So I've been hanging out at home, lately, trying to figure out what, exactly, I feel about Doggett, and whether those hallucinations of Mulder being tortured by having dental implements SuperGlue(tm)-ed to his cheeks are real or just Scully's worried imaginings, and thinking that seeing more Skinner is a pretty good thing, but they never really show ENOUGH Skinner, if you take my meaning, and really, the only thing I have been able to figure out with any kind of reliable certainty is this:
If Scully is like me, she has been watching the Florida Supreme Court Presidential Vote Confirmation hearings (Fox title: Why Elections Go Down!) and is therefore slowly banging her head against her knees, moaning softly and drooling, because all of that FEELS better than watching more than about forty seconds of anyone wearing a polyester suit jacket and droning on about `chads.' That, I'm sure of.
Anyway, in honor of the endless Florida election recounts, this month we are going to look at TRANSORBITAL LOBOTOMIES, from the season 4 episode Unruhe.
A Brief, Incomplete History of Lobotomy
So, what is a lobotomy, or, more curiously, what exactly had to be going on for someone to say "Gee, you have a problem and I think that best thing to do would be for me to remove part of your brain."? Ok, that was an easy one. How about in a non-election year. Anyone? Bueller?
Modern psychosurgery dates from the 1900s, when a German physician discovered that dogs were calmer when their frontal lobes had been removed. (I, myself, have observed a similar effect on alt.tv.x-files.) This theory was extrapolated to humans in the mid-nineteen thirties, with variable techniques giving variable success. Lobotomy began to be performed on a wide scale in the 40s, on post-WWII mental patients. Between 1939 and 1951, more than 18,000 lobotomies were performed in the United States, and tens of thousands more in other countries.
TRANSORBITAL LOBOTOMIES, the so-called "icepick lobotomies" so aptly showcased in Unruhe, were performed in the late forties and early fifties, as a way of controlling unwanted behaviour. (As they tend to add a certain degree of difficulty to the operation, the surgical use of construction stilts is not recommended.) By the mid-nineteen fifties, however, the poor outcomes (only 30% of lobotomized patients improved, and one must consider that 29% of mental conditions improve spontaneously, without any kind of treatment) combined with the appearance and development of pharmaceutical alternatives (Prozac, valium, diazepam, AOL, Jerry Springer, heavy metal music), pretty much signaled the death knell of lobotomy as a standard treatment for mental illness. These cheaper, more reliable alternatives are now the treatment of choice.
I know what you are wondering. You're wondering, how this explains the Florida legislature. Given that at the present time, lobotomies are performed in some countries only as a radical form of treatment for violent behaviour, we can see that it doesn't. Explain the Florida legislature, I mean. Let's face it. Nothing explains the Florida legislature; not prefrontal lobotomy, not TRANSORBITAL LOBOTOMY, not even psychoactive drugs. My own opinion is that exposure to coconut rum and Panama Jack products has some kind of deleterious effect on your average middle-aged Republican. I'm not sure if it's too much or too little exposure, though. I am selflessly willing to head to the keys to `research' that very question, just as soon as I can obtain some funding. If you are interested in donating to my research, please call 1-800-RUM-4-LNS. That number again was 1-800-RUM-4-LNS.
Um... sure it's tax deductible.
Whose child is this, I can only guess.
What forces weird put me in this state?
But am I incensed? You bet I am!
Verses 2 & 3:
They will call her Missy, Yes Lord!
He'd been having funky brain waves,
CSM meanwhile was scheming
Now we all say, "Aww! Poor Scully!"
How to go on without Mulder?
Now she's got this manly partner,
So I watch this brand-new season,
St. Scully and F. Mulder
St. Scully bears a baby!
St. Scully bears her own gray
St. Scully bears quintuplets,
St. Scully bears a hybrid
St. Scully and Fox Mulder
Here we come a yaje-ing,
We are not completely mad,
Chris, bring us Scully with a cat,
Well, as I write this we're four episodes into Season 8: Maybe No One Will Notice. And as I've been complaining about it, and I appear to be in the minority (which is okay), I thought I would use this forum (pause here for groaning and running away) to explain just what my damn problem is.
I'll tell you guys the main thing that's been bothering me this season. It's not this season at all, really. I'm worried about what's going to happen next season.
With Gillian signed on for another year and David not signed on at all, or at most willing to agree to another piecemeal year like this one, The X-Files, basically, is never again going to be the show it used to be. That is not disputable, unless David makes a radical turnaround and suddenly wants to do the show full-time again, at the same time that monkeys spontaneously decide to fly out of my butt. Let's assume for simplicity's sake that that will not occur. So if the series continues for a season 9, which is looking increasingly likely, one of two things will happen.
One, Mulder will be on the show half-time again, and Scully and Doggett will be the leads. I'd rather have some Mulder than no Mulder, but how on earth would they explain his absence this time? Abducted again? On vacation? I don't care for the scenarios of Mulder-as-informant or Mulder-as- occasional-consultant. The way Mulder and Scully have been written since the series began, it makes no sense that they would voluntarily be away from each other indefinitely. And they've done the involuntary thing already.
Two, Mulder will leave the show for good. This is the one I'm the most worried about. I would not put it past TPTB to kill him off, movie franchise be damned, in exchange for some blockbuster sweeps ratings and/or a big season opener. Scully and Doggett would continue on ad infinitum, or at least until Fox gets another drama hit for their Sunday lineup.
Here's the main reason I want Mulder back. It's not because I lust after David Duchovny. It's not because I want to see Mulder and Scully hold hands and pretend to be married. It's because there is one, exactly one, arc that I care about on the show, and that is the Mulder/Scully arc. I don't care if we never hear another word about Samantha. I don't care whether or not aliens colonize the earth (well, I'd rather they didn't in REAL life, but you know what I mean). I don't care what happens to Skinner or Krycek or Marita or CSM or Doggett or Kersh or the Shapes guy or Senator Matheson or anybody else.
No, that's too strong, let me modify that. I care about all that stuff, to a degree. I like all those characters (with the possible exceptions of Marita and the Shapes guy). I enjoy watching those storylines, when they're done well especially, and I get annoyed when they're resolved unsatisfactorily or not at all. But any one of those things never being addressed again would not be something that would cause me to stop liking the show. The ONLY thing that would cause me to stop liking the show would be losing Mulder or Scully for good. Say those other elements are the limbs, and Mulder and Scully are the head. I'd certainly rather the show NOT lose the limbs, but it could carry on. It can't lose the head. Well, sure it can, but it wouldn't be good for much after that.
By the "Mulder/Scully arc" I mean that I want a satisfactory end for these two characters and their relationship. By that I don't mean that I want them to buy a home in the suburbs and have eight children named Melissa and Samantha and Fox Jr. and Will and Margaret and Walter and Teena and Katherine. I mean that, when the show ends, I want Mulder and Scully to end up together. By "together," again, I don't mean the house in the suburbs. I don't even necessarily mean romantically together. I mean that I don't want one of them on a spaceship, or dead, or across the country, or having turned evil, or in the monkey bin. I want one of them, should the impulse arise, to be able to look up and see the other one sitting across the desk, or in the same car, or under the same tree, or in the same adorably wallpapered nursery if need be, AND I don't want it to be a vision, a hallucination, a ghost, a shapeshifter, or any of that crap. I'm flexible on the particulars. I just want them TOGETHER, as opposed to APART, when the series ENDS. I want the creators to do right by the characters and relationship they've built over the course of seven years. I'm not exaggerating when I say that, to me, is the reason for the show's existence, and if they don't end up together in some fashion I'm going to feel like I may as well not have bothered watching at all.
This, by the way, is what I didn't like about TFWID. Now, I know, the general idea (insofar as there was one) was that everybody has a sort of soulmate posse following them through eternity, but my opinion is that the episode was saying that it was random guest star Melissa who was Mulder's, for lack of a better word, primary soulmate, and that it was pure fatalistic accident that they met in this lifetime only briefly. And the idea that there was someone other than Scully who was Mulder's cosmic "partner" felt extraordinarily wrong to me. Why? Again, not because I wanted Mulder and Scully to lie in bed in a thousand fanfics murmuring "You are my soooooooulmate" before, during and after hours of poorly punctuated smut. Because the notion of them ENDING UP, in the very eventual sense here, not together negated the entire point of the series for me. It was like a big voice coming down from the sky saying "BY THE WAY, NONE OF THIS MATTERS IN THE LONG RUN."
Luckily, none of that was ever mentioned again (for once the lack of continuity came in handy). Getting rid of Mulder, though, would feel to me like a similar cheat, like a "ha ha, did you actually think all this was LEADING somewhere? Sucker."
Now, this season, he's abducted, he's missing, they're searching for him. Fine and dandy! Drama. Suspense. Angst. Yee-hah! Because he's coming back. The resolution will be there. It's what happens afterwards that I'm worried about. Next year when, well son of a biscuit, it turns out Fox still would like to have the revenue from their flagship show, long in the tooth as it's getting, and lookie here, Gillian's signed for another year, and so is Robert Patrick, and it's better than just CANCELING it, but David doesn't want to come back, so what are we going to do about that? Make up something, be creative, have a good reason why he's not there (especially after his dramatic return from space the year before). I'm sure they'll have a good reason. But whatever the reason is, if Mulder's gone, really gone, the show loses one big crucial body part. And no, I don't mean Doggett's testicles. :P
Or what if David does come back for a shortened season? Well, as I said, how are they going to explain it this time? And whatever they come up with, I don't know how willing I'm going to be to sit around and wait for him to get back. They just can't carry that off forever, certainly not while maintaining Mulder's lead-character level of importance.
And, here we are again: I'm just not interested if the show officially switches from Scully and Mulder to Scully and Doggett. Because TXF is, at its core, a show about two people who join together to fight the darkness. That's a very particular two people, not whatever two show up for work this year. It's Scully, and it's Mulder. Can other people help them? Sure. Skinner. Deep Throat. Doggett. Can they be separated? For a time, absolutely. That can make for good drama. Can one be replaced? No. Not ever, not for good, or it no longer works. It becomes something different, and it breaks off the story in the middle, because as long as one of them is still there, their story isn't over.
I really, really do not want to slam Doggett. I didn't INSTANTLY like him, despite the extensive heralding before his arrival, but I'm LEARNING to like him. I like him a little more each week. I need time (and I think I'm entitled, damn it). With some exceptions I think they're doing a nice job of setting up his character. But even if I grow to ADORE him, TXF will still never be TXF to me without Mulder. Because it's not a matter of getting used to a new character, it's a matter of the backbone of the show, the reason I watched, suddenly being a non-issue. It would be like moving ER from a hospital to a doughnut factory. It would be like Eric Clapton taking up the piccolo. I might learn to enjoy it eventually, but I'd have to start all over again, and in this context I don't think I can, or don't think I want to at least. Put Gillian and Robert Patrick in The Gillian and Robert Mystery Hour, and I'll watch, no problem. Just call it something other than The X-Files.
Change is good. Yes, change is hunky-dory, in fact. I'm glad the show is being shaken up. If I could be assured that this would be the last year, or the last year with Scully at least, and that she and Mulder would head off together to have further adventures without us watching them (except for a couple of hours every three or so years, maybe), while Doggett stayed behind and took over the X-Files reins, I'd be weaving a welcome mat and baking him sugar cookies. I think I just don't trust anyone at 1013 anymore. The one thing I really would be unable to forgive on the show is in danger of happening, and I have no faith that it won't. The more I feel I'm being pitched on the many wonders of Doggett, the more I feel I'm being analyzed and prodded for a positive reaction, the more I feel the writing of the characters is being squeezed to ensure a smooth transition from Mulderville to Doggett Junction, the more worried (and pissy) I get. It's hard to be nice to the friendly new guy in the neighborhood when you think he might be planning to bulldoze your house and build a strip mall.
And that, in essence, is my damn problem. Thanks for listening. <g>