Those of you who have followed this blog, or have just stumbled across it, can see that we’ve hit the final point of our X-Files rewatch. We’ve watched it all — from those dimly lit Vancouver seasons to the big budget first movie and later seasons, full of California sunshine and sleek wardrobes. And just last week, we wrapped things up by watching I Want to Believe. It’s been a really fun ride for us, even when we found ourselves grumbling about some of the final episodes.
I first started thinking about rewatching The X-Files from the beginning to the end, and blogging about it, about three years ago. When Max expressed enthusiasm and asked if he could join in — more than once — it became a reality. We’re not the first ones to document revisiting the show: Some have attempted it half-heartedly, some outlets like The A.V. Club went through it all as well, and others with a little more fame than us have started podcasts with a fairly respectable amount of listeners and guests. But it felt like something we had to do, and so in July 2013, somewhat in line with the show’s twentieth anniversary, our little project began.
It’s been a really rewarding experience overall and it was delightful to see people from all over the globe visit our little blog. It was neat to see exactly which episodes held up, which ones were no longer enjoyable to us, and even though we had both rewatched the show in parts ever since it ended — revisiting old favorites or introducing friends to Mulder and Scully — it was the first time we both really viewed it through a critical lens as adults, as the show’s first run overlapped with our school years. We intend to tune in when The X-Files returns on January 24, 2016. We intend to revive this blog by then, if not slightly sooner, and chime in with our thoughts. But before we do that, here’s a little conversation between Max and me, looking back at our experience and looking ahead at the future of the show:
Max: I just wanted to say thank you again for letting me do this with you, even though this was your idea/baby.
Radhika: Yeah, no worries. I think it helped to do a dual perspective thing.
Max: I think it was a nice reflection of the show, with Mulder and Scully bouncing ideas off of each other. At the very least it clarified and helped me, and I’m sure you, in terms of what we thought of the series.
Radhika: So what ended up surprising you about rewatching the show?
Max: I think one of the things is how the mythology mostly held together, because the show is infamous for the way it lost the plot over the years. But also, in watching episodes in close succession, there were a lot of themes and resonances, particularly amongst the MotW episodes.
Radhika: I was also pretty surprised by the mythology not being as awful as everyone thought (at least when you watch the show in somewhat close succession), though it definitely was meandering and not as compelling as time went on.
And not exactly surprising, because I not so jokingly tell people that everything I learned, I learned from The X-Files, it was interesting to see how many ideas and motifs held up. Some people say the show feels dated, and maybe it is in parts, but I feel it was almost prescient considering some current events in the world.
Max: Yeah, I mean, there are plenty of things in the show that scream “1990s!!!” but it did a really good job at creating episodes that remain just as compelling in 2015 as they did in 1993. And sociologically speaking, the post-Watergate climate the show was commenting on has only continued.
Radhika: Indeed. I wonder if that’s part of why there remains interest (outside of the magic of Netflix streaming) in the show all these years later, despite I Want to Believe being a fairly lackluster “return” of The X-Files. Maybe this upcoming set of episodes will just be the ending the show deserved, though the stars and Chris Carter always seem enthusiastic to keep the series around in some form. Maybe it’ll be more… what do you hope those episodes will accomplish?
Max: Outside of any chance of further episodes, I hope that having Mulder and Scully on the small screen again lets X-Philes like us spend time again with the characters we fell in love with. But most importantly, I want these episodes to justify to us why we need them, because that was something I don’t think I Want to Believe did well at all — and in a larger sense, these episodes have to answer the question “Why does the world still need Mulder and Scully?” What do you think the answer to that might be?
Radhika: I honestly have no idea. But I hope it’s not as lame as the reason why they came out from hiding in the last movie — in retrospect, there was nothing truly compelling about that scenario, and they could have gone and bugged Doggett and Reyes for some X-Files-y expertise if they wanted it.
But even though I don’t know why the world “needs” Mulder and Scully, I do know that I still love those characters very much and there’s something very special about them — and clearly a lot of people love watching them. So there’s room for that.
Max: Yeah, I just hope Carter and company have taken the time to consider things, even though I know there is a bit of a time crunch factor given David and Gillian’s other commitments.
Radhika: Well, they’ve had a few years to consider storylines…
Max: True. I think it is pretty cool that we are even talking about this, because when we started Apt. 42, the prospect of any further adventures was still a wish fans had.
Radhika: Yeah, I thought we would be finishing the blog around now – not going on hiatus! But we’ll be back.
Max: It is going to be wonderfully weird come January. Seeing new-to-air episodes of The X-Files!!!! Something I haven’t experienced since seeing “The Truth” over 13 years ago.
Around the time of the announcement of these episodes, you and I independently made comments about feeling like we were 12 years old again. I’m really looking forward to reigniting the magic.
Radhika: I am too, albeit cautiously Either way — it looks like I can’t really quit The X-Files, so the excitement overrides the caution.
Max: In 1998, when you were deep into your X-Files obsession… could you possibly fathom at just how much a part of your life the show continues to be? I mean, for me, being 30 now, it is amazing how it informs my pop culture life now.
Radhika: It’s a little ridiculous how much a part of my life it has remained. Back then, I definitely thought it would be important to me, but when you’re 12 or so, EVERYTHING you love is important and going to be a thing you love forever. Well, many obsessions have come and gone… but The X-Files remains a thing. When the movie got announced, a bunch of people posted to my social media accounts, saying they remembered how into it I was when we were younger and how they thought of me as soon as they heard the news.
And yes, recently at work, one of my coworkers did introduce me to another coworker as “Radhika… editor…. X-Files!”
Max: That’s terrific. And now you’ve kind of completed the thesis on the X-Files your dad joked around with you about!
Radhika: Everything comes full circle. On that note, I feel like — having covered all the bases we possibly could about the show (with only a couple of allusions to the comics, but we are a rewatch blog), I don’t have much else to say about it anymore. Any final thoughts?
Max: I think the blog was a wonderful opportunity to not only revisit a perennial favorite, but in hindsight it also taught me to write on deadline (for the most part) and upped my writing game. It was tremendous work, but ultimately an incredibly creative and rewarding experience.
Radhika: Yeah, the blog was something of a side writing exercise for me, but it was also a good chance to look at the show through a more critical lens. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been fun. And now we’ve inadvertently readied ourselves for the revival! So it’s a win all around.
Max: Yeah, I’m looking forward to recharging my batteries for January… God knows we need the hiatus!
Radhika: Indeed. So with that, I guess it’s time to say goodbye for now — we may be back with something or the other before the hiatus, but otherwise, that’s when we’ll resume our X-Files contemplation. For now, I’d like to bid all our readers a temporary farewell — thank you to those of you who stuck with us, and if some of you are finding us now as you rewatch the show, we hope you enjoy what you see here and share your thoughts. We’ll be here, in the shadows.