Season 6 Wrap Up: Maybe I did want to be out there with you.


This is one of those seasons in terms of its popularity that gets polar opposite responses depending on which faction of the fandom you ask about it. It’s trying too hard to be funny, it’s not funny, it’s hilarious. Too much MSR, not enough MSR, just the right amount. I miss the Syndicate, I was sick of the Syndicate, what’s with this new mythology?

You can’t please all the people all the time, especially if your name is Chris Carter.

Personally, I adore Season 6. But I can understand why some fans don’t. If Season 5 would throw fans a knowing smile every so often, Season 6 is constantly, flirtatiously winking at us. The X-Files has become not only much more self-conscious and self-referential, it also acknowledges its fan base and fan expectations in a more direct way than before.

Previous episodes like “Small Potatoes” (4×20) have toyed with the ever-present subtext of Mulder and Scully’s burgeoning romantic relationship (MSR). But fast-forward to “The Rain King” (6×7) and it’s not a subtext, it’s the only text, and the characters around Mulder and Scully directly confront them with the feelings fans had been harboring for years.

I mean… you spend every day with Agent Scully, a beautiful, enchanting woman. And you two never, uh…? I… confess I find that shocking. I… I’ve seen how you two gaze at one another.

Not even a kiss?

Sorry, my NoRoMo friends. You’ll have to forgive me for indulging in some MSR talk. It’s a major, major component of Season 6 that can’t be ignored. In fact, I don’t think it’s a reach to say it’s the main component. Not only does it drive many stand-alone episodes, the Mulder-Scully-Fowley love triangle becomes such a major issue that it largely drives the mythology this season. You can’t discuss Season 6 without discussing MSR.

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m about to plagiarize myself since I can think of no more effective way to explain my position.

Back in the not so distant day, a Shipper had to hunt for little romantic gems in an episode. A brief hand-hold here, a golden moment of banter there… it was a game looking for these affirmations of the Shipper faith since it wasn’t as though the writers were putting them there on purpose. We had to take what we could get. Now, however, the game has changed completely and after the events of the movie, Chris Carter & Co. could no longer believably ignore either the mounting anticipation of their audience or the romantic tension that they inadvertently created between their two lead characters. So, what to do, what to do? They had no choice, really, but to officially script the MSR subtext into the series. Now Shippers no longer have to hunt for sustenance like wild animals, it’s being fed to us in golden bowls like house pets.

If that sounds like a complaint, please know that it’s not. As I said, I don’t see how the show could have believably evolved any other way. What could Chris Carter have done? Turned back the clock and pretended that millions of people had never seen that scene outside of Mulder’s apartment? Or worse, should he have taken character development back a few seasons in order to halt the progression of this budding romance between his leads? Never. Looking back it was inevitable that the romantic undertone of the series would become more overt. And however people may complain that it made The X-Files look silly, it would have looked a heck of a lot sillier if they had stubbornly ignored the obvious.

And in the profound words of Mr. Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

The only check mark in the negative column against Season 6 is that while the great majority of episodes, as individual episodes, are great, on the whole it may be slightly unbalanced. Particularly in the beginning of the season, the scales are tipped toward the lighter side of things which is a disappointment, I’m sure, to the fans who prefer grittier Monster of the Week and Mythology episodes. Yet, I can’t help but wonder if episodes like “Tithonus” (6×9) had come along sooner rather than later if Season 6 would still have quite as featherweight a reputation. After all, for the shortest season ever (twenty episodes) Season 5 gave us its fair share of less than super serious material: “Unusual Suspects” (5×1), “The Post-Modern Prometheus” (5×6), “Detour” (5×4), “Bad Blood” (5×12), “Folie a Deux” (5×19). And that’s not even counting Mulder’s hilarious phone calls to Scully in “Chinga” (5×10).

I calculate Season 6 at 40% funny vs. Season 5’s 30%, give or take. Perhaps the team at 1013 wanted to leaven the heavy drama of the mythology episodes this season by giving the fans an emotional break during the stand-alone episodes. I still consider “Arcadia” (6×13) a humble apology for forcing us to watch Mulder and Scully nearly split up for good in “One Son” (6×12). That fight was so bad even the Lone Gunmen had to look away. And while we’re at it, maybe Chris Carter meant “Triangle” (6×3) to be a peace offering after he had Mulder nearly take back in “The Beginning” (6×1) everything he said to Scully in the hallway last summer. You bet your cheap weave Mulder owed Scully more than one “I love you” after that.

Speaking of “I love you’s”, somewhere along the way this season, probably without us even noticing, I believe Mulder and Scully passed the point where a love confession was even necessary.

I can safely say that by the events of “Biogenesis” (6×22) Mulder knows that Scully is in love with him and not just because he can conveniently read minds. I don’t know by what work of the Devil I didn’t talk about this in my “One Son” review, but Mulder knows. Even the first time I saw it, I was certain of it. It’s all in the way he says, “No. Actually, you hide your feelings very well.”

Now, I will often, in the heat of my Fangirl passion, yell things at Mulder and at my television screen and “Stupid” is an adjective I use for him regularly. However, Mulder is not actually stupid. He’s a very intuitive, very perceptive character. He couldn’t have helped but read the not so subtle subtext during Scully’s heated interchange with Fowley in the aforementioned episode. That wasn’t purely righteous indignation on Cassandra’s behalf that Scully was acting out there. And even before that, he was in that hallway too. He knew she was about to kiss him just as sure as he was about to kiss her, though judging by his somewhat nervous confession in “Triangle” I’d say he wasn’t confident as to whether she’d be willing to start a relationship or not.

But, I digress. Mulder knows and I believe that’s part of why Padgett’s “Agent Scully is already in love” pronouncement in “Milagro” (6×18) doesn’t elicit a major response from him. It also doesn’t elicit a response from Scully because she knows too. And, at this point, I think she knows that Mulder knows and that he knows that she knows. I think there’s mutual knowing all around. Mulder certainly didn’t wrap his arms around her in “The Unnatural” (6×20) like a man who thought his attentions might not be desirable.

A question less easy to answer is does Scully know how Mulder feels about her? To that I’d give a qualified “Yes.” She knows he loves her dearly; he did go to Antarctica to rescue her after all. She knows he’s attracted to her since he’s not too subtle with his looks in either “Two Fathers” (6×11) or “One Son”. There’s even something about the look on her face when Mulder tells his tall tale in “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas” (6×8) that makes me think she knows she’s supposed to be “Lida”, the brooding yet heroic “Maurice’s” ethereal love. But, ah, that Fowley woman. I don’t think Scully’s going to pick up what Mulder’s puttin’ down as long as Fowley is around. Cue Season 7.

And on a final note, how awesomely amazing is Scully this season? She steals the show pretty much from beginning to end. From being boldly faithful to slapping suspects, from becoming open-minded to learning how to play baseball, my girl has been on fire. If we could say nothing else in favor of having a comedy-heavy season, I’m so glad it affords Scully the opportunity to show us all her different sides.

——————

Assuming your teeth aren’t already aching with sweetness, you tell me:

And the Awards go to….

“How could you do this to me, Chris Carter?”

The Beginning

“You’re forgiven, Chris Carter.”

Triangle

“Most Underrated”

Drive

AND

Trevor

“Most Overrated”

How the Ghosts Stole Christmas

“Not Rated”

Alpha

“Best Use of a Guest Star”

Dreamland/Dreamland II

“Scully for Queen”

Tithonus

“Coulda Been a Contender”

Agua Mala

“Don’t Judge Me”

The Rain King

“David Duchovny, why won’t you love me?”

The Unnatural

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14 responses to “Season 6 Wrap Up: Maybe I did want to be out there with you.

  1. You go girl! I’m with you…I love season 6. Having become a huge fan of the X-Files after seeing “Fight the Future”, the episodes of this season are my “golden age”. It was during this time, the X-Files became my must-see show each week, started checking out online sites for the show, and really connecting with other fans.

    Do I care that the episodes were a bit lighter? Absolutely not! They helped draw me in to the show even more. In retrospect, I may not have been ready to dive head first into the water of the mytharc yet. The lighter tone of the episodes was a nice way to wade in and realize the water was just fine before heading into the deeper mytharc.

    “somewhere along the way this season, probably without us even noticing, I believe Mulder and Scully passed the point where a love confession was even necessary.”

    Be still my Shippy heart! I think you’re onto something wonderful there. Let me go a step further and get your take on a question I’ve been considering for some time now…Who fell in love with whom first? Did Scully fall for Mulder or the other way around?

    By the way, great chatting with you over the weekend!

    • I loved talking to you guys! My voice was the only one I didn’t recognize. O.o

      I know exactly what you mean because Season 5 was that season for me – the first I watched in real time, and it was just a joy week after week.

      So, now, your question. I have no answer! I know when I think they *knew* that they had more than platonic feelings for one another, but I’m a lot less certain as to when those feelings started, unrecognized. I’m inclined to say that for Scully, it was latent as early on as Season 3, possibly even Season 2… though I know some would say it started at the Pilot! Mulder’s harder to pin down, but I’d guess Season 4. (I’m referring to when it started, mind you, not to when they became aware of it. For Mulder that was probably the beginning of Season 5 and for Scully I would definitely say it was “The End”.)

  2. Season 6 was consistently good from start to finish, with many fan-favorite episodes (mine are Triangle, Field Trip and Biogenesis).

    I have been doing some research on the web about S6. One thing that surprised me was the significant drop in the TV ratings from S5 to S6. Because the shows in S6 were still very good, I wonder why there was such a ratings decline? A friend of mine, who was a early fan of the show, said that he stop watching in S5 because the mythology got too complicated. I think other fans did not like the change in atmosphere with the move from Vancouver to LA. Anyway, we will see if this trend continues in Season 7.

    • It was disappointing that the ratings fell off a bit Season 6, but it wasn’t too dramatic overall. It dropped in the ratings from #11 to #12. Season 7 would see a much more significant drop. :( There could be so many reasons…

      1. The mythology had effectively ended
      2. The mythology was too convoluted
      3. After the peak of the movie interest naturally fell
      4. It was hard to match expectations created by the film
      5. More overt comedy turning off some fans
      6. Too much romance for some fans
      7. It’s about the time most shows start losing viewership

      Actually, it feels like The X-Files kind of defied the odds, not reaching peak viewership until it’s 5th season which is crazy! Most shows are on the decline by then, assuming they’ve survived till that point.

      • That is a long list of possible reasons and they all might have contributed to the ratings drop. I will be interested in hear your thoughts when we eventually get to Season 9 (blah).

        As far as the decline goes, I was looking at the Nielsen ratings. Season 5 had an avg of 12.1, while Season 6 had an avg of 10.2. The number of avg viewers per show went down from 19.8m to 17.2m. Obviously, ratings can’t be used to judge any particular episode, but the trend is important.

        • Right, the trend is important, and probably was disappointing to CC, but overall they dropped a couple of percentage points. Nothing to panic over. Season 7 would see a precipitous drop as I think the overarching story had played itself out and casual fans weren’t so interested anymore. They had the answers they wanted.

  3. I adored season 6, despited my distaste for where the general mythology ends up going, come Biogenesis. However, season 6 remains in my favorites of seasons.

    And yes. OMG. The mind reading thing and how Mulder now knows. *$&#*^$@#&*$^&*#@%$^&@#%$&^@#%$.

    *skips away*

  4. At the risk of looking like less than an expert, in which episode does Scully slap a suspect?

  5. I love this season so much, maybe it’s because of nostalgic reasons (it was my last year of high school when it aired) or maybe because I’m more of a sucker for quirkier things nowadays, but I don’t think this was a season that put a foot wrong, you could argue there is too much quirk and too much light heartedness going on, but the way the series had naturally developed into those areas, plus putting greater emphasis onto the shipper element feel right and genuinely earned. I think this is a television series at the top of its game. Simply put I heart season six.

    As for the ratings, for the rest of the show’s run they were to be all over the shop. Slight drop for six, bigger drop for season seven, up again for season eight and then a massive drop for season nine. Effectively I think the show reached its commerical peak in season five and with the movie, but its creative peak with six, the show is so creative and fun during this sixth year that I think it would be childish to complain.

  6. Season 6 is my favourite season for all the reasons you have said! I think the plots of each episodes and the mythology had become so incredibly thick, intense and serious that season 6 was like a warm breeze before it got really serious again! Of course I am a hopeless romantic as well and like you said we didn’t have to fish around for a gentle hand grab or hair sweep it was just put out there for us. They also experimented with the camera angles, the weather was better, the extras were different instead of repeating the faces in different roles, david directed and wrote a fabulous episode which I thought really showed how he felt about the mulder scully relationship. By the way I only just discovered your site and I think its great. Ive just finished watching them through again after not watching them in a few years I guess i was expecting a new movie to be announced by now but…….. I guess we all live in hope

    • That’s so true about the extras and I hadn’t even considered it! LOTS of new faces Season 6, but I had been thinking more in terms of the guest stars. But I absolutely agree that the subtle variety adds to the freshness of every episode.

      I had hoped for news by now too, but “Don’t give up!” <3

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