Register a SA Forums Account here!

You can: log in, read the tech support FAQ, or request your lost password. This dumb message (and those ads) will appear on every screen until you register! Get rid of this crap by registering your own SA Forums Account and joining roughly 150,000 Goons, for the one-time price of $9.95! We charge money because it costs us money per month for bills, and since we don't believe in showing ads to our users, we try to make the money back through forum registrations.
  • Post
  • Reply
Apr 3, 2010

I have only seen up to Season 5. Please mark spoilers.

It must have been about ten years ago when I started collecting X-Files Season Sets from FYE. They were overpriced and I only got up to Season 5. I just now bought the bluray collection of the first series and the revival series for less than I spent on those five DVD season sets. I never did finish even Season 5 back a decade ago. I don't know why I stopped exactly, I am just impulsive like that. My randomly deciding to finish this series is a good example of that. I was just sitting here and was like "I really liked that show. I should finish it."

I like to think I've grown vaguely wiser in a decade, too. I certainly enjoy academic work more than I used to and I think a critical, scholarly appraisal of pop culture is vital. I can't do it but I can buy books from people who can or read their papers online. An immensely popular and influential franchise like The X-Files definitely demands attention from smart people and it has received quite a lot of that. Unfortunately, I can't read much of it because spoilers. But I just figured I'd try and collect some of it in the meantime and also share it with those who might be interested.

The Philosophy of The X-Files
We Want to Believe: Faith and Gospel in the X-Files
The X-Files and Philosophy
The X-Files and Literature
The Essential Science Fiction Television Reader
The X-Files FAQ:

It is my firm belief that, even if you think a piece of art sucks, it's vital to understand that art. Why do people like it? What does it say about the culture that created it, consumed it and passed it on to future generations to shape the culture of the future? Of course, I think the show was brilliant so I endeavor to understand its deeper meaning and influence for that reason as well.

I think part of what drew me to The X-Files, the substance I see in it which sets it apart from a lot of the superficial crap I consume, is its emphasis on faith. I wholeheartedly identify with Mulder, only with none of the good looks or college degrees. A relevant article I found when researching or academic material on The X-Files was an article called "U.S. Adolescent Religious Identity, the Media, and the “Funky” Side of Religion" in which this part was most relevant:


“I watch a lot of extraterrestrial stuff,” Jodie, a young, Anglo American woman from an impoverished economic background, told me as she puffed her cigarette. “They’re different. It’s a new outlook on what could be happening, rather than on what already is happening, or what in the past has happened.” Skeptical about the God she associated with organized religion, Jodie was fascinated instead by other forms of the supernatural such as the paranormal, ghosts, and aliens. When I asked her what television program she believed was most like her religious beliefs, she offered this intriguing answer:

It would have to be X-Files. Because, no matter what anybody says . . . I’ve seen everything that everyone’s compiled together about aliens. There’s no doubt in my mind that we are not the only intelligent life . . . God was a higher being. How do we know he wasn’t an alien? On X-Files, Mulder, he would say something like that: How do we know God’s not an alien?

I'm not a Christian but I got "We Want To Believe" because it's not about being any one religion. It's about being a seker, about being a person who isn't content with conventional reality and believes there must be something more. What hat something is is almost irrelevant in a way.


MULDER: I guess I just wanted Big Blue to be real. I guess I see hope in such a possibility.
SCULLY: Well, there’s still hope. That’s why these myths and stories have endured. People want to believe. (“Quagmire,” 3x22)

From the first episode of The X-Files, you see this poster with a spaceship on it, and it says, ‘I want to believe.’ And that really is Mulder’s mantra. He doesn’t believe—he wants to believe, he wants to find reason to believe.” 1 As Chris Carter describes here, the slogan on Mulder’s poster is a major theme throughout the series. I want to believe. This implies both passion and doubt, volition and uncertainty. Behind it lies the fervent desire to find something worth believing in, accompanied by the nagging possibility that the search for proof will eventually prove one wrong. Mulder wants to believe that there is other intelligent life in the universe, but the very heart of his quest is to find evidence to justify such a belief.

The search for the truth by Mulder, and Scully alongside him, symbolizes the most basic of human needs. We all long to believe in something, in some truth, that provides meaning for our everyday lives. For some people, it may be the truth about extraterrestrial life. For others, it is the truth about our existence on this planet, how we came to be here, why, and to what end. For yet others, it is the truth about experiences that defy explanation—whether there really is a divine hand behind them, and whether that divine being is personally engaged in our lives. Although many of us pursue these truths on an individual basis, we must also rely on one another in our search, on each other’s experiences and interpretations of reality. Whether or not we will proclaim it explicitly with the poster on Mulder’s wall, we all have an innate desire to believe.

Unfortunately I couldn't read much further than that because it startd dropping spoilers. Apparently there' an alien cult in Season 8 and 9?

In my current re-watch I just started Season 3. I don't pretend to have great insights, I posted the links to those books and stuff because they'r the smart ones. I just collect what they say and try to get others to read it too because I love analyzing art as philosophy. In a lot of ways The X-Files and The Matrix and other works will influence future religion and philosophy to the vast majority of people more than Plato or Aquinas will.

I do have some comments and questions if others might be so kind as to help with that.

1. So I know of The Syndicate and the Colonists. The big conspiracy is that the Syndicate are working with them to help prepare Earth to be taken over. I think? This is my rough understanding of the overall Mytharc and so I'm trying to fit in everything I encounter into that framework. One thing I find a bit perplexing is how many aliens we see on Earth. I've been told that Season 2 and "Little Green Men" is a repilot with a lot of people just starting from there. But Season 1 obviously still happened. Mulder and Scully met several different types of aliens in that season. The ones that could radioactively burn people, the Gender Bender ones, and maybe others. This is to say nothing of the parasite in ice episode. So the Colonists are a specific type of alien but they let other aliens come here to chill out I guess.

2. As I start Season 3, I have to wonder about the limitations of the Mulder-Scully dynamic. The X-Files is basically the opposite of Scooby Doo where the answer is almost never mundane. Scully's steadfast refusal to believe in the wirld and supernatural after all she's seen is as absurd as an atheist in a world where God regularly shows up to say howdy. To me, this is a minor flaw baked into the narrative structure of the show. Another one is the problem of our intrepid FBI Agents fighting a conspiracy in their own government, a conspiracy with what appears to be near-limitless power. The result is that Mulder and Scully must be constantly pursuing The Truth but they can never really reach it as the all-powerful Synciate could have them whacked if they so desired. This is another minor flaw in my view but, like Scully's ridiculous skepticism, it grows and grows the longer the show goes. Even if Chris Carter had a perfectly laid out plan for the story, The X-Files' wild success meant that it would continue as long as it could. If he had the perfect ending for Season 5, the show wouldn't end then just so long as it continued to bring in ratings. My point is, the longer the show goes, the more the minor flaws of Mulder and Scully being alive and Scully' skepticism become seriously detrimental.

3. Speaking of narrative structure and weirdness, I know a lot of people nowadays say they prefer the Monster-of-the-Week eps more than the Mythology but I see value in both of them. I've been told Chris Carter was making poo poo up as he went along but that doesn't lessen my enjoyment. I am sincerely trying to fit together all the pieces the best I cam able and I like doing so. "Colony" and "End Game" from Season 2 were so good.

4. Are the movies worth watching? I don't own them. I would ask if the revival was worth watching but I own it so I'm gonna watch it anyway.

5. Do you have a preference on what type of threat they face? Aliens, the supernatural, mutants, etc.? That one vampire episode was total poo poo, IMO. Season 2 was going so strong until then.

6. Getting back to the academic stuff, a lot of the stuff I've found focuses on how The X-Files worked so well because it was the product of the 90s and post-Cold War America. It was a good show on its own but it became a popular show, breaking into that ever elusive mainstream, because it embodied anxieties of a formless enemy now that our formal enemy - the USSR - was gone. Similarly, at least one reviewer claimed the X-Files fell out of popularity due to 9/11. They criticized the show as "self-indulgent" and said that, in the "real world" of post-9/11 America, people had no patience for such a show.

Another given reason for its popularity was how it was "postmodern" and transcended genre. It's scifi, a cop procedural, a conspiracy story, a supernatural detective story, and probably a lot more. You can probably throw romance in there, too. Mulder and Scully have such great chemistry and I bet a lot of fans were just waiting from the start for them to get together.

I looked at the last X-Files thread and it was very long. I've never found many X-Files fans on any forum I frequent which I think was part of what put me off last time I watched it. I enjoy fiction to share it with others and having nobody to talk to about the series was a huge bummer. I hope for abit more engagement here if you all have the time or interest.

NikkolasKing fucked around with this message at 00:56 on Apr 18, 2020


Apr 3, 2010

Well I'll just jot down an additional thought that I feel is particularly relevant to an intensely Left Wing forum like this one.

I've seen some people say The X-Files is, in a bizarre roundabout way, Conservative. I can see elements of this if you tilt your head enough but I just got done watching episodes about how the military is poo poo and prisoners are beaten to death by corrupt prison guards. There was also the episode last season about how Haitian refugees were being abused by the US military.

So the show is harshly critical of authority, especially the type of authority that is usually beloved by conservatives like the military, prison wardens, etc..

Apr 3, 2010

Alris posted:

To quote The American Conservative:

"Most critically, like all good horror and science fiction, The X-Files played upon—and at times exacerbated—our deepest fears as a people. This is not to suggest that it would have failed at a different time in our history, but it certainly didn’t hurt that libertarian angst over Gulf War I, Ruby Ridge, and Waco, the general conservative distrust of the New World Order, and the rise of popular and consumerist radio talk shows coincided with its success. And while Watergate was two decades past by the time The X-Files began, Nixon’s specter of corruption hangs over the entirety of season one."

Personally I don't think The X-Files set out to make a big conservative political statement or stick it to Clinton specifically, but there's no denying it wasn't afraid to play on the right's paranoia. It's the same sort of stuff you heard Oathkeepers, 3%ers and Cliven Bundy and Co. never shut up about during the Obama years. I can guarantee you those same voices were around in the 90's (just look at the OKC Bombing), although without Fox News you probably wouldn't have heard of them as much. Hell, David Dees is still photoshopping pictures with the same general themes nearly 30 years later, albeit with far more antisemetism.

I think there's just a certain level of unavoidable overlap when you attack certain concepts. Legitimate criticism of Israel get conflated with antisemitism, criticism of the government gets conflated with we need to arm up because the government is secretly run by (((them))) and so-on. To use our current political climate as an example, look at all the Lefty Radicals and Bernie or Busters. They think the State is untrustworthy and politicians are all bought and sold just like various right wing nuts. Now, I happen to agree with the former camp more or less but the point is a piece of art that has a general message of "the government can't be trusted" will appeal to both these wildly different groups.

It's one thing I've noticed in art criticism. Interpretation leads to crazy divergent approaches. The Matrix is all about Trans identity to one group and another group sees it as we are the only enlightened ones so we are allowed to gun down the mind-controlled masses.

Art is very, very tricky because people see what they want to see. No doubt some people have better arguments for their interpretations but it's still a murky issue in my opinion.

Anyway, I just got to the introduction of the Black Oil in Season 3. So I guess the Colonists can use radiation as a weapon to kill people and that wasn't a separate alien species in Season 1.

Also, I forgot to mention that in Season 1 Mulder says he was in bed when Samantha was abducted. In Season 2 there's a dream sequence of the abduction where he was very much not in bed. Maybe it was just a dream, though.

Apr 3, 2010

A Fancy Hat posted:

My absolute favorite episode is Jose Chung's "From Outer Space", but I realize that's not really a controversial opinion. It's still amazing to me just HOW good it is. It's funny, it's touching, it pokes fun at the entire premise of the X-files but manages to do it without being cynical or edgy.

It's the first episode I saw in its entirety as a kid. My parents watched the show religiously, but I was way too young when it started. But I was 8 years old when this episode aired and was finally brave enough to watch the show. I was absolutely terrified by the opening confrontation between the giant alien and the "Greys". I watched the entire episode but the humor went completely over my head, so I just thought X-Files was the weirdest and most terrifying show of all time.

As for her partner, Reynard Muldrake... that ticking timebomb of insanity... his quest into the unknown has so warped his psyche, one shudders to think how he receives pleasures from life.

grassy gnoll posted:

The absence of "Bad Blood" in the Rashomon list is an appalling miscarriage of justice.

In general, I think that if Darin Morgan either wrote or appears in an episode, you can count on it being top-tier TV. Folks who haven't seen the episodes of Millennium he wrote are especially missing out.

I've never seen any of Millennium. Don't really know anything about it.

Apr 3, 2010

grassy gnoll posted:

Extremely good. In this context, you would also get full marks for "Don't say I never did nothin' for ya."

What if X-Files, but Lance Henrikson investigates murderers and cults, with slightly more plotted-out conspiracy elements and a lot more openly supernatural business toward the end of the show. I like Henrikson being an unemotive weirdo in most things, and he's good in this show, but the lack of a real co-star Scully figure to share the spotlight means that's kinda all you get. Millennium is even more my thing than The X-Files, but it's still hard to muster up enthusiasm for it.

Fortunately, you can watch "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense" and "Somehow, the Devil Got Behind Me" without seeing any of the rest of the series and still appreciate them in full. "Doomsday Defense" is even better than "From Outer Space," believe it or not.

How far have you gotten through season 3 at the moment?

I'm on Season 4, actually. Sorry I haven't been reporting in, not too much to add. I'm having a mounting frustration with the mythar though with how S4 started. "I've got all the answers...again! But Mulder is thwarted...again." The episode just leaves you so totally hanging, not even some closure or a feeling of minor victory like S3's start. Mr. X is dead, the drone Samantha and the other one vanish, the Alien Bounty Hunter continues to live....and then we just move on like nothing happened.

I still have faith in the main plot but those were some weak episodes.

I should mention I liked Wetwired, a S3 ep about video signals being warped by some SCIENCE to distort peoples' minds and what they see. I love subliminal mind control stuff. I dunno why. One of the episodes I remembered most clearly from my earlier aborted watch was S2's "Blood" where people see digital readouts telling them to KILL and stuff. Wetwired feels like a continuation of that so I am happy that happened.

"Pusher" was good. It seems to be one of the more memorable episodes for a lot of folks? It just makes me think how there are so many "mundane" things in X-Files. A pyromancer, Tooms, Pusher, 2shy who eats human fatty tissue, others I'm probably forgetting - these are just mutant human beings who the legal system ie. our narrow scientific worldview cannot account for and thus cannot properly prosecute.

Tooms in his sequel episode especially made me think of Frank Miller's The Dark Night Returns. That doctor who was all for helping "Eugene" and was idealistic to the point he can't see a literal monster right in front of him perfectly fit how Miller depicted the doctors treating Two-Face in TKDR.

"Grotesque" was interesting because it's the one super dark and serious episode (so far) that ultimately is just mundane. The implication was there from the start the supernatural was afoot but in the end it was just the most terrifying evil of them all, man and his madness.

Some people apparently really like "Home" the episode with the inbred family. I didn't hate it but I didn't think it was all that special.

I just finished "The Field Where I Died" which I found more interesting in concept than execution.

And finally, I've been meaning to say this. In The Philosophy of the X-Files book, they have chapters on each character. one of them is on Skinner, dubbing him "The Unsung Hero." "Avatar" was appreciated for finally giving him an episode to be the star.

Apr 3, 2010

I'm unsure if Krycek is the most pitiable man in the series or a giant rear end in a top hat. Maybe the truth lies in-between. Regardless, the latest myth episodes,
"Tunguska" and "Terma" were very good and much better than the last ones.

Most surprisingly though, I really liked El Mundo Gira which I had no memory of .I really liked the multiple choice ending and of course the overriding theme of persecution of illegals is as poignant now as it ever was. Somebody once told me the distinction between good fiction and trash genre fiction is when the orcs stand for something. These fantastical trappings aren't just there to be cool, they have a deeper meaning that can be translated to real life. This episode about an enzyme from outer space that infected a poor man from Mexico is a good example of when fiction serves its highest purpose, which is to use the fantastical to help us understand the real.


While the episode appears to be largely satirical, I think what we're supposed to come away with is not the facts of CSM's life but the general mood of his life. He has a bit of power and...nothing else. It's a hollow existence. Mulder and Sully don't have his power but they still have so much more than he ever will.

And while everyone knows the opening theme, Mark Snow's score for the whole show is loving amazing.

You can buy them here

Gonna buy these over the course of the next couple months. I also found some new books I might add to the OP when I get the chance.

The X-Files really is one of those shows where everything comes together just right. Music, acting, writing, cinematography - all great.

Apr 3, 2010

"It's all lies. But they're entertaining lies and, in the end, isn't that the real truth? The answer is no."

I mentioned way earlier about minor flaws that kinda just get wore over time. I just finished Season 4 and Scully has now been duped three times as far as I can recall. I can remember one of the other two instances, it was in "731" where one of the Syndicate members showed himself to her and said all the corpses were just humans experimented upon by a Japanese war criminal scientist. I know there was one other big example too but it's exact nature eludes me. The point is, how many times is Scully going to be presented with the "plausible" but obviously bullshit explanation by the bad guys?

The best explanation I can spin on all of this is that they don't want us to see Scully as dumb so much as extremely emotionally vulnerable and that vulnerability is being preyed upon by these monsters. That seems like the right interpretation but this has been going on for a while now. Sympathy for a fictional character acting wrongly is limited and after a point you just get fed up with it. I love this show and I love Scully but I hope Season 5 starts by rectifying this and it was all a ruse.

I swear I got to Season 5 but I don't recall the last half of Season 4 at all. I didn't remember Max from Season 1showing up again or Skinner covering up evidence for CSM. Those were pretty great episodes, though.

I'm told the first move happens sometime between Season 5 and 6 so I guess I'll move onto S5 and then watch it after that. I'm venturing into unexplored territory and I'm excited.

Apr 3, 2010

Mulder was sure quick to believe it was the real Samantha at the start of Season 5. He's only seen two fakes at this point, more if you count all the clone hybrids he saw the first time.

Apr 3, 2010

oh but seriously I posted:

God that poo poo never went anywhere, did it?

I have no idea. I got a few more seasons and 2 movies to watch before I can say.

Apr 3, 2010

As somebody who has never seen a single episode of either Twin Peaks series, what do you think of it compared to X-Files? One paper I read cited the original X-File series succeeding where Twin Peaks failed because it never lost the realistic foundation. The paper claims Twin Peaks in its second season just became too surreal or experimental and that doomed it the kind of fame and success the X-Files had.

I'm not sure how their two revival series compare, though.

Then again, with how much everyone hates Season 8 and 9 and the second movie, maybe the newer X-Files series helped the franchise go out on a better note?

Apr 3, 2010

To me, the Mytharc is good not just because I find the plot interesting but also because those episodes have the big moments for Mulder and Scully. You undoubtedly get good characterization of them in even MOTW episodes but take where I'm at in Season Scully has - had - a daughter. This was a huge moment for Scully and very powerful, I thought. You just don't get this level of suspense or emotion in a MOTW episode. As Yannick_B it's really great to see Mulder and Scully close in on hat ever elusive Truth and while they are doing that they are having great personal triumphs and defeats. The X-Files would be nothing without Mulder and Scully.

(I did have to stop reading the second part of your post though since it seems like you were venturing into spoiler territory, if only hinted at spoilers)

Apr 3, 2010

Also I'm still not sure why it's so hard to find people to talk about The X-Files. I used to post on a scifi forum and they got me to watch Stargate SG-1. It was...okay but nothing special. I have no desire to ever see it again and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. So why were people still talking about it ten years ago? And i think there's an active thread for it here, too.

This in contrast to The X-Files which is not only a great show but possibly the most influential scifi show of the last 30 years. It certainly has to be up there. But nobody talks about it. Babylon 5, Stargate, Farscape, they talk about these but not a show so much bigger than any of them.

And no disrespect to B5. I need to watch that myself someday.

NikkolasKing fucked around with this message at 13:50 on Apr 25, 2020

Apr 3, 2010

Thanks for the replies everyone.

perhaps you can also offer some more of your knowledge of TV writing. I mentioned earlier one of the reasons I like the Mytharc is because of its big Muldr and Scully moments. However there is a definite incongruity between them and MOTW episodes. For example, Scully just found and lost her daughter in Season 5. Then...we continue on with adventuring like nothing happened. Time and time again in the Mythology episodes some earth-shattering event happens to our heroes but we go straight back to trundling along looking for random mysteries.

I'm told the X-Files was on the cusp of more modern television writing and that the kind of consistent character development I want from the show was actually rare or unheard of before the X-Files. The X-Files in a lot of ways started more focused television with consistent character development and narratives. Is this true?

It would match up with how people have told me, when I've considered watching Star Trek, that I can just skip around and watch whatever because TOS and TNG are almost entirely episodic.

Apr 3, 2010

Mulder's arc in S5 has been interesting. My criticisms of how it was done aside, his losing faith in the alien idea and becoming a jaded cynic about the government was an unexpected development in his character.

I also find it interesting that the man who is characterized by "I'll believe anything" is so militantly skeptical about any mention of the Divine or divine actions. Ghosts, reincarnation and even demons but no God. On its own that isn't anything too special - many religions don't believe in a God but holds to one or even all of those other beliefs. But as S5 Mulder recognizes and bitterly quips about, he's the guy everyone comes to at every Bigfoot sighting or when they see Jesus face in a tortilla. But he will not believe in God or angels. He and Scully always reverse roles in these episodes, at least outside of that early series episode with the faith healer.

Almost done with Season 5 and then onto the first movie.

Jerusalem posted:

This reminds me, I'm positive there was an episode with an alien... ghost! I'm scared to go back and look it up/rewatch it because it might be awful, but I'm just so tickled pink by the concept of some writer going,"gently caress it I'm doing both!"

My vague recollection is that it was an astronaut who was possessed (or at least believed he was) by the ghost of an alien he picked up while in space or something.

Thank you for reminding me of another weird alien type that is clearly not the Colonists I don't think.

Apr 3, 2010

So the final episode of Season 5 was called The End. I thought that, considering the movie was coming up and some previous Mytharc episodes, that this might mean the Colonization plan was gonna be happening.

Boy was I wrong. No grand climax, just the most downer of finale's. The X-Files was shut down once before but it wasn't totally destroyed. Who would have thought a cramped room in the basement where Skinner thought they kept the copier going up in flames would be one of the most heartwrenching moments in the series. But of course it's what it represents that is the real blow. The truth was literally burned to the ground - a lifetime of work gathered through blood, sweat and tears is all gone. It hurt them both but I can't help but feel like it's Mulder who suffers most here. This was always his crusade and the man has no other life. Scully has her family but Mulder has nothing but that crusade. And it's all gone.

Of course I felt so sorry for Scully and Emily but this is the symbolic and literal obliteration of everything our heroes and we as the audience have been pursuing.

Season 5 might be my favorite season on the whole. I dunno, it would take a long time to gather my thoughts on so many episodes. But for now, I can say for certain that I haven't been hit this hard by anything else all series. This season has made me laugh and cry in abundance.

NikkolasKing fucked around with this message at 15:13 on Apr 26, 2020


Apr 3, 2010

I gotta say, I didn't expect "Dreamland" to get 2 parts. I figured it was just another joke episode, especially given it was following on Triangle. Triangle was the ultimate troll, they gave us the Mulder-Scully kiss except it wasn't really Scully and also it was all possibly a dream.

I knew I recognized Fletcher from somewhere, though. He's the guy from Short Circuit 2.

And speaking of actors, the one "British" sailor from Triangle sounded exactly like Kano from the first Mortal Kombat movie and he was Australian. I mean, I guess they both say "mate" and "bloody" so what's the difference.

Having just finished The Rain King which is episode 8 of Season 6, Season 6 has been the weirdest season yet. Everything apart from the first episode has been comedic and light-hearted.

Shrimp or Shrimps posted:

When I do my rewatches, I typically finish at season 5 plus the first film, Fight the Future.

S5 is very memorable.

It was indeed very good and so was the movie.

If I have one criticism of S5, it's that it introduced Agent Spender who is a weasel so weaselly that Krycek looks a saint compared to him. I thought he would be dead and done with straight away but he's sticking around, apparently.

NikkolasKing fucked around with this message at 14:37 on Apr 28, 2020

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • Post
  • Reply