X-Files: The Other X-Title (part 1) - An Appreciation

by Brandon

X-Week rolls on with The X-Files. X-Files? Yes! There's no need to cry foul! In case you have been living under a rock or wasting away your soul by playing Grand Theft Auto, Agents Mulder and Scully are returning. Like the X-Men, the X-Files have a huge cult following and the show has spawned a legendary mythos within the Sci-Fi fan community. But unlike the X-Men, there are no secondary mutations involved. But are there? The new movie opens this Friday, but today I will look at the beloved series which spawned the new film.

I guess I would be classified as one of those weirdos who believes in the paranormal and unexplainable side of life. That's not to say that I necessarily believe in little green men from Mars or things that go bump in the night. However, I do hold both a healthy skepticism in the government's record with truth and a great interest in the fantastic. I do believe in ghosts. I believe in UFO's. I do believe that there are things we humans cannot and will never be able to explained by using science. As a result, When The X-Files premiered it literally gave me a hitching post to nail my beliefs and interests to.

From beginning to end, I never missed an episode of The X-Files. I remember when the first episode aired. My twin brother and I were blown away, and the reaction was confirmed in gym class the following Monday. The geeky kids had culled together on an end of the basketball courts to play away from the jocks. Alan immediately brought it up, but the amassed fanboys immediately began to chatter. I think Alan would eventually end up in jail for selling drugs, but I stuck with my X-Files addiction. It probably cost me getting some "boo-tay" with the ladies, but I think I ended up getting the better end of the deal.

Agents Mulder and Scully represented a classic fictional dichotomy; believer versus skeptic, acceptance versus skepticism. As characters, they played off of each other perfectly. As actors, they were cast perfectly. There were many layers to their relationship. They were antagonists at first, but they eventually became partners, almost equals. There was always a simmering sexual attraction between the two, the type that frustrates fans, but they wouldn't have it any other way.

Fox Mulder was damaged goods due to the tragedy of his sister's abduction. Mulder was the guiding force for the series, even during his absence from the series' last two seasons. Fox was a complicated character who wanted to find the "truth", but who may not have been comfortable with the answers he finds. It was as if he was constantly afraid of his own investigations, but that fear would drive him to continue. He was fearless and fearful all at once. He represent the morbid and often horrifying curiosity we have with the unexplained. People always want to see what is hiding under their bed, but few want to face it eye to eye. Mulder fascinated us all for his mind, so easy to believe the strange. Mulder never really grew much as a character. Rather, he devolved further and further into his own obsessions until by the last episode they had nearly consumed him.

Dana Scully was a savvy skeptic for much of the series run, someone who always questioned what she was seeing. Whereas Mulder guided the show, Scully was the emotional heart of the series. The viewers connected with Scully more so than Mulder because she was like us; she did not want to believe. For Scully, ignorance was not necessarily bliss, but rather a puzzle to reconcile with what we knew. Her rational approach to the many adventures she had grounded the show. Yet she had to admit to herself more often than not that she could not create a litmus test for all reality. As the series progressed and Mulder slowly left the show, she became the believer. She grew the most as a character because of her experience.

Many fans complain that the last two seasons were the weakest, but I respectfully disagree. While the loss of Mulder and the reduced role of Scully severely disappointed fans, the addition of Agent John Doggett and Monica Reyes provided a new dynamic for the investigation of the unexplainable. Like always, the shows were split into two categories, the conspiracy episodes and the monster-of-the-week episodes. The series is best remembered for the conspiracy episodes, but those made up only a small fraction in relation with the monster episodes. Those were always my favorite. The writers of The X-Files showed a great diversity in their storytelling ability, the type of diversity most sci-fi television shows, let alone any other genre, could hope to deliver. In a way, it's wrong to boil the X-Files down to just alien abductions.

The X-Files was at its best when they were exploring the fringes of horror. I can remember being scared out of my mind during those first three seasons. I lived in a log cabin in the middle of the woods back then. Do you realize how many episodes have that set up? Enough to where I always had to have my brother in the living room with me with plenty of lights on. My roommate in college and I made an event of Sunday nights when The X-Files was on. Pizza, beer, and potato chips were our best friend during those years.

I would also have terrible dreams after watching The X-Files and loved every minute of it. I never get that feeling with most of the horror shows or films that are churned out of Hollywood these days. I hope I'll be scared again this weekend.

God, I loved that show. I miss it.

Tomorrow, I'll post my favorite episodes from the series. See you then!

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