It’s a good thing I’m not an X-Files writer. If I didn’t write myself into the background of every scene, the next-best bit of wish fulfillment would be to spend all 6 episodes of the mini-series watching Mulder and Scully drown in wedded bliss. They would make pancakes and play with their dog and laugh on their porch swing about those crazy times when they were bringing down government conspiracies and everyone they loved met a violent death.
I have been a hardcore ‘shipper ever since I saw the hallway scene of the first movie. You know, the hallway scene.
And I still am, and I will always believe that Mulder and Scully have an unbreakable, soul-melding bond that gives their lives meaning and passion, the existence of which sets unrealistic expectations for me and my relationships with the men in my life, who for some reason don’t rescue me from Antarctic spacecraft.
And just to keep up my ‘shipper street cred, I think the evolution of their relationship in its later stages was handled very poorly. The nature of their friendship / more than friendship in the early seasons was always aflame just under the surface, turning every touch of the hand into a fireworks display. By the time Scully refers to “our baby” at the end of season 8 — after multiple episodes of trying to Land Shark the viewers into thinking otherwise —
— the thrill has come and gone. They kiss with the urgency of a grocery run, and then Mulder disappears for a year to go galavanting around computer labs and getting framed for murder.
I notice that I’ve spent a lot of time setting this up, but I want you to know that my ‘shipperdom runs deep. And I think Chris Carter sees a stable relationship as a black hole that sucks in all the plot in its midst. However, I have to say that I totally buy it that Mulder and Scully would break up.
It all began with a recent rewatch of Never Again from season 4. Time was, I wouldn’t even watch that episode when it was on. Teenage Me was appalled at Scully’s indiscretion, simply appalled. “She went on a date with another man??” said I, clawing at my braces. “And she stayed the night at his apartment and woke up in his shirt but definitely didn’t have sex because that would be the end of everything?? And she hung up on Mulder?!?!”
Watching it at age 31, it’s such a different episode. First off, bad news, Teenage Me: they had sex. Second off, let’s give Scully a goddamn break. She’s spent the last four years putting up with more douchiness from Mulder than I cared to notice when I was younger, and on top of that, what with her unflagging nights-and-weekends support of his Mothman- and Jersey Devil-type case work, she has no career or family on the horizon. So what does she do? For one episode, she does her. She meets a guy she thinks is interesting, goes to one of the least seedy “seedy dive bars” I’ve ever seen, gets a fun impulse tattoo — in a scene that is much sexier than I ever gave it credit for —
— and hooks up with her new boytoy. Leaving aside for a second the fact that his tattoo later uses Jodie Foster’s voice to order him to kill her, it’s actually a pretty good day for someone who has almost nothing going on her life at the moment except autopsies and being told her scientific theories are wrong ten times a day.
As a ‘shipper, I think a single glint from Mulder’s hazel eyes is enough to outweigh all of this and send her screaming back into his arms. As a 31-year-old with nothing going on in my life outside work, I think this episode shows that loving Mulder requires loving his mission, which requires a sacrifice of literally everything else — and it’s totally believable that that’s not what Scully wants.
Think I’m being too hard on Mulder? Just you wait! Stay tuned for A ‘Shipper’s Cold Look at X-Files MSR, Part 2: I Want to Believe.