Theatre of the Mind ~ Piper Maru

1. If it's February, it must be time to put aside the MOTWs for a big two-part mythology episode (Piper Maru originally aired 2/9/96).

2. And you knew there'd be subtitles, didn't you? Wouldn't be sweeps without them. (Think we'll get subtitles for the alien language when Mulder returns in a big two-part mythology episode in February 2001 (as I think he will)? Or maybe the "aliens" all speak English (or at least German or Japanese) where Mulder is.

3. This episode is named, of course, for Gillian's daughter Piper Maru. "Maru" means "calm and gentle" in Polynesian.

4. And the ill-fated French diver Gauthier is named for special effects wizard David Gauthier.

5. The "Drop Dead Red" painted on the downed airplane is supposedly a nod to Gillian herself (and that's probably true, since we all know the Boys at 1013 have a supersize crush on her.)

6. The number on the plane (JTT0 11470) means absolutely nothing (though similar numbers were used for Mulder's badge number in "F. Emasculata" and for the boxcar entry code in "731").

7. The suit that Gauthier is wearing is called a "NEWTSUIT", which I'm sure is named for something (and I'm pretty sure it's not Newt Gingrich), but I can't find out what. Though I'd prefer to call it a Michelin Man suit, it's a diving apparatus that enables trained operators to work in water depths to 1,000 feet while remaining at a single atmosphere or surface pressure environment. It's probably named like SCUBA (Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus). How about Newfangled Exhalation Water Thingie?

8. I'm named for my maternal grandmother, but I guess you really don't care about that.

9. Now Michelin Man suit or no, if I saw some guy banging on the window from inside a WWII airplane, I'd be getting my NEWTSUIT outta there!

10. I've heard of "smoke gets in your eyes," but this is a whole new ball game.

11. Here comes Agent Scully, who is so enraptured by what she's reading that she has to check and see if she's on the right floor. But we get red Scully suits two episodes in a row! Yippee!

12. Scully is blindsided by Skinner with the news that her sister's murder case is being made inactive due to lack of progress. These two always make the most of their scenes together-I hope we do see more of that in Season 8.

13. I think Skinner definitely has a soft spot where Scully is concerned. How else to explain his promise to do all he can to keep the case open? (Or his agreement to keep an eye on her man in Oregon, for that matter.)

14. Love Scully's speech as she's near tears in Skinner's office, but how come she can let Skinner see her vulnerability but not Mulder? Even the sometimes dense Mulder senses there is something wrong when Scully enters his office, but she uses the current version of "I'm fine": "It's nothing."

15. Wow, some continuity! The French salvage ship was in the same area as The Talapus, the ship Mulder investigated in "Nisei."

16. TWC1: Mulder is looking pretty good through this exchange, and throughout this episode.

17. But he has to point out their differences again: She thought it pulled up a Russian sub, he thought it pulled up a UFO. Po-TAY-to, Po-TAH-to.

18. Despite their differences, Scully is still able to say that she's constantly amazed by him and his tenacity; and he tells her that's why he's in the basement.

19. S-"You're in the basement because they're afraid of you, of your relentlessness and because they know that they could drop you in the middle of the desert, and tell you the truth is out there, and you would ask them for a shovel." Whereas the suits on the other floors just drop the cases when the going gets tough.

20. "That's what you think of me?" He looks so vulnerable here-he really does care what she thinks.

21. TWC2: As M&S check out the radiation burns that the doc says just don't appear in nature. "Not on this planet."

22. Lots of XF veterans in this episode, starting with the Navy guy aboard the French ship (he was in the Pilot and "Duane Barry"), Mrs. Gauthier (who was in "Fallen Angel,") and Commander Johansen (who was the old guy in the truck in "Red Museum).

23. The Return of the Big Ass Flashlights!

24. It's oily looking goo. Did you really think Mulder wouldn't stick his fingers in it?

25. Just as an interesting aside, a Zeus faber is a deep sea fish that changes color to match its surroundings. Good name for a submarine, don't you think?

26. "Feels like home." We know Mulder doesn't read "Good Housekeeping" in his spare time.

27. "I'm looking for the VCR." No time for one of those movies now, Mulder.

28. Scully *is* good. She can identify what kind of plane it is from a murky, fuzzy, underwater video. No wonder Mulder got turned on.

29. Let's see. Scully gets to go to her old childhood haunts in San Diego (good thing she said she had been there in "Little Green Men), have nice memories of her sister Melissa, reminisce about playing "beckons wanted" (though I have no clue what that is and if I ever played it I don't know it), chat up her old neighbor, and get lots of case-solving tips. Meanwhile, Mulder gets to stick his fingers in more oily stuff, look really good (TWC3), meet a tough cookie who doesn't type but who does point a gun at his most valuable assets, lay low in his car, and jet off to Hong Kong. FWIW, they at least do tell each other where they are and what they're doing.

30. TWC4: Hoo-boy, Mulder is looking good at the airport, but the black oil personified is following him!

31. Yippee! Skinner proves that he does back up his most troublesome agents, even when threatened by shady government goons.

32. MIB: "We work for the intelligence community." Sk-"Remind me not to move there." LOL. Not as good as "pucker up and kiss my ass," but close!

33. Like the black-and-white flashback aboard the Zeus Faber. This black oil has apparently been around a looong time (we don't know the half of it!).

34. TWC5: Nearly the HFC moment as Mulder meets up with Jerry with a J.

35. I'm actually surprised that Jerry with a J can wear a dress. I bet that gal has gonads the size of grapefruits.

36. I always like it when Mulder kicks in the door. It's a "manly-man" kind of thing to do, don't you think? (Pardon my gender type.)

37. I actually kinda liked Jerry with a J handcuffed to Mulder. They make a pretty good odd couple with all their "pardon my gender type" repartee. Too bad she had to go so quickly.

38. Oooh, it's that little Ratboy Krycek! Doesn't look like life on the run agrees with him too much. Where's that spiffy little haircut now? (But aren't TPTB clever, not putting Nicholas Lea in the opening credits so we would be surprised! I like that!)

39. It really seems to me that everyone in Hong Kong has a gun *except* Mulder. He'd only drop it anyway.

40. TWC6: Pardon this interruption of "High Noon in Hong Kong" to say that Mulder looks fine in that red light!

41. That tricky Krycek. He's always up to no good!

42. In lieu of gun, Mulder drops handcuff key.

43. So, the black oil not only moves from body to body with relative ease, it can also radiate you pretty handily. (Either that, or Mrs. Gauthier makes an excellent night light.)

44. Poor Walter. Always eating alone. Doesn't he have any friends at the FBI except M&S?

45. Naturally, being a good guy, he tries to help out the waitress and takes a bullet for his troubles. Wait a second . . . isn't that the guy who was with Krycek when Melissa was murdered? (He's also the guy who saw the invisible elephant in "Fearful Symmetry," but who's counting.) Who'd have thought that Melissa's murder was so important in the whole conspiracy scheme of things.

46. I'm not sure which is more disgusting. The spitting or the "Chupa dura, amigo" ("Suck hard, friend"),

47. Guess Skinner likes Scully more than he lets on since she seems to be on the list of people to call in case of emergency. I guess Walter really doesn't have any friends . . . at the FBI or otherwise!

48. Flight 1121 back to Washington. We got it.

49. Mulder reaches out to touch someone . . . and it's Krycek!

50. I like how nobody in the airport seems to notice while Mulder beats the crap out of Krycek. (And looks like he's been getting head-butting lessons from Skinner and Mr. X!)

51. And though Mulder has a hard time holding onto his own gun, he proves once again that taking Krycek's away is like taking candy from a baby.

52. But I have always been intrigued that Krycek says he didn't kill Mulder's father when it seems like that is one detail that could not be denied. You don't think there are a bunch of Krycek clones running around out there do you? Maybe he came out of the Russian Factory.

53. Mulder's got Krycek right where he wants him-but is still willing to make a deal for that pesky little digital tape. Didn't that cause you enough trouble in "Anasazi"?

54. TWC7: But FINALLY, the HFC moment, as Mulder agrees to a deal and sends Krycek off to the bathroom.

55. But speaking of that, Mulder, what were you thinking letting Krycek go off to the rest room by himself? I know you don't want to do anything that would perpetuate those Mulder/Krycek fanfics, but letting him out of your sight, even for three minutes? Too bad Scully's not there to check you for head trauma.

56. And another thing. Where's that eidetic memory when you need it? You didn't see the picture of Mr. & Mrs. Gauthier while you were busy sticking your fingers in the oily goo? She walks right by you and you don't even notice? I am truly disappointed. ("Well, I wouldn't want to disappoint you by not disappointing you." Tee-hee-just had to use that one again!)

57. On the upside, I personally enjoyed seeing Krycek get beat up by a woman while he was taking a leak, especially after that little smirk when he noticed her high heels (maybe Krycek has a footwear fetish too).

58. I guess this was our first introduction to a new breed of alien, who doesn't have to bother with shapeshifting into people we all know and love but can just ooze into whoever or whatever it wants to through some orifice that so far has remained nameless. (And in under three minutes too!) Is the Black Oil Alien of the same race as the Alien Bounty Hunter? I'm sure one of these days all this will be sorted out; I just hope I still have all my faculties so I can try and understand it!

59. So Mulder thinks he's got his man, but Krycek is a *new* man, literally. I will never forget the very first time I saw this episode and how I made a little gasp when the black oil filtered over Krycek's eyes. Watch out Mulder . . . and try to hold on to Krycek's gun! You might need it. To be continued . . .

60. For better or worse, there it is. I hope these TOTMs are helping you to fondly recall these episodes, especially, the mytharcs. They help me to recall a time when M&S were still a little bit innocent, when they were still very much together, even when separated for most of the episode (like this one), and when the boys at 1013 took every opportunity to make us think, to challenge our belief system, and to give us a good old fashioned scare. My, my, it's getting a little deep in here, isn't it? Somebody hand me a shovel!

61. "Well, maybe not a shovel. Maybe a backhoe."

Apologies of mytharc proportions,