Episode Number: Season 3×22
Directed by Kim Manners; Written by Chris Carter and Kim Newton.
Starring David Duchovny as Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson as Dana Scully; Guest Starring Chris Ellis as Sheriff Lance Hindt, Timothy Webber as Dr. Paul Farraday, and Queequeg.
When a series of mysterious deaths and disappearances are reported near a lake in a small town, Agents Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate. With local folklore of a killer sea serpent running rampant amongst the locals, the agents must take their search for the truth to the water.
Thea: So, we chose to watch and review “Quagmire” since we think it’s highly applicable for the upcoming movie. Yes, this is a relatively early episode from season 3, but it: a) Is a “Monster of the Week” episode, as I Want to Believe is a Monster of the Week movie; b) Focuses on Mulder and Scully’s relationship (that memorable Conversation on the Rock); c) Is the “Nessie” episode; d) Has Queequeg.
Ana: Queequeg! Poor Queequeg. I think “Quagmire” is the perfect choice – This episode is wonderful – it is both sad and funny and it has of the best conversations between Mulder and Scully – when they are stranded in the lake.
Thea: Frogs. The episode opens with frogs, and a biologist that is convinced that a Frog Holocaust is taking place around Heuvelman’s Lake. With the cryptic line, “You can’t turn your back on nature, or nature will turn her back on you!” Dr. Farraday and Dr. Bailey part ways…and when Bailey notices that his pager is missing he turns back towards the lake to look for it. When he bends down, back to the lake of course, he is attacked from the rear by an unseen creature. Roll intro.
Ana: “A frog holocaust” *snorts* – it is the survival of the fittest my friends, as Dr Farraday says, if he was talking about cute furry animals people would give a damn, but frogs….who cares about frogs. (By the way Dr Farraday totally looks like Hal, the father from Malcom in the Middle. ) The attack is rather scary, just before he is attacked there is a complete silence. Up until that moment there were crickets, birds. Then nothing. Then the monster.
The intro! The coolest TV intro EVER. Love the song.
Thea: Mulder and Scully are driving along in their rental car, heading towards Heuvelman’s Lake, and Queequeg is along for the ride (Scully not able to get a last minute dog sitter). I nearly fall out of my seat when Mulder suggests that he needs to pull over and ask for directions, and Scully is heavy into “I cannot believe he is serious about this” territory when she finds out they have flown halfway across the country and driven for 2 miles because Mulder thinks a Lake Monster named Big Blue is responsible for missing persons around the lake.
Ana:It is Saturday morning – Mulder woke Scully up to go on another one of his crazy quests – and she says yes. Typical Scully-Mulder relationship right there. She complaints as usual, but she can never say no. Mulder is doing the run down of the case about the missing persons and Scully as per usual, thinks it is something reasonable like a serial killer at large. “Large being the operative word” says Mulder. LOL. Then Scully sees the boards alongside the road advertising the local monster – a Nessie type of creature. She is surprised that Mulder is looking for Big Blue – come one Scully , you should know better by now.
Thea: Suspect numero uno: Dr. Farraday, the last person to see Dr. Bailey alive. Since they parted on bad terms (Dr. Bailey writing off Farraday’s careful research and argument that a species of frog is endangered), Farraday is somewhat on edge. Mulder, of course thinks that Big Blue is the actual fiend. Farraday is indignant:
MULDER: In your work have you come across any evidence that lends support to the existence of this creature they call Big Blue?
FARRADAY: See, this is what always happens. This is how it starts.
FARRADAY: The deflection, sleight of hand. See, whenever an issue requires any real thought, any serious mental effort, people turn to UFO’s, and sea serpents and sasquatch. Afternoon talk shows and tabloid TV. They’ve reduced our attention span to the length of a sound byte. So that soon our ability to think will be as extinct as a ranas sanasephela frog.
MULDER: I’ll take that rambling diatribe to mean that you don’t believe in the existence of such a creature.
Ana: Scully is already thinking Dr Farraday is the culprit – he had the motive and the means. Plus he does not seem very concerned. Why would he? Dr Bailey dismissed years of his work and research in two hours. Mulder obviously does not care about any of that – and jumps into interrogating the doctor about the possible “monster”. I love Scully’s looks at Mulder.
As they walk away, Mulder starts to list all of the historical sighting of monsters and Scully helps him out – he is surprised and says that she seems to know a lot about the subject….
She says: “I did as a kid. Then I grew up….and became a scientist.” Quintessential Scully quip!
Thea: They head out to the lake and meet photographer Ansel, who is intent on one day catching Big Blue on film. And, they discover the body of missing boy scout leader. Well, half of it anyways.
MULDER: It’s Scout Woolsley. The boy scout troop leader.
SCULLY: Well, his fly’s undone.
MULDER: Are you insinuating something?
Ana: Night falls and we see the guy from the local tourist shop walking around the muddy shores of the lake…. wearing dinosaur’s boots and making fake monster’s footprints!
Silence…something is in the water….bye bye man from the shop!
Next morning Mulder is checking the tracks, taking great care not to destroy them and there comes Scully and Queequeg! “Watch where you’re walking”.
Queequeg finds the book and they learn it is all a hoax. Or is it?
Thea: And it’s a Stoner-Chick-Dude scene! Stoner’s licking the frog, Chick is uncertain, Dude meets a terrible fate, eaten by something in the water.
Ana:(Stoner dude is Sock from Reaper!).
Thea: I love Reaper. And he’s also the stoner dude from “War of the Coprophages”!
Ana: Oopsie, Ansel the photographer is a goner too! But he manages to snap a photo before he dies. Mulder is much excited. The police close the lake and declares an emergency situation.
It is night again and Mulder is going through the photos looking for clues. Scully is sick and tired and decides to take Queequeg for a walk.
Thea: QUEEEEEEEEEEEEQUEGGG! Poor, poor Queequeg.
Ana: Nooooooooo. Poor, poor Scully. My heart breaks every time I see the scene where she realizes he is gone. Awwww. Man, can that pull a sad face or what? Mulder is a pig.
Thea: It’s funny, Scully shows more shock and emotion here for the loss of her dog (and an inherited dog at that, from “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”) than she has for her abduction, the death of her sister, etc. It’s like that last straw that embodies everything she’s been through in the past three years working on the X-Files, in a weird way.
Mulder and Scully rent a boat to get a better look at Big Blue. Unfortunately for both agents, Big Blue…or something big at least…finds their boat and sinks it. They make it to a nearby rock at least, and have to tough it out for the night, since they aren’t really excited to jump in the water and swim to shore. And so they spend time on the rock together, and have that conversation.
As we know from “Beyond the Sea” (season 1), Scully’s father called her ‘Starbuck’, and Scully called him Ahab–and he loved to read her Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. Scully tells Mulder that she named her dog Queequeg after the harpoonist in the novel. And then, she realizes something–and gives The Speech.
Scully: So I named my dog Queequeg. It’s funny, I just realised something.
Mulder: It’s a bizarre name for a dog, huh?
Scully: No. How much you’re like Ahab. You’re so… consumed by your personal vengeance against life whether it be its inherent cruelties or its mysteries, that everything takes on a warped significance to your megalomaniacal cosmology.
Mulder: Scully, are you coming on to me?
SCULLY: It’s the truth or a white whale. What difference does it make? I mean, both obsessions are impossible to capture, and trying to do so will only leave you dead along with everyone else you bring with you. You know Mulder, you are Ahab.
And THIS is what the relationship really boils down to, and the central conflict in the relationship between Mulder and Scully. Judging from the previews of I Want to Believe, and the fact that Scully and Mulder are no longer together (working or romantically otherwise), it seems Scully might have had enough of the chasing of the White Whale, so she doesn’t end up as Queequeg. Mulder’s obsession here, be it with Big Blue or finding his sister Samantha and uncovering a government colonization conspiracy, is not something that Scully wants to do for the rest of her life. Not if she can’t help it.
Ana: What Thea said. This is such an insightful moment in this series – it is the first time they have an actual deep, meaningful conversation about what they do and who they are. It is a great scene in itself – two great actors (by then David Duchovny had really grown as an actor) alone on the screen playing their roles to the maximum stretch – Scully is quintessential Scully here and so is Mulder.
Thea: And then, there’s Mulder’s reply:
MULDER: You know, its interesting you should say that, because I’ve always wanted a peg leg. It’s a boyhood thing I never grew out of. I’m not being flippant, I’ve given this a lot of thought. I mean, if you have a peg leg or hooks for hands then maybe its enough to simply keep on living. You know, braving facing life with your disability. But without these things you’re actually meant to make something of your life, achieve something earn a raise, wear a necktie. So if anything I’m actually the antithesis of Ahab, because if I did have a peg leg I’d quite possibly be more happy and more content not to be chasing after these creatures of the unknown.
So is it just an obsession for Mulder? He cannot help his relentless pursuit of the truth because he sees it as a burden and a job that he MUST do because no one else will. Had he a metaphoric “peg leg”, he would be content to sit back and let someone else carry the torch.
Ana:Mulder is a man with a mission, a mission he has chosen for himself, because he NEEDS to be brave and need to search for meaning. There is no alternative for Mulder – but there is for Scully.
He also quotes from Moby Dick which impresses Scully – they do have a lot in common in many ways.
Thea: And…they were on shore all along! Coming up to the big reveal now–Big Blue or hoax?
Ana:I love how they were having an important and meaningful conversation and then it is cut by the funny realization that they were not in the middle of the lake. There is gotta have some hidden meaning right there….
Thea: And ultimately, I love the way the episode ends…the perfect lead up to the movie:
SCULLY: Well, you slued the big white whale, Ahab.
MULDER: Yeah, but I still don’t have that peg leg.
SCULLY: How can you be disappointed? That alligator would have gone through half the local population if you hadn’t killed it.
MULDER: I know. I guess I just wanted Big Blue to be real. I guess I see hope in such a possibility.
SCULLY: Well, there’s still hope. That’s why these missing stories have endured. People want to believe.
And Big Blue swims off in the distance, unseen.
And that friends, is what makes an X-Files episode.
Ana: We are ready for the movie now. Bring it on!