Handcuffs & Food

This was a great episode. Perhaps that assessment is a product of the dumpster fires leading up to it, but I want to believe — nay, choose to believe — that it can take its place among the Pretty Good tier of X-Files MOTWs on its own merit. I liked it enough that I’m willing to break with this blog’s style book and call it “This” instead of This, even if it’s just once for the sake of clarity.

After the transgression of my previous post, I’d also like to reinstate my self-imposed rule of avoiding episode reviews. That ground is well-covered.

Instead, let’s give a couple of the themes from This a Mulder & Scully-focused back story. I think we can all agree that I need to start with…

1. Handcuffs

It’s a show about two law enforcement agents, so handcuffs abound. But we all know what kind of handcuff usage this is really about.


The main downside to this scene from season 6’s Dreamland pt II is that Scully’s leisure-time suggestion is merely a ruse to entrap Morris Fletcher, an Area 51 employee (and 3rd worst minor recurring character in the series) inhabiting Mulder’s body. Where oh where, the more degenerate among us wondered, was Mulder and Scully’s official Fun with Handcuffs?

“You want handcuffs?” Glen Morgan asked rhetorically. “Oh, I’ll give you handcuffs.”

Handcuffed fleeing…


Probably not the first time Skinner has walked in on them looking like this

Handcuffed roleplay…


If I were Langly, I’d have been more cautious about uploading my consciousness into a building whose security is *wink*

Handcuffed banter…


Each knowing line is a piece of shipperdom brought into canon. Please continue.

And on behalf of all X-Files fans, thank you, Glen Morgan. Thank you for keeping Mulder and Scully together on-screen for almost every second of this episode, and thank you for the portions of it that are in handcuffs.

2. Food

Dana Scully is a scientific mind and an independent, crime-stopping woman of law enforcement. Therefore it is unduly precious to hear Mulder and Scully discussing the merits of a muffin that may or may not have come out of an alien’s butt.


Make your own here!

Perhaps we relish scenes of quiet food appreciation because of the pause they offer in a whirling swirl of conspiracies and shadow governments. Some of the best moments of X-Files happen when the aliens are away, leaving Mulder and Scully to their own devices, and what better way to make the unsolicited Syndicate calls go to voicemail then to sit down to a nice dinner. To wit:

a. Ribs (Red Museum, season 2)


You’ve got a little something on your platonic relationship

I can’t write this section without being jealous that they’re eating ribs. That said, given the farflung and isolated locales they frequent, who knows how many of these greasy spoon dates have gone on the FBI Amex? It will remain a statistic known only to Mulder, Scully, and expense processor Layla Harrison.

Side note: the speaker at the Church of the Red Museum notes that they are “18 Earth years from the beginning of the new kingdom.” That places their new kingdom squarely in 2012, a popular year for universal upheaval. I didn’t notice the sky change color that year or anything, but maybe the new kingdom did rise and chose to maintain the status quo so as not to rock the boat. Or maybe we’re all in the Matrix.

b. Cake (Tempus Fugit, season 4)


Serves you right for not finishing your nachos

It’s Scully’s birthday, and by season 4, Mulder finally remembers it. What’s great about this particular meal of bar food, though, is that Scully doesn’t find out it’s a birthday surprise until the singing troupe of waiters comes out with what looks like a sparkler stabbed into a Hostess Sno Ball. Until that point, they were just out having dinner — no case, no furtive meeting point with an anonymous government insider, just Mulder calling up Scully and being like, “Hey, you eat yet?”

While their normal-people evening is interrupted by a harbinger of doom, at least they had their nachos.

c. Wine and Cheese (Detour, season 5)


Wait… the conference reception was potluck? #skipit

Mulder and Scully are saved from a professional development seminar by a roadblock and a nice unsolved disappearance. Since they missed the wine and cheese welcoming reception, Scully opts to host an impromptu one in Mulder’s hotel room. Fox “Suavecito” Mulder then breaks into a rhetorical debate about the nature of predators and bolts out the door to investigate, and I quote, “something.”

Some day I should do a blog post on all his missed opportunities.

In the meanwhile, another side note: the copy on these old websites is classic. I’m sure Facts & Information Encyclopedia was the Wikipedia of its day.


I prefer the Lies & Speculation Encyclopedia, myself 

d. Tuna (Arcadia, season 6)


As long as the garnish doesn’t violate the CC&Rs

Mulder and Scully are undercover as Rob and Laura Petri, and they have a nice suburban dinner party at the neighbors’ place. Mulder ruins everything by asking nosy questions and lauding the virtues of eating dolphin. In between the beginning and ruin of the dinner, though, he shares Laura Petri’s affinity for UFOs and magnetic bracelets with an enthusiasm that suggests he was projecting when he asked Scully whether she took this assignment just to play house.

e. Beer and Popcorn (Je Souhaite, season 7)


Don’t look like no poppin’ corn to me

After a long day’s work of wiping humans off the planet and then freeing a genie, Mulder decides what he and Scully need is some popcorn, a couple Shiners, and Caddyshack. As a resident of Dallas, I approve; this almost makes up for when they blew up our federal building in Fight the Future.

Side note: I recall as an obsessed teenage shipper that there was speculation on alt.tv.x-files that Mulder’s third wish was for Scully to be happy. There was also speculation that he wished for her to be pregnant, given that we find out in the next episode that she is, followed by the season 8 revelation that she had asked Mulder to be the donor for her IVF procedure.

I stand by the default explanation that he pulled an Aladdin and wished for the genie’s freedom, but I would also strenuously prefer either of those explanations to our current CSM + science baby. And we are in dire straits when any plotline looks like a worse option than season 8.


Hold me tight, precious 2001 mytharc


They’re playing our song, Scully — Licensed Music of The X-Files

It didn’t happen often, and when it did happen it was sometime just a cover, but there are, in fact, enough instances of licensed music on X-Files for me to make a list about it. Thank God, otherwise I’d have to write actual transitions and content.

10. “The Hokey Pokey” by Ray Anthony 
Episode: Chinga (season 5)
II would do the same thing if I was stuck in this episode.

I would do the same thing if I was stuck in this episode.

Why did they let Stephen King call his episode Chinga? Was there not one Spanish-speaker in all of Vancouver who could have averted this? In any case, in spoooooky Stephen King fashion, this episode features an accursèd doll who telekinetically inflicts justice on grown-ups who disrespect the little girl who owns her. “The Hokey Pokey” plays on the little girl’s toy record player as the doll forces people to stab their own faces and take hammers to their heads, in a less-effective use of the contrasting soundtrack technique in “Home” (see entry #1).
9. “Bad Boys” by Inner Circle
Episode: X-COPS (season 7)
You do the hokey pokey and you... wait that was the previous entry

You do the hokey pokey and you… wait that was the previous entry

It’s an episode of Cops starring Mulder and Scully (side note, season 7 was terrible). In keeping with this, the film quality is different, there’s bleeped out swearing, and the aforementioned Cops theme plays at the beginning. Supposedly this was a fitting way to celebrate the 150th episode of this groundbreaking sci-fi program.
Side note: I had to rewatch pieces of this episode just now to get the screen grab and found them playful and enjoyable. Is this age speaking? Is it wine? The world may never know.
8. “Joy to the World” by Three Dog Night
Episode: Detour (season 5)
Scully and Mulder fight mothmen, Richard Gere starred in Mothman Prophecies, and Mulder suggests Richard Gere play him in the movie based on the X-Files. THIS MEANS SOMETHING.

Scully and Mulder fight mothmen, Richard Gere starred in Mothman Prophecies, and Mulder suggests Richard Gere play him in the movie based on the X-Files. THIS MEANS SOMETHING.

Mulder and Scully get lost in the woods while searching for a camouflage monster that may or may not kill people. That night, Scully offers to keep watch because Mulder is weak from an encounter with the monster. He asks her to sing something so he knows she’s awake, and she gives an off-pitch rendition of this song while holding him in her lap. Such squee, very romance.
7. “The Sky is Broken” by Moby
Episode: all things (season 7)
I think some other things happened in this episode but I don't remember what.

I think some other things happened in this episode but I don’t remember what.

Gillian Anderson decides Scully needs to be more like her, and so she directs this episode in which Mulder traipses off to Stonehenge while Scully discovers the spiritual connection among all things with the help of local hippie lesbians and a Buddhist temple. On occasion, to mark the points where the universe is giving Scully signals that she pauses to notice, we are treated to this song. My personal favorite is the slow-mo at the end of Mulder pushing Scully’s hair behind her ear after she falls asleep on his couch… but that’s just me.
Oh right, this happened too.

Oh right, this happened too.

6. “Bei mir bist du schön” by the Andrews Sisters (maybe?)
Episode: Triangle (season 6)
If falling through time in the Bermuda Triangle is what it took to go to a supper club like this, it would be worth it.

If falling through time in the Bermuda Triangle is what it took to go to a supper club like this, it would be worth it.

Mulder is looking for a boat that reappeared after disappearing into the Bermuda triangle 50 years earlier, and in the process he falls into the Bermuda Triangle. He finds himself on the same boat but during WWII, and the characters on board are all reimaginings of his present-day companions (a la Mrs. Gulch –> Witch of the West). Scully and the Lone Gunmen find the ghost ship in present day, and this song plays as they run around the boat looking for Mulder, while Mulder and alt-Scully (an American spy) run away from Germans in 1939.
I put a big ol’ question mark next to the Andrews Sisters because, while this is the most likely recording one would use to set the stage, I’ve been burned before by sound-alike covers used on X-Files soundtracks (see entry #1 again).
5. “Beyond the Sea” by Bobby Darin
Episode: Beyond the Sea (season 1)
"Bye forever."

“Bye forever.”

Kind of hard to miss the usage of this song as the send-off at Scully’s father’s funeral. Even harder to miss the vision she has of his ghost singing it in the middle of an interrogation of a serial killer on death row.
4. “Come and Go with Me to that Land” by Bernice Johnson Reagon
Episode: The Unnatural (season 6)
Come and go with me to that 'ship.

Come and go with me to that ‘ship.

The least self-aware of David Duchovny’s three directorial outings, The Unnatural explores the trials and tribulations of an alien in a black man’s body playing baseball in the segregated leagues of 1940s New Mexico. At the end <spoiler alert> our alien friend is assassinated by the Alien Bounty Hunter… but he bleeds red! Guess he became human or something! This song plays. He still dies.
3. “The Things We Do for Love” by 10cc
Episode: Rain King (season 6)
Well good, Darryl Mootz can have heart-shaped ice in the cold pack he puts on the stump where his leg used to be.

Well good, Darryl Mootz can have heart-shaped ice in the cold pack he puts on the stump where his leg used to be.

This episode also featured “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters — because let’s be literal — but the 10cc song greets us at the class reunion prom at the end of the episode, where a man whose unrequited love for his former classmate (Victoria Jackson) was so passionate that his heartbreak brought the rain finally gets the girl. As a bonus tease, we get a cutaway from Mulder and Scully dancing, to a little more plot progression, and back to a shot of a red-head and a tall brown-haired man kissing. HA HA, ‘shippers, IT’S NOT THEM.
2. “Walking in Memphis” by Cher
Episode: Post-Modern Prometheus (season 5)
2015-11-08 21.09.59

I’m starting to realize that if you just look at the pictures I use from these episodes, you’d think this series was one giant love story. Well, it is.

This episode may or may not actually have been a comic book (the ending is ambiguous), but throughout, we’re in a town that’s being threatened by a monster, who turns out to be the kind-hearted but misunderstood result of a genetic experiment by his scientist father… gone awry! The monster (Mutato) is really into Cher, and the episode ends with Mulder and Scully taking him to a Cher concert, where she (a.k.a. the back of her head) sings this song.
1. “Wonderful, Wonderful” by Johnny Mathis but not really
Episode: Home (season 4)
The romance continues.

The romance continues.

This lovely song is played every time the murderous inbred protagonists get into their antique car. Therefore we get to hear it during such gems as the time they beat a man and his wife to death with a baseball bat, or when the quadruple-amputee mother gets into the trunk of said car with her lover/son to have sex.
Wikipedia tells me that Johnny Mathis read the script and wouldn’t allow his song to be used in the episode, so they had a sound-alike record it. What is it about this wonderful, wonderful episode that he could have found offensive?

Let’s Judge People — 5 worst minor recurring characters

This was meant to come right after the “5 Best Minor Recurring Characters” post, but then the new trailer happened and I lost several days of my life. Pardon the interruption.

For the run-down on the methodology behind this ranking and for a ray of sunshine in this miserable world, read the first post. In the meanwhile, here are the 5 worst minor characters.

How about that rundown?

How about that rundown?

5. Holly (“Pusher,” “Redux”)

"What. I was here the whole time."

“What. I was here the whole time.”

Meet Holly, one of the only non-super-soldier characters who can take down Walter Skinner without the assistance of a firearm or nanobots. The only explanation I have for this is that Skinner’s secret weakness is people with no last name.

During Holly’s brief tenure as <whatever the hell office role she fills>, she gets mugged, gets hypnotized, beats up Skinner, and expresses sympathy for Scully’s cancer scare as though they’ve been chatting in the break room whenever Scully’s between cases.

She doesn’t drive any ‘shippiness and she’s not important to the mytharc. Her episodes are quite good, I’ll give her that, and she’s pretty so more points there. I also went ahead and threw in a couple points for Fear Factor because — and let’s not lose sight of this — this is a tiny secretary who took down an ex-Marine because she was hypnotized into doing so. Modell didn’t give her any special powers or weapons; he just unleashed the pent-up atom bomb of rage that she must carry around with her (next to her pepper spray) at all times in order to be able to assault Walter Skinner. That’s scarier than any fluke monster.



4. Susanne Modeski (“Unusual Suspects,” “Three of a Kind”)

To be fair, I've also pretended that Mulder is my stalker ex-boyfriend.

To be fair, I’ve also pretended that Mulder is my stalker ex-boyfriend.

Susanne Modeski exists in a web of lies. When she says her ex-boyfriend Mulder kidnapped her daughter, what she means is that she’s a government scientist trying to expose their secret bio-weapons tests on the public. When she comes back a few years later and says she’s been rescued by her fiance, what she means is that her fiance has brainwashed her into getting herself assassinated.

She doesn’t really get many points for any category except sex appeal, but on the plus side, she’s the only character on this list who didn’t get any Gets on My Goddamn Nerves points, either. Perhaps it takes more than two episodes of flat, personality-less victimhood to become annoying. Or perhaps I just like to see Byers mackin’ on the ladies.

If The Lone Gunmen series were just Byers mackin' on the ladies with Frohike and Langley as wingmen, it would still be on the air. 9/11 episode or not.

If The Lone Gunmen series were just Byers mackin’ on the ladies with Frohike and Langley as wingmen, it would still be on the air. 9/11 episode or not.

3. Morris Fletcher (“Dreamland,” “Three of a Kind,” “Jump the Shark”)

No, I didn't use the only picture of him where he's blocked by Mulder in boxer shorts. How dare you suggest such a thing.

No, I didn’t use the only picture of him where he’s blocked by Mulder in boxer shorts. How dare you suggest such a thing.

He’s not scary. His episodes are almost uniformly terrible, minus some classic moments (“I just can’t decide who lights my fire.”), to the point where his appearance on-screen is like the spots in your eyes that let you know you’re about to have a migraine. He’s… okay-looking. He’s annoying as hell. The question is, how is he not the absolute worst recurring character on this list?

The answer: he drives those ‘shippy moments like a nine-iron.

Do you even drive with a nine-iron? I don't know. Shut up and look at the picture.

Do you even drive with a nine-iron? I don’t know. Shut up and look at the picture.

Granted, the above is Morris Fletcher in Mulder’s body, so maybe that doesn’t count. But he does get Scully to look past his Michael McKean-exterior and offer to kiss the nougat-y David Duchovny filling.

Maybe rethink that metaphor.

Maybe rethink that metaphor.

For those who stopped watching in season 6, Morris Fletcher is a government worker, some kind of middle manager in Area 51. Mulder and Scully drive on up to the secret military outpost to meet with a source, and an experimental plane flies overhead, causing Mulder and Morris to switch bodies. During his brief time inhabiting Mulder’s life, Morris smacks Scully’s ass, bangs Kersh’s secretary, and buys a waterbed whose sole purpose is to start leaking later in the season.

I feel a little bad listing him here, as generally Michael McKean is a purveyor of quality comedic cinema. But then I remember “Jump the Shark,” and I regain confidence in the sanctity of this process. Onto the next one.

2. Theresa Nemman (“Pilot,” “Requiem,” “This is Not Happening”)



Now that I think about it, forget about the sanctity of this process — there should have been a filter for obscurity.

Theresa Nemman née Hoese is a member of the high school class in Bellefleur, Oregon that keep getting killed in the woods with weird marks on their back. Her dad is the medical examiner, so that’s cool. And she shows up again in seasons 7 and 8, sporting a baby and getting sucked up into the sky at the same time as Mulder.

Maybe she was bored with television, too.

Maybe she was bored with television, too.

It’s kind of cute that she gets Mulder to belatedly realize that maybe Scully has given up too much for his quest and should go have a life or something. And she gets points for being a nice-looking lady. On the whole, though, I apologize for the faulty methodology I set up that led to her inclusion here. It won’t happen again.

1. Shannon McMahon (“Nothing Important Happened Today” parts 1 and 2)



In fairness, Shannon McMahon was not meant to be so obscure; actress Lucy Lawless was contracted to play this inexplicable, plot-stretching super soldier for the whole season, but she was sidelined by pregnancy. This reason, and only this reason, is why the mytharc was so convoluted at series end.

No other reason.

No other reason.

I can’t even be bothered to watch this whole 2-episode arc so that I can explain Shannon McMahon in more detail. I suppose I will have to get through season 9 once the #201daysofXFiles and #XFRewatch get there in early January. But until then… just no.

Full points for being hot, though. And full points for being Xena.

Full points for being hot, though. And full points for being Xena.

Let’s Judge People — Best Recurring Characters (5 episodes or fewer)

If there’s one thing that can programmed, categorized or easily referenced, it’s feelings. There is a methodology to the madness for today’s ranking of minor recurring characters, and since I used Excel to quantify the methodology and stack the rankings, no one can argue with the outcome. In other news, I’m making Excel spreadsheets about X-Files. Please send help.

General rules

Characters must appear in 5 episodes or fewer, not including photographs, clones, shape-shifters, flashbacks to other episodes, or flashbacks starring different actors. Hallucinations are acceptable.

Ranking criteria

Fear factor – How terrifying was this minor character?

Quality of episodes – Because a bad character can be redeemed by a good episode. This did not end up being as unambiguous as I thought it would be, as several recurring characters from famously great episodes were brought back seasons later to take a dramaturgical dump on their legacy.

Importance to mytharc – For the sake of argument, mytharc includes seasons 1 – 9, so you get equal credit whether you were an architect of government conspiracy, or a stupid psychic baby.

Driver of ‘shippy moments – Almost everyone can earn full points in this category. Were you a side character in an especially ‘shippy episode? Did you say something that implied Mulder and Scully were romantically involved? Did Mulder and Scully gaze meaningfully at each other while you were talking?

Sex appeal – This is pretty straightforward, I think. Though I will add that you do not know awkward until you’re sitting next to someone on a plane with your laptop open, ranking the sex appeal of a Pomeranian.

Gets on my goddamn nerves – The scale for this category runs 0 to -5. I thought it was a nice, objective way to capture the indescribable essence of a character who should have been written out of existence.

And without any further ado…

Top Five Recurring Characters (5 episodes or fewer)

5. Donnie Pfaster (“Irresistible,” “Orison”)

"This one was a real nail-biter. Play me off, Sal!"

“This one was a real nail-biter. Play me off, Sal!”

Being abjectly terrifying will take you far in this competition, as our 5th place minor recurring character can attest. Donnie Pfaster overcomes complete irrelevance to the mytharc and a creep factor that renders him nauseatingly unattractive by virtue of his a) terrifying disregard for human life and b) ability to drive Scully into Mulder’s arms, albeit crying with post-traumatic anxiety.

His Quality of Episode ranking could have been higher, were it not for the middle-of-the-road MOTW “Orison,” where the skin-crawling creepiness of of someone with such banal, suburban origins is ret-conned into him being the actual devil or something.

Bonus head-to-head round:

Worst ulterior motive for picking up a prostitute: Donnie Pfaster (to cut off her hair and fingernails) vs. Virgil Incanto (“2Shy,” to drink her fat).

4. Robert Patrick Modell (“Pusher,” “Kitsunegari”)

Ronin don't care about rankings.

Ronin don’t care about rankings.

Another creeper with no importance to the mytharc who drives moments of ‘ship (omg you guys remember when Mulder is going into the building and he’s got the camera on and he gives Scully his gun and they HOLD HANDS FOR A SECOND OMG) and whose full score for episode quality is diminished slightly by his follow-up episode, in this case the fact that “Kitsunegari” is basically the “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” of Robert Patrick Modell episodes. You like brain cancer patients with psychokinetic powers? We’ve got two. You like Mulder being forced to point a gun at Scully? Let’s see it again.

How, then, did our man RPM manage to outrank Donnie “Putting the Romance in ‘Necromance’ Pfaster? By a slight edge in sex appeal. No one’s getting full points here, but at least Modell looks like a normal person who’s not watching you from a windowless van. For the sake of science, I pulled two more recent pictures of their respective actors from the internet; it’s closer, but I stand by my choice. Also it seems in these pictures like they’re both looking at their kid coming home from a fishing trip with a line full of trout. Or hooker nails.

092715 pfaster092715 rpm

3. Melissa Scully (“One Breath,” “The Blessing Way,” “Paper Clip”)

All of 30 seconds to elicit skeptical dismissal from Mulder? That usually doesn't happen unless Catholicism is involved.

All of 30 seconds to elicit skeptical dismissal from Mulder? That usually doesn’t happen unless Catholicism is involved.

Melissa Scully decided to stay in character and make it to the top 5 list without the help of negativity — she got the lowest score on the Fear Factor category. But to make up for that, she gets full points for episode quality and for driving ‘shippy moments, including Mulder’s bedside vigil as Scully lies in a never-explained coma that she recovers from in a way that is never explained.

Moving away from the Excel sheet for a little bit, I’m glad Melissa Scully made it up this high. She offered insight into yet another one of Mulder’s blind spots — positivity — and unlike Scully, she’s not so awed by his passion or his distractingly good looks that she refrains from pointing out what a moody tool he is sometimes. I know Sweeps Week used to be a thing, but still there’s a chance that the show was overzealous in killing any and all friends, family and former acquaintances of Mulder & Scully in the first couple seasons. Charlie Scully probably knew that on some level, which is why he always mailed in his Christmas presents.

2. Emily Sim (“Christmas Carol,” “Emily,” “All Souls”)

Of course this sweet angel made the list. How dare you expect otherwise. HOW DARE YOU.

Of course this sweet angel made the list. How dare you expect otherwise. HOW DARE YOU.

Emily isn’t scary either — though I see from the old teasers that Fox tried to pose her existence as something scary, like what if you had a kid and you’d NEVER BEEN PREGNANT. Most people in that eerie position have probably not had their partners discover their frozen ova in a government facility, but television is a weird place.

Anyone who does the math on Emily’s other attributes — an important but not crucial part of the mytharc, great episodes, causing Mulder and Scully to ooze with emotional support for each other as though it were the green goo coming out of Emily’s neck — will realize that Emily the 4-year-old had to score pretty high on sex appeal. Anticipating this awkwardness, I implemented a rule that all offspring of Mulder and/or Scully get full points for sex appeal because no combination of those genes could lead to anything less. Yes, this means that the stupid baby gets full points, too.

1. Billy Miles (“Pilot,” “Requiem,” “Deadalive,” “Essence,” “Existence”)

Sex appeal: 10/10

Sex appeal: 10/10

This one surprised me, but I guess that’s why a data-driven approach is key. Whereas I find Billy Miles mildly annoying — and in fact, he’s the only character in the top 5 who got any points in the “Gets on my goddamn nerves” category — the numbers tell me that I’m apparently #1 Billy Miles Superfan 4ever.

What drove Billy to the top of the list was his solid performance on all fronts, outstanding in none but reasonable in all. Pretty key to the mytharc, kinda terrifying when he’s slicing open elevators with his bare hands, not a bad looking guy after a quick skin-shedding shower. He did get full points for his dedication to the ‘shipper cause, both for starring in the episode where the magic started (S: Mulder, are these alien marks?? M: No, they’re mosquito bites. S: Oh thank god. Hold me.) and for leading by example when it comes to recovering from the alien virus, thus freeing up Mulder to continue existing, which is a fairly crucial prerequisite for any long-term relationship with Scully.

This guy, on the other hand, has no such qualms. *WINK*

This guy, on the other hand, has no such qualms. *WINK*

Well, that was fun. But what happens when I switch things up and sort the Excel file in descending order?! Next time: I cast swift and severe judgment on the worst recurring minor characters.

A ‘Shipper’s Cold Look at X-Files MSR, Part 2: I Want to Believe

**Spoilers below**

In part 1, I discussed how Scully’s adventures in random hook-ups from season 4’s “Never Again” signal that her all-consuming devotion to her partner might have its limits, namely the consumption of all. Maybe we should blame her for that, in the name of ‘shipperdom and the power of unconditional love.

On the other hand,  maybe we should take a step back and blame Mulder for not getting his shit together.


M: Watch your mouth. Me: How about I watch YOUR MOUTH. M: How about I– <censored>

There was a surprise SQUEE moment in the first part of the 2nd movie, X-Files: I Want to Believe (currently rated 3.5 of 5 stars on Amazon, so buy your copy while they last). Scully is lying in bed, “cursing God for all his cruelties,” when all of a sudden —

The SQUEE to end all SQUEEs

The SQUEE to end all SQUEEs

And why was this such a surprise? Part of it was that, in true Chris Carter style, the first half hour of the movie was spent trying to convince the viewer that Mulder and Scully had no such sleeping arrangement. Scully’s passing remarks about Mulder not locking the door to his office, their general lack of PDAs…

But I suspect at least part of it is because when we are reintroduced to our moody hero after 6 years of on-screen absence, we’re greeted by this:

Maybe there's hope... that you will start trying again

Maybe there’s hope… that you will start trying again

Far be it from me to suggest that when your loved one grows a scruffy beard, it’s time to dump his ass. But what we’re looking at here isn’t just someone letting himself go because he’s already got the woman of his dreams. This is Mulder in an unemployed, directionless slump.

We’ve seen his slumps before, generally paired with radiating rage:

  • Skipping Scully’s removal from life support in lieu of seeking revenge on the conspirators (“One Breath”)
  • Deciding to spend a free weekend getting his brain drilled so he can relive his sister’s abduction, and then doing it again even after other people who bought this Groupon blow their heads off (“Demons”)
  • Crying alone in his apartment, in between learning that aliens aren’t real and murder-blasting a man in the face for spying (“Redux”)
  • Moping his heart out by watching an old Christmas movie alone. On Christmas. (“How the Ghosts Stole Christmas”)

This 2008 slump sets those other slumps to shame, though. Quite possibly, Mulder has been hunched over his desk, cutting out newspaper clippings 12 hours a day since 2002. Meanwhile, Scully has been working as a doctor, saving lives. One of these people met with adversity and euthanized it with an intramuscular injection, and one of these people was probably disappointed when the world didn’t end in 2012.

When offered the chance to go splashing around in the dregs of society again, Mulder perks right up. It doesn’t matter that the matter at hand bears little resemblance to an X-File. He jumps out of bed, shaves off the scruff, and starts clawing at any and every paranormal theory he can get his hands on. For old times’ sake, he makes an emotional connection between the missing woman and his sister, even though he now knows full well that Santa buried his sister in the woods several decades prior.

“I’m about to die. I FEEL SO ALIVE.”

The story ends as most stories do, with the interruption of a head transplant. The fog clears for Mulder, and for once, he decides to make the correct choice that one makes when presented with the options of a) a life of misery and b) Gillian Anderson.

Mulder: If you have any doubts, any doubts at all, just call off that surgery this morning, and then we’ll get out of here. Just me and you.

Scully: As far away from the darkness as we can get?

Mulder: I’m not sure it works that way. I think maybe the darkness finds you and me.

Scully: I know it does.

Mulder: … but let it try.

Another SQUEE for good measure

Another SQUEE for good measure

Well then, we’re all set for the continuation of their fairytale in the X-Files revival, yes? Of course not. Surely we haven’t forgotten the lesson that Agent Mulder himself taught us in season 6’s “Field Trip”:

“Can you name me one drug that loses its effect once the user realizes it’s in his system?”

“What’s your point?”

At long last, Mulder has realized that someone like Scully is worth giving up on his journey of reckless endangerment and self-torture. But while I believe in every ‘shipper-riddled bone in my body that Mulder and Scully are meant to be together forever, it’s probably going to take more than one promise to reverse 15+ years of destructive behavior, sealed with a kiss though the promise may be.

I’m more inclined to believe Mulder for something he says earlier in the movie…

Scully: I don’t want that darkness in my home.

Mulder: Scully, this is who I am. It’s who I’ve always been. This is who I was before I met you. It’s what I do. It’s everything I know.

“Literally everything, Scully. I’m useless at bar trivia.”

So this is what we have: Scully can move on, and Mulder can’t. Scully is inherently high-functioning and Mulder is dysfunctional.

It’s possible that the purported estrangement of Mulder and Scully in the new mini-series is just another round of Chris Carter’s favorite game, “Crush All the ‘Shippers’ Dreams.” But it’s also possible that it’s the logical progression of their relationship, the break-up that they’ve been hurtling toward once the FBI wasn’t there to lock them in the basement together.

After all, what does Mulder do in the hospital scene when Scully asks him to look away from the darkness?

He leaves her.

A ‘Shipper’s Cold Look at X-Files MSR, Part 1: Never Again

**Spoilers below**

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.

Today's episode: M&S enact a tacit ban on beginning conversations with

Today’s episode: M&S enact a tacit ban on beginning conversations with “Hey, what ever happened to <so-and-so> ?”

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?!?!”

That face. How could you.

That face. How could you.

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.

In the meanwhile, stare deeply into his eyes and forget everything I said.

In the meanwhile, stare deeply into his eyes and forget everything I said.

Which X-Files episodes should I watch before January?

What with the recent hubbub about the new X-Files series event in January, perhaps you’ve had occasion to turn to the nerd in your life and ask, “What episodes should I watch to get ready?” Short answer: anything less than all of them is a failure in commitment. Longer answer, if you don’t have 201 hours to watch the whole series (or 151 hours on Netflix): it depends on what you’re looking for.

Take a peek below to figure out what category you fit into, and then partake in a customized guide on how you can best enjoy the series.

And since it didn’t make it into any of these categories, let me recommend up front that you watch Bad Blood (season 5).

Category 1: Mythology

Source: X-Files wiki

Source: X-Files wiki

Q: Why do I want to pre-watch old episodes?

A: So I can understand the complex government conspiracies and the various agendas and body chemistries of the menagerie of aliens involved.

Q: Why did I watch Lost?

A: To put together the subtle clues and de-tangle the web of mystery around the island and its inhabitants. The series finale sucked.

Your episode guide:

Deep Throat (season 1)

Erlenmeyer Flask (season 1)

Ascension (season 2)

End Game (season 2)

731 (season 3)

Herrenvolk (season 4)

Terma (season 4)

Memento Mori (season 4)

Redux II (season 5)

The End (season 5)

The X-Files (the 1st movie, 1998)

One Son (season 6)

Biogenesis (season 6)

The downside of watching for mytharc is that it spun out of control as we build into seasons 7 – 9. I would argue that if you’re familiar with the Syndicate, Scully’s abduction & cancer, the black oil, and the purpose of the human-alien hybrid project, then you’ll be able to understand the show just fine without being able to describe the mineral-based weaknesses of the Super Soldiers or the reason Mulder and Scully’s baby may or may not be Jesus.

Category 2: Relationships / ‘Shipper

This scene and the pursuant 'shipper revenge is the single cause of bee population decline since 1998

This scene and the pursuant ‘shipper revenge is the single biggest cause of bee population decline since 1998

Q: Why do I want to pre-watch old episodes?

A: To drown myself in the famous sexual chemistry of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson

Q: Why did I watch Lost?


Your episode guide:

Pilot (season 1… yes, it’s there from day 1)

One Breath (season 2)

Anasazi (season 2)

Pusher (season 3)

Quagmire (season 3)

Home (season 4)

Memento Mori (season 4)

Detour (season 5)

The X-Files (the 1st movie, 1998)

Triangle (season 6)

The Unnatural (season 6)

Millennium (season 7)

all things (season 7)

Hollywood AD (season 7)

Requiem (season 7)

Deadalive (season 8)

Existence (season 8)

The Truth (season 9)

X-Files: I Want to Believe (the 2nd movie, 2008)

Years have passed since the 2nd movie, so expect that things will have changed by the time we roll into season 10 in a couple months, but it’s still quite the journey of devotion between kindred spirits. As a lifetime ‘shipper, I will also acknowledge that I wanted to list most every episode ever aired on this list, as there is at least one SQUEE moment per episode. Depending upon one’s definition of SQUEE.

Category 3: Hot Actors

“Imagine, going through your whole life looking like that.”

Q: Why do I want to pre-watch old episodes?

A: Eye candy.

Q: Why did I watch Lost?

A: An inexplicably attractive group of people, usually scantily clad or shirtless, run around a desert island getting all sweaty and somehow even more attractive.

Your episode guide:

Pilot (season 1)

Fire (season 1)

Duane Barry (season 2)

Anasazi (season 2)

Tunguska (season 4)

Small Potatoes (season 4)

Chinga (season 5, and yes that is an actual network TV episode title)

Patient X (season 5)

The X-Files (1st movie, 1998)

Triangle (season 6)

One Son (season 6)

Hollywood AD (season 7)

The Truth (season 9)

X-Files: I Want to Believe (2nd movie, 2008)

It might seem warped to set expectations based on how these actors looked 20+ years ago, but having watched Aquarius on the loosely-veiled pretext of gawking at my man Duchovny, I have to say things are looking good. Real good. Reeeeeeal good.

And Gillian Anderson is a timeless font of Platonic beauty so no worries there.

Category 4: Broaden the horizons of the television medium

Just a red-blooded American baseball player

Just a red-blooded American baseball player

Q: Why do I want to pre-watch old episodes?

A: To form a first-person appreciation for the experimentation and innovation that the writers and directors put into transforming the art of story-telling through television

Q: Why did I watch Lost?

A: Because they treated the audience like they had a brain, you know?

Your episode guide:

Irresistible (season 2)

Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (season 3)

Jose Chung’s From Outer Space (season 3)

Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man (season 4)

Home (season 5)

Post-Modern Prometheus (season 5)

Triangle (season 6)

The Unnatural (season 6)

Category 5: I’m a giant hipster

“Yeah, Bad Blood is okay, but it’s so mainstream. I prefer an episode where twin Kathy Griffins date a pro wrestler.”

Q: Why do I want to pre-watch old episodes?

A: So I can cite obscure ones like “Alpha” as my all-time favorites even though like 3 people ever saw that episode and only one of them liked it un-ironically.

Q: Why did I watch Lost?

A: Lost is for sheeple. I watched the Weather Channel Tropical Update on loop every Wednesday at 8PM.

Your episode guide:

Space (season 1)

3 (season 2)

Syzygy (season 3)

El Mundo Gira (season 4)

Chinga (season 5)

Trevor (season 6)

Fight Club (season 7)

Roadrunners (season 8)

Sunshine Days (season 9)

If anyone wants to take a stab at some more technical categories (great direction, special effects) please have at it, though I’m not sure how many of us there actually are that would watch a series for its directorial prowess, and how many of us are just lying to ourselves to feel artsy when we say that. Who knows. I’m uninformed about such things.

Redux part 3

13 1/2 years ago, I was a high school senior. I had various and sundry extracurriculars, and even an unappreciated job in the service industry, but my one labor of love was my Sunday night schedule.

9PM – X-Files

10PM – alt.tv.x-files

12AM – X-Files rerun of the same episode

You’d be surprised how much more you get out of an episode after 2 hours of dissecting it, even if it was season 9.

In any case, the show ended, I left for college, and gradually I became more and more immune to the siren call of a TV show that had scripted my daydreams for years. I’d like to say it was because I was too busy broadening my horizons, but that would absolve my roommates of introducing me to Star Trek: TNG sophomore year.

Just a few short months ago, Fox announced that X-Files will be returning for a mini-series “event” in January 2016. I thought I could brush up on a few episodes just to get myself back up to speed.

In retrospect, that was naive.

... oops.

… oops.

But if anything productive could come of this — and I use “productive” loosely — it’s the fact that this is not the same show I watched when I was 17. 31-year-old me understands this masterpiece of scifi TV differently, and dammit, what is the internet for if not to be a receptacle for this kind of esoterica.

Join me on this journey, from the teenage ‘shipper posting as “Jennifer *cha cha cha*” to a full-fledged adult management consultant, getting sucked down into the mytharc universe once again. Things look different from this side…