**** If you read the first post, you can skip this preamble…and just jump down to the gif.
I’d been working on this list as one long post, but it was shaping up to be so long that I thought, there’s no way that anyone will devote the time to reading it through, so I’ve broken it down into instalments…
Warning: This series of posts is going to deal with religion, religious themes and imagery. I don’t want to upset you all, so if you ‘don’t do’ religion and have a problem with reading about religious stuff, then let’s save your time and mine and you can just skip over this. Straight up, I’m not going to get tangled up moderating negative comments and whinges about religion – so if you’re feeling the urge, just don’t.
The reason that I have always loved the X Files is primarily because of the dynamic between Mulder and Scully but also for the supernatural content, which unapologetically explored ever widening concepts and boundaries from week to week. I watched the series on network television religiously when it was fresh and new. It was something my mother and I did together every week. I’ll always love this show, like a handful of others, for that reason alone. As I’ve gotten older though, and come back to the X Files, I am surprised about how it has spoken to me as an adult, often for the way it depicts religious themes, thought and discovery. I’m one of those folks that enjoys the spiritual and the idea of ‘belief’ being a lifelong journey. Like Mulder, I want to Believe, no matter how long it takes and I’m open to a range of different ideas and endless possibilities. I’m also one of those people that has no issue with faith and science sharing in my belief structure, in fact I believe the two, rather than being the mutually exclusive, probably have a far greater connection than the human mind can rationalise. Who says we need to know the secrets of the universe? Isn’t it far more fun to ponder them? The X Files did that – for 9 seasons and two films. It never attempted to answer many of the questions it asked, and you know, I was okay with that. I am, of course, tickled by the news that a reboot is in the works, which is what prompted me to write this post in the first place. Before we get acquainted with the new Mulder and Scully though, let’s revisit the Mulder and Scully we first fell in love with all those years ago…
(I’ll be starting at 10 and counting down to 1. Honourable mentions/ runners up will come at the end)
7. Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (season 3, episode 4): So. How I die? You don’t.
This is one of those episodes that dances between being funny and serious and ends up being a bit poignant and (sometimes) brings a tear to your eye, no matter how many times you see it.
Initially what drew me to this storyline was the fact that it was about fortune tellers and a serial killer – two themes I really enjoy in television, either on their own or working in tandem, as they are here. Certainly, this was not a disappointment. Despite the comical elements (banana cream pie), there are none-the-less, some serious moments (why do I do the things I do?) and some big questions that get asked (although not answered) that I am sure most people have either asked or come close to asking themselves at numerous points in their lives. Plus, you have the gore of entrails and missing eyes! You combine all these elements and you get one of the most memorable episodes of the entire series… and that’s why it’s on the list.
Unlike a lot of X Files episodes, you know this one is going to be a bit different from the very first scene, in which Clyde Bruckman is perusing the latest issues of tabloid trash rags at his local five and dime. You may notice that the Flukeman is on the cover, so it is kind of like the X Files is making fun of itself. This is kind of deceptive, as it lulls the viewer into the false sense of thinking that this episode will be your standard, light hearted, monster of the week type fare. At times, it is, but then again, at times it is something far different. Once the character of Clyde is revealed and you have time to consider the weight of his ‘gift’, the concept takes on a completely different feel. This man who was initially a bit of a punishing grump, is suddenly like Eeyore (you just want him to catch a break).
That aside, I would say my favourite character in this episode is actually the dog (Agent Scully, would you like a dog?) who ends up being adopted by Scully and renamed Queequeg. Sadly, he meets him untimely end at the mouth of an alligator in a later episode, but let’s not go there just now.
The ‘we end up in bed together’ confession might be one of the most touching scenes in the whole episode, it certainly leaves me with a lump in the throat every time I see it, but that might also be because I know how it’s going to end. I don’t usually like Peter Boyle as an actor (I blame Everybody Loves Raymond) but in this he walks the line between bitter and jaded and lonely and heartbroken with such finesse that I find it difficult not to be endeared to him. As he is recounting the way in which his ‘psychic ability’ manifested itself, by highlighting the coincidences that needed to occur in order for the Big Bopper to be killed in a plane crash, he is bitter-sweet and also a bit mind bending… once your brain wanders off down the rabbit hole of what is and what might have been if only you’d done one tiny thing differently… well, you might as well say farewell to the day.
The dream sequence which Bruckman recounts to Mulder is also one of the most iconic moments in the series (I would wager) and, when it premièred in 1995, was considered very cutting edge for television programming at the time (remember all of you who were too young to remember 1995, this was the days before motion picture quality television like GoT). I don’t quite understand why someone as unshakeable as Mulder would be put off by it, but then, everything is out of sync in this episode, so who knows?
And how can we forget the Mysterious Yappi – who manages to completely put the Scully as skeptic and Mulder as believer mythology on its head. The early scenes with the three of them coming face to face in the apartment of the murder victim is pretty hilarious. Yappi also pops up later in the season in another excellent episode, Jose Chung’s From Outer Space.