Wednesday, 3 October 2018

The X-Files Rewatch | Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose

credit: dvd bash
Like I mentioned in my rewatch of 'D.P.O.',  season three is where The X-Files truly begins to fit into its creepy, iconic groove and churn out some of the series most iconic episodes, and 'Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose' is totally one of those. Often cited as a firm fan favourite, 'Clyde Bruckman' explores the depths of existentialism, fate, the inevitability of death, and psychic ability all wrapped within a murder mystery narrative that is undercut by one of the wittiest pieces of writing to ever grace The X-Files canon. 

Written by Darin Morgan and directed by David Nutter, 'Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose' follows Mulder and Scully as they investigate a spate of murders directed at psychics and fortune tellers. They are joined by Clyde Bruckman (portrayed by the fantastic Peter Boyle), a reluctant psychic who can foresee how people are going to die — an ability that ultimately aids Mulder and Scully in finding the killing, even if Bruckman isn't too bothered that he has this gift in the first place. 

This is also the episode that we're first introduced to the Pomeranian fluffball that is Queequeg (a gift from Bruckman to Scully), so that's a bonus. 


Whilst 'Clyde Bruckman' plays out as your usual MOTW, it's Morgan's exploration of deep topics through Bruckman and his interactions with Mulder and Scully that ends up being so captivating. From his self-deprecation, blasé explanations of life and death to the ramifications of having a sixth sense, Bruckman's characteristics carry the narrative rather than the investigation itself — something that is pretty rare for a MOTW. Sure, these episodes usually have a central antagonist, but for this episode Bruckman acts as an extension of Mulder and Scully — a third wheel of sorts — which of course lends itself to an excellent dose of dark comedy. 

The thing with the humour that seeps through this episode is that it's not forced. Not by Morgan, not by David Duchovny or Gillian Anderson, nor Boyle. Everything just seems to fall into place through a combination of happenstance and an underlying understanding between the actors and writer. Morgan is known for his darkly witty scripts, and by this point Duchovny and Anderson began to cement themselves as a couple of actors with an innate, natural skill when it comes to deadpan delivery. 

Duchovny and Anderson's ability to naturally align themselves with subtle wit is evident in pretty much every X-Files episode, but when given a script as darkly funny as 'Clyde Bruckman', they take it in their grasp and produce probably some of the funniest X-Files moments in the series. That coupled with Boyle's ability to bounce off both the script and Duchovny and Anderson makes for an all-round unique and special episode. 

And whilst fans may remember 'Clyde Bruckman' for the insinuation that Scully is immortal — Scully asks Bruckman how she's going to die, and he replies that she doesn't — it's treated more like a passing comment rather than a strand for mythology to hold onto. This aspect of Scully's character is further explored in the season six episode 'Tithonus', but overall it's left more to fan interpretation than anything else. 

Instead, 'Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose' acts as a snapshot of Morgan's own experience with depression and his humour. It's less about Mulder and Scully and more about the broader ideas of death being inevitable, and the relief that although we don't exactly know how we're going to die, we know that it's going at least happen someday, and there's not a lot we can do about it. 

• Again, David's hair is on point in this episode. Damn. 

• "What the hell is Lollapolozo?" Sounds like something my dad would say, lmao

• Mulder in the backseat of the car, acting like an annoying child is such a highlight.

• Nice to see I'm not the only gal who sits cross-legged everywhere. Me and Sculls have something in common.

• Lackadaisical — Adjective; Lacking enthusiasm and determination; carelessly lazy. 

• Miss Manners was the pen name of American journalist, author, and 'etiquette authority' Judith Martin, who would write columns and short essays about etiquette theory in a humours and sarcastic tone. 

• "Peter Boyle's character has the same name as a famous Hollywood writer and director of the 1920s and 40s, Clyde Bruckman, who worked with many of the famous comedians of the day including Buster Keaton, W.C. Fields, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. He later fell on hard times and committed suicide in 1955."

• "It was neither Tommy Allsup or The Big Bopper who won the coin toss in 1959. It was in fact 17-year-old Ritchie Valens. Allsup lost the toss and had to ride the bus."

• Queequeg, Scully's adopted Pomeranian, is named after the harpooner in Moby Dick

• "The episode references 'The Day the Music Died', which is one of the most harrowing and tragic events in the history of rock 'n' roll. On February 3, 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. 'The Big Bopper' Richardson died in a plane crash. This episode shows brilliant intertextuality by referencing the events that took place in the final hours of those rock 'n' roll legends, namely the coin toss that would decide the fate of Valens."

• "The name of characters Detective Havez and Detective Cline are also references to a writer and director from the silent film era, Jean C. Havez and Edward F. Cline."

• [MULDER standing outside the door, MR. YAPPI coming out] 
MR. YAPPI: Now excuse me, I have an interview to give. Skeptics like you make me sick. 
MULDER: Mr. Yappi, read this thought. 
MR. YAPPI: [Stunned] So's your old man!

CLINE: It's kinda creepy, isn't it? Stupendous Yappi said the first victim's body has been dumped somewhere, then we find it in a dumpster. 
MULDER: Oohh, I just got a chill down my spine. 

CLYDE: We're almost there. 
MULDER: And how are you receiving this information about the body's location? 
CLYDE: How should I know?
MULDER: I mean, are you seeing it in a vision or is it a sensation? How do you know where to go? 
CLYDE: I just know. 
MULDER: But how do you know? 
CLYDE: I don't know! Look, it's just ahead... you know, there are worst ways to go, but I can't think of a more undignified one than autoerotic asphyxiation. 
MULDER: Why are you telling me that?
CLYDE: Look, forget I mentioned it, it's none of my business. 

MULDER: Get this, Scully. The lab analysis from the first bit of fibre that was found just came back, it's lace. 
SCULLY: Chantilly lace?
MULDER: You know what I like. 
SCULLY: Mulder, it's not likely that the killer was wearing anything made out of Chantilly lace at the time of the murders. 
MULDER: Well, what are the odds? The Big Bopper, Chantilly lace... 
SCULLY: It's just a coincidence. 
MULDER: If coincidences are just coincidences, why do they feel so contrived?
SCULLY: That's one to pose to the psychic philosopher. 

MULDER: Now we've either got a copycat killer or our guy is getting extremely lackadaiscial. 

MULDER: If my Miss Manners serves me right, that protrusion from his left cornea is a salad fork. 

SCULLY: It's the bellhop, he's the killer — the bellhop at the hotel. 
COP: How the hell does she know that?
MULDER: Women's intuition. 

MULDER: How'd you know where to find us? 
SCULLY: I didn't, I got in the service elevator by mistake. 
MULDER: Thank heaven for happenstance. 

MULDER: Be honest, Scully. Doesn't that propane tank bear more than a slight resemblance to a fat little white Nazi stormtrooper? 
SCULLY: Mulder, the human mind naturally seeks meaningful patterns and configurations in things that don't inherently have any. Given the suggestion of a particular image, you can't help but see that shape somewhere. If that tank weren't there, you'd see it in a rock or a tree—
MULDER: Did you answer my question?
SCULLY: Yes, it looks like a fat little white Nazi stormtrooper, but that only proves my point. 
MULDER: You mean the specific body of water the victim would be found in?
SCULLY: Mulder, that only implies that he was the one that put her in there. 
MULDER: I don't believe he is the killer. 
SCULLY: I don't believe he's the psychic. 
MULDER: Well, if he's not, then how did he know where the body would be found?
SCULLY: Maybe he's just lucky. 

MR. YAPPI: It's gone, I lost the vision. Someone is blocking me, I am picking up negative energy [Looks towards Scully, then comes up to her face. Then looks at Mulder, does the same]. Please, leave this room. 
MULDER: I'm part of this investigation. 
MR. YAPPI: You give off negative energy. 
MULDER: I can assure you, Mr. Yappi, I'm a believer in psychic ability. 
MR. YAPPI: So you say with your mouth, but your thoughts tell me the truth. 
CLINE: Agent Mulder, please. 
SCULLY: I can't take you anywhere. 

Such. A. Couple. 

MULDER: Like what, what does he see? 
CLYDE: You. He sees you trying to catch him. 
MULDER: Where does this take place? 
CLYDE: In a kitchen, you're looking for someone, he's behind you now but you don't know it and he's stalking towards you and — Oh God! 
SCULLY: What, what did you see?

I love how Scully dismisses all this, but the moment Mulder could be in trouble — even in a vision — she's all over it. 


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