How sonic imagery woke up Scully
From: lucyskull
Date: 4/18/00

One thing jumped out at me during my re-watch of *all things - GA's deliberate use of sound. Actually, sound and motion - even the weather is persistently trying to get Scully's attention. In the opening teaser the wind blows the tree branches outside Mulder's apartment. One can almost feel the cool spring breeze. The windchimes can be heard through the open windows and although Mulder's electric fans are out from wherever he stores them for the winter they are not on.

Throughout the episode there is a cosmic heartbeat following Scully around. It begins with the dripping faucet in the teaser and modulates into the mid-tempo drumbeat of "The Sky is Broken" which is punctuated visually by the changing of the slides in the slide projector. Good old Mulder is putting on a slide show again. Scully is not only oblivious to Mulder's diatribe about crop circles, but also to the sounds and motions around her. She comes across as tense, defensive and typically skeptical. After a momentary shock Mulder knows better than to press her on and offers to cancel her ticket. His acquiescence of Scully's need to assert her independence and self-control is in sharp contrast to what we later learn of Daniel. Mulder may not be any closer to understanding what is ticking Scully off than he was in *Never Again, but he now respects her needs - even when she is unable to articulate them. Still their lack of understanding creates a wedge between them. As Mulder leaves, his roll-up sandwich falls on the floor. Scully's head follows the motion as she droops and the slide projector takes up the backbeat once again. A nurse taps the rhythm in the following scene as Scully's image emerges from within the tapping pencil. This is her first wake up call in the form of a misplaced X-ray. Mark Snow's soundtrack is a minimal 4-note motif that mimics a windchime. The 4 notes repeat in different order, but the musical tension is never resolved. Only the underlying strings serve to carry the melody slowly forward. As Scully nears Daniel's hospital room the 4-note motif is picked up by a piano, the strings are gone. The musical tension increased in its naked simplicity. It hangs in the air forever repeating and never developing. We see Scully bracing herself for a confrontation with Daniel. The hospital monitor hooked up to Daniel beeps in time to his heart, but it is a single bell chime that we hear as Scully encounters a sleeping Daniel for the first time. A single tear coming down his face. Fade into the ever present beeping monitor. [NOTE: The cardiologist's comment of how he has been following Daniel's work on constrictive pericarditis (chronic inflammation of the membrane that surrounds the heart) lets us know that Daniel is also a cardiologist.]

The echo of the bell chime is taken up by windchimes outside Scully's apartment while the wooden toggle keeps the beat of her guilt as it flaps in the breeze. Scully answers the call waiting only to hear a male voice pleading, "I'll never see you again. You are breaking my heart." Has Mulder ever used the speaker phone before? Nothing happens without a reason. Is this Daniel's message that she hears? Mulder's? Both? (Btw, what the hell was Mulder putting in his bag?) Scully's attention fades while Mulder drones on. She fails to hear this second wake up call and is asleep again. Lulled by the hum of the world around her, she hits that snooze button. "Speak to me, Scully!"

The soundtrack takes up the beat of the wooden toggle in a steady 2-note repeat. Over this escalating tension we hear the 4-note windchime motif. The lack of musical resolution accentuates Scully's uneasiness as she encounters Daniel for the second time to the beat of the monitor and the bell chime. She tries small talk and switches topics when the conversation hits uncomfortable territory. As he grabs her hand, she becomes visibly nervous, "You scare me, Daniel." As Daniel touches her cheek he is convinced that he knows what Dana Scully "secretly longs for." (Echoes of Padgett?)

The third wake up call comes in the form of a near accident and is accompanied by the beat of Scully's turn signal. The near victim walks away smiling. It is Mulder on the phone again with directions - the road meant for her. Scully's first visit to Colleen's house is greeted by the rhythm of sprinklers. The background noise is sparse but effective - windchimes and the sound of the wind. Scully's uneasiness returns in a softer tone. She politely rejects the invitation to enter Collen's home, which is bathed in warm tones and lighting. In contrast the street lights outside the door are cold. The windchime motif persistently returns as she drops a picture of a crop circle resembling the heart chakra. Meanwhile, Daniel uses his heart as an excuse to see her and Hurricane Scully is summoned to refute the doctor's prescription. Scully's icy tension melts into shock as she is moved by the admission of his Scullycentric relocation (or stalker devotion). Although the conversation is very emotional she is unable to look at him in the eyes. Their connection and roles are re-established. But things are not as they were before. As she takes refuge in his shoulder the heart monitor goes from normal to double time to a sustained flatline. Scully revives his normal beat and touches him with tenderness. That was a close call. Pay attention.

By the time Scully returns to Colleen's house the next morning, it is raining. The wind continues beating on the windchimes while Scully rings the doorbell with nervous energy. She hesitates before accepting the invitation to enter the home. Once inside she is seduced by the inner beauty of the home. We hear the bell chimes again. She visibly braces herself before addressing Colleen and nervously fidgets with her hands throughout the visit. But something odd happens - Scully starts to listen. She returns to the hospital of beeping monitors only to encounter someone who is unwilling to hear her in Daniel's daughter. Defeated she returns to the street as the mid-tempo drumbeat of "The Sky is Broken" carries her to Chinatown and she stops in front of an apothecary (how appropriate). The sign creaks as it rocks back and forth in the wind. The near victim with the ponytail re-appears and we clearly hear Scully's footsteps punctuating her chase. Another near accident. Abrupt cut to the bustling sound of street chaos and windchimes. But as soon as Scully enters the inner courtyard that leads to the temple, the street sounds are drowned by the tickle of a water fountain. The door creaks and she is inside. The light falls from above. There is a very low tone -- a hum. A whaling sound of long, slow single notes in a simple melody (Tarzan, anyone?). Scully takes up the cosmic heartbeat rhythm as she rocks back and forth to a beat within her. Time expands and the vision develops. People, events, a heartbeat, Daniel's heartbeat and he murmurs to her. Wake up call #4. Message received.

Scully's dream that night is infused with the mid-tempo music. She sees her various personas: Scully at home bathed in warm light. Scully the professional walks through the coldness of the hospital. Scully the patient awaits her salvation. Speak to me. She wakes up to the sound of the phone ringing. This is the first scene with Scully in it where there is no background sound. She is wide awake and she is ready to talk.

On her last visit to Daniel we see a Scully that is relaxed, happy with herself, and secure in her choices. She has taken responsibility for road she has taken and she looks directly at Daniel as she talks over the beeping monitor. In the hospital courtyard she is standing still as the world moves about her. There is no wind. There is no rain. The music takes up the repetitive 4-note motif and it fades as Scully's touch transforms the ponytail woman into Mulder. Anyone for tea?

-lucyskull