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I’m Done Chasing Monsters in the Dark

This isn’t my life anymore, Mulder. I’m done chasing monsters in the dark.

Scully was wrong, of course, and so were we all, because The X-Files returns with six episodes beginning at the end of January, just in time for the end of football season.

I have to admit that I’m not a true X-Phile. My friend Grace is. She has all the episodes on VHS, and if I know Grace (and I do; we’ve been friends since seventh grade), each cassette is carefully labeled and indexed, not only with episode titles, but names of writers, directors, and guest stars. For this reason, she disapproves of most of my sad, misdirected fandom of the program, because the things I like are the things that kind of brought the show down, in her eyes. When I told her that I liked the second movie, I Want to Believe, the first thing she asked me was, “What’s your favorite episode of the TV series?” This was going to tell her all she needed to know about how seriously to take my impression of the film, which she was not in a hurry to see.

I’d heard the buzz, of course, and I’d seen the commercials, but nothing about the show’s publicity or press made me want to see it. Then my friend Cathy asked me if I wanted to see the first movie. I went along and really liked the film. So Cathy, who was already kind of a casual fan, started coming over on X-Files night to watch it with me. Between the night we saw the first film and the night the series finally limped across the finish line, we watched every episode at either her house or mine.

I actually liked the show in its last, painful season. But it was true: we were all hanging on just to see it through, you know? I was pleased with the way it ended. On the science vs. faith, Scully vs. Mulder thing, I was firmly on the side of faith, but while it was Mulder who believed and Scully who was skeptical, Scully had the church background, and in those last few episodes, the tension was a lot more specifically about religious faith, and that of course made the show a lot more interesting for me.

I never did go back and fill in blanks in my X-Files viewing, another reason I’m not a true X-Phile. But now that I’ve paid for a year of Prime, and because all nine seasons are available on Prime, I’m making an effort at least to catch up to where I started watching, whenever the first film was released. Season 7?

If I see them all, it’ll be three seasons per month, or about three fourths of a season each week. I think I can do that.

I’m so far three episodes into season one. It’s a lot less relationshippy than the show later becomes, which is of course Grace’s reason for not liking later episodes as much. She’s so funny. The relationships are the reason to stick with any series for more than a few seasons. That’s why The Big Bang Theory has gotten lame: while it still understands that it’s a show about relationshps, the cast has become so ridiculously large that it can’t meaningfully continue the development of the relationships among the original central characters, so it’s lost all kinds of focus, and it’s just not as interesting or as meaningful as it once was.

Another thing I’ve noticed about these first few episodes is that there’s no attempt to explain anything! Stories resolve but with no real explanations. That’s not a complaint, but it’s testimony to the show’s longer vision, which is perhaps one reason the fandom is so rabid, and perhaps a reason the payoff at the series conclusion was unsatisfying to some.

I’m stoked about the new season. There’ve been a lot of questions about who will be involved, or what the relationships will look like when it picks up. Those are all interesting, but the thing I really want to know (but I don’t want to know in advance, so don’t tell me if you’ve heard something), is whether or not the Lone Gunmen will be involved. They’re supposed to be dead, but of course it’s more than plausible that they faked their own deaths, either by choice or by force, because they were getting too close to something. Yes. I so want to see them in at least one of the new episodes.

3 Comments

  1. Oh, man, I’m a TOTAL X-Phile. I was a little too young to watch the show when it first started–it looked like I’d like it, but I was self-aware enough to realize I’d probably be terrified–but I started keeping up with it when I was about 11, somewhere around season 7 or 8. And then in high school when it was in syndication, I had an afternoon ritual of coming home from school, getting a snack, and watching reruns for anywhere from two to four hours. TNT would do one or two episodes starting at 3 or 4, then what is now SyFy had two right after that.

    And I actually liked the second movie. I get why a lot of my fellow X-Philes didn’t, and from what’s trickling out about the revival, it sounds like that might be what fans wanted from the second movie.

    Naturally, I decided my boyfriend needs to see it, but we’re probably gonna do a “greatest hits” viewing and skip some episodes because some are honestly really bad. But we just watched the pilot, and one of the things I always loved was watching Mulder and Scully’s relationship unfold. The chemistry starts really early, but it just keeps building and building.

    I love that show so much.

  2. If you take the greatest hits approach, you’ll have to make sure some of the show’s long-running unresolved things are included. And include some of the sillier, stand-alone episodes, you know? 🙂

    Looking forward to comparing notes with you in January!

  3. Oh, I’m definitely gonna make sure things aren’t missed! I’m thinking more of skipping the ones that just weren’t very good but also didn’t involve any of the mythology. So far, we’re only a few episodes in, but we haven’t skipped anything–in part because they ere good, memorable episodes but also because a lot of those early ones set up so much of what happens later.

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