Guest Post – X-Files: A Shipper Guide, Part 3

*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 3 of her rundown on Mulder and Scully’s relationship in Season 1. You can check out parts 1 and 2 here and here. 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!

Fire a.k.a the other woman pt 1

~ Care to take me to lunch?

                                – Scully (Fire)

We know of two relationships from Mulder’s past, both of them with sassy, independent women. We know short of nothing about Mulder’s relationships before he went to Oxford, there were references to one relationship Mulder had in his teens in the original script of Genderbender, but for some strange reason it was cut out from the episode.

Fire is the 12th episode of the first season. Up until that episode we had seen short of nothing about Mulder’s personal life. We had seen he had a passion for porn and that he was fascinated with the beast woman from New Jersey.

But we didn’t know about his actual love life…until Phoebe Greene[1] showed up.

I don’t like Phoebe Greene. I like her even less than I like Diana Fowley…and that’s saying a lot, since I used to hate Diana Fowley’s guts. At least, on some level Diana seemed to genuinely love Mulder, in a sick, twisted, very twisted way.

Phoebe Greene was a b****, pure and simple. She knew Mulder, she played him…she had hurt him in the past. She had cheated on him and from what Mulder said during the episode, he had probably seen her with other men.

Needless to say Scully hated her on sight. And for once, it wasn’t Scully being territorial, she was remarkably civil to the hag…she just plain hated her.

And I think she hated her for the same reasons I do. She was hurting Mulder: she was using his insecurities to mess with his head.

By that point, Scully knew that underneath his cocky behavior, his sometimes arrogant approach to things, Mulder was insecure. Granted, he was not the insecure mess fanon wanted him to be, but nonetheless he was insecure. Mulder needed to show he could take anything. The man had been a profiler, he had crawled inside the mind of serial killers and psychos and he had stayed strong.

He faced horrors everyday with his job on the X-Files: mutants who ate livers, brainwashings, young girls’ disappearances, beast women, intelligent computers, worms from outer space, ghosts, ghosts from Mars, OPR committees, evil kid twins….

And he was strong…he was confident; he was downright enthusiast of his job.

Until Phoebe showed up with a case, which focused on one of Mulder’s phobias: fire.

“You just keep unfolding like a flower”

I love Scully in this episode, and since there have been times where I have honestly despised her in latter seasons, that’s saying something.

She was a real partner to Mulder…and mostly a friend.

In my premise I said I’ve always believed Mulder and Scully fell for each other at first sight…but were they friends back in the first season?

One thing is what they had probably felt at first sight, something else altogether is when their rational minds caught up and smelled the coffee.

Despite what fanon claims, Mulder *is* rational. Just because his theories are a bit wild, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a rational bone in him.

So, yes, they were friends, but we’re talking about Mulder and Scully…so to have a verbal acknowledgment of their friendship, we had to wait for another season.

Before I go on talking about the events of Fire and the impact they had on M&S dynamic, there’s a digression needed to be made.

Partners, friends, constants and touchstones, lovers

Aka the impossibility to put a label on Mulder and Scully’s relationship

~ Do you have a … a significant other?

Mulder: Um, not in the widely understood definition of that term.

(From Chimera ep. 7×16)

Mulder and Scully are two private people. With their line of work, with what they went through during the series, labeling their relationship, giving a name to it, I think it would have meant to trivialize it, besides, it would be hard to do that. How can you label what they had?

I’ll try to explain and make sense of my theory.

Remember: I said I was obsessed with the X-Files, I said I am a shipper and I said I was delusional, ok?

In the first season, especially in its second half, Mulder and Scully stopped being just co-workers and became partners…and friends.

They already had strong feelings for each other, but they weren’t voiced; Scully said at the end of the season that she wouldn’t put herself on the line for anybody but Mulder (i.e. Tooms), Mulder became more and more protective of Scully…but to have a verbal acknowledgment of their friendship we had to wait for another year.

Mulder said out loud that Scully was his friend only in the second season, after her abduction, after her return. (i.e.. Firewalker). To hear Scully say the same thing, that Mulder was her friend, we had to wait another season, the third, after the events of Anasazi, Paper Clip (i.e. Revelations).

Now, you might probably think: “well, duh! They were stating the obvious!”

But when Mulder and Scully tried and put a label on their relationship, the term they used had usually deeper meanings.

They were in love with each other, but even the love they shared couldn’t fit into an established category.

Leaving aside Carter’s idiosyncrasy for the word “love”, which we have heard twice throughout the show, always said by Mulder: once playfully the other more seriously (i.e. Tooms and Triangle) I think the real reason why never the three magic words were uttered by our heroes has to do with the aforementioned possibility of trivializing such feelings.

Mulder indeed told Scully he loved her, once…but didn’t the way he cried at the end of One Breath scream of his love for her? Didn’t the way he held her in Irresistible bear the same meaning? Didn’t the Russian roulette in Pusher and how Mulder fought Modell’s grip when it came to his order to shoot at Scully? Didn’t the arm-chewing scene of Redux II? And we won’t even mention the damn hallway scene in Fight the future, shall we?

Action spoke more than words on the X-Files, and when words were said…they were always love declaration…the feelings were utterly explained.

But you saved me! As difficult and as frustrating as it’s been sometimes, your g**d*** strict rationalism and science have saved me a thousand times over! You’ve kept me honest … you’ve made me a whole person. I owe you everything … Scully, and you owe me nothing.

I don’t know if I wanna do this alone… I don’t even know if I can … and if I quit now, they win[2]


Scully, I was like you once— I didn’t know who to trust. Then I… I chose another path… another life, another fate, where I found my sister. The end of my world was unrecognizable and upside down. There was one thing that remained the same.

You… were my friend, and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant… my touchstone.

And you are mine.[3]


“It’s what I saw in you when we first met. It’s what made me follow you … why I’d do it all over again[4].”

As I said I’ve always believed that when either Mulder or Scully labeled their relationship for other people’s benefits they meant something else altogether, therefore partner meant friend *and* partner at work. Friend meant: my partner, she/he I’m in love with.

Notice how from the fourth season on they rarely, if ever, addressed their relationship.

When they were finally labeled as lovers, in the series finale, they were so much more than that. They were…well, I dread the word soul mates, but if ever there is something like that, I think it’s the only word that can barely cover their relationship.

Who, me…obsessed and hopelessly shipper? Well, heck, yes!

Fire aka the other woman pt2

As I said before the digression, Scully showed some real concern for Mulder, in the episode. It’s the first time we actually saw Scully as a friend, a protector to Mulder…on a more intimate aspect. Yes, she had saved his life time and again in the first episodes, just like he had, but the events of Fire were rather…personal, in a different way than those of Conduit.

I’ve always loved the scene following Mulder’s failed attempt to save those kids, Mulder was hurt and Scully rushed at him, and tried to see how he was doing, but he didn’t let her.

On a side note, compare this scene to any other similar scene from the fourth season on, to see how Mulder’s behavior changed. But, funnily enough, it’s not Mulder I want to talk about but Scully and the way she gently brushed Mulder’s forehead and looked as Phoebe, who only a few minutes before, was exploring Mulder’s tonsils and was pretty much ignoring him, gushing instead over Cecil L’Ively (played by the magnificent Mark Sheppard).

She just ignored Mulder.

Many have seen Scully’s reaction to the ballroom scene as one of jealousy, but I disagree.

We have seen Scully being jealous and in my opinion, she wasn’t. She was annoyed, she was frustrated, maybe…but she wasn’t jealous. She actually stayed and watched, compare this scene to other in other seasons, one common denominator has always been that she ran away, she didn’t want to face those scenes (cfr. Syzygy, The End, Alpha)

I love the scene where Mulder woke up, supposedly the day after. He was embarrassed, I love how Scully looked at Mulder, how she made sure hers was the first face he saw when he woke up.

Now, in the premise of this essay, if you want to call it an essay, I said I was going to try to stay as far away as humanly possible from fanon…

I’ve tried to stay as far away as humanly possible from fanwanking the scenes and the episodes…but just this once forgive me for doing that…

1)  Who undressed Mulder?

2) Did you notice that when Phoebe entered Mulder’s room, she was actually polite to Scully? And that Scully gave her the mothership of all the cold shoulders?

3) I’ve always thought that Phoebe Greene was the unfortunate – although deserving – recipient of one of Scully’s  b****fests!

Note how Mulder wasn’t in the least uncomfortable with Scully:  he was undressed, clad only in black, silk boxers, but he felt the need to cover himself, when Phoebe entered the room.

So…was I the only one who found this scene very telling? There was already a level of ease with Scully that lacked with Phoebe. And besides Mulder felt he didn’t need to shield himself from Scully…he trusted her, same thing couldn’t be said for Phoebe.

By the end of the episode we had another confirmation of how much the two partners already knew each other….could read each other. Scully said at the beginning of the episode that Mulder kept unfolding like a flower, yet she had no troubles seeing that there was something wrong when she went to the house of the family Phoebe was supposed to protect.

She didn’t know that Mulder had had a bad case of deja vu, when, entering the house, he had seen Phoebe kissing the man whose family she was supposed to protect.

In the end, Mulder had some kind of closure: he had walked through the fire and gotten over his fear and had chosen not to listen to the tape Phoebe had sent him. In the ballroom Phoebe  had said she had thought often about him, but he realized that Phoebe hadn’t really changed and after all that time, he finally got her out of his system and chose, instead, to go out for lunch with Scully – now, if only things with Diana had been that simple we’d have been spared the whole fiasco –

Oh, and he realized something else…something which was crystallized in a line which never made it to the episode. He told Scully he was ready to walk through the fire for her. At the time he was speaking metaphorically, but we have seen it happen. Mulder walked through the fire, through the ice…for Scully

He wasn’t alone. Not anymore.

Carter? You are a bastard…but damn, a talented one!

[1]                Played by Amanda Pays

[2]              Fight the future

[3]              Amor Fati

[4]              The truth

4 responses to “Guest Post – X-Files: A Shipper Guide, Part 3

  1. Oh wow! I love this! Enjoyed reading this! 😀 Thanksss!
    I ❤ Mulder and Scully.

  2. reading his essay, I give the reason a lot of things over time I understood … whenever I see the series, note the nuance between Mulder and Scully, the way they speak and look, although according mulder scully does not see as I do understand his communication has always been quiet and intimate, the way they talk and play, to be Scully grabbed his arm or put his hands on him, have always been surrounded by love and especially in this chapter, I do not like at all phoebe greene, as it is a manipulative and convenenciera, mulder just used for its intended purpose, knowing the fear, use it very ugly, but it gives me joy that he realizes that he has not changed at all and I put in place and if I scully would give a lot of courage to see and manipulate a friend and is the same behavior that she has and that is why we can not tolerate a phoebe, by the way that harms your friend.
    very good point of view, closely follow their trials.
    thank you for having found a place to express all this with reference to the files x
    Leer fonéticamente
    ¡Nuevo! Haz clic en las palabras que aparecen arriba para ver traducciones alternativas. Descartar her

  3. Thanks a lot, Nina. As a shipper I very much enjoy reading your comments. I will have to go back and watch “Fire” again.

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