season 3, episode 23, “wetwired”
i recall liking this episode, but upon this rewatch i found myself loving it. it has everything i love about “the x-files:” paranoia, subtle mythology mentions, action, a cool supernatural phenomenon, conspiracy, heavy partnership aspects, and lots of scully. i tend to favor the scully-centric episodes more than the heavy mulder ones. gillian anderson is just spot on with scully’s character and when they give her opportunities to further develop that character some serious acting magic happens. she shines in this episode where scully is a affected by a test being sent subliminally through the television. the symptom is it makes your worst fear seem like a reality. now that is really a scary thought because you are watching tv yourself in that moment. the creepy “could this really happen” question starts to gnaw at the back of your mind. not only does the episode portray paranoia, it imbues the viewers with paranoia, as well.
scully is the one to take the leap on the theory that the tv and the tapes have something to do with the crimes. mulder is skeptical. “not even must see tv can do that.” but, it’s too late by the time mulder is convinced she’s right about it. scully is already experiencing the paranoid psychosis. that’s kind of sad. she’s finally right, but she can’t even bask in the satisfaction. she thinks she sees mulder reporting to the cigarette smoking man and giving him evidence. how can she deny what she’s seeing with her own eyes. when she asks mulder if he took the car out, he says he went and got the paper, but that’s it. it appears to her that he is lying to her face. what an awful feeling that must be. mulder then goes on to do typical mulder things like ditch her and give a vague remark explaining what he’ll be doing. although he does that to her on every case, the dementia she’s experiencing compounds the suspicion from earlier.
mulder goes to the lone gunmen to have the cable device analyzed. meanwhile, scully goes full on mulder and her paraniod frenzy is mesmerizing. she trashes her hotel room looking for a bugging device. when mulder comes to her door, she fires her gun at it and flees. skinner comes and the search for scully is treated like a manhunt. mulder is desperately trying to figure out the clues from the case and trying to find her so he can help her. he surmises that the transmission causes the viewer to visually realize their worst fear and violently act on those fears. he doesn’t know what she thinks she’s seeing, but he’s confident that if anyone can talk her down, it’s him. at one point he’s called in to identify a body that is believed to be scully. now his worst fear is being realized. luckily it’s not her and he finds out that scully’s mother cannot be reached. this sends him to mrs. scully’s house where he finds a crazed scully pointing a gun at him. she’s convinced that he’s in on the conspiracy. that he was involved in her abduction and the death of her sister. it must be devastating to hear her accuse him of those horrors. it’s very similar to “anasazi” when mulder was tripping on the LSD. not trusting each other is the worst thing they can imagine the other doing because their work and often their lives depend on their trust and their deep bond. so, when the other loses that trust it throws their own personal balance off kilter. scully is so far gone that it takes her mom standing in between the gun and mulder to get through to her. it shows what mrs. scully knows about mulder for her to trust mulder over what her daughter is saying. “you trust me, don’t you?” she does trust her mom and all her suspicious delusions are focused on mulder that she’s able to trust her mother’s pleas. she collapses in her arms. gillian anderson does a phenomenal job in this scene. she conveys anger, paranoia, and sadness all at once. the result is a captivating and heartbreaking scene with so much tension.
my only problem with this episode is the deus ex machina they use. they say that mulder is not affected because he’s red/green color blind. there is no need for this explanation. it could’ve been another unexplained component of the conspiracy. everyone in the town didn’t seem to be afflicted with the tv-induced paranoia, so we wouldn’t have even questioned it. (well, i’m sure some nitpicking philes would have.) the reveal of mr. x reporting to csm, much like how scully thought she saw mulder doing, was an interesting twist. as we close in on the finale, we see mr. x’s position seems a bit precarious. we saw another one of their informants die in a season finale and things are not looking good for him.
scully looks gorgeous throughout this whole episode.
nice, mulder. call scully’s mom, tell her she’s missing and then hang up.
the digitized effect is really cool.
i love all the jeopardy connections. one of the tapes in the suspect’s home is of jeopardy.
did you know? behind the scenes facts:
episode was written by mat beck, the show’s visual effects producer.
john gillnitz is a combination of the names of three of the show’s writers, john shiban, vince gilligan, and frank spotnitz. it’s used as a throwaway name in many episodes during the show’s run.
they act like a pair of disciplining parents when they catch the kids playing hooky.
mulder is given the opportunity to get evidence, but he forgoes pursuing it because he thinks his partner might be dead. the only thing mulder cares about more than the ever evasive proof of paranormal activity is scully.
scully’s worst nightmare is mulder betraying her.
m: “scully, you’re the only i trust.”