The X Files Revisited: 3.22 Quagmire
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The X Files ran for nine seasons and two movies, charting the efforts of Agents Mulder and Scully in their search for the unexplained. Now eight years after the second movie The X Files: I Want To Believe, the show is returning for six new episodes in 2016. Here at The Digital Fix, we are going to work our way through each season, reviewing some of the big episodes – and both movies – across the years in the build up to season ten. With 202 episodes, there is simply too much to cover every episode; instead we'll pick the story highlights of each year. Quagmire is the final part of the Queegueg trilogy as Scully's adopted dog meets a sticky end...
This late season episode of season three is a curious affair, often forgotten (so much so that I almost excluded it) but it is a very strong episode for Mulder and Scully as it takes the time to explore Mulder's passions for the truth and their own relationship without the high drama of abductions, government conspiracies and global threats. It is a relatively low key story too, with The X Files doing its own take on the mystery of the Loch Ness Monster. And like other recent Darin Morgan episodes it has a blackly comic undertone at times even if doesn't hit the highs of those stories.
"You can't turn your back on nature or nature will turn its back on you." the guest starring Doctor Farraday (Timothy Webber) rants as his colleague discounts his arguments about a decline in the local lake's frog population before getting promptly attacked and eaten by something lurking on the shores. And that is the motto of this episode - nature fighting back - that leads to a surprisingly high body count which sees floating bodies dismembered at the torso, a leg and several nasty bites. The viciousness of the attacks and the frequency of deaths gives the episode a sense of urgency that stops it from dragging as the mystery unfolds.
It also leads to the death of a series semi-regular; Scully's yappy dog Queegueg. We last saw Scully washing her dog and fending him off from eating her dinner in War Of The Coprophages after acquiring him in early season three episode Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose. In his third and final episode Scully brings him along on their investigation on their day off (a theme we saw in Coprophages). While a nuisance throughout - she has to bring him along for walks when they investigate a dead body and he is always running off. It makes you wonder how much he spent with her mother or a sitter; imagining Queegueg at Scully's side breaking into the military facility in Apocrypha or yapping at Scully's side during the tense Russian Roulette scene in Pusher? You couldn't image him last long on a show like this.
But the heart of this story is an examining of Mulder's quest for the truth versus Scully's scientific skepticism. Over the course of the last three years her eyes have been opened to secret conspiracies and the potential for alien life but a prehistoric dinosaur called Big Blue still living undetected in a lake in Georgia is a step too far for her. She scoffs that she believed in mythical monsters once but then grew up and became a scientist.
And her skepticism is initially proven when the agents uncover the foot of a fake monster suit by the lake. Even the photos of the local photographer and biggest believer of Big Blue, dragged to his death while trying to gain evidence of its existence, prove to be pointless. "It could be a tooth." Mulder exclaims, pointing to a white object caught on camera at the time of the photographer's death. "It could be a lot of things Mulder." she retorts and is eventually proved right.
After Queegueg vanishes into the night, eaten by whatever creature is lurking on the shores, Mulder and Scully find themselves in a boat - Jaws style - searching for the very monster. It is at this point the episode appears to take a more dramatic turn as a green blip on the radar rushes towards them and the boat is violently attacked. Water floods in, Scully screams may day on radio the boat and they are forced to abandon the boat as it is destroyed, leaving Mulder and Scully with life vests and a lamp stranded on a rock in the lake in the middle of the night.
The standout scene of this episode is the heart-to-heart between Mulder and Scully on the rocks in the lake as Scully compares Mulder's future to that of the truth-obsessed photographer who died hunting what he devoted his life to. We also get more insight into Scully's childhood; she chose the name Queegueg for her dog because it was a character from Moby Dick, a book her father read to her. He might have been alive for just five minutes in season one but the show continues to develop and explore this relationship between father and daughter in interesting ways. It is also a discussion that leads to the obvious Mulder is Ahab, searching for the White Whale, a comparison he strongly refutes - perhaps because she has cut to the truth.
It also has the tense moment when something lurks in the mist out in the water...and is revealed as a duck!
But is also an scene that has fun with their relationship and one of the first that I can remember to suggest they could become a romantic couple. Mulder casually noticing that Scully has lost weight might have come off the back of their humourous conversation of whether they would eat another human to stay alive but it must have been a big moment for Mulder Scully shippers at the time. That and the passing Doctor Farraday asking if he is interrupting anything, which they both firmly deny.
The fact that his appearance reveals they are just feet from the shoreline is hilarious and well played. It also leads them on a path to the truth of what is really happening. It isn't a prehistoric dinosaur searching for alternative food source after its frog supply was depleted by a bloody big alligator that makes a meal of Farraday's leg and almost gets Mulder before a few timed bullets to the head stops it dead.
The final shot with Big Blue floating in the water is amusing, particularly as both the departing Mulder and Scully miss it, but I wonder if the reveal that the creature they were hunting really exists was really necessary. This episode is an examination of Mulder's quest to investigate the supernatural and unexplained. Quagmire would have worked just as well with the realisation that in this instance it wasn't a dinosaur but an alligator attacking and eating people. In fact it is something that some episodes of The X Files could have employed; the idea that some some X Files cases could be disproven. Regardless it is an amusing look at Mulder's search for the truth and an examination of just how far Mulder and Scully have come as partners.