Wednesday, December 23, 2015

X-Files Xtras: Thoughts On Season 7

Coming off the heels of my favorite season for The X-Files, where would the show would go next? Judging by fans' disapproval and critics' judgement of the series' inability to answer so many questions, the future as I knew it was crashing pretty hard and fast. Though everyone at the time of season sevens' airing called this the weakest one, I disagree. Season seven is not entirely unsatisfying, but it doesn't hide cracks and faults we previously overlooked either.

For one, the writers' plot themselves into a black hole. This was a given because a lot of episodes surrounding the agent's mysteries were 'solved' but not necessarily answered - we were always presented an idea of the supernatural or paranormal, and like Mulder and Scully left to believe what we felt was the truth. But as shared in past X-Files Xtras, a lot of the material for individual stand-alone episodes are recycled phenomena. Taking opportunities to expand Mulder and Scully's arcs, the writers opened more cans of worms than they had the time to close them.

Aside from the writing, which isn't atrocious but can grate on one's nerves, the biggest reasons the show starts to fall apart is the discrepancy and lack of interest by its two leading players.

First back in 1999, David Duchovny felt FOX had lost him millions of dollars in underselling the shows' rights, so he began a legal battle against the network. Simultaneously, he announced his departure. Eventually he won his lawsuit and walked away. Whether or not Duchovny had decided to sue Fox, he probably would've left anyways - he continuously remarked in interviews about wanting to jump ship around season five. Thankfully he stayed around for the next two years, but by then, there were even more loose ends. If he had stayed on to conclude one of the show's biggest cliffhangers, it would've been for the betterment of the rest of the series.

As hard as I tried not to Duchovny's departure affected my sympathy for Mulder a little. Sometimes I just don't think he saw hindsight how important Mulder was to his other half Scully as well as the fans. He doesn't leave until end of the season, but once you learn of his departure, you can still feel how much the show is going to be hugely effect.

The other biggest issue to rear its ugly head is Chris Carters' interest continuing the X-Files with new agents. He had started another show Millenium, which was canceled right before season 7 aired. His idea to move forward with new agents exhibits premature neglect as this current one takes a backseat. Mulder and Scully don't necessarily feel like themselves but are understudies waiting to be replaced. Interest and development in their arcs begin to crumble but not necessarily fall apart.

Season 7 isn't a complete waste. There are several entertaining episodes, and we do get a lot of closure with Mulder's search for answers over his sisters' abduction, as well as Cancer Man. However, the season leaves on such a huge cliffhanger, as a fan you have no choice but to move ahead with the highest hopes possible.

Favorite To Be Continued: The Sixth Extinction & Amour Fati
In the season sixth finale I was so excited but had no idea what was going on. Mulder and Scully traveled to Africa where ancient metallic objects are discovered and provide proof that life originated on other planets. Mulder is severely affected by their discovery to the point of a complete psychological and physical breakdown. Meanwhile Scully is left out of the medical loop about his condition and tries to find her faith by her continuing their work. Of course this gives Cancer Man the perfect opportunity to get his hands on Mulder, the perfect test subject. This is the probably the scariest episode (next to the season finale) that we've seen Mulder, and Duchovny was insanely good.

Favorite Shipping Moment: Amour Fati
Once Mulder recovers from his horrendous ordeal, he and Scully share how much they mean to each other throughout all the years of their partnership. The entire X-Files is made up of genius, witty, and touching moments between Mulder and Scully. Though I don't ship them as passionately as other fans, there's no denying how much this moment between them is one of the best - if not the best.

Mulder: Scully, I was like you once - I didn't know who to trust. Then I... I chose another path... another life, another fate, where I found my sister. The end of my world was unrecognisable 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.

My god, man, it took seven years for them to finally lock lips. And, it happens of course on New Years Eve as they watch the celebration after solving a ridiculous kiss. I don't even know what happens with the rest of the episode. But, finally, they kissed!

Favorite Mulder Episodes: Sein und Zeit and Closure
Favorite Ending: Closure
When Mulder takes on a non-X-File case dealing with a young girl disappearing from her home, he grows obsessive about the similarities to other kidnappings. Scully grows concerned over his well-being, as his mother's life hangs in the balance and the emotional proximity he has to the missing girl.

Mulder has so many hits and misses about finding his sister. His emotions as well as ours are manipulated and contorted into believing one thing about her fate, only to be thrown a curveball. We see her in many formations; as clones as a teenager, and also as an adult, another version of her claiming to be the original raised by Cancer Man. We never knew what was the truth. As Mulder and Scully are led to the literal graveyard of serial kidnapper's other victims, we come to learn about Samantha's genuine abduction and her terrifying struggle to escape.

Sein und Zeit and Closure aren't necessarily gripping. They deal with disappearances as many episodes did. What makes these two episodes so good is what they bring out of us; the sadness and catharsis. Like Mulder we are finally set free from the long-awaited mystery and can face an even more painful truth: evil is just as much human as it may be from another world. On top of the gratifying end, knowing that Duchovny's time on the series was limited, it was nice that at least we weren't left hanging with the unknown on this very important aspect of the show.

You know, I never stop to think... that the light is billions of years old by the time we see it. From the beginning of time right past us into the future. Nothing is ancient in the universe. But, maybe they are souls, Scully. Traveling through time as starlight, looking for homes.

Most Exciting Episode: X-Cops
After such an emotional eliciting conclusion to Mulder's search for his sister, only The X-Files could go in a completely unexpected direction. Mulder and Scully inadvertently join forces with the crew of COPS; both teams are seeking out a monster terrorizing the back alleys of Los Angeles. I'm not a huge fan of COPS but its chaotic, documentary-style is easily recognizable. The episode has a lot of great chase scenes and moments with Scully's avid skepticism towards partnering up with their crew.

Not only is it a great crossover of these two shows, anyone who is fan of Walker Texas Ranger (like I am) will recognize a third crossover with the actor who plays Francis Gage; he plays the lead police officer helping Mulder and Scully. This is pretty much an unexpected match-made-in-heaven.

I Didn't Know I Needed This Episode In My Life: First Person Shooter
I'm not a video game nerd but I didn't know I needed this episode in my life. I always love it when the Lone Gunmen make an appearance. They seek Mulder and Scully's help when the virtual reality game they helped design is taken over by a female character Maitreya, who is much more real than virtual. The agents are not necessarily sucked into the game but enter it of their own volition and become their own kick-ass characters. Everyone becomes an avatar of their usual personalities, even Maitreya's creator. It has such a great twist, and the social commentary of the testosterone-driven video gaming world is still so surprisingly relevant even years later.

Episode Most Like The Twilight Zone: Theef
The Twilight Zone had the power for every episode to be slow-burning, and make you think one thing but the answers are something entirely different. Here for The X-Files, a distinguished doctor and his family are brutally and bloodily attacked by unknown forces. The word Theef is splattered in blood across their homes' walls. With our history to the show, it's easy to suspect a demonic possession or that paranormal phenomena is at work. Until all the stones are unturned, it becomes clearer that the doctor's treatment of patient left the father wanting revenge through poppet dolls; the story becomes a much more interesting tale of revenge.

Unexpected Episode: En Ami
Throughout the course of the series Mulder has been the sole contact to Cancer Man, either directly or indirectly. Scully, though she was abducted by his people, she rarely got up close and personal with their arch nemesis. It really is an unexpected turn of events. It's rare for Scully to go on a hunch and explore all the possibilities, even if it puts her life in danger; this is usually Mulder's M.O. I loved that even though she is getting to know the master behind the alien puppet show, she doesn't overlook precautions to keeping herself safe. Even if Cancer Man's storylines are convoluted, it's always fun to see him and what's up his sleeve in any capacity.

Favorite Throwback Episode: Chimera
I felt like the first few seasons of the show gave a wide range of female characters outside of the complexity that Scully offers. Over the course of the seasons, we're left with a lot less interesting supporting characters than what we started off with. Chimera is a simple throwback those the earlier days. A monstrous entity attacks the family of a distinguished judge. While Mulder makes this case a top priority on Skinner's orders, Scully is forced to stay behind on a stakeout investigating a disappearing prostitute. Mulder's findings unveils that the entity is not from another world, but one that is very much human and suffering from trauma having to do with illegitimate affairs. The episode leaves on a very somber note, questioning the power and intensity a woman can have.

Favorite Scully Episode, Favorite Episode: all things
Even if Scully accepted an assignment from her superiors to initially spy on Mulder and grow to work/like him, we never understood her life before the FBI. It remained a mystery until all things, an episode written, directed, and starring Gillian Anderson.

While Mulder is out of the country on a hunt for crop circles, Scully coincidentally reunites with a teacher she had a brief affair with in college. All Things revolves around her being led by her heart and her head. Scully always turns to Catholicism when logic fails her, and it's the variation of Buddhism and spiritual healing that is a different road for her to go down. Her circumstances are very Mulder-esque. We challenged by ideas of what can be qualified as fate. Anderson's conception is so emotionally satisfying and layered. It's probably one of my favorites of the whole series.

Episode So Gross I Barely Watch It: BrandX
Omg, if you think the Truth commercials against smoking are disgusting, BrandX comes out of left field. Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate the mysterious death of a witness due to speak out against the Morley cigarette company. A chain of victims begins and Mulder is soon one of them; tobacco beetle eggs drowning in his lungs. The condition is horrifying, and I never had any intention ever to smoke, and I never ever will.

Favorite Out-Of-Character Episode: Hollywood A.D.
The X-Files expanded into its own feature film in 1998, so it was only a matter of time before Hollywood would come calling again as a part of the show. A former friend of Skinner's shadows Mulder and Scully on their investigations to write his own film. Our favorite agents hit the big screen as portrayed by Garry Shandling and Tea Leoni, respectively. Though written and directed by David Duchovny, the episode itself is a little haphazard in its storytelling. But it is a funny, out-of-character-like episode where it pokes a little fun at itself.

Scene that sums up the whole series:
Well, you're crazy for believing what you believe. And you're crazy for not believing what he believes. I'll leave you with that. Thank you.

The Chandler 'I Don't Know What's Going On But OMG I'm Excited And Sad and Angry' Bing Episode: Requiem
The agents delve even further into the alien conspiracy and abduction experiments as they investigate the disappearance of two boys. A force field around the site has horrible ailing affects on Scully, a fellow abductee, and draws more intrigue from Mulder and the possibility of a genuine UFO location. Raising the stakes even further Krychek and Marita, longtime henchmen and victims of the Cancer Man, seek out the agents in order to gain revenge against Cancer Man.

Mulder's exploration of the force field results in him being brutally abducted. Obviously this is the answer for Duchovny leaving; it's daring but also angering. Characters disappear on this show without rhyme or reason, so this resolution and context fits very well. However, on top of Mulder disappearing, we're left with a huge bombshell: Scully is freaking pregnant. How, just how? The possible answers made me excited but also frustrated because Mulder's exit wasn't just a mere departure. It was a temporary, blindsiding resolution that left us with one-half of core qualities that made the show work and force us to question the future.

No comments:

Post a Comment