Ghost in the Machine was not always a favorite of mine, but it’s growing on me. Perhaps it’s aging that has really done this to me, but I’m certain that this is the episode where I began falling in love with Fox Mulder.
Mulder and Scully are purchasing lunch in the FBI bullpen from a sandwich cart. Did that really happen in the 90’s? They’re interrupted by agent Jerry Lamana, who gives Mulder a super awkward bro-hug.
Mulder introduces Jerry to Scully, saying “they used to work together,” but Jerry corrects him and tells Scully that he and Mulder were partners. Mulder quickly checks Scully when Jerry lays this on her, almost as if he’s making sure she’s okay knowing he had a partner before her. It’s cute, and at the risk of sounding trite, I think it’s an attempt by him to protect her feelings? (he’s obviously her first partner) in a strange way.
He’s too late — Scully was indeed thrown off, albeit briefly.
It’s an important exchange and I’ve been racking my brain on how to accurately label it. It’s you’re not my first, but you’re the best. It’s that was my past, you’re part of my future. In no way am I attributing this to anything romantic between Mulder and Scully, but it does feel that way. I turn to the excellent insight of Musings of an X Phile, because where I fall short she never fails to nail it on the head:
[Mulder] looks for the world as though Scully had met a past love of his, as though she wouldn’t want to know there had ever been anyone before her. On her part, Scully drops her friendly smile. Mulder and Scully may not be romantic, or even overly attached at this point, but they are territorial.”
I’ve got a different read on Jerry and Mulder’s relationship after this rewatch. Jerry is ambitious, but tragically, he lacks even a fraction of Mulder’s investigative and profiling skills. Mulder’s too much of a gentleman to admit it, but he was the lead of their partnership, unwittingly casting Jerry in his shadow.
Also not helping: Jerry’s past major blunder — misplacing an important piece of evidence that resulted in the injury of a federal Judge. He’s been attempting to make amends for this for quite some time in the eyes of the bureau, and this current case is his ticket. Not unlike Tom Colton in ‘Squeeze.’
Mulder’s reluctance to help Jerry is more of a testament to his goodness than anything else. Old habits die hard, and Mulder knows working with Jerry will yield the same results as before: they’re not a compatible team. Mulder will always tip the scale if Jerry’s on the other end. If Mulder removes himself from the equation, it will allow Jerry the opportunity to make his own way. Mulder may also be attempting to shield Jerry from Scully’s scrutiny — it won’t take her long to discover Jerry’s ineptitude. I believe Mulder wants to try his best to keep Jerry in a positive light; His loyalty to his friends, though they be few, is extreme. Once given, it’s hard to take back. All Jerry need do is ask for help, and Mulder will be there. I LOVE HIM.
At the crime scene, Mulder notices the phone in the bathroom where the victim was killed is off the hook — a fact missed by everyone else. Both Jerry and Scully are impressed, and Jerry jokingly tells her that he taught Mulder everything he knows. In adorable good humor, Mulder smiles at her and goofily nods his head in agreement. This is shameless…but an important plot device, I swear! Mulder’s profile notes are missing.
It turns out Jerry stole Mulder’s profile and passes it off as his own in the meeting with the task force. I feel terribly for Mulder here. He’s so calm — its impressive, actually, because he’s stewing underneath his composure.
Scully brings him the name of a possible suspect they need to check out, and even gently jabs at Mulder by saying that it is ‘fully consistent with “Jerry’s” excellent behavioral profile.’ I love her too. Mulder, to his credit, doesn’t miss a beat and sarcastically replies “fully.”
They meet with Brad Wilczek in his ostentatious high-tech home. They learn that the system in Wilczek’s house is the same as the one in the Eurisko building. And a precursor to Nest thermostats….?
Random side note: Scully is made of stronger stuff than I am. The second I walk in my door — I’m changing into comfy clothes and taking off my dress shoes. Then I go to my computer.
The following day, Scully and Mulder analyze the speech pattern of the crime scene telephone recording — it matches Wilczek’s voice. Jerry comes to apologize. It’s not much, but it’s enough for Mulder.
With the new evidence, Jerry asks to take in Wilczek on his own, and Mulder lets him go. The Eurisko building COS, which apparently has a mind of its own (the Ghost in the Machine) kills Jerry in the elevator. Wilczek is powerless to stop it.
Poor Mulder watches the video of Jerry’s death and is overridden with guilt because he didn’t go with him. Scully is very sweet here — she already knows that Wilchek signed a confession, but Mulder doesn’t think Wilchek is guilty.
The government wants Wilczek to create AI software for weapons programming. Of course they do. Bastards.
Scully refuses to believe that the COS is responsible for killing people. She suggests Mulder is affected by Jerry’s death and he should talk to someone. He tells her she’s right (warning bells should be going off, Scully!) and that he’s going to do just that. **Prepare to be ditched**
Mulder convinces Wilczek to create a virus to kill his machine. He then drives to Eurisko, fully planning on going on this mission alone. Scully arrives shortly after him. **Ditch foiled!**
They attempt to sneak in to Eurisko. It doesn’t go well for their car.
After observing the ease in which these two problem-solve their way around this locked door, I’d love to watch them actually build a tower of furniture. I’m pretty sure they could create Winterfell and win some kind of FBI award.
Scully crawls through an air vent and arrives just in time to save Mulder. Like a BAMF.
They use Wilczek’s virus to kill the COS. Mulder then meets with Deep Throat again to learn that the government apprehended Wilczek and are trying to negotiate with him.
I’m truly enjoying this rewatch experience because I’m understanding so much more through it. I CANNOT contain my excitement for ‘Ice.’ Stay tuned! Thanks for reading.
Mulder and Scully are the Truth.
River T. Leaman