The Field Where I Died – Season 4, Ep 5

MULDER: I, too, have spent a life the sages’ way and tread once more familiar paths. Perchance I perished in an arrogant self-reliance an age ago… and in that act, a prayer for one more chance went up so earnest, so… instinct with better light let in by death that life was blotted out not so completely… but scattered wrecks enough of it to remain dim memories… as now… when seems once more… the goal in sight again.

Translation: Blah blah blah blah, blah blah, pretentiousness, blah blah blah, deep deep deepness, blah blah pretty language, blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah, blah, blah blah.

Author’s Edit: GAHHHHHHHH. My sincerest apologies to Robert Browning, whose poem this is. I swear I did try to look up this opening monologue because I suspected it came from something else, but for some reason Google was messing with me that day and it only gave me links to this episode. My point nevertheless stands – using a poem for pretentious purposes does not make those purposes any less pretentious – but as for the poem itself, which you can find hereI’m sure it’s very nice. (I didn’t read it. It’s very very long.)

 
 
 
Season 4, Episode 5: “The Field Where I Died”

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You guys know I love this show, right? I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t. And believe me, there’s nothing I’d like better to do than to praise the hell out of the show in light of the very wonderful news that’s just been released. Wouldn’t that have been fun?

But no. Things didn’t turn out that way, apparently. As a reviewer – sloppy and amateur as I am – I do not give Get Out Of Jail Free Cards. Not even for Mulder and Scully. Not even after an X-Files greenlight.

Jeez, what bad timing.

So…yeah. I really hate this episode. I can’t think of an episode since Season 2’s “3” that I dislike more. With “The Field Where I Died,” it’s a bit more personal, since it’s a lot better than “3” technically – hell, just going by the production quality alone, the episode’s really good. Maybe I should just watch it on mute. But “The Field Where I Died” has an element to it that makes me squirm in frustration, and that’s this: it’s unbearably pretentious.

If you couldn’t tell from the Quote Box, I can’t stand dialogue like that. I love Morgan & Wong (well, most of the time), but I swear to God they somehow wrote an episode designed to personally piss me off. Maybe it doesn’t get to everybody, but this is the sort of stuff that drives me up a wall.

That’s not the only reason I dislike this episode, though. You see, Morgan & Wong, despite all of their cleverness and brilliance with episodes like “Beyond the Sea” and “Home,” really should have stuck to monsters and developing Scully rather than touching on Mulder and Scully’s relationship. Because if you didn’t think that’s what they were doing, think again. And, if you think this episode is all about that Mulder/Scully relationship that I’ve been rambling on about, think again again.

It may not be so obvious to a first-time viewer, but once you get to “Never Again” – a little later in the season – you’ll start to see where Morgan & Wong stand on this whole Mulder-and-Scully thing. Morgan & Wong are perhaps the most powerful NoRoMos that have ever been associated with The X-Files. It was only due to the fact that Chris Carter had control over the overarching storyline that Mulder and Scully weren’t split apart and then slowly brought back together over the course of a season. And before you laugh at me for my conjecture, I’m not conjecturing. That was really one of their plans.

As Salome says in Musings of an X-Phile, it was incredibly important “that Chris Carter hold tightly to the reins of his own creation.” It’ll be more clear why in “Never Again.”

Which, come to think of it, may be part of the problem for me. I never liked “The Field Where I Died,” but after seeing “Never Again,” it went into a whole other category of dislike. Because, once you know Morgan & Wong’s intentions, it’s really, really hard what to make of an exchange like this:

MULDER: Dana, if, um… early in the four years we’ve been working together… an event occurred that suggested or somebody told you that… we’d been friends together in other lifetimes… always… wouldn’t it have changed some of the ways we looked at one another?

SCULLY: Even if I knew for certain, I wouldn’t change a day.

Many people see this as romantic. I don’t. Especially since Morgan & Wong go to such great lengths to put Scully in the role of friend as they explore Mulder’s past lives. They make her a man. They make Melissa Mulder’s wife. These things are set up to be compared, and they are set up to make you look at the characters differently.

Which is fine. I don’t have a problem with a different take on the Mulder and Scully relationship. I can respect NoRoMos, even if I don’t and probably won’t ever understand them. But I do wish that Morgan & Wong had made their point in a way that was less pretentious, less forced, and less muddy.

Because in the end, that’s the biggest problem with “The Field Where I Died.” It tries to set up the Mulder and Scully relationship differently, but it never ends up doing that. Aside from that one conversation, Mulder and Scully never discuss, or appear to contemplate what the other means to them. If The X-Files is all about a relationship unspoken, a relationship with an assumed nature (that of the romantic), you cannot say “oh, they’re just friends” and not explain why. Tell me, Morgan & Wong. Why aren’t Mulder and Scully in love with each other?

And then there’s the other part of this episode, the cult suicide. That’s heavy, heavy, heavy stuff, and while the episode is appropriately somber, I almost wish the main focus had been on that. You’re so confused about what to feel sad for – Mulder’s emotions regarding Melissa, or the cult suicide. Certainly you can feel sad about both. But what does the episode feel sad for?

To top it all off, this episode just isn’t an enjoyable watch. It’s kind of dull, actually. The cinematography is beautiful and David Duchovny gives a great performance, but other than that, the episode is honestly quite boring.

Boring, pretentious, forced, and useless. Oh, Morgan & Wong. You’re killing me here.

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Final Score

1+star

Final score for “The Field Where I Died” is 1/10. I’m sorry, guys, I really am. This makes me feel dirty, actually. But I really do hate this episode. I can’t stand it.


 

Notable Nuggets (There aren’t Any, But I’ve got good news instead)

  • So, how about that greenlight, huh? Are you spasming every waking moment of your life like I am? I cannot tell you what that news did for my week. I was having the crappiest of all weeks and then suddenly all my problems went away. Well, they didn’t, but it feels like they did.
  • There aren’t a whole lot of details concerning the new series, but what we do know is this: Darin Morgan is coming back, it’s being shot in Vancouver, Darin Morgan is coming back, Darin Morgan is coming back, production should start this summer, William B. Davis (CSM) is returning, Darin Morgan is coming back, Darin Morgan is coming back, and Darin Morgan is coming back.
  • Darin Morgan is coming back.

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9 thoughts on “The Field Where I Died – Season 4, Ep 5

  1. Emily Michelle says:

    DARIN MORGAN IS COMING BACK?

    I’m still like a season and a half in my rewatch and following your reviews, but I saw you’d posted TFWID and I wanted to just sneak a peek at it, and then I saw that and your beautiful picture of the sun shining out of Darin Morgan’s beautiful face and this is just the best news I’ve heard . . . since the news about the new miniseries. Every episode that man wrote is in my top 20, and Jose Chung is just made of freaking gold.

    That aside, everything you said in your review is true; this episode is the absolute worst, except for 3, which just edges this one out for “worst episode this show ever made” for me because in addition to being the absolute worst, it makes me feel like I need to take a shower. Morgan and Wong were so out of touch with the show this whole season—it’s like they were writing for the X Files in their heads, not the X Files as it had actually become in their absence, and for some reason none of the other writers told them that they were kind of way off the mark in terms of where the characters were and where the show was going.

    What bugs me even more is that as I understand the episode, we’re meant to believe that it’s all true, that they all have these past lives, right? It’s not left up in the air, like many episodes are. But the timelines in the past lives aren’t consistent with other X Files episodes and they aren’t even internally consistent. How was Melissa a Jewish man in the late 1930s and then an American man in the early 1950s? At best, she could have been an American 12-year-old. It makes no sense. NOTHING ABOUT THIS MAKES SENSE.

    • Knife Ink says:

      Ah thank you for following along! And yes, based on the limited information we have, it looks like Darin Morgan is returning! Nothing is really set in stone yet, but I’m going to hold onto that piece of news like it’s the absolute truth.

      The one good thing about TFWID which I neglected to mention in my review is that fortunately, nothing in this episode has any effect on the rest of the series. That won’t be the case with “Never Again,” but I’ll hold out until the review.

  2. Salome says:

    “Translation: Blah blah blah blah, blah blah, pretentiousness, blah blah blah, deep deep deepness, blah blah pretty language, blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah, blah, blah blah.”

    I guffawed out loud. Seriously.

    “Boring, pretentious, forced, and useless.”

    And we’re done here. I have nothing more to add.

    • Knife Ink says:

      Haha thanks! My one regret is that I didn’t realize at first that it’s an actual poem, which still makes it pretentious, but nonetheless made me feel silly. I swear, though, when I googled this opening dialogue, I got results for this episode and not the poem itself. Guess I should’ve looked harder…

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