Season 3 Episode 17 “Pusher”
This was the episode of X-Files where I feel like I finally get popularity of the X-Files. It seems late into the show’s run to suddenly seem to get it, but I guess this is the episode where everything that I think is great about X-Files came together.
The premise of the episode is that there’s a guy with a superpower that allows him to talk people into doing things. He convinces someone to drive out in front of an oncoming truck, he talks a man into a heart attack over the phone, and he talks Mulder into playing Russian Roulette.
This episode was written by Vince Gilligan of Breaking Bad fame.
FBI Agents Mulder and Scully are on the case as usual. Mulder has a wonderful moment where he displays just how much of an annoying dirtbag he can be. He discovers that the bad guy, Robert Patrick Modell, thinks of himself as a ronin. This episode came out in 1996 so concepts like ronin probably weren’t as mainstream as they are today. I mean, most people know what a ronin is right? Masterless samurai.
So Mulder figures out this monster nerd thinks of himself as a ronin and then corrects someone on the pronunciation of the the word.
“It’s pronounced ro-neen,” says Mulder, who might be right but is ultimately wrong because he’s the real monster here. It’s ok, I like pedantic dicks. Mulder’s the kind of guy who enjoys being superior to others, it’s one of his charms really.
Tagging along is the long suffering Scully, who basically is paid to listen to Mulder’s UFO-USA Government Conspiracy manifesto garbage all day long.
So they finally track down Robert Patrick Monster and Mulder, who at this point has kind of decided that he’s the hero who must stop RPM, goes into a building alone to confront RPM. They pretty much lose track of him instantly.
So then Scully goes in to save Mulder (which could be the tagline of the show. X-Files: Scully saves Stupid Mulder) where she finds RPM and Mulder playing Russian Roulette. RPM tells Mulder to shoot himself in the head and before Scully can say anything Mulder seizes the gun and points it at his head and pulls the trigger.
That’s an important moment, Mulder, like everyone else up to this point, has displayed no ability to resist RPM.
But the RPM tells Mulder to shoot Scully and makes a fatal mistake. It’s the same mistake everyone who tries to defeat Mulder ultimately makes. You see, as far as I can tell Mulder has no real skills. He’s supposed to be an excellent profiler, but I honestly don’t ever remember him coming off as especially competent. No, the thing about Mulder that his enemies keep overlooking is his insane obsession. Naturally, they use his obsession with UFOs to manipulate him, but what they don’t understand, and probably what no one of the bad guys could ever understand, is that Mulder’s obsession with UFOs is overridden by his obsession with Scully. RPM, by pitting his mind control powers against Mulder’s monomaniacal love for Scully, finds himself shot by Mulder.
Because Mulder couldn’t resist a command to kill himself, but give him a command that would make Scully cry? YOU’RE GOING TO DIE MOTHERFUCKER.
And that’s when I was like huh. This is great. The evil government conspiracy is constantly defeated because no one could have ever expected just how crazy in love Mulder is for Scully. It’s actually a potent combination. Since Scully is actually competent at her job, and actually wins fights (seriously, Mulder loses like every fight I’ve ever seen him in), she can cover most of the practical threats, but when it comes to magical threats, nothing can defeat Mulder’s Harry Potter’s Mom’s level Love Shield.
BONUS: This episode apparently has a cameo appearance of David Grohl.