THE BLAIR WATCH PROJECT #2 – ‘Requiem’

Sarah Blair continues her ‘Blair Watch Project, by starting with The X-Files S7 finale, ‘Requiem’…

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If you’ve been keeping up-to-date on the blog or my Twitter feed, or basically anywhere, you know ‘Requiem’ was an episode I was not looking forward to watching. Honestly, in my head all I could remember was Skinner screaming for Mulder in the woods. It was traumatizing. I didn’t want to live through that again.

That being said, HOLEY BUCKETS THIS EPISODE. I don’t even know where to begin, so maybe I’ll just start with the beginning? It was exciting to get back to Bellefleur, the town where The X-Files kicked off its run. So much of the ‘Pilot’ episode came flashing back. It was like having coffee with an old pal I hadn’t had a chance to hang out with in awhile. Billy was up and about, walking and talking. And Theresa got a fabulous new haircut and had a baby. The X was still on the road!

It was a reunion of sorts, and I mean that as a compliment. Everything that was great about the ‘Pilot’ was great about ‘Requiem,’ with the bonus of the best parts of the mythology tossed in for good measure; we got the toxic alien blood, the shape-shifting bounty hunter alien clone dude, and the creeptastic quintessential X-Files moment where we see the dead sheriff in the trunk and realize what’s REALLY going on.

We also got to revisit the scene where Scully came into Mulder’s hotel room. And every Shipper unabashedly REJOICED as she climbed into bed and they snuggled up together, exactly the way we’d been hoping for all those years. (Non-shippers, go grab some iced tea and relax. This is our moment, mkay?)

Then, in proper X-Files form, just as everything was coming together… it all fell apart. Lucky for all of us, X-Caster Carl who is endlessly more profound than I am pointed out that Mulder finally gets what he’s always wanted—a prolonged alien encounter. Scully gets the baby she was hoping for. But it comes at the price of them being separated.

ANGST GALORE!!!

This episode truly encapsulates all of the things that make The X-Files, THE X-FILES. It pains me to know that kids these days won’t know the agony of waiting an ENTIRE SUMMER to find out what happens next. How will they build any character?!

Ah, well, hope to see you again on Friday, 9 p.m. EST for the next installment of the Blair Watch Project: The Season 8 premiere, ‘Within.’

You can follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahlblair.

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TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose vs Quagmire / Invocation vs The Erlenmeyer Flask

The X-Cast blog team are going to share their daily predictions about the Episode Tournament fixtures coming up, talking about who they think will win (not crucially who *should* win – that’s up to you!).

January 19th/20th

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CLYDE BRUCKMAN’S FINAL REPOSE vs QUAGMIRE

Tony: “CLYDE BRUCKMAN – probably the toughest tie this round, or one of them. Loathe as I am to lose Quagmire, Repose is my odds on favourite to win the tournament so it should conquer.”

Carl: “Well this is similar to the Jose Chung v Detour match, which ended up around 60-40 in Chung’s favour, if I recall correctly. A couple of questions come to mind:
1) Is Quagmire more popular with the fans than Detour?
2) Is Clyde Bruckman less popular with the fans than Jose Chung?

I’m not sure, but if the answer to those two questions turns out to be ‘yes’, then we could be looking at an upset here. I don’t think that’s what will happen, but I want to give Sarah a bit of hope. I expect a narrow win for CLYDE BRUCKMAN.”

Sarah: “You guys are too kind. We all know what’s going to happen here.

Paige: “I think Clyde Bruckman should pull off the win, but I’m expecting another nail-biter.”

Baz: “CLYDE BRUCKMAN’S FINAL REPOSE has so many great comic moments I can’t see it not winning (and personally I think it should). Ah poor QUAGMIRE though…it’s not quite as good (sorry @sarahlblair) and I can’t see it having as many fans as Bruckman, but it is still good enough that it deserves round two (much like Detour). It will be close though…”

INVOCATION vs THE ERLENMEYER FLASK

Tony: “FLASK – hands down the strongest finale and while Invocation is a decent one, it’s nowhere near as loved or remembered as Flask.”

Baz: “THE ERLENMEYER FLASK easily. I agree, one of the strongest finales and a great way to cap off the first season.”

Andrew: “THE ERLENMEYER FLASK is one of the best finales of the entire series. It really sets up the mythology and I think most fans find it particularly memorable for Deep Throat’s death. INVOCATION is an underrated episode, IMO, and one of the better S8 stand-alone episodes.”

Baz: “I agree. It’s not particularly memorable eighth season episode, I can’t see INVOCATION getting many votes, even though it’s a decent episode in its own right.”

Carl: “Invocation is fine, can’t see it getting anywhere near the mighty FLASK. Prediction: Flask wins by 81% to 19%.”

Paige: “FLASK in a blowout.”

Sarah: “FLASK will take the win as easily as Scully took that alien embryo.”

Make sure you’re following our tournament with the hashtag #TheXFilesEpisodeTournament on Twitter.

THE BLAIR WATCH PROJECT #1 – ‘Je Souhaite’

Sarah Blair begins her ‘Blair Watch Project, by starting with The X-Files S7 comedy, ‘Je Souhaite’…

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As part of my Blair Watch Project, I knew I couldn’t skip the Season 7 finale, ‘Requiem,’ because it sets up the entirety of Season 8. Since I knew it was going to be a tough episode to watch, I figured I’d kick things off with something fun. The last standalone episode of Season 7 ‘Je Souhaite’ was just the ticket.

This was an episode I never thought much about since it originally aired back in 2000. Most of my go-to X-Files come from the first 4 seasons, with a sprinkling from Seasons 5-6, plus ‘Hollywood A.D.’ and once in awhile, ‘X-Cops.’

I’m really sad that I missed out on all those years of watching ‘Je Souhaite’ because in the past year since I did my big watch leading up to the Season 10 premiere it’s definitely made my list of what I like to call Comfort Episodes—the X-File equivalent of a warm blanket and a cup of hot chocolate, a big tasty plate of spaghetti, or a slice of apple pie fresh from the oven. Those episodes that you can turn on when you’re having a lousy day and end up with a smile on your face.

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And that’s exactly what happened this time around. Watching Mulder and Scully at their best, in one of Vince Gilligan’s best, quite simply put a big ‘ole grin on my face. It did everything I needed and expected it to do because I know what’s coming up next week. . . .

‘Requiem’ almost makes some of the best moments in ‘Je Souhaite’ a little bittersweet, if not downright painful. Seeing Mulder search the empty city, knowing the only person on the entire planet he wants to find is Scully, feels like a dagger to the heart because in the next episode she’s going to be doing the same thing for real. Seeing them together in the last scene, so happy and content with everything exactly as it should be, is like getting that dagger twisted and then having a Mack truck dropped on my head.

We recently did a Roundtable discussion about how we think Mulder and Scully’s story should end. I might have been partially glib in my answer, but really, I think ‘Je Souhaite’ would have been the perfect episode to end the series.

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As a writer, I can’t deny I enjoy putting my characters through all kinds of painful scenarios. Drama—especially the angsty kind—is what makes writing, reading, and watching so much more fun. But somewhere in there, it’s important to leave the audience with a glimmer of hope and happiness. That’s what ‘Je Souhaite’ does that Chris Carter doesn’t seem to give us in the actual finales, except for maybe the boat scene tacked on to the end of I Want to BelieveMaybe it’s just the optimist in me, maybe it’s my shipper side showing, but whatever ending Mulder and Scully get, I want it to be a happy one.

That being said, I hope you’ll join me in watching ‘Requiem’ on Friday, 9 p.m. EST because I’m really going to need all the support I can get. As much as I’ve been assured by the rest of The X-Cast crew that Season 8 is worth it. . .  there’s a solid chance come 10:13 p.m. I’ll be covered in snot and rocking in the corner.

You can follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahlblair.

NEW FEATURE: The Blair Watch Project

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It’s been around 16 years since Season 7 of The X-Files ended. As a huge fan of the show, I was well aware of the rumor mills circulating that David Duchovny wanted to leave at the time. But I hoped beyond hope that maybe it wouldn’t amount to anything more than rumors, or at the very least maybe he’d leave for a couple episodes and come back?

Mostly, I kept asking myself, “How can The X-Files still exist without Mulder?!”

In the Season 7 finale, I got my answer and it wasn’t the one I wanted.

Of course, I remained optimistic. I kept holding out hope. I stuck with Season 8 up until about halfway through. After that, I allowed myself to be carried away with college life in New York City, choosing to focus on my classes and making new friends instead of obsessing over my favorite show. Occasionally, one of the people in my dorm would be watching and I’d join in, but it honestly just wasn’t that exciting anymore.

I felt betrayed and abandoned.

But I never once thought that David Duchovny or Chris Carter owed me anything. I did, however, wish that the network and producers would have ended the show on a high note with the original cast intact, and allowed everyone to move on simultaneously instead of having to beat a dead alien into a bloody pulp, metaphorically speaking. Out of curiosity and maybe a sense of duty, I tuned in for the Season 9 finale—mostly because at the time I thought it would be the last episode I’d ever get. Thank the good Lord Kinbote that it wasn’t!

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16 years later and quite honestly I still can’t help but get a bitter taste in my mouth when I think about it. I was so bummed out after watching ‘The Truth’ that I took a solemn vow to never ever, EVER, watch it again. A vow which I absolutely intend to uphold.

But time and time again, since I joined up with The X-Cast crew, they’ve all enthusiastically agreed that Season 8 is strong and worth giving a watch. Season 9 hasn’t gotten much praise, but I also simply don’t feel like I can call myself a true fan at this point and discuss the show critically as a whole with those episodes missing from my viewing experience.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to go ahead and watch Season 8 for the first time since it aired, and view almost all of Season 9 for the first time ever. I’ve kicked things off with ‘Je Souhaite’ in Season 7 because it’s a fantastically strong episode. A light and funny Vince Gilligan masterpiece, and one of my favorite episodes of the series. I needed to start on a high note. And before you ask, I absolutely intend to maintain my solemn vow and will not be watching ‘The Truth’. Not gonna happen. Don’t even ask. (I’m looking at you, Carl.)

I hope you’ll join me on Friday nights at 9 p.m. EST where I’ll be live-tweeting from @TheX_Cast handle and come back here for my overall thoughts on each episode. See you soon, X-Philes!

You can follow Sarah on Twitter @sarahlblair.

Introductions: The Power of X – Sarah Blair

Sarah Blair introduces us to her X-Phile fandom…

Over 20 years ago, a little show called The X-Files premiered on FOX television network. I was 11 years old, and still thought a kid named Urkel was funny. That particular night, all those years ago, I had no idea that a show I wasn’t watching would change my life forever.

Unfortunately, I was one of those annoying kids who did everything opposite of whatever was “popular” so as soon as I heard people talk about this show, I made the decision that I would absolutely not take part. Every time my cousin mentioned how awesome it was, I replied with, “Mulder and Scully? What kind of weirdo names are those?”

Okay, I was a total idiot. I didn’t miss out on many episodes but missing even one at all, I soon found out, was too many.

One Friday night, the phone rang and my best buddy Jessica said, “Sarah! I’m home alone and I’m watching The X-Files and it’s dark in my house and I’m so scared! Turn it on and watch with me!”

So I did.

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The episode was “The Calusari.” It scared the crap out of me. It was also the most amazing show I’d ever watched ever. And holey buckets this dude called Mulder was goooood looking. An obsession was born. Here are a few true facts about me as relate to The X-Files:

*My first car was a Ford Taurus.

*I painted a giant black X on my wall exactly like the one in the opening credits.

*I carried around packs of David Sunflower seeds everywhere I went.

*I played The X-Files drinking game with plain ‘ol iced tea because I didn’t know what a drinking game actually was and I figured that’s what Mulder would have done.

*I take my coffee with milk and no sugar because I remember reading somewhere that’s how Scully likes her coffee. (Note: I can’t remember where I read this. It very likely could have been a fanfic, or an Unauthorized guidebook. Either way it stuck with me. I also hope it’s true, because I actually do enjoy my coffee this way.)

*I made my debut on the World Wide Web using the AOL screen name BigBlue82.

There have been many fandoms that I’ve geeked out about in my life, but The X-Files was my very first. It’s a special thing when you experience an addiction so intense you quite literally just. can’t. get. enough.

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I bought every guide book, authorized and unauthorized. If Mulder and Scully were on the cover of a magazine, I snatched it up without even blinking. If I saw anything with an alien or an X on it? Into my stash it went.

All those nights I spent frantically trying to record the show on my VCR, keeping meticulous track of every episode name and what tape it was on in a green notebook with a big X taped on the front, and I never once imagined I’d be able to hold each episode in my pocket to pull out and watch any time I wanted, almost anywhere I wanted, on my phone. My inner teenage Sarey, still can’t wrap her brain around that.

When the movie came out, our local radio station held a special premiere party, and I stayed glued to the radio for an entire week trying to win tickets. I was desperate to be the 100th caller, but no matter how fast I dialed, no matter how many times I hit redial, I couldn’t make it happen. The day of the premiere finally arrived and I was ticketless and heartbroken.

Being an Aries, the idea that other people in Knoxville would see this movie before I would was absolutely unbearable.

So I called the request line at the radio station and begged the DJ if he would please, please, please with whipped cream and a cherry on top give me tickets?

And… he did!

Thinking back on that night, it’s hard to remember much of anything other than the way my heart actually stopped when that black oil filled the screen and the logo came up.

It was all kind of a blur, really. But the coolest thing about that night? There were around 340 people in that movie theater, and one of them turned out to be the man I would grow up to marry. We didn’t know each other yet, but we were both there in that same room for 121 minutes. Maybe I’m a sap, but I think that’s pretty special.

Chris Carter has mentioned many times how he was inspired by a show called Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Well, Mr. Carter, you went on to inspire millions more with your very own show. There are many reasons I’m a writer today. The X-Files is very high on the list of those reasons. It taught me so much about suspense and pacing, characters and storytelling, and how to develop and add depth to plot.

Some of the first stories I ever wrote were pieces of (very terrible) fanfiction. But the thing about writing is that you have to write a lot to get better. So practicing writing with Mulder and Scully, helped me hone my craft and gave me the ability to test the waters with my very own characters. The dark, mysterious world of The X-Files, helped me see the world in a different way so that I would be able to create my own mysterious world filled with paranormal creatures. I love The X-Files, and I wanted to read a book that would make my inner fangirl swoon, the only thing was, I had to write it first.

I owe a lot to this show. It’s been an integral part of my existence, it’s shaped who I’ve become as an adult, how I view the world around me, how I interpret current events, and I’m so excited that the internet and current technology has made it possible for me to connect with other fans and share so many insights about this amazing experience.

Sarah will be a regular contributor to the blog. You can find her on Twitter @SarahLBlair.