Thursday, 19 September 2019

X-Files Rewatch | 'Oubliette'

image credit: dvd bash/20th century fox

As horrible as it sounds, the case that unfolds in 'Oubliette' is a relatively normal one — that is before the supernatural element comes into play. 15-year-old Amy Jacobs (played by Jewel Staite) is abducted from her bedroom by photography assistant Carl Wade (played by Michael Chieffo), who targeted her the day before at school. At the same time, Lucy Householder (played by Tracey Ellis) collapses with a nosebleed halfway across town, mirroring Amy's injuries. This catches Mulder's attention, leading to Mulder and Scully investigating Amy's disappearance. 

They soon find out that Lucy was also abducted when she was a child and was held captive for five years until she escaped. What Mulder and Scully don't yet know is that Lucy's abductor was also Carl, and she can somehow feel Amy's pain. This, coupled with the PTSD from her own abduction, makes Lucy's actions seem more suspicious. This leads Scully to believe that Lucy may have had a hand in Amy's abduction. 

Mulder, on the other hand, connects with both victims due to the nature of the case. This ultimately turns 'Oubliette' into a character study for Mulder, delving into the psychological effects of Samantha's abduction, and how it's led to him form strong empathetic bonds with the victim. Scully sees this too but understandably worries that it's more of a hindrance to their work and could lead to Mulder putting himself — and the victim — in unnecessary harm. 

SCULLY: You don't see what you're doing, do you, Mulder? You are so close to that you just don't see it.
MULDER: What don't I see?
SCULLY: The extreme rationalisation that's going on, your personal identification with the victim or in this case, the suspect. You're becoming some kind of empath yourself, Mulder. You are so sympathetic to Lucy as a victim like your sister that you can't see her as a person who is capable of committing this crime.
MULDER: You don't think I've thought of that? I have. And not everything I do and say and think and feel goes back to my sister — you of all people should realise that sometimes motivations behind behaviour can be more complex and mysterious than tracing them back to one single childhood experience. 

While it seems that the viewer is supposed to view Scully in an antagonist role, I'm on both sides. Scully is caring for Mulder; she's visibly concerned for his wellbeing and the effect the case is having on the trauma he still experiences. But you can also see how upset Mulder gets by Scully pointing this out, that his past is the only reason he cares about this case. That it's the only reason, he's fully invested in it — like it's somehow a way for him to solve Samantha's disappearance. 

Mulder's always shown how much he cares for the victims of these cases. Even though Scully points it out as a somewhat harmful quality, Mulder has always been an empath from the beginning. In this instance, his defences go up because he can't believe that Scully (of all people) could trivialise his involvement to Samantha. But then again, sometimes it does look like his sister is the reason Mulder is so involved in some case which can warp his perspective. But in the end, Scully only has his best interest at heart. 

In terms of the plot beyond Mulder and Scully, the connection between Amy and Lucy is a fantastic touch. Not only does it allow for that quintessential X-Files aspect to shine through, but it also makes the ending even more impactful. We don't know a whole lot about Lucy, but we know enough through the shared pain that it's enough for Lucy to sacrifice her life for Amy's. 

That coupled with the claustrophobic cinematography and a horrific, un-supernatural villain always makes this episode stand out for me whenever I watch the series back. 

  The meaning of 'Oubliette' is a secret dungeon with access only through a trapdoor in its ceiling.
•   David Duchovny was praised for his performance in the episode.
•   Fox were concerned that the story was too reminiscent of the Polly Klaas in 1993, so Amy's age was increased from 12-years-old to rectify this. According to an IMDb user, "[t]he network requested that she be in her late teens and that the plot not heavily feature Amy's ordeal or suffering."

SCULLY: You messaged with something about a kidnapping? 
MULDER: Yeah, a fifteen-year-old girl named Amy Jacobs was taken from her bedroom last night at ten o'clock. 
SCULLY: Is she here? 
MULDER: No, they haven't found her. 
SCULLY: Well, what are we doing here? 
MULDER: A thirty-year-old woman named Lucy Householder was admitted here shortly after ten o'clock. She collapsed at work suffering from some kind of seizure and what her doctors are calling glossolalia. 
SCULLY: Incoherent speech. 
MULDER: Technically, but whether she knew it or not she was repeating the exact words spoken by Amy's abductor at the exact same time twenty miles across town. 
SCULLY: That's spooky. 
MULDER: That's my name, isn't it?

No comments

Post a Comment

© Wreck My Brain. All rights reserved.