Season 1, Episode 13: “Beyond the Sea”
Well, everyone, this is it.
The one you’ve all been waiting for. The episode I keep referencing as the major exception to the first season’s awkward bug. The one episode of the first season that I would put up there with all of the later, famous, high-ranking X-Files episodes.
“Beyond the Sea” is so good that I almost hate it. Here we have a story that is almost exclusively Scully’s – something the show hasn’t done yet. By turning our attention to focus on Scully and her beliefs instead of Mulder’s, we suddenly get a very sad, very complex, and very emotional…father-daughter story.
Yeah. Bet you didn’t see that one, did you?
Scully’s father tragically dies of a massive heart attack. Later, at work, she and Mulder go to investigate the disappearance of a couple of teenagers, who were kidnapped by someone they suspect has been working with a prisoner by the name of Luther Lee Boggs. Boggs was a terrible murderer whom Mulder helped put away before he started working on the X-Files, and he is scheduled to be executed in a few days. He hopes to “make a deal” with Mulder and Scully in the hopes that his sentence will be reduced to life in prison – if he uses his psychic powers to save the kids’ lives, then maybe they will keep him from going to his death. Mulder, however, thinks Boggs is full of bull. And Scully would, too…under normal circumstances.
But these aren’t normal circumstances. Scully’s father has just died, and she’s clearly emotionally shaken up by it. You see, Scully and her father had some unfinished business. Apparently he wasn’t too pleased when she joined the FBI, and all this time, she’s never been sure if he was ever proud of her or not.
SCULLY: I know that you and Dad were… disappointed that I chose the path I’m on instead of medicine but I need to know… was he at all proud of me?
MARGARET SCULLY: He was your father.
At work, Scully has some very confusing interactions with Boggs, who seems to know a lot about her and her father’s death. Boggs thinks he can use her to reduce his sentence if he tells her what her father thought of her. Boggs thinks he can communicate with the dead and learn things from them.
And Scully believes him.
Things get even worse for poor Scully when Boggs warns Mulder and Scully that something terrible will happen if they go near a “white cross.” While searching for the two missing kids, Mulder goes near two wooden posts that are bent in the shape of a white cross. And then he gets shot.
Well, that does it for Scully. Her father’s dead, she’s actually started to believe that crazy killer Boggs is a psychic despite her better judgment, and now her partner’s been shot. Things couldn’t get much worse.
And because she’s in a state of despair, she finds herself drawn to Boggs and his predictions. She begins to listen to him when he talks about both the case and her father. She listens even though Mulder warns her not to; Mulder, who will believe anything, won’t believe in this. She listens because Boggs, crazy killer Boggs, gives her hope that she can learn whether or not her father truly approved of her.
But something changes in Scully. She realizes something, and though we never really see the exact moment it occurs, we know it happens because Boggs is scheduled to be executed. She does not take him up on his offer. Even though he seems to be the real deal, in the end, she lets him die, and with it, any chance of her knowing about her father.
Because Scully realizes she doesn’t need to know. Scully doesn’t need her father’s approval, she needs his love. And she had his love. Her mother understood that, and though it took a little longer, now Scully does too. And even if no one else, even Mulder, understands it, Scully does, and that’s enough.
Which brings us to one of the best ending scenes the show ever did – I might put it in the running for the best. No words of mine could possibly do it justice. This is, hands down, the best episode of Season 1, and one of my favorite episodes in the entire series. And you’re about to see one of the biggest reasons why.
Video password is mulderandscully
Notice how it fades out in complete silence. It’s beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
“Beyond the Sea” is an important episode for me personally. I love this show to death, of course, but when I first started watching it, something had to pull me in. Something had to let me know that this wasn’t just your average TV show – that it was a place where great writing, great acting, and great storytelling could be found. “Beyond the Sea” is that thing.
I came for “Pilot.” But I stayed because of “Beyond the Sea.”
Final score for “Beyond the Sea” is 10/10. I don’t give this score lightly. It must truly take a fantastic episode to achieve a perfect score. “Beyond the Sea” is the only episode that will receive this score from Season 1, and perhaps for even longer. I’m not sure yet. It’s just that good. Like I said, it’s so good I almost hate it.
- Luther Lee Boggs is played by Brad Dourif, whom you might recognize as Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings. He gives a great performance in this episode. Very creepy and very disturbing, but also pitiful.
- Gillian Anderson really did give a wonderful performance here. She really captured the conflict Scully was going through very well. Kudos.
- If I’m not mistaken, I believe this episode contains the first major hospital scene (Mulder in the hospital). There are a lot of these coming up, so this is certainly notable. Mulder and Scully do get hurt a lot.