X-Files Flashback: ‘Quagmire’

Quagmire

Season 3, Episode 22
Director: Kim Manners
Writer: Kim Newton

Mulder and Scully investigate a series of brutal murders around a lake in “Quagmire.” Now, that has to be one of two potential killers: Jason Voorhees or the Loch Ness Monster. The X-Files settles on the latter, American style. It’s funny, though, that given all the bodies that pile up in every episode of the series I most object when innocent animals are killed. Yup, say goodbye to Scully’s little pup, Queequeg. As Mulder says, that’s a terrible name for a dog.

The episode features many variations on the same event: someone stands alone next to a lake. Sometimes it’s at night. Sometimes it’s during the day. All with the same outcome: the camera swoops in below from “monster perspective” and consumes its victim, dragging him into the lake. By the way, I’m not being sexist – all the victims were male. Mulder immediately believes in the local monster-in-the-lake lore, Big Blue. Scully, well… I’m not exactly sure what Scully ultimately believes is eating all of these people left and right, but she’s not a believer. Toward the end of the episode, Scully takes her dog out to pee, and it is quickly consumed by something in the woods, easily the most upsetting death of the episode. After that, Mulder and Scully board a small boat with sonar equipment and explore the lake. They are quickly attacked by a large object and left stranded on the shore of the lake. The episode wraps when Mulder is attacked by something he believes is Big Blue but ends up being an alligator. As we close, we glimpse a long, Loch Ness Monster-like image gliding peacefully through the waters of the lake.

One of the biggest surprises about “Quagmire” is how thematically heavy it is. Late in the episode, after Queequeg has bit the dust, Mulder and Scully (can I just start calling them Sculder? Mully?) are stranded on the bank of the lake after the monster has decimated their boat. Scully launches into an extended scene of dialogue between the two where she astutely compares him to Captain Ahab from Moby Dick. It’s an apt comparison – Mulder’s constant search for “the truth” equates to Ahab’s constant search for the whale. She’s afraid he’ll end up like Ahab, completely out of his mind and alone. Even Queequeg is an allusion to Moby Dick. The extended dialogue sequence is one of the rarer moments of open sharing between the two, despite Mulder’s frequent attempts at sarcastic humor. They may be in love, but there’s a wall between them that he assures remains high and solid.

One last loving touch in “Quagmire” is this line, which I think closes this review nicely: “I don’t have the time for these absurdities. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some amphibians to release.”

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