Milagro, 6x18 Airdate: April 18, 1999 images from this episode borrowed from the Haven for The FBI's most Unwanted
"I write at my desk. I sleep in my bed. I live in my head..."
The heart of a writer is always a very strange and secretive place. Lonely at some times, filled with love at others, it is always passionate----the soul of anything later transposed to paper. More so than anyone else, a writer (often, a poetic at heart) thinks in concretes and abstracts at the same time. Often, the world is seen as a book--constantly changing written pages, imagery and descriptives, and a place with dialogue not yet planned.
As a writer, myself, I was very moved and entranced with this episode, Milagro. The way the scenes played out---like a book whose pages were only starting to be written, made me think of the many fanfics I've read since my indoctrination into the Xfiles community. The imagery used to describe Scully--as a woman, a woman whose heart was afraid of love---afraid of the "girlish weakness" such love would imply, made me think of many stories which have been used as character studies of Scully. (And yes, as we all know, there are countless numbers of them out there.) Often, she has been described as hard, stubborn, strong, and with a soft underbelly that she is afraid to show to anyone---especially her partner, whose opinion and trust she values above all else. On the show, we see her as the sum of her job----the reflection of determination and countless conversations with Mulder, Skinner, superiors, suspects, and peers, the image of technical and precise professionalism, of someone who is in love with nothing--if not her job and, perhaps, her partner. Often, her status as a woman and yes, a sexual being, is shoved to the backburner for more important issues. The X files. The work. Her career. Her desire to "play with the boys," as she does every day, a woman in a male dominated career.
<---- Who is the woman behind Scully?Tonight, however, we were shown a reflection of Scully that we rarely--if ever---have seen. We saw her not how we usually see her---through the straight edged lense of professionalism---but rather, though the rose colored glasses of a man who saw her not as Scully, but as Dana. Dana, the beautiful, enchanting woman lurking behind the agent whose emotions are kept tightly reigned behind a scalpel and a loaded gun.
S: "I rode up on the elevator with one of your neighbors. You know him?"
M: "Yeah. He's ah, he's a writer...."
<--- "But she WAS beautiful... fatally so...."
Phillip Padgett was a lonely man. A man whose only desire in life was to write, and whose only passion came from the emptines he felt inside himself---love that he felt he had yet to give, even if he didn't know how. For him, Scully was the woman he could never have---the single most beautiful woman he had ever encountered, and the only one to encompass his heart. And as his obsession with her grew, so did his book----which--as we later discovered--- was written for the sole purpose of meeting her. The murderer he wrote about, the killings by removal of the heart, the mystery, the way it all came to life, all of it was for her. He knew that she was an FBI agent, and so he wrote it down---to meet her. To try and tell her the inner workings of her heart---to break down her walls--- so that she would be able to mend his.
But even a writer such as Padgett could not predict Scully's love for another---an error in judgement that broke his heart, completely. And so when he wrote the final chapter of his book--as only a jilted (and yes, slightly maniacal) writer could, he wrote the ending that would end up serving his broken passion. The only possible way to end it all would be to kill Scully. To rip out her own heart because she was not in love with Padgett, but instead, with her partner.
From beginning to end, this episode was a romp in shippiness, and also in Scully characterization. Rarely (if ever) are we given such a blatant acknowledgement of the Mulder/Scully dynamic, and it was played out quite nicely here.
<--- Business as usual...
Something that Padgett mentioned, which was a key in not only this episode, but others before it (such as the infamous "Scully-rebellion episode," NEVER AGAIN) was the idea that Scully feels, in a way, as if she is controlled by Mulder. Mulder determines the cases, Mulder makes the judgement calls, Mulder tells her where to go and what to do, when to do it, sometimes how to do it, and why it should be done. Mulder is the only man in her life, the only one she trusts, and really, the only person she ever sees herself with. Her life is living, eating, and breathing Mulder, and yet, in a way, he rarely acknowledges her. As a woman, as a friend, as a confidant, as the person he loves, he rarely acknowledges her. So when Padgett said, in this episode, that Scully was, "trying to get his (Mulder's) attention, but didn't know it," I think that he was one hundred percent right. It's obvious that, at times, Scully gets frustrated with Mulder--whether he runs off or gets himself into some other form of asinine trouble----but it's not because she's angry he ditched her. It's because she's frustrated that he really doesn't see her. She's there all the time, but there is rarely ever an acknowledgement of a love that runs very deep between them. So when Padgett describes Scully's life as "lonely," he is also right, because she IS lonely. How can someone not be lonely when their partner, the person they love, is there in the room with them, yet not really WITH them, in the personal sense.
But at the same time, this lonliness, as Scully puts it, is "by choice." She chooses her lonliness because, no matter what Mulder does or how lonely it is to not have what she needs, she still loves him. She loves him without fault, which makes it even harder for her when he acts like he controls her. Because, at this point, she doesn't know how NOT to love him, and I think that that idea scares her. When Mulder makes her decisions for her (like with the autopsy) it's as if she feels controlled by a man who chooses to do so when it suits him. Scully is fiercely independent, and so she feels like a possesion in that sense. And of course, it bothers her. She's afraid of being nothing more than her partner's possesion---the person he can take for granted day in and day out---but at the same time, she's afraid of letting anyone but Mulder love her. In her heart, he is hers as much as she is his, and that scares her. It's unprofessional to fall in love, and this IS Scully we're talking about here.
A secondary issue (well, another plot theme--but almost as important as the "Scully part") is the way that Mulder subtly tries to convince himself (without having to do it bluntly) that Scully wouldn't, in his mind, "cheat" on him. He jokes about the secret admirer (when Scully recieves a flaming heart pendant) but when she confirms it, suddenly, as she walks away, we see a not so confident look on Mulder's face. It's almost as if he feels threatened by anyone who sees Scully as a woman, because he knows that sometimes he forgets about that. Sometimes he forgets that Scully is not only his partner, but also a desireable woman who might be desired by men other than himself. He takes for granted the fact that she is there, that she loves him, and so it's almost as if he EXPECTS that no one else will come into her life. He is so used to being the focus of her life, the center of it, and so he doesn't think that anyone else could ever threaten that balance. He deliberately asks her (in the morgue, and again, in the jail) whether or not Padgett's feelings for her are reciprocated. And each time he does so, it's in such a way that you can almost see his heart on edge. It's almost as if he's afraid of hearing the words, "Mulder, there's someone else," even though his instincts tell him that that will never happen. He's absolutely terrified of letting someone else (another man) come into Scully's life. (Because, from his vantage point, he IS Scully's life) So when Scully says to him, (after he tells her that she has an autopsy planned), "Well thank you for arranging my schedule for me, but I think I'm going to be late," you can see the hurt on Mulder's face. Because it's not only his role in her life that is threatened, but also his dominance and power over her in the partnership. Sure, they have an equal partnership, but Mulder DOES have that certain power---the X files, the idea that Scully will follow him wherever, whenever... He has that power, and when Scully walks out of the room, away from him, you can tell by the look on his face that he feels his power has been threatened. His role as the only man for Scully has been challenged. THAT bothers him.
<--- Control issues, hmmmm??And of course, there is the issue of Padgett, who sees, (as we all do) that Scully loves no one but Mulder. He sees that underneath her professionalism, underneath the stoicism, beats the heart of a romantic who only wants to be loved---like everyone else. Like himself. He sees Scully's lonely heart for what it is, and in the process realizes, with sadness, that it only beats for Mulder. It relies on Mulder's approval and attention. It is the soul and core of her being, and because of it, there isn't room for anything or anyone else in her life.
At first, he misjudges it by thinking that Mulder is merely Scully's colleague. That he is just another man that she wishes to rise above---just another person she has to prove herself to.
But it is the single touch of a hand in a jailcell---Scully's arm on Mulder's--trying to calm him down, that convinces Padgett otherwise. Padgett sees the way Mulder looks at Scully when the book is discussed, the possessive way Mulder's eyes flash at her---before Mulder then advances on Padgett, angry and, most likely, thinking of the way Padgett planned to take advantage of his partner. Padgett notices that at the touch of Scully's hand, Mulder clams. He backs away. Then, Padgett sees the entreaty in Scully's eyes--the need--the desire to be seen by her partner--to be listened to and heard. He sees much more in a single gesture than Mulder and Scully do, and he then realizes that Scully will never love him.
And thus, the shipper statement of all time comes into play. "In my book I wrote that Agent Scully falls in love," Padgett says, sadly. "But I realize that this is impossible." He then tips his head quite obviously towards Mulder, looking at them both as he utters, "Agent Scully is already in love."
And as he walks away, we see the look of confusion and frustration on Mulder's face, before we see the close up of Scully. There is so much pain and confusion in her eyes, mostly, because she has never wanted to admit (to herself or anyone else) that what she has with Mulder is love. She realizes it, but realizing and admitting are two seperate entities. Especially for a woman who keeps her heart bottled so tightly, it's a wonder that even she can get in.
<--- When you realize you're in love, love hurts.
And lastly, there is the end of this episode. There is the realization for Padgett that, for Scully to live, he himself has to die. He knows that he must do this because he knows that true love means giving yourself up for someone else's happiness. And though he knows that Scully can never love him, he also knows that it's wrong for her to die. It's wrong for him to take her away from the man he knows she so obviously loves with all her heart. For Padgett, the entire time, he was ripping out hearts because he thought he was doing the victims a good thing---so that they would never know pain. But in the end, he realizes that the only pain lies within himself, and if he wishes to right his wrongs, then he must burn his book and sacrifice himself---for Scully. He wants so desperately to prove that his heart is full of love and he does so by giving his life for Scully's. And in the process, he also gives Mulder and Scully something that, I think, the both of them needed.
<---Scully clutches at Mulder in shock...
Yes, it was a hug. A big, giant, shakeup, and as a result, a reassuring hug. Padgett made them realize that anything could happen to either of them at any minute, and for that reason, they shouldn't underappreciate each other. In other words, Scully should let go of the wall she so tightly holds, sometimes---let Mulder inside that lonely heart----and Mulder should wake up and realize that Scully is not (and I say this with ALL due respect) a hood ornament he can order around. He should remember why it is that he loves her, because it's not like she's going to be around forever.
And we can see (as Scully grips Mulder's shirt, digging her nails into his back, pressing her head into his shoulder) that there isn't anyone else she would let see her like this. There isn't anyone else she wants or needs at that moment in time. It is only Mulder, and it will always be that way. And for Mulder (as he breathes in relief and---if you notice--forces back a sob or two, closing his eyes and burying his face in her shoulder) it is a realization that this love is there. Love and the truth, for him, is Scully. It will always be Scully, and he realizes--I think--at that moment, just how powerful their bond really goes.
<--- Thank god she's alright...
But perhaps Padgett said it best when he summed up his "gift" to his beloved Scully in his final words: "Even as the starnger commited his final words to paper, he did it knowing that it could never be read. To see the sum of his work was to see inside his own emptiness---the heart of a destroyer, and not a creator. And yet reflected back upon him, at last, he saw his own ending. And in this final act of destruction, it was a chance to give--what he could not recieve."
I think that we all know my initial reservations about watching this episode. At first, I saw it as a mere plot device---a way to use Gillian's emmense popularity as not only an actress, but also a sex symbol in the world of television. A way for the writers to show Scully in a new light without giving her a love interest or turning Mulder into one. At first, I was afraid of the "stalker" aspect of this episode, and though that WAS a big part here, it was not what I expected. Rather, I was not only impressed with the beautiful writing of this episode, I was also impressed with the way in which it was handled. It was NOT a typical "woman-victimizing-stalker" plot, and for that I am grateful. It was an introspecitve look into the relationship of Mulder and Scully, and it was mezmerizing.
And not only because of the writing, but because of the powerhouse performances by not only David and Gillian, but also the guest actor who played Padgett. (A guy who was creepier when he DIDN'T speak, than when he DID) Of course though, the one who stood out here was Gillian, by FAR, because she turned it yet another STELLAR performance. I think I'd have to rank this one as being more powerful than (maybe) Tithonus, and more proof that she, as an actress, is a force to be reckoned with.
<--- So much emotion in those eyes....But, like I said earlier, what really touched me was that this was an episode that "read" like a fanfic. From beginning to end, it was played out like a story, and it was an absolutely haunting character study. It was beautiful, spooky, and, (like the heart and soul of a writer) very passionate, indeed.
Thus, having said that, here are some things to "Look for" (For the nitpicker in all of us)
1: Continuity: The paper Mulder picked up, "The Muse," had a circled personal ad dating "February 14th." Later on in the episode, we see Mulder and Scully walking around with light overcoats and sunglasses, which, if I am not mistaken, is NOT something appropriate for weather in winter, in Washington DC. (Of course, that could be due to the fact that it's APRIL....)
2: Scully's government parking decal dates back to 1993. Well, that means that not only does she never need to renew the thing (like a normal person) but that she also was not an Agent before she was assigned to the X Files. (Apparently, professors at Quantico don't count--even though she had to have gone through training and have a badge to be certified as an FBI agent...)
3: If you look closely, you may notice that there are familiar names on the first headstone shown during the "Scully-narrated" scene with the grieving widow/girlfriend. Well, that's because, as a matter of fact, both the headstones and the names (Diana and Charles Salinger) are the same ones used on the OTHER FOX drama, "Party of Five." (The Salinger kids' dead parents.)
4: Why is it that Scully only has like, 3 outfits? The shirt she wore in the graveyard (with Mulder) was the same shirt she wore in "Monday." The outfit she wore at the end (when she was attacked) was the one she wore while hallucinating in "How The Ghosts Stole Christmas." (Those govt jobs must be REALLY low paying, huh...)
5: Why does Padgett recieve a telephone bill when he doesn't even own a telephone?
6: On his cell phone, Mulder calls Scully from trains, boxcars, and underground caves. However, when she's late for an autopsy, and they're in the same ZIP code, he doesn't pick up a phone. He instead demands to know where she has been after she arrives for the autopsy. Why the heck didn't he just call her?
7: At the end of the episode, Scully fires 5 bullets at her assailant, subsequently using up the entire clip. Unfortunately, this makes no sense. In "Detour," we saw that both Mulder and Scully's clips held at LEAST 7 bullets (if not more.) So ok, what happened to the other bullets?
8. At the end of the episode, Mulder runs out to chase down Padgett, and soon after, Scully follows him. She exits Mulder's apt and enters Padgett's apt (which, all of a sudden, has furniture) and she is grabbed by the "heart grabber guy." Downstaris, Padgett tells Mulder that it's all going to end in his apt. Scully is going to be killed there. Okkkk.... so why is it that when Mulder runs upstairs, he knocks down the door to his own apt? How the heck did Scully end up there, when her heart was being ripped out in another apt? Hmm... Must be an X File...
<-- mistakes, mistakes.... it's ok, I love em anways...
If there was anything that I missed here, or anything that anyone wishes to add, don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org