Reflections on The X-Files

I recently finished the last of my DVD’s of The X-Files and, sadly, won’t be buying the next set, season 8, any time soon. Maybe for Christmas or birthday, but the last two seasons kind of suck and I vaguely remember what happens anyway (not much), so it probably isn’t worth it. What an amazing show, though. Even though I became a fan in 9th grade (season 4) and watched religiously 30 minutes after The Simpsons every Sunday for 5 1/2 seasons, I didn’t fully appreciate how great that show was, how creative and dramatic and imaginative, until I started watching my DVDs about a year ago and went through seven seasons relatively quickly.

Mulder is awesome. He’s one of my favorite protagonist/heroes from TV and movies. Either because I hopped on in the middle of the ride or because I was young and not attentive enough to underlying themes and character development in fiction, I didn’t appreciate how much of Mulder’s heart and soul was in the X-files and how much the X-files made up Mulder’s heart and soul. I did understand that his lifelong quest was fueled by his desire to learn what happened to his sister, and I understood his seemingly futile struggles in the alien/government conspiracy storylines. But I didn’t appreciate how much of a crusade, a struggle, a mission, and a life purpose the X-files were for him every day. I did realize it, just not as fully as I should have. What I think I really didn’t appreciate at all until starting at the beginning of the series was the fact that in nearly every episode and certainly in the ongoing story arc, it was Mulder against the world&#8212Mulder against his skeptics, his detractors, his enemies, and even his truest friend, Scully. It was always “Mulder’s wrong&#8212oh, wait, he’s right!” He constantly had to prove himself, to justify himself and his theories, to Scully, his superiors, and the various people he encountered each week. That, as much as his quest to find his sister and his crusade against the government conspiracies, was why the X-files were Mulder’s heart and soul. He was defined by the constant skepticism he received and his continual vindication in the end.

My main complaint about the characters is that Scully scarcely grew as a person, or at least as an FBI agent, in the entire first seven seasons. I know she grew closer to Mulder, she exhibited a lot of angst and frustration and soul-searching about her choices and her position in life, and she suffered a lot and this helped make her a little more committed to Mulder’s various causes. But after being in a fucking spaceship and seeing it fly out of the antarctic ice into outer space, she was still the same old skeptical, “scientific” Scully, week after week. After seeing and even touching solid, bona fide proof of numerous supernatural or paranormal phenomena, and being proven wrong by Mulder time after time after time, she was still just as skeptical the next time as she was in the beginning. She always concocted some inane, convoluted rationale for why that week’s mystery could easily be explained by “science,” and it was always more far-fetched than Mulder’s paranormal or “unscientific” explanation. I could list so many examples from the first seven seasons that it would make this post long and boring. I’m not saying Mulder grew any more, but as a special agent investigating X-files, he needed to grow a lot less than Scully did.

My main complaint about the show is directly related to why I won’t spend $20 soon on seasons 8 or 9: hardly anything was ever concluded or explained fully. Every question was answered with three more questions. The show had no closure, no climax, no resolution. Plenty of matters were resolved with some finality along the way, but, again, they either seemed to raise new questions or not really resolve anything major about alien visitors or the government conspiracy to cover them up. Maybe a third movie will, but I’m not holding my breath for that.

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