The X-Files: Per Manum

Case: A genetic clinic is under suspicion for tampering with the fertility process.

Destination: Germantown, Maryland

'Per Manum' — Have you seen it? Scully was a patient at a fertility clinic, and Mulder was the donor! RETCON.

You guys. It's going to take every part of me to write a fair and balanced review on this episode. Because every part of me is either sickened, embarrassed or confused as to why they thought they needed this story in the mix. Setting aside my admiration of the filmic value of Rosemary's Baby, 'Per Manum' is an outright cruel attempt to terrorize Scully in her most vulnerable state. And to what end? A more-certain conclusion than ever that Mulder and Scully had sex in 'all things'? I don't even know. This episode shares more DNA with 'Sanguinarium' than 'The Erlenmeyer Flask', for heaven's sake. I must admit, all my woman alarms go off when I see male-written pregnancy horror. Serious question: what are you setting out to dramatize when you write a story about a woman who wants a baby, is told she can't conceive and instead must rely on male doctors who do not have her best interest in mind to have a child? Add to that men wanting to make a human/alien hybrid? From my vantage point, it's a big ol' mess.

Yet, the flashbacks with Mulder work. Full credit to Anderson and Duchovny, who just look so at ease to be working together again. Honestly, I say this with great, deep, abiding trepidation, because I think retcon is the most egregious transgression of tv writing. And even though I have no earthly idea why Carter chose to add these details to the mythology of the Mulder and Scully relationship, the scenes, themselves, are the best part of this episode. And you're also kind of mad watching these moments, as a fan of this show, too. Because it feels like the tiniest betrayal that this kind of warmth existed between them and we weren't privy to every precious second of it before now. There's something else, it's hard to articulate — because of what we know these two have shared in the past, that knowledge takes on a slightly different hue with this glimpse into this real deal issue with which they dealt. Ultimately, it's hard to hold, as a fan. To process this new information, we're forced to sit at the intersection of the things we love and hate about this show.

There is standout scene at the end of 'Per Manum' between Doggett and Scully that, once you get over the awfulness of the writers reducing Scully to those circumstances, is very tender. Patrick sells the shite out of the scene, actually. And while throughout the episode, it's very seductive to forget for a minute that Mulder is no longer a steady presence this season, by the last act, we know that Doggett isn't going anywhere and that he cares for Scully. What more could you ask with these two?

Other Thoughts:

* Still not convinced that wasn't Wendy Malik's twin playing Dr. Miryum.

* I read that Adam Baldwin (Knowle Rohrer) was up for Doggett, too. Personally, I'm very glad they went with Patrick.

* Mark Snow played one of the doctors in the episode.

* Lots of fancy math to figure out if 'all things' was before or after this. You might not be shocked to know, it's never been confirmed or denied by Carter et al.

Quotes:

Scully: "Look, if you're trying to politely say 'no', it's okay, I understand."
Mulder: "See as weird as this sounds, and this sounds really weird, I know, but I just wouldn't want this to come between us."
Scully: "Yeah, I know. I... I understand., I do."
Mulder: "But the answer is yes."

Final Analysis: I don't know what to say about this one, you guys. Wish there was a way to just watch the Mulder and Scully scenes and the final scene with Doggett.

2 comments:

Mallena said...

Really didn't appreciate the addition of the artificial insemination story to an already murky season. First, Mulder had a brain problem we didn't know about, and then this? I was not amused, even though the hugging scenes are always nice. I had thought that this story was introduced to make it even harder to tell if Scully was having Mulder's baby. If they didn't do the deed in All Things, or whenever, and the procedure didn't take, then maybe the baby was??? IDK, it's just another thing that I have a hard time with this season. None of the episodes are enjoyable for me when Scully is being chased around or running around herself, worrying about her baby. Well, maybe just the birth episode...that one is alright.

Mallena said...

Hi, me again. I forgot to say that I would have loved Adam Baldwin as Agent Doggett. It's not that Patrick isn't great, he is; I just would have enjoyed Baldwin much better as Doggett than as I do for his other part in the show. Rohre the Whatsits was a waste for him. He didn't get to be funny. Well, not on purpose, anyways.

By the way, I always read Heather's review before I start mine. I don't want to do it in a totally different style; in a jarring way. Whenever I get stuck for phrase-ology...I always ask myself: WWHD?