"Yeah, Merry Christmas to you too."

If you ever thought you had a bad Christmas home for the 
holidays - think again. I'm curious as to when exactly it 
happened. That exact moment, no doubt late one night puffing 
away on cigars, when the boys at 1013 decided to make Dana 
Scully prime time's leading poster child for cruel and unusual 
character angst. Let's see, the death of family and friends was 
not enough. A three month abduction to be returned near death - 
heck that's nothing. Deadly psychos and mutants - ha! - she 
fights them every other week. Lose a partner? He'll crawl 
through a hole and be back. Terminal cancer? Beat it, and now
setting off metal detectors. Let's make her barren when she 
really wants children and then - oh this will be good - let's 
give her a child via some sort of immaculate conception - those 
internet folks are always calling her a "Saint" anyway - but 
let's give the child a terrible deadly disease just so we can 
get rid of it in part two in a neat and tidy fashion and make 
her suffer even more. Cool! That will teach her for smiling 
last week. Think you're on vacation? Take this "Merry Christmas" 
Agent Scully - hope you enjoyed your little song and dance 
because the Grinch has just arrived.

OK. I'm a little better now. I've got to say though that I'm 
really torn about this episode. On one hand, this constant 
Scully abuse has become almost too much to bear. On the other, 
it should come as no surprise to those who follow my reviews 
that part of me absolutely adored "Christmas Carol". I reveled 
in the chance to spend an introspective hour with this wonderful 
character. I wondered, after that simply stunning scene with 
the social worker (always a good sign for good acting), if 
Gillian Anderson has more room on her mantle for yet another 
round of much deserved awards. The beauty of her acting is the
quiet intensity without the hysterics that too many actresses 
seem to rely on. She softly breaks your heart. If you ever find 
yourself wondering why Gillian has garnered so much praise just 
watch her deliver this: "I don't understand. I mean I think I 
have a right to know why you're rejecting my application." It
should be clear. 

This is another departure episode in what has become a 
surprising season. Writers Gilligan, Spotnitz, and Shiban focus 
on the character of Dana Scully. Coupled with the performance of 
Gillian Anderson they achieve a lot of success in giving us much 
cherished insight about her. I've always preferred these moment 
over monsters. I do think that their mythology tie-in attempt
(consisting mostly of two guys driving around in a car and yet 
another evil pharmaceutical company) was weak - which frankly is 
surprising because it is usually the other way around on this 
show. I suppose we are going to find out more about all this in 
the conclusion, but by the third time I had to watch Scully 
stare intently at these two goons enough was enough. The 
adoption angle was also contrived, albeit to give us the 
episode's best scene, but you have to suspend a whole lot of 
disbelief to think things could happen even remotely that fast. 
Director Peter Markle makes his X-Files debut by proving that 
he's got a real nice handle on the intimate moments that 
populate this episode.

Another thing to like was the appearance of Scully as a very 
effective detective without Mulder. She singlehandedly brought 
all the clues together on this one (even getting to show up a 
doddering old pathologist with her autopsy skills) to solve the 
crime. I also appreciated John Pyper-Fergusun as her reluctant 
sidekick. He had a real charisma on screen. Plus, we got more 
Sheila Larken as Mrs. Scully than ever before (and all of last 
season). She continues to impress me with her work. My favorite 
moment of hers was her reaction to Scully's typically bad lie of
"nothing" when asked what was the matter. If 1013 ever does one 
of their patented charactersides on her I'll snap. Whether you 
"like" Bill Scully or not you've got to admit Pat Skipper and 
Gillian Anderson click in their scenes. I really enjoyed that 
edgy eggnog confrontation complete with the disapproving look 
from Mom when it was over.

I don't remember when we were hit over the head so hard with a 
theme before that didn't have to do with some moral message or a 
different culture. We start with placing a child in the manger 
and end with Scully finding out she is a mother. In between 
there is a pregnant sister in-law, massive Scully suffering over
her inability to have a child, childhood memories (and I'm
still trying to figure out what the point of the maggot ridden 
bunny in the Lassie box was - her love of  and need to protect 
something actually killing it?), putting Scully in the baby's 
room just to drum it in a little more, and the whole idea of her 
rebirth after her cancer. I think, just possibly, we got the 
point.

Psychic!Scully was here with a vengeance - though ghosts have 
always been Scully's X-File forte - and the whole Melissa issue 
has been a particularly thorny one for her. It is interesting 
that family consistently breaks through those skeptical walls 
and make her start to believe.  Whether or not she knew the 
nature of it, she felt some connection to the girl even before 
she suspected the Melissa angle. It was a nice scene where she 
resolves to call Mulder and then freezes numbly, having no idea 
what to say. Still a few issues to work out there. As much as I 
liked the emotion behind that Maternal!Scully moment where she 
buckles up the child, I don't like the idea of her passing on
the cross - again the tie into the THEME with her mother giving 
it to her - mostly because it is so integral to Scully's 
character for me now that without it around her neck part of her 
is missing.

So, I guess it boils down to this. Thanks for the character 
insights. Thanks for showing us a Scully questioning her 
priorities, thinking of second chances - but could you please
lay off the extreme character torture to get there?

Random Musings
------------------------
-Now this is a great little tidbit. When Scully is checking the 
reports with the endearing Detective Kresge it seems perhaps the 
props for another upcoming episode got shuffled in. The first 
page is a police report on a certain "Modell" and includes such 
gems as an education of "general studies" at "Our Lady of 
Perpetual Motion" followed by a degree in philosophy from
"Bubba's Community College". Work experience lists "Cady[sic] - 
Fairfax Driving Range" and down at the bottom, among other 
things, it says "Modell has excellent dental hygiene". Now, that 
was funny.

-On to the toxicology report that followed. It lists the 
birthday of Mrs. Sim as 6/6/67 which does not match the initial 
claim that she is 40.

-Of course then we have the glaring continuity error which 
frankly has me a little disappointed as Vince "continuity " 
Gilligan was one of the writers. "Ascension" tells us that 
Scully received her cross on her 15th birthday. Not at 
Christmas. Though this was a charming little moment - especially 
the way Young Melissa looked about the gift after she expressed 
her faux joy at receiving it.

-Frank's Fashion Spot #1 (Are you proud Frank? It's mutating!): 
My God. Where to start. Well, how about the top - of Mulder's 
head that is. What in the heck was that silly thing he was 
wearing on his head - and more importantly did David Duchovny 
get $100,000 for wearing it and saying "hello" three times? Can
you say "Playing Goofy"?

-Well, apparently it is the ever-missing-but-finally-mentioned-
by-name brother Charles who has the brood. There were quite a 
few kids in that "Beyond the Sea" family funeral scene as well 
as the mention of the Babe loving nephew in "Home". Maybe 
Charles is stationed overseas and that is his excuse. He only
comes back to the U.S. to have Dana babysit, not for family 
emergencies or holidays.

-Does Scully just memorize the local number to any FBI field 
office before she goes on vacation?

-Scully's "ID number" is listed in the first official guide as 
the one she rattles off here as her badge number, but she gave 
us an entirely different "Badge number" in "Teliko" - 
JTT0331613. Yes, I am aware that I am being anal about this, but
it is what I do.

-Retread Alert: This one was a hard one to spot, but Scully's 
surrogate partner played the main convict who dies at the end of 
"F. Emasculata". Also, Mr. Sim was just with us recently as the 
police officer who asks Scully to identify Not!Mulder in 
"Gethsemane".

-Frank's Fashion Spot #2: Someone kill that wig now. Right now. 
If they were going to do Quantico!Scully I wish they'd made her 
look more like she did in the pilot instead of foisting that 
amazing scare-hair upon her head. Really made me appreciate the 
current Scully do.

-Bill Scully's requisite partner slam for the episode: "Sounds 
like something that partner of yours would say." It was no 
surprise to find that he was also an emotional bully as a child. 

-That said, I still maintain that Bill is a very realistic 
sibling. You may not like him all the time, but that's the way 
it can be with family. Pushy, meddling, annoying, and too much 
talking about "secrets" behind your back.

-Scully in braces I could handle, but "Hotel California"? That's
information that somehow really frightened me.

-Frank's Fashion Spot #3: Isn't Our Dear Dana just the life of 
the party. Sitting in the corner all dressed in black on 
Christmas Eve - how festive. At least she remembered the push up 
bra.

-Time line: This one goes from December 21 - 25, 1997, and we
learn the Scully clan was stationed in Japan in 1966. Emily's 
DOB is 11/2/94. The references with Melissa running off for a 
while during this time fit in nicely with the reaction she got 
from her mother in "One Breath".

-Thanks are in order for letting Scully call "Danny" -see, I 
told you he wasn't Pendrell!

-Frank's Fashion Spot #4 (and I promise this is the last one): 
I did like Scully's casual crime-fighting outfit - esp. the 
jacket which came equipped with the latex gloves usually only 
found in her trench coat - even if I did find it a bit odd that 
she felt the need to change into it instead of just wearing what
she had on when Kresge came to get her about the pharmaceutical
company.

-Scully tells Deadly Dad who holds 2:54AM "meetings" (very 
subtle) that she was addressed by name on the latest phone call 
and she wasn't.

-What was with that weird cut to Scully wearing her mother's 
outfit in the teenage memory - it didn't work whatever they were 
trying to do.

Autumn
"It's OK. I just never realized how much I wanted it until I
couldn't have it."



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