January 3, 2016
The X-Files 2.8, One Breath: The Right Thing
Summary: Maggie Scully tells Mulder a story about a time when Scully was a child, playing in the woods with her brothers. They had BB guns and were only supposed to shoot at cans, but the boys started shooting at a snake instead. Scully joined in but stopped when she realized they’d actually hurt the snake. She felt guilty for taking something that wasn’t hers to take. Even though she was afraid of snakes, she picked it up to try to save it.
Mulder tells Maggie that she can’t give up – it’s too soon. Maggie says that she knows now how Scully felt that day. By the way they’re picking up a headstone for Scully’s grave. WAY TO HOLD OUT HOPE THAT SHE’S NOT DEAD, GUYS. Later, Mulder gets a call and rushes to Georgetown Medical Center, where – guess what – Scully’s not dead. She’s unconscious and doesn’t look great, but still, not dead. I hope you guys saved your receipt for that headstone!
Mulder demands answers, but no one can even tell him how Scully arrived at the hospital. He vows to find out what happened. Once Mulder has calmed down, a doctor tells him and Maggie that Scully’s in critical condition, and no one knows how she got to the hospital. Since there’s no recent medical history to go on, the doctor can’t figure out what happened. In addition, Scully’s living will states that she shouldn’t be kept alive in this condition. Mulder was the witness who signed the will.
Another Scully joins the group – Scully’s sister Melissa. She believes she can talk to Scully even in her comatose state. She says that Scully’s trying to decide whether to stay alive or “move on.” Scully’s doing that from a little boat, watching Mulder, Melissa, and a nurse on a dock. Mulder decides that he needs to do something more productive, so he goes home, turns on a black light, and puts an X on his window with masking tape, waiting for Mr. X to get in touch. In the morning, Mulder doesn’t get a message in his morning paper, so he takes the tape off the window.
Back at the hospital, Frohike (wearing a tux – aww) comes to visit Scully. He notices something weird on Scully’s chart and smuggles it out of the hospital (in his pants, which Mulder says must have provided a lot of extra storage space). Langly notes that Mulder’s a little blue and invites him over for a nitpick-a-sci-fi-show-on-the-Internet party that weekend.
Byers sees that there are weird combinations of amino acids in Scully’s blood. He’s sent Scully’s medical information to a hacker named the Thinker, and the Thinker reports that the amino acids appear to be the result of “branched DNA.” Basically, Scully was used for experiments and may have been grafted with something inhuman. Fortunately, the experiment is done. Unfortunately, Byers doesn’t think Scully will survive, and there’s nothing Mulder can do.
From her boat, Scully sees a nurse on the dock. The nurse, Owens, tells her that she’s going to try to help Scully find her way home. Scully can only leave when the time is right. Mulder arrives, noticing a man in a suit standing nearby as Scully has some blood drawn. Another patient codes, briefly distracting Mulder. When he looks back, Scully’s blood is gone, as is the man. Mulder runs after him but can’t catch the guy before he gets on an elevator.
Mulder tracks down the man in a parking garage, where he runs into Mr. X. In a message from someone who is very adamant that Mulder listen, Mr. X orders him to stop investigating what happened to Scully. Mulder tells him to go to Hell, since Mr. X didn’t respond to his summons. Mr. X sings his usual song about how he’s not going to let Mulder get him killed like he did Deep Throat. Mulder doesn’t summon him; Mr. X only comes to Mulder when Mr. X needs him.
He repeats what Byers said: There’s nothing Mulder can do to save his partner. Mr. X used to be like Mulder, but he’s changed. He doesn’t think Mulder has the heart necessary for this. If he doesn’t walk away, he won’t be able to live with himself. Mulder spots the man from before in the garage and chases him into the laundry room. He retrieves the vial of Scully’s blood and asks the man who sent him to get it. The man won’t answer, but he will fight Mulder to get the vial back. This time Mr. X lends a hand, but he kills the man, then tells Mulder he’ll handle things from here.
The doctor wants to talk to Mulder and the Scullys about Scully’s living will again. He doesn’t think Scully will improve, no matter how long she’s been in this condition. Mulder says that they can treat branched DNA; they should study her condition instead of just giving up. Melissa argues that death is natural, but prolonging a life isn’t. Mulder mocks her for being “politically correct.” Melissa replies that she loves Scully, but letting her go is the right thing to do.
Maggie says that Scully has already made the decision for them. Mulder (who she calls Fox) has built a friendship with Scully out of respect. Maggie has already lost her husband, and she obviously doesn’t want to lose her daughter, but she respects Scully’s decisions. She invites him to join her and Melissa for their last moments with Scully as a family. Meanwhile, the rope tying Scully’s boat to the dock breaks and she begins to drift.
CSM takes Skinner a report on Mulder’s recent activities. Skinner’s like, “You can’t smoke in here; there’s a sign.” CSM lights up anyway, like, “Here’s what I think of your sign.” He takes a few puffs and puts on the cigarette, like, what a waste of a butt. Anyway, Mulder comes in after CSM leaves, and Skinner questions him about the death of the man in the laundry room. Mulder claims that he was with Scully at the time and has no idea what’s happening. He mocks that Skinner’s usually the one who answers questions with denial.
Mulder continues that CSM (“Cancer Man”) is responsible for whatever happened to Scully. He’s willing to give up his job and badge if Skinner will give him answers. Skinner reminds him that they work for the government, not the mafia. He liked and respected Scully, but all agents know the possible risks of working for the bureau. Mulder admits that he might not have told Scully all the risks. Skinner replies that that means he’s as much to blame as CSM.
Scully’s dreams have taken her from the boat to a wooden table, where she’s asleep in a white dress. Her father arrives and tells her that when he realized he would never see her again, his life “felt as if it had been the length of one breath, on heartbeat.” It made him realize how much he loved her. He wishes he could trade anything in his life for one more second with Scully. They’ll be together again soon, but not now. Nurse Owens speaks to Scully again, telling her that her time isn’t over.
Melissa tells Mulder that even if he spent the rest of his life hunting down the people responsible for Scully’s condition, it wouldn’t matter. Besides, they’ll get what’s coming to them. A woman approaches and asks Mulder if he has change for the cigarette machine. He doesn’t, but it doesn’t matter – there’s already a pack of Morleys in the bin. Mulder opens the pack and retrieves a Post-It with an address on it.
Mulder finds CSM at that address and finally gets to ask his questions. CSM isn’t threatened, though; he’s watched presidents die. Mulder asks why Scully was harmed instead of him. CSM replies that he likes both Mulder and Scully. He’s “in the game” because he thinks he’s doing the right thing. Mulder wonders who CSM is to decide what’s right. “What are you?” CSM replies. If people knew what he does, “it would all fall apart.”
CSM continues that he told Skinner that Mulder shot the man in the hospital, but he doesn’t believe that. Now that Mulder has come after him, CSM has more respect for him – he’s “becoming a player.” Mulder’s welcome to kill him, but he’ll never know the truth. Mulder can’t bring himself to pull the trigger. CSM promises not to tell anyone about this encounter. Otherwise, rumors might get spread.
Mulder prints out a letter of resignation and starts packing up his office. Skinner comes by, telling Mulder that his basement office is where they used to keep the copy machine. He tears up the resignation letter, refusing to accept this form of self-punishment from Mulder. Mulder announces that he hates who he’s become. He’s already losing enough and doesn’t want to lose more of himself.
Skinner tells Mulder that he enlisted in the Marine Corps on his 18th birthday, believing that going to Vietnam was the right thing. Three months into his tour, Skinner killed a child. He lost his faith in everything – his country, himself – and believed there was no point to anything anymore. Skinner’s platoon was captured, and he had an out-of-body experience. He didn’t recognize himself. Skinner felt at peace, even knowing his life was over.
He was taken to the hospital and woke up two weeks later. He’s afraid to look into what happened, but he knows Mulder isn’t. Skinner reiterates that he refuses to accept Mulder’s resignation. Mulder realizes that Skinner gave him CSM’s address, which means he risked his own life. “Every life, every day, is in danger,” Skinner points out.
Mulder meets with Mr. X, who gives him a plane ticket and the warning that some men are going to search his apartment that night. Mulder needs to be there to defend himself. This is the only way Mulder will be able to stop them. After tonight, Mr. X won’t be in touch for some time. Mulder waits in his apartment, but instead of a group of men, Melissa shows up. Scully’s weakening, so Mulder needs to come see her before she dies.
Mulder declines, and Melissa warns that his retreat further into the darkness isn’t going to help. Mulder snaps at her to stop with the New Age-y stuff. Melissa replies that her positivity doesn’t have to be seen as silly. He needs to just express his feelings – she and Scully both expect more. Even if it doesn’t bring Scully back, at least she’ll know how Mulder feels, and so will he. After Melissa leaves, Mulder sits back down with his gun, waiting for the men.
Later, Mulder makes it to the hospital after all, taking Scully’s hand and telling her that he feels that she doesn’t believe it’s her time. She needs to hold on to her beliefs like she always does. Whether it will bring her back or not, he’s there with her. Mulder spends the night there, returning home to find his apartment trashed. He’s missed his chance at confrontation and answers. Mulder crouches on the floor and cries.
Dream Scully is now on a bed by a lake in the woods. The woods slowly disappear and become a hospital room. She’s awake. As soon as Mulder hears, he returns to the hospital, where Scully admonishes her mother for calling him Fox. Scully doesn’t remember anything after being grabbed by Duane Barry, but Mulder’s not going to fill her in just yet. He wants her to watch a football video and rest.
Scully tells him that she came back through the strength of his beliefs. Mulder gives her back her cross necklace and leaves. Sometime later, Scully asks a nurse if she can talk to Nurse Owens. Guess what? There’s no Nurse Owens! Spooky!
Thoughts: Why would you buy a headstone when you don’t have a body??
I guess Scully’s brothers were too busy to visit their dying sister? Eh, Bill Jr.’s a jerk anyway.
Can someone please get the comatose woman a blanket? She might be cold.
The only thing that would have made the CSM/Skinner smoking scene better is if CSM had used the no-smoking sign to light a match.
Even in 1994, hospitals still had cigarette machines. America is weird.
Skinner’s a much better character when he’s actually helpful. Too bad he never gets much development over the course of the series.
That Nurse Owens thing was a pointless piece of an otherwise excellent episode. She wasn’t even a necessary character.