season 5, episode 12, “bad blood”
“bad blood” is many philes’ favorite episode including one of the show’s stars, gillian anderson. it’s not hard to see why, it’s a well-written, well-acted episode. the x-files isn’t really known for comedy or character studies, but they do it from time to time and most of the time it’s done really well. “bad blood” is one of the best examples of the x-files excelling at both.
vince gilligan has written some of the angstiest episodes of the show. paper hearts, pusher, and memento friggin’ mori, to name a few. he is a master of drama (see also: breaking bad). it’s so unfair that he is equally as talented at comedy. we have him to thank for some of the funniest episodes, as well. gilligan gives us a glimpse into the minds of our favorite agents and their perceptions of each other and the outcome is hilarious. the x-files case becomes a he said/she said dilemma, where both agents have differing accounts of what happened. they each walk us through their version of events and both take this opportunity to point out what they find annoying in the other by exaggerating their behaviors. to scully, mulder is “overly exuberant.” he forgets her name, teases her (“get those little legs moving”), and orders her to do another autopsy forgoing food and rest (and taking that all for himself, in her room). to mulder, scully is “less than exuberant.” she whines, gets distracted by a (possibly buck tooth) sheriff, and yells at him for politely asking her to do another autopsy. i love how they exaggerate the other’s behavior, but i also love how they downplay themselves in their own accounts. scully paints a picture of herself being very amenable to mulder’s whims and mulder tries to portray himself as someone who respectfully tolerates scully’s bullheadedness. they both view themselves as the one in the partnership that is put-upon. let me think, what does that sound like? oh yeah, a MARRIED COUPLE. these two have been each other’s worlds for five years. things are going to come up that bug them and what is more married than airing their grievances, passive-aggressively like this? you would think this kind of bickering would be tedious, but it is a pure delight. i have seen this episode hundreds of times and it never gets old.
this examination of perceptions doesn’t stop at mulder and scully. it is also the main angle of the x-file they are investigating. the vampires in cheney, texas are very run of the mill, ordinary folk, but they are also actually, literally, vampires. they are able to allude capture by acting like normal people. outsiders perceive them as normal, in turn. the behavioral characteristics are there, but other people’s perceptions get in the way of seeing the paranormal reality. they just want to be left alone to drink their blood and what not. except ronnie. ronnie wants to emulate the romanticized image of a vampire, fangs and all. this risks exposing his community by shedding too much light on them and that’s what grabbed the attention of the FBI and our agents. this script is so smart, addressing both the image conscious vampires and the skewed perceptions of mulder and scully in a balanced way and humorously, as well.
let me tell you, it took a lot of restraint not to just cite every line of this episode. every single moment is great.
“bad blood all the way, motherf*ckers!” -gillian anderson
mulder kicking the trashcan.
epic scully face palm.
*snaps* “take me there now.” that snap is everything.
one of my favorite autopsy!scully scenes ever. “yada yada yada.”
mulder’s evil laugh when he takes over the magic fingers.
i love how both versions have the mexican goat sucker reference, implying that she actually did bring it up.
mulder’s reaction to sherriff hartwell’s buck teeth.
i once saw the actor that played ronnie strickland coming out of the scientology branch in los feliz. i was so disappointed.
mulder in that tank. HOO BOY.
mulder only gave the delivery boy a 2 cent tip? no wonder he attacks him.
mulder singing shaft, tho.
the fact that they are actually vampires is a pretty great twist.
the garlic breadstick cross. fuckin’ genius.
when mulder accidentally honks the horn at the end. errrrgh, it’s so cute.
did you know? behind the scenes facts:
in the bloopers, luke wilson makes david duchovny laugh by telling him it sounds like he’s saying “sheriff fartwell.” it’s adorable.
first appearance of arlene as skinner’s secretary.
uh, yeah, they are a married couple in this whole episode.
hands on shoulders when scully asks what she’s looking for. “i don’t know.”
mulder makes himself at home in scully’s room so naturally in both versions.
she fixes his tie while they wait for skinner.
mulder made up the fact that sheriff hartwell had buck teeth/”slight overbite” because he was jealous that scully found him attractive. the sheriff is attractive, but also a vampire which can be very charming, so scully couldn’t really resist anyways.
mulder’s hand on her shoulder when he says “don’t say i never did nothin’ fer ya.”
scully quotes her bf, uh, i mean, partner, when discussing vampires with sheriff hartwell.
m: “oh shhhhhhii-”
m: “prison, scully. your cellmate’s nickname is going to be large marge. she’s gonna read a lot of gertrude stein.”
s: “he does that.”
s: “begin autopsy on white male, age sixty, who is arguably having a worse time in texas than i am, though not by much.”
sheriff hartwell: “y’all must be the gov’ment people.”
s: “what do you mean you want me to do another autopsy?! why do i have to do it now?! i just spent hours on my feet doing an autopsy, all for you! i do it all for you, mulder! you know i haven’t eaten since 6 o’clock this morning, and that was half a cream cheese bagel. and it wasn’t even real cream cheese, it was light cream cheese! now you want me to run off and do another autopsy?!”
m: “finally you left.”
s: “hoo boy.”
ronnie: “you are in big trouble.”
m: “i was drugged!”