Season 5, Episode 7: “Emily”
I admit I felt a wave of relief the moment Mulder appeared on screen, both when I first watched this episode and on my most recent rewatch. “Good,” I thought to myself, “Mulder’s back. This will make everything better.”
“Emily” continues the bucket of poo the writers have decided to make Scully’s life, except this time they try to clumsily integrate it back into the narrative of the mythology. This idea is backwards. Look at episodes like “Redux II” or “Memento Mori,” which use the mythology to drive the characters forward. “Emily” uses the characters and the things those characters value to drive forward the mythology. Except nothing is driven forward. It’s only made more muddled and in the end we don’t even care because we’re sad. And the only reason we’re sad is because Gillian Anderson tells us we need to be sad with her performance. I don’t think I would feel anything if she wasn’t giving it her all.
It’s not that I don’t find the death of a child sad. I do. But I don’t know this child we’re supposed to feel sad for. Emily Sim isn’t a character; she’s a plot device. This is one of the main problems the mythology – actually, the show – has with these characters and their family members. Family in this show is either barely there or is somehow entangled with aliens and conspiracies. Anything else seems to get in the way of Mulder and Scully and that’s something the writers could never figure out how to get quite right. I’m not saying it’s necessarily impossible, but there hasn’t been a successful plotline of this type yet.
Even though “Christmas Carol” and “Emily” are technically mythology episodes, they feel incredibly isolated. Almost nothing explored in these two will have much bearing on the rest of the series (except for one thing that I don’t want to give away for newcomers).
At the same time, however, “Emily” has a lot more going on than “Christmas Carol.” That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better, just not mind-numbingly boring. At least in this episode we have chases, Mulder yelling at people, alien bounty hunters, and green goo.
And, maybe to partially retract my statement above, Mulder’s presence does make everything better. It makes me feel better, at least. What isn’t better is Scully’s reaction to him being there. As silly and hokey as the opening monologue is, the writers try to be consistent with the theme by making up this silly idea about Scully being alone. Okay, they don’t make it up, exactly, but Scully isn’t completely alone on this planet. She has Mulder, doesn’t she?
I can’t relate to the loss of a child, but in a way, no one can in the way they’ve presented it here. The situation is much too wild, making the emotional angle of the episode completely skewed. As pissed as I am about the amount of crap the writers gave Scully, the way they limit the decisions she can make about her future, her body, and her life simply through circumstance, in the end it’s hard for me to muster up any feelings about any of this because of how inconsequential it is. These two episodes exist in their own strange little bubble.
And you know what? Let’s keep it that way.
Final score for “Emily” is 4/10. While it is admittedly a little better – or at least less boring – than “Christmas Carol,” I still hate this storyline and the unnecessary trauma Scully’s put through. Let us be done with it.
- So, Scully somehow knows that she is left unable to conceive children, but she didn’t know her ova were taken from her? How did that conversation with her doctor go? “Well, Ms. Scully, unfortunately you’re barren.” “How do you know that?” “A wizard told me.”
- Mulder is really lovely in this episode and his humanity and integrity shine through. Maybe that’s why for me his presence improves this episode a little. He’s a great person and Scully knows it too, even if she is acting like she’s all alone in the universe.
- They needed to write more engaging material for Scully and Emily. I mean if you’re going to make it emotional, you need to go all the way there.
- I may be on the minority about this, but I can’t decide if Mr. Potato Head is adorable or terrifying.