While Mulder and Scully are my favourite characters on The X-Files, my favourite supporting character by far is Scully's mother Maggie. For this week's Top Ten Tuesday I looked back at her greatest moments, see what made the cut after the jump.
10. "Beyond the Sea"
We first met Maggie in "Beyond the Sea" where we saw her and Captain Scully Snr heading home after a Christmas meal with their daughter. It has to be said that the entire episode is filled with great Maggie moments. The sheer level of emotion Sheila Larken is able to put into her voice during the phone call to inform Scully about her father's heart attack is staggering. For me the standout moment is the funeral itself. We see Maggie stoically keeping her head high as the weight of not only her own grief, but her daughter's own grief and insecurities push down on her. We immediately see where Scully got her strength.
"As a captain, he was entitled to burial at Arlington with full ceremony."
"This is exactly how he wanted it. Just the family."
There were altogether too many funerals on this show, but this was one of the most heartbreaking of the lot - even if the man being buried would be alive again by the end of the episode. After all the pain Mulder's quest brought to her family Maggie would have had every right not to attend his funeral, but such a thought would never have crossed her mind.
"He was the last. His father and mother... his sister... all gone. I think the real tragedy... is that for all of his pain and searching... the truth that he worked so hard to find was never truly revealed to him."
Maggie rarely got to do ordinary "mom" things with Dana without some kind of nefarious government plot interfering, so you can tell just how thrilled she was at being able to host a baby shower. She also has to receive some major kudos for managing to get so many women to attend, just who were they all?!
"Well, I know it's a boy. I can just tell by the way you're carrying. It's a boy."
"Well, see, you obviously don't need me to tell you because you already know."
"Then it's a boy? Oh, it's the least you could tell your mother considering everything else you're keeping a secret."
There are few people on this planet brave or foolhardy enough to tell off Dana Scully. Her mother is one of them. Maggie supports her daughter but often struggles to fully comprehend the depths of her involvement in the quest. That fact is never as obvious as it is in this scene where Maggie calls her daughter out on her willingness to leave William behind and go chasing answers in the middle of the night.
"That was Agent Doggett again. They're waiting. Mom, I've got to go."
"It's the middle of the night, Dana. I just don't understand what can't wait till tomorrow."
"Mom, it's important. I wouldn't go if it weren't."
6. "The Blessing Way"
Poor Maggie barely caught a break through the early seasons as she bounced from family trauma to family trauma, and those were just the ones on screen (it's heavily suggested that Bill and Tara struggled to get pregnant and may have gone through fertility treatments). Maggie had several great scenes across this three parter, her time with Albert Hosteen at Melissa's bedside is certainly worth mentioning, but this short moment between her and Dana really showed us the depth of their relationship and how much Dana relied on her mother for emotional support.
"What is it, Dana?"
"I've made a terrible mistake. Dad would be so ashamed of me."
Maggie's appearance at her daughter's apartment soon after her disappearance opened up many questions that were never answered on the show as it suggested that some psychic ability might run in the family. Despite that my favourite moment with Maggie came later in the episode when she sat with Mulder and made sure he had Scully's necklace ready to give back once he found her again.
"Don't you want to keep it?"
"When you find her, you give it to her."
4. "Christmas Carol"
Maggie features heavily throughout the entire "Christmas Carol"/"Emily" two parter and has many memorable moments. My favourite is her initial confrontation, then support of Dana as they dry dishes together. Her posture at first screams "disapproving mother" and it's enough to coerce even the notoriously closed-off Dana Scully into admitting what's really going on in her head. Proof the the "mom look" works even on toughened FBI agents!
"Oh, Mom. Several months ago, I learned that as a result of my abduction, of what they did to me, that I can not conceive a child."
"I'm so sorry."
"It's okay. I just never realized how much I wanted it until I couldn't have it."
Who do you turn to when you realise you really can trust no one? When Scully's hypnotically induced paranoia reaches the point where she believes even Mulder is working against her, she runs to her mother's house to hide out. I wish we could have seen more of that time but it's Maggie who saves the day by being the only person Scully can trust enough to listen to through the paranoia.
"I want you to listen to me..."
"Mom, just get out of the way!"
"You trust me, don't you?"
2. "One Breath"
Getting to read an opening monologue of your own was something of a privilege amongst X-Files characters. Very few people besides Mulder and Scully ever got to do one and it was Maggie who came first. The story she told gave us our first look at a young Scully and our only confirmed look at the mysterious Charlie!
"Dana began to cry with irrevocable guilt. Through her tears, she was saying that... something was missing from the snake. She had taken something that was not hers to take. And although deathly afraid of snakes, Dana held the animal as if sheer human will could keep it alive. The snake, its blood on her hands, died. There was nothing she could do to bring it back."
1. "Momento Mori"
As far as I'm concerned, there is one Maggie moment that stands head and shoulders above the rest, and it's this one. It would have been so easy for this scene to have become a saccharine moment right out of a soap opera. Maggie's reaction is far more human as she reels from nervous laughter to outright anger to heartbroken tears all in a matter of seconds. Terrified about what the future might hold she lashes out at her daughter for keeping her cancer a secret, but their hug at the end of the scene promises that she loves her daughter as much as ever.
"Mom, I know what you're gonna say, but I don't have any experience being sick. I promise you, I feel fine, I feel..."
"I don't know why you didn't tell me. I don't know why you didn't tell me immediately!"
BONUS! "Young at Heart"
Pop quiz: when was Scully's mom not Scully's mom? This episode is the answer. Toward the end of "Young at Heart", Scully hears someone dialing in to her answering machine and retrieving her messages, one of which is from her mother. What's strange is that the voice we hear is NOT that of Sheila Larken who had already played Mrs Scully three episodes previously and would go on to resume the role in 15 more. IMDB has no credit for the mystery voice so we can only guess that Sheila was unavailable during filming and someone was quickly drafted in to record the line.
"Hi, Dana, it's Mom. I just wanted to call and say hi. Um, give me a call, whenever. Okay, bye."