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'X-Files' Fridays: 'The Last Detail,' starring Dana Scully

Season 1 | Episode 10 | “Fallen Angel” | Aired Nov 19, 1993

It’s been over two decades since The X-Files made its debut, but the series is as relevant as ever, and with talk of a revival in the air, there’s no better time to revisit it—or to discover it for the first time. Community assistant editors Andrea Towers, who watched in its original run, and Kelly Connolly, who was introduced to the show last summer, will be here each week to talk it out. Next up, Scully helps Mulder dig himself in deeper.

KELLY: I’m not sure if the best fashion statement in this episode is Mulder’s polo shirt or the fact that he zips up his leather jacket when he goes into stealth mode.

mulder polo

ANDREA: There are so many things at stake in this episode: the first time Scully tells Mulder the FBI might shut down the X-Files division (only 10 episodes in!), alien abductions, ANOTHER one of Mulder’s “I totally saw this but you didn’t and now I have to prove it.” And yet we’re back to fashion statements of the ’90s. As usual. I love it.

KELLY: I have so much to say about this show that sometimes ’90s fashion is the safest way to avoid my feelings. Come to me for the latest in hard-hitting X-Files commentary, everyone. But you’re right—10 episodes in, and their jobs are already at risk. Mulder and Scully will never really be safe in the FBI, but for now, the Syndicate would rather keep them close. That sets up a really great tension that carries on through the rest of the series; here it’s spelled out, but even when it’s not, it’s in the atmosphere of the show. It’s in the fact that Mulder and Scully have to work out of the basement. They’re operating on the fringes of what’s permitted, which only makes them cooler.

ANDREA: It’s okay. We will commiserate over the ’90s fashion. Because once we hit season four or so, it starts to get better. Well, it starts to kind of get better around season two, but we’re still in pregnancy mode. The shoulder pads are still there. Anyway, before I get sidetracked by fashion again, I’m going to agree with you. At the end of the episode they have to go up against the Syndicate, and basically get shot down when they try to talk about their evidence. And the only reason that they don’t get dismissed this early on is because Deep Throat advocates for them. It’s really interesting that this was an alien episode, but not a mythology episode—and yet it did play into the mythology.

KELLY: Right! We know there’s a conspiracy out there somewhere, and we think it involves aliens, but the details are still so vague. To a certain extent, the details are always vague; it just becomes the mythology we know when it starts affecting Mulder and Scully on a personal level. Right now, it’s all professional—it’s just rooms full of suits for Mulder and Scully to yell at. But don’t they yell beautifully? They know they’re onto something, and they’re united in this mutual frustration with “protocol” as a means to shut them down. I love how often Scully and Mulder are brought together by the realization that they’re the only two people here who care about the truth.

scully running xfiles fallen angel

ANDREA: Oh, they do yell beautifully. It’s what makes the whole thing so good, though. The real enemy is the government, not the aliens. And that’s shown right away. I think it’s so interesting to have them on cases where they’re doing insane things like chasing UFOs and crazy people … and then in another scene, they’re sitting down in the FBI with these people who are all professional and trying to micromanage them. If you think about it, it makes for such a crazy premise. Like, no one would go for that nowadays!

KELLY: It’s a surreal contrast. They’re having these experiences that can’t be explained, and they’re coming back to a world that wants an explanation for everything. How do you write up invisible alien radiation in a field report? Maybe this is why Scully’s reports all turn into these thoughtful little essays on what it means to be human. Their job only works when you throw away the rule book and look at the people, which is what she tries to tell the FBI. And that’s a new way to think for Scully. She shows up ready to do as she’s told and retrieve Mulder—”My assignment is to bring you back, not to help you dig yourself in deeper”—but of course she’s going to help him.

And then Max comes in as the opposite of the FBI, because he sees Mulder’s work and values it (“I didn’t think anyone was looking” breaks my heart), but he doesn’t see Mulder and Scully as people, either. They’re just these faceless heroes. “The enigmatic Dr. Scully.” I like that Mulder is immediately like, Okay, simmer down there, Max, but then he reclaims that compliment for her. It’s only okay when he says it.

xfiles fallen angel enigmatic

ANDREA: YES. Max is so interesting to me, actually. Because he’s providing an outside perspective, and we’ll get that a lot over the course of the season, especially when we get into fun MOTW episodes like “Clyde Bruckman” and everything … but it makes us as a viewer take a step back as well. We want to be invested in this cause the same way Scully’s found herself drawn to it, but we also are pulled by the opposing views of the Syndicate. Having Max provide that voice really drives home the humanity that I think grounds a lot of these episodes, so that it’s not just about aliens or conspiracies.

KELLY: These big ideas are affecting real people’s lives, definitely. It’s interesting that you point out the way Max makes us take a step back, because I think he also makes Mulder take a step back—not from Max, but from himself. When they first meet, and Max is rattling off all of these acronyms (shoutout to MUFON), Mulder looks like he’s wondering if that’s how people see him. Which ultimately makes him even more attentive to Max, because he knows what it’s like to be dismissed—but with Scully, he then goes out of his way to be really cute with her. The first thing he says is, “I didn’t order room service,” and from there it’s, “The Last Detail, starring Dana Scully,” and, “I’ll break a leg” (which made me laugh so much harder than it should have). He jokes like he’s trying to reach out to her. Mulder takes this work so seriously, but he doesn’t want Scully to think that he takes himself too seriously.

ANDREA: And that’s what helps build their relationship, in a way. These little moments that get built over the course of the first season, just each one shaping them in a way that will make a difference down the road.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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