The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
"Monday" Plot Summary:
Several police cars surround a bank building as Skinner crosses the police line. An officer tells him that there is a sole robber inside and one gunshot has been heard. A girl rushes over to yell, "Skinner! Don't let this happen!" but he doesn't know who she is. Inside, Mulder lies bleeding on the floor from a gunshot wound as Scully tries to take care of him. She looks up at the robber, who is wired with explosives, telling him that he's in charge and it doesn't have to end this way. Just then the police storm the building. "Yes, it does," the robber says. Outside, Skinner sees the bank blow up.
At 7:15 on Monday morning, according to his watch, Mulder awakens when his newspaper hits the door. He's soaking wet. The waterbed has flooded his apartment, shorting out his alarm clock and damaging his cell phone. The wall phone rings; it's his downstairs neighbor, reminding him that he isn't even allowed to have a waterbed. When he arrives at the F.B.I., he rips open his paycheck as Scully comes through the door to point out the obvious: he's late, and his phone's turned off. But luckily he hasn't yet missed their meeting, because it's not over yet. Mulder tells her that he'll be there as soon as he takes the check to the bank; he needs it to cover the check he wrote his landlord for the rent. "Cover for me, Scully," he implores. "When do I not?" she demands.
In front of the bank, the robber tells his girlfriend Pam to wait in the car. She sees Mulder coming down the street, where he appears to notice her; she reflects that he never did that before. In the bank, as Mulder waits impatiently in line, the robber starts writing a note on a deposit slip, then gets fed up and pulls his gun, ordering everyone onto the floor. The clerk begins to take out the money but also kicks the alarm on the floor. Back at the F.B.I., Skinner sends Scully after Mulder. Though Mulder has told the robber that he's the boss and cooperated thus far, he warns the man to lock the door. When the man's back is turned, Mulder pulls his gun, but the robber whirls and shoots Mulder just as Scully comes in the door and draws her own weapon, which she drops when the robber reveals the bomb he has wired to his body.
Meanwhile, Skinner is summoned away from his meeting, and encounters the girl on the street. "Don't let them charge in there," she begs, but again he does not know who she is. Inside, Scully takes Mulder's bloody shirt off and attempts to stanch the bleeding, all the while talking to the robber, learning that his name is Bernard. She reminds him that the police don't know his plan to blow the bank up if they storm in, and asks him to walk in front of the window so they can see the bomb, but he thinks it's a trap to get him killed. Despairing, Scully realizes he cannot be reasoned with and pleads, "I just want everybody to live." She tells him that he has control, and it doesn't have to end this way, but he sees the police coming, tells her that it does, and presses the bomb trigger. The bank explodes.
The paper awakens Mulder, and he relives the previous Monday morning disaster with a few minor variations. After the neighbor's call, the phone rings again, but he ignores it. It was the girl from in front of the bank. After she hangs up, she begs Bernard to go to work and tells him she won't go out with him, but he insists that she not "get weird" on him; this time tomorrow, everything will be roses. By 7:17 they are out the door. At the F.B.I., Mulder accidentally rips his check when he opens the envelope and asks Scully whether she's ever had a day so terrible that she wanted to rewind and start over. Scully points out that he's late for the meeting and the day could get worse, insisting that the only thing they can control are their own characters, not fate. Mulder tells her he believes that with every choice, you change your fate, so Scully decides to humor him by depositing his check for him so he can go deliver the report he owes Skinner.
Once she has left, Mulder realizes that he gave Scully the stub and kept the check, so he rushes out after her. As he heads toward the bank, Pam calls to him, begging him not to go into the bank where her boyfriend Bernard has gone. "Last time, you looked at me like you remembered," she tells him, but he doesn't remember. Hearing a gunshot, the agent goes inside as police cars begin to arrive. Inside, Scully already has Bernard under the gun, but he reveals the explosives. Mulder calls Bernard by name and he and Scully drop their guns, but when the teller says that the police are coming, Bernard presses the bomb trigger. Outside, Pam cries.
The next morning when the paper wakes him, Mulder knows at once where the leak in the bed is located. At the F.B.I. Pam approaches Scully to ask her not to go to the Craddock Marine Bank on 8th Street that day; she warns the agent that if either she or her partner go to the bank, they will die. When Mulder comes in, he tells her that he has had deja vu since he woke up, soaking wet. Scully jokes with him about how that's not surprising deja vu if he drank a lot in college, but Mulder tells her seriously that experts think deja vu stem from a subconscious desire to right some past wrong, to change fate. "Right now I'm fated to go to the bank," he adds, but Scully stops him by telling him about the woman and her warning. After he gets a description, Mulder agrees to use the ATM machine.
When he arrives in front of the bank, Mulder sees Pam and walks over to her, telling her that she matches the description he was given. Pam tells him that although little details change, they have relived this day countless times, and it always ends the same way. They've even had this conversation before: she tells him there will be a robbery, and he goes charging into the bank to stop it, thus triggering the horrible ending. "We're in hell," she theorizes, though she doesn't understand why she is the only one who knows it. Like Mulder's theory of deja vu, however, she thinks the day is fated to repeat until they get it right. She tells Mulder that she has tried everything she can think of to stop Bernard from blowing up the bank - drugging him, hiding his keys, calling the cops - but she has concluded that Mulder and Scully are the variables who make the events inevitable. They are why people die. She begs him to walk away.
Mulder returns to the F.B.I. and his meeting, but Scully is not there; she's gone to the bank to find him. He rushes back out to find Scully reaching for her gun while the robber threatens her. Mulder shoots Bernard, but as he dies, the man reveals the explosive. "He's got a bomb, he's got a bomb, he's got a bomb," Mulder whispers to himself in the moments before the inevitable explosion.
The next morning, a despairing Pam doesn't even bother to get out of her car, but Mulder approaches her to ask if he knows her. Inside the bank, he sees Bernard writing the note demanding the money, and suddenly recalls his own words: "He's got a bomb, he's got a bomb, he's got a bomb." Rushing to a phone, Mulder calls Scully, who is summoned from her meeting. Then he gives his gun to Bernard, saying that he's a federal agent, he knows Bernard has a bomb, he doesn't want people to die, so Bernard can walk out to his girlfriend right now if he chooses. Outside the bank, Scully shows her badge to Pam and said her partner asked her to retrieve the woman; "My partner said you'd know what it's about."
Bernard scoffs at Mulder's telling him he can change his fate, using Mulder's gun for the robbery instead of his own. But Scully walks in with Pam. "You get her out of here," says Bernard, but Mulder tells him that he's the one forcing Pam to live through this - and relive it. When Pam won't leave without Bernard and he hears the police coming, the robber shoots at Mulder, but Pam screams and leaps in the path of the bullet. Scully tries to take care of her as Mulder handcuffs Bernard. "This never happened before," she says woozily, and closes her eyes.
The next morning, Mulder is awoken by the paper again...but this time he is sleeping on his couch. According to his watch, it's 7:15 on Tuesday morning. Scully calls to tell him that Skinner wants a report on the robbery, and so does she; she doesn't understand how he knew what was going to happen. Mulder calls it a hunch and puts down the newspaper, which reports a woman's death in a robbery attempt. There's a picture of Pam on the front page.
This episode triggered a lot more questions than it answered, which is a good thing in this case. Did the day keep repeating because Pam was supposed to die or because Scully can't die? For that matter, did this day really keep repeating at all for anyone other than Pam, or was she right that everyone in the story was living in her personal hell? I loved the waterbed - which remains the only link to Mulder's alternative life from "Dreamland," in which crazy Area 51 experiments distorted a timeline which did not quite reset. It would make sense that the events of "Monday" are part of a similar time warp. But given what Clyde Bruckman said to Scully about how she doesn't die and the fact that she cheated death like Alfred Fellig in "Tithonus," it would make just as much sense if Scully were the random element causing the loop, as Pam theorized, meaning that Scully's living rather than Pam's dying was necessary to break the cycle.
This episode borrowed nicely from the definition of Hell in Sartre's No Exit, though it was more directly a ripoff of both the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day and the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Cause and Effect." Both of those more recent productions concern a day which repeats over and over until someone has learned enough to break the cycle; "Monday" had both the warped humor of the film and the gimmicky mnemonic of the TV installment. This X-Files episode was much creepier, however, with stunning performances by the actors who played the pathetic Pam and Bernard. With virtually no visual clues, it was made obvious that she is an abuse victim; her terror when he told her she had no choice but to accompany him, her failure to try physical force against him as a means of stopping the cycle, her refusal to confront him outright about his plans all pointed to a woman who felt even more powerless than the impotent man who clearly despised his trivial place in society. It was painfully wrenching and oddly realistic for a fantasy story.
I found Scully's level of hysteria rather out of character in the first go-round, though maybe that was a performance for Bernard to make him feel powerful; her later calm rationalism seemed much more like her. There were lots of lovely little touches: Mulder tripping over his sneakers going forward on one morning and tripping over them backwards on another, the repeated arguments with the neighbor, the angle of the initial shots of the waterbed leak which made it look like Mulder was wetting his pants, the later jokes on that theme between Mulder and Scully. Fat chance of her getting into his bed anytime soon, though I was amused that she didn't know he'd gotten a waterbed in the first place. This hour went by very quickly and I felt sort of sick afterwards, which I think is a good thing. I'm still mulling over what Mulder said about cheating one's fate, though, and wondering what it means if, like Pam or like Thelma and Louise, your only positive choice is to die.
The X-Files Reviews