The Field Where I Died
Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn’t change a day. Well, maybe that Flukeman thing. I could’ve lived without that just fine.
“The Field Where I Died” feels like it’s trying to do a lot of things. It feels a bit like an Emmy bait episode, with a showcase role for David Duchovny as Mulder but also for guest actress Kristen Cloke. Seeing the multiple personalities that flow so quickly and effortlessly out of Melissa via Cloke also seems to scream “award nomination please” in flashing neon letters.
Written by Glen Morgan and James Wong, the episode also feels like it wants to make all of us who didn’t watch Space: Above and Beyond that the show had really great actors and we just missed it.
The episode also feels like it’s taking things up a notch in terms of the direction. The pre-credit sequence of Mulder in the field is a gorgeous shot, feeling almost cinematic.
But despite all these strong elements, the overall episode is just kind of snooze-fest. It was when I first saw it and it is now. Doing a bit of Googling, I see the episode has grown on people over the years — and I kind of wish it had somehow grown on me a bit more in the twenty or so years since it first aired. But it hasn’t.
The idea of Mulder and Scully having to do “basic” FBI grunt work in relation to a cult is a nice touch (and one the series will occasionally dip into). Seeing Skinner on-hand, leading from the front, and trying to avoid “another Waco” was something that gave the episode a sense of timeliness back when it first aired.
And as much as I would love to see an episode that went full-on “basic” FBI work, that isn’t the case of what happens here. Instead we get Mulder possibly having a soul-mate other tan Scully (and, boy howdy, did that drive shippers into a frenzy back in the day). Mulder seems a bit more tightly wound than usual and is quick to yell at Scully when he doesn’t back his theory about multiple lives and personalities existing inside of Melissa.
The central tension of trying to find the cache of guns before having to release the cult leader comes and goes as the script needs, never quite gelling as the rest for the push to find out if Melissa is lying or not.
Technically, this is a strong episode. Story-wise it’s kind of a disappointment.
There’s magic going on here, Mulder. Only it’s being done with silicone, collagen, and a well-placed scalpel.
I stopped watching The Walkng Dead early in its third season because it felt like the series was straying too far into the “gore for the sake of gore” field.
Re-visiting The X-Files, I found myself wondering why I kept with the show in season four when the gore seems to be ramping up a lot. First we had “Home” and then we had this episode that features a guy cutting his own face off and multiple attacks done to people during surgery.
The pre-credit sequence alone is among the gorier things this show has given us. Which is kind of ironic because I will often use The X-Files as my defense for the “less is more” when it comes to blood, guts, and gore.
It’s probably not helped that the episode isn’t particularly memorable and that both Duchovny and Gillian Anderson feel like they’re going through the motions on this one.
There are a few slivers of hope here. I kept waiting for the episode to make some statement on plastic surgery and the obsessive need many have to look younger. But it never quite happens. It also feels like Mulder is becoming worried about looking older in the episode — and yet, we never hear him mention anything about it to Scully. Given how much these two share, it seems silly it never comes up.
And then, there’s the ending. Basically, Mulder and Scully achieve nothing in this episode beyond seeing some really freaky stuff happen. Their culprit completes his task and is able to morph into a new face and start all over again. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at this moment. Part of it was that we had no investment in the character and his evil ways. We find out nothing about why he’s doing all of this — and why he has to keep doing it. At least when we had Tooms, we had a reason for why he did what he did.