Welcome to New Jersey. The year is 1947 and a family is happily driving down the road singing “Bingo” together. We should know disaster is about to strike. No family happily sings in the car together! Even the dad seems to be enjoying himself. Speaking of the father, don’t we know him from somewhere?
Fellow Philes, this is actor Bill Dow, and the powers that be obviously love him because he makes several guest appearances as different characters before finally landing the role of our beloved Chuck Burks. I believe he is the only actor besides David Duchovny(Small Potatoes) to play two different characters in the same episode. Maybe they felt some remorse for killing his character off so quickly — no sooner has this poor guy arranged everything to fix his flat tire then he is suddenly dragged off into the woods by an unseen attacker.
Back in present day, we follow Scully as she walks into the basement office, where she finds Mulder fully engrossed in reading an “article.”
These two are so playful about Mulder’s magazine. He’s unabashed and Scully can jab at him with total ease. “Anti-gravity’s right.” Too cute.
I love that Scully is so excited to tell Mulder about the story she just heard. I can picture her thinking when she overhears it, “ I can’t wait to tell Mulder. He’s going to love this.” After she describes a victim with an arm that was bitten off by another human, Mulder heads toward the filing cabinet. He hands her an X-File and says “read about the case in 1947.” Very close to her face.
They have the ENTIRE office to spread out, but apparently there’s an unwritten rule stating they have to remain within a 2 foot orbit of one another at all times. This may be the only rule Mulder habitually follows.
Upon their arrival at the city morgue, Mulder and Scully meet serious resistance from detective Thompson. He doesn’t want their involvement at all. In all fairness, the FBI has no jurisdiction, but the man is a complete jerk.
Nothing brings two people together like a shared dislike of local law enforcement.
Mulder is now 100% percent invested in this case, and his attempt at keeping Scully in town with him is nothing short of irresistible (at least to me).
Scully’s made of stronger stuff than this lowly blogger. She has to be back in D.C. by 6:30 p.m. Mulder inquires if the reason is a date. There’s an unusual lift to his question: Half antagonizing, half joking, but mostly hoping she’ll say it is not a date. It’s probing without really wanting to hear the answer but needing to know at the same time.
She’s torn, and this little pout “Oh” after bemoaning that she’ll be in traffic after 3 hours of driving by herself says it all. She must really love that godson. This episode is one of the few in the series offering a glimpse of the life Scully could have without the X-Files. What I wouldn’t give to have been a fly on the wall for the conversation prior to this where Scully tells her friend that she thought Mulder was ‘cute.’
Meanwhile, her partner is roaming the New Jersey woods. Obsessed with his work.
Kidding aside, Mulder is perfectly willing to go down alleys and talk to the homeless population about Roger Crocket — because he’s a credit to the human race. I read somewhere that Mulder and Scully fight for the living and honor the dead. I couldn’t agree more. It’s particularly true for Mulder in this episode — he’s just so….GOOD. Long after local law enforcement has turned their back on the lowest and forgotten of the city, Mulder’s concern is genuine. He even trades his hotel room with a homeless man for the night so he can have a chance to see the Jersey Devil. I love him.
Mulder catches a brief glimpse of someone sniffing through trash and running along a rooftop before he’s suspiciously apprehended by police.
Scully buys Mulder breakfast and listens intently while he regales her with his nocturnal adventure as a vagrant. This is my favorite scene. Here’s why:
1. I can’t even…
2. Scully can’t even look at him when she says her reason for hurrying back to D.C. this time around is a date.
3. I will always love Mulder for asking “Can you cancel?” Like he knows she was asked out and not the other way around.
4. “I have a life.”
5. Her smile. His look. Where her legs are under the table….
The fact that Scully wants to introduce Mulder to a beloved professor on the way home is so awesome. She’s proud of him, in a way, and she knows that the two of them will get along.
I love that Mulder can’t seem to get enough food from just one evening on the street. He goes straight for the coffee pot in the professor’s office. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an alternate universe where Mulder and Scully both take this guy’s anthropology class? Mulder’s the kid who keeps raising his hand with the crazy questions and Scully is the front-row Hermione who can shoot every single inquiry down with an answer from the textbook. I’d read that fic.
Her professor is such a good sport — he listens to each of Mulder’s theories and gives an honest and thoughtful answer. No wonder Scully wanted to get these two together.
Scully goes on her date.
I feel bad — this guy is really nice, but he’s DULL. She needed this date. It offered a glimpse into a normal life and brought about a big realization for her.
I think there comes a time for most of us when we want the simpler things: house, 2.5 kids, dog, whatever. Some reach that desire much sooner than others. Scully isn’t ready for that. Scully at the beach? Nope. Her work with Mulder is her life right now, and she’s gradually coming to terms with what she’s learning about herself through their partnership. As she observes in a later case, “Smart is sexy,” and Mulder is extremely intelligent and the work they do is intellectually and emotionally stimulating on a level far greater than whatever Rob could offer her at this point in her life. She left behind a career in medicine for a chance to distinguish herself as an FBI agent. Dana Scully does not desire normalcy. In a way, it would be her spiritual death. Hence her strong kinship with Mulder — these two cannot do mundane. It’s the reason he’s still in the office.
Which of course, he makes.
Mulder: “Sorry to interrupt your evening.”
Mulder gets attacked by said beast woman. Scully attends to him. Beast woman gets away.
Can we take a moment to appreciate that all 4 of them squeezed into the park ranger’s truck? Must have been tight over on that passenger side…
They’re too late. The beast woman is killed after she attacks one of the officers in pursuit. The detective justifies her killing by saying he shot her for the same reason you would kill a rabid animal. Scully grabs Mulder’s arm before he can retaliate and they wordlessly leave the scene.
Scully can tell how upset Mulder is by the ending to their case. She tries to get him to take the day off, but he’s already planned a meeting with an ethnobiologist. What happens next is Scully’s first step into her “life” working with Mulder.
This is what he does — his work is his life. His look at Scully when Rob calls is a mix of regret and acceptance. He wants her to join him, but he knows she wants a life.
He is so cute when he realizes that she’s going with him to the Smithsonian. He doesn’t even flinch, like he had been hoping against hope that she would.
A trip to the Smithsonian with Fox Mulder? Way better than borrowing your godson to see Cirque Du Solei with a divorcee and his kid.
Yeah, she does, Mulder. And she’ll hurt you like that beast woman if you tease her about it.
Oh, and look closely, it’s Bill Dow again!
I’ve heard many Philes site this episode as not being very strong. In terms of story, that’s probably fair. However, in terms of character, it’s loaded. All in all, this episode speaks more to Mulder and Scully’s partnership than anything else. We glean that their lives are their work. We knew of Mulder’s singular passion for the X-Files from the get-go. What’s fun for us is that we get to watch Scully choose this life with him over a chance at a “normal” existence, and we couldn’t be more thrilled with her choice.
Mulder and Scully are The Truth.
-River T. Leaman