Monday, 17 August 2015

X-Files Rewatch | Beyond The Sea & Gender Bender

Since we're still early(ish) in this rewatch - and I have a lot of writing to do to catch up with the 201 Days of X-Files rewatch - I'm going to start incorporating small snippets at the end of each review. Like the best quote, best Mulder/Scully moments, random thoughts etc. 

I write a bunch of them down in my notes but never seem to get the chance to use them, and I hate seeing them go to waste.

'Beyond The Sea' is one of The X-Files earliest masterpieces, especially in showcasing the scope of Gillian Anderson's acting ability. This episode also was the first one to flip Mulder and Scully's usual roles of 'believer' and 'skeptic', making for an extremely insightful look into their characters from a different perspective than to which we normally witness.

While investigating a kidnapping case, Mulder and Scully find out that Luther Lee Boggs (Brad Dourif) - a prison inmate destined for the gas chamber - claims to have a psychic connection to the kidnapper. Mulder was the one that got Boggs in the gas chamber in the first place, through his original profile on the serial killer. Mulder does believe in psychic transmission, but just not in this case. He believes that Boggs is using it to try and get out of being executed.

Boggs requested for Mulder to come speak to him about his apparent connections to the kidnapper, as he believes that he and Mulder share a connection due to Mulder's profiling on him.

Before this interrogation happens, Scully is struck with her first tragedy of the series through the loss of her father. This is what makes her susceptible to becoming the believer, as she is subject to a paranormal experience through seeing her Father in front of her just before she gets the call that he's dead. Scully's change to the believer is later cemented further, as Boggs convinces Scully that she can communicate through him with her father. Which is predominantly shown in the most mind-warping way towards Scully, as Boggs begins to sing 'Beyond the Sea' whilst Scully leaves the jail cell; the song in which was playing at her Father's funeral that she attended a few hours before her and Mulder conducted the interrogation with Boggs.

 (via carlithiel)

Mulder doesn't believe Boggs at all, and even goes so far as to try prove his disbelief through tricking Boggs when they first meet. But Boggs knows his game, and willfully lies to Mulder to make him more headstrong in his theory that Boggs doesn't have any psychic ability. This is a brilliant twist, as it allows Scully to be more vulnerable to believing Boggs through her loss, and allows Boggs and Scully form a connection through her father. Scully is Boggs ticket out of the gas chamber, because if he can help apprehend this kidnapper there's a chance that he will not have to die. 

Scully's openness to the paranormal in this episode puts her in danger on multiple occasions, such as heading to the warehouse that Boggs described when Mulder was tricking him on that alone. She lied to the Police about how she found the warehouse, citing it on seeing suspicious activity. When in reality, she noticed the signs that Boggs has described that she noted down.

Mulder becomes exasperated with Scully because of this, especially since he warned her about Boggs and his ability to manipulate people into doing what he wants. In Mulder's eyes, Boggs could have easily set Scully up into getting her killed at the warehouse, but Scully finds evidence of the kidnapper there, just like Boggs said.

Scully believed it would be better under the circumstances not to tell the police how she truthfully found it, with Mulder quipping that they'd expect the truthful theory from 'Spooky' Mulder. Scully thought that Mulder would be proud that she'd opened herself up to extreme possibility, but he doesn't understand why she has to do this now. After all they've seen. But he should know better than anyone that Scully's Father acts as a catalyst for this sudden belief, much like Samantha did for himself. He tells her that if the loss of her Father is clouding her judgment, she should back away. But that's exactly what he does through Samantha on multiple cases, and it's his personal loss that is fueling his quest.

  (via linzmaru)

Even though Mulder and Scully both hit a wall through their flip of beliefs, 'Beyond The Sea' explores how much they actually care for this early on in the series. Mulder calls Scully 'Dana' at the beginning as an effort to comfort her, and throughout the whole episode treads lightly around the situation of her Father. He forms an emotional connection to her when doing this, by caressing her cheek and telling her that she needs time, that he knows how she feels. 

Scully then expresses her care for Mulder once he gets shot. Boggs warns Mulder about this happening, through cryptically telling him not to go near the white cross. She seems visibly distressed when Mulder is in the emergency room losing a lot of blood from the bullet seemingly hitting an artery in his leg. Scully then storms over to Boggs, threatening him that if Mulder dies because of what he's done, she'll be the one to flip the switch when he's put in the gas chamber. Anderson's performance is phenomenal here, she conveys Scully's frustration and pure anger perfectly. It's the first time either Mulder or Scully threatens someone that if the other dies, they'll kill them. Mulder does this multiple times in the following seasons, but it's Scully that does it first.

With everything that Scully's gone through, she still tries to rationalize her beliefs whilst visiting Mulder in the hospital at the end of the episode. She believes that if Boggs knew Scully was his partner, then he could have found out all this information. Mulder doesn't understand that after all the evidence, she still can't believe. Scully is afraid to believe, and Mulder is intrigued that she couldn't face that fear even if it meant knowing what her father wanted to tell her. She replies that she does know, because he was her father.

'Beyond the Sea' is The X-Files first utterly compelling episode, with the help of the blossoming acting abilities of Gillian Anderson and the sadistic yet sympathetic portrayal of Boggs by Brad Dourif.


Brad Dourif has a knack for playing serial killers, with his portrayal of a killer doll in a film that freaks me out yet I have never watched it - Child's Play.

The sympathy through Boggs mainly comes from his speech about the electric chair being his eternal hell. Even though he does deserve it, one can't not think of how horrific that would be.


"No, no, it was five hours of Boggs' channeling. After three hours, I asked him to summon up the soul of Jimi Hendrix and requested 'All Along The Watchtower'. You know, the guy's been dead for twenty years, but he still hasn't lost his edge"


This is the first (and few) times that Scully is unable to substantiate what she's experienced. She tries to, especially at the end of the episode, but does so to no avail. 


Scully visiting Mulder in the hospital to catch him up with the case. Mulder proceeds to tell her not to deal with Boggs, that he could be trying to claim her as his last victim.

Mulder holding Scully's shoulder at the end of the episode - Letting her know that he supports her, whatever her beliefs might be in what happened with Boggs.

If ever you needed a cold open to epitomize the 90s, 'Gender Bender' hands it to you on a platter. It screams the 90s, bringing in tow rave music and even a horoscope reader. That's right, folks, there were actual machines for you to read your horoscopes at all the hip clubs back then. It's a shame they're not around now.

In terms of direction and cinematography, this episode is pretty excellent. This episode marks the first-time Rob Bowman directed an episode, but it falls apart slightly with the story. The plot makes no sense. The ending of this episode is beyond me, it's so far-fetched. It literally comes out of nowhere, which makes it more hilarious than anything else.

The basic premise of this episode is Mulder and Scully's investigation into a killer who can seemingly enter a room as a man and leave as a woman, killing two women and three men in the process. And how were they killed, I hear you ask? Sex. It turns out that all the victims have high amounts of pheromones in their bodies containing human DNA, in turn causing them each to die from a massive coronary. If this is true, this man or woman - in Mulder's words - is a walking aphrodisiac.

This then eventually leads Mulder and Scully to an Amish-like coven called The Kindred. The story-line that makes little to no sense actually lends itself in this episode, as The Kindred seem so and cut-off and somewhat alien to the rest of the world, there isn't any understandable logic behind them.

Mulder and Scully are even invited to dinner with The Kindred (after trying to find them in the forest with no avail), and are met face to face with their extremely unique way of life. If that wasn't enough, Mulder later finds himself in some sort of catacomb type lair and eventually stumbles across a dead man who seems to be taking on the shape of a woman. While in the meantime, Scully is subject to nearly becoming one of the victims of the case as Brother Andrew tries to seduce her in the same way as the killer - we later find out to be called Marty - does, with the gentle rub of a thumb on the side of the hand.

The Kindred seemed to be minding their own business up in the hills, not harming anyone until one of their own - Marty - was led astray into 'our world'. It doesn't help with Mulder and Scully and their stellar investigative skills, as The Kindred eventually leave them and us be. Other than Marty's senseless killings, the Kindred didn't seem to be doing much harm other than having the ability to gender bend.

'Gender Bender' ends on an ambiguous note, with a lot of questions left unanswered. Where they aliens? Are we supposed to assume they're aliens because they left crop circles? Why does having sex with someone from the Kindred kill you?

While not being one of The X-Files most memorable episodes, it does leave you questioning what you just subjected yourself to for the past 44 minutes. Maybe the Amish have been aliens this whole time, but we didn't have Mulder and Scully to figure it out for us.

Krycek makes a random first appearance in this episode, but in the form of a womanizing victim named Michel.

I love how The Kindred refer to the normalcy of the outside world as 'your world', and their community as 'our world'. It emphasizes how alien they are when Marty eventually left 'their world' to become one of us because he was captured by a world outside their own.


"The Addams Family finds religion"
"There's something up there, Mulder' 'Oh, I've been saying that for years"
"I know what I saw, Scully. And I saw you abut to do the wild thing with some stranger"   


Scully thinks that this gender-bending could be the work of a transvestite. That seems to be the only logical explanation, apparently.  


Mulder has no sense of direction, leading to him screwing up the map and kicking it, with Scully catching the scrunched ball. It's one of my favourite scenes between them, for some reason. It describes their dynamic without really saying anything.

Mulder saving Scully from having sex with Andrew. Scully seems to be embarrassed of how Mulder finds her, although she doesn't remember any of it. They then leave the Kindred hand in hand, before Scully has some sort of reaction to what happened in the form of spewing her guts out.

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