Here I am again! As a reminder, this series reviews shows that all geeks are ‘supposed to be’ familiar with, when that’s not always the case, and lets you know if you really should care about them. This time around, I’m looking at The X-Files.
The X-Files follows the story of FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully in their work on the titular X-files, a department where the FBI sends the cases they deem ‘unsolvable by standard means’. Basically, the cases deal with problems that are paranormal or extraterrestrial in origin. Mulder has devoted his life to the X-Files because he hopes that by working on them he can find his sister, who was abducted by aliens when they were children. Scully, a medical doctor and scientific thinker, is originally assigned to the department to temper Mulder’s passion and discredit his work. They discover that the United States’ government is neck-deep in a conspiracy with extraterrestrials, but constantly struggle to find conclusve evidence to prove it.
(From here on there be spoilers.)
That was one of my first problems with the show. No matter what happened, not matter how many people inside and outside the FBI they convinced of their theories, Mulder and Scully were always left knowing they were right but with no way to prove it. This happening once or twice makes it a show that isn’t afraid to have a sad ending. This happening all the time makes it a show that enjoys trolling its viewers.
The other problems I had with the show were centered around Scully’s character. First of all, eventually she and Mulder develop feelings for each other, making their six-plus season platonic relationship romantic. Honestly I thought this was poorly handled—I only rarely felt any real romance between the two, and as soon as they were thrown together they were pulled apart.
That was the other big issue I had with this show. Yes, Mulder’s obsession with the X-files is centered around his sister being taken, and he eventually loses the rest of his family. But nearly all of the show’s plot points are based around something being taken from Scully. She is abducted. Her ability to reproduce is taken. She is forced to question her faith. Her sister is killed. Her father dies. She is diagnosed with terminal cancer. She is mystically impregnated, and then forced to give away her baby for its own protection. She falls in love with Mulder, and he is forced out of the FBI and into hiding so they can’t be together. Nine seasons and two movies later, Scully doesn’t seem to have gained anything significant from her times on the X-Files besides the experience of being there and a few friends.
The roots for a mostly procedural paranormal show like Supernatural are definitely clear in this show (And SPN boasts some X-Files alums like Grandpa Samuel Campbell who was A.D. Walter Skinner—I liked him better as Skinner, actually—and Bobby’s hunter friend Rufus Turner, who played Mr. X; Crowley even has a villain role in one episode), and the first several seasons are pretty solid in my opinion. But the last two seasons were really just bad, I thought, and shoehorned in some new characters to make up for the fact that David Duchovny (Mulder) hadn’t signed on as more than a guest star for the last two seasons. They lost the thread of the really compelling alien plotline and focused on something they didn’t really have a handle on, and the final two-hour episode was only exciting in the last ten minutes or so.
I won’t stop interested parties from seeking out The X-Files. But I can only half-heartedly recommend the show to sci-fi geeks—I’ve seen better.