Tag Archives: Mulder

X-Files, Fin

I finally finished watching the new season of X-Files. I’ve written a couple of blogs about the X-Files because I am madly devoted to the show. The first was about how Scully and Mulder have the best lips on TV.  Then I grounded Christopher Carter for Season 10,  and most recently, with season 11, I wrote this blog saying that Chris Carter is the bad boyfriend I can’t quit..I had only seen about half of the episodes at the time, and I realized Chris Carter was messing with my head again, like with season 10. And let’s not mention several of the movies that should never have gotten the green light. But in season 11, he first confused me by not continuing the disastrous Season 10, but instead tossed in a few emotionally satisfying episodes. So like when you take back a bad boyfriend because he promises to change, I was hopeful, but cautious.

And this time out, I am happy to report that Chris got it right. I believe I’m supposed to give you a “spoiler alert” at this point, but good god, people! It started in January and took me months to watch 10 episodes, so if you haven’t finished it yet, you need to go to show-watching rehab. Be gone!

He combined the familiar X-Files mysteries with Scully and Mulder reflecting on their middle-age. Alien-infused, slightly paranoid commentary on the government and the standard X-Files weird bloody gore unfold side-by-side with the physical limitations of middle age and their regret of choices made and not made. While doing their thorough investigative Scully and Mulder thing in the presence of  2 younger, impatient FBI agents, Scully delivers some funny lines about presbyopia — that thing we middle-aged people do, moving around our heads and squinting into our glasses to see small print. She’s teasing Mulder who is fumbling for his reading glasses to look at his phone’s Google search on the name of the person who was recently murdered. She also mentions loudly toward the young agents that gout is another sign of aging, and Scully and Mulder have a private moment making fun of them.

I loved them in this moment — I love making fun of the young ones without their knowledge.

But the episodes are also about regretting choices made or not made. Wondering if you could have done better, and forgiving yourself if you decide you couldn’t have. I am about their ages on the show, and I think that’s why it resonated so much.

I was curious about what others thought, and I was surprised to read a synopsis of the season that was the exact opposite of my take. I quote Zack Handlen from the AV Club website:

“…and it’s bad. Not the worst the show has ever been, and better than the mess that ended season 10 [Sandy comment: I totally agree!], but still: bad. As in not good, as in not worth it, as in kind of brutally depressing to watch everyone go through the motions for this nonsense.”

Ah, gotta stop you there, young one. From your picture I found online, I ain’t see no gray hair or hair coloring that seems a tad out of sync with your skin’s elasticity. So, I’m going to guess you are in your 30s. Look, I get it. I was “brutally depressed” watching On Golden Pond as a teenager. It freaked me out. Old people shaking and doddering around and yelling and being deaf. I wanted none of it, and wanted no reminder of getting old. It was a horrible movie to me; yet, people have told me it’s one of their favorites. It took me years to realize I was just too young, and it took several more years to think I should watch it again. Of course, now that I’m older, my biggest obstacle is remembering to add it to my Netflix list, which I just did, so there’s hope. And I think that just proves I’m old enough to appreciate it now.

Where was I? Oh, yes, young one, Zack, I get it. When you are younger, it is kind of brutally depressing to watch your heroes age. I know you want the endless conspiracy tangles, the far out weirdness found exclusively in small towns in the middle of nowhere, the witty repartee of their age-old argument of science versus belief. All that was there, darling; it just took a backseat to very real character development. These characters are now in their 40s and 50s, and they been around the block of life, with each other, with the FBI, with their careers, and with themselves. At this stage of their lives, they need closure on their son’s fate and what they did or didn’t do about it more than the continued shenanigans of the Cigarette Smoking Man conspiracy. But in true X-Files fashion, the two are inextricably linked.

At your age, watching Scully and Mulder talk softly in a church must seem like a lot of nonsense. But here’s what I saw: an amazing scene where Scully, who previously found an enormous amount of solace in the church and her religious beliefs, questions everything. Reviewing her life, she feels more like a failure, that she has no miracles left to ask for, that she has let down herself and those around her, and she has utterly failed to protect her son from Cigarette Smoking man and his minions.

Boy, do I get that. OK, maybe not the Cigarette Smoking Man minions after my son thing, but everything else, yes. And the best part for me? Mulder, the agnostic, shows up next to her in the church, lighting a candle because it’s meaningful for her (and her own candle wouldn’t light). He wishes he had never gotten her mixed up in the X-files, but tells her, “I am standing right here, and I am listening.” They have been workaholic coworkers, lovers, estranged, reunited, and have reached a place of being lifelong friends. His speech is that rare kind of moment, of truly knowing a person and accepting them. They have history, a lot of it is difficult, but they are both still alive and present to each other.

Zack, I gotta tell you, if this ever happens to you, get down on your knees and be thankful because this is what life is all about. All the great stuff about previous seasons? You can always bring your best to your work; and the alien evidence will always be moved to the next government facility and be out of reach. But this personal connection they have to each other? That’s rare and good baby, and is the thing even Cigarette Smoking Man can’t take away from them.

So do me a favor, Zack. Review this episode again at whatever X-files anniversary is being held about 15 years from now or whenever you are 45. Then we’ll talk about what is going on in this season. Of course, they may be On Golden Pond age by then, and if they do a show, we’ll alienate a whole group of new people. But I maybe able to help them get through it. I just have to watch the movie again and not freak out.

Also, I hope Chris Carter is done. You did good, Chris. We know that our beloved characters will be OK going forward; and praise the universe Cigarette Smoking Man was shot dead (we hope). What else do you need? Not a darn thing. Let’s do what the French do at the end of their films, because it’s cultured and classy. Fin.

X-Files: The Bad Boyfriend I Can’t Leave

Dear Chris Carter:

When we last met I had grounded you for essentially using us fans to make 6 useless episodes in 2016 that were billed as a standalone special event, but were really just a cheap ploy to make Fox TV give you another season of X-Files. It was not a standalone event; it mocked us and took to us to the brink with Mulder, minutes from sure death by the alien plague. Then a spaceship hovered over Scully and Mulder, and boom, that was the end. With no contract in place to guarantee the story would continue. Even as badly written as that story turned out to be, that ending was unforgivable.

Now you’ve turned the tables on me. You did score the additional season, and despite my serious misgivings, I once again find myself watching Scully and Mulder race through dark parking garages and driving rental cars on empty country roads. And, after all you put me through, I still foolishly expect closure, which makes me feel not like your pissed off mother, but like you’re the bad boyfriend I just can’t quit. You used me, you told me pretty lies, you dumped me, and then went off for 2 years with no contact. After the last time, I swore I was done with you. I didn’t care if I never saw you, Scully, or Mulder ever again.

But then I started watching the old X-Files again and remembered all of the good times we had — like the time I was too afraid to put my feet down after a particularly scary episode. It made me hunger for more Scully and Mulder, so I suffered nobly through the actors’ other mediocre shows just for a glimpse of them.

So, when you showed up at my door in January, I hadn’t changed that stupid lock, and I hadn’t made you leave your key. The charm of seeing Scully and Mulder again, a few sweet promises of closure, the passage of time dulling my memory, and I welcomed you right back in. I even offered you a seat and a beverage.

And like great make-up sex, the first episode — a flashback to the time just before the brutal cliffhanger — felt amazing; I was all in. There’s Cigarette Smoking Man, Scully, and Mulder doing their immortal conspiracy dance. I was drunk with it and gulped down a few more episodes. But then I got confused. The episodes were about other things. The monster-of-the-week things, as we call it in the X-Files world. Where’s Scully’s and Mulder’s son? Are we still in a flashback? Where the hell are we in the timeline?

Then I read that there are just 10 episodes, and only 2 are mythology episodes. Damn you Chris Carter! I fell for you…again! I was ready to break up, for real this time. But then you came around with episode 5, with its theme of Scully’s unbreakable bond with her son William and the fallout from her decision to give him up for adoption to protect him from Cigarette Smoking Man. The episode captures perfectly the parental torment resulting from doing the right thing at the time, and how hard and awful that is, and then much later you find out maybe it wasn’t the right thing. The regret is unbearable, but there was no other way to know then or now.

You followed that episode up with one focused on the long-suffering, FBI Assistant Director Walter Skinner. You gave us his difficult back story, brought it into a perfect X-File themed present, and delivered an ending was so poignant, I had tears in my eyes.

Damn you Chris Carter!

There are now 4 episodes left, and I can only hope Jillian Anderson has the strength that I lack. She says this is the last season she will play Scully. She will break up with you for good. And then, maybe, I can too.

 

 

Best Lips on TV. Period.

I’ve mentioned that I’m an old-school nerd, from a time when watching the original Star Trek and knowing all the episodes was the main requirement for entry into that exclusive club. And by “exclusive” I mean a lot of people pretended not to like the show so as not to be lumped in with the likes of people like me. When Star Trek Next Generation (STNG) came along, it was suddenly OK to like this show—dare I say cool, even, with a Shakespearian actor taking the captain’s role and the money and technical advancements to make it look a little more realistic than kids putting on a show in the back yard. Oh, sure there was a lot of casual fans still pointing and giggling at the rest of us, and Trekkies and Trekkers were taking pains to distinguish themselves from others, but Paramount was happy to take all our money for all things Star Trek, including wearing out the franchise with two additional so-so series. We hard core fans watched anyway because it’s in the nerd contract. Good or not, though, the shows still left big sci-fi hole when they were finally cancelled.

And then, like the answer to the collective sci-fi yearning, X-Files appeared in 1993, a new show on a new network. We nerds rejoiced and sweated every week waiting for it to be cancelled because that’s what happens when we like a TV show. But it kept going and went on for nine seasons. It was science fictiony, but based in reality and involved FBI agents, who are much cooler and less scary than CIA agents. They hunted down unexplained phenomena that were sometimes otherworldly, sometimes explainable, but nearly always interesting. And as if that wasn’t cool enough, the main characters, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) were two smart, beautiful people. But they weren’t beautiful in a glam Hollywood way. Scully wasn’t prancing around in blouses with plunging necklines and skin tight “suit” pants. Mulder wasn’t ripping his shirt open while wrestling with creatures or FBI agents trying to divert him from the Truth. No, they always wore straight up serious FBI business suits. All of which, to my expert eye, framed their pièce de résistance—the best lips on TV. Ever. Period. They are perfectly matched. Full and shapely. Oh, and the lip pursing! It’s like art. The way they’d purse their lips at each other while engaged in an intelligent debate of the overly scintillating, but often scant evidence of whatever it was they were investigating. God, I miss those lips to this day.

And then Netflix evolved to the point where I knew I could rewatch all the episodes, but that seemed like a daunting task even for a hard care fan like me. This isn’t A Netflix “season” with 14 episodes. This is hard core TV season episodes, 24 or so a year, with a total of 202. This wasn’t a weekend binge watch.  So as I was pondering what to do, I happened to see a post on Twitter by the nerd sage George Takei recommending a podcast called “The X-Files Files” by Kumail Nanjiani. It got me to achieve two goals at once: a way to watch X-Files and get onboard with the podcasting thing, so when people told me what podcasts they were listening to, I had something to say other than, “What’s a podcast?”

In preparation for the podcast, I watched the first two episodes with some trepidation—I’d first seen it more than 20 years ago—would it hold up? Would the lips still be captivating? Would I wonder what the hell I’d been thinking all that time ago when some episodes would leave me frozen on the couch, too afraid to put my feet down on the floor? I watched and fell in love all over again. Right out of the gate the first episode was so good. Great dialogue, fully formed characters, and the conspiracy plot is established right in the first episode. The podcast was great too, like sitting with a friend to gush about our favorite show.  I was 28 in 1993, but Kumail was only about 10, so it’s been interesting to get his perspective. He points out things I took for granted, like how the show straddled the internet—starting when it was still in its infancy, so there’s no Googling things or running computer searches. By the end of the show, they introduced some renegade hackers to incorporate that piece. Kumail and his guest, often a friend who is also a fan, talk about how you had to tape the show or never see it again. And there was no way to know the name of the episode except on message boards. Apparently hard core fans managed to get their hands on it somehow and post it.

What also struck me is how Kumail says it took him a number of years before he found people who loved the show as much as he did. So his podcast is partly to hang out with these folks and partly to introduce the show to a new generation. When he said that, I thought, wait—there were movies, merchandise, and it’s a show that’s often cited as the beginning of the CSI-type procedural. Plus, nerds of all kinds are out in force, we’re lousy with them for cryin’ out loud. How can that possibly be?

But as soon as I excitedly told people what podcast I’d found, I’d get blank stares. “Did you ever watch X-Files?” No, no, no. Except for my ex who I watched it with all those years ago, I’d be hard pressed to think of one other friend who liked it. I do know someone who was good friends with one of the shows writers, so that was fun, but I don’t remember if she was a fan herself. And if so, that’s only one other person. What the hell?

From Star Trek to X-Files, apparently I’m still a nerd among nerds.  But I’ve got Kumail and his friends, only 191 episodes and 27 podcasts to go, and most importantly, quality time with the best lips on TV.

Image credit: Indiewire.com