September 24, 2023

Gabbing Geek

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The X-Files “Monday”

Ever think you've lived the same day over and over again?

For this episode, I see I’ve got a pair of sort of noteworthy guest stars.  There’s Darren E. Burrows as a wannabe bank robber, and he apparently was a regular on Northern Exposure, a show I know more by its reputation than anything else.  There’s also Carrie Hamilton as his doomed girlfriend.  Who is she?  Well, her mother is Carol Burnett, and man, does she look like her mama.

Also, Vince Gilligan co-wrote this one, and Burnett would apparently do a few episodes of Better Call Saul, but I haven’t gotten to them yet.

The Case:  Time Loop!

The Rest:  Hamilton’s Pam keeps reliving the same day over and over again, one where her boyfriend Bernard (Burrows) decides to rob a bank.  Something goes wrong, and the bomb he’s wearing always goes off, killing Scully and Mulder with it.

The obvious point of comparison should be Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray classic where he keeps repeating the same day over and over, but that’s not quite accurate.  Murray’s character sees the world around him never changes.  Pam, on the other hand, always sees some subtle differences, and in the roughly fifty times she lives through this thing, she tries numerous ways to change the future.  She tries to warn Skinner when he arrives on the scene.  She tries to stop Mulder from going into the bank, sometimes successfully but Scully’s always ends up going in instead.  She tries to warn Scully, but Scully’s not the kind to think outside the box about how this isn’t just a bunch of weird coincidences.

Mulder, for his part, keeps waking up to finding his waterbed sprung a leak, causing a chain reaction where his alarm clock and cell phone short out, he trips over his own shoes and hits his head in a variety of ways, and then he has to pay for damages.  But if he doesn’t deposit his paycheck soon, the check he wrote for the damages will bounce.

Did direct deposit not exist in 1999?

Anyway, that’s the reason he’s at the bank, and he doesn’t remember when he even bought a waterbed.  There’s a good reason for that:  he didn’t.

Now, I’ve said this season seems to be a lot more ambitious than previous ones, and this episode actually helps in that regard.  I chalk that up largely to the fact that Gilligan’s script feels the most like his future work.  The attention to detail, the small bits of character-based humor–Scully’s deadpan response to Mulder’s question about whether she’s ever had a day where nothing seems to go right is downright delightful–and the repetitive nature of the time loops just has that sort of feel that I grew accustomed to in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.

So, when the episode ends with Pam’s taking a bullet for Mulder, prompting Bernard to surrender without blowing everybody up, Mulder and Scully have questions of their own, but it mostly worked because Mulder, instead of channeling Groundhog Day went for a similarly-structured episode of Star Trek the Next Generation where the character’s sense of deja vu seems to kick in, with Mulder remembering just enough from a previous loop to take some preventative steps.

I think I remember watching this one before, and I think I liked it more the second time.

Up next, Mulder & Scully vs the Home Owners Association.