September 24, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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The X-Files “Tithonus”

Scully looks into a photographer who is either immortal or a murderer. Or maybe both.

OK, I got another Vince Gilligan-penned episode, and I do remember this one.  It baffled me then.  It baffled me now.

The Case:  Immortal Photographer!

The Rest:  So, the set-up here is fine.  Kersh is sending Scully, and only Scully, to look into a case involving a photographer who seems to snap pictures of crime scenes just before they become crime scenes.  Is this guy a murderer?  Mulder is left behind because Kersh considered Mulder a “lost cause,” but there’s some X-File-ish stuff going on.  Scully will go to New York and help the agent on the case make sure this guy isn’t a killer.

Turns out the guy’s immortal.  He can see when people are about to die (he can’t see how or anything, only that they are going to), and the effect used is simple but cool:  he sees dying people in black-and-white.  There’s a story how he was born in the 19th century and was dying of Yellow Fever when a nurse accidentally looked Death in the face, causing her to die instead of him.  He’s been trying to die for a while now, but nothing works, and he hates life.

OK, so, there’s a lot of potential here.  Mulder gets to check in by phone with tips to Scully as he finds out more about the mystery man.  Scully makes for an interesting choice to go talk to this guy.  She’s (sometimes) religious, and her basic argument is life is for living.  The photographer just says he’s been on Earth too long and doesn’t even remember his long dead wife’s name.  Likewise, Scully general morality, combined with her scientific skepticism, means she could get some interesting conversations going with this guy if he gave enough of a hoot to actually wanna talk about that sort of thing.

Granted, it does turn out the guy is a murderer, but that was decades ago.  Mulder’s research actually paid off.

But here’s the thing I just do not get about this episode:  why is Scully spending so much time with this guy?  He’s not all that friendly.  He doesn’t strike me as being especially He’s not answering questions she has all that much.  She’s just at his place when he sees her go to black-and-white, and she ends up being shot when her temporary partner puts one through the photographer–and I mean through–and hits her instead.  But the photographer looks Death in the face for Scully, so he dies and she lives.

Does that mean Scully is immortal now?

You know what?  I am not sure I care.  Oh well, at least it wasn’t one of those mythology conspiracy episodes.

Up next, a mythology conspiracy episode.