Scully and Moulder: Life Revisited

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
There is nothing new under the sun.
-Ecclesiastes 1:9

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Before there was Supernatural, True Blood, Ghost Hunters, Monster Quest, Walking Dead, Being Human, iZombie, Fringe, Grimm or any number of television delicacies produced for viewers consumption, there was the show that started it all. The original supernatural cop show in which good looking people fought monsters, picked apart and gathered evidence on a variety of cases, largely delving into the unexplained. All the while each of them wrestling with their own set of personal demons, regarding their levels of skepticism and belief. FBI Agents Fox Moulder and Doctor Dana Scully made it cool to be a weirdo in the original X-Files, which first aired in 1993. Those of us who had grown up on Beetlejuice, Teen Wolf and Ghostbusters realised that all that is strange and unusual had finally reached Prime Time.

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Words cannot fully express the influence this show had on my media consumption. I was one of the original X-philes, watching every Sunday with religious fervor. My college dorm room was lined with X-files pin-ups, with both Duchovny and Anderson equal rivals for wall space. I wanted to BE them, more so than I admired them. One running joke in my Improv class whenever we played “Props” was if someone had run out of ideas, inevitably one of us would throw the prop into the air, regardless of what it was, point to it and say “Look Scully! A UFO!” I was hooked. I had it bad.

The will-they-or-won’t-they relationship shared by the two main characters only added to the appeal. Moulder, having suffered the childhood trauma of what he believed to be the alien abduction of his younger sister, carries with him all the angst and fervor of one with something to prove. Enter Dana Scully, the sceptic put in place by the FBI to disprove her partner’s work. Like two sides to a coin, they worked together, him bringing the emotion and passion while she offered a level-headed response. Though one of the most compelling through lines was that while Agent Scully liked to scoff at the idea of aliens and monsters, she often showed a more malleable side when it came to the miraculous. Her Catholic faith made appearances throughout the show and when it did the script became flipped. She was the one trying to convince the Agnostic Moulder of the possibility of miracles. I always enjoyed this dynamic as it showcased the depths of each of their characters. But perhaps most of all was the mutual respect the characters showed for each other. Sure there were those who hung on for a budding romance, but all of that was overshadowed by the way they acted like equals, like peers. Find me another show which successfully pulls this off.

We are now two episodes into the reboot of the X-files. I have read reviews which state that the first two are slow, that the season does not gain footing until the third episode. I do not know what reviewers thought the X-Files were. Where they saw slow, I saw growing tension and huge moments of awesome. The X-Files were never about the Monsters and Conspiracies for me. Instead, these elements simply gave a colorful backdrop to the shifting sands of Moulder and Scully’s relationship. This is the kind of program which is written in such a way that when things go quiet it is time to sit up and take notice. I will say that so far the show is perfection. It is not a rehash of the same dynamics. Instead, we as the viewers get to see the evolution of each of their personalities, stepping back into their lives like reconnecting with an old friend. Time has passed for Moulder and Scully, as it has for us viewers. The world has changed. We have changed. Moulder now has the life of what seems to be a paranoid recluse still plugging away at breaking through to find the truth. Scully works as a surgeon at a Catholic hospital, helping children born with deformities. The performances remained flawless. With a glance they could communicate every nuance, instantly bringing the audience up to speed to the state of their relationship.

Everything we love about the show is present, the snarky banter, the dubious evidence, the hints of a larger overarching conspiracy. Moving forward in time, gives us a wiser more subdued Scully and a more wild-eyed Moulder, glancing over his shoulder. He is perhaps out-paranoided by guest star Joel McHale, who plays an online host to conspiracy theorists. His presence is an obvious reach to bring in younger viewers to the show, albeit perhaps a successful one. I cannot help but want Agent Moulder to look him over and say something like “Paranoid? Ha! I could teach you a thing or two,” while Scully gives them both the silent sardonic green-eyed stare.

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I look forward to the rest of the mini-series though I would easily watch these two if they ran a Paranormal Cozy mystery series out of their nursing home. For the duration of the remaining episodes, I shall be floating on a triangle shaped cloud that I once more live in a world in which the X-Files is on television.

The truth IS out there, yall.

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