Re-Opening The X -Files: Avatar, Quagmire, Wetwired

Scully: The doctor suggested amphetamine abuse. Maybe that coupled with, with the disturbing images he was watching, pushed him over the edge.

Mulder: All I know is television does not make a previously sane man go out and kill five people, thinking they’re all the same guy. Not even “Must-See TV” could do that to you.

Avatar

The story goes that David Duchovny pitched the idea of “Avatar” to Chris Carter in an attempt to have a bit of mid-season break in the production of the show. The result was one of the first episodes to really explore Walter Skinner a bit more, though whether or not it minimized the overall involvement of Mulder and Scully, I’m not quite sure.

And while it’s nice to give Mitch Pileggi something more substantial to do, I’m not quite sure this is the best showcase for him. For one thing, there are moments that “Avatar” feels a bit more like something out of Duchovny’s previous series Red Shoe Diaries than it does as an episode of The X-Files. Sure, we’ve got the succubus thread, but it feels almost as if it were tacked on to give the episode a supernatural element rather than organically part of the story.  (And  boy, does this story seem to be obsessed with the woman Skinner sleeps with turning out to be a lady of the evening)

I do like Skinner’s stoicism a bit. I did wonder why Mulder doesn’t have Scully approach him more about helping since he’s shown a bit more concern about her in the past (or it could be that my memory is thinking of things that will happen down the road and into next season). I do find it interesting that Skinner seems to be as devoted to his job as Mulder and Scully are, even to the point of estranging his wife. As the episode unfolded and we got to the endpoint, I kept trying to recall if we ever see Mrs. Skinner again or hear about her. We do see Skinner putting his wedding ring back on, but is that only a temporary respite and the issues that the couple faced leading to her asking for divorce eventually come back?

Quagmire.

Alas, Queequeg, we hardly knew you.

On one level, the series had to find a way to address Scully’s adoption of the dog and how that conflicted with her lifestyle of dropping everything and going across the country to investigate the latest monster of the week. But, man, what a terrible fate for the poor dog that we met way back in “Clyde Bruckman.”

One thing I recall about this episode when it first aired was how the shippers went nuts over the Mulder and Scully conversation on the rock. The rest of the episode could have been Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reading the telephone book as long as that scene stayed intact.

The scene is a solid one and I can see why certain fans love it as much as they do. It’s helped by the fact that everything around it works well, too. I know that Kevin Smith keeps talking about doing his own homage to Jaws with Moose Jaws and you can’t help but wonder if he got some of his inspiration here (Smith is an avowed fan of the series).

I do find it interesting that while Mulder and Scully don’t solve the case of Big Blue, the episode does let the audience in on the fact that the mysterious creature does exist with the final shot. This is an episode that is decidedly assured of the storytelling and creating a sense of tension. I do love outside of that last shot, we never see Big Blue as more than the impact it has or as an off-screen threat.

I do feel like we missed something in the episode — and that’s Skinner’s reaction to finding out that their expense report includes the boat Mulder and Scully sank.

Wetwired

“Wetwired” was included as one of the dozen episodes selected for the VHS release for season three back in the day. Usually, the episodes chosen were conspiracy episodes and a standout monster of the week installment. “Wetwired” feels like it’s a bit of both worlds.

Outside of Mulder’s family, I think just about every recurring character on the show makes an appearance in this episode. (OK, maybe not the Syndicate people). It’s an episode that shows us how different from Deep Throat Mr. X really is. It also sets up the Syndicate’s growing distrust of X, which will play out across the next two installments.

If the episode were made today, I can’t help but think that Chris Carter and the writers would somehow have Fox News be the one that was sending out the subliminal messages causing people to lose control and/or become paranoid. I do find it interesting that we are treating to Scully’s delusions at first — the scene of Mulder talking to CSM in his car is nicely done, as is her checking for cigarette butts the next morning — before having her vanish for a couple of scenes. It does set up a scene that I’d forgotten about where Mulder has to go ID a body that could be hers. We know that it can’t be Scully, but the show does tease a bit with the tension in this one.

There’s a solid performance for Anderson here as Scully slips into full-on paranoia. It also ends up with Scully in the hospital, yet again. Man, the medical bills she accumulated over the years must have been huge.

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Filed under Re-Opening the X-Files, The X-Files

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