Liz Tells Frank Stuff She Forgot About Mulder and Scully and “The X-Files”
As you know because we are friends, there was nothing more formative for me as a lass than The X-Files. It indulged and deepened my love of science fiction, taught me the difference between procedural and serialized storytelling, and (most importantly) created a teenage ideal for future relationships that still lingers, ever so slightly (I have a thing for trenchcoats).
But I had forgotten until recently, Frank, how COMPLETELY EFFED UP The X-Files was as a comprehensive narrative. Especially (SO VERY ESPECIALLY) when it came to the core relationship between Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.
No one would deny that the partnership, friendship and eventual romance between Mulder and Scully was the closest thing The X-Files had to an emotional center, especially myself. But when you look at the sequence of events that occurred over the show’s later seasons, it made NO SENSE, on a storytelling level or a human level.
Here is why I mention it. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine IMed me with a simple question that she had a valid professional reason for needing an answer to: “When do Mulder and Scully first kiss?” (Frank, it should not surprise you that I was the person she thought to ask that question.) Because Aimee signed off before I could respond, I was forced to send her the following email:
Mulder and Scully kissing is a complicated question:
They NEARLY kiss in the movie (which takes place between seasons 5 and 6), but just as they’re about to Scully gets stung by a bee and she collapses and he has to rescue her from Antarctica so it doesn’t really count.
In season 6, episode 3 (“Triangle”), Mulder kisses a dream version of Scully in this 1930s fantasy he’s having.
In season 7, episode 4 (“Millenium”), they share a very short New Year’s Eve kiss, which might count as their first official kiss.
In the season 8 finale, they kiss over their baby. There might be some more kissing in season 8, but those were dark years and I don’t like to talk about them.
I forgot to mention in my email to Aimee that there’s also some kissing in the series finale, which is maybe the only two minutes of the six hour series finale worth ever watching again. But here is the important point: WHAT?!?!? What the fuck kind of romance/relationship building is this? Four kisses and a motherfucking BABY? And NOT IN THAT ORDER?
Because, Frank, that baby I mentioned? Here is the timeline of Scully’s pregnancy! (Based on this website, which I trust more than any Chris Carter-sanctioned resource.)
February 2000 (Ep. 8×13 — “Per Manum”): In flashbacks, Scully asks Mulder to be a sperm donor for her in vitro fertilization attempt, which doesn’t take, but then they kiss and so maybe they had sex? Or maybe the in vitro actually did work? At this point we have no way of knowing for sure.
June 2000 (Ep. 7×22 — “Requiem”): Scully announces that she’s pregnant (having not had any acknowledged sexual activity since Season 4, fyi), having exhibited symptoms typical of being two or so months along. (So, let’s say she conceived in April.)
Summer 2000-Winter 2001 (The bulk of Season 8): Scully is pregnant, solving crimes with Doggett.
February 2001 (Ep. 8×13 — “Per Manum”): In the actual timeline, Scully I think is finally looking a little pregnant? Please note that she has been pregnant for about 10 to 11 months without showing.
February to May 2001 (Ep. 8×14 — “Deadalive”): After finding Mulder’s allegedly dead body, Scully and the gang bury it in February, but then figure out it’s just in stasis or something in May (there’s a “Three Months Later” time jump in this episode) and exhume it. After the time jump, btw, Scully actually looks full-on knocked up. Which I would hope, given that she has now been pregnant for 13 months. 13 MONTHS, FRANK.
Late May 2001 (Ep. 8×22 — “Existence”): Scully gives birth. Apparently, SCULLY IS A MANATEE.
January 2002 (Ep. 9×08 — “Trust No 1″): A third party says out loud that Mulder and Scully had sex one time. (ONE TIME?!?!?)
This can all be nitpicked to death, I’m sure, but I feel comfortable saying that of all the favors my poor memory has done me, a fuzzy recollection of how my favorite TV romance of all time got thoroughly jacked up by poor storytelling is one of the best.
I put the blame for this fuckery, Frank, on this: Because the writers of The X-Files believed that to resolve Mulder and Scully’s will they/won’t they romance would, to quote the fanboys, “ruin the show,” they chose instead to create the most convoluted storyline possible to get around that. Instead of, you know, TELLING A GODDAMN STORY WELL.
It’s possible to create a compelling love story that doesn’t just spin its wheels for nine seasons. You resolve things, you add new complications, you resolve those things, you add new complications. It’s called most compelling dramas ever. Even soap operas have a grasp on this. But The X-Files never got it.
And so I keep my fingers crossed for Castle, Frank. I pray that they do not follow that example.