Season 3, Episode 21: “Quagmire”
I try not to judge people by the things they do and don’t like, but if you don’t like “Quagmire,” we need to talk. This episode is so…well, cute that it seems almost cruel to not like it. It’s (ironically, perhaps) like a baby animal of some sort. It’s too adorable not to love.
In fact, there’s only one episode I can think of that is cuter, and that’s Season 6’s “The Rain King.” But where “The Rain King” was made to be entirely cute, “Quagmire” is cute in only one way: Mulder and Scully. But oh. How cute they are.
This is the episode where people really started to jump aboard the Ship, and it’s easy to see why. If you look at it in the context of Season 3, it’s by far the most “flirty” of all the episodes. And I mean “flirty” in the Mulder and Scully sense. Most people probably wouldn’t consider the famous Conversation on the Rock – so beloved by X-Philes that it got its own acronym, COTR – to be “flirty” unless they are already familiar with Mulder and Scully. On the surface, Mulder and Scully are talking about Moby Dick. But we X-Philes know better.
Still, there’s something about the Conversation on the Rock that to me, though it is funny and flirty, always had something more to it. Something that revealed a bit of Mulder and Scully’s characters. Something underneath the surface. Commentary wrapped in humor. Like…
Darin Morgan, perhaps?
Oh yes. You thought he was gone, didn’t you? Well, I’m happy to say that Darin Morgan graced us with his presence one last time before officially leaving The X-Files behind. Though he’s not credited as the writer for this episode, he did contribute heavily to this conversation between Mulder and Scully and it’s easy to tell. The back-and-forth on Moby Dick is hilarious but it also reveals something about both Mulder and Scully. Scully (somewhat jokingly) calls Mulder Ahab – an obsessed lunatic who will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal. But if Mulder is Ahab, what does that make Scully?
It’s something to think about. And while I don’t feel the need to analyze the hell out of COTR like I did “Jose Chung,” it’s worth pointing out that there is a lot more to it that meets the eye.
As for the rest of the episode, “Quagmire” is notable for being one of the only real monsters from Season 3’s Monster-of-the-weeks. This is interesting as the monster is kept hidden until the very end, and the episode even ends with what seems to be a fairly scientific conclusion when we see the alligator. Scully was pleased, no doubt.
And yes, while (in typical X-Files fashion) they throw that last shot into confuse us, I’ve always found it funnier to think that the whole thing was just a hoax carried out by townspeople who wanted to keep their little lake relevant. After all, you have to attract the tourists some way. I mean, people do that in real life. Just take a look at what this town is doing to stay relevant.
“Quagmire” has a tone and cast of characters that reminds me most of “War of the Coprophages,” which again makes sense as Darin Morgan was heavily involved in “Quagmire.” Even if he isn’t technically the writer, he’s left his mark all over it. And Darin Morgan will crop up in later seasons, through the pens of other writers who wished to follow the unique storytelling techniques he brought to the table.
Final score for “Quagmire” is 9/10. I don’t know what else to say, I just adore this one.
Notable Nuggets (and Nitpicks)
- I admittedly know nothing about boating, but how the hell did the boat sink that close to shore? Sure, the lake’s deep, but it sunk like a rock. Maybe the monster pulled it down.
- Scully driving the boat. Just Scully driving the boat.
- Mulder and Scully have a contest in this episode to see who can make the most effective pouty puppy-dog face. I’ll leave it to you to determine the winner.