Season 2, Episode 13: “Irresistible”
I’m not even going to waste any time. Ladies and gentlemen, we have our second 10/10.
“Irresistible” is a different sort of masterpiece than “Beyond the Sea” was. “Beyond the Sea” was a masterpiece because of its superb writing and ingenious exploration of the pain of losing a loved one. “Irresistible” is a masterpiece because it does everything an X-Files episode is supposed to do, and more. You want creepy? You got it. A great villain? You got it. Things that totally leave you feeling disturbed and scared? You got it. Quick action and suspense? You got it. Scully being a badass? You got it. An outlet for the Shippers? You’ve definitely got that one.
Oh, wait. Except for one thing.
There’s no X-File here.
Oh, I can almost taste the irony. An episode that could literally be described as a perfect example of what The X-Files does best has nothing supernatural or paranormal in it. No, this time around, we are dealing with the horrors of humanity, not the horrors of the Other World. The evil here is very human, and so is the disgust that comes with watching it.
Donnie Pfaster is a death fetishist, a guy who desecrates corpses shortly before burial by cutting off their hair and ruining their appearance. Soon, he begins turning to live women, inviting a prostitute over to his house and then cutting off her fingers and stuffing them in his freezer. In other words, he’s a terrible, sick man. When he talks, it’s in utter monotone. I invite you to find a single moment where Donnie Pfaster even shows the slightest bit of genuine emotion. Maybe there’s something there, but it isn’t much.
Donnie Pfaster is a great villain because he represents the type of villain Mulder and Scully don’t get to deal with much – the human kind. Sure, they have to deal with the Cigarette Smoking Man a lot, but that also involves aliens. There’s nothing paranormal about Donnie Pfaster; he’s just a sick, sick human being. He doesn’t need anything from the people he kills, like Tooms, and he isn’t some sort of mutant creature, like the Flukeman. He’s just a man gone wrong, and in some ways that’s even sicker and scarier than any creature of the night.
Scully is so disgusted by these crimes that she can’t handle it. We’ve seen enough of Scully’s strength as a person to dismiss this being a sign of feminine weakness; if you haven’t caught on that Scully is a strong, independent woman by now, you should probably give Season 1 and Season 2 another watch. No, Scully is disgusted because she’s never seen crimes like this before, and it makes her so uncomfortable that she feels almost embarrassed. Mulder doesn’t even appear fazed, but Mulder is very good at emotionally detaching himself, from cases, at least. After getting used to watching Mulder and Scully work together we can easily forget that Scully is a new agent, and that most of these cases are completely new experiences for her. I can’t imagine what it must be like for someone to see those kinds of things for the first time. She does pretty well, all things considered.
Even more importantly, though, Scully’s talk with the FBI counselor reveals that Scully’s previous traumatic experiences are related to her reaction to this case. This is way more important than it might seem at first. Her abduction, her father’s death, all these things have a great deal of impact on how she is feeling now. Scully is someone who has been through difficult experiences, and those experiences have hardly been brought up. It’s no wonder she’s losing it. Not only does she have to deal with the emotions of disgust this case gives her, she also has to deal with the emotions behind her father and her disappearance. Mulder may be better at masking his emotions, but Scully’s got a lot more to mask up.
Mulder sees this. It’s not really clear if he sees it at the beginning of the episode, but he definitely sees it at the end. Yes, Shippers, that hug is not only one of the most flail-inducing moments in the early seasons, it’s also the climax of this entire episode. Scully tries to hide her emotions. Mulder knows what she’s been through. He lifts her head up, forces her to see it. She cracks. They hug.
Mulder’s hug is exactly what Scully needs – not only does it signify that there’s someone there to protect her, or that she has a friend in her life that she’ll never have again, but also that for all the Donnie Pfasters that have come into Scully’s life – her father’s death, her abduction, the horrors she went through with Pfaster himself – there will always be a Mulder there to make up for it. And, just as in “Beyond the Sea”, Scully is able to let something within herself go.
Final score for “Irresistible” is 10/10. The X-Files is about the characters, and the best episodes are the ones that give the best character study. “Irresistible” is also a masterpiece because it’s terrifying, dark, and, as I said before, everything this show does best.
- If you’re new to the show, there’s a good way to test out how much of a Shipper you are. Count the number of times you replay the hug scene. I must have done it about fifty times before I stopped, and even afterwards, it was still replaying in my head.
- I didn’t talk about Mulder much in this review, but it’s worth mentioning that Mulder’s also got to be going through a lot when Scully gets kidnapped. I mean, she was just abducted, and now she’s been abducted again. That has to be the worst feeling in the world.
- THIS LINE: “People videotape police beatings on dark streets. They see Elvis in three cities across America every day. But no one saw a pretty woman being run off the road in her rental car.”