Tasting the Forbidden

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Title: Tasting the Forbidden
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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Tasting the Forbidden is an essay by LoneThinker.

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


A while back some of us were discussing Scully's controlled nature, and the way she tries to break away from that in Never Again. In the bar scene, Scully tells Ed Jerze that she is attracted to authority figures but that eventually she feels a need to rebel against them. Specifically, she explains how she worships the sea her father sailed on; then she tells of how, as a teenager, she would sneak out at night and smoke her mother's cigarettes "because I knew if he caught me, he would kill me." "There are other fathers," she continues, and we all smile to ourselves and think of Mulder. BUT--and this is what jumped me this morning--WHAT IF WORKING WITH MULDER IS ONE OF THOSE FORBIDDEN THINGS, one of the ways of rebelling against her father, or her family's respectable expectations for its children? I hadn't ever thought of it that way before, but it could actually answer several questions and loose ends that have been drifting around inside my brain like dust bunnies.
In any event, if my take on these circumstances is correct, Scully might have seen the assignment to work with Mulder as one of these opportunities to rebel against her dad and the expectations he must have had for her. Scully's dependence on science and her unwillingness to reach out to extreme possibilities does not seem to make her a perfect (or even a passable) match for Mulder, and yet, if you look back at the Pilot, she displays an obvious fascination with Mulder and the way he works. It is so different from what she is, and from what she has been taught to strive for. It is risky. It is not respectable. And it is very much ALIVE (we see an illustration, I think, of Joseph Campbell's "the experience of being alive" in Mulder's stopping the car in the middle of nowhere, getting out and going to the trunk, and spray painting the X on the road...as well as his utter joy when finding it again in conjunction with the lost time, and his exuberant "Not in this zip code!") Here are all the things her parents warned her about (or feared, even if they said nothing.) Scully obviously finds them intriguing. The pilot had always struck me as inconsistent in this respect, having this woman whose immediate reaction is to put on the gloves and spar with Mulder's theories be at the same time so obviously intrigued by her new partner and his methods. Also, we see a Scully in the pilot who has not yet become the very serious, very contained agent we have come to know. I had always attributed this to the writers not having fully developed the character yet, though now, as I look at it, the freer, more flowing, and yes, even more impulsive Scully we see in the pilot bears a striking resemblance to the woman she is hoping to find inside herself in Never Again (the Dana in the bar with Ed; the Dana getting the tattoo.)