season 4, episode 5, “the field where i died”
man, i hate this episode. i remember hating it the first time i watched it and i think i hated it even more during the rewatch. it starts off badly. mulder standing in a field looking sad holding some old photographs with a voiceover reciting part of the poem, “paracelsus” by robert browning. it is so cheesy. and the melodrama doesn’t end there, it continues up until the end where we have to endure the exact same scene all over again.
mulder and scully assist the ATF in the raid of a religious sect’s compound. the group is run by a david koresh type leader, vernon ephesian. mulder has a case of deja vu and is able to locate ephesian and some of his followers just as they are about to drink the poisoned kool aid. this was a huge missed opportunity. these religious cults are scary. a lot can be done with this subject matter within the x-files universe and with the past lives phenomena, for that matter. and they chose to do this sensationalized romantic civil war story. less than a year after this episode aired there was another cult that committed a mass suicide. the heaven’s gate cult believed that they could exit this world and enter the next level of existence by hitching a ride on a UFO trailing the hale-bopp comet. they “exited” by eating poisoned applesauce. they were found covered in purple shrouds and all wearing black nike shoes. i avoided the color purple after that. i traded my black nike basketball shoes in for a white pair. i couldn’t be in the same room as a magazine that had the cult leader’s face on the cover. i was haunted by the news coverage of him explaining his beliefs. it was some scary and disturbing shit. what i’m saying is that this cult business is rife with spooky stories to tell and they failed in that respect.
the ATF was tipped off by an informant who called himself sidney. after the raid, they question one of ephesian’s wives, melissa, and discover that she suffers from multiple personality disorder. one of those personalities is sidney. well, scully says multiple personality, but mulder believes it is past lives. he claims that he shares those past life experiences with melissa and that accounts for his deja vu feelings. in one of these past lives mulder and melissa were a couple during the civil war. the recounting of this is so dull and boring. mulder has melissa and then himself hypnotized to recall more of their past lives. we get two tiresome scenes back to back of both of them telling these stories of their past reincarnations. my main problem with this is that television is a visual medium to show stories, not just tell them. these scenes are just the characters telling us a story. why not show it? it might be more interesting than these extreme close ups of the characters getting emotional. we have nothing more than what they are saying to imagine the story. it’s hard to invest in their stories with only that. to me that is really weak, cinematically.
another problem i have is that mulder and scully are running against the clock to find where the bunker is with the guns. mulder is wasting that time going down past lives memory lane with melissa. scully calls him out on it. “i don’t believe that you feel responsible for those 50 lives. or melissa reidel. you are only responsible for yourself, mulder.” i am so glad she said that to him, although it didn’t do a damn bit of good because he spends the rest of the episode being a selfish dick. he’s only interested in exploring this deja vu/past lives phenomena he’s experiencing. i feel so bad for scully, who is trying so hard to complete the task at hand and is forced to indulge mulder’s fantastical whims. every time she tries to direct his focus he gets pouty and obstinate. they spend most of the episode fighting or in the tense aftermath of a fight.
shippers don’t like this episode because it has mulder joined with a soulmate other than scully in his past lives. that’s why i didn’t like it the first time i saw it. this time, i still don’t like that aspect, but i see so many other things wrong with this story. this story really does hurt my shipper heart though. it’s kind of like one big “fuck you” to the shipper community. and knowing what we know now about scully and mulder’s relationship in the revival it makes this episode even more painful. are mulder’s past lives indicated in this episode canon? are scully and mulder meant to forever be only friends? i just can’t believe it. i like to joke that the second season episode, “3,” doesn’t exist, but “the field where i died” is much more of a cause for concern. i can say that, in my mind, this episode doesn’t exist either, but, in the end, sadly, it does.
ugh, this episode is rough.
passing skeptical/believer notes to each other.
since when does mulder care what other people think about his outlandish theories?
i don’t like hypnosis scenes in general. not just in this episode. even the ones with scully are hard for me to watch.
mulder says, “my soul is tired.” yeah, mine too, buddy.
i hesitate to categorize this as a shipper moment. although its sentiment seems romantic. scully’s response, at least, is shippery. but, i don’t feel it really is overall. m: “dana, if early in the four years we’ve been working together an event occurred that suggested or somebody told you that we’d been friends together in other lifetimes, always, would it have changed some of the ways we looked at one another?” my problem with this is, first, he uses “dana.” he only uses that to indicate seriousness. second, he really believes that he’s connected to melissa in his past lives. is this information changing the way he looks at scully. just two episodes ago in “home” he’s telling her he now sees her as a mother. has his feelings changed because he thinks, in this life, he will be linked to melissa again, like his soul has apparently always had been? s: “even if i knew for certain, i wouldn’t change a day.” scully doesn’t buy into this past life business, so i don’t think she’s concerned the she is not his soulmate in his past lives, but she does want to make it clear to him, in this life, that she wouldn’t take back a single moment of their time together. at least i can hold onto her answer.
s: “well, maybe that flukeman thing. i could’ve lived without that just fine.”