I came into The X-Files late, in 1998. If it hadn’t been for my husband being a devoted fan already, the show would likely have remained only a blip on my pop culture radar. That’s not to say I wasn’t aware of the TV craze before then. It became a staple program in my house, and on my college campus, where you could have heard a pin drop Sunday nights when the show aired, indicating that everyone had nestled themselves in front of a TV somewhere, somehow.
I had friends who were ravenous fans of the show and could recount the stories encountered by Fox Mulder and Dana Scully at the drop of a hat. Stores hip and unhip all possessed various articles of clothing bearing the serious likenesses of David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, various aliens and space ships, and the show’s mantra: “The truth is out there.” Some of that shit glowed in the dark, I remember. Everyone knew about The X-Files.
With my husband, watching The X-Files each week quickly became part of my own routine. By then the show was well into its fifth season, and news of a movie based on the show was just beginning to make waves. With all the secondhand knowledge that I had garnered about the show, I thought I knew The X-Files. I didn’t. And in fact, with each new episode, I actually found myself becoming more and more confused. Where are all the aliens? (I wasn’t aware that premise was an arc rather than the topic of each and every show.) What’s with Mulder and Scully? (The way people talked about them, they sounded like an old, and slightly bitchy married couple. And they kind of were, but they weren’t.) Where are the actual X files? (I recall seeing very few manila folders.) But despite the haze, I readily watched the series until its end came in 2002. And when it was over, I gave up the show to memory. If I didn’t really come to understand the show itself, I understood why it was so popular, at least. Drama, handsome leads, and outlandish tales from the beyond that could have been grounded in reality. The makings of most good TV, mostly.
Fast forward to 2015 and the somewhat sudden announcement that The X-Files are returning to TV! Well how to you like dem apples? (Applesauce, bitch.) (Sorry.) While we both exhibited differing levels of excitement at this prospect, we were nonetheless intrigued. And to celebrate/prepare for such a wild event, we decided it was only right and proper to watch/re-watch the series, which we could readily do thanks to Netflix. This would give both of us the chance to become reacquainted with ol’ Sculder and Mully (huh?), and more importantly, it would provide me with some necessary backstory since between the time the show went off the air and now I’ve only seen a handful of older episodes. We intended to so some binge-watching before the airing of the first new X-Files, but with that happening in just a few days (Sunday 24th), we’ve only made it to the middle of season three, which originally aired starting in the fall of 1995. But that’s okay because the first two seasons were chock full of more than I could ever want or need to know about The X-Files.
(I guess I’ll say SPOILERS, if anyone cares some 20 years later.)
First off, I have to say that watching full, big seasons of this show have brought back to mind the days when TV schedules weren’t full of hiatuses or seasonal breaks or short runs. The X-Files ran some 20 to 25 episodes per season, and each came with tons of information to digest.
So far the most delicious parts of the early seasons of The X-Files revolve around Mulder and Scully’s relationship and all the alien business. Or really, Mulder’s slow decent into madness because of all the alien business. Added bonuses are all the “monster of the week” stories, which don’t really take off (in ways good and bad) until the second season. By the time I started watching the show, Fox M. and Dana S. were practically a couple. But early on they weren’t, even though they kind of were. Season one sets them up as the proverbial “skeptic” (Scully) and “believer” (Mulder), as Mulder harbors beliefs in the paranormal. Scully’s assigned to keep watch over Mulder, and throughout the season they end up in plenty of strange entanglements.
The shows tackles aliens, alien abductions, and the government’s supposed involvement with both, but it also manages to throw in villains ranging from “unseen forces” to various psychotic/”abnormal” individuals. Throughout the season, Mulder and Scully are definitely and only colleagues. In fact, if there were any instance of chemistry, I completely missed them. It wasn’t until the two of them ended up in several intimate, not romantic, instances (“Død Kalm” [2:19] comes to mind) that I started to accept the notion that the two could, probably, be together. And Mulder’s caring/protective side becomes readily apparent after Scully’s attack and subsequent disappearance and reappearance, which lasted over episodes 5-8.
And what of the aliens? Much like zombies, I generally feel quite “meh” when it comes to those typically lanky, gray-skinned beings from afar with the big eyes. But I do enjoy a good conspiracy, especially one laden with the government’s fingerprints. So I certainly have been enjoying learning about the lore of the X files themselves. (And there is actually a filing cabinet of them, complete with folders. In the show. And I bet somewhere at the FBI, too.) And it’s been interesting seeing how the X files revolve around more than just aliens – many but not all of the “monster” cases relate to unknowable phenomena. Still, in these early seasons, the strongest episodes deal with the alien arc. The “monster” shows are awfully uneven, either in pacing or writing, though it has been fun witnessing when things go off the rails in episodes like “The Host” (2:2) and “Humbug” (2:20).
Season three is off to a grand and quite dramatic start, particularly after the gruesome/bizarre/scary alien-related discovery and potentially deadly actions taken at the end of season two. Even with the shows revival on the horizon, I’m looking forward to continuing on with the adventures of Fox and Dana and everything weird, paranormal, and conspiratorial. Maybe we’ll even rewatch the movies. One of them is here on DVD somewhere…