MULDER: The end of my world was unrecognizable and upside down. There was one thing that remained the same. You were my friend, and you told me the truth. Even when the world was falling apart, you were my constant… My touchstone.
SCULLY: And you are mine.
If there's one thing The X-Files has taught me, it's that it's easier to face the slings, arrows, and weirdness of the world if you've got at least one person you can always rely on—just one person who will believe you, no matter how crazy your story is.
(And if there's a second thing, it's that you should never go anywhere without kosher salt and a cell phone.)
Where would Mulder be without Scully? Six feet under, imprisoned, or institutionalized, no doubt.
And where would Scully be without Mulder? Well, she'd probably have a much more successful career, actually, and most likely wouldn't have been abducted, experimented on, or attacked by so many toothy monsters.
Okay, so maybe not all friendships are equally balanced.
Still, with the right person in your corner, any obstacle can be overcome. Mutants, killer tobacco bugs, alien diseases, terrible bosses: anything's surmountable when you've got that one friend you can call to get you out of trouble—especially when that friend's got a registered firearm.
It's perhaps the greatest recurring theme in the show—the glue that holds everything together. Without the bond between Mulder and Sculls—that ride-or-die devotion—the madness, action, and intrigue wouldn't be so great, nor the stakes so high and thrilling.
For all that The X-Files is about aliens, the paranormal, and government conspiracies, we tune in for our heroes more than anything else. We want to know how Mulder and Sculls will get themselves out of their latest scrape; how Scully's medical knowledge will save Mulder; how Mulder's doggedness will rescue Scully; and how their mutual passions will stop the baddies and protect the innocent.
Friendship, as certain animated ponies can attest, is magic. And Season Seven sees the Mulder and Scully dynamic altered forever…
“THE SIXTH EXTINCTION” (7.01) / “AMOR FATI” (7.02)
With Scully in Africa decoding the alien spacecraft and facing Biblical plagues, a worsening Mulder turns to Skinner (Mitch Pileggi) and former CIA spook Kritschgau (John Finn)—last seen in Season Five—for help.
But with the Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) determined to operate on our suddenly psychic hero, aided by the treacherous Diana Fowley (Mimi Rogers), and Mulder succumbing to his own hallucinations of a simpler life with a nice house and kids—the only person who can truly help is Scully.
This two-parter is wild from start to finish, and more than a little confusing: apparently it's now Mulder who may prove vital in the shadow war against the invading aliens. It's so hard to keep track of the Cigarette Smoking Man's secret science projects. But this opener is important in terms of the series' mythology and kills off a number of recurring characters.
Plus, there's some impassioned close talking between Mulder and Sculls, complete with hugs, forehead kisses, face-holding, and declarations of eternal support. I've seen wedding ceremonies with less emotion.
This twist on the usual “Monster of the Week” episode gives us the story from the monster's perspective: Rob (Chad Donella) holds down a job at a burger chain and tries desperately to control his cravings for human brains. But with Mulder and Scully on the case and his hunger pangs becoming all-consuming, Rob decides he can't deny his true nature any longer. The flipped perspective makes us sympathize with the monster for a change, and gives this case a rather melancholic tone.
A cult of former FBI agents is determined to bring about Armageddon on the eve of 2000. Our heroes turn to former profiler Frank Black (the wonderful Lance Henriksen) for help when Mulder decides a necromancer is involved. With zombies, black magic, and a New Year's first kiss, this one's high on the list of personal faves.
“THE GOLDBERG VARIATION” (7.06)
An unassuming super is blessed—or perhaps cursed—with impossibly good luck. When he runs afoul of a mobster, a series of increasingly crazy circumstances gets him out of trouble—and saves the life of a young boy.
A Rube Goldberg machine done right is always a treat, and it's nice to have the occasional story where the bad guys get what they deserve and the good emerge triumphant/unscathed. This is one of the most satisfying episodes of the series, and features a very tiny (and very jaundiced) Shia LaBeouf.
“SEIN UND ZEIT” (7.10) / “CLOSURE” (7.11)
The strange disappearance of a little girl hits too close to home for Mulder, who finally comes to terms with the loss of her sister Samantha. There's a field full of dead children, a murderer with a Santa Claus fixation, and a schizophrenic psychic who can see ghosts—pretty unsettling stuff.
This two-parter marks the end of the Samantha arc, which makes it required viewing, but that doesn't mean that it sits well with me: so much of this story is cut from new cloth and flies in the face of the established facts from previous seasons.
Yes, The X-Files frequently adjusted the canon throughout its run, but the climax they decided to deliver here feels incredibly lackluster, especially when compared to a stellar alternate story like this one over at Tumblr:
Mulder and Scully do COPS as a fear monster runs amok in Los Angeles: the result is amazing. The handheld camera pastiche, the bleeped-out profanity, and the crazy cast of deputies, witnesses, and criminals make for some hysterical entertainment. The gay couple, Steve and Edy, alone is worth the proverbial price of admission, not to mention the intriguing threat of a monster shaped and powered by mortal fear.
A wealthy doctor becomes the target of vengeful hexes. With Billy Drago—one of the best creepy character actors in the biz—guest starring as the evil spellcaster, some memorably nasty murders, and a dramatic climax, this one-off episode is classic X-Files.
“EN AMI” (7.15)
The Cigarette Smoking Man convinces Scully to join him on a super secret road trip, claiming he's had a change of heart and wants to leave a positive mark on the world. And in exchange for helping him? Oh, he'll just give her the cure for cancer.
The concept alone makes this a must-watch: Sculls and CSM on a road trip? It's the most awkward technically-father and not-quite-daughter-in-law vacation ever! Plus, William B. Davis never fails to impress when they give him plenty to chew on—the man can be malevolently cruel one moment, warm and grandfatherly in the next.
“HOLLYWOOD A.D.” (7.19)
Duchovny is once again behind the camera (and behind the pen) in this fun episode that has one of our heroes' cases adapted for the big screen. Duchovny's real-life wife—at the time—Tea Leoni guests as the Scully stand-in, while funny man Garry Shandling plays Mulder (lol).
This is the episode that features the infamous three-way bubble bath phone call about zombies (my favorite kind of conversation).
Also, Mulder reveals an innovative use for Plan 9 from Outer Space.
SCULLY: How many—
SCULLY: You've seen this movie forty-two times?
SCULLY: Doesn't that make you sad? That makes me sad.
Don't think the fact that 42 also happens to be Mulder's apartment number and the answer to life, the universe, and everything escapes me.
Also, now would be a good time to give a quick shout out to my darling friend Jo, who is not only the world's biggest Plan 9 fan, but is also the reason why I rediscovered this show in the last couple of years—now everyone can blame you for my rabid fangirling, sweetie.
Talk about going back to the beginning: Mulder and Sculls are summoned to Oregon to the site of their very first case together—and things kick into overdrive. Krycek (Nicholas Lea) is sprung from prison by old flame Marita Covarrubias (Laurie Holden) on behalf of the dying Cigarette Smoking Man, who needs him to track down a crashed UFO in those same Oregon woods.
By the end credits, we've been hit by a number of stunning revelations: Skinner finally sees the truth with his own eyes and can no longer equivocate about the existence of extraterrestrials; Krycek appears to have finally gotten his revenge on CSM; Mulder disappears in a flash of UFO light; and Scully is—impossibly—pregnant.
Chris Carter wasn't entirely sure there would be a Season Eight—hence the plentiful callbacks to the pilot. And if this had been the end of the line, it wouldn't have been a wholly disappointing note to end on—there's something to be said for symmetry.
Except for the fact that Mulder was just abducted by aliens, of course, and Scully now has to make room for a miracle baby in her planner.
Guess it's a good thing there was a Season Eight after all…
Angie Barry wrote her thesis on the socio-political commentary in zombie films. Meeting George Romero is high on her bucket list, and she has spent hours putting together her zombie apocalypse survival plan. She also writes horror and fantasy in her spare time, and watches far too much Doctor Who. Come find the angie bee at Tumblr.