Sunday, May 11, 2014

Sundays with the X Files - Season 1


The goal of Season 1 is to establish Mulder and Scully as BFFs.  At the beginning of the season we learn that Fox Mulder is a brilliant profiler and agent who has started to make everyone in the bureau uncomfortable with his kookiness.  His nickname is Spooky Mulder.  He has apparently been working solo on the X-Files for an undetermined amount of time and his superiors have decided he needs a leash and that leash is Dana Scully.  Scully is a trained medical doctor, forensic scientist and the powers that be want her to use her scientific brain to debunk Mulder’s crazy theories.  Not a great start to a partnership, but regardless they impress each other almost immediately and things are helped along by Scully baring her torso and Mulder baring his soul midway through episode 1.  Much to the FBI bigwig’s chagrin the two become a dynamic duo throughout the season, trust only each other and Scully’s addition to the X-files serves only to strengthen Mulder’s validity.  In the meantime, Scully’s dreams of having a real life are crushed  and we learn that Mulder’s weird beliefs are a result of his sister Samantha being abducted by Aliens, while he watched, when he was 9 years old.  Other notable occurrences: 
-          The entrance of Deep Throat #1 (Ep. 2 Deep Throat),
-          The entrance of Skinner (Ep. 21 Tooms) and the Smoking Man (Ep. 1 Pilot)
-          Scully’s dad dies in Episode 13 Beyond the Sea and we learn he was a naval officer. Her dad was also the General in charge of the Stargate Headquarters ;0)
-          The Lone Gunmen Appear (Ep. 17 E.B.E). Frohicke’s crush on Scully is born.
-          Green Blood appears for the first time (Ep. 24 Erlenmeyer Flask).
-          By the end of the season the X-files is shut down.


We meet Scully first.  The powers that be in the FBI are telling her about her new assignment to partner Mulder.  Rather than seeming uncomfortable or resentful of this new assignment Scully seems curious which is a good first introduction to her as a character.  When we meet Mulder, he is snarky and does not welcome Scully with open arms, however he is actually nicer to her than he is to subsequent partners (Krycek).  He also pretty quickly comes to respect and like Scully and sees that her questioning helps keep him honest and not get to carried away into woo woo town.  As much as I want to roll my eyes at the scene in the Pilot where Scully strips to the waist because she’s freaked out by some bumps on her back (all the victims have had them), it is actually pretty brilliant in bonding them.  By Scully being vulnerable and showing that she is open to the weird stuff they are observing in the case, it encourages Mulder in turn  to open up about why he pursues the truth with such…vigor.  Scully is skeptical but she’s seems way more open to “extreme possibilities” in season 1 than I think she is in later seasons of the show.  We’ll see if I’m remembering that correctly.

The show did a great job of not cementing the partners immediately.  I think Scully is initially pretty charmed and impressed by Mulder.  In fact, I think there is even a little hero worship on her part.   By episode 5 (Jersey Devil) however,  Scully indulges in some girl talk about Mulder (does she ever do this again??) and she calls him a jerk but then immediately backs up and says that he isn’t a jerk, just “…obsessed with his work.” True dat, Scully, true dat.  This episode ends up being where Scully pretty much fully embraces Mulder's approach to his work, and throws in her lot with him. She gives up on having a life outside of work.  By the end of the season Mulder and Scully are tight with Mulder worrying that his rogue craziness will get her in trouble and Scully loyal enough to him to not care.

Another thing the show establishes pretty immediately is that Scully can take of herself.  There are definitely times when Scully needs saving  but Scully also saves Mulder quite a bit – in fact in episode 2 she pulls a gun on military folk and steals a car to rescue Mulder. 

Some other weird little things of note.  I noticed that Mulder is actually quite gallant around Scully.  He is constantly ushering her around with his hand on her lower back. He actually touches her quite a lot.  It’s a little strange and I wonder if that was a purposeful Mulder thing or if that’s Duchovny?  There are actually some weird instances of this like when he strokes her face while expressing sympathy for her dad’s passing.  It’s an incredibly intimate gesture – I mean have you ever stroked a friend’s or worse yet a work colleague’s face?  It’s not terribly awkward between them but I sure was a little embarrassed.  This is also where the tradition of using each other’s first names in times of great emotion begins.  It’s kind of hilarious and always sounds SO awkward.  Actually I think episode 13 Beyond the Seas, where Scully’s dad dies, is the point where the closeness and strength of Scully and Mulder’s relationship is cemented. 

Scully doesn’t really have a desk in the X files office.  It’s kind of shitty.  She is also consistently ignored/plays second fiddle. This continues throughout the shows run for the most part.  I think the way things are set up, Mulder is meant to be the “senior” officer even though they are partners but it’s still strange and annoying.  Whenever they greet the other law enforcement on a case, the people that have called them in, it's always Mulder they introduce themselves to and then Mulder introduces Scully.  Even on cases where Scully is supposedly the reason they are called in, such as in Episode 18 (Miracle Man),  the law enforcement officer marches straight up to Mulder with an “Agent Mulder?” , they shake hands and then Mulder introduces Scully.  Also the fact that Deep Throat doesn’t and won’t interact with her at all drives me crazy though I do kind of get it.  Mulder is definitely the one whose heart, soul and life are in the game.  He's charismatic and incredibly smart.  He has a confidence, even when spouting what most people would call crazy talk, that is incredibly attractive.  He is also the one with a reputation.  Still.

In episode 16 (Young at Heart) we find out that, early in his career, Mulder was a rule follower and it resulted in a colleague’s death. That explains a lot about Mulder.  He’s definitely an "easier to ask forgiveness than permission" sort of guy. 

Finally, what the hell were they dressing Scully in, early in the season?  It’s a little better by the end but her early season wardrobe is hella unflattering.  Did we really dress like that in the early 1990s?
Little known fact: Scully was also college football's tiniest linebacker.

Scully in date mode.  Who is this fancy lady?


episodes with * are my favorites

Episode 1 Pilot:  Teenagers in a small town in the Pacific Northwest keep wandering into the woods and then showing up dead with two small distinct marks on them.  This episode is really key in establishing Mulder and Scully and their relationship and the kinds of cases they are going to investigate.  Mulder gets really giddy and excited when they “lose time” and opens up about his sister.  Scully, while struggling with Mulder’s radical theories, is impressed with his intellect and shows her character by standing up to her handlers at the end of the episode.

*Episode 3 Squeeze:  A creature who looks like a young man but who is over 100 can contort his body into tiny spaces and is killing people in order to eat their livers.  Tooms is seriously creepy and shows up later in the season again. The actor is pretty great at looking harmless and innocent one minute and creepy as hell in the next. This episode is crucial because we learn that Scully can take care of herself, thank you very much.  There is also a turning point moment when she must decide which is more important to her – her ambition/career or being loyal to her partner.  Guess which one she chooses?  Mulder also gets a little territorial of Scully.

Episode 5 Jersey Devil:  Mulder (mostly) investigates a yeti like creature living in the woods in New Jersey which has started to scavenge in the city.  As mentioned above this is the episode where Scully decides to give up on having a life outside of work.  However, this theme will come up over and over again for her throughout the series but this is its initial incarnation. Basically, Scully is really caught up in Mulder's passion but she doesn't really have a dog in the race besides her loyalty to Mulder.  It causes angst. IN other news, Scully also wears the most hideous date dress EVER (see above photo).

*Episode 8  Ice: Mulder and Scully travel to the arctic with some other scientists to investigate the non-responsiveness of the initial research team.  For some reason I love the episodes where Mulder and Scully travel to arctic/cold places which they seem to do an inordinate amount.  This is just a great scary, tightly paced, menacing episode.   Nothing necessarily significant to the overall show happens I just really like it! Plus Mulder seems to take an inordinate amount of pleasure in fondling Scully's neck.

* Episode 10 Fallen Angel:  Mulder goes off on his own to investigate a tip about aliens from Deep Throat and meets Max Fennick, his biggest fan boy and an abductee that doesn’t know he’s an abductee.  This is another one I just like a lot.  I like Max Fennick and I want his mobile home.  We do get introduced to the use of implants in the alien mythology.

*Episode 13 Beyond the Seas:  Scully’s dad dies and she and Mulder investigate a serial murderer/kidnapper with the help of a death row inmate who claims to have clairvoyance.  So much awesome in this episode.  First, Brad Dourif! As the death row inmate – he’s awesome.  Second, a reversal of roles; Scully believes while Mulder thinks the clairvoyance story is a load of hooey.  There is some fantastic character development for Scully and Gillian Anderson really nails all the emotional scenes.  Also, this episode is full of “relationship” stuff:  the aforementioned face stroking, Mulder is really worried and concerned for Scully and balls her out for checking out the first crime scene alone, Scully gets all shouty at Brad Dourif when she thinks he is responsible for Mulder being hurt  - she threatens to execute him herself if Mulder dies.  I think it’s safe to say their attached to one another now.  And I guess I should clarify that I don't mean that necessarily romantically.  They ahve just become very important to one another.

*Episode 17 E.B.E.:  That stands for Extraterrestrial Biological Entity if you were wondering.  This is Scully and Mulder at their most paranoid.  They spend much of the episode trying to track a tractor trailer as it drives across country with some mysterious cargo.  This is a Mythology episode though not a lot is revealed except that the government definitely knows stuff they are not telling.   Scully also really pushes Mulder in this one, questioning his loyalty to Deep Throat and accusing him of letting his passion and desire to believe affect his judgment.  It’s a crucial moment where he realizes why Scully is so important to him and his investigations.  She keeps him grounded and asking questions.

*Episode 20 Darkness Falls:  This is a one off episode and I just love it.  Mulder and Scully go into the forest wilderness with a ranger and a timber company rep. to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a group of loggers.  While investigating they run into a radical eco-terrorist.  First of all this is just a great episode with some really tense and scary moments. The scene, where they are sitting in the cabin at night with only the light being powered by a sputtering generator keeping them alive, is VERY tense.  It is unique because Mulder actually makes a dumb decision which is a very rare occurrence on the show.  I also like it because I’m a wildlife biologist who works for the government in natural resources conservation.  I really thought the show did a good job with the difficult position the ranger is in.  He’s a conservationist who cares but he has to skate the line between industry and radical groups. He gets yelled at from both sides. I feel ya buddy.  I feel ya. 

*Episode 21 Tooms:  The re-entrance of Eugene Tooms because the judge lets him out at the recommendation of a psychiatrist who doesn’t think Tooms is dangerous.  During the hearing, Mulder shows a distinct lack of judgment and comes off as a denizen of crazy town and then goes on a personal mission to keep Tooms from killing again.  It’s a good follow up episode and there is lots of good Mulder-Scully stuff here.  Mulder doesn’t want to involve Scully because he doesn’t want to drag her down with him but Scully insists on being dragged down.  This is also the episode where Skinner makes his first appearance and the smoking man becomes a fixture.

*Episode 24 Erlenmeyer Flask:  The episode where all the things happen!  Mulder is kidnapped and Deep throat is killed.  There are fetuses in liquid nitrogen and adult people floating in big tanks of liquid in a random warehouse - iconic images of the X Files. If you think that's weird and gross this may not be the show for you.:)  Mulder and Scully discover a substance that has DNA with two extra base pairs and when the molecular biologist describes it to Scully as "extraterrestrial" Scully's face is great.  The molecular biologist and her family are then killed.  It’s a conspiracygasm and the episode ends with the X-files being shut down.  It’s a solid season closer.


  • Episode 2 Deep throat >> Seth Green as a hilarious pothead teenager!
  • Episode 5 Jersey Devil >> Scully to Mulder “You keep that up Mulder and I’ll hurt you like that beast woman.”  I love snarky Scully.
  • Episode 6 Shadows >> Mulder: “I would never lie, Scully, I willfully participated in a campaign of misinformation.”
  • Episode 7 Ghost in the Machine >> Scully asking about Mulder’s former partner: “So why did you and Jerry go your separate ways?”  Mulder: “Because I’m a pain in the ass to work with.”  Scully: “No, really.” Mulder: "I’m not a pain in the ass?"  Touche’ Mulder
  • M.F. Luder is Mulder’s pseudonym for publishing crackpot articles, FYI
  • Episode 11 Eve >> Scully: “Mulder you’re rushing me out of the room.”  Mulder gently pushing her towards the door.  Scully: “You got a girl coming over?” Mulder: “What’s a girl?” He actually had a meeting with Deep Throat.
  • Episode 12 Fire >> Of course Mulder has an obnoxious British ex-girlfriend.  Scully hates her immediately.  I do too.  She ignores Scully. ‘Nuf said.  Scully:  “Mulder, you keep unfolding like a flower” Hee Hee!  
  • Episode 17 E.B.E >>
    • Scully meets The Lone Gunmen for the first time and thinks they’re cuckoo.  Frohicke describes her as being hot.  Scully is ranting about how it is inconceivable that Mulder can think anything the Lone Gunmen say is plausible. Mulder:  “I think it’s remotely plausible that someone might think you’re hot.”  Mulder’s nonchalant, Scully’s disconcerted.  

    • Also the scene where Scully has the hard talk with Mulder to try and rein him in is awesome. Scully quotes:  “I don’t trust anyone but you Mulder.”  “The truth is out there, but so are the lies.”
  • Episode 21 Tooms >> 
    •   After Mulder has made himself look like a complete lunatic in Tooms' hearing by claiming that Tooms is over 130 years old and such.  Mulder: “Do you think they might have taken me more seriously if I had worn the gray suit?”  
    • Mulder doesn’t want Scully to relieve him on surveillance because he suspects the danger to the X-files and that Scully would be in trouble if she helped him.  This makes Scully break out a use of “Fox” to which Mulder laughs and tells her that he even made his parents call him Mulder.  Scully tries again and tells him “I wouldn’t put myself on the line for anyone but you.”  Man, is it hot in here?  Mulder’s response:  “If there’s an ice tea in that bag it could be love.” Scully instead produces a root beer. Hmmmm…..  Reading some analysis of this scene (don't judge) several people think that Mulder's jokes particularly when he introduces love or sex are actually his way of deflecting Scully and telling her to back off. Interesting idea and it fits Mulder's character and while I don't think he is actually in love with Scully at this point, there are some pretty intense connections and feelings there.

    • Mulder’s idea of chivalry as he crawls into the shaft under the elevator to go after Tooms: “You can get the next mutant.”
  • Wildlife nitpicks >>  There are apparently Loons and wolves in Iowa. Not so much X-files.  In season 2 they will claim there are elephants in Costa Rica.  Wrong Continent folks.


No not the real ones.  These are ones I made up.

Best Episode: Ep. 8 Ice What can I say, I just love when Mulder and Scully head into the icy north. It's also an episode where Scully is really the heroine. 
Worst Episode: Ep. 14 Gender Bender  It doesn't make a whole lot of sense and is kind of boring.
Most Paranoid:  Ep. 17 E.B.E  No explanation necessary + introduction of the Lone Gunmen who are paranoia personified.
Best Mulder Episode: Ep. 21 Tooms  In many ways it's kind of awesome how true to himself Mulder is and he really goes above and beyond in this one to protect people against Tooms and to protect Scully from himself. 
Best Scully Episode: Ep. 17 E.B.E  Scully really challenges Mulder in this one because she cares and she's right.  It really emphasizes the importance of her role.
Best Episode for Shippers:  Tie between Ep. 13 Beyond the Sea and Ep. 21 Tooms Mulder and Scully may not be in luuurve yet but they have an undeniable connection and chemistry that is cemented and most apparent in these episodes.
Worst Episode for Shippers: Ep. 12 Fire  The appearance of Mulder's ex-girlfriend causes him to act like a douche and ignore Scully even though she's got crucial stuff to contribute to the mystery.


OVERALL GRADE: B-  I feel like this season was good but relatively weak  however there were a larger then suspected number of good/important episodes (I pulled out 10 with 8 of those being favorites). I don't think any of my favorite episodes of all time are in here - there are none that really wow.  On the other hand, Mulder and Scully's characters and relationship gets more and more fraught as the seasons march on and it's kind of nice to see them in less troublesome times when things are relatively simple.  


First This.  You're Welcome.  Seriously.  This is the best thing you'll see this month. Maybe this year.

>> Den of Geek: X-files Season 1
       >> Pilot
       >> Eve

**  This is totally an aside but I just noticed when digging up these links that the site is closed down!! This is a travesty!  All the old content will apparently stay up and the EXTENSIVE forums but for TV addicts everywhere April 4 was a sad day.

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