Scully Tries To Turn Back Time
"All Things" Plot Summary:
As she dresses, Scully ponders the paths that shape people's lives, and wonders whether one could ever stop, study the choices, and choose another path. Mulder lies asleep in bed, naked from the waist up.
Two and a half days earlier, Mulder grooves to music, trying to ignore Scully as she reveals that a death he thought had paranormal connections really involved alcohol and a group of kids re-enacting The Blair Witch Project. Mulder is preparing to go to England to study crop circles, which he has new computer models predicting, but Scully says she's not wasting her weekend on something so pointless. She goes to the hospital to get lab results on the dead girl, but is given a folder containing the wrong material - an x-ray labeled "D. Waterston." As Scully walks to the nurse to get the correct data, time seems to slow down for a minute. Scully asks whether D. Waterston is Daniel Waterston, and goes to see the unconscious man when she learns that it is.
Scully explains to Waterston's doctor that she was Waterston's student, then goes home, where time again seems to suspend itself. A ringing phone interrupts that state. It is Maggie Waterston, Daniel's daughter, saying her father learned Scully was at the hospital and wants to see her.
Mulder calls to ask Scully to visit a local woman who has been doing research into crop circles, but she says she's going out for the evening and heads back to the hospital. As Maggie slams out of the room, Scully greets her former teacher...and former lover. He says he represents that which she secretly longed for, and that he cannot believe the FBI is a passion for her in the way that medicine was. When she leaves, Mulder calls with the address of the woman at a Taoist healing center who studies crop circles. In the middle of the conversation, time warps again for Scully, who nearly hits a woman with her car.
At the healing center, Scully explains to Colleen Azar that she was nearly in an accident. Azar says that that is usually the result of not paying enough attention due to distraction. She also correctly guesses that Scully finds her work ridiculous, even though Scully knows nothing about it. She advises Scully to try to slow down. As she turns to leave, time warps once more and Scully drops the papers Azar has given her. A heart chakra diagram jumps out at her.
The phone summons Scully back to the hospital, where a resentful Maggie scoffs at Scully's medical rationalism. Waterston apologizes for his daughter, saying things were bad at home for a long time since he had such a hard time when Scully left him. He admits that he and his wife divorced, and that he went to Washington hoping to run into her. Scully becomes tearful, telling him his timing is strange, because she's not sure about her life and if she hadn't picked up the wrong x-rays she would never have known he was there. "I want everything I should want at this time in my life," she says. "Maybe I want the life I didn't choose." He reaches for her hand, she gives it to him, then cries against him, his heart monitor loud in her ears. Then suddenly it goes wild and flatlines. Scully screams for a nurse, beginning CPR as a code blue team enters. Using electroshock and medication, Scully manages to get a pulse while Maggie cries for her father.
Returning to Azar's, Scully meets Azar's lover, Carol, and examines the candles, artwork, and fountains as she apologizes for her rudeness earlier. She asks what Azar meant about slowing down, explaining that she thinks her dying friend's condition may be more complicated than anyone realizes. Azar says holistic physicians believe all beings exist beyond time and space - people have energy and spiritual dimensions, and Scully may have seen pain in Waterston's aura from shame, guilt, or fear. Azar asks if Scully ever has moments where time seems to expand and get clear, which Scully admits. "Then you may be more open to things than you think...it's just a matter of what you do with it," says Azar, who explains that she was a physicist who didn't even realize how unhappy she was until breast cancer got her attention. When she met a healer and realized that her profession and her hidden sexuality were causing her frustration and shame, her cancer went into remission.
Scully returns to the hospital with flowers, but Maggie tells her that Waterston has been in a coma since two minutes after she supposedly saved his life, ranting that her life has been hell since Scully entered it. "You lived on, we had to leave with what you left behind," he says.
Leaving dejectedly, Scully again sees the woman she nearly hit in the car. Following her, Scully comes to the door of a Buddhist temple in Chinatown, which she enters. The temple is filled with candles and fountains, like Azar's home. Scully kneels before a statue of the Buddha and prays. Light suddenly flows through and around her, showing flashbacks of her life - a younger Mulder, her sister Melissa - then she sees Waterston, whose heart appears to be enlarged. He opens his eyes to look at her, and she snaps out of the vision.
At the hospital, Scully brings a healer to clear Waterston's energy channels. Though Waterston's doctor objects, Maggie asks Scully to continue as long as the chakra clearing can't hurt her father. The healer says Waterston is ready to move on, but unfinished business is holding him back. That night Scully has a nightmare of dying like Waterston while Mulder's music plays in the background. Maggie's telephone call wakes her. At the hospital, Waterston is awake and free of breathing tubes. He says he was shocked to hear of her "voodoo ritual," though she objects that that "crap" may have saved his life. Waterston wants to talk about getting well and going on with his life with Scully, but she says she spoke to Maggie, and thinks Waterston needs to take responsibility for the hurt he caused his family. She believes he got sick because he ran from that truth. Waterston says Scully is all he lives for, but she tells him that she's not the same person that she was, and she wouldn't have known that if she hadn't seen him again.
Outside, time slows once more for Scully, who again sees the girl she nearly hit with the car. When she touches her, though, the girl turns out to be Mulder, who is back from England wearing a "Stonehenge Rocks" cap, disappointed that no new crop circles appeared. Scully says that sometimes nothing happens for a reason, and offers him tea. Hours later, he reflects on the fact that he went away for two days and her whole life changed. Scully demurs that she only had a vision in a Buddhist temple. but Mulder says, "That's like you saying you're having David Crosby's baby." Scully wonders what she missed by not spending her life with Waterston, and asks Mulder about the possibility that there is only one right path in life. "Then all choices would lead to this moment," he says. "We wouldn't be sitting her together." Mulder complains that it is too late for such a conversation, but Scully has already fallen asleep on the couch, so he puts a blanket over her. Under the fish tank, a small golden Buddha gleams.
I suspect there will be people (Gillian Anderson fans) who absolutely love this episode, as well as people ('shippers and those who think Anderson is overrated) who find this episode rather self-indulgent. Anderson wrote and directed "All Things," and indeed gives herself the opportunity to do some of the things she does best - cry, singlehandedly save a man's life, glow in spiritual radiance, gently let down a man who says he lives for her. "All Things" doesn't have the humor or self-deprecation of Duchovny's episodes, but it's still exciting to see an actress so interested in her character and so invested in the character's backstory. It's also nice to know that deep down, she's apparently a 'shipper - the lovely teasing shot of Mulder naked under the sheet in the opening, the joke about him not wearing pants, and the bonding scene at the very end all warmed my heart, even though I'm a reluctant 'shipper at best.
Anderson did a nice job in her first directorial outing, particularly in the visual and auditory reinforcement of the theme of slowing down. In several early scenes, ordinary objects ticked like a metronome counting off the seconds - first water dripping from a sink, then a nurse's pencil, then the cord from a window shade. The slow motion shots were well-balanced, off enough to indicate a shift in perspective but not so ostentatious that they called attention to the camera work rather than the events unfolding.
The storyline takes a bit more swallowing - Catholic Scully spontaneously praying in a Buddhist temple, then summoning a healer who deals in chakra? God, Mulder must be sorry he wasn't there to see it, though I wonder whether she would have made the effort at all if Mulder had been around, given her almost compulsive need to prove him wrong in many of his theories even though he's right far more often than not.
This episode went some distance to undo the harm of "En Ami," particularly since it suggested that the key to curing cancer lies in individual agency rather than CSM's secret wonder cure. On the other hand, there is something disturbing about the suggestion that cancer and heart patients have called their diseases upon themselves by failing to rid themselves of shame and guilt - it's an oversimplification of that belief system, and an insult to people who are suffering.
It was nice to see sympathetic lesbian characters, anyway. Waterston wasn't as strong a character as Azar - we never learned what it was about Scully he adored so, nor the details of his family breakdown, which were important for us to have any feelings for him. Interestingly, he does seem to fit the pattern of older powerful men CSM said Scully was drawn to. I wonder whether he'll be back.
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