Theatre of the Mind ~ The Field Where I Died
(a/k/a Duchovny's Bid for An Emmy)
Before I begin, let me just say that I know that this is a much-hated episode in the annals of all shipperdom. Make no mistake-I am a shipper. But I love this episode. I'll try to explain why throughout this TOTM. And there *are* some things to be thankful for in The Field Where I Died; I'll try to point them out as I go along too (TTBTF=Things To Be Thankful For). (More acronyms-we need those like a hole in the head (AHITH).) And for those who didn't like this episode because it seemed to imply that M&S would never be anything more than best buds and someone else might actually be Mulder's soulmate-believe me, you needn't have worried. I'll tell you why at the end!
1. TTBTF1: Beautiful cinematography in this ep, beginning with the sweeping shot through the field.
2. TTBTF2: This faraway shot of Mulder gets used in a lot of collages and fanfic dust covers. Like he's contemplating something really deep or thinking about Scully or something.
3. Mulder's soliloquy at the beginning of the episode (which coincidentally is also the end of the episode) is a portion of a long poem by Robert Browning call Parcelsus. It is not about Bill Parcells, but instead it suggests reincarnation which is of course partly what this episode is all about.
4. Mulder usually reserves that wounded puppy dog look for Scully.
5. The soldier looks a little like Mulder, but the belle doesn't look like Scully Oh-oh. I think some might rename this episode right now: The Field Which We've Denied.
6. It's nice seeing M&S in raid-wear again, playing well with all the other agents. Even if it is 5:15 a.m.
7. Mulder seems to be having a door epiphany.
8. TWC1: Woo-hoo, good golly Miss Molly! Mulder in kevlar is a field of dreams!
9. An underground shelter. Are you sure this isn't The Field Where I Hide?
10. Cocktails, anyone? Perhaps it's The Field Where I Committed Suicide?
11. I guess Season 4 marks the return of the prodigal sons (Morgan & Wong-and the other Morgan, too), and they've brought along their pals from Space: Above and Beyond. They probably said, "Hey, we can get you work on the XF!" First the Sheriff in Home, later Ed Jerse in Never Again, and Melissa Ephesian in this episode. (All penned by Morgan & Wong, coincidentally.)
12. But there's such a thing as carrying nepotism a bit too far! At the time this episode was filmed, Kristen Cloke (Melissa) was Glen Morgan's fiancee (and is now his wife).
13. Love the effect of the flashing mug shots, ending with Melissa's.
14. TWC2: Mulder sitting staring at Melissa's photo, sticking his fingers in better places than usual.
15. Good Skinner here as he gets to play the tough FBI boss who has to answer to Janet Reno. In a related issue, in which episode of Season 8 do you think the "photo switch" will occur? (Out with Clinton, in with Dubya?)
16. Poor Mulder. It still hurts when the other kids call you names.
17. TTBTF3: The shot when Scully leans in to ask Mulder in a whisper how he knew about the bunkers. This photo has been used in more collages than I can shake a stick at!
18. Though we did believe that M&S occasionally do regular FBI-type work, thanks to Skinner for clueing us in on why they're on the case.
19. A combination of Waco and Jonestown. Oy vey.
20. I too have spent a life the sages' way and tread once more familiar paths. I guess that's why Vernon looks so familiar . . . wasn't he an FBI agent in another life (Playing God)?
21. Vernon was David Koresh's real first name. Ephesians is a book of the Bible.
22. TWC3: Mulder questioning Melissa, hoo-boy!
23. "I'd have a tough time if my husband had so many children with other women." But suppose your husband had no control over how his sperm was used while some aliens had him by the gonads?
24. For a minute there, I thought Melissa was channeling the soul of Gilbert Gottfried.
25. They're good. Now they can argue just by passing notes.
26. "It's not just that. Somehow, I just knew." Maybe Mulder was Eve 6 in a past life.
27. TWC4: Lots of hand gestures as Mulder explains Melissa's multiple personalities to Skinner. Lots and lots of hand gestures. I like it.
28. Obviously, Skinner forgets things from time to time too. I find it odd that he asks Scully her opinion about the validity of multiple personalities. Isn't Mulder the psychologist? Guess he'll start asking Mulder about autopsies soon.
29. Did Scully just call Mulder a chicken? (In a way only Scully can?)
30. TTBTF4: A beautiful piano score by Mark Snow. Some of his best work.
31. Didn't you want to see Scully try and do that thing with her lip and her tongue?
32. Oh, oh. Melissa is having the same reaction as Mulder to that glass door. Maybe it's not the door. Maybe it's The Field That I Spied.
33. TWC5: Oh, lordy, the way he stops and looks out over the field, like he's afraid to go on cause he has a feeling that he just can't figure out? This is soon to be The Field Where I Cried-he looks so darn fantastic.
34. Agent Scully: Have notepad, will travel.
35. For all the other emoting that Double D does in this Emmy bid, I think his acting is most overpowering here as his face shows the impact of the tale that Melissa spins. Affected, but yet not. Cause somehow, he just knew.
36. November 26 and 27. I guess late November is tough for Mulder no matter what incarnation he is in.
37. Still using their SUV upgrade, I see.
38. Scully pulling the cord out of the cell phone-too funny.
39. "You were there, Scully! You saw it! You heard it! Why can't you believe it?" My heart breaks.
40. There's great acting all around in this episode, and Kristen Cloke's turn through her regression is just one example.
41. TWC6: As Mulder prepares to bring the regressed Melissa to her Civil War incarnation . . . holy flaming cow!
42. Haven't you always wondered what color Mulder's eyes were in his other life?
43. TTBTF5: Another great photo op as Scully is kneeling next to Mulder who has his head in his hands after wiping tears from his eyes as Melissa talks about their life together.
44. "Wouldn't you, Scully? Wouldn't anybody?" No, she probably wouldn't, Mulder.
45. Great job by DD as he takes us through Mulder's past lives, especially effective in conjunction with the tight close-up.
46. Anyone who is concerned about the Season 8 timeline obviously never watched this episode. If CSM can be around in Mulder's past life in Poland as a Gestapo agent at a time when he was most certainly alive in *this* life, you think Scully can't be pregnant for 12-14 months? Think again.
47. I actually feel it's kind of a nice idea to think that you come back life after life inexorably linked to the same people over and over again, different but always together.
48. Interesting that in both of Mulder's regressions Scully is male and an authority figure. I guess that explains why she's so bossy sometimes.
49. But I imagine hearing "he is Scully" not once but twice can be a little disconcerting. Maybe that's what precipitated the black bra thing.
50. Of course, the reason that everyone was up in arms about this episode was because Mulder's regression confession implied that although his and Scully's lives and souls will be forever intertwined, Scully is eternally destined to never be more than sidekick, second banana, pal, companion, buddy, comrade, friend. Period. And it also implies that Mulder's true soulmate is Melissa because "souls mate eternal", and Melissa fills this role in both of Mulder's past lives. Yup, that would seem to put a crimp in the old MSR, wouldn't it? Now before you begin calling this episode "The Field Where Noromos and Shippers Collide," remember, I told ya, don't worry about it! (I'm gonna tell you why at the end, I promise!)
51. I did love that slight little smile when Mulder mentions Scully in his regression, though. Like he is happy that Scully is there with him. (Although they are dead-that's sort of a bummer.)
52. As lovely as Mark Snow's music is throughout this episode, I was just longing to hear that beautiful music from Ken Burns' "The Civil War" when Mulder said, "My name is Sullivan Biddle."
53. Since Scully asks Sullivan Mulder about the bunkers, does that imply that she believes?
54. This is *some* Hall of Records! Not only is it open at 4:12 a.m., but they also have everything so neatly labeled! The only thing missing is a drawer labeled, "Photographs-Civil War-People Who Look Like Mulder." This county clerk deserves a bonus!
55. Awww, he called her Dana for the first time since Season 1, I believe. You know, now might be a good time to try "Fox" just once more . . .
56. MSRM: Sometimes it's best to go for the obvious. ". . . that we'd been friends together in other lifetimes . . ."
57. Of all the things Scully could change in four years together, she picked the Flukeman thing?
58. Again, DD's quiet kung fu is the best. His look when Melissa says, "I want to believe," just perfect.
59. TWC7: "If it were true . . . no life would be pointless." And he called her "Sarah."
60. Melissa rips up the picture and rips out his heart. Scully wouldn't do that, Mulder. She'd always respect the journey.
61. In the end, it's all for naught, as Ephesian's followers step onto the road to Jonestown. Right down to the Kool-Aid aperitifs.
62. Also, if I have the choice in the future of Mulder going back to the habit of sticking his fingers in things or running out unarmed and un-kevlar-ed into the open where people are firing machine guns, I think I'll choose finger-sticking. (And I do think Scully could have come up with some better parting words than, "You're dead," even if she did think she was stuck being Robin to Mulder's Batman, Tonto to Mulder's Lone Ranger, Kato to Mulder's Green Hornet, or Kathie Lee to Mulder's Regis, for all eternity.)
63. Again, great work by Kristen Cloke during her death scene. So does Melissa's death mean that Mulder's long-lost soulmate has gone on without him and that he will never find love in this lifetime? Don't you believe it. Yeah, I know I said I was gonna explain it. I'm gettin' to it.
64. And equally great work by DD as he comes upon the pile of bodies and seeks out the only one that really does matter to him. Then taking the photo and following Melissa's previous gaze out upon The Field Where He Died. Heartbreaking. Mulder has two more photographs for his guilt scrapbook. DD won't get his Emmy, but it was a worthwhile try.
65. Be like me, and imagine that great "The Civil War" theme playing during Mulder's final reading of the poem: I, too, have spent a life the sage's way and tread once more familiar paths. Perchance I perished in an arrogant, self-reliance an age ago . . . And in that act, a prayer for one more chance went up so earnest, so . . . Instinct with better light let in by death that life was blotted out not so completely . . . But scattered wrecks enough of it to remain dim memories . . . as now . . . when seems once more, The goal in sight again.
66. I know of many shippers who were so disgusted with this episode that they have never watched it again and always include it on their "least favorite" list. I'm telling you, you don't know what you're missing. The Field Where I Died has some great character development and I think it only reaffirms the very special bond that M&S have with each other. I mean, not only are they linked together in mind and body and dangerous purpose, but their *souls* are entangled for all eternity, for God's sake! You can't be much more together than that. Still not convinced? Okay, I'll tell you why it was silly for you to worry.
67. TTBTF6: All right, boys and girls, pay attention now cause I'm gonna tell you why you have fretted needlessly over the goings-on in this little episode. In three plus years as X-Philes, what is our biggest pet peeve? What is the *one* thing we complain about above all else? The *one* thing that drives us crazy! The *one* thing that causes us to gnash our teeth, pull out our hair, and curse the heavens and TPTB at 1013? What is it? Say it with me now. LACK OF CONTINUITY. Listen to me now and hear me later, grasshoppers! At last we can *embrace* the lack of continuity! This is the *one* time it works in our favor! Luckily for us the Melissa/Mulder soul-mates thing will go the way of Mulder's fear of fire, Scully's godson, Mulder's Speedos and Scully's tattoo: all things seen once, never to be seen or heard from again. Believe you me, this is a stand-alone episode, the events of which will not impact one iota anything else that occurs in the XF Universe, and that's why I can enjoy it so completely. Since Melissa and Mulder's past lives will never be mentioned again, we can go right on believing that it is Mulder and *Scully* who are the soul-mates or touchstones or constants or whatever you want to call them. So fugedaboudit! See how simple?
68. So there you have it. Maybe this TOTM will allow you to go back and revisit this episode with a new appreciation for all it has to offer. Maybe you'll even like this episode the next time you see it. Maybe you'll hate it just as much as you always have. Maybe the TOTMs should have a higher purpose. Maybe they should concentrate less on jokes and totally worthless commentary and more on loftier goals. You know what? "Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn't change a day."
Well, I hope I gave you a different perspective anyway.
This is the Field Where I Tried.
Apologies offered in a slight southern accent and a yawn. My soul is tired. I want to rest.