I’ll be straight with you: I am fighting a cold, tired, and this isn’t one of my favorite episodes. So this will probably be short. (If you are just joining us here, maybe you’d like to check out the first three episodes to see that I actually do enjoy this project!)
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it specifically yet, but I will not be doing 200+ posts in this project. Some episodes that fall to the bottom of the barrel will get combined into posts for quicker passes — the next post, actually, will be the first of these. So you may be saying, Katie, you just said this wasn’t one of your favorites? Why not combine this with another? It’s a legit question! But the reason is actually pretty simple:
This episode never really ends up connecting to the larger mytharc; possible abductee Ruby is very vague and tight-lipped upon her return about what happened. But what is so important here is that it’s really the first time we get to see how Mulder was affected by his sister’s abduction. We heard about the incident in the Pilot episode, but that was just the story, told pretty flat and matter-of-fact. But here, we get to see into his pain, into that missing that so often can’t be put into words.
Basically, this episode is a whole bunch of Samangstha (a word I just made up this very moment). It shows itself in nice ways, in how Mulder speaks with Ruby’s little brother Kevin (who’s somehow receiving binary signals from satellites?), in how Mulder’s happy to sass the national security guys shirtless to try and protect Kevin, and in how pained he looks when he think he may have found Ruby’s body — after all, if Ruby was abducted but is now buried, what does this mean for his sister?
And at the end of the episode, we even get a shot of Mulder appearing to be praying in a church:
While we haven’t really touched on it yet in the series, the church and religion are far more Scully’s area than Mulder’s, so this scene so early in the series is a bit of a shock when looking back.
Speaking of the end, the music during this last bit is absolutely beautiful. Mark Snow’s scores are always solid, and he manages the slide from dark and creepy to sweet and tender to light and humorous so well throughout the entire series. You can listen to it below, while reading the voiceover that goes with it.
DR. WERBER: But your eyes are open?
MULDER: Yeah, they’re open but it’s like, nothing’s happening.
DR. WERBER: Try turning your head.
MULDER: I can’t.
DR. WERBER: Why not?
MULDER: I don’t know. I can’t move, so I don’t…I just lie there in bed.
DR. WERBER: Can you see your sister?
MULDER: No, but I can hear her.
DR. WERBER: What is she saying?
MULDER: She’s calling out my name, over and over again. She’s crying out for help but I can’t help her. I can’t move.
DR. WERBER: Are you scared?
MULDER: I know I should be but I’m not.
DR. WERBER: Do you know why?
MULDER: Because of the voice.
DR. WERBER: The voice?
MULDER: The voice in my head.
DR. WERBER: What’s it telling you?
MULDER: Not to be afraid. It’s telling me no harm will come to her, and that one day she’ll return.
DR. WERBER: Do you believe the voice?
MULDER: I want to believe.
Since it’s so early in the show, I wonder if watching this live and new right when it aired, rather than after I already had a lot of Samangstha episodes down, might give a more favorable feeling about this episode. It’s a little like the Pilot, in that I get sort of a “this is how it all started” feel from it, but not nearly as strong or satisfying. I’d love to hear if you have a different take! Leave a comment, or tweet me, or leave a reply on Facebook, however you feel more comfortable joining in. You can also share your giant binary drawings of your sibling or other loved one!
As mentioned at the start of this post, the next post will be combining some episodes together: “The Jersey Devil” and “Shadows”. That puts a teeny bit less pressure on me to think of brilliant things to say about meh episodes, and it mean we get to a really awesome episode that much faster!
Thanks so much for everyone’ who’s read, commented, or liked a post on Twitter/FB! While I’m doing this for me, I also love when you all get involved, too.