ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: What are the funniest moments in The X-Files?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question…

What are the funniest moments in The X-Files?

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TONY: “This is easy. “Who’s that black private dick who’s a sex machine with all the chicks? SHAFT! Can you dig it?” “I DID NOT!!!””

ANDREW: “‘Theef’… Mulder mocks Scully, pursuing his lips, “Mulder, why are we here?”
‘Syzygy’… Mulder mocking Scully’s short, little legs
‘Bad Blood’… Too many to list!
‘Jose Chung’… Mulder’s girly scream
‘Hollywood A.D.’… Scully showing Tea Leoni how to run in heels”

SARAH: “It might not be the most hilarious moment of the series, but my favorite funny moment is in ‘Quagmire’ after the boat crashes and M&S end up on the rock. They hear a sound and realize it’s a duck. Mulder says, “I’m still tempted to shoot.” And Scully gives him that little nudge. It’s the nudge that gets me every time. Also in that same scene when they’re discussing cannibalism (because what else do you do when stranded in the middle of a lake?) and he asks if she’s lost weight–that classic Scully eye roll is everything.

‘Triangle’ –when past Scully punches Mulder and he says he expected the left.
When Scully kisses Skinner and the elevator door opens to reveal Spender and Kersh staring.

Scully in a bib eating BBQ.

Mulder in a tree.

‘Small Potatoes’, ‘Bad Blood’, ‘Je Souhaite’– everything

Pie.

Bleeping aliens.

Every scene including the waterbed.

Okay, I’ll stop now.

PAIGE: “Of course, Mulder’s girlie scream was the first thing coming to mind. Eddie Van Blundht practicing F-B-I in the mirror. Mulder and Morris doing their underwear dance a la I Love Lucy in ‘Dreamland’. Scully showing Tea Leoni how to run in heels in ‘Hollywood A.D.’ is righteous. Scully throwing water in Doggett’s face at the start of the eighth season, because it just had to be done at that point in time. The reveal in ‘Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose’ that they’re talking about Yappi and not Mulder, and then Mulder being tossed out of the room for his negative vibes. Scully eating the cricket in ‘Humbug’ and then the human pin cushion telling her the future looks like Mulder as he poses on the steps. Mulder eating piece after piece of pie in ‘Jose Chung’.”

JONATHAN: “Scully performing the autopsy in ‘Three of a Kind’ and the cigarette scene. All of ‘Bad Blood’, the Mulder and Scully married scenes in ‘Arcadia’. When we hear Diana Fowley has been shot in ‘The End’.”

CARL: “The moment that never fails to make me laugh is Mulder’s yelp in ‘Jose Chung’s From Outer Space’. Duchovny’s pose towards the end of ‘Humbug’, which Paige mentioned, is another good one. There’s a moment I love in ‘Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster’, too. I’ve only seen the episode once, so I may be misremembering it slightly. Mulder says that he’s now a middle-aged man, and leaves a pause for Scully to disagree with him. She says nothing, but he presses on anyway: “No, no, I am!” Made me laugh a lot.”

BAZ: “Yes, far too many to mention. Mulder doing the dance in the wardrobe mirror of Morris Fletcher’s bedroom in ‘Dreamland’, fake Mulder seducing Scully in ‘Small Potatoes’, Scully’s sex scene with Guy Mann and Mulder trying to get a photo of the monster on his phone in ‘Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster’, Clyde Bruckman telling Mulder he’s going to die from autoerotic asphyxiation ‘Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose’, all of ‘Jose Chung’s from Outer Space’ (particularly the description of Mulder and Scully, his yelp and Lord Kinbote), Scully’s infatuation with the hick version of the sheriff in ‘Bad Blood’, Mulder’s”get me a sandwich woman!” from ‘Arcadia’, Scully’s ability to dismiss all of Mulder’s theories in ‘War of the Coprophages’ and while not technically The X-Files, Mulder’s red underpants pose FBI badge from The Simpsons episode ‘The Springfield Files.

The great thing about The X-Files, is that for all the moments of horror, there are some truly wonderful comic moments. The show’s ability to take the mick out of itself is what kept it fresh and funny for years. it’s no coincidence that ‘Mulder and Scully Meet The Were-Monster was the most loved episode of the revival’.”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

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ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: How should Mulder & Scully’s story end?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question…

How should Mulder & Scully’s story end?

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TONY: “So thinking about this, and haters gonna hate me for this, but I don’t think M&S should get a happy ending. Happy endings aren’t what The X-Files is. I don’t mean they should go out in a desperately miserable fashion, or die, but I think they shouldn’t end up together as a family unit, and their fate be left ambiguous. I’d be happy with one of them disappearing again, this time for good, if it served a greater story purpose. Or even the old trope of the work never being over, of the show conclusively ending with them still in the FBI, still investigating the paranormal, still chasing The Truth. That’s far more fitting than the 2.4 William most shippers undoubtedly would want from this question, and truer to the nature of the show.”

PAIGE: “Toughie! I’m not a shipper, but I do think there’s no one in the world for either of them than each other. So if they don’t wind up together, they both wind up alone. They’ve been through so much, I would kind of like them on rocking chairs at the end. And I’m not a believer in the happy ending, I just think they have worked their way there. Probably bantering over William’s mid-life crisis — both taking disparate sides, of course.”

SARAH: “After they save the world from alien invasion they’ll both end up teaching at Quantico. Mulder will head up the students learning how to profile human/alien hybrids. Scully will be the world’s foremost expert on alien autopsies, and not that kind you buy from an infomercial for $19.99 + S&H. At the end of the day, they’ll go home for a beer and wave to Skinner across the street as he takes out his trash. He’s a bestselling author of FBI thrillers that are mostly true, but so wild they seem fictitious. M&S will ask him how his latest novel is going, then invite him over for burgers on Saturday.”

CARL: “Scully ditches Mulder at the aisle, realising her future lies with a dashing English blog contributor instead… In all seriousness, I’m not certain about this one. I hear what Tony’s saying about them not ending up as a typical family unit, and I’m drawn to that argument. On the other hand, I do think the final scene of ‘Existence’ was very effective, so something like that could work. I agree that the trope of never being done with the work might make the most sense as an ending. There are two things I know I want for a conclusion to Mulder & Scully’s story:
1. Whatever the ending is, it should have been designed as an ending, not a cliffhanger. It would be a huge shame if the last scene of ‘My Struggle II’ is never followed up on.
2. It would be appropriate for Chris Carter to bring the Duchovny & Anderson era to a close as he sees fit. Whether he would deliver something that the fanbase would be pleased with is another matter, but I’m not bothered about that really.”

ANDREW: “‘I Want to Believe.’ That’s my ending. Since CC has said he can’t actually imagine writing an end to the series, better ‘I Want to Believe’ than ‘How Many Times Can I Say Alien DNA with a Straight face?”

SARAH: “I was perfectly satisfied with the boat ending.”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Within vs Grotesque / The Pine Bluff Variant vs Oubliette

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!).

December 19th/20th

WITHIN vs GROTESQUE

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Tony: “GROTESQUE – tricky one that could go either way really but the lack of S8 love could swing it to demonic Kurtwood Smith.”

Carl: “Two very different episodes, both perhaps underappreciated. Season 8 remains divisive overall, so I expect a win for GROTESQUE.”

Sarah: “I expect GROTESQUE will take the win, mostly because Season 8 is not as popular. Basically what Carl said.”

Andrew: “I’m gonna go for WITHIN. It’s a better episode, IMO.”

Baz: “WITHIN is a better episode and a great start to season eight. GROTESQUE is from a more memorable season – I think it might be win by that logic.”

THE PINE BLUFF VARIANT vs OUBLIETTE

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Tony: “OUBLIETTE – much as I’d go for TPBV, the Samantha connotations of Oubliette I suspect could be enough, but again it’ll be close.”

Sarah: “These are both great episodes. Two that I appreciated much more on my recent rewatch. But TPBV has more meat to it, so I think it’ll come out on top.”

Carl: “We’ve had a few close matches recently and this will be another. TPBV is the best solo Shiban script, while Oubliette is my pick for the series’ most underrated episode. I think THE PINE BLUFF VARIANT will eke out a narrow win.”

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

FOCUS ON: The Truth (and all it’s consequences)

Andrew Blaker goes in depth on the original series finale, now Season 9 finale ‘The Truth’…

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‘The Truth’ brought to an end a landmark sci-fi TV series but was tasked with the impossible task of satisfactorily concluding nine years of uber-convoluted mythology, as well as propelling Mulder and Scully into the future, when the question of whether we’d ever again see them was very much unknown. It would, in fact, be six years before I Want to Believe hit theaters, and the series finale could very well have been the end for the beloved franchise.

Focusing on the final minutes of the episode, Mulder and Scully are last seen in a motel room in Roswell, New Mexico, echoing an intimate conversation the duo held in the pilot episode. Their fates are unknown: Mulder, and maybe Scully, are wanted by the FBI, and the toll their quest for the ever-elusive “truth” has taken on the duo—professionally and personally, including the “loss” of their son, William—is apparent. Their fates are left unresolved, but the viewer is nonetheless satisfied knowing they are reunited and protective of one another. Mulder’s final words, “maybe there’s hope,” have never sounded so wistful and promising.

But there are nearly 90 minutes before we get to that final scene. The series finale is not a perfect episode, but in this writer’s opinion does a solid job of summarizing the nine years of convoluted and at times oblique mythology that has consumed (and threatened) Mulder and Scully’s lives. For a significant chunk of the episode, it plays like a clip show, or “greatest hits” montage.

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There are some solid moments throughout. Skinner finally gets a meaty role, cast as Mulder’s impromptu defense attorney. A.D. Kersh is thoroughly despicable for most of the episode, but proved himself a semi-decent guy by aiding in Mulder’s escape. And bringing many of the key players into the series finale to testify on Mulder’s behalf—Marita Covarrubias, Jeffrey Spender, Gibson Praise, and even Doggett and Reyes—while certainly adding credo to the “greatest hits” vibe, does hit on key aspect of the show’s history.

There are, however, plenty of disappointing moments throughout. First off, you can tell Chris Carter wrote it. The episode is chockful of the vague, pseudo-spiritual dialogue that weighed down the Chris Carter-penned episodes of Season 10 (‘Babylon’ anyone?) that really doesn’t reveal anything new in ‘The Truth’. Every one of Mulder’s witnesses are “discredited” with a simple question, and this is just sloppy, lazy writing on Chris Carter’s part. Yes, the FBI lies to protect itself. Nothing earth-shattering here. Mulder’s trial very much feels contrived and awfully desperate (which it was), but the way this plays in the series is a bit anticlimactic. Was anyone surprised Mulder was found guilty, and sentenced to death? Did we expect anything different? And what happened to Skinner and Kersh? Skinner’s called into a meeting between Kersh and Toothpick Man just after Mulder’s escape, but we don’t learn what was discussed. This is a pretty jarring thread to leave hanging.

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Doggett and Reyes are not given any real closure, despite helping Mulder and Scully escape the abuelos. And the confrontation with CSM is a nice touch, and there really is no other way the series villain should have gone out. Did anyone really believe a tumble down the stairs would finish him?

Ultimately, the series finale is anti-climactic but faithful to the mytharc. Hardly the worst episode of the series, and certainly not among its greatest episodes. One small mercy here: a final scene filmed between Toothpick Man (Alan Dale), who was poised to become the new CSM, and a George W. Bush look-a-like, was cut and relegated to the DVD bonus features. Best decision Chris Carter made for the episode: it’s a cringe-worthy and completely pointless scene, trapping the finale in the geopolitical issues of the day, and would have completely usurped the great ending scene between Mulder and Scully.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter @andrewblaker620.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTIONS: Detour vs Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’ / The Field Where I Died vs Zero Sum

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!).

December 12th/13th

DETOUR vs JOSE CHUNG’S ‘FROM OUTER SPACE’

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Tony: “JOSE CHUNG – if Detour was up against almost anything else, it’d probably win. It’s gonna take a titan though to knock out Jose.”

Carl: “I wouldn’t rule out an upset here. Detour is well-loved, has some shippy stuff and may benefit from being the underdog. JOSE CHUNG, but could be close.”

Sam: “Jose all the way I reckon. The way the relationship between M&S is built on is too good, like Bad Blood.”

Andrew: “Toughest match-up yet! I pick JOSE CHUNG, but Detour is a great MOTW.”

Sarah: “This one is a tough match. As much as I’d love to say DETOUR could come away with a win, I think it’ll be JOSE CHUNG this round.”

Baz: “It has to be JOSE CHUNG, the best comedy episode I think the show ever produced. But I have a lot of love for DETOUR- it should go through to the next round, but it shouldn’t beat JOSE CHUNG,. I think it will be more balanced though between votes, with JOSE CHUNG edging out to win.”

Paige: “Jose Chung all the way. I will disavow the fan base if Detour wins. Detour is a nice episode, but Jose Chung is the end all be all for me.”

THE FIELD WHERE I DIED vs ZERO SUM

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Tony: “TFWID – relatively comfortable win. It’s got lots of Mulder moments, a touch of romance, and Zero Sum isn’t much remembered – sadly.”

Carl: “I’m not sure. TFWID had lots of detractors back in the day, many upset by the idea that Scully wasn’t Mulder’s soulmate. Not certain how I’ll vote here, but I’ll say ZERO SUM will win.”

Baz: “I agree with Carl. ZERO SUM is a great story for Skinner – but then we saw how AVATAR turned out (it still got my vote though…)”

Sam: “Tough call I reckon. Shippers will probably angrily vote for TFWID but ZS has the mythology. Think I’d vote for ZS…”

Sarah: “TFWID is probably the more memorable one between these two, so I think it’ll take the win.”

Andrew: “Having just rewatched TFWID yesterday, my vote would be for Zero Sum. Both eps are non-starters for me, but the only redeeming thing in TFWID is the acting.”

Paige: “TFWID was so reviled by the fan base for insinuating that Scully was not Mulder’s soulmate. I’m not counting out Zero Sum.”

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

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: If you could reverse any X-Files character’s death, who would it be & why?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question…

If you could reverse any X-Files character’s death, who would it be & why?

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TONY: “I think I’d go for Krycek. Much as part of me loved his death, I also love Rat Boy hanging around causing trouble and popping up every now and then. It would have been great seeing him in Season 10!”

ANDREW: “Well, I think the way The Lone Gunmen were killed off was just lazy… so I’d say them.”

BAZ: “I would have loved Krycek in season 10 but he also needed to go when he did. The show didn’t know what to do with him at that point. I also second the Lone Gunmen. My choice would be Mr. X. As dramatic as his death was, there were never a decent replacement for him. The revelation that he worked for the Cigarette Smoking Man shortly before could have added an interesting dynamic to future stories.”

CARL: “Tough question. I’ll say Samantha Mulder. I wasn’t a fan when it first aired, but I’ve actually grown to like Closure a bit more over the years. However, I’m still not entirely convinced it was a fitting conclusion to Mulder’s quest to find his sister. I’ll cheat and pick another death to reverse, this time from the standalones. I really liked Tooms, and I wouldn’t have been at all upset if he’d lived to make a third appearance at some point.”

BAZ: “I completely agree about Samantha. A terrible ending to her character and the mystery of her abduction.”

SAM: “Margaret Scully- too fast and not explored enough in my opinion… I get that that was probably on purpose, but I would have liked a bit more story around it.”

TONY: “Samantha is an interesting one. Did she even die? In the traditional sense? Personally I think the walk-ins idea was a fascinating and different way to resolve an almost unresolvable plot point, so I don’t know if I’d save her. I wouldn’t want to lose the ending of ‘Closure’. Lone Gunmen though? Hell yes. What the frak were they smoking when they thought taking them out was a good idea?”

BAZ: “Another choice from me. Admittedly he probably would have died with the rest of the shadowy consortium a few months later in season six’s One Son, but I hated that the Well-Manicured Man died in the movie and for no real reason other than he betrayed his group’s secrets to Mulder. John Neville’s ability to deliver the phrase ‘dear God’ was brilliant and he was by far my favourite of the Cigarette Smoking Man’s group.”

CARL: “Do we think that The Lone Gunmen shouldn’t have died under any circumstances or do we think that Jump the Shark just wasn’t a fitting end?”

BAZ:  “I don’t know. I’m going to watch it this week so I’ll let you know. But no, there was no reason for them to die.”

TONY: “While I really like the way WMM dies, I agree Baz. Such a shame to see the great John Neville go. And yeah Carl, I don’t think they needed to die at all. You could have kept them around, always bums, always fringe elements, fated to die together as old men. Fine. A heroes death like that, great as they were, didn’t suit them.”

CARL: “I think I agree, no need to kill them as things stood in Season 9.”

SARAH: “I’m totally with you all on The Lone Gunmen. Taking them out was completely unnecessary. As far as Samantha goes, I didn’t care for the explanation the first time around, but watching the episode again with more perspective, I found it appropriate and very poignant. I think her end was a fitting resolution. So many other things on the show were shrouded in mystery without solid answers, driving Mulder to further his endless quest, but this one mystery is something he was finally able to believe and find comfort in. Another person I wish had survived is Agent Pendrell. I always imagined an alternate universe in which he and Scully got married and filled Grandma Scully’s house with lots of little red-headed uber babies at Christmas. Uncle Mulder would stop in to bring inappropriately noisy and annoying gifts, and talk about the good ‘ole days with Scully.”

BAZ: “Absolutely! Poor Pendrell! Okay, I just watched ‘Jump The Shark’ and it really is a rubbish ending for The Lone Gunmen. They might have gone out saving a hotel full of people from a deadly contagion, but it was an episode that felt totally disconnected from the rest of the series. No Skinner or Scully until the end. No Mulder, their greatest ally. Just three heroes stuck in a room, unable to escape. There was no sense in killing them.”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

IN DEFENCE OF… I Want to Believe

Andrew Blaker leaps to the defense of the second X-Files movie, I Want to Believe…

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In July 2008, after years of anticipation, the second X-Files film arrived in theaters. Released a mere week after the enormously successful The Dark Knight, the film debuted at #4 at the U.S. Box Office, earning $10.2 million. After 11 weeks, the film had amassed nearly $30 million, and earned an additional $47 million internationally.

The critical response to the film was decidedly mixed. And fan response was mixed, with many fans feeling shorted after a six-year absence. The film is a stand-alone piece which has much to say about Mulder and Scully as characters, and their relationship, but nothing to say about the mytharc that spanned nine seasons and the 1998 feature film, Fight the Future. It was, to say the least, underwhelming. Fans expected something very, very different, and I believe it’s fair to say that is why fan reaction to the film was so mixed.

Because, by itself, it is a solid film. Robert Ebert wrote a largely positive review of the film, remarking that “the movie works like thrillers used to,” and calling the film a “skillful thriller.” The film has little-to-no CGI effects but relies on atmosphere, dialogue, and the acting chemistry between David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. In early 2016, just before the debut of Season 10, film critic Keith Uhlich of The AV Club wrote a reconsidered review of the film, remarking that “if Fight the Futurewas The X-Files in summer blockbuster mode, I Want to Believe was its attempt at an intimate chamber drama—more Ingrid Bergman than Michael Bay.”

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Fans expected a blockbuster return to the franchise. But the film is a well-crafted character study, realistic to where Mulder and Scully are in their lives and in their relationship with one another. The film deals with weighty moral issues and a thoroughly disturbing case in the cold Virginian winter. Were this a two-parter within the series, it likely would have been heralded as one of the hallmark episodes.

On a personal note, I think that overall the film is a testament to the characters of Mulder and Scully, their relationship and the passage of time, as well as capturing the essence of the series and the agents’ pursuit of the truth. Their years in the FBI has cost each of them, professionally and personally, and they are attempting to live a life approaching something like normal. For the past eight years, I Want to Believe was the final chapter in the series—and while it is great to have the series back, in this fan’s opinion, I Want to Believe came much, much closer toward capturing the characters and their relationship than the revival series.

I certainly hope that when the series comes to a definite end the series creator, Chris Carter, brings the characters and their journey to a satisfying and emotionally true conclusion.

You can follow Andrew Blaker on Twitter @andrewblaker620.

ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION: Which supporting X-Files character was most underused?

For our next roundtable chat based on a key X-Files question…

Which supporting X-Files character was most underused in the show?

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TONY: “I’m gonna say Marita Covarrubias. I know she wasn’t much liked by the fandom but apart from the lovely Laurie Holden being on screen, I really think Marita deserved more exploration as the realisation of Chris Carter’s concept for a female deep throat insider. She ended up just becoming Mrs Krycek very rapidly & then popped up far too randomly for my liking. There was a much more interesting character under the surface there, I’m convinced.”

CARL: “Marita was my first thought too. Otherwise, I’d say Senator Matheson. The notion of Mulder having connections in Congress was a promising thread running through the early years of the series, that I don’t think the writers developed enough. Raymond J. Barry did enough in his few appearances to justify a larger role.”

SARAH: “Definitely agree with Marita! I think she could have been pretty badass, given the opportunity to shine. I also would have liked to see more Agent Pendrell. His star was extinguished much too soon. RIP, good buddy. You all know I’m thoroughly biased, but I think Skinner could have been used even more. There’s a whole ocean of untapped potential there. Every time I watch ‘Triangle’, (and let’s face it, EVERY EPISODE) I ache to have his point of view thrown in, too.

CARL: “A comedy episode from Skinner’s POV could have been phenomenal.”

SARAH: “Hollywood AD should have been his.”

SAM: “Seconded Tony. I was also annoyed how she became just another damsel in distress, really. Would have liked her to have been more like Mr. X. He’s not really a supporting character, but I would like to see Charlie Scully- see what he’s all about.”

ANDREW: “Definitely agree about Marita. I think she had a great role in those episodes, especially when she’s seen as an envoy in Russia after the rebels land. I would love to see her return in Season 11! My vote is for Toothpick Man (Alan Dale). I’m disappointed he wasn’t brought back for Season 10. He should have been used more, and IMHO we could have used a new antagonist rather than resurrecting CSM.”

MICHAEL: “I agree with Tony, Martia Covarrubias was an excellent character that worked well, but I never felt like we got to know her or really her motivations like we did with X. Outside of her, can I say Deep Throat? I mean he dies in Season 1 and while I love how the series used him then and later on, I almost wish we had gotten two seasons out of him as opposed to just one, just so the impact was a little larger. There’s also an argument to be made for the Lone Gunmen at times, but I guess they got their own show too…”

PAIGE: “This is a real toughie. I would have liked to have seen more of Marita and Matheson, because I thought both of them came off very two-dimensional. I didn’t want to see more of Diana and Spender, because they were very one-dimensional, but we didn’t get a lot on them. I always want to see more of Alex Krycek, because he always could slot into more episodes than they used him in. Maybe less punching bag and more insight into the guy and his ever-changing allegiances? I’m gonna go sooooo anti-fan base and pick Melissa Scully. During my current rewatch, I have a lot more respect for her and her opinion than I ever did in first run and on video and on DVD and on Netflix. DWhat do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!efinitely softening on the Melissa front. But Glenne Headey in the movie was really the most underused. What a thankless role.”

BAZ: “I’m currently working my way through season 9 and I’m going to go out on a limb and say Monica Reyes (I think Doggett is generally recognised as being awesome). She doesn’t measure up to the other leads but she is not the bland character she’s made out to be. She proves she can take the lead, has attitude and a great ability to play the Mulder role after he left the show. I love her relationship with Doggett and there is a great friend / mentoree relationship with Scully. She even gets a few good episodes too and Annabeth Gish delivers a fine performance. It’s just a shame her character was utterly ruined in the revival because she really was one of the heroes in the later years…”

What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know your choices in the comments below or on social media!

The Undeveloped Mythology

Andrew Blaker takes a peek into The X-Files mythology…

Recently undertaking a rewatch of Season 1, it was refreshing to see the early seeds of the mythology strewn throughout the early “mythology” episodes as well as the stand-alone/monster-of-the-week episodes. It’s great fun to go back from time to time and watch the pilot episode of The X-Files—to see Mulder and Scully’s first meeting, and to see their first interactions as “believer” and “skeptic,” a role that would cement the characters for years to come.

]And yet, despite their opposing views on scientific and paranormal phenomena, there’s a camaraderie immediately, when Mulder confides in Scully the truth about his sister’s abduction and his suspicions about a government conspiracy aimed at keeping him from the truth.  There’s the case, too, in Bellefleur, Oregon, where Scully first witnesses paranormal phenomena in the case of Billy Miles and Theresa Nemman—a case revisited seven years later, in another pivotal Mulder & Scully episode, “Requiem.”

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Series creator Chris Carter has made it no secret that when he started the series, he had no original concept of the mythology. There was no blueprint to what Carter hoped to accomplish through the mytharc (many fans believe there was never a blueprint to the mytharc, of course, but rather that Carter & company made up plotlines as the series progressed), and so the earlier episodes have a very free-range approach that is forsaken by the series’ third season.

Elements of the mythology that would be later revisited are introduced in a handful of Season 1 episodes, including “Deep Throat,” “Conduit,” “Eve,” “Fallen Angel,” “E.B.E.” and the first season finale, “The Erlenmeyer Flask.” Even little-praised episodes such as “Ghost in the Machine” and “Young at Heart” feature Mulder’s first informant, Deep Throat (portrayed by Jerry Hardin), and reference the government’s meddling in the arguably stand-alone cases investigated by Mulder and Scully in those episodes.

In other words, the mythology introduced in the first season and even through several Season 2 episodes is very loose, not yet integrated into what would become known as the series mythology over the remainder of the series, and the 1998 feature film Fight the Future. In the 1993-1994 season, the series was very much attempting to find its roots. There are several arguably lesser episodes in this season, but in this author’s view, the series may have benefited from avoiding the densely plotted and easily contradictable mytharc as begun more or less with Dana Scully’s abduction in the excellent “Duane Barry.”

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The Season 1 episodes are not “tied down” to anything: the viewer had never seen a series like The X-Files before, and could of course have no idea where the series would take its paranoid government conspiracy storylines. From wanting in on a sinister IT system in “Ghost in the Machine,” willing to buy the secrets of a dangerous scientist who’d discovered the ability to regenerate his arms and body organs in “Young at Heart,” and endorsing the Litchfield genetic experiments in “Eve,” the government seems to have its hand in every proverbial cookie jar, and exactly what the government is capable of is left unknown. The blending of the mytharc and monster-of-the-week episodes, never as seamless and effective than in the first two seasons, only serves to increase that classic attitude of paranoia that so typified the series and made it such a feverish hit in the mid-1990s.

Alas, the pregnancy of lead actress Gillian Anderson in early 1994 forced the series writers to find a way to excuse her from a handful of episodes in the midst of the second season. And what evolved from Scully’s abduction was at times an intensely well-crafted and thrilling mytharc, an integral part of the series, and in no way is this author suggesting that the mytharc as it developed should not have been developed. But it is always nostalgic, and an exercise in the viewer’s imagination, to consider what might have been had the series maintained the balance between the first season’s “mythology” and the stand-alone cases investigated by Mulder and Scully.

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And that’s the best part about re-watching the first two seasons of the series: imagining the innumerable possibilities the series might have explored, and the innumerable directions the mytharc might have taken.

You can follow Andrew on Twitter @andrewblaker620.

Introductions: How I Became a Fan – Andrew Blaker

Andrew Blaker discusses his journey to becoming an X-Phile…

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I had not seen a single episode of The X-Files prior to 2008, when I Want to Believe hit theaters.

Looking to see a movie with a high school friend of mine, the film’s premise sounded interesting. A good throwaway summer film, I figured. I knew the series has to do with aliens and alien abduction. So we saw the film shortly after its July 25 release. That film made me a fan.

I was taken by the characters. I really enjoyed the film, and stand by that initial opinion. The film was a mature and well-crafted thriller that relied on the film’s atmosphere and stellar acting by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. I decided to take a look at the series, knowing absolutely nothing about the mythology.

I found a used DVD set of Season 3 and started watching. Surprisingly, watching the season straight through, including the mythology-heavy episodes, didn’t confuse or throw me too far off course; it made me eager to watch the series from the beginning. I checked out the DVDs from my local library and a year later, having made my way through the series and two films, purchased the complete series DVD set.

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In college, my best friend and I watched the series straight through in about a year and a half. We gathered together earlier this year to watch The Event Series.

The X-Files is my favorite television series, and I love revisiting the series on a frequent basis. I favor the Monster of the Week episodes over the mytharc episodes, but love to read anything about the series and listen to podcasts recapping the episodes.

I’m excited for the chance to write about the series I love, and the characters and episodes I love.

Andrew will be a regular contributor to the blog. You can follow him on Twitter @andrewblaker620