Why won’t you just die.

Sometimes we kill off characters because it makes for good theater, but then we look back a few days later and realize our shortsightedness. “Hey,” we say to ourselves, “that person added a lot to this show.” But then what are your options?

  • Bring in a new character to take their place. This person should have some surface differences from your original character but really not affect the plot in any other way. Give your “new” character an accent, for instance.
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This option is integral to the continued existence of Doctor Who. Also I’d like to thank this entry for allowing me to spend 20 minutes Googling pictures of David Tennant.

  • Write yourself into circles trying to resurrect your character
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Guess which this post is about?

Now, I love Cigarette-Smoking Man as much as the next guy, and he has certainly earned his place on this show, what with directing the shadow government and siring 30% of the agents assigned to the X-Files at some point.

But maybe it’s time we give William B. Davis a break. He is not a dog; he should not have to play dead whenever we ask.

Also, fun fact: David Duchovny is now the same age that William B. Davis was when X-Files began. Time keeps on slippin’ into the future.

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Not for everyone. Editor’s note: why the shirtless pic? If you have to ask, we’re not friends.

Death #1: Just shoot him in the face (“Redux II,” season 5)

Pros: Simple, direct, and to the point

Cons: Terrible hired assassin fails to kill an elderly man by shooting him in the face

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“Must… grab… something symbolic and meaningful…”

The Syndicate decides to pursue a little re-org by sending an assassin after CSM. When at last someone goes to collect the body, they find instead “too much blood for anyone to have survived.” We all know what that means.

Death #2: Undignified wheelchair toppling (“Requiem,” season 7)

Pros: Full of symbolism of how the mighty have fallen, involves Krycek

Cons: Just not dead enough

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Putting the “whee!” in wheelchair.

Krycek and Marita double-cross CSM, and for some reason he is surprised by this. Krycek wheels him to the top of the stairs, to which CSM warns, “As you do to me and to Mulder, so you do to humanity.” Then Krycek shoves CSM (and, by extension, humanity) down the stairs.

I really wish this was how CSM had died. He tries to finagle one of his schemes using his go-to mercenaries, he fails miserably, and then he gets trampolined down the stairs without so much as one last cigarette for his tracheotomy hole.

Supposedly the original plan was to end the series here and continue later on with movies. I cannot stress what a truly wonderful world that would have been. Intensive resources would have gone into the next steps in the story, rather than inventing new ways to dole out Duchovny’s 13 episodes of season 8. Super soldiers would just be someone’s fever dream. Mulder and Scully would be together forever. 9/11 never would have happened.

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Without season 8, no Lone Gunmen spin-off. Without the Lone Gunmen spin-off, the terrorists never get the idea to fly a plane into the towers. Right? That’s where they got the idea?

Death #3: Helicopter missile to the face (“The Truth,” season 9)

Pros: Sends an unequivocal message to the viewing audience: This man is dead forever. You just watched his face melt off his skeleton.

Cons: Just kidding, he’s not dead

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For real, though.

In the last few minutes of the last episode of X-Files, CSM finally eats it. He’s holed up in a cave village in New Mexico, and a pair of helicopters — which the X-Files Wiki tells me were sent to kill Mulder and Scully, though I cannot imagine a world in which this was the option most in line with “plausible deniability” — instead blast his new home full of missiles, dramatically pause, and then missile him right in the face. Then the show spent some ungodly amount of money showing us his CGI death, from the flaming glow and blown-back straggles of hair to his charred skeleton.

His charred skeleton. We have seen it.

AND YET, this:

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Et tu, Den of Geek?

At this point, he just can’t die. Ever. There can be no CSM death written into this show that I will ever fall for again. When this universe ends and/or the aliens stop procrastinating and finally colonize the Earth, it’ll just be CSM and Scully hanging out in an empty void, one offering awkward come-ons and one scowling.

I’ll leave you with my desperate attempt to guess how CSM could possibly be alive. Commence the brainstorm!

  • CSM was really a super solider, so whatever is left of his skeleton will regenerate into a person, like the piece of spine in Essence/Existence (season 8). Perhaps this seems implausible since the whole point of the cave village is that it contains enough magnetite to render the human out of super soldiers, but joke’s on you! — the one cave he was in didn’t have any of it or something.
  • CSM closed his eyes at the end and sent his consciousness into the dreamcatcher between him and the helicopters. The dreamcatcher fell off its perch and dropped to the ground when the missile breezed by, and then someone recovered it and used the trapped spirit to animate a clone of CSM that they made using genetic material from the various alien/brain experiments he had undergone. Oh wait, that’s a good one…
  • CSM has a clone from the various alien/brain experiments he had undergone, and it was the clone that blew up. The real CSM is in great health because he used the clone CSM for parts, like an old car.
  • The last actions of the old woman caring for him were in fact the last in a sequence of steps to program a hologram of CSM having his face melted off so that the helicopter pilots and viewers would think he was for-real dead this time. God rest her hologram-programming soul.
  • CSM is still dead but will appear in the X-Files Revival through flashbacks, hallucinations and voiceovers, a la season 8 Mulder. This is proven to be a satisfying and effective way to include a beloved character.
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I vote for the magic dreamcatcher.


Nothing a little synthesizer can’t fix

Sometimes your name is Mark Snow, and you have to compose the soundtrack that will transport viewers to a distant locale. Fortunately, there’s a synthesizer setting for that. Refer to the handy chart below for which button to push when your ethnic villain/victim appears on screen.

Mexico – synth guitar

As seen in: El Mundo Gira

Because you can’t tell the story “Two men, one woman, trouble” without cascading guitar arpeggios.

I wish that I was in your arms, like that Spanish guitar...

I wish that I was in your arms, like that Spanish guitar… 

India – synth rattle

As seen in: Badlaa*

Do they use rattles in Indian music? Maybe it’s an obscure genre native to quadriplegic mystics in wheelie carts.

Shake, rattle and... wait a minute, where the crap does he keep his wheelie cart while hiding in a butt?

Shake, rattle and… wait a minute, where does he keep his wheelie cart while hiding in a butt?

Jewish – synth clarinet

As seen in: Kaddish

To be fair, this will provide a helpful clue for modern audiences, for whom Williamsburg, Brooklyn has different associations these days.

Goddamn hipsters.

Goddamn hipsters.

South America – synth pan pipe

As seen in: Teso Dos Bichos

According to both subway musicians and Encarta ’96, pan pipes are a legitimate South American instrument. I’ll allow it.

As it turns out, the Amaru curses you with subway musicians.

As it turns out, the Amaru curses you with subway musicians.

Africa – synth pan pipe

As seen in: Teliko

Culturally, this seems less defensible. This article — which I can tell is credible because it’s written in Papyrus — indicates that pan flutes can be found in central and eastern Africa, but our knockoff Eugene Tooms in this episode is from Burkina Faso. I would be appalled, were this not just another nail in this episode’s coffin of mediocrity. Instead, I am miffed.



Asia – … synth pan pipe

As seen in: Hell Money, Nisei

While I’m starting to suspect that there’s a big old “FOREIGNERS” sticker over the synth pan pipe setting, there is a Chinese instrument called the paixiao that the soundtrack is trying to bastardize here. On the other hand, neither Wikipedia nor my trusty Papyrus-font website indicate any usage of pan pipes in traditional Japanese music.

BD Wong disapproves.

BD Wong disapproves.

American Indian – synth pan pipe wtf

As seen in: Shapes, The Blessing Way

The usage of synth pan pipes here would be less objectionable were it not juxtaposed with actual Navajo chanting, or were it not used to signal Albert Hosteen’s every entrance on-camera like some kind of racist cowbell.

“Well, my musical idols include Johnny Cash and… oh, okay. Pan pipes, then.”

Let us all take a moment to remember those pre-9/11 days, when almost any culture could be brought to life with the simple touch of a pan pipe emulator. Or maybe I didn’t notice these shortcuts because the Fight the Future soundtrack was so good, even playing it in a crowded Chick-Fil-A makes you think you’re about to get abducted.

Or maybe it was because I had never left the country the first time I saw these episodes, and was thus totally fine with the notion that the rest of the world was drowning in pan pipes.

* Why did you see Badlaa? The only record of it in my mind is the atxf nickname “Butt Genie.”

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…