Theatre of the Mind ~ Agua Mala

I must admit that the prospects of writing the TOTM for "Agua Mala" weren't really thrilling me at all. It's not my *least* favorite episode by any means and actually I kind of like it but it's not my most favorite episode either. But then, I sat down to watch "Agua Mala" in order to write the TOTM and a miracle occurred. Something so unexpected and charming that in one fell swoop it reconfirmed exactly why I have spent the last eight years loving this show. I'll let the TOTM tell you what happened . . .

1. Spanish title. I am become skeptical. Teso Dos Bichos ... El Mundo Gira ... do you see a pattern developing here?

2. Mom Shipley seems to know that the real danger is coming up through the drain ... so why is she wasting time hammering boards over the windows?

3. I don't know about you, but I always start up a load of laundry when a hurricane is bearing down.

4. An episode with a Spanish title *and* a cat. I am become *more* skeptical.

5. Do I think I should be at all worried about someone named "Ship"ley with a 13 on his back getting sucked down the drain? Naw, I'm sure it doesn't mean anything ...

6. Anyone else have a Sigmund and the Sea Monsters flashback?

7. Mulder's Kitchen - little seen but much beloved by this X-Phile. And he's got a TV in there, which means he does spend some time there occasionally.

8. Wow! A vermin-eye-view of much of Mulder's apartment. My Epiphany: When I watch the episode prior to writing the TOTM, I print out the episode transcript on which to make my notes. Now occasionally, on the episode transcript the person who typed the transcript will include snippets of dialogue that are included on the closed captioning but are not included in the audio. Generally, I don't pay much attention to those and just skip over them in the script. But just after the teaser ended, my telephone rang; I picked it up and hit the "mute" button on the remote. (I discovered a few weeks ago that when you hit the "mute" on my new TV, the closed captioning comes on automatically which was very cool and not a feature on my old TV. Anyway, I digress.) As I chatted, the credits and commercials rolled by and then the ep started, as did the closed captioning which went something like this as it accompanied the VerminCam: "[phone rings] Hi, this is Fox Mulder. You can leave me a message after the beep." The usual Mulder message. But then something quite unexpected happened. This appeared on my screen: "If this is you, Scully, call me on my cell phone. I think you know the number." What? I don't remember that line in this episode! I'm not sure, but I think I hung up on the person on the phone. I quickly clicked the "mute" off and watched again. Nope, just the usual Mulder message. Then I glanced at the script, and it confirmed that my eyes were not deceiving me. It noted that the closed captioning had added the line. I'm not sure why, but this line tickled me down to my little toes. Perhaps because it couldn't have come at a better time than after the rough seas of "Two Fathers/One Son" nearly capsized the ship. It is playful, and sweet, and the kind of message you leave on your answering machine for someone you love. At least that's the way I read it. Why, oh why, couldn't they have left this on the audio track? Now I'm wondering if those who use the closed captioning feature have a whole different take on the MSR. Okay, continuing on with the TOTM, but with renewed vigor!! I guess all things do happen for a reason.

9. I think it's about time for Mulder to buy a new answering machine. That one looks like a mate to Scully's old 20 pound cordless phone.

10. Arthur Dales calls Mulder an "X-Files man," but had Kersh put M&S back on the XF? Well, yes. We just missed it because "Arcadia" was shown out of order, and in that ep Mulder notes that it is M&S's first catch back on the XF. "Agua Mala" should follow "Arcadia."

11. Mr. Dales hasn't aged much since he met Mulder nearly ten years ago in "Travelers."

12. Lucky Scully gets to have the wet look two episodes in a row! I'll bet filming this episode was a real picnic for *everybody* concerned.

13. Why did he bring her? Cause she's not the type that's easily persuaded, she has a knack for getting to the bottom of things, and she's full of dubiousness. A match made in heaven.

14. Do you think she listened to his answering machine in *his* apartment?

15. TWC1: Even wet and laughing at a fart joke, he's still got it.

16. Seems neither Dales nor Scully like each other very much. I think that's cause they both love Mulder.

17. It's the Big Ass Flashlights! It's the Little Ass Flashlights! It's a Plethora of Flashlights!!

18. You'd think at some point he'd get beyond that "stickin' his fingers in" phase, don't you? And this goo seems to have a life of its own.

19. I believe Reggie was the smartest Shipley. Taking the washing machine for a "spin."

20. M&S performing oral flashlight ... should this be rated NC-17?

21. TWC2: I'd like to get the drop on *him* sometime.

22. Reggie the Wonder Cat creates a diversion!

23. Oh, the Mulderisms: "No, I'm not, but I'd like to."

24. Maybe that closed captioning thing has me giddy, but M&S sure seem more like an old married couple in this episode than ever. Like how she says she'll be waiting in the car.

25. Not sure that I've ever mentioned it, but Mulder says "no, no, no" a lot (nearly has the same effect on me as his "hullo"). (Almost undid me when DD said it in "Evolution.")

26. I think Scully just wants to go home and dry her hair.

27. Scully, you said vampires didn't exist either and look what happened there.

28. Mulder will never be unemployed; he can always get a job narrating Discovery channel nature documentaries.

29. Manson Family? Well, he's already got the nickname for it. Spooky, Squeaky. Squeaky, Spooky.

30. Seriously, would you stick your hand down that drain? Even to rescue the "Ship"ley?

31. SpeedRacer!Mulder and more Mulderisms: "Just one howdy doo over the line."

32. Car 54, where are you? You youngun's probably don't remember it, but I do.

33. Reggie is one resourceful feline. Good time for a ride-along.

34. Gee, I love getting back to the traditional getting-killed-in-the-bathroom X-Files.

35. MSRM/GPM: It's two ... two ... two moments in one! They are *so* married here as Scully tries to get help via telephone. Banter, tease, nag, nag, tease, banter, banter. Too cute.

36. I think after the end of Season 8, Mulder probably said these words to Scully again: "You know, Scully, someday we're going to look back on this and we're going to laugh."

37. Back to the Big Ass flashlights!!

38. Some people will just stick their fingers into *anything*.

39. TWC3: Did I say I loved those Mulderisms? "I've heard of passing the time ... Ouch."

40. Dr. Scully, Medicine Woman to the rescue! Eww, remember where that Leatherman's been! Squeamish!Mulder is not amused.

41. Chill out, Arthur! You don't know our Scully! Oh, ye of little faith.

42. Walter and Angela in "Agua Mala," Wallace and Angela in "Field Trip." What's up with that?

43. I guess Mulder got that "bring it on" thing from George.

44. No, Angela, you're not giving birth to the Christ child. That'll be Scully's job.

45. Who knew that inside Agent Scully there was a little Agent MacGyver just aching to get out!

46. I can't read that kind of thermometer either (though I think it's kind of cute watching Mulder be Scully's medical assistant). (And the wetter she gets, the bossier she gets.)

47. Favorite Mulderism: "Someone's already got him by the nugs."

48. Don't you just love it when Scully gives that "everyone remain calm" speech?

49. I know how Angela feels. When you gotta go, you gotta go.

50. TWC4: Arguing the existence of sea monsters. Hoo-boy!

51. Just goes to show that babies aren't the only thing you should look for when you throw out the bathwater.

52. Look out, Mulder!

53. I gotta give Mulder a lot of credit trying to get back to Scully when he knew a Leatherman tracheotomy with his name on it was probably waiting.

54. Only David Amann's second script, so I guess we'll cut him some slack; but you and I both know that our Scully would never have let that guy keep her from getting to Mulder.

55. Sorry, just gotta laugh as Scully is gathering her baby-delivering supplies. Remember the bloopers.

56. TWC5: I even love footwear at a distance as Mulder goes kersplat at the end of the hall.

57. Now, I'm not a doctor or anything, but I would think it would be much easier to deliver the baby if Angela removed her pants. It's just a suggestion.

58. Gasping!Mulder! Poor baby! Good thing Reggie appears to save the day once more! (Everybody remember DD telling the story about this cat when he was on Leno?)

59. I don't know about you, but I could go for some whale songs right about now.

60. Once you've delivered a baby with a hurricane blowing outside and a sea monster threatening inside, I'm sure giving birth in front of a bunch of aliens seems trite.

61. "Just point and shoot." He's not takin' a picture, Scully. There's a little more pressure than that.

62. I think Mulder sort of likes showing off his sea monster scars.

63. I hope M&S didn't get any baby-naming ideas from this episode. William Democrat Hot Springs Fox Scully Mulder, Jr. He would *need* to be full of piss and vinegar.

64. Agent MacScully has certainly impressed Arthur Dales. He knows his boy Mulder is in good hands.

65. There's that "no, no, no" again.

66. The MREs (Mulder Rational Explanations) just pale in comparison to the SRE's (Scully's).

67. TWC6: Holy Flaming Cow! Though I like Wet!Mulder a lot, he looks pretty good dry as well.

68. I shudder to think what would have happened to him too. I guess the moral of the story is that the mark of a great man is to have a good woman beside him, and but for the grace of a "savvy partner" named Dana Scully, Mulder might end up like Dales alone in his bathrobe in a trailer park somewhere. You didn't get that? You mean you thought this episode was about sea monsters and man against the elements and all that stuff? "Don't all the nuts roll down to Florida."

"Agua Mala" is one of those episodes that can easily become a guilty pleasure, an episode that is better when you haven't seen it in awhile and *after* you've seen some of Season 8. And of course, for me, "Agua Mala" turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It proved to me that no matter how many times I've watched each episode, there is still always something there to be discovered, maybe hiding in plain sight or hidden just beneath the surface. After I get done writing these TOTMs, I think I'm going to go back to the beginning and watch every episode with the closed captioning on. It may just give *me* a whole different perspective on things, and at the very least I'm sure it will keep my interest in the XF (at least the M&S version) going strong for many days to come. Say, you don't suppose that little closed captioning thing is something that Chris Carter does on purpose, do you? Something he does just to drive people like me mad? Something he does to test my mettle? Hey, Chris --

"I don't need my mettle tested."

With apologies as always,