Season 3, Episode 23: “Wetwired”
“Wetwired” follows a formula we haven’t seen since Season 2. It falls into the category of the “half-and-half” episodes, episodes that at first might not seem to have anything to do with the mythology because they’re related to a sort of side effect of the overall conspiracy, some “side project” that the Cigarette Smoking Man and his buddies have been working on in addition to their dealings with aliens and UFOs. There aren’t any aliens in this episode, just the sinister government doing sinister things. Get used to it, kids.
These episodes are usually benefitted by the appearance of the informant-of-the-season, as it were. Thus we have the appearance of Mr. X, who has taken a very long leave of absence (at least that’s what it feels like to me – I haven’t been posting for a while, though). It’s a good thing he’s here otherwise the episode might not feel so canon.
In the tradition of episodes like “Eve” and “F. Emasculata,” “Wetwired” takes this half-and-half formula and does something interesting with it, forcing our characters to uncover yet another layer of the government’s sinister plans. We’ve actually seen quite a few episodes where the government was conducting experiments on unsuspecting civilians in certain towns. Now, I’ve had numerous problems with this particular idea in the past (see Season 2’s “Blood”) but in “Wetwired” I think it works, mostly because in “Wetwired” the traumatic stuff is happening to Mulder and Scully and not just the guest stars. Also, this episode is all about one very important element of Mulder and Scully’s relationship – trust.
In a way, “Wetwired” is the show’s farewell letter to Seasons 1-3, since The X-Files is about to get a major upgrade – in mythology, production, and Scully’s hairstyle/outfits – but it’s also the episode that acknowledges the progress Mulder and Scully have made, both in their friendship and on working the X-Files. In that sense, “Wetwired” is both a looking back and a looking forward, as well as a musing on where things are now. It is, as Salome of Musings of an X-Phile has pointed out, the “emotional finale before the season finale” – the episode where Mulder and Scully’s relationship is tested, either through (actually, come to think of it, basically always through) madness or delusion or something of that nature. It’s a motif we’ll actually see in the penultimate episodes of Seasons 3, 4, 5, 6, and arguably 7. No, don’t go skipping ahead – just keep it in mind.
The comparison between “Wetwired” and “Blood” is inevitable, since the episodes are very similar. Because of that, I feel repeating myself on the non-Mulder and Scully stuff would be a little redundant. Even though I disliked “Blood,” I did give its initial idea some praise and I basically feel the same way about “Wetwired,” except without the subsequent criticism I gave “Blood.” “Wetwired” has no evil pesticide (thank GOD).
What’s really at the heart of this episode is Scully’s little freakout. I love it when Scully goes crazy, partly because she’s usually so calm and cool that it’s interesting and different to watch, and partially because her craziness usually highlights something about her normalcy, brings out one of her fears or characteristics or emotions. While it is a little strange that Scully has to go through something wacky or traumatic to reveal these parts of herself, I think it also makes an odd sort of sense.
In “Wetwired,” all the characters affected by the evil TV rays of death act upon their worst fears. The man at the beginning believes he sees a mass killer. The woman thinks she witnesses her husband cheating on her. What does Scully see? Mulder betraying her. As Mulder will say later in Season 7, that says a lot – a lot a lot a lot.
In the episode’s climax (and in this review’s header image) you can see how torn Scully is, both by her friendship with Mulder and her dementia, her deepest fear that Mulder is actually a traitor. What I love about this is how completely ridiculous Scully’s fear is. Mulder would never betray her; the thought hasn’t ever come into his mind or anyone else’s – including Scully’s, including Scully’s mom’s. When your mom knows how connected you are to another person and concludes that clearly her daughter must be insane because there’s no way she and Mulder would ever betray each other, you know you’re connected at some sort of cosmic level. Just saying.
Honestly, that’s what I think of when I think of “Wetwired.” Mulder and Scully’s trust. I know there’s so much more in the episode – Mr. X, the evil TV death rays, the Lone Gunmen – and it’s all very good and would make an excellent episode on its own, but this emotional exploration is what really makes this episode special, and prepares us for the Season 3 finale.
Final score for “Wetwired” is 9/10. This episode gives us an intriguing mystery and puts Mulder and Scully into a great emotional conflict. It’s our prep for the Season 3 finale, as well as the fond farewell to Season’s 1-3. While the Season 3 finale really looks forward into Season 4, it doesn’t really serve as a way to reflect on where Mulder and Scully have come from, just takes us into the future. “Wetwired” also looks forward, but it looks back too.
Notable Nuggets (and Nitpicks)
- Mulder’s relief when he sees that the dead woman isn’t Scully almost sends me into cardiac arrest. ❤ ❤ ❤
- Mulder is color blind. Well, they had to pull something out of their butts, I guess. (Like Mulder’s inexplicable fear of fire in Season 1, the series will never bring it up again.)
- I also really love how self-conscious this episode is. It’s kind of a warning about the effects of watching TV…on a TV show. For all we know, The X-Files could have been warning us about Fox or something. Maybe it was trying to tell us that Fox News is actually sending us evil TV rays that give some people the delusion that it’s a network not run by the most evil, bigoted, brain-dead people on earth – OH MY GOD HOLD UP.