season 3, episode 17, “pusher”
this episode is so rich in plot it could’ve have been a feature length film. everything is on point and the acting is just on another level. it’s a classic cat and mouse game. the monster this week is a man, robert modell, that control other people’s will. a man like that has all the power and he gets bored playing games with weak willed people. he’s looking for a worthy adversary and he believes he’s found that in mulder. “two warriors of equal skill fight to the death.” another advantage modell has is that he’s not afraid to die. in fact, he is dying and has nothing to lose. mulder is not only powerless against the mind control, he doesn’t want to die and he has a partner that doesn’t want him to die, either.
the storyline is so meaty and then made even better by the way it tests scully and mulder’s relationship and how well they pass the test. mulder figures out the mind control aspect pretty quickly and they even catch him early on in the episode. problem is, modell is able to use his powers to get off. he continues to taunt the agents leaving injured people and bodies in his wake. he’s able to talk one man into giving himself a heart attack. another sets himself on fire. and even skinner becomes the target of modell’s wrath. but, ultimately, it’s mulder he’s after. mulder gives himself up to modell, hoping he can resist his powers and put a stop to him. but, modell has the upper hand and is able to influence mulder’s mind. scully goes in once mulder has been compromised and sees the two men sitting across from each other at a table with a gun between them. modell has one final game he wants to play with mulder. a game of russian roulette. he gives mulder the gun and takes the first shot. mulder doesn’t hesitate, but it’s blank. modell then wills mulder to pull the gun on himself. scully is trying to talk him out of it, to get through modell’s mental coercion. the tensions are so high. mulder pulls the trigger, but luckily it, too, is a blank. modell forces mulder to train the gun on scully. mulder is trying to fight so hard against modell’s control. scully had a little faith that if anyone could resist the power it would be mulder, but she sees now that modell’s will is too strong for even mulder to withstand. she’s looks around to find a way to break the spell while mulder’s worst nightmare is coming true right before his eyes. scully darts away and pulls a fire alarm and mulder snaps out of it just in time to turn the gun on modell and shoot. this time the bullet is fired and modell is shot.
nice nod to the flukeman on the tabloid cover.
scully’s impressed for like a millisecond that mulder knows that ronin is a samurai without a master.
scully, why are you making holly uncomfortable?
scully, ever the rational one, runs to get a fire extinguisher when an agent is threatening to set himself on fire. the other’s just stand there waiting for a tragedy to unfold.
i like scully’s disapproving look to modell. it’s so subtle.
scully believes that modell is guilty of the murders, she just has to poke holes in his theory because she is scully.
holly looks like she could be a peanuts character.
100 points for having modell call skinner mel cooley.
scully feels so bad for holly. she’s so freakin’ compassionate.
scully is not happy that modell has mulder’s address.
nice use of the “svengali” clip playing in modell’s apartment.
last time she was the voice in his head was “duane barry.”
great shocker moment having mulder turn to see modell pointing a gun at him and scully seeing it in the video feed.
did you know? behind the scenes facts:
dave grohl makes an appearance as a background extra.
scully is practically sleeping on his shoulder on their stakeout. he gently taps her face to wake her up. “i think you drooled on me.” she replies, “sorry.” she’s not embarrassed at all. it shows how comfortable they are with each other.
modell can see their rapport by just watching them for a short time. “you and your pretty partner seem awfully close.” modell ships it.
scully gazes at mulder after his exchange with modell outside of the courtroom.
we have two times where they are really close together on the phone.
i love that scully sides with mulder when he’s trying to get burst to hang up with modell and tries to unplug the phone.
scully is so sad and worried that he’s putting himself in danger. the whole exchange when he tries to reassure her and she’s not even protesting is really moving. and they hold hands and have super intense eye contact.
he pulls the trigger rather quickly on himself, but is able to fight off the power longer when the gun is pointed at scully. he says “scully” so desperately.
scully’s tear deserves its own emmy.
they don’t even have to talk about the close call they had where mulder almost killed scully. and then more hand holding!
modell: “fred burst. you have the greatest name.”
modell: “cerulean is like gentle breeze.”
s: “so he’s a killer and a golfer.” m: “rings a bell, huh?”
m: “let’s go g-woman.”
m: “made you look. how do you do it?”
s: “please explain to me the scientific nature of the whammy.” one of the best lines of the series.
s: “i have to agree with agent mulder, sir.” no one is more surprised than mulder to hear that.
m: “you mean you killed this man for no reason, you sick bastard.”
m: “think i get the playboy channel?”