10 January 2000

I was watching The Crossing, the story of George Washington and the Battle of Trenton, but the miserable s.o.b.'s at the local cable company destroyed the last 35 minutes by transmitting during that time 20 seconds of snow for each 12 seconds of show. Unwatchable. What gets my goat is that, although they have a contract with me to deliver cable service, whenever this happens, they tell me that they are not obligated to give me a refund. Horsepetoots. It's a contract and I have paid for services I am not receiving. Tomorrow the PUC will hear from me. Anyway, we're now 35 minutes into the second showing, and the problem persists. I know because I have the TV on (with the sound turned off) and I'm timing the snow/show intervals. So far, the longest interval of show has been 15 seconds...

Well, well, well, we seem to be back. GW is just about to fire General Gates... I'll get back to you.

A good story. Well told. God only knows how near the truth it came... Bru and I visited the site of Washington's crossing of the Delaware into Trenton. I remember a stone house near the river. I believe the house was used by Washington as his field headquarters, but the house I remember was very small, narrow-- two stories, though. The fireplace was the width of the house. There was a historical placard, but I can't remember what it said...

Speaking of stories, and the telling thereof, the X-Files has annoyed me again. Why are the characters being destroyed? Scully is now in the throes of believing, quite irrationally, that everything that happens in the world is part of some insidious plan, and that each act undertaken by human beings is orchestrated by either Good or Evil. Nuts. And Mulder, ass that he has become, is doing nothing to restore her reason. Why didn't he tell her that it was neither God nor Devil that prompted her action, but duress and her own fallible humanity? Why didn't her remind her of the concept of free will? Ah, but Mulder is not her priest.

Now if the writer-- who shall remain nameless as a punishment-- were one of my students, I'd've beaned him with the script...

In this X-Files episode, Scully is, ostensibly, being given a chance to come to terms with the feelings of insecurity and inadequacy engendered by her inability to save herself from her previous abductors. This is indicated-- intentionally, I assume-- by the writer's choice of having Scully pointedly hear the lyrics of a song which, to paraphrase (because I have an execrable memory for song lyrics), exhorts her to "just stop looking, you've found someone to take care of you," a sentiment calculated to stike terror into that fiercly independent Scully heart.

Ever since her first abduction at Skyland Mountain, Scully has had a need to prove to herself that she doesn't need anyone to take care of her, to save her. The first abduction by Donny Faster exacerbated that need. If you remember, she stated to the counselor then that she didn't want Mulder to feel that he had to take care of her. And, unfortunately, on that occasion, when she was on the point of finding out whether she could save herself, Mulder and the cops arrived, leaving Scully still prey to her personal doubts.

This time, in this story, we, the audience-- for after all, Mr. Writer, who are you writing for if not an audience?-- are given, by this setup, to expect that Scully will find... something. We are led by our liking for this character to hope for satisfactory resolution, for growth; but we also know that Scully's lesson may be harder and more real than we might wish and we, therefore, those among us who love truth, hope only for a satisfying catharsis. And it is our right as an audience to expect this from any writer.

But we were disappointed. Oh, Scully freed herself in good time, and she might even have saved herself, but, once again, Mulder showed up, and none of us will ever know if Scully would have escaped, or if she would have shot Donny, or... what, of any of a hundred endings, might have happened.

All we do know is that Scully has dug herself deeper into self doubt. She still can't say to herself, "I did it; I saved myself." And now she has another worry: In taking Donny's life in cold blood, she has compounded her self doubt with guilt and mistrust. She can no longer trust herself to do what she knows is right. She has set herself up for serious psychosis-- which may well be her undoing. Why? Because what she has proved is this: that no one, not Mulder, not even God, can save her from anything, including herself.

This is a sad pass. But what gripes me is not that a bad thing happened to a character that I like, but that, in terms of storytelling, her story has been handled very, very badly. A pox on your house, unnamed writer! And another pox for unnecessarily perpetuating Mulder's dysfunctionality. You know, Mr. Writer, if I had been Scully during that last speech of Mulder's, and I'd still had a gun, I'd've shot him too. Mulder exhibited not the least understanding of the psychological state Scully was in-- and that is surprising when one considers that he's supposed to have a Doctorate in Psychology, and that he is a premiere Profiler to boot!

Okay, so what was wrong with the handling of the story? The last two minutes were wrong. The crap Scully spewed about not knowing whether she was being directed by God or the Devil was nothing to do with the case-- tra la! She knew what she had done. She also knew that Mulder had tried to stop her, and failed. She knew that she could no longer trust herself, and instead of a moment of truth, she comes out with crap about not knowing who/what was directing her.

You know what would have made the story work? Cut the crap. Just cut the crap. Stick with the truth. Let us see that Scully knew what she had done, and that she hadn't been directed by anyone but herself. Let us see that Mulder knew he couldn't save her from herself. And leave it at that. In the end, much as we may want to save those we love, we can only save ourselves. Maybe. That's the struggle.


Copyright © 2000 New Moon




Bru has reminded me that the stone house we visited was on the New Jersey side of the river, and, therefore, it was the house that General Washington's officers used while waiting for everyone to get across the river. Bru says we decided not to cross the river, so we didn't see the other house that Washington used as his HQ prior to the crossing.

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