Theatre of the Mind ~ Per Manum
When I saw "Per Manum" on the night it originally aired, February 18, 2001, I have to say that I was so giddily anticipating the return not just of Fox Mulder but of Mulder and Scully *together* that I had neither the time nor the inclination to worry about silly things like plot, characterizations, and inconsistencies. I was so gosh darned happy to see Mulder that nothing else mattered; and that Mulder!Euphoria carried me through the rest of Season 8. Of course, now it's more than a year later; and I've seen this episode several times since then. But it's kind of odd and perhaps just a bit too ironic that I watch it again now to write this TOTM - once again anticipating the return of Fox Mulder in a week's time. It posed quite a question: As I watched "Per Manum" now, would I be swept up in the nostalgia again, riding high on the prospect of seeing The Dynamic Duo reunited for one last time, and once again overlook the obvious problems and questions? Sadly, the answer this time is no.
1. "Per Manum" literally means "by hand" in Latin. Yeah, we get it.
2. Lots of flashbacks featuring abductions, ova, infertility, pregnancy, and great Mulder hair.
3. Now this coincidence thing is going a bit too far! There's Jay Acovone who played Detective Curtis in "Demons," the last man to put Mulder in an orange jumpsuit.
4. I'm glad *somebody's* finally having a baby on this show ...
5. ... Even if they do give birth to a kid. And when I say kid, I'm meaning baby goat. Bleat! Are we sure this isn't the child of SNL's Goat Boy?
6. Oh, silly me, it's an *alien* baby, or maybe a part-alien baby. (Or maybe a part-goat baby.)
7. TWC1: I know Mulder's back cause I see that hideous FBI badge photo! I'm sure happy that Mulder took time to pose for that before getting abducted.
8. It's the return of the HSST (Haunting Suffering Scully Theme).
9. This black outfit is incredibly slimming! No one would ever suspect I'm 10 months pregnant!
10. But still so alone and missing Mulder (lip quiver).11. PSC1: Scully may not remember that she's been on the X-Files for eight years, but she's got some nice poofy hair going on. 12. Abducted ... tests ... cancer ... remission ... infertility ... pregnancy. Sound famliar? Not to the Queen of Denial. 13. Mulder really must have done a good job at restoring all those files. 14. Perhaps Scully has forgotten how many times she appears in those X-Files. Since she's P.O.'d anyway, Doggett should have asked her what happened to her tattoo, since he got a good look at her back in "Roadrunners." 15. Poor Doggett. He's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. 16. Look, everyone! I found Mulder! I just opened the elevator doors and there he was! 17. Oh, it's a flashback. We can tell that cause in flashback, Scully's hair is flat and in the present it's poofy. 18. PSC2: Since Mulder's all worried that something might be wrong with Scully and that she might not share that with him, this might have been a good time for him to say, "oh, and by the way, I forgot to mention that I'm dying of this brain disease but I'm glad you're okay." 19. TWC2: Oh, but I just can't be mad at him. Dying or no, he looks pretty darn good. And there's just a hint of that old Mulder with "Don't make me guess." 20. PSC3: He knows you can't have children, but thanks for clarifying for the audience who might have tuned out after Season 4. 21. PSC4: And Mulder, you disclosed to Scully (in front of a judge, no less) that you found out that all her ova were extracted and that's why she couldn't bear children way back in Season 5's "Emily." But again, thanks for bringing everyone up to date. (And I guess you did forget to mention that you actually found her ova back then, so best to come clean with that - but you might have at least gone back to the office to discuss it rather than blurting it out in an elevator. Well, I guess all things of importance happen to you two in hallways, don't they? And going back to the office would have messed up the really cool segue back to the present ... I think I'm done obsessing about this one point now. Let's move on.) 22. PSC5: Well, maybe not. Did Mulder take the "are those my unrefrigerated ova in your pocket or are you just glad to see me" specimens to be tested or did he go back to the Lombard facility and get more? Unless Mulder was carrying some dry ice in his pocket too, why would he expect that the ova would be viable after being toted around for God knows how many hours? 23. TWC3: Although had *I* been housed so close to the um ... equipment and the Spooky Swimmers for such a long period of time, you can bet that *I* would have remained viable. 24. Scully's poofy hair returns ... as does Doggett. 25. By now Scully should be wary of anything with Zeus in the name. 26. A place that appears to be doing some genetic experiments on the sly might want to invest in some security ... or at least a good door lock. 27. PSC6: I'm sure the name "Hendershot" has some big, major significance, like it's the name of Frank's cousin's next-door-neighbor's kid's piano teacher, but we sure would have saved a lot of time if her name was "Smith." 28. PSC7: Scully's fertility doctor is in on it. What a shock. Not. I seem to recall she didn't do such a good job of picking a doctor in "Memento Mori" either. After all the wonderful medical experiences these two have had, I should think that Mr. and Mrs. Spooky would have checked this doctor out six ways from Sunday before undergoing this type of procedure. You disappoint me, kids. 29. Scully's hair has lost its poof - time for another flashback! 30. If the ova were not viable, I'm a little concerned as to why Mulder still had them in his freezer three years later. And you thought what Donnie Pfaster kept in *his* freezer was strange! 31. You better believe she has someone in mind to be the father: he has a spotless genetic make-up and a really high tolerance for being second-guessed. Aside from the need for corrective lenses and a tendency to be abducted by extraterrestrials involved in an international government conspiracy, the Mulder family passes genetic muster. So let's start pumping out the little Uber-Scullies!! 32. Poofy hair and everything's fine says the Doctor who's in on it. 33. PSC8: You're going to start showing *soon*? That's a relative term. 34. Love Scully's "deer in the headlights" look when Doggett tells her about the call from Parenti. 35. Awwww, Doggett's been feathering the nest! He's got his little bat man clipping on his wall behind his desk. 36. PSC9: Since Scully hasn't really looked for Mulder much this season, I guess she's starting now by looking for his nameplate. 37. Good for Doggett for calling Scully on "keeping secrets and telling lies." He has tried to be a good guy and deserves to know why she's jerking him around. 38. PSC10: Did the whole "writing threatening letters to Mulder" thing mean something? If so, I don't know what it is. 39. But Duffy is lucky to have a nifty cell phone that works in an elevator. Scully could have used one of those in "Triangle." 40. TWC4: Don't let my poofy/flat hair comments fool you. I did like the way the flashbacks were handled within the context of the episode. Especially this one where Scully comes home and then Mulder's at the door. 41. PSC11: But how rotten was it that we didn't get to see the scene where Scully asks Mulder for this little favor? Oh, the possibilities squandered. (But fanfic writers probably did it better anyway.) 42. TWC5: It might not be something he gets asked to do every day, but I'm sure I don't know why. Woo hoo! Do you know how much fun it is to say "woo hoo" again? 43. PSC12: I'm glad Mulder's biggest concern is that this will come between them ... not that he's agreeing to father a child knowing that he's dying or that they're talking about bringing a child into the world despite that pesky colonization thing. Maybe they covered some of that ground in that scene we *didn't* see, but based on this conversation, it appears that Mulder's only role in this undertaking will be to Yankee Doodle in a plastic cup. 44. When Mulder says "yes," the range of expressions that cross Scully's face in a few seconds are amazing. Great work by GA. 45. TWC6: And their hug is so sweet. 46. Best Mulderism: "At that part I'm a pro." I think Mulder looks kind of proud that all that *practice* has finally paid off and he can do something nice for Scully. 47. Poofy hair is back and Scully has her hand resting on that little red herring ... I mean her tummy, making us think she got pregnant through IVF. 48. PSC13: Scully does something for the first time that will become an alarming trend: She lets a complete stranger into her apartment. Of course, we don't know what transpired between Scully and Ms. Hendershot because that's another scene we didn't get to see; but did Scully ask how Ms. Hendershot knew her name? Where she lived? That she was pregnant (since it's such a big secret)? Why she came to Scully for help instead of oh, maybe to the police for instance? I'm betting probably not. 49. MMM: A Manly Man driving up in a big 'old pick-em-up truck? What's more manly than that? 50. I'm with Doggett on this one. Why call him out at 3:33 a.m. for something that Skinner could have told him over the phone - especially if Scully isn't gonna tell him anything. I guess Walter just wanted something to write in his diary (wink, wink). 51. PSC14: What more logical place for Scully to go than to a *military* hospital. After all, she and Mulder have had so much luck with the military in the past. Maybe Skinner arranged it and thus Scully felt safe, but I expected more from Mrs. Spooky. Scully should have had some clue that something was amiss when she said Miss Hendershot was going to give birth to something inhuman and nobody went ***GASP***. At that point, I'm outta there. 52. PSC15: On the plus side, with the camera going around in circles like that, I started to get dizzy and it almost made me forget what was going on. Almost. 53. If you look quickly you'll spot Mark Snow in the little circle of doctors who greet Scully at the hospital. I'm surprised he didn't write a theme for himself. 54. I'm glad that Doggett still has buds who come visit him in the XF office. That won't last long. 55. Best Doggettism: "I'm in the dark pretty much most of my time on the X-Files, Joe." 56. Haskell is bogus and has a military connection. Wow, there's a news bulletin. 57. Scully's identifying with Miss Hendershot about how her pregnancy happened. No!!! 58. Awww, the ultrasound shows the bay-bee! It looks like Mulder. 59. PSC16: Fourteen weeks? Now I know what to get the guys at 1013 for Christmas: a calendar. (Per Manum was Episode 8 and should have aired a bit earlier in the season [they held it back for sweeps], but even then 14 weeks still would have been a ludicrous timetable.) 60. Doggett has shady government informants too. But beware, J.D. A lie, Mr. Doggett, is most convincingly hidden between two truths. 61. PSC17: I'm glad Scully's new credo of "Trust Everyone" doesn't just extend to people she lets in her apartment. Apparently, it also extends to people you have only just met sticking long slender needles into your abdomen to perform a procedure that could cause bleeding, infection, and even miscarriage. Not to mention that you're doing the procedure earlier than normally recommended.PLEASE NOTE: HERE BE SPOILERS! If you haven't seen "William" and don't want to be spoiled, cover this section and proceed directly to the next number. Do not pass go, do not collect $200!!
What was the one thing that The Bad Guys (whoever they are) got out of getting Scully to fall for this whole convoluted plot (other than doubting the origins of her pregnancy) and "to go wherever she's gone" (as Doggett says)? Her amniotic fluid. And amniotic fluid is used for what? Genetic testing. We find out in "Essence" that Scully (and Mulder) have been able to create naturally what could not be created in a lab. But with Scully's amniotic fluid, don't The Bad Guys (or maybe they are Good Guys, who knows) now have the information they need to create little cloned Uber-Scully's? Isn't it possible that there are a bunch of little William's out there in UFO pajamas and bunny hats that have been created as "supersoldiers" and are being dispersed among the populous to help save us all from the future? Maybe they just don't have that one special ingredient that William has. I think you can see where I'm going with this. So here's my theory: the baby found by Scully in "Providence" was not the real William but one of the clones. The real William was snatched away by someone protecting him after the debacle with the cultists and a clone was left in his place. We didn't see William or any evidence of his special "powers" between "Providence" and "William" so how do we know the shot that Spender gave him did anything at all? Perhaps Scully did think she was giving William away to protect him, but maybe in the finale she will find out that this was not the real William and the real William is out there somewhere to be reclaimed by her and Mulder. Okay, I'm deluding myself, I know, but I had to try to tie the mishmash that was "Per Manum" to the rest of everything and this was the best I could do. And I want William to be reunited with his mommy and daddy. I won't be devastated if he's not, but I think it's important in bringing Mulder's story full circle. Because Mulder won't know the true joy of responsibility until he plants his feet in the world... and becomes a father. Okay, thanks for indulging me in my delusions. On with the show ...62. Oh no! The ultrasound may not be who it are! But the baby looked so much like Mulder! 63. I should think by now Scully and Miss Hendershot should be on a first name basis. 64. Dear Diary: J.D. figured out that Scully is "in the worst place in the world for her." He's going to go there and try to save her. Then he's coming back for coffee and we're going to talk ... really talk. 65. PSC18: Since Scully was taking a "leave of absence," did she have to turn in her gun, badge, and cell phone? That's the only logical explanation of why she doesn't seem to be carrying them now. 66. PSC19: Scully, Scully, Scully. Were you absent on the day your mother reviewed not accepting rides with strangers? He *says* he's a friend of Doggett's, but did it slip your mind that Doggett had no idea where you were going or why (thanks to you) and was so pissed off when he left the diner that it would be highly unlikely that he would even care where you were going? Bad, Scully. Bad, bad! Good thing they drugged you. I think you need a nice rest. 67. The kid is born - alien, baby goat, or human being? Do we really care at this point? 68. Scully wakes up and hopes this was all a bad dream. So do the viewers. 69. PSC20: Scully shouldn't have been worried that her pregnancy would cause her to be removed from the X-Files so she couldn't look for Mulder. Because for that to be true ... SHE WOULD ACTUALLY HAVE HAD TO *LOOK* FOR MULDER! Doggett has looked for Mulder more than she has. 70. Supportive!Doggett this time. He'll yell at her tomorrow. 71. Scully's hair goes flat again - the return of the flashback. And the return of the HSST - you just know it's not gonna be good news. 72. TWC7: How'd you like to come home and find *that* sleeping on your couch? Now if he would just move his hands a little bit ... oh my. The stubble, the jeans, the black long-sleeved shirt. Holy Flaming Cow. Did I say I had problems with this episode? What was I thinking? Looking at this makes it all worthwhile. I'm so easy. 73. Noho on the in vitro. Since Scully says this is her last chance, I assume Mulder doesn't have any more of those ova tucked away for a rainy day. 74. MSRM: These two must have the most sensual foreheads in the continental United States. And Scully looks like she's going in for a kiss on the lips, but chickens out at the last moment and does some neck nuzzling instead. Kiss or no, the chemistry between these two cannot be denied and we're reminded once again what has been missing for most of this season. 75. Maybe the man who "waits for a miracle every day" will finally get one. 76. Flashback over, back to poofy hair (well, as poofy as it can get in the hospital). Scully is thinking about Mulder and miracles and places her hand protectively on her tummy. Is this a clue? Will we *ever* find out how Scully became pregnant? Will we ever get confirmation that the baby is indeed Mulder's? Now that the secret is out, will Scully finally start looking for Mulder? "Never give up on a miracle.
So what was the point of this episode exactly, other than to use DD in the amount of episodes his contract required? What did we learn? Well, we learned that Mulder is a damn good looking man. But we already knew that. Well, then we learned that Scully heard her biological clock ticking very loudly and decided she wanted to have a baby. We learned that Mulder agreed to help her out with that endeavor despite the fact that he sort of had his own problems at the time. And we learned that their efforts to make a baby in a test tube were unsuccessful, and thus has been eliminated as a possibility of how Scully became pregnant. We also learned that Scully somehow misplaced her brain along with her badge, gun, and cell phone. I hope she gets them all back soon.
Then what don't we know?
1. We don't really know for sure when the in vitro attempt occurs. We're assuming it was during Season 7, but when did these two kids find the time? Was it after Mulder's recovery from brain surgery but before their nice little kiss to ring in 2000? Was it around the time when Scully was committing murder in her apartment but before Mulder's mother's suicide? Or maybe while they were jetting off to California for almost every case during Season 7? And where did Scully get the money to pay for such an expensive procedure? Did she get a big inheritance from her Aunt Olive or something? Or is Mulder really the gazillionaire that he's made out to be in fanfic and go halvsies on the expenses?
2. Since the in vitro didn't work, then how did a barren woman become pregnant? In the episode Scully is being gaslighted into thinking that she was abducted again and impregnated with an alien fetus but has no recollection of this event. Yet, when Scully announced she was pregnant in "Requiem," she seemed pretty darn happy for a woman who might be wondering how in the heck this happened. So there is obviously at least one other possibility and ipso facto just let me say that birds do it, bees do it, even educated M.D.'s do it. (More than likely in "all things," but I'm one of those who subscribe to the theory that "all things" was not their first time in the sack.) If Scully learned she was pregnant, had absolutely *no* idea how such a thing could happen, and then never even looked into it until she was forced to ... well, then giving birth to an alien baby is the least of her problems.
3. Will Scully's baby be human or alien? Well, given that we're down to two possibilities of how Scully got pregnant (unless you think that her doctors lied about in vitro not working, and that's too convoluted even for 1013), I would say the baby will be part alien regardless - haven't we learned that Mulder is part alien? (Plus, I think DD played the Goat Boy's brother or something on SNL, though I don't think that will be a factor.) But if Scully is so darn worried about whether her baby is "normal," why doesn't she have more tests done and run the results herself? Surely another amnio could have shown any genetic problems with the fetus. Maybe it was too dangerous to perform another amnio. More dangerous than giving birth to an alien baby? I think not. And why doesn't she do a DNA test on Miss Hendershot's baby to determine if the baby was really switched? She could have cleared everything up in a jiffy. But, oh, I forgot - there are still eight episodes left. Don't want to confirm that nookie ensued and Mulder and Scully are having a baby the natural way. Don't want us knowing all the answers too soon. I'm all a-tingle.
I know you really don't care to hear any more of my theories, but I've always thought that the chip in Scully's neck was sort of a cure-all and could have restored her fertility at any time. Sort of like how Dorothy's ruby slippers in "The Wizard of Oz" had the power to return Dorothy to Kansas at any time, but if someone had told her that, she wouldn't have believed them; she had to find it out for herself. Similarly, Scully had to learn that it was okay to let someone into her life again. She had to dismantle that brick wall she had built around her heart and allow herself to love Mulder. Once she did that, and their relationship took its natural progression into something physical, fertility became possible with the introduction of the um ... raw materials conveniently provided by one Fox Mulder. Mission accomplished. Well, that's my theory anyway, and I'm stickin' to it.
Well, maybe "Per Manum" wasn't the best episode ever, but it did have some pretty good looking Mulder in it and as I always say, no episode with some good looking Mulder is a total loss. I hope my sarcastic commentary didn't bother you too much and you at least found the TOTM "interesting - as in preposterous and outrageous."
Apologies all the way around for this one. And feel free to let me know what you think about it - good or bad. "Don't make me guess."