The X-Files: Babylon

Mulder and Scully in Babylon

Season 10, Episode 5: Babylon
Written by Chris Carter, Directed by Chris Carter
First Aired: February 16, 2016

 

I’ll be honest: I did not enjoy this episode. Even with their imperfections I’ve enjoyed every single episode up until now, but this was awful. I was offended by “Babylon’s” politics and horrified by its dialogue and characterization. And as usual in Carter episodes, the plot makes no sense. After looking forward to the revival for almost a year, I’m angry at this catastrophe episode on a personal level. There were a few enjoyable moments (courtesy of Mulder/Scully/Duchovny/Anderson, who are doing their best with the material as always) but there’s not much nice to say here. This is a rant, my darlings.

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The X-Files: Home Again

Mulder shines a flashlight as he and Scully walk through a dark hallway.

Season 10, Episode 4: Home Again
Written by Glen Morgan, Directed by Glen Morgan
First Aired: February 8, 2016

Okay, fair warning: this episode hit me very hard. My Dad died last April, which means that my reading of this episode is going to be very personal. I wasn’t sure I could write about it at all, or whether it would be a good idea if I did. But I watched the episode again today, and I’m gonna give it a shot.

  • This episode is fucking fantastic, first of all. Very difficult for me to watch, but fantastic nonetheless. Of the two Morgan brothers, I prefer Glen every time (sorry D). Glen Morgan and James Wong write Scully wonderfully, and they’re also really good at Scully’s Mulder. (Does that make sense? I mean who Mulder is to Scully, why she values him and how he enriches her life/is enriched by her.)
  • The scene of the homeless people being hosed down is uncomfortably realistic, and I like that The X-Files is portraying gentrification as evil. Because it is.

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The X-Files: Founder’s Mutation

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Founder’s Mutation: Season 10 Episode 2
Written by James Wong, Directed by James Wong
First aired January 25, 2016

 

This episode had everything I love about The X-Files. I could go on forever, but I want to save some of the good stuff for putting the episode in context with the rest of the season. Broadly speaking, I think this is the episode that proves The X-Files is not only timely in a “the government are bad guys” sense, but that this show can still be an envelope-pushing, genre-smashing roller coaster ride that you never want to end.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so! I’ve read numbers suggesting that more than twenty million people agree with me. Look, I’d be perfectly happy if it was just me and the tumblr crowd geeking out. But this is great news.

  • That cold open was squirmy and physically uncomfortable from start to finish. Poor Dr. Sanjay. Full credit to Christopher Logan, for making me feel how much pain Sanjay was in.
  • Also the camera angles in this episode are to die for. So pretty!
  • Mulder and Scully are discussing a corpse, Scully is going straight for the “logical” explanation, Mulder is raising his eyebrows at her, and just…I think I’m in love (again).
  • Also Scully: how does one shove an ENTIRE blade into one’s brain without help? Never mind, I really don’t want to know.
  • I forgot how fucking extra this show is. A lot of the old episodes look tame compared to what’s on television now, but in the day it had a reputation, and they’re earning it back.

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X-Files: My Struggle

Mulder and Scully My Struggle

My Struggle: Season 10 Episode 1
Written by Chris Carter, Directed by Chris Carter
First aired January 24, 2016

 

I debated whether to do the revival episodes as they aired, but waiting to do the new episodes seems silly. For now I’m going to share some notes and do something more formal when the season’s over.

My format for these is similar to Amy’s over at im here for the story. I highly recommend her blog in general and her “My Struggle” post in particular, not least because she can actually make sense of the plot! I…did not. I didn’t even try. My approach was a lot of excited scribbling and swearing, two of my favorite things. Have fun!

  • I was a little let down by the opening voice-over. Without seeing Mulder’s face, it all just felt like trying to fit twenty pounds of shit into a five pound bag.
  • Archival footage! At least Carter gives me something fun to look at while he re-frames history again for his alien conspiracy. He began this habit with that speech in “Redux,” and is still at it. Twice in this episode!
  • The historical flashbacks featuring The Old Man are…I don’t care. I like TOM cuz he’s sassy and burdened, but I don’t need his backstory yet. I also seriously do not need to watch an injured alien get brutally murdered. I know the government is evil.
  • Our Lady of Sorrows is just as apt a name for Scully as Our Lady of Skepticism.
  • When I saw Mulder fidgeting with the duct tape over his webcam, I just gave a pained sigh and said, “Oh, Mulder.” My poor beautiful rumpled scruffy wonderful darling.

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Suggested Further Fandom: Deep Throat

A triangular spacecraft is seen hovering above Mulder, who is looking up at it with an arm raised over his head.

Grace Duffy, For The Mary Sue

On the MulderDitch! and Scully’s fight scene

“The reaction is dramatic, but his behaviour here actually seems crucial in conveying the sheer desperation of his belief. If Mulder has spent most of his life believing UFOs took his sister, his dogged pursuit of anything even remotely connected to them is likely to overcome his better judgement.”

“How Scully isn’t a conspiracy theorist already, I don’t know. She manages to grab his gun and forces him to drive her to the base, lest she call the world’s media and invite them down to take a look at the local ~experimental aircraft. (Dana Scully, zero fucks given since forever.)”

On Mulder and Deep Throat’s last conversation

“Spooky Mulder would like to issue a formal in-your-face to everyone.”

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The X-Files: Deep Throat

Mulder and Scully stand side by side, looking up into a cloudy sky.

Deep Throat: Season 1 Episode 2
Written by Chris Carter, Directed by Daniel Sackheim
First aired September 17, 1993

 

For those of us born in my generation and after, the title of this episode refers not to porn don’t be scared to the government employee who took evidence of Nixon’s corruption to the Washington Post, which resulted in the Watergate scandal. To protect his safety the Post referred to him only as Deep Throat. At the time this episode aired, the real Deep Throat was still a figure very much shrouded in mystery. No one knew who he was or what his motives had been, or even what government agency he worked for. The significance of the Watergate scandal in American history and its specific impact on Chris Carter and The X-Files has been commented upon very skillfully elsewhere, so I’ll be brief. Distrusting and rebelling against authority (especially the government) may be the one truly universal American trait; after all, it’s how we became a nation in the first place. But it clashes very painfully with our American idealism, patriotism, and exceptionalism. Watergate—like the Vietnam war, which the show later addresses more than once—is a very good example of that clash. The X-Files explores that space to great effect.

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Suggested Further Fandom: Pilot

 

When I initially began my research for this blog I discovered an enormous wealth of material already out there. I read all of it and took notes like an undergrad, thinking I’d reference everything in my posts. Alas, I am too opinionated and long-winded. But! Because all of it so awesome, I decided instead to include a weekly Suggested Further Reading post to supplement my weekly episode analysis. Some of the readings are quite different from mine, but that’s what makes life fun.

Grace Duffy, Magical Amazing Person, For The Mary Sue*

*The first recap series I ever read and still one of my absolute faves! Read her shit.

“They discuss the Oregon case, with Mulder showing her pictures of the marks found on the most recent victim (Karen, the girl from the opening scenes). Scully suggests they may be attributable to animal bites or puncture wounds but is unable to identify the chemical compound drawn from them. Mulder declares that he has “plenty of theories” as to what they might be. If this were tumblr, I’m pretty sure that line would be tagged “That’s it. That’s the show.” The air between them is already so charged from this opening scene that it could be captioned “there’s a fire between us, so where is your god” from Babylon Zoo’s Spaceman. (’90s classic for a ’90s classic, lads.) Mulder posits the existence of UFOs, a notion Scully vehemently disagrees with—“What I find fantastic is the idea that there could be any explanation beyond the realm of science.” Lads, I think they like each other.”

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The X-Files: Pilot

Pilot: Season 1 Episode 1
Written by Chris Carter, Directed by Robert Mandel
First aired September 10, 1993

Most pilots are a homogenized swirl of introductions, clunky expositions, and a vague please-please-like-me desperation. This pilot is so successful by contrast because it serves as showrunner Chris Carter’s thesis statement. Despite occasional elements that don’t quite jive with the rest of the series, there is an extraordinary amount of X-Files ethos already in place. There are even a few details which are near and dear to my heart already there, such as Scully’s cross and Mulder’s sunflower seeds.

What I love about these early episodes is that they’re so much more about evoking a sense of the uncanny than about the aliens themselves. As far as aliens go, you’ve got some people with what looks like melanoma disappearing in swirl of leaves for no apparent reason and then later turning up dead. Added to that is one of Carter’s specialties: subtle but recognizable elements of myth, altered just enough to suit the story. Here we’ve got the time loss, bright light, weird noise, and implants of alien abduction accounts. But that’s it. We don’t know what the disappearances are about, whether this group of people is connected to the earlier cases Mulder references in his office, nothing. It’s not a jungle out there, it’s a dense Pacific Northwestern forest.

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The X-Files Project

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Mulder and Scully in the upcoming revival.

Before it has even aired, the revival of The X-Files has drawn what seems like droves of new fans, which makes me absurdly happy. What fans the news hasn’t created it’s bringing back, and I’m one of those. In celebration, I’m doing a massive recap of the series.

When the show first aired I didn’t watch it until I went with a friend to the first movie. I fell wide-starry-eyed in love with Mulder and Scully, from the moment they appeared on the screen. After the movie I watched all of the reruns I could, curled up in the dark with a bowl of popcorn and a mug of coffee. I also bought the movie on VHS, which I own to this day. I don’t think I watched the new episodes as they aired, because I always had rather a not completely in order understanding of the series. But I loved every minute of it, the way you do when you’re a lonely teenager in courtly love with two brave heroes who should just KISS ALREADY.

I didn’t think about doing a complete watch of the series until I found out about the revival. I’d had…a rough year already, and then I got sick. Dangerously, terrifyingly sick. For weeks it took herculean effort to lift my head off my pillow. I thought a rewatch of The X-Files might be a good distraction, and it definitely was. One of the most poignant things I realized, seeing it again after almost twenty years, was how profound an effect Mulder and Scully had had on me. They had been my heroes, my role models, my monster slayers, my lights in the dark. They still were, even with the more nuanced reading I had of the show as an adult. Once I finished the series (and felt better, I’m fine now) I realized that I had a lot to say about the show…so here we are.

My approach will be semi-formal: I’m going to put all the money and effort I wasted spent on a Master’s in English to use by analyzing the show as a text. Having said that, I’m never ever above a bit of fangirling, and because studying fandoms is one of my passions and TXF has a gorgeous fandom I’ll be referencing other fan reactions and fanworks. For now I’m going to an episode per post, one post per week. Again for now the plan is to only go through the penultimate episode of the seventh season, for reasons I’ll talk about when we get there. Finally, just in case there are people new to the show reading this, I’ll go as spoiler-free as I can.