“I think she’s got some kind of sixth sense that lets her see in the dark. Like a bat or something.” — Detective Pennock
Mulder and Scully get caught up in a murder investigation involving a blind woman who can see through the killer’s eyes.
Radhika: Reminiscent of season three’s “Oubliette,” without completely parroting it, “Mind’s Eye” is an episode I’ve always enjoyed. With a “classic” paranormal mystery and a strong, antagonistic female protagonist at its center, this story is a pretty solid monster-of-the-week episode.
Mulder and Scully are called in to deal with the case of Marty Glenn, a woman who has been blind since birth, who was found at a murder scene. Detective Lloyd Pennock, who has been handling the case, is convinced Marty has a sixth sense and committed the crime. But while Glenn — who has a fairly extensive rap sheet — is uncooperative, Mulder’s not sure she committed the crime. He is pretty certain she witnessed the crime somehow.
It turns out Marty can see — sort of. She has visions, which are actually an ability to see what the murderer at the center of this mystery is up to. She can witness the murders he’s committing, and in one slightly chilling scene, she can observe the murderer observing her. Even though Marty turns herself in at one point, trying to claim responsibility for the murders, law enforcement becomes convinced of her innocence. And we find out the killer, Gotts, is both Marty’s father and the man who stabbed her mother to death while Marty was in the womb.
So Marty ultimately takes things into her own hands. While Detective Pennock accompanies her to her apartment to pack up a few things before entering protective custody, she has a vision of Gotts in the lobby. Knocking Pennock out and grabbing his gun, she lies in wait, ultimately killing Gotts, telling him, “I hate the way you see me.” Marty ends up in prison, finally free of Gotts.
As I mentioned, this episode reminds me a lot of “Oubliette,” though Marty does not feel to be as tragic a victim as the woman at the center of that episode. But that doesn’t mean her tale isn’t a sad one either. Mulder observes that she’s a woman who has “adapted to her impairment admirably,” but she is also a woman who has been trapped in a vicious cycle, doomed from the start by a father who killed her mother and caused her blindness. It is admirable that she is willing to go to prison, refusing Mulder’s offer to talk to the judge on her behalf, but it is naturally fitting and rather sad that prison is the only way she can be free.
Another “Oubliette” parallel for me lies in Mulder’s concern for the victim/protagonist character. He doesn’t baby Marty at all here; in fact, when they first meet, he tells her she ought to just tell them who the killer is, so that he and Scully can arrest the guy, while she can work on her “angry-young-blind-girl comedy routine.” But he clearly feels for her throughout the case, and the final scene of the episode features him visiting Marty in prison, where she tells him about being able to see the ocean intermittently thanks to Gotts’ stay in Atlantic City at some point. Mulder’s quip, “You’re lucky he wasn’t a fan of the Ice Capades,” offers both poignancy and comedy (and interestingly, it’s the second sarcastic mention of the Ice Capades this season after “Detour.”) There is something of a wonderful bond between these two characters and Lili Taylor’s performance as Marty is so fantastic, it really feels like a shame that we’ll never get to meet her character again.
Max: Lili Taylor’s wonderfully assured performance in this episode is what has kept me coming back to it time after time, whenever I have had a hankering for some X-Files action and need an episode to watch. I must confess that I may be completely biased in this instance, given that Lili is one of my favorite actresses, and her ability to commit totally to her performances is a major drawing factor.
She’s one of those actresses that elevates anything she is in, and one where her involvement automatically piques my interest (yes, I even wandered into the estrogen purgatory known as Lifetime for her starring role in State Of Mind). Like Radhika opined, she essays a complex character who you can elicit concern and scorn for within the space of a couple of minutes.
The case itself is an interesting riff on a recurring theme in the show of episodes that revolve around psychic bonds between individuals, especially those incited by traumatic events. Radhika spoke at length about the similarities with “Oubliette,” but similar connections can be made to others like “Lazarus,” “Born Again,” and “Aubrey.” The show particularly loves to explore the space between life and death, and how this numinous protoplasm can act as a sort of amoral force that injects its mysterious will as it sees fit.
Overall, it can be argued that this force is trying to right past wrongs, or trying to stop ongoing malevolence from happening again. But like ghost stories, these psychic forces have trouble expressing this trauma and suffering in our plane of existence, and thus we have the grotesqueness of Marty having to see through the eyes of her so-called father, the guy who killed her mother in an incident that lead to her blindness. Now out on parole, he visits the same kind of violence (unwittingly) on his daughter as he dispatches both Paco Ordonez and the woman from the bar. While I’m not necessarily trying to adopt a gestalt lens for critically understanding episodes like this, it is interesting to see “Mind’s Eye” in this way.
This trauma and suffering can really screw with your head, so it is surprising how well-adjusted (relatively speaking) Marty has been with this phenomena that has been with her since as long as she can remember. The outcomes for Lucy Householder and BJ Morrow only lead to death and madness, and while Marty now occupies a jail cell just as her father had for decades, she has given herself a new lease on life with his death. Telling Mulder she can now picture the ocean and be at peace whenever she closes her eyes (thanks to Gotts’ sojourn to Atlantic City), we can take solace in the fact that we have watched a woman take control of her life and live it on her own terms.
Not that this episode is all doom and gloom, as Lili Taylor was given several really terrific one-liners and comebacks to Mulder and Scully’s interrogations — another way the writers sculpted a character that doesn’t devolve into perpetual victimhood. We also (maybe?) get an acknowledgement about the iffy Mulder arc this season when Pennock comments that Mulder is the most skeptical man he’s ever met, and at last, Scully gets her own slide show!
“Mind’s Eye” is a supremely satisfying hour of television and an entry into The X-Files that should be talked about more often. I really enjoyed this rewatch.
YES, IT’S THOSE GUYS
Lili Taylor – Playing Marty Glenn in this episode, Lili Taylor is a fairly familiar face to both fans of television and film, having appeared in everything from Mystic Pizza and I Shot Andy Warhol to High Fidelity and The Conjuring. She’s also had roles on shows like Six Feet Under.
Blu Mankuma – Appearing here as Detective Pennock, Mankuma has appeared in films like Look Who’s Talking, as well as TV shows like 21 Jump Street. His voice acting has been featured on Beast Wars, Spider-Man Unlimited and more.