Season 3, Episode 2: “Paper Clip”
“Paper Clip” is a decent finish to this three parter. In a way, it has everything a good mythology episode should have – Mulder and Scully doing digging on the conspiracy, Scully being a badass, Skinner being a badass, Krycek being a badass, even Mulder has his badass moments in this episode. And while I do enjoy this one a lot more than “The Blessing Way”, it also pushes the emotions of the characters to the side in favor of the plot and the action. They are addressed, but only at the end, and it’s very rushed.
Still, there’s a lot to be enjoyed in this one, and I’ll start with the beginning, which is so fast-paced and shouty that I can’t help but feel suspense, even though I want to punch the screen whenever Mulder says “I was a dead man, now I’m back.” Having Scully, Mulder, and Skinner all draw their guns is a really good way to get the audience’s adrenaline going. Although Mulder doesn’t look nearly surprised enough when he kicks down his apartment door. Both Scully and Skinner are shocked, but it’s almost like Mulder expected to find them there.
Mulder and Scully find out a lot about the conspiracy in this episode. First, they discover that the conspiracy keeps files on people – lots and lots of files. Scully finds her name there, along with a recent tissue sample that was taken from her without her memory. Mulder finds his name, too, but it’s hidden behind that of his sister’s. This causes him to wonder whether or not his father, since he knows his father was involved with the conspiracy somehow, made a choice between him and Samantha. He eventually tries to ask his mother, but he doesn’t get much out of her.
They also find that the conspiracy worked with scientists from other countries to carry out their work, most notably Nazi Germany, saving scientists that experimented on Jews from persecution just so they could continue their scientific research. There’s no doubt the conspiracy is evil now that they’ve tied it to the Nazis. Was Mulder’s father one of these men?
Sadly, that particular question is never answered in this episode. But we do have to deal with Scully and her sister, who is in critical condition. Scully can’t see her sister unless Skinner makes a deal with the conspiracy. He has the digital tape containing the stolen documents, but Mulder and Scully aren’t safe as long as it’s in his possession. Mulder wants to use the tape to incriminate the conspiracy, but Scully knows that if they don’t turn in that tape, she’ll never get her job back and they’ll probably take the X-Files away (again). Plus, she needs to see Melissa.
Mulder THANKFULLY is a decent person and lets Scully make the choice. After all, what can you do when something so personal to someone else is part of the equation? Mulder would be an asshole beyond forgiveness if he didn’t let Scully decide.
Scully lets Skinner make the deal, but Skinner’s got a few tricks up his sleeve. In what is easily one of his finest moments, Skinner puts CSM to shame when he reveals that he had Albert Hosteen, the WWII code talker, memorize every word of the stolen files, as well as pass it on to other people in his tribe. This is one of the few instances in which Skinner has the upper hand, and it’s awesome.
As many episodes do, everything gravitates towards the ending. Melissa dies, and Mulder finds Scully staring at an empty bedside. I applaud whoever made the decision to reveal Melissa’s death this way. Somehow, staring at an empty bed makes the whole thing a hundred times more tragic than if we had actually seen Melissa pass away. Not to mention the ending scene is beautifully shot, which won’t be the last time that happens, no siree. The X-Files is steadily rising in quality, not only in its stories, but also in its production.
And of course, what does every emotional X-Files episode need to end in? A Shipper moment. 🙂
Final score for “Paper Clip” is 8/10. Not as good as “Anasazi” but better than “The Blessing Way”. It’s an enjoyable episode to watch, even if it does raise more questions than it does answers. And, that end hug. 🙂
- Where was X during all of this?
- Despite the ending hug, I feel like Mulder could have been a little bit more sympathetic towards Scully in this episode. I mean, it’s his crusade that started this mess.
- Walter Skinner. You are awesome.