Ace Review: “Paper Clip”

Premise: Mulder&Scully must decide what to do with the digital tape

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20th Century Fox c/o chrisnu

How good is this episode?

What, more of the Navajo voiceover? It kind of made sense in the previous episode, but it’s starting to get silly now.

Apart from that, “Paper Clip” makes a fairly solid conclusion to the trilogy. Having spent one episode estranged and another episode separated, Mulder&Scully are finally back together, working, investigating, and pursuing the Truth. We get some startling revelations about the Mulder family, tragedy in the Scully family, and Mulder&Scully at odds over how to deal with their situation. There’s also chases, explosions, and Skinner being a total badass! It doesn’t tie everything together, but it gives us a lot of answers while leaving loose threads to be pursued by future mythology episodes.

How ace is this episode?

We learn that Bill Mulder was indeed partly responsible for Samantha’s disappearance, having been forced to give up one of his children as a hostage. This adds an element of pathos to the stories of all the remaining Mulders: Bill, forced to choose between his children; Teena, helpless to protect her daughter from being taken away; Fox, left behind as a daily reminder of his parents’ failure. No wonder they barely speak to each other!

Great moments in queerplatonic bonding

Mulder bursts into his own apartment, sees Scully and Skinner pointing guns at each other, and immediately pulls his gun on Skinner. He doesn’t even have to ask what’s going on; his automatic response is to back up his partner. (Even though, when you get down to it, she is completely in the wrong.) Then, after their restrained but still touching reunion, Mulder&Scully go on the run together, hiding out, avoiding secret military units, and trying to clear their names. Even the decision about what to do with the tape is made together, with Mulder deferring to Scully’s desire for a deal. And, of course, it ends with them together, both scarred by grief but determined to continue their shared quest.

Favourite moment: “Lots of files.”
“Lots and lots of files.”

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20th Century Fox c/o chrisnu

Random musings

  • I mean, what purpose does the white buffalo even serve in the story???
  • Perhaps the most poignant moment in the episode is when Margaret comes to the hospital looking for Dana – only to be told that it’s her other daughter who’s been shot.
  • In fact, all of Margaret’s scenes are touching.  She’s like Scully’s long-suffering wife, forced to sit in one place and worry herself sick while her daughter involves herself in mysterious and dangerous business.
  • It’s really nice of Albert to take Scully’s place at Melissa’s bedside, but I can’t help wondering if he doesn’t have better things to do than fly across the country and pray over the sister of a woman he barely knows.
  • If Albert says “the F.B.I. man” or “the F.B.I. woman” one more time…
  • I love Skinner’s confrontation with the Smoking Man, but let’s face it, he’s totally bluffing. If Albert really did have the tape memorised, then he could just tell Mulder&Scully everything on it.
  • If you’re introducing someone to The X-Files and you only have an hour, you should show them a Monster of the Week episode. But if you’ve got a few hours, showing them “Anasazi”/“The Blessing Way”/“Paper Clip” is a great option!

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