Theatre of the Mind ~ Tithonus

In Greek mythology, Tithonus was the son of the king of Troy. As a young man, his good looks were noticed by Eos, goddess of the Dawn, who had a habit of carrying off beautiful young men she was attracted to. She abducted Tithonus and persuaded Zeus to grant her new boyfriend immortality. Unfortunately, she forgot to ask for eternal youth to go with it (that's what happens when you aren't specific). So Tithonus grew old and feeble, Eos lost all interest in him (these were the days before Viagra, don't forget), and he was doomed to watch the sunrise every morning and pray desperately for death.

1. I'm sure Clint Eastwood must be on that elevator somewhere. Wherever Geoffrey Lewis is, Clint can't be far behind.

2. You should be concerned, young lady. If I've learned anything on this show, it's that no matter how paranoid you are, you aren't paranoid enough.

3. If I knew where this elevator was headed, all the color would have drained out of me too. And I'd be praying: Please let this elevator go Any Which Way But Loose.

4. Can anyone make out the Muzak? "Free Falling" perhaps?

5. I hardly think this is the time for a Kodak moment.

6. When the first shot of Mulder is of his footwear up on the desk, you just know it's gonna be good.

7. Looks like M&S aren't the only ones on detention.

8. He tries to cover with humor, but you know he's disappointed that only Scully gets called to Kersh's office.

9. Do all the FBI agents get glamour shots in their personnel folders?

10. Hey, it's that guy who's on that show that I can never think of the name of. You know the one I mean. It's got two guys. And a girl. And a pizza place, I think. (This means that *both* of the guys have been on the XF, as the other "guy" was in "Syzygy.")

11. Scully probably used words like "hinky" back in the day too.

12. Looks to me like Peyton thinks this case will be his big "break" in the FBI, his chance to distinguish himself. Deja vu all over again. Scully is now the Senior Agent, who might be at the *end* of her career if she doesn't prove she's not a "lost cause."

13. Just in case you thought Scully might see this opportunity as her ticket out of the XF, away from Mulder, and a chance to regain some of her credibility, Scully makes it quite clear to Kersh and to us where her loyalties lie. She's quite the namedropper.

14. Kersh was out to get Mulder from the beginning. I'd like to know why. Maybe one day, I will.

15. If I were that guy, I wouldn't be caught dead in those jeans. Ooops, too late.

16. Do you think Mulder knows how to "get around" this FBI computer system on his own, or have the LGM installed some "modifications"?

17. Telekinesis, Shamanitic death touch, Muslim superstition ... how come Scully didn't say, "Marry me?"

18. Mulder may pretend he's disappointed because Scully's being sent on an XF and he's not, but he's really just masking his insecurity that Dana Scully is about to move ahead, leaving Fox Mulder behind. Maybe for good.

19. TWC1: "So they're splitting us up, huh?" I can't resist that modified puppy dog face, so I'll just say Holy Flaming Cow!!

20. "This is a one-time thing." 'Member what I said about loyalty? Believe it, Mulder.

21. It's just under the surface, but there's a Jealous!Mulder shaking Ritter's hand!

22. In case you think they jetted off to NYC to do some location filming, think again. They just walked across the lot and used the NYPD Blue sets.

23. Seems like a good time to say that Alfred Fellig is named for Arthur Fellig (1899-1968), better known as Weegee, who was one of America's most famous photographers. Roaming the streets of New York in his battered Chevy coupe with a police radio, Weegee supplied the tabloid newspapers of the 1930s and 40s with all types of crime-scene photos. "Alfred" comes from Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), an artist, writer, and gallery owner who championed some of the best American photography of the early 20th century.

24. Maybe Fellig keeps a framed portrait of Dick Clark in his bedroom closet.

25. I can understand how footwear can drive people to extreme behavior, but murder? If Mulder is ever attacked for his footwear, you know who the attacker will be. ;)

26. Wow! I'd like to see Dick Clark do that!

27. If you really want to impress Scully, kid, put together a slide show.

28. Scully reminds me so much of Mulder during Fellig's interrogation, by hanging back, taking things in, and then jumping in at just the right moment. And she's pretty open to extreme possibilities. You've come a long way, baby.

29. GPM: This whole episode is basically a "good phone moment," but his "Hi. My name is Fox Mulder. We used to sit next to each other at the FBI," and the shared smile is the best "good phone" of the night.

30. Mulder might be afraid that they're going to take Scully away, but he still does all he can to "watch her back," using his only lifeline to her the phone. He's obviously been checking up on her by monitoring the case, and he jumps on that background check of Wiggins before the name is even out of her mouth.

31. TWC2: Woo-hoo! Just what "stuff" is Scully referring to?

32. Guess now Scully knows how it feels to have someone "taking their little notes," and sending them to superiors, even if they do say *mostly* nice things about you.

33. I think this transformation from green agent to senior agent has got Scully feeling nostalgic. How else to explain that she's toting around that big old briefcase like the shoulder variety she lugged around in the "Pilot"?

34. Hasn't Scully told us time and time again that surveillance is supposed to be done by a pair of agents? Then to top it all off, she goes up the suspect's apartment *alone* without backup to confront him. She has turned into Mulder!

35. Fellig and Clyde Bruckman should team up. One knows when, the other knows how.

36. Scully's so determined to prove Fellig wrong that she brings down an obnoxious guy twice as big as she is. And she backhands him for good measure when he calls her "Red." You go girl!

37. Splat. That pretty much says it all.

38. Okay, Scully cuffed that obnoxious guy at about 3 a.m. And she's just now bringing him into the precinct at 8 a.m.? Where have they been? Did "Red" grow on her a bit?

39. There's some more of those killer pigeons from the last episode!

40. And herein lies the difference between the "still green" Agent Ritter and the "once green" Agent Scully: Scully wanted to distinguish herself by helping people and finding the truth. Ritter wants to distinguish himself to climb up a few more rungs of that FBI career ladder. Are we clear, Dana?

41. My favorite line: "Scully . . . and we're done with this conversation."

42. TWC3: Hoo-boy! And notice how quickly he knows that something is wrong.

43. Fellig's previous pseudonym of Henry Strand might be a nod to Paul Strand who was a famous photographer in NYC in the early 1900s. Strand worked closely with Alfred Stieglitz.

44. But another of Fellig's pseudonyms, L.H. Rice, is just one of a few Gilligan "Holly" references in this episode. Vince's girlfriend's name is Lucy "Holly" Hartwell Rice, and Mulder tells Scully that L.H. Rice's birthday is April 4, same as Holly's. Additionally, the poem "Tithonus," written by Tennyson, is a favorite of Holly's and she introduced Vince to it.

45. Pretty sad to have a death wish and no matter what you can't make it come true.

46. Fellig's other assumed name, Lewis Brady, is probably for Mathew Brady, famed Civil War photographer.

47. Good time to give kudos to Geoffrey Lewis for the outstanding job he does in this role. His movements and speech patterns are slow and deliberate, mundane. Lewis shows us a man who is, for all intents and purposes, already dead; he just wants to complete the act for himself.

48. "Mulder, it's me." God, how I've missed that.

49. I guess Scully is not as "attached" to her cell phone as Mulder is. She doesn't even notice it's gone.

50. Background!Checkin'!Mulder is da man! He's ready to J.O.B.

51. That "lost cause" that Kersh warned you about has all the answers, Ritter. You'd better pay attention. You might learn something.

52. Special kudos to Lewis and GA for this wonderful scene as they discuss death. As one who came close to losing hers, Scully is incredulous that anyone could be actively seeking to end theirs, especially if they *do* have the "gift" of immortality. "How can you have too much life?" she asks. Lewis as Fellig explains that in cheating death, you are missing out on the one great remaining mystery of life. Great work by both actors.

53. Given Scully's wardrobe choices, it's tough to tell that she's in black and white.

54. Scully just can't bring herself to make that final metamorphosis to Mulder; she's willing to believe, but she asks Fellig for "some science" that she can hang this on.

55. Yellow fever is an acute, infectious, hemorrhagic viral disease. In the New York City epidemic of the early 19th century, victims were indeed wrapped in yellow sheets and buried in shallow graves in what is now Washington Square Park in New York's Greenwich Village. The park is just a few blocks from NYU where Vince Gilligan attended film school. He says that the person leading him through orientation told him this story, and he never forgot it. Vince retains the strangest things.

56. Fellig's emptiness is replaced by passion as he talks of how he missed his chance for death.

57. More great work by GA as you can see her fear escalating as she tries to convince Fellig (and herself) that she's not going to die despite everything she's seen.

58. Of course, death arrives as you knew he would but in the persona of Agent Peyton Ritter.

59. Ritter's going to distinguish himself, all right, but not in the way that he hoped.

60. Fellig finally got the "shot" he was looking for and saved Scully in the process. (Loved the black and white/color transfer between Scully and Fellig as his life faded away and hers was restored.)

61. MSRM: Oh, I know you thought it would be the little "thumbsies" thing in the hospital room too obvious. I prefer this moment: "You're a lucky man." Translation: "If Scully had died, I would be tearing you limb from limb right about now. If I were you, I'd get out of here right now while I still have all my important body parts."

62. TWC4: And there was a lot of love in that one little line. Which makes me love him all the more.

63. Okay, the "thumbsies" thing is sweet. (Their own secret hand-hold.) In fact, this whole little end scene between them is gentle and sweet. And I'm very sure (as many post-episode fan-fics have attested) that Mulder accompanied her home and stayed with her and took care of her for a few weeks while she recuperated. And during that time, their personal relationship continued to blossom and grow. It just has one little two-part hurdle to get over and if they can make it through that, I know they'll be able to make it through anything.

64. Of course, the big debate following this episode was whether or not in taking Scully's place when death came to call Fellig passed on his immortality to her. Is that what Clyde Bruckman meant when he said that Scully wouldn't die? Is that why she's making the "fastest recovery" the doctor has ever seen? If it's true, I guess we'll find out in Season 42 of course, none of us will be alive to see it. And they'll have to find a way to preserve GA; perhaps cloning might be an option. Dick Clark could appear in the episode I'm sure he'll look the same. FWIW, I think that since Scully wasn't seeking to avoid death that she will be spared the burden that Fellig carried. And I always felt that Bruckman's comment that Scully wouldn't die could have been referencing "eternal life." If anyone has a guaranteed ticket to heaven, I'm pretty sure it will be Scully. And of course, being the loyal gal she is, she'll try to pull Mulder in along with her. After all, they used to sit next to each other at the F.B.I.

As always, Vince Gilligan knows that ordinary human folks make the best monsters, and "Tithonus" doesn't disappoint. In a season of XF-lite, it's a good taut story, great acting all around, and a breath of fresh creepy air. And even though M&S spend a good deal of the episode apart, "Tithonus" serves to assure us that their bond is as deep and secure as it has ever been, and *nothing* could come between them at this point. Well, almost nothing. I'm not worried.

Since the TOTMs have not been up to par recently, I'm sure some of you are thinking, "You ready to quit?"

"No, that would make way too many people way too happy."

Apologies as always, Polly