October 1, 2016
The X-Files 3.22, Quagmire: Here Be Aquatic Dinosaurs
Summary: A researcher in Striker’s Cove at Heuvelmans Lake in Georgia chats with someone about the frogs he’s been working with. Dr. Farraday is afraid the frogs will be extinct in a few years if the government doesn’t do something. The man he’s talking to, Dr. Bailey, tells him that they can’t put every threatened animal on the endangered-species list. Farraday tells Bailey they’re facing a “frog holocaust,” and they shouldn’t turn their backs on nature – nature will eventually turn its back on us.
Bailey ignores him and goes to his truck to leave. He realizes he’s dropped something and goes back to the cove to look for it. It doesn’t look like nature’s happy to see him. Everything suddenly goes quiet, which at least makes it easier for Bailey to find his dropped pager. It also makes it creepier when something attacks him and pulls him into the lake. He gets no sympathy from one of the frogs Farraday’s trying to protect.
“What’s older than the hills?” a sign asks as Mulder and Scully arrive in Rigdon, Georgia. Scully wants Mulder to pull over, since “nature’s calling” for Queequeg. Mulder isn’t happy that she brought him along, but since he made her get ready in five minutes and she couldn’t find a dogsitter, she didn’t have a choice. Scully doesn’t know why they took this case anyway. Mulder tells her that Bailey worked for the U.S. Forestry Service, so his disappearance is a federal case. A Boy Scout troop leader also recently vanished, which means they could be dealing with a serial killer.
They pass another sign, this one asking, “What’s bigger than the sky?” Scully thinks Mulder has another motive for taking the case, and she’s right. A third sign invites them to visit Heuvelmans Lake and look for Big Blue, the Southern Serpent. In other words, Mulder wants to spend his Saturday in middle-of-nowhere Georgia, looking for a poor man’s Loch Ness Monster.
The agents interview Farraday in his lab, since he was the last person to see Bailey alive. Farraday quickly guesses that they suspect him of being responsible for Bailey’s disappearance, but he tells them he wouldn’t kill someone just for dismissing years of his research. Mulder asks if there’s any creature in the area that might attack someone. Bailey says another human could do it, of course.
Mulder asks straight out if Farraday has any evidence of the existence of Big Blue. Farraday mocks people who turn to the supernatural instead of using reason and logic. Mulder argues that plenty of lakes have strange creatures living in them. Bailey disagrees, saying the people who look for them are pursuing fairy tales.
The agents (and Queequeg) next head to a bait and tackle shop decorated with a huge inflatable Big Blue on its roof. Scully admits that she was interested in these kind of mythical creatures when she was a kid, but now she’s a grownup with grownup sensibilities. Mulder argues that some cryptozoologists think we’re dealing with an “evolutionary throwback” – an aquatic dinosaur, if you will. Scully agrees with Bailey that they’re just fairy tales created because people fear the unknown (even if the unknown eats government officials and Boy Scout leaders).
Inside the shop, which sells Big Blue souvenirs, Mulder points out what’s supposedly one of Big Blue’s scales on display. Scully thinks it’s more likely an insect casing. Mulder asks a clerk, Ted, for directions to the cabins where they’re staying and receives a map. Ted tells them that when he was ten, he heard wailing while he was fishing at the lake. His father said the wailing came from a cow attacked by Big Blue. Scully: “Cool story, bro.”
A photographer named Ansel (get it?) comes in to develop film, and Ted tells the agents that the cow in question belonged to Ansel’s father. Ansel thinks the agents are wasting their time looking into the disappearances – obviously Big Blue is responsible. He’s determined to snap a picture of the monster some day.
Back at the lake, a guy thinks he’s gotten a bite on his fishing line, but really, his hook has snagged on someone’s body. He runs to the shop to get help, and the agents go to the lake to pull out the body, which is really only someone’s bottom half. Mulder thinks it’s the Boy Scout leader, I guess since his fly is down and the leader disappeared while peeing. Scully notes that a lot of people drown after falling in the water while peeing off of boats. Fish must have just eaten the top half of the body. Mulder asks if they just saved the bottom half for later.
That night, Ted goes to the cove and stomps around in shows shaped like giant claws. Something watches him from the water and runs at him when he gets stuck in the mud. ‘Bye-‘bye, Ted. In the morning, Mulder and Ansel find the clerk’s hat and think the tracks he left indicate that he was taken by Big Blue.
Scully brings Queequeg out to the scene, and she and Mulder talk to the sheriff about closing the lake while they investigate. The sheriff thinks they’re just dealing with the same annual deaths the town always experiences. Besides, he doesn’t have enough deputies to close the lake. Queequeg runs off, leading the agents to one of Ted’s monster boots. There’s blood on it, so even if Ted was just pulling a hoax, they still don’t know exactly what happened.
The stoners from “War of the Coprophages” are now in Georgia, trying to get high by licking Farraday’s frogs. They’ve befriended a snorkeler who quickly becomes Big Blue’s next victim. When Mulder and Scully are called to the scene, Scully guesses that the snorkeler lost his head thanks to a motor-boat propeller. The sheriff thinks that makes sense. Mulder does not. Scully continues that Ted probably hurt himself while pulling his hoax, got embarrassed, and doesn’t want to show himself.
Ansel stakes out the lake, baiting a buoy with some meat in hopes of luring Big Blue into photographing territory. Something tugs on the bottom of the buoy, then heads toward the shore. Ansel is able to snap a few photos before he’s attacked. The agents have another crime scene to check out, and Mulder thinks that with three disappearances and/or murders in three days, they really need to close the lake.
The sheriff says again that he doesn’t have the manpower. Plus, who says a lake monster is to blame? Scully thinks they need to find Ansel’s body before they make any decisions. The sheriff slips into the water while trying to drag the lake, and reports that something brushed against him. Now he’s ready to authorize closing the lake.
The agents check out Ansel’s photos at their hotel, but what Mulder wants to believe is a shot of Big Blue’s tooth is really just something white and blurry. Scully takes Queequeg for a walk, and again the dog senses something in the woods. Scully chases him but is unable to see what makes the dog start squealing. When Scully retracts the leash, only his collar remains. Poor Queequeg.
Scully returns to the hotel in shock, not in the right mind to hear Mulder’s theories about how Big Blue sightings over the years have moved closer to the shore. They charter a boat (apparently Scully can drive one – who knew?) and go on a monster hunt. Scully mentions that cartographers used to mark dangerous territories with “here be monsters.” Mulder quips that his map of New York says the same thing.
Something shows up on the boat’s radar – something coming straight at them. The something is strong enough to damage the boat, which begins taking on water. The agents mayday for help, then abandon ship, though they’re conveniently right next to a big rock. Mulder suggests swimming to shore, but they’re not longer sure where the shore is. Also, it’s really dark.
Here be the show’s famous Conversation on the Rock. Scully says that when you live in the city, you forget that nature is always out to get you. Her father also taught her to respect nature because it doesn’t respect people. They see a disturbance in the water and Mulder even pulls his gun, ready to shoot Big Blue if necessary. Scully doesn’t care what’s in the water, aquatic dinosaur or not – why does Mulder care?
Mulder says he wants to find it, and Scully should, too, since she’s a scientist. They could make a discovery that revolutionizes biology. Scully admits that when she looked at Ansel’s pictures, she saw Mulder’s future. He’s going to wind up a man obsessed with finding the truth. Mulder says that Ansel actually wanted to copyright his photos and live off his profits. Scully thinks that’s a better reason for a monster hunt than Mulder’s unclear motives.
There’s another sound in the water, but it’s just a duck. As time passes, Mulder asks if Scully could ever cannibalize someone. Scully uses a lot of words to say yes, and Mulder asks if she’s lost weight recently. They talk about the lengths animals will go to in order to survive. Mulder thinks Big Blue keeps coming to shore because he has to – that’s where his food is.
Scully explains the origin of Queequeg’s name (Moby Dick), as well as her and her father’s nicknames for each other, Ahab and Starbuck. She realizes that Mulder’s a lot like Ahab, so obsessed with a “personal vengeance against life” that everything can be twisted to fit the way he wants it to. “Scully, are you coming on to me?” Mulder teases. Scully says it doesn’t matter if you’re obsessed with the truth or a white whale – it’s impossible to obtain them, and you’ll only die trying.
Mulder says he’s always wanted a peg leg, because even if you’re disabled, you have enough to keep living – “it’s heroic just to survive.” Without crutches like that, you’re expected to make something of your life. Mulder might be happier with a peg leg, and not feel the need to chase monsters. Scully thinks he’s being flippant. He tells her what’s flippant is his favorite line from Moby Dick: “Hell is an idea first born on an undigested apple dumpling.”
Yet again, there’s a sound in the water, but this time it’s Farraday. He lets the agents know that they’re close enough to the shore that they could have walked. The agents are a little embarrassed that they feared for their lives when they could have rescued themselves. Farraday’s out at the lake to study his frogs, which used to thrive in the area but are now harder and harder to find. Now he breeds them in captivity and releases them at the lake.
Mulder realizes that the frogs are affecting the ecosystem. Big Blue probably used to eat the frogs, but as they’ve started dying out, he has to come to the shore for people. Farraday says he’s twisting scientific research. Plus, Farraday’s been here for three years, doing his research by the water, and has never seen anything. Mulder argues that the Loch Ness Monster supposedly lives in cliffs, not the actual lake, so maybe Big Blue doesn’t live in the water either.
Farraday leaves, unimpressed, and Scully asks Mulder (calling him Captain) what’s next. The sheriff joins them and announces that there’s been another death. Mulder tells him to call off the search of the water and check out the cove instead. The sheriff thinks that’s a horrible idea, but Scully negotiates to get a few officers to help search the cove.
The agents hear something in the woods and realize something’s happened to Farraday. He was attacked by something he didn’t see, but it didn’t kill him. Mulder heads off to look for the attacker, and though he doesn’t find Big Blue, he does find (and kill) an alligator. When he rejoins Scully, she notes that he killed his white whale. Mulder notes that he still doesn’t have a peg leg.
She wonders why he’s disappointed when he killed a dangerous animal that could have attacked a bunch more people. Mulder admits that he wanted Big Blue to be real; he sees hope in that kind of possibility. Scully says that there’s still hope – after all, stories about these creatures have been around for centuries: “People want to believe.” Mulder gives the lake one last look, then leaves just before something briefly surfaces in the water.
Thoughts: Who named it Big Blue? Why such an uncreative name? At least the Loch Ness Monster gets the nickname Nessie.
Licking Farraday’s Frogs is the name of my new emo band. Our first single is called “Conversation on the Rock.” Come see us at Skyland Mountain!
I like to think that Big Blue didn’t kill Queequeg – he just wanted a dog but didn’t have money for the adoption fees. Queequeg lived out the rest of his days in peace
on a farm with a bunch of other dogs by the shore, chasing frogs.