Guest Post – X-Files: A Shipper Guide, Part 2

*Editor’s Note: Nina is a long time X-Phile and shipper extraordinaire. (Seriously. You guys thought I was rabid.) You can find more of her humorous insights into The X-Files, Supernatural, 24 and other fandoms on her tumblr at Here’s part 2 of her rundown on Mulder and Scully’s relationship in Season 1. Agree/disagree with her observations? Duke it out in the comments section. We can’t wait to hear what you guys think!

And with that, take it away, Nina!

Biased, completely personal, with tongue firmly planted in cheek

The first episodes: aka getting to know each other

 ~ And you? You think I’m spooky?

                                       – Mulder (Squeeze)

As I previously said, a year and half passed between the events of the pilot episode and those of “Deep Throat” the first regular episode of the series…and the missing year and half still bugs me to no end.

If we choose to follow this time line, Mulder and Scully had been partners for over a year when they met in that bar at the beginning of the episode. There was an obvious attraction, and hey…that’s one of the few times we have seen them together outside the office!

There was this thing where they constantly invaded each other’s space, which, I’m sure every FBI agent is trained to do (note the sarcasm here…sheesh…Carter did *so* fool us!)

At the same time, though, it’s clear that there was still some mistrust. Mulder still didn’t trust Scully.

Now, before someone jump in saying what a jerk Mulder was, let’s state the obvious shall we?

At the time, Scully still reported to Blevins, she still wrote her reports. It’s a constant of the first season. Mulder might have felt that Scully was not a spy, but he wasn’t ready and willing to sacrifice what he perceived as the only way to find out the truth about his sister and what had happened to her.

Oh, and besides, if we have to accept the canon of the show (personally, there are things which I’ve merrily chosen to ignore, ie: Mulder’s stupid, lame, brain disease they babbled about in the eighth season!) Mulder had recently broken up with a woman he had been in love with, a woman he had loved so much that he had – beats on me on this, because it’s not clear– married her.

As much as the fanon wants him as a loner, a loose cannon, in actuality Mulder doesn’t do short time commitment once he smells the coffee.

If said woman was Diana Fowley, a woman who had worked with him, whom he had broken up with, prissibly when he needed her the most…is it a surprise Mulder was a bit cautious?

And we don’t want to mention Phoebe Greene, do we?

So, my speculation is: Mulder’s instinct on people is usually right, I mean, the guy is a psychologist *and* a profiler…it’s his heart he doesn’t trust…especially with women. He isn’t sure whether he can trust his own instincts.

Things for Scully were a bit different. It’s shown since the first episode, that she’s loyal to Mulder: she threatened a man in Deep Throat to get her partner back, she bid her goodbye to her own reputation and her old life in Squeeze, when she took Mulder’s side against Tom Colton. We had seen her bidding goodbye to her social life when she gave up on a date for the X-Files in The Jersey Devil.

And she thought he was cute. She said so to a friend of hers: Ellen. She also said that he was a jerk, but marveled immediately after when she added that he wasn’t a jerk…he was just obsessed with his job.

Mulder talked to Scully about Samantha in the pilot episode, but it’s only in Conduit, the third episode of the series, written by Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa that, for the first time, she really had an insight on how much Mulder’s search for his sister meant to him.

On a side note: Conduit rocks! It’s one of my favorite episodes ever!  It’s the episode that really turned me into a Phile. I remember when I first saw it, how much it hurt to watch Mulder struggle against his own pain and recollections to bring Ruby Morris home. And it never ceases to amaze me, how empathic Mulder is of other people’s pain.

That’s one of the things I love most about Mulder: throughout the series, he never lost compassion for the victims and their families. He never forgot that he had been on the other side of the fence…and that he still was.

There was a touching scene at the beginning of the episode, which served the purpose to make Scully understand how much Mulder still loved his sister… Mulder and Scully were in the living room of Ruby Morris’ house; Mulder looked at some photographs and tenderly brushed one of the pictures taken when Ruby was just a child, about Samantha’s age.

In Conduit, Mulder talked to Scully…he told her something about Samantha, about his life after her abduction. He told her of a ritual he had when he was a child of how before entering his room he closed his eyes hoping that  when he would open them, his sister was here, as if nothing had happened. He told her kept entering that room, every single day.

I was blown away by the importance of that confession. If in the pilot episode Mulder needed Scully to understand why the X-Files were so important to him, in this episode he just needed to let her understand that Samantha wasn’t just a name associated with pain and guilt. She wasn’t just Mulder’s holy grail. Samantha was Mulder’s baby sister, and I’d wager that that kind of pain only increased with each passing year.

Mulder was thirty-two when Conduit aired, he was old enough to have children of his own, children of Samantha’s age when she was abducted. I think the sorrow over what happened to Samantha grew with Mulder, morphed somehow with each passing year as he grew up.

In the end, Scully stopped Mulder from seeking more answers…but I’ve always thought she had done so to protect him. She had seen how much that case had hit him too close to home. She had seen it all…and after that, she needed to understand, she needed to know.

She listened to the tapes of Mulder’s regression hypnosis. Mulder made no mystery of them; they were probably included in Samantha’s file…

Scully was alone, judging from her backgrounds she was probably alone in her own home as she listened to Mulder’s anguished voice as he recalled that night. As we heard the heartbreaking words of the voice over we saw him, in a church, sitting on a bench, holding in his hands a picture of his sister. He cried and he finally began to pray

What? Mulder prays? Wasn’t he agnostic? Wasn’t he Jew? Shut-up! It doesn’t matter!

Anyway, the fact that Mulder, who is a very private person, revealed so much about him to Scully shows that in his own way, he was really trying to open up, to trust her.

But, they had to go all the way to Icy Cape, and be closed off in a cabin with Rack from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, George Mason from 24 and the chick with way too many children, from Desperate Housewives to talk about trust for the first time…go figure it out![1]

Breaking the ice

~ Welcome to the top of the world, Agent Mulder. (Ice)

Ice is a milestone for Mulder and Scully’s relationship…

Before going on, there’s a lot to be said about Trust on the X-Files. As you probably know, one of the mottos of the show is: trust no one. The word trust, and its more profound meaning are a crucial part of the show…and trust is the basis of Mulder and Scully’s relationship…even more so than love.

Yes, Mulder and Scully did keep things from each other from time to time, for pride and because they wanted to protect each other from harm, they were stubborn individuals, scarred and pretty much screwed up, but the core of their bond was trust. It’s always been.

One of the reasons the first half of the sixth season[2] was painful to watch for me, both as a fan of the show and as a shipper, was because the trust Mulder and Scully had in each other had been tarnished by outside forces: Diana Fowley (God, I had forgotten how much I despised her and why!).

But I’m getting ahead of myself…once again.

Ice, is a great MOTW[3] episode…but most of all, is the aforementioned milestone, one of the many.

Mulder and Scully had been working together for a while when they were sent to Ice Cape. They had a good working relationship, they made a good team on the field…but did they trust each other? Did they trust each other with their lives?

They had saved each other butts enough times by that point, but…- again– how much did they trust each other?

That trip to Icy Cape became soon enough a nightmare and a test for their partnership.

We find out that deep down, Mulder and Scully didn’t implicitly trust each other, not yet. But they were getting there.

I think what happened in the store when they examined each other was the crumbling of the first wall between them. I’ve previously talked about the scene in the pilot episode where they locked glances through the fake mirror, and as I said Ice broke the first wall, broke the ice between them.

Mulder said he didn’t trust the other people, but he wanted to trust Scully. He was talking about the events that were taking place that night, but I’ve always believed those words had a deeper meaning. Mulder wanted to trust Scully. He wanted to trust his partner. He wanted to trust the young woman who had been assigned from their superiors to debunk his work on the X-Files.

And from that moment on he started to.

On a totally shallow level: my God…you could cut the sexual tension with a knife in the scene in the room. I love the way he touched Scully: gently, with reverence almost. I love how he brushed away some locks from the nape of her neck – and it is just me or the X-Files writers had some kind of a fetish with Gillian Anderson’s neck? –

And I love how Scully touched Mulder…and how she touched anything but his neck!

After the events of Ice, their relationship began to chance, morph into something deeper, although it was a gradual thing. Mulder began to trust Scully on a personal level, but only with the events of “Fallen Angel” he got that he could trust her, really trust her as far as the X-Files were concerned.

Fallen Angel is a beautiful episode, it’s a classic X-File, it has everything in it: conspiracy, aliens and it gave us another insight into Mulder and Scully’s budding partnership. I love how it is shown that they were already totally comfortable into each other’s rooms at the motels. We see that in almost every episode of the first season.

The end of Fallen Angel is beautiful…Scully felt for Mulder, for what she perceived was going to be the end of the X-Files’ division, and I think that didn’t go unnoticed on Mulder.

So, they had begun to trust each other both on a personal level (Ice) and on a professional level (Fallen Angel) yet, we find out that Mulder still withheld information from her, such as the fact that he had a source, Deep Throat. As we can see in “Eve”.

Mulder and Scully’s interaction in Eve was fantastic: they were totally at ease with each other, there was playful banter, you could choke in the chemistry they shared.

I said they were comfortable into each other’s rooms, so much that Scully answered to a phone call in Mulder’s hotel room. And what has always surprised me was that Mulder didn’t seem to mind. It was natural, an almost everyday occurrence.

On a side note: didn’t they really look like the lovely parents of the two kids?

I will write about how people perceive their relationship, later.

[1]              The actors who guest starred in Ice, later starred or guest starred on other shows: I don’t remember the name of the guy who played the pilot in ice (and Rack on BTVS)  the others are Xander Berkley and Felicity Huffman

[2]                Aka The Hell Also Known As The Sixth Season or how to screw up your characters and still think you’re the second coming of Writers (Bitter to the Surfer Dude? Who, moi?)

[3]              MOTW acronym for Monster of The Week

8 responses to “Guest Post – X-Files: A Shipper Guide, Part 2

  1. Is it shipper ?…
    i dont think so… its a piece of the great MSRelation but not a shipper piece
    i’m noromo and i love these scenes ^^

  2. As a shipper, I very much enjoy reading Nina’s analysis of M/S in the show. Obviously she has really thought a lot about this.

    Ice is a great ep with lots of tension. The best scene is where Scully points her gun at Mulder. I think she overreacts because she is so scared. Mulder seems to realize this and backs down, but you can see how disappointed Mulder is with her. I wish the writers had played this up ( the mistrust) until the end, but they tone things down with the scene in the storeroom.

    Looking forward to Part 3.

  3. 1. To understand parts of this post I had to look up the whole “shipping” “ship” “shipper” thing. I missed that whole thing when I was in college, apparently. So thank you for that.
    2. Is Mulder Jewish or no? In the season I am currently watching (6?) there have been 2 episodes–“Triangle” and the one where the dad from “Malcolm in the Middle” tries to keep his head from exploding–where that has come up. I’m just curious. I remember it also in an episode where there was a Nazi group…was that the Golum ep?
    3. Ms. Salome, thank you for commenting on my nudie Duchovny post because I never would’ve known that yours existed if you hadn’t.
    4. ‘Ice’ is a totally badass episode for not only the sexual tension but because parasites are awesomely scary. And it reminded me of Star Trek.

    • 1. Consider yourself an edjamacated Phile.
      2. I believe the consensus is that Mulder is part Jewish. The other episodes you’re thinking of are “Drive” and “Kaddish”. Two hints, maybe. Three and you’re part of the chosen people.
      3. That makes me sound like such a pervert. I can only refer to my comments on said post in an effort to restore my good name.
      4. The Start Trek episode is on the tip of my tongue…

  4. Hi everyone. I just found this page and I loved all the analysis. It’s nice to see that there are still people who spend time with the show. I’ll never stop doing so, I’ve just been watching season 4.
    “Ice” is one of my favourites of all time, and even now when I finally have all the DVDs from S 1-7. Many times I wondered why some lists of shipper episodes didn’t include this one, because it’s just too obvious. Simply for the way Mulder touches Scully, as you commented already. That’s not a neutral-indifferent way of doing it like just because he had to check her, but we can see how he feels while touching her. And obviously Mulder’s reaction when he sees Scully pointing the gun at him. As he trusts her quite much already, having shared lots of things with Scully, her doing that is such a betrayal.

    Which is the “Star Trek episode”??

    • Hi Laia!! (Why does it feel like I’m welcoming you to X-Philes Anonymous?)

      I *still* haven’t figured out which Star Trek episode is on the edge of my brain. Maybe it’s an amalgamation of episodes, I don’t know. I’ve been rewatching a lot of TNG recently, but if it’s there, it still hasn’t come up yet!

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