Prying Open Dana Scully

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Title: Prying Open Dana Scully
Creator: LoneThinker
Date(s): late 1990s
Medium: online
Fandom: X-Files
External Links: The X-Files: commentary and analysis of Dana Scully, Archived version
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Prying Open Dana Scully is an essay by LoneThinker.

It is one of many essays at The Cave's X-Files Commentary Archives.


Having recently participated in some intensive e-discussions about Never Again with a die-hard fan of that ep and then seeing Memento Mori again last week on FX, I was struck by the conflicting impulses that are showcased in these two episodes: on the one hand, Scully's pressured attempt to open up the little box she keeps herself in and discover who is really inside (Never Again) and her innate tendency to close herself up so tightly that no one else will be able to see what lurks inside that private self.
That she does not sleep with Ed (a number of people, including reviewer Sara Stegall, protested vigorously at this) does not indicate to me that Scully has chickened out in her attempt to define/stretch herself. Ed Jerze has showed disturbing tendencies from the beginning (she seems to recognize right away the danger sign inherent in the picture with Ed's face burned out), and to let herself go given these circumstances would be completely out of character for her.

The fact that Scully's foray into her inner self ends badly and leaves her right where she started, in the basement office facing Mulder--still with no desk--may impress upon her the dangers of stepping outside the lines, of opening the box and letting out what dwells there (the episode title, Never Again, may reflect Scully's state of mind at this point.) Mulder, for all his concern, is not able to see the dark cloud that presses down on her, and not being able to see the enemy, he is helpless to fight it. His candid near-admission that she is so integral to his life that he considers her life his, he realizes will only exacerbate the situation, and he forces himself into uncomfortable silence--underscored by lack of music--as the scene fades to black.

The very next time we see Scully, she is (Memento Mori) standing in front of a set of x-rays, looking at the verification of her cancer. Her thoughts have turned to her own imminent death, and to the partner she must reluctantly but necessarily leave. And yet when Mulder comes into the room, Scully is calm, cool, detached. She describes her disease and its probable course as if they were someone else's. She is wearing her strong-Scully armor; it is Mulder who flounders for meaning and comprehension. This pre-emptive posture shows up again when Kurt Crawford is finally caught in the alley. When Scully's nose starts bleeding, Mulder's concern for her is instant and obvious, yet Scully responds by telling him--almost ordering him--not to keep staring at her, because she is--say it with me now--'fine'. (She made the same protest at the end of Irresistible, too, and was able to carry it off UNTIL she was forced to look Mulder in the eye.)