Scully's apartment - further quest for symbolic space
May 1, 2001
At the end of Season 6, I posted a little analysis of the symbolism of Mulder's office and apartment as the psychic
heart of the XF.
I argued that the fact that Scully spent a significant fraction
of time at Mulder's apartment in season 6 (to the point that Padgett said she was never at her flat) indicated that she
was beginning to occupy Mulder's psychic space with new comfort and acceptance, despite the periods of tension between
them. Typically she was present in #42 on a case; *Ghosts was the notable exception. For the most part, their more personal
encounters occurred outside the apartment: in the hallway in the movie, at the baseball diamond in *TU, in his
doorway in *Amor Fati. Her presence at his place shifted in season 7 as she started to occupy his space on personal
business as well as xfiles, starting with the doorway in *AF, then staying overnight in *SuZ and *all things, popping
by in the middle of the night in *HAD, and on a weirdly Mulder date in *Je Souhaite. She adapted to what passes
for normal in Mulder's life, popping a beer and making a basket when he didn't. In Season 8, his place has become
a shrine, but that's another post.
Mulder's office and apartment both housed the XF, signaling that there was no distinction for him between personal
and professional. Not so for Scully. In the first five seasons, Scully's neat, well-ordered apartment was always
supposed to be her place of refuge, but when we saw it, she was always being pulled away from her private life
into an X-File. It was a site of danger (Squeeze, Duane Barry, Melissa's murder) and deception (Small Potatoes).
Or Mulder arrived to pull her back into his quest away from her private concerns (FTF, Redux, even Anasazi) or
to try to rescue her. The XF did not reside in her psyche or her space as they did in his, but the paranormal
and conspiratorial never hesitated to come calling. The fact that her supposed "refuge" was never immune
to intruders, parallels her sense that she has no "life" that is about her rather than about Mulder.
(Never Again). This feeling echoes in season 6 when her apartment actually disappears from view for the entire
year. We saw her instead at his place, underscoring her shift toward entering the "mind" of the XF, even
sustaining the files through Mulder's frustration. We don't even see her place after *One Son when she is still
angry at Mulder. The axis of her life had definitely tipped.
Her apartment then returned in season 7, larger and somewhat rearranged. It showed up on screen last year as a
location for spiritual forces, both good (Albert Hosteen) and evil (*Orison). And CSM entered twice, *SuZ and
again in *En Ami, playing on her goodness for his corrupt designs. But season 8 is the first time that her apartment
has taken precedence over Mulder's, and has been transformed into a symbol of domesticity from its old use as a
site of danger. This shift probably began in *at, when she is shown in her apartment taking Mulder's call from
the airport. No particular XF danger threatens, but she is impatient and uncertain within the context of her private
space. Starting from her apartment she launches her journey down a forked road, toward Daniel and the normal life
that he was offering, on the one hand, and down the path toward self discovery that Mulder's request opened for
her, on the other. Although this search starts in her place in *at, it ends in his. It is self-propelled. This
is a new stage of emotional openness for her.
But what of her emotional commitments? Previously, *Milagro had shown that her heart was no longer private but
located in Mulder's world. The presumed location of their actual seduction, of sex (for those of us who believe
it happened) is Mulder's apt in *at or possibly also on their "date" at the end of *Je Souhaite. This
is not domesticity although it is love. Domesticity enters in the figure of a child.
The opening hints of the baby occur in Oregon, the site of their original case. Mulder seems to experience a transforming
moment as he watches Scully with Teresa's baby (and as she lets him see this side of her). Then, a few hours later,
she comes to him in his motel room when he proposes the end of the XF (there's more to life), the completed circle
to his confession in The Pilot that there was nothing else to life but the search for his sister. But now, in *Requiem,
they are on the bed together. As he talks to her, he comes back to the baby, repeating the word twice, and underscoring
his recognition that normal life has a value that she has given up for him. But she is already pregnant by then.
In the *PM flashbacks, Scully starts talking about her desire for a child inside the FBI building, but not in X-Files
space. This is appropriate because her infertility is part of the mytharc, yet the desire for a child is apart
from her commitment to the quest. The setting is carefully symbolic, Scully opening her secret wish to him in
the small box of the elevator, Mulder fleeing from the enclosure and delivering his own secret from outside, uncertain
of her reaction, and Scully then closing herself once again. Despite its tie-in to "normal life," their
discussion of her fertility is not domestic either.
The baby story line then moves to her apartment. It is there that he comes to give his decision in *PM, uncomfortable
and seemingly undecided, afraid that a normal life is in opposition to his. He does not take off his coat or make
himself at home. He feels surprised and "flattered" that anyone would want to share his genes, would
value all those faults he sees in himself. He worries that the child will separate rather than unite them, but
he makes the commitment, and leaves. The abruptness of the scene gives us no confidence that they have discussed
any particular arrangement for parenthood. We don't know where she made the request that he donate, but in terms
of the show's symbolism it is important that they are showing the discussions in her apartment only. In season
6 and 7 she had entered his emotional space - his psychic core - as she inched toward greater belief, so now he
enters her space and her yen for a more normal life. No wonder he's nervous.
Later in *PM, we see him resting on her couch, awaiting the news. I believe this is the first time he has occupied
her place alone since Redux when he hid there. This time around, he is at home enough to fall asleep, waiting
for word of the child. His role in the domestic scenario is still private and literally in the dark, but he is
now spending time at it. At the bad news, he offers comfort and hope, using a spiritual term, "miracle"
that will appeal to her. This is consistent with other spiritual themes appearing in her space, not his.
*Within shows us both the domestic (morning sickness) and the danger (the alien bounty hunter in Mulder shape).
Then the next time we see her apartment (allowing that *PM as a flashback) is in *3W when the Gunmen have gathered
there with Scully to try to "tame" Mulder, that is to keep him out of danger and subvert his risky behavior.
In bringing the LGM to her home (have we ever seen them there before?) she imports XF operations into her place
for the first time, but her goal is not to solve a case, but to shut it down. But before they get to the Xfile,
Langley's brings up Mulder's paternity, immediately reviving the domestic drama that had been put aside by Mulder's
cold congratulations when they had been back in his apartment. My personal belief is that at that point Scully
told Mulder of his fatherhood through her forthright look. But even if you disagree that she communicated that
message to him, the *possibility of being the father comes at her place and not in his. A short while later, we
see Scully exiting her building where she runs into Doggett who gives her the news about the password. Ahe tearfully
carries this to Mulder who is still occupying her space, still in the dark. The "taming" is disrupted
and domestic considerations put aside as they *both head to the census bureau.
*Emp raises the domestic stakes of her apartment another notch. Mulder arrives unannounced and without XF business,
not to pull her out as in the past, but to bring her something normal. Confident of a welcome, he leans against
the doorframe and teases her about the father of her child, a tease that she receives warmly. Mulder introduces
the words of marriage into his stream of innuendo. ("They were a married couple, we just work together,"
he says disingenuously. His next lines are "I do, I do.") The words are indirect, they do not refer
specifically to the two of them, but they are dropped into the dialogue to plant the idea. Their friendly scene
is disrupted not by an XF, but by a domestic crisis in the form of her threatened pregnancy. A short time later
at the hospital, his earlier references to marriage are mirrored back to him in a serious and unfunny way when
the nurse bars him from Scully's side because he is not the husband. To make matters worse, she immediately asks
the next man who happens along whether he is the husband, as though any other man might claim the role.
*Emp returns to her apartment in the closing scenes to reassert domesticity. Mulder is shown taking care of her
just as she has previously cared for him at his apartment. Again, there is no reference to an XF. They reprise
the pizza man joke - Scully at Mulder's expense, this time - and he gives her a doll, a treasured object which
he transfers from his family to hers, or possibly theirs.
The two partners have been remarkably equal. Over seven long years she gradually moved into his psychic space,
finishing by occupying his bedrrom, that place for intimacy that was only opened in him late in the game after
being shut down by the events of his childhood. It is only fitting that they have now brought it full circle with
him now occupying her privacy, and possibly her domesticity. As I alluded to above, the subtext of domesticity
is a taming of Fox Mulder, of him moving toward the child at the center of a "normal life." Will they
now get out of the car, as she asked in Dreamland? Will the sweet harmony persist and work itself to a happy ending
for M&S or will the set-up be discarded at the end of the season in favor of Mulder's return to apartment 42
and a solo and unrestrained quest? Or will 1013 plot a "normal life" that is stubbornly not normal?
P.S. And what about Doggett? I don't think we have ever seen Doggett in her apartment, but we hear twice of him
stopping by, first in *3W when he meets her as she is going out (leaving Mulder locked inside her space in a state
of despair) and again in *Emp, when he arrives at the hospital a few minutes after M&S. Doggett tried to assume
the role of Scully's protector in Mulder's absence, even seeing fit to lecture Skinner about Scully's welfare in
*D/A. This role fits with his "manly-man" attitudes. Plus, protecting Scully's baby serves as a kind
of atonement for his son's death. Mulder's return makes it impossible for Doggett to continue in his protector
role. Mulder's possession of Scully and Scully's newly roused protectiveness of Mulder leave Doggett is literally
outside, the supplicant, the observer, so nicely symbolized when at the end of *D/A he starts to enter Mulder's
hospital room only to find Scully nestled on his chest. Doggett's "deliveries" to Scully in *3W and
*Emp underline his outsider role: she has never taken him into her space that we have seen, but he hovers, he
watches, he finds excuses to be outside.
One final thought. Doggett has not rescued her from an X-File followed her home as Mulder did in *Squeeze. To
the contrary, in the dream in *VN, he entered her bedroom to try to kill her, the still-secret baby crying in the
background, until he turned the axe on himself and, ironically, was saved by Scully standing by *his bed in *his
house. His anxieties about his mission to discredit her turn into his willingness to sacrifice his career for
her. Now what significance with Doggett's big, paneled house eventually play?