Licking the Good ‘Shippers’ Lollipop
(Clearly any discussion of ‘shipper delights might also have a few spoilers, though can a show off the air for nearly a decade really be spoiled? In any event, you have been warned)
One of the things I tended to find annoying about the switcheroo ‘shipper moments was how coercion was often an element of the near kisses, gropes and shags. Granted, more often than not Scully figured the hustle and asked her Mulder fakers if they liked the taste of hot metal – most did not. I find the trope misguided and inherently sexist, considering they never had fake Scullys attempt to hijack some loving from Mulder. There are a couple of episodes, which make use of this trope, but I feel the “Dreamland” episodes in season six are the best examples of the switcheroo trope and the least problematic. Others are problematic for a host of reasons besides the fact they are doing the switcheroo trope thing.
- “Dreamland II” – despite being a fantastic conclusion of a two parter, the switcheroo trope is in full effect. In the first part – “Dreamland” – Mulder and Laverne & Shirley‘s Lenny switch bodies after some kind of trickery and the fun begins. Great moments of Morris Fletcher inhabiting Mulder’s life and Mulder inhabiting Morris Fletcher’s life. Oddly enough their respective bizarre behavior arouses little to no suspicion, which actually makes for hilarity, as the audience can see the trickery the characters in the episode cannot. We see Mulder when others see Fletcher and so forth. That said, naturally Fletcher takes a shine to Scully, which nearly all switcherooers do. And makes it his business to get into her pants. One thing these switcherooers seem to know that Scully and Mulder do not: there’s tremendous heat between these two. The switcherooers quickly recognize the passion that dare not speak its name and immediately seek to exploit it. Actually, Fletcher was one of the best plot forwarding devices of the ‘shipper world, as he was the character who gave Mulder a kick ass apartment and the infamous waterbed. The waterbed would feature heavily in the later episode “Monday” – one of my favorite episodes. The introduction of Fletcher’s character was a stroke of genius. Personally, I wouldn’t have minded seeing the Morris Fletcher story arc continue over the course of the season or perhaps used in seasons eight and nine instead of Annabelle Gish and the Liquid Metal Terminator. I could have done without the obligatory switcheroo scene of the faker trying to hijack some loving from Scully. I find these scenes cringe inducing, though I often wonder if they are a misguided attempt to demonstrate that Scully would go there if Mulder wasn’t so great at sublimating his feelings. That said, I still think there are probably better ways – like say making them gulp a truth serum or play truth or dare – than over-reliance on the switcheroo trope’s more sexist and problematic elements.
A good trope as it relates to ‘shippers is the In another time and place trope, which was skillfully executed in the tour-de-force episode “Triangle” and also in the bridge film between season 5 and 6 – The X-Files: Fight the Future, which is masterful at sustaining the ‘shipper interest and anticipation, while not delivering a DAMN THING. ‘Shippers, do you realize we never got legitimate Scully/Mulder action until season 7? I mean serious, they want to do it kind of action. Given that. Why were we so damn pleased with ourselves and happy about the scraps of ‘shipper goodness in the previous five seasons and the first film? Well, because the writers and producers always kept moving forward and incorporating that which we had already seen. Mulder and Scully’s relationship evolved and never reset to zero after each ‘shipper delight. I think that’s mostly likely why people didn’t fall out in the theaters when that damn bee showed up and ruined our KISS. Oh that was delicious torture! I cried out, “Oh no!” in the theater upon watching that scene. A guy next to me patted my hand and whispered, “Next time. They won’t do that to us again!” And he was right. They never did!
Relax, I’m not through with ‘Shippers’ delights. There will be more!