The X-Files: I Want to Believe

“That’s not my life any more.” — Dana Scully
“I know that.” — Fox Mulder
“You’re not understanding me. I can’t look into the darkness with you any more, Mulder. I cannot stand what it does to you or to me.” — Dana Scully

Six years after they were forced to go into hiding, Mulder and Scully find themselves needed by the Bureau again — utilizing their particular set of skills to locate a missing agent.

I Want to Believe

20th Century Fox via chaoticfae

Max: By 2006, I had already completed my original rewatch of The X-Files with my roommate Kenji, and had befriended a group of Philes on the IMDB messageboard. Rumors of another feature film began virtually the moment the series went off the air, but legal issues plagued the development of a movie for years. That is, until Frank Spotnitz let on that everything had been resolved, David and Gillian were on board, and that filming would commence soon. X-Philes like Radhika and me experienced a resurgent interest in their beloved program that would only be matched by the moment this past March when we all learned about the new episodes to air in 2016. We later learned that Carter and company were crafting a Monster of the Week tale for the big screen, virtually dispensing with any references to the mythology. Continue reading

Before and After X: The Mythology of The X-Files

“We didn’t invent it. Charles Dickens invented it, in a sense, and I’m sure there are examples before him. It worked for us, but it was a happy accident. It was something that was instinctual, but not necessarily a conscious decision. When we saw that the stories about Mulder and Scully were best told through the mythology — that they were more personal — it gave the show an emotional grounding, that I think the mythology of a show does. So it’s simply a good way of telling the most personal kind of stories.”
— Chris Carter, on the mythology

The Mythology

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Most people when asked about The X-Files think of three things: Mulder and Scully, freaky monsters, and aliens. Over the course of nine seasons and two feature films, agents of the X-Files division have come face to face with some pretty creepy adversaries, from liver-eating contortionists to sentient machines and the essence of evil. But what captured the attention of those who would consider themselves X-Philes was the developing story of a race of extraterrestrials bent on retaking the planet, and the people who endeavored to keep this a secret (The Syndicate) and those who wanted to bring their misdeeds into the light (Fox Mulder, chiefly). The result was a sprawling, highly complex, somewhat messy but mostly compelling narrative that served as the backbone of the series and informed the wonderful character work which made things memorable for audiences worldwide. The X-Files — writ large — became then a template that influenced countless television series in its wake, an object lesson for writers rooms and the next generation of showrunners.

It wasn’t always going to be like this though. In fact, Chris Carter scarcely had the idea in his head of a long running story when conceiving of The X-Files and later during the initial stages of its production. Alien abduction was the topic of the very first episode, but it was only one of a panoply of ideas that Carter and the writers had. Continue reading

The Best and Worst of Season 9

Screencaps: 20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Screencaps: 20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

It’s no secret that season nine is our least favorite season (and the least favorite of most X-Files fans). It wasn’t just because Mulder was gone or Scully was sidelined — the stories genuinely felt tired after a somewhat creatively boosted season eight. Our snark and boredom were pretty obvious in most of our rewatch posts for this season. But there were at least a few episodes we enjoyed, even if they wouldn’t make any “classic of all time” lists. And there were naturally episodes we disliked even more than others.

So here we go, time for our last look at the best and worst episodes of The X-Files’ original run. As always multi-part mythology episodes count as one installment for our purposes: Continue reading

9×19 & 9×20: The Truth

“You’ve always said that you want to believe. But believe in what, Mulder? If this is the truth that you’ve been looking for then what is left to believe in?” — Dana Scully
“I want to believe the dead are not lost to us. That they speak to us as part of something greater than us — greater than any alien force. And if you and I are powerless now, I want to believe that if we listen to what’s speaking, it can give us the power to save ourselves.” — Fox Mulder

Mulder returns, a courtroom drama ensues and somewhere in the middle of it all, the truth is still out there.

The Truth

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: Oh boy. Here we are, about two years after starting this blog, at the series finale of The X-Files. It feels like something of a bittersweet step, considering how gung-ho we were about the bulk of the show until we got to the last couple of seasons. As far as series finales are concerned, this one was something of a mixed bag for most people when it aired — not particularly great, though at least saved by the fact that we got to see Mulder and Scully together again. And I still have mixed feelings revisiting it now, years after the show ended, having had time to reabsorb the series’ various threads and knowing that a six-episode TV revival is on its way. In retrospect, the finale is a little boring, even with some exciting elements thrown in there. It also makes a little more sense than I thought it did in the old days. It’s not quite the bang that I would have wanted this show to go out on, but let’s face it: Most series finales aren’t particularly satisfying. Continue reading

9×18: Sunshine Days

“What I witnessed was Freaksville, man! My friend was murdered. Who would have thought this could happen at the ‘Brady Bunch’ house.” — Mike Daley

The final MotW episode of the original run has our heroes face a lonely man who has a thing for a certain classic sitcom.

Sunshine Days

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: I first tried to tackle this post about five or six times before I said uncle and chalked things up to a case of writer’s block. However, thinking about things later, the frustrations I experienced were a bit apropos for “Sunshine Days,” a maddening episode I’ve always considered one of the weakest entries in the series — and now I can’t help but like parts of it. The final MotW of the original run, it doesn’t have the iconic pathos of a “Clyde Bruckman” or a memorable freak like Eugene Victor Tooms, but the episode is a showcase of the possibilities that could be and throws in some laughs before the series finale wraps up the mythology.

When a guy named Blake drags his friend Mike to a house he swears is the Brady Bunch house, Mike is astonished to find his friend is telling the truth. But while Blake’s curiosity draws him further inside, Mike is spooked and waits in the car. That is when Blake shoots out from the roof of the house and lands smack dab on top on Mike’s car, dead from the impact. Continue reading

9×17: Release

“You’ve been following my son’s case.” — John Doggett
“For a long time. He calls to me.” — Rudolph Hayes

Doggett is drawn back to trying to figure out his son’s murder thanks to a mysterious FBI cadet.

Release

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Radhika: I’ll be honest: Even though “Release” tackles a plot point that is pretty significant for the Doggett character, I had largely forgotten about it by the time I rewatched the episode for this blog. This is something of a damning thing to say under normal circumstances, but I will also confess that while it is not a flawless episode, I was pleasantly surprised revisiting “Release,” which is reasonably atmospheric, compelling and emotional compared to the bulk of this season.

It begins when Doggett receives a tip that leads him to a dead body in an abandoned apartment building. When Scully performs an autopsy, one of her students, Rudolph Hayes, guesses that the victim had met a killer in a bar and the murder is eventually linked to another killing. Doggett and Reyes work with Hayes who eventually leads them to ex-mobster Nicholas Regali. It turns out that Hayes has a bit of an obsession with crime scenes — his apartment walls are plastered with crime scene photos, including those related to Doggett’s dead son, Luke. Hayes tells Doggett he believes a man named Robert Harvey kidnapped Luke, but that Regali was the man behind his murder. Continue reading

9×16: William

“It’ll never be over. They’ll always know what he was. They’ll never accept what he is.”
— Jeffrey Spender

Scully makes the most difficult choice of her life as a shadowy individual forces her hand.

William

20th Century Fox via Chrisnu

Max: What an incredibly dour, depressing, and tragic episode this is. Granted, mythology episodes aren’t the feel-good hits of the X-Files world, but there is no relief and no exit from the simple fact that Scully has to give up William — the miracle baby she thought she could never have — in order to ensure his safety from those who wish to exploit him as a pawn towards alien colonization.

Really this is the story of two characters devastated by the effects that the government conspiracy around extraterrestrials had on their lives — our beloved Dana Scully and the weasel-made-good Jeffrey Spender. When a badly burned and scarred Spender sneaks into the X-Files office and assaults Doggett in an attempt to flee, Scully is called in. Continue reading