Ho Ho Holy Shit It’s My Dad’s Ghost

1×12 Beyond the sea

Episode summary:
Scully’s dad dies; a serial killer nabs some kids; Brad Dourif overacts in exactly the way we love to see him overact; Scully has visions of dead dad; Mulder gets shot pretty good; and you end up with the song “Beyond the Sea” stuck in your head for about five million years.

Chez Dana


It’s Major Garland Briggs! What’s he doing in Scully’s house?

I think Scully lives in Twin Peaks. Maybe she’s related to that crazy lady with the eyepatch and the draperies.
Good sailin’ Ahab.
Ah. This is the prequel to Moby Dick.
Night, Daddy.


Ron Popeil is on the television. He wants you to buy hair replacement spray. Oh and:

I am the ghost of Christmas dinner very recently past!

Scully’s dad is sitting in a chair in her living room, being incredibly creepy. Or lip-syncing. And then the phone rings- but when she turns, Pa’s not there. It’s Mrs. Scully on the phone.

Cordless early-90s phones: the height of modernity

Scully’s dad? Dead of a heart attack. An hour ago.

Her dinner killed him!
Next time, don’t serve Coronary Flakes, Dana.

Jackson University, North Carolina

The sound of young people makin’ out in a car. And then a cop busts ‘em! But the cop is wearing jeans and work boots! That’s not very coplike, I guess, and the guy in the letterman’s jacket asks to see his ID but then there’s some violence and a quick cut to:


It’s a manila envelope. This is probably porn.

No, he’s reading a criminal profile. Look:

Not porn after all
Last time you were that engrossed, it turned out you were reading the Adult Video News.
“And I do mean enGROSSed.”
Because it was gross.

Also, Mulder calls Scully “Dana”, which is apparently his way of saying “I’m sorry that your Dad croaked”.

Anyway, those kids? Missing. And the same thing happened a year ago, except the kids in that case showed up tortured to death after a week. THE CLOCK IS TICKIN’.

And a crazy death row dude named Luther Lee Boggs thinks he can help save the kids. Via:

Psychic transmissions.
Those are much more interesting than psychic catalytic converters.
Car Talk meets Art Bell. “My UFO is making this pinging noise.”

Mulder thinks Boggs is scamming the system with his psychic power claims. He’s going to Raleigh to talk to him anyway — at Boggs’ request.

Also, he has a NICAP cap.

Don’t make me cap a cap in your nicap.

Putting the ‘fun’ in funeral

Dad Scully’s ashes get scattered into the sea while the family watches in the rain. “Beyond the Sea” is playing on a radio in the background.

Well, scupper my bilgepump, this song was in BioShock.
Arrr, that be the Django Reinhardt version.
And did ye know that it’s actually the english language rewrite of the french song “La Mer” by Charles Trenet?
Avast there Matey, I too can read Wikipediarrr


And now, Luther gives a nice dramatic reading of Crazy Guy. Ranty and loony and talking about himself in the third person.

Don’t get me wrong, Luther. I want to believe.

Mulder hands over a piece of blue cloth; Luther begins breathing heavily and making alarming noises and tossing out details about what’s happening to the kids. Coat-hangers, cold place, angels, waterfalls, yadda yadda yadda. Which, okay, but:

I tore this off my New York Knicks t-shirt. It has nothing to do with the crime.

But when the agents are strolling away from sham-seemin’ Boggs, he starts singing “Beyond the Sea” and Scully sees her dad in Boggs’ prison uniform and then he looks like Boggs again but then calls her “Starbuck” just like her dad did and OMG. Scully kind of wigs out and bails.

I would try to come up with a purile joke about Starbucks, but “Starbuck” is a pretty neat and literary nickname.

But then! She sees some things that actually match up with Boggs’ crazy description, which leads her to an abandoned warehouse where there’s a bunch of damn candles burning. She finds a necklace — and some coat-hangers!

Back at the hotel

Now we’ve got Scully staring at (an empty chair) (her dead dad), in what is like another very Kubricky shot:

“My Goodness, is that an 18th century Lombachener?!”

Mulder breaks the news that the necklace Scully found belongs to the missing girl.

The police are searching that place inch by inch–
And row by row.
Gonna make this X-File grow.
/me vomits

And Mulder’s all giving her shit now for lying about how she found that warehouse on her police report. Way to be sensitive, jerk. Here’s how it supposed to work:

Mulder, I lied because I don’t want people to think I’m crazy because of my dad dying.
Scully, I totally understand. Let me give you a footrub.

Here’s what you did:

Mulder, I lied because I don’t–

And now you’ve upset her so much that she says:

I thought that you’d be pleased that I’d opened myself to extreme possibilities.
Why now?
We’re not getting any younger, you sexy hunk of nutter.

Jailhouse crock

Mulder has a cunning plan: fake Boggs out with a mocked up newspaper article that says the kidnapped kids have been found.

Test subject: Dana Scully.

Take a look at this.
[reads "the kids are fine, yay!" article]
That’s incredible! They found them?
That’s exactly what I want Boggs to think.

Boggs is a lot quicker on the uptake than Scully, apparently, and rather than using his next break to call an accomplice, responds to the planted article by calling Mulder. Oops! So they interrogate Boggs some more, who gets all prophecy-y again about Mulder and blood and a white cross and stuff. Also, there’s cutaways to the kidnapper and the girl this time, so the episode is pretty much screaming BOGGS IS RIGHT ABOUT THIS STUFF in a fairly unambiguous kind of way.

Go Boggs!

Houseboat of dooooom

Well, the FBI is storming a houseboat now.
I guess this episode is pretty much over, yeah.
Twenty minutes is an awful lot of credits.

So they find the girl, but then Mulder goes searching the boathouse area and somebody SHOOTS HIM and races away in a boat.

Look, Mulder’s dead!

So then this is zombie Mulder.

IDing the perp

The rescued girl identifies her kidnapper as Lucas Henry, who is maybe serial killing people to celebrate the anniversary of the traumatic killing of his loved ones. And Lucas and Boggs go way back in a killing-spree sort of way? Anyway, the important thing is that Scully visits Boggs and totally screams at him:

You set us up. You’re in on this with Lucas Henry. This was a trap for Mulder because he helped put you away. Well I came here to tell you that if he dies because of what you’ve done, four days from now nobody will stop me from being the one that’ll throw the switch and gas you out of this life for good you son of a bitch!
So much for the Hippocratic Oath.

But then Boggs looks like Mulder for a second and that kind of takes the wind out of her sails. And then he starts telling a story from Scully’s childhood in the first person.

You get the feeling Brad Dourif probably really enjoyed playing this overact-y dude. All that violent sighing and wackiness.

And then there’s some more Dad Scully impersonating and an impassioned plea for survival, yadda yadda. Plus, a nice story about him seeing the ghost of everyone he killed staring at him on the way to the gas chamber and getting bumrushed by thousands of souls, which is pretty cool.

Bedside manner

Boggs won’t help Scully with the crime without a pardon, the Governor won’t give Boggs a pardon, Hospital Mulder doesn’t want Scully to deal with Boggs. Basically nobody is happy about anything, and Mulder has a tube up his nose.

“On the upside, I can drink juice through this.”

So Scully bluffs Boggs about a pardon; Boggs prophecies up a location; Scully calls him on not being psychic because he would have know that there was no pardon but then BOGGS is all like YEAH I KNOW THERE WAS NO PARDON, STUFF IT.

And then a horn honks for a long time.
No, that’s just happening outside our house, honey.
I thought that seemed like a strange plot twist.

Lucas time

So here’s Lucas in the abandoned factory, getting ready for some killin’, when the FBI bursts in at the last possible moment:

“Honey, it’s not what it looks like!”

And Lucas fails to drop his weapon and Scully shoots him. But not well enough to stop a fleeing Lucas from whapping another agent with a bucket.

Nothing like the ol’ bucket-to-the-noggin.

And then some more fleeing, and Scully chases Lucas to a room with a big blue devil painted on the wall, which Boggs all warned her about and shit and Lucas falls through some crappy old rotten wood to his death.

Finishing Up

Scully drops by Boggs’s cell one more time to thank him for saving her life and the kid’s, and he tells her that he’ll give her a message from dead old Ahab if she comes to his execution to watch. And then: a final meal of chicken and biscuits and potatoes and peas.

Those peas don’t look very good.

And then Boggs gets executed — and Scully ISN’T THERE! She’s hanging out with Mulder and offering a rationalization for how Boggs could in fact have been duping her rather than being all psychic, and Mulder says:

Dana, after all you’ve seen, after all the evidence, why can’t you believe?


Compared to later episodes, it sure seems like Mulder stayed in the hospital for a while in this episode.
Seriously. Shot in the femur? What is that, five minutes of downtime in season five?
Also: there are a lot of parallels here to the more recent movie. Psychic reprehensible killer in emotional tussle with skeptical Scully in attempt to redeem himself by locating a kidnapping victim? Eh?


  1. The Proprietors Said,

    December 25, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

    Also, RIP Don S. Davis.

  2. Lambent Said,

    December 25, 2008 @ 7:18 pm


    Also, you know how Don S. Davis is always in a military type uniform? On Twin Peaks, Scully’s dad, then Stargate SG-1. I think he just comes with a uniform.

  3. Nina Said,

    December 25, 2008 @ 7:49 pm

    Aw, I had no idea Don S. Davis just passed away! RIP indeed. On a lighter note, though, you guys are FREAKING MADE OF WIN. I AM SO HAPPY YOU POSTED AGAIN. :) :) :) :) Your commentary has made my Christmas super-merry. I love me some wacko Brad Dourif and nonsensical!asshole Mulder.

  4. sleep_walker Said,

    December 25, 2008 @ 8:46 pm

    i’m so happy you’ve updated! this blog is an absolute gem, can’t wait for more!

  5. Carl Caputo Said,

    December 26, 2008 @ 3:16 am

    It is a holiday miracle! It is, it is!

  6. Calraigh Said,

    December 26, 2008 @ 8:30 am

    Happy Christmas! This is a lovely bloggy gift for the holidays. Hope all went well in the new abode!

    I always thought the sequence in this where Scully goes to the warehouse and finds all the coathangers was especially freaking freaky and now, that I’ve watched it again, it still is and weirder than ever.
    Brad Dourif FTW though. I wonder what the hell he does at Crimbo?

    P.S Get the ” Complete X-Files” book (typos galore btw) it’s full o’ cool behind the scenes stills. Plus, it’s a book and reading one of those suckers these days, instead of reading text on a monitor is like transporting yourself to 1876. Old-timey!

  7. rtha Said,

    December 26, 2008 @ 11:18 am

    Santa brought a present! Yay!

  8. Chelly Said,

    December 26, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

    Oh, you crazy kids and your Peaks reference.

    I’ve missed y’all ;p Merry Christmas and a happy new year :]

  9. Chelly Said,

    December 26, 2008 @ 7:53 pm

    Side note: Maybe she’s related to the Log Lady. They get that same crazed look in their eye from time to time.

  10. Chelly Said,

    December 26, 2008 @ 7:57 pm

    Side side (side?) note: I love that scene where she yells at Boggs. Kickass!Scully.

  11. Brig Said,

    December 27, 2008 @ 6:56 pm

    wow- this made my christmas
    you guys are the best!, keep it up- or i’ll wind up memorizing the entire blog from re-reading…
    “so much for the hippocratic oath”- lmao =P

  12. Esmeralda Said,

    December 28, 2008 @ 7:56 pm

    As always, marvelous. I spit coffee out my nose, which should be the goal of any comedic author. Kudos.
    I’ve always wondered why both Scully and Kara Thrace both had the “starbuck” nickname, so I went and wiki’d it just now and now my brain is a little fuller. Yum.

    Whenever I start to think “Oh, they’ll never post again” you do.

    I love Brad Dourif. have you seen Deadwood yet? No? Well watch it. It’s alot less funny than the X-files, but he’s rad in it.

  13. muddgirl Said,

    December 29, 2008 @ 1:55 pm

    I saw this episode recently and it is undoubtedly one of my favorites, especially compared to the rest of Season 1. I have an unreasonable crush on Brad Dourif.

    Also, MULDER MAKE UP YOUR FREAKING MIND. That part pissed me off so much. It’s like the first sign of an abusive relationship, when he convinces Scully that Boggs is a fake, then yells at her for agreeing.

  14. The Proprietors Said,

    December 29, 2008 @ 1:58 pm

    [Josh] Theory: Mulder was projecting his own internal struggle with credulity onto Scully’s dilemma re: Boggs, as a cry for help. If she’d just sat him down and done some like talk therapy, the next eight seasons would have been called The Fox Mulder is a Happy, Well-Adjusted Government Employee Files.

  15. Heather Said,

    December 29, 2008 @ 10:34 pm

    What a lovely Christmas present! This episode was a little messed up, but overall one of the better, if not the best, from season 1.

    I complete agree with the differenciation between hospital stays in various seasons, btw. As the series progressed, so did the number of times Mulder and/or Scully got hurt or wounded, yet their stays got shorter and shorter. Remember “Patient X/The Red and the Black”? Scully was very nearly filleted, but she was only in the hospital for, like, a three minute scene.

    And I know this isn’t typical, but this little section is for Calraigh if he or she is reading: I read that book too, and I agree with you. There were definitely interesting inserts (especially the posters and replicas of CC’s postcards) and cool pictures, but the writers and editors of that book should be shot. Typos are just the tip of the iceberg. There were entire sections missing!

    Regardless, you guys should totally pick it up. It’s a must-have for any die-hard fan.

    Thanks so much again for posting! Merry (belated) Christmas!

  16. Suze Said,

    December 31, 2008 @ 10:29 pm

    I’ve never enjoyed overacting so much as in this episode. And Angry!Scully is badass.

    Great to have another post! Happy New Year!

  17. Shalora Said,

    January 5, 2009 @ 12:01 am

    OMG I love you guys! I was a little leery about this one because I do actually love this episode (and I can get unreasonably cranky when things I love are made fun of), but you guys are hilarious as always!

    FWIW, “La Mer” is featured in Lost (season 3, I think?) with all the crazy french writing on the crazy lady’s maps.

    And thanks to Esmeralda – I kept going ‘OMG why do I know the name Brad Dourif?’ (too lazy for IMDB, hee) – and when I watched Deadwood I was all ‘OMG why is the doctor so familiar to me?’ *dies*

    And whoah, Scully’s rant at Boggs at the end after Mulder gets shot – geez, don’t mess with her people, or deal with Mama Bear! Love that part. :)

  18. The Proprietors Said,

    January 5, 2009 @ 7:40 am

    (and I can get unreasonably cranky when things I love are made fun of)

    [Josh] Ah, but, well, think how much longer each of these writeups would be if the whole episodes were mock-worthy.

    I actually liked this one a fair amount, especially in the context of really kind of pushing the format in season one:

    - the significant Mulder injury makes for a nice change from “ow they knocked me out” or “oh no a trivial flesh wound”, which sets up some physical fragility in these characters that’s nice — even if we know they’re not going to die in the middle of a series, they also aren’t made of undentable, polished Impervium.

    - the serious internal struggle on Scully’s part, when in previous episodes most of what we’ve seen her struggle with is Mulder’s credulity. Here he’s more or less a sideline, and to the degree that we see him struggling with her credulity it’s interesting to see that he’s kind of graceless about it compared to Scully’s usual firm-but-tongue-biting skepticism.

    And, hey, Don Davis and some nice camera moments. Brad’s scenery chewing is a bit over the top, but even that works here and it’s him doing the overacting so it’s fun to watch instead of just painful.

  19. deborah Said,

    March 2, 2009 @ 1:45 am

    It’s interesting watching the show get better as season one rolls along. This really was a good one. I wanted to jump up and high-five Angry!Scully.

  20. Amanda Said,

    June 26, 2009 @ 11:42 pm

    the significant Mulder injury makes for a nice change from “ow they knocked me out” or “oh no a trivial flesh wound”, which sets up some physical fragility in these characters that’s nice — even if we know they’re not going to die in the middle of a series

    Really? Tell that to Anasazi and Gethsemane/Redux (well, not really that one but KINDA) and whatever the hell that episode was in season 8…..8? 9? No, I think it was 8. Deadalive, right? Wow, I’m really out of it. It’s too late here. (Crap, wasn’t Deadalive when THAT PERSON was, like, revived or woke up? o.O)

    Anyway, I’ll stop rambling. Great job guys! You rock!

  21. Laurie Said,

    September 6, 2009 @ 12:55 pm


    It kind of reminds me of Syzygy, when in the end Mulder comes out with, “Scully, I don’t think this case has anything to do with any satanic cult.” Really? Because only what she’s been saying the entire episode. He generally sucks.

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