Season 3, Episode 14: “Piper Maru”
For some reason I had the impression that “Piper Maru” is a fan favorite, and I spent some time before writing this review trying to get other X-Philes’ opinions on it. I was surprised to find I didn’t come up with much beyond I suppose would be considered a normal adoration for an X-Files mythology episode. Then again, I could be wrong about that.
Whatever the consensus on this episode is, there’s no denying that it’s definitely the most iconic mythology episode of Season 3. It introduces the Black Oil, something we will, ah, be seeing again. Looking back on it, Season 3 introduced a lot of important plot points in the mythology, but of all of them, I’d say that the events in “Piper Maru” have the most lasting impact.
So, what’s going on here? Mulder and Scully are doing some digging into a situation involving a French vessel called Piper Maru (named after Gillian Anderson’s real-life daughter), which apparently had been sailing around a set of coordinates UFOs like to hang out, according to Mulder. Mulder, not one to resist a UFO mystery, immediately starts looking into the story of the boat and its crew, which returned to port suffering from radiation burns.
Oh, yeah, and the investigation to find Melissa Scully’s killer has been called off, according to Skinner, prompting the response from Scully we see in the Quote Box.
This is one of the first scenes where we get the “Strong Independent Woman” vibe from Scully. I’m not saying that she hasn’t been a strong independent woman from day one, but she’s been a strong independent woman without having to throw it in our faces. This particular scene doesn’t throw it in our faces, necessarily, but it does bring Scully’s gender into the picture and in a much, much, much more effective way than “2Shy” did. I believe it was this scene that got Gillian Anderson nominated for her first Emmy, and it won her other awards too. It’s not hard to see why. It’s tough material and it brings back an important plot point for Scully’s character and develops that plot point emotionally. We’ll see where it all goes in “Apocrypha,” but Melissa Scully isn’t going away just yet.
“Piper Maru” is mostly focused on the mythology anyway, and it’s becoming increasingly obvious that the writers are trying to keep the mythology and MOTW episodes distinct and separate. In the first two seasons the line was sometimes blurred, and that’s why we got episodes like “Red Museum” and “Eve,” but now, Mulder and Scully can go through entire episodes without so much as mentioning anything about the conspiracy. This is crucial as it’s a huge part of the show’s identity.
Also, the return of Krycek! But we’ll see where that goes in “Apocrypha.”
Final score for “Piper Maru” is 8/10. I am officially declaring it the most iconic mythology episode of Season 3. I swear I heard somewhere that it was a fan favorite. Maybe you guys can back me up on this?
- I always thought the part where Scully journeys to her dad’s friend’s house and remembers her sister was very well done. It keeps the theme of Scully having to deal with Melissa’s death fresh in our minds.
- There’s this one conversation between Mulder and Scully at the beginning where Scully takes a step back and tells Mulder she’s “constantly amazed” by his relentlessness. This is one of those scenes that, if you’ve seen the Season 3 bloopers, you can’t watch in the same way because the bloopers are just so good. (Click here and go to 4:31, people.)
Wayne Morgan: What the hell is that?
Mulder: Looks like the fuselage of a plane.
Scully: It’s a North American P-51 Mustang.
Wayne Morgan: Yeah, sure is.
Mulder: I just got very turned on.