With all our favorite shows taking their usual break in the summer months, this opens up an opportunity to watch some of our old favorites. That’s where the Multiversity Summer Binge comes in. Last year, I took a look at the entire first season of my favorite show ever, The X-Files and this summer, I’m back with a vengeance covering season two. The first season of this show was more of a prelude. It teased all the things that were to come and spent a lot of time doing the ground work. In the second season, the show really kicks into gear. Truth be told, of the 11 seasons, this is easily top three for me. I’m really excited to be writing about these episodes, particularly the middle of the season. This week, I’m looking at an episode I’ve been eager to write about for a long time. “One Breath” is a personal favorite of mine, one of the best episodes of the series and also a big piece of the show’s overarching mythology.
1. The Premise
Scully is back! But oh no, she’s in a coma. Scully has mysteriously shown up at a local hospital after her encounter with Duane Barry in a coma and completely unresponsive. Scully’s mom, her sister Melissa (who we’ll talk about), Mulder and even a couple other familiar faces are all there for her as she’s in the hospital. No one at the hospital knows how she got there and so much of the episode is taken up by Mulder’s quest to find out how she got there and what happened. The other part of this episode is Scully’s “coma dream” as she has to make the choice about whether to live or die. This episode doesn’t have an actual case to investigate, instead, it’s an episode about these characters and how they interact. It’s about Scully, it’s about Mulder’s feelings and guilt and it introduces a plot that that will be picked up many times down the line for seasons to come.
2. Hello Melissa Scully
“One Breath” introduces us to Melissa Scully for the first time. Scully comes from a fairly big family. She has Melissa, her older sister and a couple of brothers too. Melissa could not be more different from Scully, at least on the surface. Both have a fiery spirit but Melissa is more like Mulder than her sister. Melissa also believes in things that can’t be explained with an exact science. She believes in the spirit and in New Age type ideals. She’s a positive person and not a cynic. She’s also introduced to be a sort of weird romantic foil for Mulder but it never goes anywhere. In fact, none of these things ever go anywhere and at a certain point the show stops trying this because we all know that Scully and Mulder are the truest OTP in existence. Melissa and Mulder have a really good back and forth that fills a void in this episode with Scully in a coma. Her insistence on calling him by his first name is kind of cute but they don’t have the right chemistry. However, Melissa is interesting because it kind of shows us why Scully is so comfortable dealing with Mulder and his beliefs. Scully is open minded and she’s got an older sister with some peculiar interests (compared to Dana at least) so she’s comfortable with opening up to different ideas. She’s kind of used to quirky personalities and I think Melissa opens up some doors when it comes to seeing what Scully’s childhood was like.
3. What Happened To Scully?
I know, because I’ve seen the show multiple times but right now, no one knows but her medical chart does have something very peculiar on it. After Frohike steals her chart when he goes to visit her (which is actually super sweet), The Lone Gunmen and Mulder look into what they find. Part of Scully’s DNA was messed with. Her blood contains branched DNA that was probably used for some kind of identification but is now just waste in her system. Who did this? Why? Is Scully going to have side effects from this? The toying with Scully’s DNA is going to come up lots of times in the series run and it’s here that it gets mentioned for the first time. In the grand scheme of things, this moment is a big deal but it feels small compared to what’s actually happening right now to Scully. She very much may die and that’s all that’s weighing on these guys right now and that’s part of the genius of this episode.Continued below
4. The Confrontation & An Ally
“One Breath” is also notable because it’s the first time that Mulder faces down Cigarette Smoking Man in person directly about the shady things he’s involved in. “One Breath” is also when Skinner stops playing around and becomes an ally to Mulder and Scully. CSM gives Skinner a file with a ton of information and tells Skinner that he needs to sit on Mulder more than he right now and if he can’t, CSM will deal with it. Immediately after that, Mulder talks to Skinner and lays a whole bunch of charges against CSM to which Skinner replies that they work for the DOJ. Mulder says justice is exactly what he’s trying to get and Skinner just says that he liked Scully too and he’ll miss her. Later in the hospital, Mulder gets a tip about where to find CSM and he goes directly to him. There are no false pretenses here, CSM knows exactly what Mulder is there for. Mulder demands answers about what happened to Scully but CSM simply says that he does what he does because he believes he’s doing the right thing. He also tells Mulder that he won’t kill him because if he does, he’ll never get the answers he wants. This is the real beginning of the cat and mouse chase that these two will play over the next decade of episodes. These two will fight often times and Mulder will have some wins and CSM will win others but this is the first major confrontation that establishes that the two know exactly what they’re up to and it’s about time. Later, Mulder gives Skinner is resignation and Skinner tells him a story about when he went to Vietnam, willingly, not by being drafted and he tells Mulder about how he admires that he leans into the confusing and unexplained. He’s not scared of that and he refuses his resignation. Skinner is an incredibly valuable ally to Mulder and Scully and it’s here that he finally shows that he’s willing to break the rules and he’s willing to let these two do what they need to do. This is another reason I constantly refer to this episode as a turning point. This is where these relationships really begin to grow. This is where the conflict is more defined. It’s the start of what makes the show so memorable and special. Which brings me to my last point.
5. More Than Partnership
The X-Files is not an outwardly romantic show. Creator Chris Carter has even gone out of his way in interviews to say that Scully and Mulder are not a romantic couple despite evidence to the contrary. This show doesn’t build up massive romantic moments every chance it gets but they are there and hard to ever deny. I mostly think he does this because he doesn’t want the show to be talked about as if this is the only thing in the show that’s worth talking about. He and the rest of the series writers have definitely gone out of their way to make romantic moments for these two and it also doesn’t hurt that Anderson and Duchovny had insane chemistry with each other.
I submit to you that “One Breath” is when these two realize that they have feelings for each other. Working closely with someone every day means that there will absolutely be a closeness that develops but with these two, that goes much deeper and I think with this episode we see that there’s something much more than their professional relationship. Mulder is involved in Scully’s care from the get go. He sits with her sister and mother through everything and the way they talk about him means that Scully has told them a great deal about him. The whole thing about him not liking being called by his first name is not exactly something you tell your mom and sister about if they’re just a coworker. How often does your mom meet your coworkers? Even in the F.B.I. that’s a little close. Mulder was even there when Scully signed her will and last wishes if she were to fall into a coma like she does here.Continued below
Mulder on the other hand, is wearing all his emotions right out there in the open. Since the moment she vanished, Mulder has been consumed by this. Initially it looks like guilt but in last week’s episode, he can’t completely allow himself to be with the vampire lady because he’s only thinking about Scully. He touches her gold cross every chance he gets and in this episode, he can barely stop himself at times from being by her side. This isn’t just guilt. This is something much deeper and more romantic and at the end of the episode when he completely breaks down and cries, it’s evident how much she means to him. She even points out that she saw him in her mind during her coma and she’s ecstatic when she seems him in the hospital. Her mother even gives that look that we all know when your mom knows something is up.
In conclusion, Mulder loves Scully and Scully loves Mulder. That’s what the show is now. Get ready folks.