', also by Moby, in 'Closure', the Hokey Pokey song in 'Chinga' and 'Wonderful, Wonderful' by Johnny Mathis in 'Home'.
Colleen Azar: You may be more open to things than you think.
Azar: Everything happens for a reason.
Scully: Maybe sometimes nothing happens for a reason, Mulder.
Scully: Mulder, look, we're always running. We're always chasing the next big thing. Why don't you ever stay still?
Mulder: I wouldn't know what I'd be missing.
Final analysis: Let's face it, this episode is all about Mulder and Scully (probably) getting it on. Three out of four Moby songs if you're a shipper (since it could have been more fun, and more definitive about it), one and a half if you're not!
Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.
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