Once Upon A Time, a long, long time ago, when I was a kid too young to be watching The X-Files and probably didn’t understand a thing of what was actually going on, I actually enjoyed mythology episodes. Of course, that was before Chris Carter decided the mythology of this show was more important than the chemistry between his leads, than common sense and continuity.
Since then, though, I found refuge in the so-called Monster-of-the-Week episodes, because even if I’ve never been a fan of horror, I was a fan of Mulder and Scully, and I was willing to put up with what I didn’t like for their sake.
(There’s an argument here about me watching The X-Files at an impressionable age and how that’s the reason why, to this day, I remain steadfastly against horror movies, but that’s neither here nor there.)
This is not technically a Monster-of-the-Week episode, though I never really knew what to call the episodes that were not CC’s drivel and were not actual monsters. Though I think we could just call them fun? Because this was fun in a way last week wasn’t, in a way nothing that Carter has touched has been in so long that I don’t even want to count.
So, let’s talk about what makes this episode, ironically enough titled “This” work so much better than last week’s and why Chris Carter should never, ever write another episode of The X- Files.
BEFORE THE X-FILES WAS ANYTHING ELSE, IT WAS FUN
These days we tend to think of The X-Files as conspiracy after conspiracy, and it’s true that the show got bogged down by the mythology to a point where it was hard to remember there used to be anything else, but back in the day, we got into the show because it was different, because David and Gillian on screen together were pure magic, and because the show was kinda, well …fun.
And yes, because Scully was a groundbreaking female character and because David Duchovny has perfected the “You’re a brilliant genius and I love you” look, but even that came a bit later. During the Pilot, for example, as Mulder and Scully laughed in the rain, we laughed too because, like Scully, we thought it was absurd, but we were willing to take a chance on this journey.
On this chemistry. On these two characters.
This episode is fun in a way that reminds me of that, and yet it doesn’t truly capture that level of lightness, because well, all that shit has happened and we’re only a week removed from that unforgivable thing CC thinks is brilliant storytelling. But it tries, oh, it tries, and for that we gotta thank Glen Morgan, a man who has consistently given us brilliant hours of television in a way You-Know-Who never could.
Yes, the episode is nonsensical at times, and yet, in true The X-Files fashion, it doesn’t really care that the explanation isn’t really good (or maybe it is and we just have to go deeper than I have the capacity to go at this point cause CC has ruined me), it’s just having fun with the characters as they try to navigate around the crazy, and for that, I’ll give it kudos. This is really all I wanted of The X-Files: Mulder and Scully bantering, throwing innuendos at each other and being touchy feely while presumably solving cases – or not – I was never really too concerned about that.
Too bad we can’t do these kinds of episode every week. Which leads me to …
TAKE THE X-FILES AWAY FROM CHRIS CARTER
It’s like everyone gets it but Carter. But then again, it’s always been like that. And I know I’m a little too late with this petition, the show is Carter’s and we’re probably not even getting more episodes after this – not that we want episodes without Scully, okay, no one wants episodes without Scully, don’t you even dare Chris – but I can’t help but fantasize, for a second or two, about life without Chris Carter.
Can you imagine what these two would have been without the stupid mythology ruining their life over and over again or even with a consistent mythology that made sense? Can you imagine what Scully would have been with some female writers to actually treat her like a human being and not a prop? Can you imagine what diverse writers would have made of this beautiful show? Can you imagine THE LOVE STORY WE COULD HAVE GOTTEN?
I can, and it hurts. It really does. Mulder and Scully deserve better than Carter. We deserve better than Carter. We always have. And we really weren’t asking for much. We would have been content with ten episodes like this and a bed scene or two.
We really would have.
Other things to note:
- “Lone Gunman Langy?” How many Langly’s do you know, Mulder?
- Scully seems pretty okay with the dead person on cell-phone thing. Go Scully.
- I frequently look at this show like Mulder and Scully were looking at each other at the beginning.
- Sure Mulder, turn off the TV (which was on MUTE) so you can see better.
- Mulder, you amateur. You really didn’t have a gun with you?
- What is it with TV and making episodes so dark. And I don’t mean dark as in motif I mean visually dark. I NEED TO APPRECIATE THEIR FACIAL EXPRESSIONS, DAMMIT.
- Though I kinda appreciate that you trust Scully can take care of herself and kick ass without you needing to protect her.
- Which doesn’t mean you don’t want to, but that’s another deal, and Chris Carter doesn’t like us to talk about these things.
- ACCUSE YOUR ENEMY OF THAT WHICH YOU ARE GUILTY OF is the tagline.
- I feel like this season of The X-Files is turning out messages that are a little TOO MUCH on the nose.
- Agent Mulder’s residence, she says, like everyone expects her to be there, even people who don’t know them.
- I’ll take an episode about Mulder and Scully’s trip to IKEA. It’s bound to be better than “My Struggle I, II and III.”
- Russians? Really?
- Mulder and Scully should go everywhere handcuffed together. Someone write me this fic.
- No one trusts you, Skinner. Maybe it’s the FBI hat. Or the fact that you have the correct keys to those handcuffs.
- Yeah, this whole breadcrumbs in a cementery thing makes sense, but hey, what Skinner was saying last week was bull. *rolls eyes* Come on, Mulder.
- Or maybe I should be saying Come on Chris Carter? Continuity is a pretty thing.
- “Who needs Google when you’ve got Scully.” Who needs anything else when you’ve got Scully.
- How many times did Mulder and Scully get shot at this episode? Feels like a record.
- Scully at food is me at food.
- “OUR office.”
- “OUR home.”
- Not trusting Skinner is a thing, though. Been there. Done that.
- So the FBI trusted the Russians to digitize The X-Files. Are we joking here or what?
- Langly has been bleached HAHAHAHAHAHA.
- Random lady: “We wanted a life eternal together.” Mulder and Scully: Significant look.
- “Maybe he say Mulder in his dreams.” “Who hasn’t.”
- “Adorbs” – Really, Mulder?
- Also, if you want to have sex with her (and you do), just do it. We won’t complain. The bedroom eyes are a little much.
- They managed to upload Langly’s consciousness into a simulation but they can’t make the image not flicker. Come on?
- Mulder gagging at that guy hitting on Scully is the best thing about this episode. Don’t believe me? Here’s the gif:
- “And, could agent Scully BE with me?” *CRIES*
- “Why do you operate so well with your hands cuffed behind your back?” “As if you didn’t know”
- My reaction:
- Let’s be honest, this level of flirting would have straight-up murdered us back in the day.
- Touchy feely Scully is my aesthetic.
- How did they do cleanup so fast? Can I hire them?
- What’s with the insistence to sleep on the couch? GO TO BED.
The X-Files airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on FOX.