Theatre of the Mind ~ S.R. 819

Did you ever have one of those months when you felt like you just got sucked up into a big ol' sphincter? Well, that's how June has felt to me. First, I was derailed by real life, then by Duchovnypalooza, then by real life again. Needless to say, where the TOTMs are concerned, I have not lived up to anyone's expectations, least of all my own. I will try to do better, but if you feel you must fire me from this precarious position, I'll understand. Please, just be gentle. In the meantime, here goes nothin.'

1. Mitch, here's the good news. We're getting ready to shoot our "Skinner-centric" episode for Season 6.

2. Mitch, here's the bad news. You die in the first five minutes. But don't worry, you'll still be the absent center of the show.

3. Mitch! Wake up! It'll be okay! Somebody want to toss some water on Mitch?

4. Of course, since Agent Scully is to be called, we're meant to believe that it's Agent Mulder who's going to die. (And in reality, in the original idea it *was* Agent Mulder who was supposed to be infected and have 24-hours to find his own killer (a la the film, "D.O.A." which provided the idea for this episode). But Spotsy convinced writer John Shiban that no one would *ever* believe they would kill off Mulder and suggested Skinner be the victim instead to make it more suspenseful, since all X-Philes know that *no* secondary character is safe on the X-Files.)

5. In a more serious "vein" (sorry, couldn't resist), is Agent Scully *everybody's* next of kin at the FBI?

6. I think he said, "Rosebud."

7. There's one other thing as certain as death and taxes: if you are dead or dying on the X-Files, we'll get a nice soliloquy to remember you by. And this Skinnerlogue doesn't disappoint: thoughts about choosing sides, fence-sitting, trying to find a delicate balance where one doesn't exist.

8. Welcome to the Manly-Man Gym, where manly-men go to do manly-men kind of things. I can almost smell the testosterone from here! And is that the "Rocky" theme I hear in the distance?

9. I can't tell if the trainer is doing a bad impression of Burgess Meredith as Rocky's trainer, Mickey, or as Batman's nemesis, The Penguin.

10. St. Katherine's Hospital is named for John Shiban's sister, Katie.

11. Gee, was that whole Mike Tyson ear-biting thing really that long ago?

12. *It's* in you, Walt. What's *it*? I think you know. (Now cut that out!)

13. Naw, don't bother using the antiseptic soap, Doc. It's just a hospital, for heaven's sake.

14. Poor Mulder. He *should* have been the one to get poisoned. At least he'd have something to do instead of sitting alone in the bullpen practicing for the Olympic Pencil Toss. Mulder, pick up the phone. Call Scully. See if she wants to come over and watch a movie or something.

15. TWC1: But, hoo boy, rolled-up shirtsleeves, feet up on the desk, pencil-tossing Mulder is a sight to behold. (Even some blurry footwear there for good measure!)

16. "I thought I'd poke my head in and say hey." It's like I can hear slash writers everywhere warming up their PCs.

17. Since Mulder has no life of his own, he's fishing for sordid details from Skinner.

18. GPM: Okay, it took place off camera, but I'll bet that was a nice phone call that Mulder made to Scully asking her to come. "No, I'm not making this up Scully. He's really hurt. He's got a big old bruise too! Much better than the kind I ever get. Come on over and play doctor!"

19. Why are all the lights out, Scully? Because this is a scary X-File! Not one of those fluffy episodes we've had so far this year! Thanks for wearing your trench, too. Nice touch!

20. I think Scully likes getting to play doctor on someone other than Mulder for a change.

21. Of course it's all about Mulder, Walter. Don't you know that by now? Despite what Scully says, *everything* is about Mulder.

22. Gee, Scully doesn't even offer a rational scientific explanation. She just jumps right on the Paranoia Bandwagon! I think she *has* been hanging around with Mulder too long.

23. Do you think Mulder is really trying to find out what happened to Skinner, or just get lots of little juicy details about his personal life? "Alone?"

24. TWC2: Who cares. He can play 20 Questions with me anytime.

25. It's Kim! The look-alike secretary who fulfills all Walter's little "Scully" fantasies!

26. Do you think Scully keeps pictures of famous physicists on her bulletin board at work much in the same way I keep pictures of Duchovny on mine? Inspiration comes in many shapes and sizes.

27. Scully must be having a "Demons" flashback about now. These men, they never listen!

28. I think M&S crossed that same bridge in the movie.

29. Speaking of the movie, Mark Snow got an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore) for "S.R. 819." I hate to be a party pooper, but I sure heard a lot of movie retread music in this episode. Well, I guess it didn't say "original" music composition!

30. Now *everybody's* got their trench on! Good work!

31. I see a definite spinoff possibility here after the XF is over: Mulder & Skinner as private eyes (Skinner, you and your pretty partner seem awfully close. Do you work well together?)

32. TWC3: Woo-hoo! Running!Mulder and Tackling!Mulder! I'm seeing this spinoff clearer and clearer.

33. And once again in a serious "vein" (still couldn't resist), Skinner isn't looking too good. I guess Scully will have to be in this spinoff too these P.I.s will need their own private doc.

34. Mulder: King of the Snappy Comeback. "Yeah, so's your mom."

35. You don't suppose the fact that these guys are from Tunisia has anything to do with corn crops growing in the dessert, and giant jiffy pop poppers filled with bees, do you? Naw, that would be too much like continuity.

36. TWC4: Worried!Mulder is so sweet! Now I can hear the little keys going clickety-clack on those slash writer PCs.

37. As someone who's also on a government HMO, this certainly fills me with confidence.

38. I'm not a hematologist, but I don't think your blood is supposed to separate like oil and water.

39. Messy!Mulder finds a pic of his old "friend" Senator Matheson among the clutter. Those little slash writer fingers are going a mile a minute now!

40. Skinner's got little bugs in his bloodstream that are multiplying faster than Ira's single-celled organisms in "Evolution."

41. Leaping!Mulder must be blinded by his concern for the Skinman. He's got the pieces and he still can't put the puzzle together. The Leaping!Mulder I know would have had this figured out long ago and would be back practicing his Olympic Pencil Toss by now.

42. TWC5: "Goodnight, Fox. Drive safely." Holy Flaming Cow! I love it when people call him Fox. And perhaps he does too. (The clicking of those slash fic writers' keyboards is deafening me!!!)

43. Neck Check! It's a lonely life when you have to perform your own neck check, huh?

44. Those Tunisian guys sure aren't very good shots. Of course, Skinner didn't do much better. But he was drugged.

45. Hmmm. Someone showing up in the "Nick" of time to run over the bad guy who's about to off one of the heroes. Why does that seem familiar?

46. Wow! Skinner must be built like a brick house! Did you see the dent he put in that car just by falling on it?

47. Dr.!Wonder!Scully is not only figuring out what the little bugs are doing, but of course she rides in like the cavalry to keep Skinner from getting his arms amputated. (This part reminded me of "End Game." Her men just keep getting themselves into these tight spots and she has to keep bailing them out. I tell you, this spinoff could be a hit!)

48. Finally, a dream realized! Scully's keeping watch over Walter, while the Scully!Clone (with flatter hair) keeps an eye on Agent Mulder (which would be a dream realized for me, actually).

49. Frenzied!Mulder gets to make a bigger mess and do some funky poaching. Too bad he left his black and sexy outfit at home!

50. My, my. What lovely burgundy scrubs you have, Agent Scully! Good color for lasering arteries.

51. Pretty cool Palm Pilot. Do you suppose you can buy those at Amazon? Not that I'd use it for the same purpose, mind you . . . well, at least not on people I didn't know.

52. Love that 360 camera pan around Mulder in the parking garage. Have you noticed there are a lot of parking garages in this episode? Maybe I can work that into my spinoff. The P.I. firm can specialize in cases that take place in parking garages!

53. I just love Car!Chasing!Mulder! For some reason, he always thinks he can catch them.

54. I thought Senator Matheson wasn't involved in this "dark intrigue." Liar, liar, pants on fire!

55. That was an expensive wig that guy was wearing? Hate to see an inexpensive one.

56. TWC6: "Don't hate me 'cause I'm beautiful." As if.

57. It's times like this when I'm hearing about scientific evidence that I miss Agent Pendrell.

58. Senator Matheson enters the deserted power plant, and is attacked by a flock of mutant killer pigeons with big, bulging veins!! Okay, not really, but I made you think for a second, didn't I?

59. Seriously, is this like an extra feature on a Palm Pilot? I'd be willing to pay more.

60. Was it just me, or did Skinner perk up a bit when Scully said, "Sir, there's something I'd like to try."

61. "I'm in your hands." Now I hear all the Scully/Skinner fanfic writers warming up *their* PC's.

62. Aw, it's a nice Skinner/Scully moment. Just as Scully's always wanted to get out of the car, seems that Skinner has always wanted to get off the fence.

63. "If I die now, I die in vain." Is that a pun?

64. If that scruffy "bearded guy" could just wander around the FBI building without arousing suspicion, I think I can see why the FBI is having so many problems of late.

65. I'm glad to see that Leaping!Mulder has returned and could figure out exactly where to go based on the clue provided by Agent Pendrell Wannabee.

66. Mulder spots the flock of Killer Pigeons and pulls his gun immediately! Maybe I can name my spinoff, "Crazy Like a Fox"? Naw, that's been done!

67. Nanotechnology, huh? Since this episode was penned by John Shiban, I guess we can be thankful that Skinner doesn't have nano-killer-kitties in his bloodstream! Will John ever live that down?

68. Sorry Matheson. He's gonna get you. He's still pissed off about that Bach quiz back in Season 2.

69. That must be kind of disconcerting, huh? Waking up with a sheet pulled over your head?

70. Well, Mitch, I guess this is goodbye. It's been a good run. Vaya con Dios.

71. Oh, wait. Chris just called and said maybe we should keep Skinner around for a while longer, just in case. Welcome back, Mitch. We missed you. No hard feelings, huh?

72. I hope Skinner doesn't hurt himself climbing back up on that fence.

73. MSRM: That look shared between M&S when Skinner shinnies up that fence post tells me that Scully told Mulder what Skinner said about regretting the way he had not supported them when he could have. Probably a little pillow talk last night just after they were winding down from doing the naked pretzel. (No complaints. When you write the TOTMs, you can make up all the scenes you want to as well.)

74. Okay. I'll admit it. The first time I saw this, I had not a clue that the guy under the expensive wig and scruffy beard was Krycek until he leans into the light in the back seat. Ah, to be back in the day. Back in the day before I was a spoiler 'ho when the XF episodes truly did surprise me. And this one did a mighty fine job. They got me again. BIG TIME. It brings back nice memories. (In the numerous times I've seen "S.R. 819" since then, I always say to myself, "It's so obvious that it's Krycek! How could you not figure that out!" Then, of course, I say, "Sure, you think it's obvious *now*, when you already *know* it's Krycek." I have these conversations with myself a lot. Should I be worried about that?)

75. Think we've seen the last of them nano-critters, or will they go the way of Scully's tattoo?

76. For all those folks who think Krycek was really a good guy who was just misunderstood, this episode certainly substantiates your claims. Not. But I guess we do have Krycek to thank for saving Skinner's skin in more ways than one. Because in the eyes of the 1013 guys, Skinner was starting to look "expendable." When the character of Skinner was first added to the mix back at the end of Season 1, he was supposed to be a character whose ultimate loyalties would always be in question. This was a definite for a while, but of late, the audience (and M&S too) really no longer questioned where Skinner's loyalties lay. Now, with Krycek holding the leash, we can no longer trust Skinner's actions and motivations where Moose & Squirrel are concerned. To reference something that the wonderful Unbound once said, I guess you can cite "S.R. 819" as the point where Skinner's testicles went into hiding, not to be seen again until the end of Season 8.

77. Since this is the graduation season and lots of awards are being doled out, I would like to present the Most Improved Writer award to John Shiban. After "Elegy," "The Pine Bluff Variant" and this episode, I think it's apparent that John should stick to the thrillers and leave the kitty-cats of "Teso Dos Bichos" and el chupacabra of "El Mundo Gira" in the capable hands of others. And while I'm enjoying Shiban's writing more, unfortunately it will always pale in comparison to his most meaningful and excellent contribution to the X-Files: fathering that sweet little boy with the Scully eyes and the Mulder nose who shall forever be etched in our memories as little Will Mulder. :::sigh:::

78. I did really enjoy this episode, because even though it was "Skinner-centric," Mulder & Scully were still major players in the game, working together separately to solve the case, there was a big surprise at the end, and it was a neat stand-alone that will probably have some impact on the mytharc. And of course, while watching it, I got the idea for my spinoff, which I'm going to write up and pitch tomorrow. Here's my description: "Two former FBI agents, Fox Mulder and Walter Skinner, team up to open their own private investigation firm. With the help of their irrepressible and enigmatic girl-Friday (and resident medic) Dana Scully, they take on the cases that no one else wants: government conspiracies, liver eating mutants, shape-shifting aliens all in the name of making the world a safer place for mankind." Sounds exciting, huh? I've even got the perfect name: "Two Dicks and a Doc." Unless you think that's too ambiguous.

79. Well, maybe the WB will be interested. After all, they don't have "Buffy" anymore.

If I haven't been fired yet, I apologize.
And if I have, I wonder if anybody would be interested in Buffy TOTMs?

"All in good time."