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
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
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
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