The Cave's X-Files
Commentary Archives: Dana Scully
Title: Tasting the Forbidden Author: LoneThinker (bardsmaid)
an idea that just occurred to me.
A while back some of us were discussing Scully's controlled nature, and the way she tries to break away from that in Never Again. In the bar scene, Scully tells Ed Jerze that she is attracted to authority figures but that eventually she feels a need to rebel against them. Specifically, she explains how she worships the sea her father sailed on; then she tells of how, as a teenager, she would sneak out at night and smoke her mother's cigarettes "because I knew if he caught me, he would kill me."
"There are other fathers," she continues, and we all smile to ourselves and think of Mulder. BUT--and this is what jumped me this morning--WHAT IF WORKING WITH MULDER IS ONE OF THOSE FORBIDDEN THINGS, one of the ways of rebelling against her father, or her family's respectable expectations for its children? I hadn't ever thought of it that way before, but it could actually answer several questions and loose ends that have been drifting around inside my brain like
for example, when Scully's father dies in Beyond the Sea, what is her one burning question? She needs to know whether her father was at all proud of her. (As Zuffy has noted in our 6x01 discussion, not if he loved her for who she was, but for what she'd done.) We know her father hadn't been happy about Scully's decision to quit the medical profession and join the FBI. But accepting the assignment to work with (or debunk, if you prefer) Mulder would have been much worse in his eyes, I imagine, than merely being a part of the FBI. What could you tell your friends?--that your daughter who had studied to be a doctor was now at the FBI working with a crackpot "investigating" the paranormal, a guy the administration trusted so little that it had attached your daughter to him like a watchdog?
My impression is that the Scullys are a family that appreciates the value of a respectable career. Their son Bill has followed his father into the Navy--a respectable thing to do. His daughter Dana has studied to become a doctor, which not only is highly respectable, but probably compensates somewhat for the fact that his remaining daughter, Melissa, is a New Age type without the desired family "respectability." (We never do find out what kind of job/career Melissa had; I think if it had lived up to family expectations, it would have been mentioned somewhere along the line.)
Having rewatched Redux II last night (okay, and again tonight, taking my LITTLE NOTES), Bill Scully's first meeting with Mulder caught my attention. Mulder is leaving Scully's room and introduces himself to Bill, completely unaware of Bill's hostility toward Mulder and his work (which we first notice at the dinner in the beginning of the arc, Gethsemane.) Bill seems more than mildly annoyed by his sister's association with this crazy man, this "real piece of work", this "sorry son of a bitch." I got the impression, in that hospital meeting, when Bill says, "Let's leave the work out of this..." that he blames Mulder for having ruined his sister's chances for having a respectable career, that Mulder has turned her into a laughingstock, something from which she (and her reputation) will not have a chance to recover.
In any event, if my take on these circumstances is correct, Scully might have seen the assignment to work with Mulder as one of these opportunities to rebel against her dad and the expectations he must have had for her. Scully's dependence on science and her unwillingness to reach out to extreme possibilities does not seem to make her a perfect (or even a passable) match for Mulder, and yet, if you look back at the Pilot, she displays an obvious fascination with Mulder and the way he works. It is so different from what she is, and from what she has been taught to strive for. It is risky. It is not respectable. And it is very much ALIVE (we see an illustration, I think, of Joseph Campbell's "the experience of being alive" in Mulder's stopping the car in the middle of nowhere, getting out and going to the trunk, and spray painting the X on the road...as well as his utter joy when finding it again in conjunction with the lost time, and his exuberant "Not in this
zip code!") Here are all the things her parents warned her about (or feared, even if they said nothing.) Scully obviously finds them intriguing.
The pilot had always struck me as inconsistent in this respect, having this woman whose immediate reaction is to put on the gloves and spar with Mulder's theories be at the same time so obviously intrigued by her new partner and his methods. Also, we see a Scully in the pilot who has not yet become the very serious, very contained agent we have come to know. I had always attributed this to the writers not having fully developed the character yet, though now, as I look at it, the freer, more flowing, and yes, even more impulsive Scully we see in the pilot bears a striking resemblance to the woman she is hoping to find inside herself in Never Again (the Dana in the bar with Ed; the Dana getting the tattoo.)
(I may be reading things in here, as far as a deliberate effort to portray this less restricted, rebelling Scully in the pilot. On the other hand, I know from experience at writing that sometimes you put key elements into a story without even being aware of it at the time...and later you look back and see them and think, wow!--that's so true, and I never even noticed that when I put it down.)
Just my musings here, but they seemed to make sense of some loose ends to me. Mulder as the forbidden