I don't normally write reviews. I'd much
rather suspend my disbelief completely and simply enjoy the
But Christmas Carol got me.... It got me deep, and I haven't seen the connection made that I'm making.
Immediately upon learning the title of the episode, I assumed it would be a Dickens derivative, much as PMP was derivative of Mary Shelley.
On my first watching, it did not strike me as a rendition of the Dickens classic. It was clearly its own story, brilliantly done, and I was perfectly willing to suspend my disbelief about the plot inconsistancies because the show *moved* me. While the events didn't all tie up the way I expected them to, the characters were so completely believable to me (yes, even the darling big brother), that I willingly rode along to the shocking finale.
But the more I think about it, the more it really does tie in with the tale of Scrooge and his night visitations.
My first thought when Scully said "I am Emily's mother," was "This is her Christmas gift, her joyful awakening."
To relate this story to Dickens is to cast Scully in the role of Scrooge. And from her family's perspective, she is. Bill and Margaret Scully have every right to be angry with Dana. If someone came to visit me for a holiday, and then promptly spent the whole time working, being gone for long stretches of time without having the courtesy to let me know where they were or that plans were changing, I'd be pissed too. That is not to say that Dana's quest is not valid or necessary or essential. It is saying that the way she chose to pursue it in relationship to her family (only communicating little snippets and shocking revelations, without including them on her journey), is *to them*, not only an affront to courtesy, but a slap in the face as well.
I see Scully's family as struggling to include her, trying to understand, yet still having very human and deep reactions to a very emotional issue. Dana is dredging up unhappy and unwelcome ghosts at a time when they are striving to heal. They try to understand. Bill does not immediately dismiss her words, he wants to understand her, but when she cannot let it go (and yes, we know why she can't let it go) even in the face of what he feels is overwhelming evidence to the contrary, he gets angry, and falls back into a typical pattern for him when he's angry, worried, and frustrated that he can't do more to fix whatever is wrong. Bill Scully was played perfectly. I don't see him as a villain, but simply as someone who is doing the best he knows how in the face of limited information and very little power over events.
Margaret Scully is there for her daughter, but her daughter is proposing possibilities which are incredibly painful for her to even consider. She seems torn throughout the episode between wanting to simply be a loving mother to her living daughter, and her very real pain at the idea that her dead daughter could have had a child without telling her. This is where her skepticism comes from. Not from her lack of faith in Dana, but from her unwillingness to believe that Melissa had kept something so important from her. And she is right.
Her dreams are not literal interpretations of the past, just as Scrooge's Ghosts are not "pure memories", but lessons to be learned.
Melissa as Marley I distinctly liked. No talking knockers here, merely a couple of impossible phone calls and a small child trapped by monstrous chains.
The two dreams of "young dana" are poignient reminders to her of how she has come to be who she is. Young Melissa, played by the same child who plays Emily, observes as Dana gets her first shocking lesson about the death of something loved, a death caused by overprotectiveness and fear. What a staggering lesson for such a small child. And now she learns from it twice. In Dickens story, Ebenezer's first memory is of himself in his youth, watching himself make choices which led to his loneliness and miserly ways as an adult. The events of the time taught him to do that, but it is the second viewing, the realization that his first 'lesson' had taken him down the wrong path that is the beginning of his salvation. He had chosen physical wealth over emotional wealth. Dana-child's first "mistaken" lesson was that if she loved something too much, it would die. She took this as her sign that she should not get too close, should not allow herself to show that she cares. Looking back on it, she realizes that it was not her love that killed the rabbit, but her secretiveness. She realizes how much she has lost by not reaching out, by holding people away.
It is clear, however, that this first dream has not been enough to teach her the lesson she needs to know. More visitations, this time less a memory than a nightmare. The dead and the past are speaking to her almost frantically.
The Ghost of Christmas Present is actually a play on words... it is the ghost of the christmas present... the cross. We actually see the dreaming Scully gazing down at her younger self, remembering her joy at that special gift, much as we would see Scrooge smiling at his youthful antics and a special Christmas past. And this does play piercingly into the present as Emily sees the sparkling gift, and Dana gifts it to her. She is learning from her ghosts.
Unlike Scrooge, Scully's visitations do not come in a row. Her present life is as much a quest as the ghost-like dreams. She realizes, the closer she comes to finding the answer she's looking for, that her past choices have made her present situation as difficult as it is. She cannot blame her "bad recommendation" on the Consortium or on a conspiracy, indeed, it rests solely on the choices she's made in her life, her priorities, the lack of balance between her personal life and her work life. Yes, she's re-evaluated her life, but we see her throughout this episode placing her family last, her quest first. Regardless of the value of the quest, it is a choice not without repercussions. It is the lesson of the ghost of Christmas Future, not represented as much by Melissa as by the social worker in real life. If she does not change her priorities, she is barren, regardless of the condition of her womb. There is the joyous message, too, in her last visitiation, that all is not lost. Regardless of her statement that she "does not believe in fate", the message from Melissa is clear. She is where she is for a reason.
Scully wakes from her dark night to a bright world, happy people, included in her family. They do not hold her curmudgeonly behavior against her, they simply laugh and include her as if she'd never shut them out.
The final gift, the ray of hope after her rejection as Emily's adoptive parent, is the news that she *is* Emily's mother. All of her preconceptions are turned on their heads. She did conceive a child, somehow. No matter what happens in future episodes, she is a mother. Her instincts, her actions, are all vindicated in the eyes of her family with this news. It is a gift, truly, bittersweet or not. She was already prepared to lose Emily. The fact that she has *some* time with her daughter, that she has touched and loved her daughter in life, is a priceless gift to a woman who had thought that not only could she not concieve a child, but that she was not going to be allowed to love a child, either. Suddenly she has the thing she most fervently desired.
And Melissa's ghost, like Marley, is not haunting her in the morning. The messages have been given, and we suspect, the lessons have been learned. With the words "I am Emily's mother," the ghosts that have been haunting Dana Scully, her infertility and her sister, have faded away.
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