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'X-Files' Fridays: Good sailing, Ahab

Season 1 | Episode 13 | “Beyond the Sea” | Aired Jan 7, 1994

It’s been over two decades since The X-Files made its debut, but the series is as relevant as ever, and with a revival series on the horizon, 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, Mulder tears up a perfectly good T-shirt, and Scully is afraid to believe.

KELLY: David and Gillian like to talk about how inexperienced they were at the start of The X-Files, but you’d never know it from this episode. Gillian Anderson is exquisite.

ANDREA: This is Gillian Anderson’s finest hour. It really is. If there was any doubt as to what she could do with her acting skills, it was all put to rest in this episode. “Beyond the Sea” seriously is one of my top favorite episodes of the show, and it takes a lot for me to say that anything from season one fits that bill. Not even the pilot.

KELLY: We get a completely different side of Scully in this episode. We get every side of her: She’s brittle but she keeps going. She’s tough. She yells at serial killers. She’s insecure about her father. She’s more open to the paranormal than she’s ever been before. She LOVES THIS JOB—even if she’d rather have her parents’ support, and even if she’s still not ready to go on record believing a psychic, she’s so intrigued by this world of possibilities that aren’t supposed to exist. She knows that she and Mulder are doing something that no one else is doing, and they’re doing it on their terms.

xfiles beyond the sea scully yelling

ANDREA: I think what I love the most are the layers that Gillian Anderson brings to this character. It’s the first time we really see these sides to her. We know she has a home life and she has a family, but the whole relationship with her dad really makes a difference, I think, in how we view her character. She’s vulnerable around Mulder for the first time for real—not like in the pilot, where she’s freaked out. At this point, she’s choosing to open herself up to him. And he recognizes that, which is why he treats her the way he does.

KELLY: Mulder knows what it’s like to deal with family trauma, and Scully’s vulnerability changes nothing about the way he sees her. He lets her know that he’s there for her and encourages her not to bury herself in work, but he respects her right to cope however she wants—probably because he buries himself in work for a living—and she appreciates that enough to stop pretending that she’s fine. Mulder is the only one Scully trusts with the admission that she’s starting to take Boggs seriously. She thinks he’ll be pleased. She wants him to be pleased. In a few seasons, she’ll draw this parallel herself, but we’re seeing already that Scully, for all of her independence, is pulled toward men who can give her approval. But this relationship works because Mulder doesn’t believe she needs his approval. He wouldn’t want her to change the way she thinks for anyone.

ANDREA: And he respects what it feels like to be that crazy. When Samantha was taken, Mulder was passionately obsessed with believing that it was aliens, that what he saw was the real deal. This is his life’s quest. And Scully is absolutely convinced that Boggs has that connection to her father. She believes it, however outlandish it is, partially because right now she’s so open and vulnerable. But Mulder knows exactly what it feels like to believe in something that seems impossible and, to most people, probably stupid. So he lets her have that moment; he lets her have that belief. Maybe he doesn’t even believe it, but he’s not going to tell her otherwise, because this is something he understands. We’re dealing with something paranormal, but also something very human.

KELLY: That’s an important distinction: Even when Mulder encourages Scully not to believe in Boggs, he doesn’t belittle her, because he knows how that feels. His problem isn’t with the fact that she’s opened her mind; it’s with the fact that he feels she’s been manipulated into it, and with the fact that she’s done it in secret. If Scully honestly believes something, she should put it on her report. She should believe out in the open, not just for him. I love that he calls her out on her fear to take that final leap—to be seen as Spooky Mulder, not just with him—but I think for Scully it’s less about how others see her than it is about how she sees herself (“I’m afraid to believe”). It’s so appropriate that all of these questions of identity are happening right as she loses a parent, as they do for everyone. Not everyone is also investigating psychics and serial killers, but like you said—this show is always human in the end.

xfiles beyond the sea mulder scully face

ANDREA: Exactly. And this is such a sensitive moment for her. They know each other as partners and friends, are they’re getting more comfortable with each other. But losing a parent is just highlighting how alone Scully is, in a way. Her mother doesn’t understand her work or her partner. Her sister doesn’t understand it. Her brother definitely doesn’t understand it. (Oh, Bill …) She realizes that Mulder is really the only one she can turn to, not only the person who gets her but the person she feels comfortable going to. Scully doesn’t have a lot of friends at her disposal. But it really strengthens their bond to have those quiet moments in an episode that is honestly filled with high-strung, intense moments, like Boggs’ visions or the entire end scene.

KELLY: “Beyond the Sea” is just a well-paced episode of television. When Mulder hands Boggs a piece of fabric and lets him cycle through all of those visions, it takes a long time before we get to the punchline that Mulder tore it from his Knicks T-shirt. That’s a confident scene. There’s a lot happening in this episode, but it manages to hit all of the emotional beats of Scully’s loss and Boggs’ terror because it gives them the space to land. If anything, the fact that Boggs is so creepy and intense just throws the focus back on Scully’s belief. He’s not some charismatic charmer drawing her in. This isn’t about who he is; it’s just about what he offers. She believes Boggs, but not in the way she believes in Mulder. She’s already vouching for his soul. (“It may be a cold, dark place for you, but it’s not for Mulder.”) And their bond is already something that can be exploited; Mulder knows that people can get to him by striking at Scully.

ANDREA: The Knicks T-shirt moment is one of those moments that is just golden for me. And it’s also interesting because the show has built Mulder up as this guy who believes all this crazy things … you know, Spooky Mulder and all. It would be easy for Mulder to believe Boggs. But he doesn’t. He’s skeptical. I think part of that is him wanting to protect Scully, but it also humanizes him. He doesn’t just go off on the first person he sees.

KELLY: Skeptical Mulder is a sarcastic little gem. And I think you’re right that he’s even less inclined to believe Boggs after Scully does; he knows that he needs to keep her in check. They’re always watching out for each other and balancing each other out, so as we’re seeing shades of Mulder in Scully, we’re also seeing shades of Scully in Mulder. They’re not that different. They both just want to get to the truth.

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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