Tony Black continues our alphabetical breakdown of The X-Files by looking at the institution where the files live…
Founded in 1908, and later led by the legendary J. Edgar Hoover, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is the mainstay of The X-Files. While the files and investigations of Mulder & Scully extend across the globe, without the FBI they would find exploring the realm of extreme possibilities much harder. With their office set in the basement of the Hoover Building at the heart of Washington DC, our intrepid agents have the sweet irony of conducting their investigations into the conspiratorial machinations of our shadowy overlords from within the very seat of their power. That contrast sums The X-Files up perfectly.
It wasn’t just Mulder, of course, who investigated these cases at the FBI. A division of sorts existed as far back as the 1940’s, when the very first X-File was opened, and the subsequent investigations by Arthur Dales in the 1950’s (as seen in S5’s ‘Travelers’). When Mulder did pick up the quest in the early 1990’s, he inherited a series of files being monitored by a myriad of FBI section chiefs, assistant directors, deputy directors and shadowy unknown forces.
First there was cuddly old Blevins or aggressive McGrath; then came Walter Skinner, their mainstay and at times nebulous, passive-aggressive ally; AD’s Jana Cassidy looking into Mulder’s domestic terrorism work or first AD, then DD, Alvin Kersh, a sheep in wolf’s clothing ultimately who served as a deeper antagonist to agents John Doggett & Monica Reyes during their overall tenure on the X-Files than Mulder or Scully.
Many fellow FBI agents alongside our lead characters have come and gone over the years too, sometimes working side by side, other times in opposition. From poor old Reggie Purdue in ‘Young at Heart’, possessed Jack Willis in ‘Lazarus’ or Bob Patterson in ‘Grotesque’, to undercover assassins or turncoats like Alex Krycek, Jeffrey Spender or Diana Fowley, through to the next generation of Leila Harrison or Agents Miller & Einstein in the revival.
What about the ever present ‘Danny’ over the phone? The show’s Maris from Frasier, oft-referenced but never seen, always there to give Mulder a number he needs in exchange for Knicks tickets or some other inducement. This doesn’t even take into account the alien super soldier replacements inside the FBI, such as Agent Crane, or how shadowy players such as the Cigarette-Smoking Man or Toothpick Man could walk the halls with absolute power and impunity, few people quite sure exactly who they are.
Ultimately you can’t really have The X-Files without the FBI. As an organisation, they are an essential part of the cocktail, whether full of suspicious characters or angry bosses under the heel of those shadowy deceiving, inveigling and obfuscating forces. The fate of Mulder & Scully is to forever toil in the basement of this austere government agency and whatever the future of the X-Files, you can be assured the FBI will form some part of it.
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Next week… G is for GHOSTS…