I remember the very first X-Files episode I stumbled upon. The show was still airing on Friday nights then, and Scully and Mulder were investigating deaths at a high school that turned out to be the work of a Satanic cult comprising school board members. I was mesmerized by both the episode’s content–it easily could have been written by Stephen King, who actually did go on to pen an episode–and its two main characters.
Here were two extremely successful FBI agents who mutually respected each other, solely referred to each other by last name, disagreed often without sabotaging the other’s work and despite (a very low level of ) sexual tension never slept together.
I knew men and women could work together without screwing! I knew it!
The first three seasons of the show were sublime. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t even stomach the show by the time it ended its run. By then Scully and Mulder had a romantic relationship and conceived a child, who was given up for adoption. The two agents who replaced them on the X-Files eventually slept together too. It was one big mess, with the characters getting in the way of the show. I don’t care how well David Duchovny can pull off a red Speedo; the name of the show was the X-Files, not Mulder’s Package.
But what irritated me most was we never learned what happened to Mulder’s sister, which is what drove him to the X-Files in the first place; it was the whole point of the show. Instead, everyone got sidetracked by Cigarette Smoking Man, Krycek, the Shadowy Cabal of Really Important People Smoking Cigars, the UN Blonde and Two Hours I Will Never Get Back: The X-Files Movie. (I think there might have been two movies. I didn’t watch the second one because fool me once, Chris Carter. FOOL. ME. ONCE.)
But since I’m a woman who still resolutely cheers for a team that has won only two championships in its century-long existence, I was intrigued and then plain excited when I heard about the reboot. It was like an abbreviated spring training: Carter had six episodes to answer everything that the show left hanging.
And once the original title sequence started, I squealed and my hopes and expectations shot WAY up.
I only ended up liking one episode.
Duchovny eventually settled into being Mulder but Gillian Anderson, who’s now a blonde (go see her in The Fall on Netflix right now), looked as if she were unsure of her decision to do this project: Scully was reduced to just mooning over Mulder and their child–and occasionally conducting autopsies and taking blood samples. Also, girl, that is not your wig.
The episode I liked, the monster story, contained a host of Easter eggs for fans like me. References to the red Speedo, an homage to one of the (late) Lone Gunmen, Scully’s dog, and a script full of love for Moby-Dick. This was the X-Files at its best: not taking itself so seriously and poking fun at itself and its characters, embracing the strange and the often overlooked. Most importantly, Mulder and Scully act like the investigators they are and not schmoopies.
(In the penultimate episode, Mulder goes on shrooms to interview a terrorist in a coma–because of course he does–and ends up line dancing to Achy Breaky Heart and the Badokadonk. That was a clear sign of someone going through a mid-life crisis, not poking fun. And it was a little sad, even though the other Lone Gunmen showed up in the shroom-inspired vision.)
Then my husband and I watched the final episode and we were hoping that Mulder’s sister ended up raising her nephew, but it ended on a cliffhanger and I’d ended up just as frustrated as I’d been when the reboot started.
Mulder’s sister isn’t even mentioned other than during a voiceover to introduce the first episode of the reboot. And I can’t even say, “There’s always next season,” because this is all I have left. And quite frankly–and I know this is selfish–I thought we all deserved better.