Theatre of the Mind ~ The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati
Let's review: In part-one of this Season 7 opener, Scully is in Africa reading the writing on the wall ... er, spaceship, to try and figure out how to save the life of her friend and partner, Agent Fox Mulder, who has a beautiful mind that he is out of right at the moment. Feeling guilty because he is under the Palm Pilot Thumb of Alex Krycek, Skinner tries to help his FBI buddy by bringing in the guy with the crazy computer monitor bongos, Michael Kritschgau, but their plan backfires, allowing the Fowl One to cop a feel. Diana confesses her love and says she's not really bad, she's just written that way. Scully returns from Africa sans machete and goes to see Mulder; if her tight white tee and push-up bra doesn't bring him around, nothing will. She asks for a sign, which is pretty bold considering she's already seen a plague of locusts, a boiling sea, and a sea of blood. Next thing you know, she'll be seeing Mulder resurrected from the dead ... oh, I forgot. That's *next* season. Meanwhile the spaceship that is the key to everything in the X-Files disappears ... just like all the other keys to everything in the X-Files. Somewhere, there's a big junk drawer with all those keys in it ... but I digress. And now on to part two: "Amor Fati."
1. TWC1: Woo-hoo! Is it wrong to start off an episode with totally worthless commentary? I don't think so, especially since Mulder wasn't at his best in "The Sixth Extinction." Besides which, even though I can't see his feet, I just *know* that he's barefoot in this dream-like state.
2. "There's only so much bluntness a mother can take." So much easier just to repress it all.
3. Although Teena, I'm sure Fox is glad to see you, considering the last time you saw him you were smacking the crap out of him.
4 Aww, the anguish and torment in his eyes reflect his voice as he's screaming for his mommy.
5. In the debate about when the "dream" begins in this episode, IMHO it begins when the room changes from light to dark, back to light again, and CSM begins his little dissertation.
6. CSM's first line is the first line of Shakespeare's Sonnet 29, which begins: "When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries, And look upon myself and curse my fate, Wishing me like to one more rich in hope, Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd, Desiring this man's art and that man's scope, With what I most enjoy contented least ..."
7. Mommies love you no matter what; daddies expect more. Is that a clue?
8. One of the devil's favorite disguises is as a hissing snake.
9. I find it hard to believe that you could inject someone in the temple with a needle of that size, unless Mulder's skull is made of mush at this point. (Barb, if you're out there, I need your medical opinion!!)
10. Personally, I'm kind of glad that Mulder is not Ralph Nader.
11. "I am your father." Why am I hearing, "Use the force, Fox"?
12. Tagline change to "Amor Fati," which means "love of destiny" or "love of fate." A favorite subject of Nietzsche. (I have none of the talent of Shakerbaker, so just consider this my attempt at a Video of the Mind.) "I never had no one that I could count on. I've been let down so many times. I was tired of hurting, so tired of searching. Till you walked into my life. It was a feeling I'd never known, and for the first time, I didn't feel alone."
13. Love seeing Sleeping!Scully, head down on the desk, glasses resting on a book ... a book that she won't receive from an anonymous source until later in this episode. Ooopsie!!
14. I thought Scully beat a hasty retreat from Africa once she bopped Dr. Barnes over the head. Didn't realize she had time to gather up all that research and her laptop. Maybe Dr. Ngebe sent it to her.
15. "Getting in is easy." I'll say. It seems like anyone can wander those Hoover Halls undetected.
16. Not true. He *did* ask for Scully. She was busy with her push-up bra and machete at the time.
17. Gone! Checked out by his mommy!
18. Poor Skinner. He's misplaced his balls again. But at least this time he's warning Scully that he can't be trusted.
19. Written by David Duchovny and Chris Carter. Those two do pretty good work together. Too bad they couldn't have done more. Interesting tidbit: Duchovny had already finished half the script for "Amor Fati," when Carter had only just begun writing "The Sixth Extinction."
20. David Duchovny always loved "The Last Temptation of Christ," (TLTOC) a novel by Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis (who also wrote "Zorba, the Greek"). He saw many parallels between that novel and the XF and felt he could write a compelling X-File based on that work. It would be impossible to fully summarize TLTOC here; but I will try to point out the similarities as they occur in the story. As a preface, TLTOC presents a four-fold division of Jesus' adult life. After a period of morbid doubt and dread about his destiny, Jesus is freed of his demons and is able to heal and preach, though reluctantly since each sign of his special abilities brings him closer to the realization that he is the anointed one. He becomes driven by the apocalyptic teaching of John the Baptist, retreats to the desert, and emerges with the need to destroy the world's evil. Finally, with the help of a vision, he realizes that his mission is to be the sacrifice that will save the world, save men from their sins, and show the triumph of the spirit over the flesh. However, at the penultimate moment, Satan appears in disguise, claiming to be from God, and urges Jesus to relinquish the delusion that he is the Messiah, leave the Cross, and live a normal life instead.
21. So who's the devil in this XF version of the story? I think you know.
22. TWC2: Hoo-boy! I told you he was barefoot.
23. In my mind, the Little Beach Boy is Mulder's inner self, the "child that will become father to the man." Best guess for inspiration of that line: The poem, "My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold," by William Wordsworth.
24. Great fade from the beach to the car, Mulder shielding his eyes.
25. The differences between the original script for "Amor Fati" and what ended up on screen are many. I normally don't mention them, but in the case of this episode, I think some are very important. If you'd like to read them all, go to Laura's wonderful site at http://members.home.net/laurawitte/sd_07x04.html.
26. Sorry, CSM. Humphrey Bogart, you ain't. You need more than cigarettes to tempt our Mulder.
27. Yippee! It's the return of Scully's apartment! Gosh, we've missed it! She must be planning to entertain this season, what with that big dining room table. She must have also gotten a raise to be able to afford to buy that table and leave all those lights on her electric bill must be through the roof!!
28. Probably nothing in that fridge. What with running off to Africa, buying push-up bras and such, I doubt that Scully has had time to grocery shop.
29. Albert! We thought you'd be dead by now!
30. "You must find him ... for the sake of us all." Gee, no pressure there.
31. Didn't that used to be The Cleaver's house?
32. In TLTOC, Jesus is tempted to leave his fate on the cross for the life of an ordinary man who knows the felicities of marriage, sex, and family; this is the "last temptation" that nearly wrenches away the meaning of his sacrifice. Mulder's "last temptation" begins with this enticement of middle-class satisfactions.
33. Note to Cute New Agent with Small Speaking Role: Thanks so much for telling Scully that Mulder was checked out A.M.A. - against medical advice. That's sort of the equivalent of telling Martha Stewart that the fork goes on the left.
34. Note to Ma Mulder and Old Smokey: Thanks so much for standing in the exact right spot to be identified on the security video. That sure saved a lot of time. (I'm sure CSM promised Teena he could save Fox's life ... yada, yada, yada.)
35. TWC3: He looks so cute with that Flowbee bedhead! And "hullo" gets me every time!
36. That is some nice house (love the countertop in the kitchen). Probably got a big screen TV too. Chilled sunflower seeds in the fridge? Welcome to Temptation Suburbs!
37. GFM: It comforts me somehow to see Mulder go directly to the fridge just as Scully did, like they are still on the same wavelength. So since there is no phone in this ep, I've dubbed this the Good Fridge Moment.
38. It's Deep Throat! I've missed him almost as much as Scully's apartment.
39. Now we know the secret of returning from the dead on the XF. You're not dead ... you're just really relaxed.
40. Interesting how the temptation continues through a man who Mulder probably considered more of a father than Bill Mulder or CSM (Deep Throat even calls him "son"). It is a tempting offer ... let go of the guilt, you're not the hub of the universe ... you've suffered enough.
41. Or should he listen to his own advice spoken to the Little Beach Boy? Don't worry. Don't give up. It's just a temporary setback, kid. You can start again.
42. In TLTOC, in his dream while being crucified, Jesus has sex with a prostitute Mary Magdalene, showing him that in a normal life, he could find salvation in the arms of a woman. In Mulder's dream, The Fowl One is the prostitute, which I guess is poetic in a way. And she *is* a temptress in her black negligee with the plunging neckline and her fowl, fowl words about hundreds of little joys and getting laid ... I mean laying the table for you. The scene reminds me of: "Welcome to my parlor, said the spider to the fly ..."
43. TWC4: I know Fowley is there and everything, but Holy Flaming Cow No. 1!! (This episode gets two since part is a dream and part is reality!) Topless!Mulder, in handcuffs, with the red backlighting? Fowley or no, do you think I'm dead or something? (No, just really relaxed! Woo-hoo!!)
44. Mulder obviously got his answering machine skills from his mom.
45. "You can reach me at your son's office at the FBI." I spend all my time there. Even if I never got a desk.
46. Thanks for that really long title to Chapter 3 of the Mystery Book so Scully wouldn't have to waste her time reading the whole chapter. After all, she fell asleep the first time she tried to read it ... about
15 minutes ago.
47. Nice tie-in to the story begun in "Anasazi." But I thought nothing vanishes without a trace?
48. Good move to call Skinner and ask him if he sent you the book ... especially after he's told you he has been compromised, is untrustworthy, and doesn't want to know where you are or what you're doing.
49. Mulder just might be the Savior of us all. No pressure there either.
50. It sure helps me sleep better at night knowing we have federal agents on the job who aren't the least big suspicious of a guy who looks like a bum wandering the halls of the Hoover, and then are more worried about getting out of the building then heeding Scully's advice to "Stop that man."
51. The Script Differences includes a scene between Skinner and Scully where Skinner is being transported to the hospital, his bloodstream being affected the same way it was in "S.R. 819." The print ads for "Amor Fati" seemed to indicate that this scene was shot. Too bad Skinner had to go through that makeup torture, just to have it wind up on the cutting room floor.
52. The dream just turned into a nightmare: Folger!Morning Fowley in a little sweater set. Ewwww.
53. TWC5: Still barefoot and in his Casual Temptation Ensemble - yum! Interesting to note it's the same outfit he's sporting in his beach dream scenes.
54. Even Mulder recognizes this is all too perfect, that he doesn't belong in this setting. I like how he keeps including "Scully" in his list of commitments; he just cannot completely let go.
55. "You won't know the true joy of responsibility until you plant your feet in the world ... and become a father." Is this just part of the temptation or was CC planting a seed for future reference? There are an awful lot of fatherhood mentions in this script. I guess we'll never know for sure.
56. KickAss!Scully! You go, girl!
57. Wasn't it just last week that Kritschgau said he didn't believe in aliens? And now all of a sudden he's on the "Mulder is biologically alien" bandwagon? I wish he'd get his affiliations straight.
58. And while we're on the subject, just how many ways are there to become a human/alien hybrid?
59. Scully hasn't wasted all that time she's been hanging around with the Gunmen. She deletes all those files off Kritschgau's laptop in about two keystrokes. Her kung fu is the best.
60. Eww, I think a smarmy CSM is even worse than an evil one.
61. Great quiet emotion displayed by DD when he sees Samantha in Temptation Suburbs.
62. Finally we are clued in that it's all a dream, but the religious imagery is staggering. Mulder, our Savior, is on his "cross," a medical-type table, secured by his wrists and ankles, covered by a loincloth, his head encased in a high-tech crown of thorns. Bet now he wishes he had opted for the Ralph Nader route.
63. Is CSM really Mulder's father? Hard to say. Mulder *dreams* it, but it appears CSM has confirmed it to Fowley. (But I think he's slightly untrustworthy.)
64. Oooh. Meow! Let the catfight begin!! Ultimately, Scully takes the more diplomatic route and appeals to Diana's heart if she has one.
65. TWC6: Nitpicking, I know, but is that little loincloth really necessary?
Which also reminds me: Did anyone else notice that definite tent action in the loincloth in the color print ads for this episode? I still have that one posted on my bulletin board.
66. I wish they had kept in the scene between Mulder and Samantha noted in the original script.
67. It's tough being a hero these days, since according to CSM, they are expendable.
68. The part of Mulder's dream where his life passes by so quickly where he is married, has children, sees his wife dead, and ages about 40 years in a matter of seconds probably most mirrors the temptation scene in TLTOC. Jesus' temptation dream was also supposed to have lasted only a few seconds; the entire dream experienced in the time it took Jesus to utter the sentence, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" Love the "heartbeat" underscoring the scene.
69. CSM's Messiah Complex finally comes to the forefront. All along I've suspected he's just jealous of Mulder, and now that he has the chance to be the hero, he's grabbing it.
70. On the plus side, at least Mulder's "old man" makeup has improved since "Dod Kalm."
71. I think the Little Beach Boy is telling Mulder that he is destroying himself and what he has built by choosing the "creature comforts." Surely the temptation is great to be absolved of all the guilt he has felt for so long.
72. Scully, I'm telling you kill the lights!
73. This time, Scully's science has failed her, but with the help of Albert Hosteen, she learns that her faith has not. "There are more worlds than the one you can hold in your hand." (Love that line.)
74. Intentional or not, CSM's little flick of the tongue as he's telling Diana about doing "God's work" sure reminds me of the evil serpent that Mulder spoke about at the beginning of this episode.
75. When Diana notices that Mulder's eyes are open, the Script Differences indicate that they are draining a black, oily liquid through a shunt in his neck. I guess it's a good thing they left that black, oily liquid in there so Mulder could get a mysterious brain disease later on, huh?
76. TWC7: Doesn't everyone agree that it would have been more realistic to remove that loincloth during surgery? (Um, on Mulder's side of the table only, please.)
77. Best Doctorism: "Any flatter, he'd be circling the drain."
78. I love the fact that Old!Mulder is most affected by the news of Scully's death.
79. More XF/TLTOC parallels: Old!Mulder is ready to let go while the apocalypse rages outside; and Jesus is ready to let go as the unsaved world is rendered bare and desolate and Jerusalem is burning.
80. You want somebody whacked? Krycek will show up and do the deed even if we haven't seen him in ages. At least he got to burn that hideous wig.
81. Note to Kritschgau: Thanks for coming back to serve as a plot device. We didn't really miss you while you were gone, and we don't really care that Krycek killed you. But please accept our warmest regards and our deepest sympathies just the same.
82. TWC8: Even after a night asleep on the floor, Scully awakes with hardly a hair out of place and no wrinkles in her suit. No stiff neck, no stiff back. She's even still got her keys in her hand. The girl is ready to roll! (But she still forgets to turn out the lights before leaving!)
83. With CC's penchant for using birthday references in his scripts (1013, 1121), it's a nice touch that the keycard slipped under Scully's door bears the number MSF 1225 - Jesus' birthday.
84. Even with all that blood, I'm glad Mulder got brain surgery that allowed him to keep his hair. Gibson Praise should have been so lucky. I sure hope they didn't take anything out of there that Mulder really needs.
85. The scene where Scully appears to Old!Mulder is perhaps the most important reference to TLTOC. In that story, as Jesus is near death, his old disciples appear to him one last time. Judas, who Jesus had been convinced was dead, finally forces Jesus to see that in accepting his crucifixion as a dream, he has abandoned the salvation struggle. "Traitor! Deserter! Coward!" Judas shouts at Jesus (some of that dialogue sound familiar?). "Your place was on the cross. That's where the God of Israel put you to fight." Jesus realizes that all his illusions were sent by the devil, and knows what he must do to accomplish the mission which the Lord had entrusted in him. In the XF version, Scully (a Mulder disciple if ever there was one) makes Mulder see the "devil" for who is he is and realize that he also has a mission a destiny, a fate to complete.
86. The final parallel between TLTOC and the XF is the scene "on the cross." In TLTOC, Jesus resists the last temptation, he awakens on the cross, and accepts his fate to save mankind with complete willingness, saying, "It is accomplished." In the XF, Mulder also awakens on the "cross," accepting his fate to continue on, to get up and fight the fight to save mankind. In both cases, Temptation fought until the very last moment to lead the Savior astray, and in both cases, Temptation was defeated. And whether you like the Mulder as Christ parallel or not, it is true that in the cases of both men, every obstacle in their individual journeys became a milestone, an occasion for further triumph.
87. MSRM: Oh, the final scene is SO obvious, let's choose another one. They already share so much, now they even share a tear. While Jesus had to die to save the world, Mulder has to live to accomplish the same mission. And his weak "You help me," confirms that he's not going to do it alone. I *firmly* believe that this scene marks the exact moment when M&S are joined together permanently and unequivocally all begun by the sharing of a single tear. As Jesus dies on the cross and the destiny is accomplished, the last line of TLTOC novel is "And it was as though he had said: Everything has begun." When Mulder said "You help me," I felt he was saying the exact same thing. "You stand by me and you believe in me, like nobody ever has. When my world goes crazy, you're right there to save me. You make me see how much I have. And I still tremble when we touch. And oh the look in your eyes when we make love."
88. One week later? Well, it seems Mulder may have lost his mind-reading abilities, but he's still a fast healer.
89. TWC9: Scully, those are some fantabulous heels, hon. And a new secret knock! I like it!
90. TWC10: Holy Flaming Cow No. 2! Are you sure I'm still not dreaming? Mulder looks fantabulous in his Victory Cap and his half-buttoned shirt. (I'll even forgive him that Yankee alliance since he looks so darn good.)
91. Scully has sure been busy in this "one week." She had time to nurse her partner back to health *and* get her hair cut! (More on that in a minute!)
92. I wish Scully would pull that tie off like that more often.
93. You know, Mulder, you could invite her in. She doesn't *have* to stand out there in the hallway. Well, on second thought, maybe she does. Maybe that's *their* destiny.
94. Albert Hosteen is dead. Scully sees dead people.
95. Now that the danger is over, Skeptical!Scully wants to return to her scientific ways ... but somehow, she just can't. *Finally* she can't reconcile her science with what she has seen with her own eyes.
96. Scully delivers the news and Mulder is stunned: Diana is dead. That's how it goes on the XF. As soon as you develop a conscience, you're a goner.
97. Exactly why was Diana killed, other than to make all the shippers extremely happy? How did the Consortium boys know that she provided the clues that led to Mulder's escape? In the Script Differences, there is a scene of CSM waking from surgery. He is told they are hopeful the procedure worked, that Mulder has disappeared from the OR, *and* that Diana's ID was used to breech security. I would say that explains Diana's Demise. Too bad they didn't share it with the rest of the class.
98. Here's hoping that Diana is *really* dead, and not just really relaxed. And I hope when they bury her, they choose a different lipstick shade than they did in Mulder's dream funeral.
99. GA and DD absolutely nail it in this last scene. They both make the most of this rare chance to actually talk about how their characters feel about each other.
100. "You were my friend, and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant ... my touchstone." "And you are mine." There was a time when words like that meant something. I hope they still do in Season 9.
101. IMHO, the forehead kiss was just right at this point in their relationship, especially after what they have both just been through. Although it looked to me like Mulder was headed for the lips, Scully plants a big wet one on his forehead for about 10 seconds, luckily planning ahead and wearing that "kissable" lipstick that doesn't come off. Then she places his hat back on his head, caressess his face, and traces her thumbs across his lips before turning on her 4-inch heels to go. To me, this moment couldn't have been more sensual or erotic if they had ripped off all those clothes and gone at it right there on the floor. GA and DD said more in this moment of silence than many TV couples say with pages and pages of dialogue. It was exactly right for them, the next step in the natural progression of their relationship; it was that communication - unspoken. It was a commitment to each other and a promise for the future.
"You're more than a lover, there could never be another to make me feel the way you do.
Oh, we just get closer, I fall in love all over, every time I look at you.
I don't know where I'd be without you here with me. Life with you makes perfect sense.
You're my best friend."
102. I firmly believe that it is only after Mulder and Scully make this unspoken commitment to each other that Mulder is finally able to see what the Little Beach Boy wants him to see. He has accepted his fate which may not be a "normal" life but is a life that will include Scully. So Mulder is back to the beach, where he and the Little Beach Boy work together toward completing their project (and they are building a pretty cool sand sculpture one that mirrors Scully's discovery in Africa). The child has become father to the man. CSM started this story with Shakespeare's 29th Sonnet, and the end of that Sonnet seems to complement the end scene perfectly: "Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising, Haply I think on thee, and then my state, Like to the lark at break of day arising, From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate; For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings, That then I scorn to change my state with kings."
103. Just about *everybody* knows that the most important script difference in "Amor Fati" was the changing of the last scene. A new ending to this episode was filmed long after "Amor Fati" wrapped, which explains Scully's change in hairstyle (which she didn't change until about the 7th or 8th episode of the season), and Mulder's ability to know that the Yankees won the World Series. The original ending (which you can read on the Script Differences page) took place in the XF office and packed none of the emotional punch of the revised version. Exactly why the scene was changed and who made the decision to change it has never been revealed, to my knowledge. There is no mention of the revised ending in the new Season 7 Episode Guide. Whoever made the decision, trust me when I tell you, it was the right one.
104. I said before that M&S's last scene together made a promise for the future; and I believe 1013 delivered on that promise. By the end of Season 7, these two were in a sexual relationship you will not convince me otherwise. By the end of Season 8, they had a baby together produced by that sexual relationship. In more ways than words, they had pledged their love and commitment to each other and to the new life they had created. In eight years they developed a bond so strong that nothing could break it not liver eating mutants, old English flames, mentally unstable murderers, tattooed suitors, ova harvesting aliens, evil syndicate members, life-threatening diseases, killer kitty kats, overprotective brothers, hallucination-inducing mushrooms, well-meaning ghosts, and not even death itself. They made it through numerous abductions, numerous separations, numerous hospital stays, numerous misunderstandings, and numerous challenges to stand together in the end. A commitment that strong is not something you toss aside, it's not something you mess around with. And if the boys at 1013 do that, I only have one thing to say: Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.
105. And no matter what happens in Season 9, just remember to heed the advice of Deep Throat: "They can't change the things you love."
"I don't know where I'd be without you here with me. Life with you makes perfect sense. You're my best friend." ("My Best Friend," Tim McGraw -- Da DJ SLS - this one's for you!)
Okay, I know it was long and it took forever to get done, but tell the truth: Where else could you go and get Nietzsche, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, God, Mulder & Scully, Jesus, Ratboy and Tim McGraw in the same story? Not many places, I'll bet. Like Mulder, I accepted my destiny to write this monster and leave it as long as it turned out. But I'll send along my apologies just the same, for being too long, and for taking too long, and to all the folks mentioned above as well as to the Beach Boys, Nikos Kazantzakis, Faith Hill, and Beaver Cleaver. Maybe you agree with what I've written; maybe you don't. Right now, it doesn't matter because I'm "really relaxed." So if it's *your* destiny to send me nasty comments about this TOTM, just remember one thing: "If I could get up, I'd kick your ass."
Apologies, as always,