Theatre of the Mind ~ Milagro
Like the writer in "Milagro" who stares at his blank page, I have been sitting here staring at a blank computer screen for days on end. And still inspiration does not come. How do I write this Theatre of the Mind? How do I bring this story and these characters that I love so much to life how do I imbue them with spirit and effervescence so that you can see them in your mind's eye without the benefit of celluloid? I stare at the screen; the screen stares back. In my head I hear a constant pounding is it the onset of a headache or the rhythm of my own heart, drowning out all other sounds to further remind me of the daunting task at hand? The reverberation envelops me until it threatens to overwhelm, to crush me in defeat. What if inspiration never comes? What if the blank page is never filled? As I push an errant strand of chestnut hair behind my ear, my prompt mind runs through the golconda of possibilities, and I come to realize that before I can proceed I must look up the word golconda. And yet, the screen remains empty.
I pace. I have no cigarettes so I puff on a Twizzler. I write down my ideas on Post-its and place them on the wall. Now they gaze down at me relentless and unyielding, saffron squares tormenting my very being. I fill a glass with clear, cold water in an attempt to quench my anguish; I drain it dry; then place it between my ear and the blank television screen to try and draw enlightenment from within, all to no avail. The sun sets, and rises, and sets again and again and still the screen is empty. I light up another Twizzler, then go into the bathroom where I toss my Twizzler butt into the toilet and watch it flushed away with all my determination and resolve. So this is how the TOTMs will end, their fate sealed as the writer is no longer able to be a marshal of cold facts, quick to organize, connect, shuffle, reorder, and synthesize their relative hard values into discreet categories. Done in by the uncertainties of a skeptical heart. As I stare at my reflection my only thoughts are of those I have disappointed and betrayed, those who are anxiously waiting for a TOTM that will never appear in their in-box. My heart aches if only I could rip it from my chest to gaze upon it and see the words that are locked inside, the words that refuse to make their way from my aortic core to the screen. If by doing so I could remove the wall I have built around my heart, unlock the mysteries that have been imprisoned there for so long, and pour them into this Theatre of the Mind then it would truly be a "milagro" - a miracle. My fingers move slowly to my breast, drawn toward the life that beats within, ready to tear it from the confines of my body, to hold it in my hand and in its reality find the motivation that I have been seeking. As I hold it aloft and stare at its rhythmic and steady beating, an unnerving fear envelopes me a fear that I will never regain what I have lost and instead be forced to write long-winded, over-emotional, melodramatic, prologues for each and every TOTM a fear that I have become Chris Carter ...
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So here goes nothin'.
1. Well, this scene looks familiar. Title it, "Writer's Block," or "Why It Took Polly Seven Days to Write This TOTM."
2. You'll notice that the Writer uses the famous 1013-index-card system for plotting his story. Trivia: The index cards in this scene are actually plot points from the T.S. Eliot poem, "The Wasteland." That's the poem that begins ... "April is the cruelest month ..."
3. Do you think Mulder has that nice stained glass window in his bathroom? Do you think Mulder *has* a bathroom?
4. The kudos come early and often in this episode: First, to Mark Snow for a truly wonderful score, supplemented in this scene by the recording of a human heartbeat.
5. Is this like a metaphor for looking into your own heart or can this guy really do this? Ewww.
6. Next time when you need relief? Trust me. It's spelled R-O-L-A-I-D-S.
7. More kudos to Director Kim Manners as it's established in the first elevator scene that we are meant to see Scully in a very different way in this episode, starting with the extreme close-ups of her eyes and lips. We are meant to look closer and deeper at the real Dana Scully, not the one she puts on display for everyone else; not the one who has built a wall around her heart, afraid to let anyone inside the barrier.
8. Bad elevator etiquette. But it's nice to know that the eye rolls are not reserved exclusively for Mulder.
9. TWC1: Woo-hoo! I love a man with good dental hygiene.
10. Four out of five dentists recommend you brush and floss after every meal. The fifth dentist recommends that after brushing you swallow the toothpaste and wash it down with a gulp of coffee. Yuck.
11. The apartment next door to Mulder's is vacant. Imagine that. Sucker.
12. More kudos to Kim for the overhead shot of M&S on the couch. Several times in "Milagro," he lets the camera serve as the voyeur, adding to the frightening undertones of the episode.
13. But shouldn't Mulder's kitchen be on the other side of that vent? I know. Nitpicking.
14. Thanks for reminding me of that wonderful M&S yin and yang that I'm never gonna get again.
15. TWC2: Holy Flaming Cow! The "perfect crime" here is that anyone can look that good after swallowing their toothpaste.
16. "You find his motive, and you find the murderer." Motives of all kinds will be important here.
17. It's the return of Angelo! (That's Angelo Vacco who was a production assistant in Vancouver and who also appeared in "F. Emasculata" and "Talitha Cumi." Eagle-eyed Angie K. also says he appeared in "Evolution" with DD. I never saw him, but I *never* argue with Angie K.!)
18. "There's a console between us. I mean, how much can I do?" I've heard that one before.
19. Another reminder that Scully is a "sexual" being as well as a "scientific" one. She wears a skirt for much of this episode, and we get long camera pans of her legs several times. Not to mention that those heels are getting higher. (I told you, it's all about the footwear!)
20. Angelo? Sixteen? Uh huh. And I'll be 29 forever.
21. GPM: Okay, once again, it's the only one but it's a good one all the same. Totally OT: Did anyone read the Tea interview the other day when she said she gave good phone? I about peed the floor. Seems DD gets good phone at work and at home.
22. Something slipped under *his* door? We'll get to that later ...
23. BTW: Golconda = a source of great riches, such as a mine. And I'll throw in a freebie. Condign = deserved, adequate.
24. More kudos for the camera swirling slowly around Scully and the Writer. I suppose the debate will go on forever whether Scully was being controlled psychically by this man or whether her actions were hers alone. But more on that later too ...
25. "... an errant strand of titian hair behind her ear ..."? There's a fanfic joke in here somewhere, but I can't quite seem to find it.
26. Gee, a writer secretly in love with Scully. How do the boys at 1013 keep coming up with these?
27. I never realized it was so easy to drop stuff off at the FBI in a plain white envelope and have it delivered to its destination within the hour. Just renews my faith in cutting edge law enforcement.
28. More conspiracy theories regarding Scully's office or lack thereof: If the charm was delivered to Scully, as Mulder suggests, then why was it slipped under *his* door unless it is also *her* door? Unless, of course, the folks at reception know that Scully spends all her time in Mulder's office anyway ...
29. There will be acting kudos all the way around, but let's start with Duchovny. Though this is clearly a GA-centric episode, DD is at the top of his game. And perhaps borrowing a little from his co-star's specialty, this time he does his best work when he says nothing at all and let's his face convey the range of emotions, starting here with his "What did I do?" look as Scully berates him for making her schedule. Great mix of confusion and astonishment as he's called on the carpet for something he's done day in and day out for six years.
30. TWC3: His hair also conveys quite a bit in this episode. The Flowbee Days are almost gone, and in true fanfic fashion, soon Scully will be able to brush back that errant lock of auburn that falls over his forehead. :::sigh:::!
31. The voyeur cam at work again, hiding behind a pillar as Scully enters the church. (And this looks like the same church that will be used in "Hollywood AD.")
32. The painting that draws Scully to the church, "The Divine Heart," was commissioned especially for this episode, based on the real story of Saint Margaret Mary and the Revelation of the Sacred Heart. Go here http://www.mantle.org/devotion/histsacheart.html if you'd like to read more about it.
33. And now kudos for Anderson. As noted, she has always done her best work without words, letting her eyes and her face convey the emotions. The scene in the church might be her best work ever in this vein. Her eyes are truly the windows to Scully's soul as this stranger begins to lay out intimate details of her life. She is all at once fascinated, flattered, flustered, and frightened; tears come to her eyes, but she beats a hasty retreat before the stranger can see how he has shaken her to the core.
34. Thanks to the Writer's observations, it appears that Scully has lived in Georgetown and driven the same car since 1993. (Guess it wasn't her personal car that got squashed in "One Son.")
35. The Writer also calls attention to Scully's muscular calves so that we'll notice them in that next leg shot. (No doubt she practices running in those high heels!)
36. Not so funny when you're on the other side of the ditch, is it Agent Mulder?
37. I'm glad they showed us that close-up detail of the charm before. Makes it so much easier to spot the fact that what Scully has in her hand is flat on both sides and not even remotely similar to the charm. I know, nitpicking ...
38. More great non-verbal emoting by Duchovny as his face displays a wide range of emotions as Scully tells him about her encounter. Everything from ironic amusement to disbelief to jealousy and finally anger just under the surface. He wants to go home and beat the crap out of this guy ...
39. But he settles for mail theft instead. Constitution? I don't need no stinkin' Constitution.
40. TWC4: Hoo-boy! This gives a whole new meaning to the term "male-man."
41. More Trivia: Phillip Padgett was the name of a character that Nic Lea portrayed in an episode of a SciFi series called, "The Burning Zone." He played a cult leader and evil psychic surgeon. John Hawkes, who plays Padgett, appeared with DD in "Playing God."
42. It appears from the postmark that Padgett's letter was mailed from "Your Town, U.S.A." No wonder Padgett doesn't get any telephone calls. That's just north of Nowheresville.
43. Seeing that Hegal Place address in writing always reminds me that it is probably a reference to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the German philosopher who proposed that truth is reached by a continuing dialectic (the exchange of logical arguments). I think I'm gonna call them the Dialectic Duo!
44. There is some top dog posturing going on in this elevator. I thought we were done with "Alpha."
45. A manual typewriter. Is this another metaphor for the simplistic life that the Writer leads or did Padgett just get this at a CSM yard sale? Here's a tip, Phil: at least get a correcting Selectric.
46. Another great sequence as Padgett's voiceover narrates Mulder's transformation to the voyeur and Scully's transformation from "doctor" to "woman" ... desirable woman.
47. In homage to our main man on the Haven Boards and his "fascination" with a certain article of undergarment favored by Agent Scully, I would now like to officially christen every future sighting of the black push-up bra as The Unbound Moment. (DeeDee suggests that this should perhaps more appropriately be called The BoundUp Moment, but I contend that the very sight of it causes some people to become Unbound ... or at least Undone, as it were.) And whoop ... there it is.
48. NOOOOOOOO!! This is not happening! This is not happening! (And it isn't. Yet.)
49. It's nice to know that 1013 is able to maintain at least a little continuity. No matter who Scully is kissing passionately, the scene seems to be lit with the Little Ass Flashlights. Couldn't we drag out them Big Ass 'Uns just once? (Okay, I'll wait for "Existence.")
50. A good question: had Padgett's attraction just unleashed something that was already there or helped Scully to rediscover a side of herself she kept hidden. A better question: "What would her partner think of her?" He's doing that right now.
51. How creepy it must be to have someone writing about you and you don't even know it, fixating on parts of your body and writing suggestive things about ... um, let's move on, shall we?
52. "Mr. Popularity." That's the pot calling the kettle "Mr. Popularity."
53. Another great moment as Scully is about to knock on Mulder's door but the sound of the typewriter becomes louder and louder, drawing her in until the "... compulsion was overwhelming ..." as we see Padgett type those words.
54. And now to address the argument: Is Scully being controlled by Padgett? Perhaps a little, but not psychically, at least in my opinion. Padgett's words and overtures have created chaos in Scully's usually very ordered world. She tells herself she cannot return the gesture, but for some reason, she is still drawn to find out more about this man, perhaps convincing herself that she is driven by her intellectual and professional curiosity. "Find the motive ..."
55. FWIW, I think the "motive" is sitting next door looking through the personals column ... only to solve the case, of course.
56. "My life's not so lonely." Uh, huh. You just keep telling yourself that, Dana.
57. Again great work by GA and kudos to John Hawks too for the scene inside Padgett's apartment. From the moment Scully enters she has lost that which she values most control. She is uneasy and awkward, and yet she stays. When Padgett admits he moved to Mulder's building to be near her and that his book is *about* her, her radar should have been telling her to get the heck outta Dodge. And yet she stays. She moves to the bedroom even though she feels uncomfortable doing so, and even though she has her gun she may now lack the assurance to use it should the need arise. And yet she stays. She admits to not knowing why she is standing there when her instincts are telling her to go. And yet she stays. "Motive is never easy." I've always loved this quote which I think is appropriate here: "The heart has its reasons that reason does not know." (Pascal)
58. I guess the burned out light bulb would explain that poor lighting problem mentioned earlier. But the bulb burning out the second time perhaps is a sign that this is not meant to be. Imagine that.
59. The two coffee cups, the two of them sitting on the bed the scene is set for the realization of Padgett's imagined tryst. So far everything that Padgett has imagined has come true. Will it happen? Can anything break through Scully's inner turmoil to help her choose the right path?
60. Constant/Touchstone! That's your cue! Please enter, stage left.
61. Wonderful work by DD! A slew of emotions crosses his face in an instant shock, concern, jealousy, insecurity, possessiveness, disgust, resentfulness, and the realization that Agent Scully, not exactly the most sexually spontaneous people, might have been preparing to do the wild thing with some stranger. (I needed a laugh and I love that blooper from Season 1!)
62. TWC5: I'm not exactly sure that a Mulder!Leap is a good enough reason to arrest someone but ... oh, enough with the nitpicking. Lord have mercy.
63. The dance between Mulder, Scully, and Padgett in the jail cell is another great moment, as Mulder and Padgett match wits and Scully referees. Padgett proves he can also match "good face" with M&S when he sees Scully place her hand on Mulder's arm. Many think that Padgett came to his realization about the M&S relationship with that one touch, but I think he knew it in his heart all along.
64. I hope Padgett is getting paid for this novel by the pound. 65. Love the bit where Padgett asks Mulder if he liked the book. Writers ... always wanting feedback.
66. I like Scully's analogy of the abilities of Padgett and Mulder, and I like seeing Jealous!Mulder.
67. Ah, to be back in the day when I was still so naive that I thought perhaps some episode could end with Scully doing the naked pretzel with "the Mulder" on a bed in a comfortably furnished fourth floor apartment. (Well, on second thought, maybe one did
68. The graveyard contains the tombstone of Diana and Nicholas Salinger, which happened to be the names of the deceased parents on FOX's "Party of Five." I swear, FOX will do anything for a plug.
69. Interesting choice to have Scully read Padgett's words over the cemetery scene.
70. TWC6: Nice footwear ... not Mulder's, but nice. Nice shades ... definitely Mulder's. Yum.
71. Special thanks to that cemetery worker for wearing his hood on a bright, sunny day. Otherwise, it might have taken hours to find the dead girl!
72. I'm not sure that the flying tackle was really necessary, but the demonstration of boyish agility always turns me on.
73. Best Carnac!Mulderism: "I imagined it."
74. Very cute moment when Mulder physically changes places with Scully as she is about to argue his side of that dialectic.
75. MSRM: The end scene is so obvious. I'd rather choose this one. "In my book, I'd written that Agent Scully falls in love but that's obviously impossible. Agent Scully is already in love." As we know, the MSR has always been best defined by others, and to me, Padgett's revelation is the defining MSR moment. At last someone speaks it aloud, not in a joking way, or mistaking them for a couple, but saying it flat, outright, to their faces. And although Scully says nothing, Mulder's very slight sideways glance at Scully says it all. He has been wearing his feelings on his sleeve for a while, and this is perhaps his first indication that Scully might feel the same. Still pointed out by someone else.
76. Though I've seen this episode many times, this is the first time I noticed that Padgett removed his shoes as soon as he returned to his apartment. It probably means nothing, but I just all of a sudden found it odd that later Scully has her shoes off, which delays her joining Mulder in going after Padgett.
77. Padgett finally confronts the killer he has imagined so perfectly (who also bears a striking resemblance to him), and discovers that this story won't have the ending that he desires. He recognizes Scully's motivation ("She's only trying to get his attention but doesn't know it."); and although all he wants is to open his own heart to feel love, he realizes this was not meant to be. At least not for him.
78. The shot of Scully lounging on Mulder's couch is a wonderful contrast to the bedroom scene in Padgett's apartment. Sitting on Padgett's bed, she was tense and nervous. Here, sitting on Mulder's "bed" (well, at least until recently), she is relaxed and comfortable shoes off, head back, eyes closed. Long before "all things," I think this is exactly where Agent Scully found her true path.
79. TWC7: Spy!Mulder. I like it.
80. What is it about Scully that every guy who falls for her has this penchant for burning things? I guess she does have to see who lights her fire.
81. Poor Scully. Tripped up by footwear.
82. No wonder this guy couldn't cut it as a "real" surgeon, since he is trying to extract Scully's heart through her belly button. I guess they just couldn't risk two Unbound Moments in one episode!
83. Amazing how the sound of a woman screaming at the top of her lungs from Mulder's apartment doesn't even rate a curious neighbor in the hall anymore.
84. Nice effect how the bullets that Scully shoots point blank go right into the wall and ceiling. (I always do laugh though when Mulder hears the shots from the basement and then makes this leisurely jog up the basement stairs as Padgett gathers the papers in the foreground. I always yell at him: "Hurry up!")
85. Luckily, by the time he gets to the fourth floor he does have it in high gear. And when he opens the apartment door: Yup, that's the panic face.
86. By sending his words into the flames, Padgett saves Scully's life, and then takes his own. He could not find love for himself, but he loved Scully so much that he did not want her to suffer his same lonely fate. By destroying his work and ending his life, Padgett gave Scully a precious gift: a chance to realize that she does have love in her heart for one man, and that she should allow herself to be loved by that man in return.
87. Many have said that Scully's hysterical reaction upon coming to after this ordeal is not true to the character. That she wouldn't allow Mulder to see her fall apart so completely in racking sobs, clawing at his back to draw him closer. I think that's exactly the point. Though there have been subtle signposts this season, "Milagro" is the turning point in the road and puts this relationship on a new level. This experience has changed both Mulder and Scully. Again they communicate with words unspoken, Mulder holding her tighter and closing his eyes realizing just how close he came to losing her once again; and the fear mixed with relief in Scully's eyes, wanting to feel safe and finally letting someone envelop her in their arms to let her know that she is protected and loved. For the first time she's not afraid to allow Mulder inside her heart. The walls she has built are beginning to crumble. She has finally realized that "The walls we build around us to keep out the sadness also keep out the joy." (Jim Rohn) "Loneliness is a choice," Scully said. Let's hope it's not her choice any longer.
A story can have only one true ending. Even as Polly felt compelled to commit her final words to paper, she did it knowing they must never be read (which isn't unusual for the TOTMs). To see the sum of her work was to see inside her own emptiness the heart of an apologizer, not a creator. And yet, reflected back upon her at last she could see her own ending. And in this final act of apologizing, a chance to give what she could not receive.
Well, it's finally done. "Imagine that."
For taking too long, and for making it too long, apologies as always,