Tag Archives: Guest Post

The Art or the Artist?


In the aftermath of the severe disappointment that was “My Struggle II” (10×6), the hullabaloo on the internet has been, well, loud. And is that a cry of mutiny I hear rising from the din?

Well, our guest post today is from Michael O’Connor who adds his very astute, not to mention loyal, 2 cents into this mess and it’s about friggin’ time. His original post can be found here, and since he appears to be a glutton for punishment, do check out Why I Love The Phantom Menace over on his blog

 

i want to believe

Comments sections are rarely a place to go for insightful discourse. Even so, there’s one recurring comment that rankles me more than most in any conversation about a particular creative property, and it’s this: suggesting an artist be forcibly removed from his or her own creation.

The latest call for revolution has been directed at Chris Carter, the creator and showrunner for The X-Files. Some folks claim that he doesn’t “get” the X-Files, and someone else should be brought in who understands the concept better than the guy who created and ran it for nine seasons going on ten (and two movies).

That kind of sentiment deeply aggravates me; it demonstrates a really ugly side of modern criticism and fandom: a profound lack of respect for the creator of a beloved property, impatience with anything that doesn’t recapture one’s original passion for the material, and arrogance that the critic or fan somehow knows better than the progenitor.

I’m not saying that Chris Carter is perfect, but I would rather suffer through the occasional dud of a mediocre episode than see anyone else at the helm.

In other words, I’m for the artist. How about you?

Before you answer, let me explain my position and also my struggle. When I look at an episode of The X-Files like the recent mini-season premiere (aptly named “My Struggle”), I’m perplexed. This is the guy who gave us “The Post Modern Prometheus,” “Paper Clip” and “Duane Barry,” to name just a few stellar episodes with his name attached. But “My Struggle” is not only a victim of wonky pacing and cardboard one-dimensional characterization; its greatest sin may be its misguided aim to clumsily dispose of the entire alien colonization conspiracy developed and fostered over the course of nine seasons.

It’s almost enough to make me question my faith in the man.

For the record, it wouldn’t be my first crisis of faith with a beloved creator. Comic book writers Frank Miller and Alan Moore could do no wrong for at least a decade, with works like Miller’s The Dark Knight ReturnsDaredevil: Born Again, Batman: Year One and Sin City and Moore’s V for Vendetta, Watchmen, and From Hell still ranking among my favorite series I’ve ever read. But now I’m hard-pressed to say something positive about any of their more recent works.

Even George Lucas, whose prequel trilogy I would argue is nothing short of a masterpiece (your mileage may vary, though you should at least hazard a look at my argument in favor of The Phantom Menace), is equally culpable with Steven Spielberg for a disappointing entry in the Indiana Jones series with Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

crystal skull

But so what? Nobody’s perfect, and rather than treat our favorite creators like incompetent Imperial officers who have failed Darth Vader for the last time, let’s step back and embrace the things we love rather than dwell on those that didn’t work for us.

And let’s also consider that maybe, just maybe these geniuses that invented The X-Files or Star Wars orWatchmen might still have some brilliance left in the tank. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t feel confident with anyone at the reins of Indiana Jones except for Lucas and Spielberg. Ditto with Watchmen and Alan Moore (although props to Darwyn Cooke for a noble go of it with his Before Watchmen: Minutemen miniseries). And The Dark Knight Returns IV without Frank Miller–? Well, you get the point.

But you might also see a contradiction. Frank Miller may have created the world of The Dark Knight Returns, but he was using a character who had already been created by someone else: Batman. Isn’t the success and brilliance of a piece of art like Returns proof positive that the original creator should get out of the way at some point (either voluntarily or by force)? I’d say it all depends on where your sympathies lie.

Let’s take a quick detour into the origin of Batman’s creator, Bill Finger. I’d say it’s entirely possible (and even likely) that you could be a fan of the character and never have heard of Bill Finger or never have read a Finger-penned story. That isn’t because Bill didn’t write plenty of them or create the characters you know and love, because he most certainly did. He contributed to the Batman mythos for over two decades. And The Joker, Two-Face, The Penguin, Catwoman, The Riddler, Robin, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred, etc. etc? It was all Bill (with a little help from Jerry Robinson).

batman v joker

And the stories still hold up. If you want original, unfiltered Batman direct from the source, you can’t go wrong with “Robin Dies at Dawn” (Batman #156) “The Origin of Batman” (Batman #47) or “The Joker” (Batman #1). Finger built the foundation upon which all other Batman stories have grown and thrived, and yet his name is completely absent from the art he created. Part of that is due to his shady partner Bob Kane taking credit and financial compensation for Bill’s creations. But part of it is also due to the fact that Batman has now been around for over 75 years and prospered in film and television with hundreds of different creators lending their considerable talents to his ongoing myth. It’s easy to be introduced to a Finger-less Batman.

On the one hand, Bill got screwed. He ended up unknown, penniless and ignored, even as Bob Kane and DC profited handsomely from his creation. On the other hand, would Batman be the cultural touchstone he is today if DC had given sole creative control of the character to Finger? If they had stopped publishing Batman stories after he died or given creative control of the films to his estate?

Who do you side with? The artist or the art? The human being affected or the fiction that inspires so many (and makes so many others wealthy)?

I’m not saying it’s easy to choose. We love the art. We want it to be around forever and we want what we feel is best for it. But we must also understand that the reason we love the art is because someone created it. They had something to say, and we listened, and it touched us and improved our lives in some way.

billfinger

Speaking for myself, I’ll say this: I prefer my art straight from the source, from the original creator. And yet, while I genuinely believe that some of these franchises shouldn’t survive beyond their creators, I don’t know if I’m strong enough to ignore whatever comes after. I can’t deny that I will probably at least take a glance. Whether that’s merely satisfying curiosity or indicative of a deeper addiction I can’t kick, I don’t know. Maybe a little of both.

Regardless, I would question any critic or “fan” who would posit that the solution to the problem of a television show (or film, or series of novels, or comic book) that they no longer enjoy is finding someone else besides the creator to run it. The far more reasonable solution to that problem is simply walking away from it.

If you’ve reached the point with a beloved franchise where you simply can’t stand it, you’ve probably gotten everything you’re going to get out of that universe, those characters, and the scenarios and themes it presents. Insisting that it can be fixed by “someone else” is playing armchair executive. You’ve ceased to engage with it as a piece of creative art and storytelling; instead you’re seeing it as a product that can be exploited and transformed to favor your tastes and predilections.

Speaking personally, I always expect that an artist I admire knows what they’re doing. I operate from that optimistic–perhaps even naive–viewpoint. When I’m confronted with something that challenges my expectations or even upsets me, I’m intrigued to explore further rather than denounce outright. I’m not saying it’s easy, but if you truly love something (or someone), you don’t waste your time and passion demanding for it to be better; you try to understand it and appreciate it for what it is.

Which is why I’m eagerly anticipating Monday’s finale of The X-Files mini-season written and directed by Mr. Carter despite the premiere’s shaky start. Ultimately, my faith can be challenged, but when it comes to art and its artist, and especially where it concerns The X-Files, I still want to believe.

—————–

Michael O’Connor is a writer, filmmaker and designer based out of Portland, Oregon. A graduate of NYU and former editor for Marvel Comics, he has been published in numerous print newspapers like The Winston Salem Journal, The Willamette Week, and The Portland Tribune as well as online sites such as Brewpublic, The New School and RetroZap! He is passionate about art in all its forms, but is particularly fond of novels, comic books, movies… and craft beer.

Guest Post – Yes… but, what about Mulder? Part 1


{Editor’s Note: A passionate fan of The X-Files and cranberry juice, in that order, the internet femme fatale known as DanaKMulderScully has graciously agreed to stop by the site and drop some knowledge on a not-so-subtly biased fandom. If after a taste of her reasoning you’d like some more, feel free to tune in for more of her thoughts (Twitter), vids (Youtube), and words (Fanfic) at the conveniently listed sites above. Last but not least, her Tumblr is where you can read rants on the realness of Fox Mulder on a fairly regular basis. Stay tuned for Part 2 and comment below while you wait!}

I heart Fox Mulder.

I get SO IRRITATED every time I see people that disdain Mulder’s actions while making Scully seem like utter perfection…As much as I LOVE Scully’s character, I get irritated when people describe her as ‘perfect’; Because she is not. Scully’s strength comes from her weaknesses, from her determination to rise from the most horrible conditions to face everything and anything. She was not ‘born perfect’. She strived to be come the best she is.People forget that Scully is in fact Scully, BECAUSE of Mulder. Scully was not the same witty little agent that walked in to  ’ Agnt. Spooky’s ’ office that one fated morning.This is also inversely proportional. Mulder is Mulder BECAUSE of Scully. Mulder changes, evolved even at Scully’s side just like she did with him.The Truth is, you can’t talk about Scully without talking about Mulder and vice versa.And I don’t mean this in a misogynistic way, I please ask you to understand; this has nothing to do with gender and more of the personalities and characteristics of the 2.I loathe the fact that people describe Mulder as needy and whiny. Why?Because he had a horrible childhood past? Because his parents never gave him support? Because we never really see as much as bits and pieces of his past and those in themselves are already horrible?Why is it that when Scully talked about her non-present ability to carry a child, to have a bout with cancer, her unending emotional trauma from season 7-9, all of this, is taken as an amazing trait in a woman…BUT when Mulder still lingers about his sister’s disappearance or his own self hatred, everyone just calls him  annoying and whiny?I see double standard.

If I were to say that what Mulder is doing is whiny and needy, then in theory, I would have to say the same thing about Scully’s actions and problems.

And I don’t. YES Scully’s struggles were hard, but so were Mulder’s and there is no reason to justify one as more important than the other.

{Editor’s Note: Preach.}

Guest Post – X-Files: A Shipper Guide, Part 5


*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 myspecialhell.tumblr.com. Here’s the final installment of her Season 1 analysis. You can check out parts 1, 2, 3 and 4 herehere, 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!

Biased, completely personal, with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Tooms

~ It’s amazing how things change, isn’t it?
 – Mulder (Tooms)

Eugene Victor Tooms is one of the most beloved mutants among the Philes, and Tooms is the episode all the Philes recall for two things mostly: the introduction of Assistant Director Walter Skinner[1], a character who would become more and more important in the show, and for the infamous conversation in the car.

Just out of curiosity: what’s the what with Mulder, Scully and stakeouts, anyway? Between Tooms and Pusher one can’t help but wonder!

I remember when I first saw Tooms and the conversation in the car. I remember that my jaw hit the floor. For a moment I really thought they were going to go at it. I mean, usually, when a scene like that happened in another show, next we knew the two lead characters were kissing like there was no tomorrow.

How naive, uh?

Even before the scene in the car, it was clear that Mulder and Scully had truly become partners  at work: there was trust, there was complicity. Scully didn’t hesitate to put herself on the line for Mulder, when talking to Skinner.

She was supposed to be the spy, she was supposed to be the tool to close the X-Files…and yet, there she was, defending Mulder.

Skinner had ordered Scully to make sure things were done by the book, and yet when she went to Mulder, while he was checking on Tooms, it wasn’t the job she was worried about. Do you remember Deep Throat? In the episode she was worried about what she was going to write in her report. She had come a long way from that night…and she showed it.

SCULLY: Mulder, you know that proper surveillance requires two pairs of agents, one pair relieving the other after twelve hours.

MULDER: Article 30, paragraph 8.7?

SCULLY: This isn’t about doing it by the book. This is about you not having slept for three days. Mulder, you’re going to get sloppy and you’re going to get hurt. It’s inevitable at this point.

MULDER: A request for other agents to stake-out Tooms would be denied. Then we have no grounds.

SCULLY: Well, then I’ll stay here. You go home.

(Mulder sighs.)

I’ve always loved how Mulder seemed genuinely concerned about Scully’s career in the scene in the car. I think that was the first time Mulder actually voiced concern about Scully’s career. He had come a long way too from the pilot episode and the infamous lines:

“So, who did you tick off to get stuck with this detail, Scully”

And

MULDER: That’s pretty good, Scully.

SCULLY: Better than you expected or better that you hoped?

MULDER: Well… I’ll let you know when we get past the easy part.

When Scully was assigned to the X-Files, she had basically zero experience on the field, Mulder had seen her becoming a good agent, one whose career he felt the need to protect, feeling his was already in the crapper. The fact that he acknowledged that he had put Scully’s career and reputation and her possible future within the Bureau in jeopardy, spoke volumes of the depth of their bond at that point.

MULDER: They’re out to put an end to the X-Files, Scully. I don’t know why, but any excuse will do. Now, I don’t really care about my record, but you’d be in trouble just for sitting in this car and I’d hate to see you to carry an official reprimand in your file because of me.

After such an opening from Mulder, it was no surprise that Scully felt the need to do the same.

(Scully sighs.)

SCULLY: Fox…

Why did she call him Fox?

Why was she embarrassed while she said his name?

They were venturing into an unknown territory. Mulder and Scully sucked at those kind of emotional displays, if we choose to consider the original timeline of the series, they had been working together for two years, yet, that was the first time either of them opened up that way. Mulder had just told Scully that he valued her work, that he valued her both as a person and an FBI agent and Scully wanted to…open up as well, by calling him Fox.

(Mulder laughs. Scully looks at him.)

MULDER: And I… I even made my parents call me Mulder. So… Mulder.

I think Mulder was panicking. He was surprised by Scully, by the shyness in her voice, and by the sudden turn that conversation was taking…so he panicked. It’s not a fanwank, it’s not fanon…it’s the only plausible explanation I’ve ever been able to give to what he said…

Although I think Mulder fell for Scully at first sight, I really don’t think he was ready to explore the feelings he had for his partner, he didn’t have the energies to focus on anything else that it wasn’t the X-Files.

I believe, I strongly believe that at the time the events of Tooms took place, Mulder was in full denial, as far as his feelings for Scully were concerned.

He had too much going on through his head, his life was devoted to a cause that was not only time consuming but demanding everything out of him. It took him a couple of tragic events to wake up and smell the coffee.

So Mulder panicked, and babbled about making even his parents call him Mulder. Scully, though, needed to tell her truth, for once.

SCULLY: Mulder, I wouldn’t put myself on the line for anybody but you.

Mulder’s look when Scully told him those words was priceless: he was floored by Scully’s admission.

In “Squeeze” Mulder had said that the need to mess with people outweighed the milestone of humiliation. While I think that he wasn’t lying to Scully when he  told her that, I also believe that at that point, Mulder needed someone to trust…and needed someone to have faith in him, to trust him.

Mulder had been alone for quite some time, whether it was willingly or not, is not important…his work on the X-Files had slowly shaped into a crusade, I’d wager Mulder felt the loneliness, the frustration that came from being unheard. I don’t think he gave a damn about what people thought of him, but the human need to be believed, especially knowing that he was telling the truth, had to be quite a burden.

He had accepted the loneliness as one of the prices to pay, to sacrifice at the altar of his faith: the truth. He hadn’t lied to Scully when he had said he had a life…the X-files were his life. However, to hear such a line, bearing an implicit trust, a commitment, and mostly faith in him, I think it floored him.

Mulder had another proof that he wasn’t alone in his search, that there was someone who would look for the truth with him, someone who, finally, believed him, believed in him.

MULDER: If there’s an ice tea in that bag, could be love.

SCULLY: Must be fate, Mulder. Root beer.

(Mulder kiddingly sighs.)

You’re delirious. Go home and get some sleep.

He reacted with humor. That’s a coping mechanism Mulder used all the time. When things got difficult he eluded fear and panic with humor.

My God, how much I still love the guy!

I don’t think Scully was hurt by Mulder’s reaction. I mean…c’mon, she had eyes! And she could read him pretty well…she knew that he had gotten the message, and she knew it was appreciated.

Maybe that’s a fanwanking…but I’ve always loved how Mulder didn’t let Scully go after Tooms. On a practical reason, I know it was because of Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy, but to me that was other than a very sweet gesture, just another proof of how protective Mulder had become of Scully…especially if you compare this with such episodes as Ghost in the Machine.

The final scene let us understand that things were going to change very soon, for Mulder and Scully. Mulder watched a caterpillar cocoon and commented on how amazing it was how things changed.

He said a change was coming for them…

Of course he was talking about the X-Files…but the caterpillar cocoon symbolized their relationship as well.

The X-Files had to be shut down, their relationship had to die a little for it to really blossom.

The Erlenmeyer Flask

Aka: they’re shutting us down

~ I should know by now to trust your instincts.

Why? Nobody else does

 – Mulder and Scully (The Erlenmeyer Flask)

The Erlenmeyer Flask was a painful episode for me to watch. It was the first mytharc episode, it was the episode where Deep throat[2] died. Mulder and Scully had their first taste of hell…of the conspiracy in its glory, and they were burned by it, badly.

Scully came to a few important understandings concerning Mulder and his crusade. In the pilot episode he had told her that there were people who were trying to cover up the truth. I’ve always thought that she hadn’t really believed …not even when their motel rooms were burned down…but the episode showed Scully that there was indeed a conspiracy, that Mulder was nowhere near as paranoid as he appeared.

She witnessed things…for the first time and she felt the need to apologize to Mulder, who, on the other hand didn’t think apologies were necessary.

The look in Mulder’s eyes when Scully apologized to him, was priceless…in Tooms she had told him that she wouldn’t put herself on the line for anybody else…and in The Erlenmeyer flask, she told him she believed him, she told him that she trusted his instincts.

They had really come a long way from the pilot episode. In Ice, Mulder had told Scully that he wanted to trust her, but throughout the first season Scully had never really said anything about trust.

Of course, she had showed her trust to him, in such episodes like Young at Heart, EBE, Darkness Falls.

It was somewhat heart breaking to hear Mulder’s reply to Scully’s words: “Why? Nobody else does.”

I love how Mulder, who apparently brushed off Scully’s words, showed how he actually took them into consideration…he showed it when talking with Deep Throat and told him to cut the crap and talk already, to skip the whole Obi-wan kenobi routine…

It showed how Mulder valued Scully’s words, how important they were to him. She had been assigned to the X-Files to be a spy, but in the end she had become his only ally, the only one who would tell him the truth.

But Scully did more than telling Mulder that she trusted his instincts, she risked her career, her life, to save Mulder when he was kidnapped.

At the end of Tooms, Mulder had said he felt a change was near, and never truer words were spoken. The last scene of the first season finale…is heart breaking, the circle closed with two scenes similar to the final scenes of the pilot episode: Mulder called Scully to tell her that the X-Files had been shut down.

They’re shutting us down

There is a world in this line. As much as Chris Carter’s writing became sloppy in the latter seasons, as much as I still have issues with him, the final scene of the last episode of the first season is so powerful that it took my breath away and it still does. The scene is very dramatic, but in pure X-Files fashion is downplayed, to let the viewers absorb the blow.

“They’re shutting us down”

For Mulder, Scully had become part of the X-Files, for Mulder, Scully had become his partner. The X-Files were the core of Mulder’s life… for him to include Scully, to acknowledge her role in them, was a testament of how much she meant to him.

Scully was incredulous at the news: she had really come to love her job, she had really come to an understanding about her job, she knew that she would always be Mrs. Spooky, chasing little grey men, to people, but she knew as well that their job, was important. They had become partners and friends…and their new found strength was taken away from them.

The X-Files were closed, but their relationship was going to enter a new level very soon.


[1]              Played by Mitch Pileggi

[2]              Played by Jerry Hardin

Guest Post – X-Files: A Shipper Guide, Part 4


*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 myspecialhell.tumblr.com. Here’s part 4 of her rundown on Mulder and Scully’s relationship in Season 1. You can check out parts 1, 2 and 3 herehere 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!

Biased, completely personal, with tongue firmly planted in cheek

Chapter two

How things change

Aka The second half of the first season

Beyond the Sea is the episode which made me realize that there was Scully, that she wasn’t just Mulder’s sidekick and his love interest. It was one of the episodes that defined Scully as a character on her own. Beyond the Sea is a wonderful episode, one of the favorite among the Philes, both for the casefile which was brilliant and for the characters. For the first time we saw a reversal of their roles: Scully in this episode was the somewhat reluctant believer and Mulder was the skeptic.

There were reasons behind this twist, which I wish they had kept in latter seasons when Scully point blank became a believer and Mulder turned skeptic.

With the death of Scully’s father, just after Christmas  – and I got to say this: guys what’s the what with Scully and Christmas? I mean, in the first season she loses her father and in the fifth season there’s the whole Emily thing…

For the first time we saw Mulder letting  go of the professionalism and the distance he had put between Scully and he, when he called her by her first name.

We Philes learned very soon that they would never going to call each other by first names, Mulder did it from time to time, and we knew that he didn’t want Scully to call him Fox. To this day I still don’t know why…I mean, ok, his name sucks, but why he didn’t let her call him Fox ?

Even in the train wreck the last season has been, in the fan-fiction episode (trust no one), while she was physically shaking while reading his e-mail she still called him Mulder. She was forever his, but she still called him Mulder. (one could argue that in the last season the writers didn’t even remember Mulder’s first name, but that’s beside the point!)

I have a theory  – I always have theories concerning the X-Files, this doesn’t come as a surprise. –  which I’ll illustrate later in the essay.

Anyway, back to the episode, Mulder called Scully: “Dana” and gently touched her face, which I’m sure is a gesture every FBI agent is trained to do to comfort a grieving peer (insert my snort in here)

Mulder was ready to face a demon from his past, from the days at VICAP: Luther Lee Boggs, terrifically played by Academy Award nominee, Emmy™ nominee Brad Dourif . Boggs was a serial killer Mulder had profiled and sent to jail, where he was waiting for his execution.

It has to be said that Mulder didn’t want Scully to follow that case so soon after her father’s death, but she claimed she needed to work, she needed to focus her mind elsewhere. We have here a first glimpse at Scully’s way of coping with tragedy and things she can’t accept: she doesn’t; she runs away, she goes in full denial.

Throughout the episode Mulder was very concerned about Scully, he was very protective of her. And that was the first time we actually saw a side of Mulder which was going to become prominent from second season on: namely, how Mulder wanted to protect Scully.

And how Scully deeply cared about Mulder.

Scully was surprised by Mulder in this episode. She saw a side of him she had rarely seen since they had been working together: she saw Mulder as the f***ing brilliant interrogator, the f***ing  VICAP/VCS/BSU’s golden boy. She had glimpsed that side of him during the interrogation scene in Conduit  – which, to this day, is still one of my favorites – but in Beyond the Sea she saw that in glorious Technicolor when he interrogated Boggs.

Beyond the Sea dealt a lot with mortality, with frailty…with beliefs and regrets. Scully who had just lost her father, came close to lose Mulder when he was shot. It was the first time in their partnership one of them was really injured, and its effect was devastating on Scully.

The scene where the ER doctors treated Mulder was heartbreaking to watch: Scully was so distraught over what was happening that she couldn’t even move, she couldn’t even get closer to Mulder. The noises around her faded, and the only thing she could do was to close her eyes.

That scene was another glimpse at how Scully reacts to loss: she implodes for a moment.

I’m not a Scullyist, in case you didn’t notice I’m a Mulderist all the way, yet never have I liked Scully more as in the scene where she went to Boggs ..

You set us up. You’re in on this with Lucas Henry. This was a trap for Mulder because he helped put you away. Well, I came here to tell you that if he dies because of what you’ve done, four days from now, no one will be able to stop me from being the one that will throw the switch and gas you out of this life for good, you son of a b****!

I love this scene…love it with a passion! In the script of the episode there is one difference in the scene which, in my opinion spoke volume of Scully’s feelings for Mulder :

I came here to tell you that if I lose him too because of what you’ve done […]

Too bad the scene wasn’t kept this way.

Scully had a complete faith in Mulder’s  nature. She might tell Mulder that he was crazy, she might get frustrated, but she knew, that when all was said and done, Mulder was a decent, honest, good man. Just like his father…

It is a cold, dark place, Scully. Mulder’s looking in on it right now.

SCULLY: It may be a cold dark place for you but it’s not for Mulder and it’s not for my father.

There is something I want to discuss about Morgan and Wong’s episodes. They seemed to think that Scully saw some kind of a father figure in Mulder. They subtly suggested it in this episode and said it aloud in Never Again.

Wrong. On so many levels.

Morgan and Wong were two very gifted writers, they wrote One Breath which is one of my favorite episodes of the whole series, right in the top five, but they weren’t in favor of a Mulder and Scully’s relationship…and it shows!

Scully didn’t see Mulder as a father figure, an authority figure…besides, can you imagine two people more different than Scully’s father and Mulder? C’mon!

Morgan and Wong did a terrific job with this episode, which was a step up in Mulder and Scully’s relationship. In the end, Scully decided not to hear Boggs and the message her father had for her. She chose to sit at Mulder’s bedside.

As I said, in the second half of the first season we saw a shift in Mulder and Scully’s relationship…we saw how Mulder became more and more protective of Scully and how Scully kept Mulder grounded.

So much for Jerk!Mulder! uh?

Gender Bender and Lazarus showed how Mulder’s behavior toward Scully had changed.

On a purely shallow level: I love the way Mulder held Scully at him in Gender Bender after he rescued her from Father Andrew pheromone’s filled paws. He gently closed her shirt, and held her at him.

It was the first time they were so close physically; granted they had examined each other, they walked as if they were glued, he had brushed her cheeks and touched her forearm, but they had never been that close.

I’ve always thought that at the beginning of their partnership they needed to have that kind of distance, not to touch each other. In the pilot episode Mulder saw Scully in her underwear and gently touched the small of her back – which, incidentally, or maybe not, is the spot he always touches – she had touched his neck and shoulders, but they didn’t touch each other…and I think they needed to.

One can poke as many holes in my theory that they have fallen for each other at  first sight, and by all means: knock yourself out! It’s undeniable, though, that the chemistry they had was unmistakable, it was so thick that you had to cut it with a chainsaw!

So when I saw Mulder holding Scully at him, I was overjoyed. I might even have flailed a little. But hey, the first time I saw the scene I was 18, can you blame me?

There is a thing I need to say: I’m writing this essay relying on my memory. I have seen each episode of the X-Files at least three times (and I’m talking about those I didn’t like: *cough*Teso dos Bichos*cough*), but for the most part, I have seen them hundreds of time. I’ve distanced myself from the show, but I have still an excellent memory for the episodes.

I may not remember the specifics of the plots but as far as character’s development and relationship’s development I *do* remember it.

Mulder’s reaction to what had happened in that house cracks me up:

I know what I saw, Scully…and I know that I saw you about to do the wild thing with a stranger…

Wild thing? Who in the hell says wild thing? Sex. Its name is S-E-X!

That said…I have noticed that although there is any kind of innuendo between Mulder and Scully the word sex is rarely mentioned. And something else: did you notice that Mulder never picked up cases which involved S-E-X ? Or sexual abuses for that matter…or anything of remotely sexual nature? I can think of very few episodes: Excelsis Dei, Small Potatoes…and about Excelsis Dei…Scully picked up the case, Mulder was very reluctant about it.

I think that is just one of the signs of Mulder’s respect for Scully.

Since we had had a former lover of Mulder’s, Lazarus showed us a former lover of Scully’s.

Jack Willis. I know I may sound like a rabid shipper…but Jack Willis? He crept me out! How could Scully have fallen for him? I said that Morgan & Wong subtly suggested that Scully saw in Mulder an authority figure she could relate to, a father figure…

Maybe, just maybe, with Mulder, Scully broke the cycle instead. We know of two relationships of Scully – three if you count Minette, four if you take seriously the whole Ed Jerse’s fiasco, five if you count Padgett, which I don’t –

From what we have gathered of Scully’s past relationships, she had indeed unconsciously looked for a father figure, a strong male figure in her life. Both Jack Willis and the guy from All Things were older than her, they were patronizing and they didn’t treat her as an equal. They were indeed authority figures: Jack was one of Scully’s instructors at Quantico, while the guy from All Things was her professor.

As I said, Scully broke the cycle with Mulder.

Mulder was just three years older than her, he might have been the supervisor of the X-Files, an older agent, but as I have previously said, he didn’t care about hierarchy. He treated her as an equal.

He did feel the need to protect her, but without smothering her, without being patronizing and condescending; Mulder felt the need to protect Scully not because he didn’t trust her ability to take care of herself, but because he cared about her. He didn’t want her to be any different from what she was. He valued her for what she was, not for what he wanted her to be.

There was an equal level of trust, need, care. Although there have been times, especially in latter seasons where I have doubted of Scully’s feelings for Mulder (it’s a long and boring story, which, I will tell later, when it comes to the hell also known as the sixth season ) I never doubted this axiom: that they were equal.

Remember?

“You were my constant, my touchstone”

And you are mine

(Amor fati)

And:

“I wouldn’t put myself on the line for anybody but you”

(Tooms)

And:

I feel, Scully… that you believe… you’re not ready to go. And you’ve always had the strength of your beliefs. I don’t know if my being here… will help bring you back. But I’m here.

I had the strength of your beliefs.

(One Breath)

Besides, on a totally shallow level: no offence to the guys who played Scully’s past lovers …but David Duchovny is hot!

It looked like Scully and Jack Willis were still friends, unlike Mulder and Phoebe they had parted on good terms, so much that she went helping him with a robbery case, and of course being the X-Files, things went to hell in a hand basket.

Jack Willis was shot and Scully supervised the ER treatment. I have thought about it a lot, especially considering the similarity to what had happened in Beyond the Sea…and what was going to happen in End Game.

I believe Scully supervised Jack Willis’ treatment on the ER because what had happened didn’t have the same resonance the events of Beyond the Sea had. Scully cared about Jack but she didn’t lose it when he was shot…whereas in End Game she revived Mulder’s heart herself…because she was the only one who could help him.

Mulder was suspicious of Jack Willis even before knowing about the man’s past with Scully. I didn’t see jealousy in him, Mulder has never struck me as the jealous type, except in Bad Blood and Milagro and even then he was surprised more than anything.

I think Mulder learned how to control jealousy with Phoebe. One might argue he was jealous of Doggett in the eighth season, but I don’t think so…he wasn’t jealous of Scully…he was pissed off because he felt like he didn’t fit in any more…and because Doggett had the X-Files.

Did this mean that he didn’t love Scully if he wasn’t jealous or didn’t show it? I really don’t think so. But I will write more about jealousy later.

When Scully revealed that she had dated Jack Willis the case became more personal…to both of them, especially when Scully was kidnapped.

When he realized Willis/Dupré had kidnapped her, he couldn’t help calling her Dana once he heard her voice. It was like, for a moment, he totally forgot about their being partners at the FBI. Mulder the man spoke…and tried to reach her.

We saw Mulder fighting to save Scully in this episode, we saw him being a real G-Man while Scully experienced an X-File first hand. We saw as Mulder realized the importance of Scully in his life. He was the one who solved the case, who spoke with the kidnappers.

I don’t know about FBI rules and protocols, but every time we have seen Mulder treating a hostage situation during the series (Duane Barry, Folie a Deux, Monday) he has always been perfect, totally by the book. Yet, I highly doubt this exchange could be considered part of the rules:

MULDER: (on phone, threatening) You listen to me —- you lay one hand on Scully, and so help me, God ——

It is to be considered that the phone conversation between Mulder and Lula was being recorded. Yet, Mulder didn’t seem to care, so much, that when they got Scully’s whereabouts and planned the operation he concluded saying:

MULDER: And for those of you —-who don’t know already (voice unsteady) this one’s important to me. So, uh, let’s do it right. Thanks.

It’s interesting to note a few things about the episode: originally it had to be Mulder who swapped souls with Warren Dupré, the network decided otherwise, but there were still traces of the original concept in the episode.

Jack Willis was no Mulder, but he was some kind of a profiler, he worked at VCS, and was obsessed with the case. I think, though, that the similarities were just on surface. As I said Jack was no Mulder, and his relationship with Scully was way different.

The ending of the episode offered an insight on Mulder that, in my opinion, deserves to be addressed. Remember the pilot episode? Mulder said he wanted the truth, he said that nothing else mattered to him. Nothing had ever stopped Mulder from looking for answers, for the first time, at the end of this episode, Mulder chose Scully over the truth.

SCULLY: What does that mean?

MULDER: It means … It means whatever you want it to mean. (gently) Good night.

Mulder’s honesty…his absolute faith in the truth, has always been one of his most fascinating traits…yet, time and again, Mulder chose Scully over the truth…to protect her, not to cause her pain.

It happened in Lazarus for the first time, but we saw it happening in One Breath…and don’t forget the last episode of the series: Mulder was ready to die in order to deliver Scully from knowing the truth, a truth he was afraid it could crush her spirit. This alone is proof enough of Mulder’s feelings for Scully.

In Lazarus, Mulder gave Scully the chance to believe in what she wanted to believe…the chance to have closure. The chance to grieve without questions.

E.B.E” was another step up in Mulder and Scully’s relationship. On a totally shallow level: Mulder found remotely plausible that Scully was hot.

You kept me honest[1]

I don’t know why, the first time I watched the movie and I heard Mulder saying those lines, the first scene which came to my mind was the one which had taken place in Scully’s kitchen in EBE, when Mulder and Scully butted heads over the false photograph Deep Throat had given Mulder.

There have been other moments before the movie where Scully had kept Mulder honest, but that scene was the first, which my mind conjured. To me, the scene in Scully’s kitchen is pivotal.

I don’t think Mulder had still doubts about Scully’s loyalty to him and the X-Files by the time the events of EBE took place, but if even shreds of them had remained, they would have vanished.

Mulder realized that it didn’t matter whether she believed or not in aliens…she wanted the truth, just like him, and was determined to find it even if it meant fighting him and the trust he had in Deep Throat.

Mulder realized that Scully was ready and willing to put everything on the line for him.

Mulder and Scully’s interaction in EBE is terrific: there is teasing, trust, sexual tension and care. For the first time we saw Scully visiting Mulder’s apartment, we saw how comfortable Mulder looked at Scully’s place.

Among the episodes written by Morgan & Wong during the first season, EBE is probably the best, as far as Mulder and Scully’s relationship is concerned, even more so than Tooms….and its infamous conversation in the car.


[1]              Fight the future

Guest Post – The Shipper ‘Issue’


Alright, kiddos, we have a new guest poster this week and he has a great topic for us! Eamon is an X Files-lifer and has his own blog dedicated to the entire works of 1013 Productions called “I Made This” which you should definitely go and check out. Yours truly comments over there on the regular. You can also follow him on Twitter for updates at @IMadeThisCC.

Have we Shippers taken over the fandom? Does The X-Files have any lasting legacy other than Mulder and Scully? Even if it does, do we care? Don’t forget to tell us what you think below!

Puking worms. I guess you could say it started with the puking of worms. Okay, that sounds disgusting when you put it like that, but the moment when I realised I was in love was when the sanitation worker puked up a worm in the shower, but only after eating half a tube of toothpaste. Just to clarify I wasn’t actually in love with a sanitation worker, I was in love with the show he was appearing in, The X Files.

It all started about a year earlier actually, flicking through my television when I came across the Jersey Devil stalking the forests of…well…New Jersey (clue in the name I suppose) and being killed for her troubles. It was so unlike anything I had ever seen before, the dark lighting, the moody music score, and plus there was something very appealing about the red head helping the tall, lanky guy who seemed to be the lead character. It was the start of a major obsession, and it played that way all throughout that first season, but it would take the unfortunate shower scene before I’d realise that it was love, pure and simple, a love that would come to define me and my life for years to come. As sad as it sounds, The X Files would play an important part of my life, I could name major parts of my life as they ran concurrent with episodes and storylines of the show (I would have my first girlfriend during the early stages of season eight, when Scully missed Mulder, but then break up with her during the later stages when Scully got him back, oh the irony).

I think it shows how pop culture can be important and somewhat scarily impactful when you care more about a television series or a film than yourself, but it’s true, The X Files ran through my head nearly 24/7. I would buy the comic book, tape and endlessly re-watch episodes of the show, save my pocket money for the latest video tape releases (these were the days before DVD of course) and magazines, in fact I seem to recall buying not just the Official Magazine/Comic Book (they were combined in the UK, one half the comic, the other half interviews, features and the like) but any magazine that displayed the series, which took up too much space in my bedroom as always but which I would devour again and again. Nothing ever took hold of me in the way the adventures of Special Agents Mulder and Scully did and whilst other pop cultural phenomena have played an important part in my life, I don’t think anything has ever topped Chris Carter’s magnum opus. My back wall was a basic shrine to the series, images of David, Gillian, Mitch Pileggi, Robert Patrick and nearly everybody that appeared in the show littered my back wall. I say a shrine but it was more like a mini museum of X Files posters, post cards and anything else you can imagine, with the centre piece being the Fight the Future theatrical poster.

As the series became more sucessful and more popular, many fans, who termed themselves as shippers (I might be wrong here but it might have been with The X Files that the term was coined), documented to a large degree the partnership at the heart of the show, focusing on all those little looks that linger on for a moment longer than normal, a hand holding scene, the little hint of physical contact between Mulder and Scully and that near kiss in Fight the Future. As the years went on and the series entered its sixth and seventh seasons, the series started to play a little bit more with the relationship, episodes like The Rain King starting to more than hint at a romantic interest between the pair whilst season five finale The End introduced Agent Fowley, prompting a jealousy in the character of Scully. The character got the shippers beyond angry despite the fact that in actuality the character only appeared in seven of the two hundred and two episodes of the show, yet scarily seems to have made quite an impact.

I consider myself a bit of a shipper,  as the years have went on I’ve developed more of a love for the central relationship of the series, albeit not in a way that it became my sole reason for loving the series. Truthfully the basis of my love of The X Files has stemmed of my love of science fiction, horror and mystery and in many ways no show before or since has managed to mix these elements as well as Chris Carter and his talanted team of writers did. There have been other shows since that have tried to take on the mantle of “the next X Files” and have succeeded in many ways, namely Fringe and Supernatural, although Fringe is predominantly more science fiction whilst Supernatural is more of a horror series, both shows started off flying in the coat tails of The X Files, mixing stand alones and mythology tales, but they have really flown brighter when branching of in their own directions, developing their own mythology and story arcs, whilst still retaining a sense of that X Files DNA (the late great Kim Manners of course was one of the executive producers on Supernatural).

It’s these elements that have made these shows a success, taking The X Files formula of great mystery and great characters and fashioning great shows, and it’s a great legacy the series has left behind.  Despite controversies over its casting changes and the direction the mythology took, becoming more and more confusing and inconsistant with story revelations, the series has genuinely made a long term impact and it’s played an important part in spearheading the next generation of genre television.

Yet I can’t help but feel that for all the intelligence, all the brilliant storytelling that went on in The X Files, it usually  gets forgottten about in favour of the relationship. I’m not a non-romantic, I love the realtionship between Mulder and Scully. I even love watching the wonderful work that you can see on You Tube, some of the most romantic moments on the show played out to strains of some of the best love songs you can think of (a personal favourite of mine is played to the beautiful melody Love Remains the Same by Gavin Rossdale), my biggest problem with the whole shipper thing is that it seems to dominate the fanbase, the discussions and dissections of the show, that a two second moment of screen time where Mulder and Scully hold hands gets more attention than the frequently ingenious plotting and filmmaking that made the series as great as it was. If you were to describe the story beats of an X Files episode to someone it would sound like a great series, it was this sort of thing that made the series the sucess that it was, with somebody watching it, telling their friends, who then told their friends who then told their friends and so on and so forth (just imagine the split screen moment in Wayne’s World to know what I’m talking about) and yet, despite how thought provoking, intelligent, wonderful and truly, frequently brilliant this show was, it does appear that many get stuck on the one thing when discussing the series, namely “the relationship”.

I don’t think it would really be a problem, but all one has to do is look at season’s eight and nine to see why this could be construed as an issue. David Duchovny’s contract in season eight meant he would only be appearing in half the episodes, season nine he wouldn’t appear at all until the final episode when it was decided the series would shut up shop for good. I’ll not lie about this, I think the penultimate and final seasons of the show have a lot to recommend it. Season eight would see the series re-discover it’s horror roots and it’s brilliant. Roadrunners, Via Negativa, Redrum, they’re great and when Mulder comes back in the second half, the series reformats itself into a serial, building up to the birth of William, whilst season nine has some truly great stand alones (Scary Monsters, 4-D, Audrey Pauley, Release), although the mythology had completely lost it by then, but the stand alones make up for it, yet these last two seasons are largely ignored because of the lack of Mulder and if they do come up it’s largely the Mulder episodes that get the attention, with very little attention given to the great work by the writers, directors, or Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish, who slot into the series nicely. Hell, some fans took an instant dislike to Patrick that seems to have never let up mainly because he took over the mantle of leading man in place of Duchovny.

Look, nobody worships Mulder and Scully more than me, I still have a poster of them on my wall to this day because they’re more than just fictional characters to me, they’re icons, but there was more to the show than whether or not they would ever get it together and the wonderful work by Robert and Annabeth in those last two years shows that the series could function without this “romantic” element, that the writing and direction, feature film-esque production values and atmosphere were as part of the show’s success than the chemistry. Robert Patrick’s performance was a wonderful one, full of dignity and respect and was quitely and understatedly superb. I know Annabeth Gish seems to get a hard time of it from a lot of fans and critics, but I have a thing for quirky brunettes and I’ll fly the flag for Monica Reyes (if she ever releases a CD of Whale Song, I’m first in line), and look at it this way, it’s Reyes who showcases in 4-D and Audrey Pauley, they’re predominantly vehicles for the character and from what I remember they were the most acclaimed episodes that season (both written by Steven Maeda who really seems to shine quite brightly amongst the writing staff those final two years).

In some ways I understand, the Shippers come in a large army and they speak the loudest, and yet I feel that they have too much of a say in the legacy the series has had. One of the things I love about Salome’s blog is that as a reviewer she gets the balance right. {*Editors Note: I didn’t make him say it. I swear.} Wonderful analysis of the tales themselves with a love and respect of the relationship, but more often than not the majority of reviews and analysts from other X Philes are one sided, as if the show is a romantic one, not a scary one, so I beg everyone watching the show to remember, it’s a genre show, always has been, always will be. It was created to be a scary sci-fi show, not a romantic one, the romance becoming a bonus that the series only focused on more in the later years. Chris Carter wanted to create a scary show and that’s how I’ll always think of it.

I suppose it’s probably better that I don’t mention that I’m a big fan of 3 and really like Diana Fowley, those are stories for another day.

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 myspecialhell.tumblr.com. 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]

And

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]

And

“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

Guest Post – X-Files: A Shipper Guide, Part 1


*Editor’s Note: I’m so excited about this, our first guest post!

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 myspecialhell.tumblr.com. Here’s the first part 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!

Rambling, biased, totally personal opinion, written with tongue firmly planted in cheek, except when I talk about Mulder.

Premise

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It’s been  years, since the X-Files took off the air. To be completely honest I had to distance myself from the show, and the wreck the last seasons had been after it ended. I was too involved in the show, I daresay I was obsessed with it, I took every bad script, every jab at the characters I loved a bit too seriously.

Did I say I was obsessed with the X-Files?

For me, The X-Files was all about Mulder, and the relationship between Mulder and Scully. The mytharc[1][2] stopped making sense whatsoever around the fifth season, to this day I still haven’t gotten all the facts straight, and honestly? I doubt Chris Carter and co, do. The monsters of the week were mostly cool, but to me, as I said, the X-Files was all about the characters: Mulder, Scully and Skinner.

Mulder and Scully shared a very complicated, sometimes dysfunctional relationship, which without a doubt changed all the television standards; it was a relationship, which crashed all the existing clichés.

Up until Mulder and Scully appeared on the screens we were used to star crossed lovers, to relationships a là Moonlighting.

With Mulder and Scully it wasn’t just the matter of: “are they in love or not ?”, because they clearly were…  or “will they or won’t they ?”, because given Scully’s eternal pregnancy in eight season they clearly did, and the surfer dude managed not to show it to us. What Mulder and Scully had was far more complex than the usual relationships seen on TV.

With a few exceptions (such as John Sheridan and Delenn from Babylon 5 and Michael and Nikita from La Femme Nikita) I don’t think TV has given us another couple like that. And I doubt it ever will.

I am a shipper, yet in my utter naiveté I had really thought I had become a noromo[3]…I mean, I had watched the last episode of the series and Mulder and Scully acting like a couple, the admission they were indeed lovers, left me cold…except for the part where I would have ripped the lawyer’s throat out!

It was 2002…fast forward a few years, and my being shipper has come back…with a vengeance! And hey, if I choose to overlook a few things (a few seasons, maybe!), I can even like Scully again!

So I am a shipper, and like any other Mulder and Scully’s shipper on this planet I can tell you the key moments of their partnership/friendship/relationship. I can quote dialogues, things said by Chris Carter and the gang…

That’s cool, and I’ll get to that…but what I really want to do is trying to write a throughout, in depth analysis of their relationship.

Oh, and while I’m at it, I’ll try and  write something about Mulder too… since I do believe he’s one of the most fascinating characters ever created. He’s by far my favorite fictional character, ever!

So, guys, fasten your seat belts, grab a pack of Maalox and follow me…

I’ll try to stay as far away as humanly possible from the fanon.

What is fanon you ask?

Fanon are all the common ideas that are shared among fans, through discussions, fan-fictions and the like… fanon is not something written in stone…heck, it’s not even true…but it sorts of become true…

And as much as The X-Files’ canon wasn’t written in stone either (continuity guys, is a bitch!) I’ll try to stick to the facts. I’ll try to channel my inner Scully; hey it worked while I studied physics in high school!

It goes without saying, that here and there I’ll throw in personal comments, thoughts, ruminations, ramblings, bitchings, fanwankings[4] and some of the things are to be considered written with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

I can be a snarky bitch sometimes, but to my chagrin I discovered that my snarkiness and dryness leave the house as far as the X-Files is concerned.

I said that I was obsessed with the X-Files, didn’t I?

So, here it goes…

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Chapter one

The first season

It was the year they met, the year when their lives changed forever.

It was the year they got to know each other and learned about trust, about partnership and something about themselves.

It was the year of Tooms, of Ellen Air Base, of Max Fenig and Luther Lee Boggs.

It was the year Scully got kidnapped for the first time and Mulder got shot in the leg.

It was the year they met ghosts and werewolves, miracle men and killer bugs, it was the year of reincarnated cops into little girls and twins with a vendetta.

It was the year they met Skinner and Smoking Man was just a creepy guy who lurked and didn’t talk.

It was the first season of the X-Files.

The Beginning

~ Sorry, nobody down here, but the FBI most unwanted.

–  Mulder (pilot episode)

Let’s begin with the dates, guys…6th March 1992, that’s when Mulder and Scully first met. Now, I don’t know why they have forgotten about that. I don’t know whether it’s been a mistake in the close caption made by some wacky editor, but fact is, Mulder and Scully met for the first time on 1992, and I still cringe every time this is not mentioned.

So ok, I guess I’m a bit anal about it…but hey, from the pilot episode to Deep Throat, the first regular episode of the series, there’s a whole year and half we haven’t seen!

Eighteen months, guys…that’s a whole heck of a long time!

Anyway, back to the pilot episode…

For those who are not familiar with the show, and its mythology, Dana Scully, an instructor at Quantico was called to the FBI Headquarters with an assignment: the X-Files and the hidden agenda to debunk its supervisor work on it.

For those who don’t know whom the supervisor of the X-Files is I’ll give you a hint: he’s the guy with the big nose and the to-die-for hazel eyes!

Fox Mulder.

Fox Mulder was a legend within the Bureau: an excellent profiler, a brilliant Oxford graduated psychologist…a rising star at BSU until in 1991 he left it to work on the X-Files.

What are the X-Files?

You know? I refuse to answer to this. If you don’t know what the X-Files are, it’s gonna be tough!

Anyway, I’ll give you another hint: unexplained phenomena. Mulder investigated on them, he pissed off a lot of people, hence Dana Scully’s assignment to the X-Files.

Why Dana Scully? Well, she was supposed to be the skeptic, those crazy, crazy kids at the Consortium – or Syndicate, or whatever the gang at 1013 called them – believed that since she was a scientist and an ambitious woman it would be simple.

Yep…they were so screwed…!

The reasons behind Mulder’s career suicide were rather personal.

One name guys: the name of the recurring character which together with Skinner and Scully’s cross deserved to be in the credits

What…you say that Skinner was in the credits? When? In ninth season you say? Oh…well…I was under the impression the ninth season had just ONE episode…

And for the record: I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the credits of the last two seasons. I never watched them and I don’t mean to. Ever.

Petty of me? So what?

Samantha – insert a second name of your choice in here, since the gang at 1013 couldn’t stick to one to save their lives- Mulder. The brat little sister, except she wasn’t really a brat and I cried my eyes out when I saw Closure…BUT I’m getting ahead of myself…sorry.

She was abducted when Mulder was twelve and she was eight never to be found again. After he came to believe she was abducted by aliens, Mulder went working to the X-Files and being the genius he is, he started pissing people off…and getting close to the truth.

Now, he wasn’t that close to the truth…he kind of danced around it, got drunk during the movie so that when he was told the truth he probably forgot everything about it and we had to sit through Law & Files to know that gee! We Earthers are screwed…

And once again I’m getting ahead of myself…sorry!

So Scully walked into the basement office to meet Fox Mulder, whose nickname among his peers was spooky Mulder.

Before I go on, it’s interesting to notice that although Mulder and Scully hadn’t met before the pilot episode, they knew each other…by reputation…heck! Scully even knew Mulder’s nickname!

Since Mulder was supervisor of the X-Files, he was probably notified of Scully’s arrival. But you know what they say: once a profiler, always a profiler. So it’s within the realm of possibilities that Mulder profiled Scully before meeting her.

‘Cause, guys? Two things: I don’t really think Mulder had Scully’s thesis about Enstein’s whatever paradox handy.

And second…you know how Scully writes, we’ve heard it in various episodes, and mostly it was her frigging journal! Can you imagine her senior physics thesis?

Anyway, Mulder read it and he claimed he liked it.

I first watched the Pilot episode on 1994, I wasn’t even eighteen, and after watching it I used to have all this theory about Mulder: it was a very romantic theory, very fanon-ish and a bit delusional, but I loved it so very much…and then X-Files’ 5th season came  …and along with it Diana Fowley[5], and Chris Carter screwed it!

Anyway, part of my theory still applies. I’m one of those shippers who think that Mulder and Scully fell for each other at first sight.

Let’s get this straight: I said I was obsessed and I said I was a bit delusional, ok?

When Mulder saw Scully for the first time he actually blinked…he did some kind of double take. Now, maybe he thought: “My God…is she even legal to have a beer? She looks fourteen!”

But I’ve always thought that it was the moment he fell for her…and she wasn’t even SeventhSeason!Wonderbra!Scully! She was just cute…in a: “I’m barely more than a rookie and you have no idea whatsoever of what a pain in the ass I can really be” way.

Mulder put on a show with her, complete with a slideshow, cockiness and all the trademark Mr-Smart-Ass-Mulderisms.

Yet, despite all of the above, two things happened that convince me, even en lieu of my new found bitchiness of my previous theory:

1) Mulder kept invading Scully’s personal space (and Scully didn’t seem to mind)

2) Mulder’s knees kind of gave out when he finally sat and dismissed Scully.

I rest my case about it.

I was talking about my original theory: how Mulder was the lone wolf, the man on the edge of a cliff and how I saw Scully as the light who entered his office and his life.

Carter, thank you ever so for Diana Fowley, the Unusual Suspects and Travellers (Although, speaking of Travellers, I watched it again a few weeks ago and I loved it to pieces! Why didn’t they make the eight season set in the past? The adventures of young Arthur Dales – who was hot in his own way and was a very interesting character – told in flashback to Scully as she tried to really look for Mulder!)! *Editor’s Note: Dang, that would’ve been good.

Fanon wanted Mulder to be this pathetic creature who was alone, had always been and was kind of nut.

Want to know what I think it really happened? And what it has to do with Scully?

Mulder is a survivor and a fighter…we have seen it time and again throughout the series, heck…the guy was buried alive and survived without even bedsores!!!

I think that what happened to Samantha scarred Mulder, but until he underwent regression hypnosis he led a somewhat normal life: he excelled in sports, excelled in academics, was a rising star at the Bureau…and he had partners at work (Jerry Lamanna), he was respected by his peers (Reggy Purdue) and he had relationships…

He was married guys…let’s not dance around the subject…it was kind of hard to miss the wedding ring…it was huge! It was like a frigging flying saucer!

Whom was he married to? It’s not clear, Carter didn’t go out on a limb and said out loud it was Diana Fowley, he probably had still some self preservation instincts…because if you were a fan of the X-Files back then, you recall how liked Diana Fowley was. Not.

So let’s examine the facts and throw away the fanon, shall we?

Mulder was indeed a loose cannon, but he hadn’t always been that way. He was obsessed with his job…but he hadn’t always been that way. The guy used to have a life, then it was torn asunder and he dedicated himself to the X-Files and the truth.

I’ve always thought Mulder is a hero, a real, honest to God, hero…like those in epic tales. Well, the knowledge of his past hasn’t changed this notion one bit.

Ok, ok, at the time it did…but it was a selfish thing…and way too many fan-fictions I had read. And I was younger…don’t forget that.

I find it even more fascinating now, knowing that he had a life, he had basically everything a man could look for: a good job, the respect of his peers, a woman he loved (never mind that she had worked with the Consortium all along and that she was a bitch!) …yet, he consciously gave up on everything…in order to find out the truth.

The truth about his sister, but knowing Mulder? How long did it take him to see that something was rotten in the state of Denmark?

Of course at the time the pilot episode was written, all those pesky things like a former wife didn’t exist…so can you blame millions of people for falling for the “tortured- broody-lonely-on-the-edge-of-a -cliff” guy routine? Bet you can’t.

So, Dana Scully entered his office, as his new partner, and Mulder made no mystery out of the real meaning of Scully’s presence in the basement.

Really? I was under the impression that you were sent to spy on me…

On a side note: let’s make one thing clear…as much as a shipper as I am – and please believe me, despite everything I’ve said so far I am…I’m, like, THE shipper – I want something to be clear: Scully was assigned to the X-Files not as an equal to Mulder. Mulder is the senior agent in charge, even later this hierarchy doesn’t change. If you don’t notice that is because Mulder didn’t really care about those things, but actually? Mulder was Scully’s boss.

Back to our dynamic duo: there were sparks flying between them in their first scene together, I think their chemistry was palpable in it and so was what was going to become the general tone of the show.

Their very first case together, took them in Oregon to investigate on the deaths of a group of teens. Mulder had his suspicions about what really happened, but he didn’t let Scully on them, he played the cliché of Spooky Mulder, up until the autopsy scene.

I love that scene, it’s one of my favorite of the pilot episode, it gave us an insight into Mulder’s mind.

I’m not crazy, Scully! I’ve got the same doubts you do…

Mulder knew that whatever he said wasn’t going to make any difference to a spy. Yet, he felt compelled to tell Scully he was not crazy. He was compelled to let her know that he had doubts, that he just wanted…

Guess what?

The truth.

There is something else I’ve always loved about the pilot episode: the way Mulder and Scully worked as partners since the get go. They worked well as a team…and it showed.

Chris Carter claimed he didn’t want Mulder and Scully to be a couple. You have heard him saying it millions of times. In hindsight I can say that he fooled us all…because he created one of the most compelling love stories ever written, which transcended sex, romance and the usual clichés…

Anyway, he claimed he wrote the scene where Scully undressed in front of Mulder with the precise intent to show that he didn’t want them to be a couple.

Huh?

I never got this.

I swear I didn’t get it when I was eighteen and I don’t get it now, that I’m thirty four! If Carter’s purpose wasn’t that…then why in the hell didn’t let Scully wear a pair of shorts and a t-shirt? Why couldn’t she have just lifted her t-shirt to let Mulder see the marks? Why undressing?  To let us see that they weren’t going to crawl in bed and have sex?

Well…duh!

Mulder knew she was a spy, he knew she could screw his career if her ever attempted something funny…but there wasn’t even a shadow of doubt when he saw Scully on his doorstep.

The scene is filled with tension, and I clearly remember while I watched that scene for the first time that I took a look at my watch and said: “Wow…twenty minutes and they’re already going at it?”

Was it a: “gotcha?”

Nope, it was a red herring. The scene that turned millions of people into helpless and hopeful shippers, was another one…the following.

Nine years – ten and half if you count the original timeline-, countless hugs, chewing of arms, sucking of eyebrows, kisses, and that scene still kills me, every time I see it.

That was the moment where their partnership began. I’ve always loved the setting of the scene…there were those people, who barely knew each other and talked, lit only by lightings and candles.

Mulder told Scully why he worked on the X-Files, he told her about his sister and told her the only thing it mattered to him was to find her.

Now, back then I accepted it as gospel. I thought that it had always been that way…that he had always been that obsessed

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I think that Mulder didn’t give a damn about his sister before he underwent regression hypnosis…on the contrary, I think that one way or another he had always looked for her. Look at the guy’s background: he excelled in sports, couldn’t it have been a reaction to his immobility the night Samantha was abducted?

He was a psychologist recruited by the Bureau even thanks to his thesis about serial killings. He worked for the Bureau in the Violent Crimes Section…wasn’t it a way to look for his sister? To know whatever happened to her? To try and prevent such things, from happening to any other little girls?

I think it did. He never forgot about Samantha, given his way of thinking is only natural that he wanted the truth.

There was probably a lot of guilt involved when the repressed memories were restored. So at that point of his life, it was true…the only thing that mattered to him was to find his sister, to bring her back, to have closure.

Mulder didn’t know what hit him when he met Scully…and boy, the guy was in for a hell of a ride!!

Scully said to Mulder what he had probably known ever since they had met in his office: she wasn’t a spy, she wasn’t one of them, she just wanted to solve the case.

Just like him she wanted the truth.

I love the last few minutes of the episode: the way Mulder and Scully looked at each other through the fake mirror is a classic moment which, in my opinion, offers an interesting metaphor for what their relationship was going to be: they could reach each other against all odds, but they were somehow divided, by walls which took them ultimately a decade to break down.

In my opinion it’s very important the pilot episode’s last scene.

Mulder called Scully, to tell her that the case files about Billy Miles disappeared.

He whispered to her: “We need to talk, Scully” I think, that her simple answer: “Yes, tomorrow” was a promise for the future.

Scully’s soft spoken words let us understand, that, everything, from that moment on, was going to be different, for both of them, no matter the risks, the sorrow, the tears…the pain and tribulations they might face, they were not alone anymore.

As I previously said, Chris Carter, DA man himself, claimed he didn’t want Mulder and Scully to get together. I don’t want to dwell on why he was so adamant in keeping their relationship chaste and platonic…I don’t know if the surfer dude has issues, or if he just wanted to drive the fans stark crazy with the waiting, but anyway while he said that hell would freeze over before Mulder and Scully ever kissed, on the other hand he got rid of Ethan Minette, the infamous Scully’s boyfriend, whose scenes were filmed but never made it to the episode.

And there is something else: I don’t know if any of you have ever taken a look at the original script of the pilot episode, besides the differences (i.e.: Mulder was kind like a v-jay from Mtv, he was way more a loose cannon than in the episode), I love the way he describes Scully’s reaction to Mulder’s phone call.

To those who have complained time and again about how Scully put up with Mulder and that crazy job they had…I want to say this: she knew. She knew that meeting Mulder, entering that office would change her life forever; she knew things would be different, and she accepted it.


[1] The Mytharc is how we Philes call the episodes, which dealt with the conspiration and the colonization…the sweeps episodes, where Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz came up with always new ideas to mess with our heads…and Mulder and Scully’s relationship.

[2]

[3] Noromo short for not romance. Noromo are the fans who don’t want a romantic relationship between  Mulder and Scully.

[4] A fanwank is an explanation given by the fans to certain events…a fill in the blank for  a scene and stuff like that

[5] Played by Mimi Rogers