“You know, on the old mariners’ maps, the cartographers would designate unchartered territories by writing, ‘Here be monsters.’” — Dana Scully
“I got a map of New York City just like that.” — Fox Mulder
Our agents tackle their own Nessie when they wind up investigating a series of deaths at a lake in Georgia that Mulder believes were caused by a sea (lake?) monster known as “Big Blue.”
Radhika: “Quagmire,” while not exactly a Darin Morgan episode — though he did apparently help a bit with its formation — is an example of what has happened to The X-Files in a post-Darin Morgan world. The show is not afraid to be silly anymore. But what’s kind of fun about this particular monster-of-the-week episode is the fact that while it has plenty of silly fun moments in it, it doesn’t just rely on making you laugh or making the characters a little too exaggerated.
In this episode, Mulder and Scully — with her dog Queequeg in tow, thanks to short notice — take a trip to Georgia where a Boy Scout troop leader has disappeared by a lake. Mulder naturally believes that a sea monster of sorts, affectionately referred to as “Big Blue” by the local population, is responsible. Deaths and other mishaps occur, before the agents eventually uncover an alligator as the apparent perpetrator of the attacks. Though the agents (including a very disappointed Mulder) leave without looking for Big Blue further, we the viewers get to see Big Blue out for a little swim, unnoticed and undisturbed.
This is a fun little episode as a whole, with nice little throwbacks, like the reappearance of the stoners seen once before. And it even has a couple of moments that are downright tense, with bodies getting dragged into lakes and whatnot. But what the episode is perhaps best known for in fan lore is the fact that this is the episode that saw Queequeg’s demise.
Introduced to us back in “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” where Scully winds up with the yappy red Pomeranian in her care, Queequeg’s presence here provides us with a bit of tragedy and comedy. For one, the yappy little creature is utterly silly looking and sounding in the dark, spooky realm of The X-Files. But on the other hand, Queequeg falls victim to the monster while out for a walk, leaving Scully (who I would honestly otherwise never picture with such a bratty little fluffball) feeling a bit sad.
Queequeg even serves as a bit of a springboard for exploring the Mulder and Scully dynamic a bit. At the beginning of the episode, both agents seem a bit annoyed at each other (“Syzygy” style), with Mulder questioning if they really had to bring that “thing” along, while Scully provides a long list of details why Mulder’s tendency to inconvenience her at the last moment has put her in this position. But Mulder does eventually express feeling sorry when Queequeg is gone, and in a later scene, when both agents think they’re stranded in the middle of a lake, Scully explains where Queequeg got his name — the novel Moby Dick — and goes on to talk about the book’s impact on her life, before realizing that Mulder is a lot like Captain Ahab, searching for his white whale. There’s plenty of hilarity and poignancy in their conversation, and unlike “Syzygy,” where the two characters couldn’t seem to stop annoying the hell out of each other, it seems like a more realistic portrayal of the day-to-day interactions — both friendly and annoyed — you would have with colleagues and friends that you spend a little too much time with.
Max: Overall, I remember regarding this episode more fondly than I did while rewatching it for this post. Yes, it is a lighter affair than some of the more recent foreboding entries, but it all just seems to be rote “painting by the numbers” outing.
That being said, the scene of Mulder and Scully stranded (to their knowledge) on a rock in the middle of the lake is one of the best distillations of the relationship between the two agents in the history of the show. It has only been three seasons, yet our heroes have already been through an inordinate amount of struggles and incidents in that short timeframe. Weary and resigned, their interpersonal shorthand demonstrates how well they know and regard each other.
And yes, this is episode where Queequeg meets his unfortunate end. He did have his charms, and his use in “War Of The Coprophages” as a sight gag was pretty damn funny.
Also, that final shot of Big Blue was pretty magical, and I think while the creature does exist, it was in fact the alligator that Mulder shot that caused all the murderous mayhem of the episode.
We are in the final stretch of the season, and “Quagmire” gave us a little breather before we head into the final two episodes.
YES, IT’S THOSE GUYS
Chris Ellis – Playing the sheriff in this episode, Chris Ellis has been all over the map on film and television. Having a recurring role on Carter’s other show Millennium, he also has credits in Burn Notice, NYPD Blue, Justified, Alias, and Veronica Mars. On the big screen, he’s been in films like Apollo 13, My Cousin Vinny, Days Of Thunder, Armageddon, and more recently in The Dark Knight Rises.
Tyler Labine – Tyler Labine is totally one of those recognizable faces who appears in a million TV shows. Playing a stoner dude in this episode, Labine also played a stoner dude in an earlier season three episode, “War of the Coprophages.” Nothing wrong with a little typecasting, right? Labine, who in his younger years also appeared on shows like Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Breaker High, has also been on Invasion and Reaper.