The X-Files: Fight the Future

Often I have been annoyed or disappointed by the series-- especially this past half season when there seemed to be a certain element of... contempt? present-- a resentment-- as if the storyteller was being constrained to tell the story differently from the way his heart dictated it should be told, and the resentment was being taken out on the characters-- and even directed at me, the listener. It made me very uneasy. It gave me the terrible feeling that the storyteller was going to do something much worse than destroy the characters or not finish the story: he was going to deliberately tell the story untruthfully. Those last few episodes of season 5 did nothing to reassure me on this head, certainly. They rang dreadfully false in my ears. Of course, the fault could have been in the editing, production schedules being particularly unforgiving-- still, there was that feeling, and that's why I didn't rush out to see the movie. That, and the barrage of money-grubbing hype that pretty much destroyed any faith I had that any of us, on or off screen, would be treated fairly.

But, I liked the movie. From it's National Geographic prologue (I remember those issues vividly!) to it's requisite ending, I liked it. And, what was most strange, I had the distinct, and very gratifying, feeling that the movie liked me And that got me to wondering, Why?

Spurious science, specious logic, credulous characters, preposterous coincidences, these are the hallmarks of The X-Files-- and much lamented by the serious and sensible-- the real life Scullys-- amongst us. Shouldn't we find such elements an affont to our intelligence? Well, perhaps we should, but we don't. My favorite episodes are the ones where we are given no explanation whatsoever, scientific or otherwise. How did Mulder get out of that boxcar? How did Scully escape from the guys with the firestarters? We'll never know. And my favorite part of the movie is when Mulder falls right through the snow pack and into the back door of the Alien's Arctic Installation-- then he spots the empty transport capsule! In a place bigger than any secret government warehouse ever dreamed up, that's about as well lit as the theatre I'm sitting in as I watch him do it, viola! there it is; this must be the place! And it goes without saying, that, from this point on, finding, curing, and rescuing Scully-- never mind the rest of the world-- is a piece of cake. I love it. I absolutely love it.

Why do I love it? Why am I not insulted by the spurious- specious-credulous-preposterous-ness of it all? Because, even though it is the antithesis of sense and reason, and deplorably bad science to boot, it is also great Art. Because it is Storytelling at its best. Because it is clear to me that the artist telling this story, Chris Carter, loves not only his story and his characters, he also loves me, his listener. And that is a wonderous thing. It is the very essence and epitome of the Art of Storytelling. And it was achieved in this instance, in this movie. To listen to this story is to feel the love the storyteller feels, for the story and for the characters.

And the most pleasant part is this: the story isn't over, not by any means.

Unless Executive Producer Chris Carter decides to betray himself, his characters, and his audience, the story of Mulder and Scully is going to get even more interesting when they report back to work on The X-Files this fall.

What has been wrong, untrue, about the X-Files story on television is the relationship between Mulder and Scully. There's been a lot of rot talked about their relationship, though. Everyone-- their creator, their actors, their writers, their fans-- talks about what the relationship is, and what it isn't, and what it can't be, and what it couldn't possibly be, and what it shouldn't be. But no one-- no one-- has ever mentioned what it could be. And why not? Because answering that question requires both imagination and courage. Mulder and Scully have been effectively married for years. They haven't lived together, but their lives are bound up inextricably by their Purpose. "Divorce" now would devastate either or both of them. But, it will take imagination to go on, to allow these characters to find a new way of relating-- one that isn't trite or contrived or even "normal." And imagination and courage will be required to allow them to take the road less traveled, to follow them along it, even though it isn't clear where they're going. (Mr. Carter, can you imagine a relationship different from any you have ever known?)

Over the course of the series I have wanted Mulder and Scully to acknowledge their growing relationship, to explore it; however, I have also dreaded that happening. I dread tuning in one day to find one or the other character acting stupidly in the face of threat or danger just because they're in love.

People who are used to thinking rationally, people who are trained to suppress emotion and personal feelings when necessary, can continue to do so under direst pressure even when they are in love, even when the one they love is in danger. In fact, the capacity to rise above an emotional situation and handle it intellectually is an admirable quality, one we should all try to emulate. How better to say "I love you" than to keep your cool, and rescue your love from the bad guys quickly and efficiently?

Mulder and Scully are trained agents. They are independent and competent people. There's no reason to believe that love would change that for the worse. Love could only make the relationship much more interesting.

I liked the movie. It was a pleasnat surprise. I hope I feel the same about the series next season.

                                                August 1998

October 98: I have been greatly disappointed to learn that the video has been released with "additional footage." I was even more disappointed to hear Chris Carter saying that the reason for putting footage back in was that it made the story better. I feel betrayed. If the footage was necessary to the story, it should have been included in the original release. Once again I have an uneasy feeling. Have we (the fans) been seduced and abandoned? I hope not.

The Madwoman's Journal Entry 6 August 98
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