I have spent many years hating my hero Dana Scully. But for good reason; she gave up the baby. Granted it was her baby, but it felt like I was invested in this baby. And she spent so long calling him “the baby” rather than my baby or William that I wasn’t sure she was even seeing him as a product of her love with her perfect opposite. Not to mention the question whether he was hers/an alieum/Super Soldier. Although someone did mention on twitter the other day that Super Soldiers don’t sleep and William sleeps so there’s the answer to that question!!
I started to feel that I needed to know why. Not just because Scully can do no wrong, but because her pain was my pain and I needed answers too, dammit. Just my questions were of a different nature.
I stumbled across the answer this year by accident. By a twist of fate the Revival was announced the year that I began studying infant’s relationships with their caregivers. Part of this was looking at some of the psychological processing women go through when they’re pregnant and as new mothers. It was then that Scully’s decision started to make sense.
Daniel Stern introduced something he called the Motherhood Constellation. It was his way to theorise about this psychological processing. In it he says that mothers have 3 themes that they are dealing with whilst they’re pregnant and after the birth of their baby.
- Life Growth theme, or can I grow a baby and continue to help him grow and develop
- Primary relatedness theme, or can I relate to my baby as my own baby
- Supportive matrix theme, or do I have the right support for me to help my baby grow and relate to my baby
So now think about this in relation to Scully and William. She wasn’t even supposed to be able to have children yet here she was pregnant. But could she provide a nice cosy womb for him to grow? Spending years describing her womb as “barren” does not provide a picture of health. There were questions about whether William was human, alien or something in between? She had Doctor Parenti who was telling her that her scans were normal and he turned out to be working with alieum babies for the Syndicate. She then found another doctor who did an amniocentesis and an ultrasound that was just a video of someone else’s baby. She had some parasitic organism shoved in her back whilst pregnant. There was little of Scully’s much loved hard evidence to show that he was growing well in her previously barren womb.
Then there was the constant freak show of people who wanted William dead, or alive but not in the loving arms of his parents, and the rumours that women were implanted with babies not of their own making. Even Mulder in his last on screen words to Scully were an attempt to reassure her that William was a product of their union. She had little time to bond with her baby. Daniel Stern also said that mothers spend the first part of their pregnancy coming to terms with being pregnant, then the next part imagining what their baby could be like and then they set aside their fantasies of the baby and prepare for the actual baby to come. Scully has missed a lot of this preliminary bonding, instead searching and grieving for the missing Mulder. And just when Mulder is back in her arms, he has to leave and she grieves for him all over again. William starts doing funky things with his star mobile and she understandably questions what he is and who he is again. Instead of spending time adoring over his every leap and gain, she is pulled back into the world of The X Files in her search for answers. A calm, rational person by her side could bring her attention back to the growing, thriving baby in her arms who is just primed for a relationship with her. But alas, she is again chasing monsters in the dark by episode 9.3.
We stumble along with list of cases which demand Scully’s attention, pulling her away from William. Her search for the truth leads her away from him again in the middle of the night to analyse the rubbings from the ship. Scully leaves Mumma Scully with the baby (why couldn’t we see the conversation where they discussed Lizzie the Bad Ginger Baby Nurse?!) and another crazy turns up with a pillow to kill William!! Scully, realising that her decision failed to protect William, and in her need to get the truth out of the baby killing FBI Agent Comer, ships William and Maggie off with Reyes, who then returns William to Scully in time for her to ship him off again with The Lone Gunmen!!! Of course, she does this in an attempt to protect him but the bottom line is that her decisions put him in danger. Thus creating a problem with the Life Growth theme for her, that maybe she can’t help him grow and develop. Scully actually articulates this at the end of the episode William. She again has made choices that put William in danger, inviting Maybe-Mulder-Actually-Spender into her home. That she entertains the thought that it is Mulder for even a second, even before the DNA results, is indicative of her fragile mental state. Monica Reyes can see (or feel, knowing her) it too, saying “it’s impossible to stop thinking about what he (Spender) said”. And after a trip to the hospital, Scully knows she needs to change her choices, to stop “insisting that I can protect him, only to learn too late that I can’t”. Discussing this with Monica it is clear where Scully thinks she will, or has, failed.
The questions around William’s origins create a problem with the theme of relating to her baby as her own baby. For the longest time she isn’t convinced that it is her baby and then when she is convinced he starts doing funky things with mobiles and puzzle pieces. It must be hard to be trying to build a relationship with your gorgeous baby when he’s moving mobiles with his mind. As a mum you teach your baby about the way the world works but Wills is already way ahead of mere social smiles and head control. Then there are the cult crazies who are claiming him as theirs, as their leader. It’s not just them saying it!! Spender says the same and that Scully was used to create William and is being used to take care of and raise him. He says that it will never be over, as if Scully will never just get to enjoy her baby as her baby.
The third part is having a support team around the mother to help her whilst she helps her baby grow and builds a relationship with him. Let’s look at Scully’s dwindling support team shall we?
Mulder, numero uno as the baby daddy, missing for most of the pregnancy and who disappears again (to the shops for choc mint ice cream) only days after the birth. No help. Scully has a growing desperation for his support and angrily declares to Maybe-Mulder-Actually-Spender “where the hell is he!!” He of course, has run off to New Mexico on the advice of Kersh. However I suspect that his relationship with his fathers (plural), his prolonged absence and the questions about William’s origins also played a part in Mulder bailing rather than going on the lam with wife and child. Mumma Scully, second most important, invites the Lizzie the Bad Ginger Baby Nurse into Scully’s house. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE Mumma Scully but I think that her role was overlooked here. Probably because they were trying to establish The X Files 2.0, but the conversations with Scully and her mother are more fascinating to me than mermaid Supersoldiers (Has someone fic’d that?) Mumma Scully becomes the babysitter as Scully’s chasing monsters and proves to be a better judge of character not letting the mermaid Supersolider in the door. The important conversation comes in Provenance when Mumma Scully says that Scully should just accept him as a miracle from god and move on. So if Mumma Scully thinks that he’s a miracle, how does she accept and support Scully’s belief that he might be in danger? Scully then can’t rely on her mother for the extra support she needs caring for a baby whose life is in danger. The Lone Gunmen, the UNCLES, even let her down. She’s running out of options and turns to them for support and the three men end up without the baby. They redeem themselves getting him back but the damage is done. Oh but if Scully found them to still be of some support, then this is destroyed by their deaths. Doggett and Reyes stick by her side many a time, but I’m not sure Scully has full trust in them just yet. For some reason, Skinner is ignored, even after she relied on him so much in This Is Not Happening. So Scully is left with a next to no support in raising William and getting to know him.
So when I go back and look at all of this in relation to Scully and William, I start to see why. I can see what happened when her support system was dwindling and William’s life was in danger again and again, distracting her from just getting to know him and enjoying him. Even when William had been injected with magnetite and was supposedly normal, Spender says “it will never be over”. Scully makes a decision to help him grow and develop and make a life for himself, although with an adoptive family. As Scully stands over William’s cot, she says to Monica:
“He didn’t have a choice to come into this life,
I don’t have a choice about what he is or was,
but I do have a choice about the life my son will have
and shouldn’t I choose that he never have to be afraid of anyone or anything?
And can I even promise him that?”
And she sobs…and we sob with her as a baby William is put into an unfamiliar bed with a mobile that he can’t move.