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The X-Files – The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati (Review)

This November, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the seventh season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Harsh Realm.

My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it—all idealism is mendacity in the face of what is necessary—but love it.

– Friedrich Nietzsche, Ecce Homo

Everything burns...

Everything burns…

The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati is a weird piece of television that follows two other weird pieces of television. The three episodes bridging the sixth and seventh seasons of The X-Files are utterly unlike any other mythology episodes in the show’s run. They lack the urgent pacing of the best mythology episodes, but they have a pensive and introspective quality that remains oddly appealing. Although they dwell on themes that span the length and breadth of the show, these three episodes have a minimal real impact on the show going forward.

This is perhaps most obvious with The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati. Written by David Duchovny and Chris Carter, The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati provides a particularly meditative conclusion to a rather bizarre set of episodes. These three episodes are never particularly tense, but the resolution to everything hinges on Scully getting a magic keycard from a character who is then promptly murdered off-screen. As with Biogenesis and The Sixth Extinction, there is a sense that the show is actively writing around the moments of maximum drama and conflict.

Life's a beach...

Life’s a beach…

Then again, perhaps this strange reflective atmosphere is entirely appropriate. There was every indication that the seventh season of The X-Files would be the last year of the show. In Pasadena in July, Chris Carter suggested that he was treating the seventh season as if it would be his last:

My contract expires at the end of the year. I know David Duchovny’s does. Gillian’s, I think, goes to an eighth year. Right now, I’m preparing in every way for this to be the final season. I’ve heard second and third-hand that FOX might approach us about taking the show past the seventh season, so I don’t know. But, right now, as I’m plotting the series, I’m looking at these next 22 episodes as a wrap-up. And I’m very excited about the way that is shaping up, but I’m staying tuned.

The sixth season had seemed very loud and triumphant, with The X-Files feeling confident in its own immortality. It seemed at points like the show could keep going forever. Going into the seventh season, it seemed that the atmosphere was a lot heavier.

Smoking for two...

Smoking for two…

In an interview with The X-Files Magazine shortly before the season premiere, Frank Spotnitz suggested that the production team were treating the seventh year as if it might be the right time to leave it all behind:

Every story feels like it’s got a lot of weight attached to it because they may be the last 22. We’re being careful about what stories we choose to tell. One of the very first things we did was sit down and talk about all of our major characters and where they’re going to go and how they’re going to end. Where’s Skinner going to end up? Where’s Krycek going to end up? What’s the last image you’ll see of CSM? It’s a little sad actually to be thinking about those things, but it’s kind of exciting too.

Fox would decide to renew The X-Files for an eighth season (and a ninth!), but it seems like some of the confusion of the seventh season is down to confusion around whether or not this would be the end for the show.

Seeds of moral decay...

Seeds of moral decay…

Of course, the seventh season would turn out to be the final full year of The X-Files for David Duchovny. He would reappear in the eighth and ninth seasons, but this was the last year in which Duchovny could claim to “lead” the series. Duchovny had been quite anxious and uncomfortable about working on The X-Files for quite some time. His interviews suggested a growing sense of frustration with the show that had made him famous. Although he had agreed to sign on for the sixth and seventh seasons, it seemed unlikely he would commit past that.

Duchovny is largely responsible for the sections of The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati that focus on Mulder’s flirtation with suburban life. The script borrows rather heavily from The Last Temptation of Christ, right down to prepping Mulder for surgery in a crucifixion pose and giving him a head frame that resembles the crown of thorns. All manner of readings suggest themselves for these sequences. Given the controversy that still lingers around The Last Temptation of Christ, casting yourself as the central figure in an homage will prompt discussion.

In too deep...

In too deep…

Duchovny found himself forced to address the decision to base The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati around The Last Temptation of Christ. After all, that would seem to confirm the recurring suggestion that Mulder was a messiah-like figure in the context of the show’s mythology. Duchovny rejected the idea:

“I really was attached to that idea,” Duchovny said. “The Lamentation of Christ is about how we’re all Christ, about how every single person on this planet has to make this heartbreaking choice between a life in the world and a life of the family. That’s what makes Christ so heartbreaking in that movie and in that book: his struggle is not only godlike, but also profoundly human. People ask, ‘when is Mulder going to get a personal life?’ Well, this is the equation. This is what it’s all about. Mulder is a guy who’s been given the same problem. You either have a life or you sacrifice it all and you become this guy who’s running around chasing aliens and has no life. I wasn’t saying Mulder is Christ; I’m not inflating Mulder. What I’m doing is using the very human model of Christ to make Mulder an everyman.”

To be fair to Duchovny, this makes a certain amount of sense in the context of his contributions to the script. However, it still feels very much like a stretch to dismiss any “Mulder-as-savior” subtext. After all, Mulder’s decision to lay down his burdens does doom the entire human race.

Not shore about his future...

Not shore about his future…

After all, the “Mulder-is-Christ” imagery has been baked into the mythology for quite some time. He died in Anasazi and was resurrected in The Blessing Way. His biggest moment of self-doubt arrived in an episode called Gethsemane. His attempts to spread “the Truth” to the public are repeatedly hindered by a character who has explicitly been compared to the devil. In that context, any decision to structure an episode as “The Last Temptation of Mulder” was bound to prompt comparisons.

Biogenesis and The Sixth Extinction add fuel to the fire. The three-parter suggests that aliens are divine. Mulder’s status as an alien-human hybrid means that he is both human and divine in the same instant. Mulder is presented as a potential savior of mankind. “It’s all here, sir,” Scully informs Skinner. “A foretelling of mass extinction; a myth about a man who can save us from it. That’s why they took Mulder. They think that his illness is a gift, protection against the coming plague.” The Cigarette-Smoking Man even identifies Mulder as “our savior.”

He died for our sins...

He died for our sins…

While Duchovny might argue that The Lamention of Christ (and, by extension, The Last Temptation of Christ) is simply a metaphor for the human experience, a large part of what makes Christ important enough to merit that treatment stems from the fact that he is divine in nature. Christ was the son of God, and so his death takes on a symbolic importance quite removed from day to day existence. As the Cigarette-Smoking Man urges, “Don’t think of the man… Think of the sacrifice he’s making for all of us… for the world.”

That is not to suggest that it would be impossible to write The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati without the overt Mulder-as-messiah imagery. After all, the second season of Millennium had tempted Frank Black with something similar in Siren. The problem is that Duchovny’s fondness for Joseph Campbell meant that his early stories for episodes like Colony and Anasazi tended to establish Mulder as a “chosen one.” Coupled with the religious and spiritual themes of the mythology, it was inevitable that Mulder would essentially become a Christ figure.

Kritschgau had to gau... Er... I mean go...

Kritschgau had to gau…
Er… I mean go…

Of course, the decision to cite The Last Temptation of Christ as an inspiration for the third part of a season-bridging mythology episode is a reminder of just how esoteric The X-Files could be. It was a show that was utterly unafraid of looking ridiculous, which a large part of the charm of these three episodes. The teaser to The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati features Mulder screaming “MOOOOOOOMMMMM!” inside his own head and having a psychic pseudo-conversation with the Cigarette-Smoking Man. It is a sequence that is goofy and absurd.

The show’s mythology was essentially pure pulp – it is the story of how a secret cabal plots to sell out mankind to their alien overlords – but The X-Files could throw in all manner of literary and cultural references on top of that framework. The show is utterly unapologetic about that, and it remains part of the charm. In some ways, it recalls Nic Pizzolatto’s approach to True Detective. Still, Duchovny’s decision to write a mythology episode that essentially casts his character in the role of Jesus Christ from The Last Temptation of Christ was bound to raise eyebrows.

It's an old story...

It’s an old story…

“Daring, dramatic experiment, or Duchovny’s calculatedly over dramatized retort to his tormentors?” Dan Persons wondered in an article for Cinefantastique. While that might be reading a bit too much into it, it does feel like Duchovny’s script is exploring some familiar thematic ground. One of the big ideas of the sixth season was the sense that Mulder and Scully were essentially stuck running in place – whether trapped by a time loop in Monday or tripping over false endings in Field Trip. The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati touches on similar themes.

Mulder is plagued by visions over the course of the episode, imagining a young boy playing on a beach building the same sand castle (or sand UFO) over and over again. It is a delightfully abstract image. When Chris Carter was asked whether the image represented Mulder’s future son or his inner child, he very graciously responded, “I believe that David Duchovny, who co-wrote the episode with me, wanted the image of the child to be open to interpretation. But I think that both of those interpretations are valid and interesting.”

Crosses to bear...

Crosses to bear…

Duchovny’s scripts for episodes like The Unnatural, The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati and Hollywood A.D. are quite fond of this sort of dream-like abstract imagery. Duchovny described his approach to writing and directing as poetic:

“It’s a non-linear sense of how images reveal a story,” he said. “In The Unnatural you can see that in the moment when Exley bleeds, and in Hollywood A.D. it’s the final moment when a piece of plastic makes zombies dance on a soundstage. These scenes make poetic sense. It’s like when you’re talking about a poem and you go, ‘What does this poem mean?’ Well, a poem is. It doesn’t mean. That’s really what I feel like about the best images. The most recent literalization of that would be in American Beauty, where Wes Bentley shows the video of the plastic bag. That’s almost a manifesto of ‘here’s an image, it makes me feel everything — I don’t know why, it’s just a plastic bag floating in the wind’ — and whether or not that works for you. That’s all about movie-making, that moment in American Beauty with the kid who is a filmmaker. To me, they’re all these little plastic bag images and they work or they don’t. I had the feeling for some reason people didn’t get the last image of Hollywood A.D. They just thought it was fun. But to me it was really the whole reversal of the episode. If I were to literalize it, it would be to say, ‘Here we are on this Hollywood soundstage and we have the mass-produced plastic replica of a ceramic bowl that may or may not have the voice of Jesus on it, and this plastic bowl, even this far removed from the source, has the power to raise the dead. And more so, it has the power to raise dead people who aren’t even there and make them dance and show us what life is really all about.’ Mulder talked about this earlier in the bathtub scene, where he says, ‘Why is it that dead people are always attacking the living?’ I say, ‘They’re hungry first’ and if we stayed with them longer, they would get drunk and make love and dance. It was an imagistic reversal of the whole show but because it wasn’t literalized, maybe it wasn’t successful. For me it was the big circle of what it’s all about. It’s non-existent dead people laughing, dancing, sexy, making love. I feel very comfortable creating an image that is poetic. I think directing is the same as poetry.”

This is a quote that explains a lot about how Duchovny works as a writer and director. Biogenesis and The Sixth Extinction played with similar ideas when it came to sketches of the engravings on the crashed ship, touching on the complicated relationship that can exist between a depiction of a thing and the thing itself.

Footprints in the sand...

Footprints in the sand…

Mulder repeatedly imagines the child building a sand copy of the UFO over and over again. Inevitably, the ocean arrives to wash it away. Most overtly, it could be a representation of the crashed ship that appeared at the end of Biogenesis and disappeared at the end of The Sixth Extinction. However, it might also have a deeper meaning. as the child watches all of his hard work wash away, Mulder tries to reassure him, “Hey, buddy, that’s okay. You can build it again. Just start again. Okay?”

It feels like a continuation and extension of the theme underscoring episodes like Dreamland I, Dreamland II and Monday. There is a sense of frustration with doing the same action over and over again, knowing that it becomes nothing more than dull routine. The X-Files was a show producing over twenty episodes a year. That is exhausting for anybody involved, let alone the lead actors. Given Duchovny’s increasing sense of dissatisfaction with his work on the show, perhaps it felt more and more like building sand castles only to watch them get washed away by the tide.

Shades of grey...

Shades of grey…

These anxieties bled through into the sixth season of the show. In Dreamland I, Scully wondered if the two agents were doomed to spend eternity chasing paranormal phenomenon across the United States without any opportunity for growth or development. The sixth season did feature massive changes to the status quo in both mythology (The Beginning, One Son) and standalone (Dreamland II, Field Trip) episodes, but things always bounced back to a familiar shape. Real change and growth seemed to be impossible.

Mulder faces this dilemma explicitly in The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati, when Diana Fowley presents him with the opportunity to have the real and meaningful life that the X-files (or The X-Files) would never allow. When Mulder talks about “commitments”, Fowley mocks him. “You think you know what that means… commitment,” she responds. “It’s all just childish, Fox.” Fowley is arguing that Mulder has been deliberately avoiding the responsibilities and obligations that come with life in the real world beyond a television show.

"Handcuffs on or handcuffs off?"

“Handcuffs on or handcuffs off?”

She continues, “You’ve been a child… with only the responsibility of a child to your own dreams and fantasies but you won’t know the true joy of responsibility until you plant your feet in the world… and become a father.” Fowley seems to accuse Mulder of playing make-believe and of refusing to face the commitments that do come with adult life. It is interesting to wonder how much of this is rooted in Duchovny’s own experience. The actor’s first child had been born only a few months before The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati aired.

Mulder’s fantasy ultimately sees the character dreaming his life away. In one short sequence, he experiences marriage and parenthood and old age. He winds up sitting alone in his bed as the world burns outside his window. It is hard not to wonder if some of Duchovny’s own anxieties and uncertainties are bleeding into the script. At this stage, Duchovny has committed to giving seven years of his life to an episodic television show. That is a phenomenal stretch of time in which life itself might seem to go whizzing by.

"Hey, big Spender!"

“Hey, big Spender!”

There is a sense that The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati is a profoundly personal work from David Duchovny. It is notable as the only episode actually written by Duchovny that is based around the character. Both The Unnatural and Hollywood A.D. tend to have a broader focus than just Mulder. Given Duchovny tendency to treat characters as objects in service of plot or theme, it seems fair to read The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati as a reflection on the relationship between Mulder and Duchovny.

Before the launch of the season, Duchovny had made it quite clear that he was done with The X-Files. “I wouldn’t say ‘never’ about anything, but as of right now, my contract is up at the end of this coming year, so I’m living my life as if this would be the last year, and I’d be fine if it were the last year,” Duchovny observed in July 1999. He was less ambiguous two months later. “As much as I love the show, I think for me this will be the end,” he reflected in September 1999. “I always thought five years was enough. Seven years is definitely enough.”

The devil you know...

The devil you know…

In a way, The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati suffers from Duchovny’s tendency to treat characters objects to be slotted into a plotting or thematic mechanism. It is quite easy to believe that David Duchovny might dream of a life outside The X-Files, but it seems harder to believe that Mulder would want a life outside the X-files. Mulder has spent his life chasing the truth. It seems strange that he should give it up so easily and with so little fight. It has never really seemed that Mulder wanted a so-called “normal” life with a wife and kids.

The appeal of laying down his burden makes sense, particularly when it comes with the reassurance that nobody actually died for Mulder’s crusade. It makes sense that Mulder would want that gift lifted from his shoulders. However, the idealised life presented in The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati seems an awkward fit for Mulder. In the six years we’ve spent with him, Mulder doesn’t seem like a character who ever wanted a suburban house or wondered what his kids might look like.

"Just like I always wanted. I swear."

“Just like I always wanted. I swear.”

Mulder’s life was derailed by the disappearance of Samantha when he was only a child. Although he only came to remember her abduction years later, that sort of event leaves a scar. In episodes like Oubliette, Mulder has argued that he is no longer solely defined by the loss of his sister. Nevertheless, it does not seem entirely plausible that reuniting Fox and Samantha would allow Mulder to get on with the process of living a normal life. Quite simply, Mulder never had an ordinary life long enough to miss it.

Mulder deciding to lay down his burdens might look a lot more like the life that John Doggett experiences in John Doe – a life far away from the worries and struggles of his day-to-day existence, albeit not the sort of idealised life towards which most people would aspire. Arcadia had made it quite clear that Mulder was not the sort of conformist who would comfortably fit into suburban life. Mulder might have had a long and promising career ahead of him before working on the X-files, but it seems hard to believe that he would want the life presented here.

Marriage of convenience...

Marriage of convenience…

There is a sense that The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati might have worked better with Scully as the central character. Although the show has had an unhealthy insistence on Scully’s maternal tendencies since the fourth season, it is Scully who gave up a “normal” life in order to go chase ghosts with Mulder. It is Scully who alienated her friends and her family to continue working with a paranoid loner. It is Scully who dreamed of life outside the car in Dreamland I and who was offered an escape hatch by Kersh in Tithonus.

While a story in which Scully dreams about abandoning the X-files to become a mother would be problematic, it would make more sense for Scully to wonder about what might have been if she had decided to detach herself from Mulder. Would she be on the fast-track to an assistant-directorship? Would she be regarded as an expert in her field? Would she be putting her medical qualifications to good use? Would she look forward to weekly lunches with her sister? In way, all things does touch on these issues, but that episode has its own problems.

"I feel like I'm back on the Red Shoe Diaries..."

“I feel like I’m back on the Red Shoe Diaries…”

The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati was written by Chris Carter and David Duchovny. Duchovny was responsible for the dream sequences based around Mulder, while Carter crafted the more conventional conspiracy story arcs. The two wrote their sections of the script separately, with Carter stitching the two halves together into a reasonably cohesive whole. This probably accounts for the somewhat muddled climax of the episode and the fact that the script occasionally feels a little bit disjointed.

This type of collaboration is not particularly uncommon in Hollywood. Stephen King had enjoyed a similar collaboration with Carter on his script for Chinga, due to the fact that both writers were working in separate physical locations. However, The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati was not written in the manner because Duchovny and Carter were separated by hundreds or thousands of miles. The barriers preventing the collaboration between Duchovny and Carter were more personal in nature.

"Okay, now I definitely feel like I'm back on the Red Shoe Diaries..."

“Okay, now I definitely feel like I’m back on the Red Shoe Diaries…”

In August 1999, David Duchovny filed a lawsuit against Fox over their syndication of The X-Files. Fox had sold the show into syndication their own FX network. Duchovny alleged that the company had favoured FX over other networks that would have paid more, thus depriving Duchovny of royalties. His suit accused the network of paying Carter “hush money” to cover it all up:

The lawsuit contends that “Fox sits on both sides of the bargaining table in any negotiation for the distribution rights to the series, thereby enabling it to manipulate negotiations in any way that serves its corporate interests.” The lawsuit alleges that as a result of the sweetheart deal, Fox has “retained an unreasonable amount of the profits [estimated to be in excess of $800 million] resulting from the broadcast of the series on the Fox network.”

The lawsuit also charges that Fox paid Carter “hush money” to “buy” his silence. The lawsuit says Carter received advances having nothing to do with the series of more than $34 million since September 1997 and that Fox gave him a 13-episode commitment to create a new series for the Fox television network. The suit said these payments were “a pattern of collusion and conspiracy with Carter to preclude Duchovny and King Baby [Duchovny’s company] from discovering the nature and extent of the self-dealing at Fox.”

That is a very serious allegation for a lead actor to make about their showrunner, particularly three months before the premiere of a new season. Understandably, Duchovny’s lawsuit hung over the production of the seventh season. A settlement (reportedly paying Duchovny over $20m) was only reached a few days before the broadcast of Requiem, the season finalé.

Some men just want to watch the world burn...

Some men just want to watch the world burn…

It was inevitable that the lawsuit would impact his working relationship with Carter. It happened right around the time that the two would have been working on The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati. Apparently the two did not talk for a while afterwards:

“I was dismayed and disappointed,” Duchovny says of Carter’s alleged involvement. He hasn’t talked with Carter since filing the suit but did give the exec producer a heads-up that it was coming. And although he’s showing up at work every day and says his legal battle has nothing to do with his feelings for the show, the suit has left a sour taste in his mouth. “We’re talking about something I’ve devoted the last seven years of my life to. All my time, all my energy. And that turns me off about the whole affair,” says Duchovny. As for his relationship with Carter, Duchovny says he hopes “Chris will be my friend personally and professionally when this is all over.”

While things were quite tense during the seventh season, it seems like Carter and Duchovny have buried any grudges in the year since. In a nice piece of symmetry, the lawyers who represented Duchovny in this lawsuit would represent Carter in his own 2006 lawsuit against Fox over the syndication of the series.

Sands of time...

Sands of time…

There are some issues with The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati that are unrelated to the surrounding issues. The gender politics of The X-Files were not always progressive, but there are all manner of unfortunate gender stereotypes present in the script for the episode. There are very sexist sentiments that are offered up with all the sincerity and conviction of time-worn wisdom. Duchovny and Carter can occasionally seem didactic, but there are moments where it is hard to believe some of these observations made it into the finished episode.

“All a mother wants is to shield her boy from pain and danger,” the Cigarette-Smoking Man reflects as he stands over Mulder’s bed. “Safe in the world as he was once in the womb. But maybe we think a father demands more than mere survival. Maybe we’re afraid a father demands worldly adulation, success, heroism…” It is a sentiment that very clearly ties into the religious subtext of the episode, but it still feels rather forced. Then again, this is a line that comes from the show’s primary villain who happily traded his wife for a chance of survival.

"Who says we never do any father-son stuff?"

“Who says we never do any father-son stuff?”

However, these gender essentialist comments keep recurring through the episode. On their first night together in his new life, Fowley promises Mulder “hundreds of little joys. To open a door and have a woman beckon you in, to have her make a fire and lay the table for you and when it’s late, to feel her take you into her arms.” It is a very weird vision of paradise. Given the way that One Son hinted at Fowley’s internalised misogyny as she hunted down women exploited by the conspirators, it is not out of character. However, it seems strange that Mulder responds to it.

While the dialogue concerning women is more than a little cringe-inducing, there is something rather goofy and charming about the way that Duchovny writes for the Cigarette-Smoking Man. William B. Davis has great fun with these rather silly lines, relishing the opportunity to play the character a little more broad and mischievous than he typically appears. It is a shame that Duchovny did not write the character more frequently. Duchovny clearly has a great deal of affection for the evil archetype embodied by the character.

Ghosts of X-files past...

Ghosts of X-files past…

“When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,” the Cigarette-Smoking Man quotes, making a theatrical turn from the corner of the hospital room. He adds, “Ah, but your mummy will still love you.” Shortly after that point, he punctures Mulder’s self-importance by assuring the hero, “You’re not Christ. You’re not Prince Hamlet. You’re not even Ralph Nader. You can walk out of this hospital and the world will forget you.” There is a certain relish to the dialogue that is missing from too many of the character’s appearances.

The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati is a mess of an episode that is full of contradictions and inconsistencies. At the same time, it is an episode that feels completely unlike anything that the show had done before or would do after.

You might be interested in our reviews of the seventh season of The X-Files:

5 Responses

  1. The vision of paradise you discuss towards the end, in particular Fowley’s words about the housewife, verses particularly strongly in gender stereotypes, but it is a direct lift out of Nikos Kazantzakis’ source novel of the Temptation of Christ. Duchovny reworked the source material surprisingly little. Not everything jives, in particular since not half a season earlier we saw how Mulder didn’t fit in Arcadia, but you could say that it is the life he was to follow if he had followed his father’s (or fathers’) life — affluent, high-ranking governmental employee.

    • I did not know that about the novel. That’s a very good point about his father, actually. I still get the sense that – as with Scully’s conversion in all things – this is very much a case of the writer (and actor) speaking through the character. Duchovny has spoken at length about how he sees characters existing in service of story rather than vice versa.

  2. There really was a lot more promise in these two eps at the start of season 7 than the mythology ever delivered on. There is very little in The Sixth Extinction to set up Amor Fati aside from Diana’s brief conversation with Mulder in the hospital near the end about how “now we can be together,” which doesn’t make sense at all in the context of that episode. That seems like a line thrown in to set up the twist of Amor Fati. The Scully scenes in Amor Fati directly follow up on The Sixth Extinction. That she does not get enough room to breathe is unfortunate since this is likely the biggest resolution to Scully’s character arc (the pregnancy arc is another story but this has been Scully’s arc since the Pilot).

    But the Duchovny/Mulder dream sequences are not all throwaway. For the first time (that I recall) the show is pressing Mulder’s wish to become a father. The show was always more fascinated with Scully as a mother. It’s a shame that Carter and the other writers never followed up on that in seasons 8 and 9, when they actually seem to be actively ignoring it.

    • Of course, that idea of Mulder as a father would backfire spectacularly in the ninth season when Mulder becomes a deadbeat dad. So much of the final stretch of the eighth season is given over to Mulder awkwardly seguing into “dad” role and so much of his character is based in his own difficult relationship with his father that the ninth season characterisation really stings.

      By I do like this trilogy a lot more than most. There is an odd tempo to it, with minimal real tension or pacing. It’s very relaxed as far as plotting goes, more focused on mood or tone. I don’t think it works entirely, but I appreciate it.

      • They could have made it about the difference between the idealization of becoming a parent, contrasted with the awkward reality of a flesh-and-blood child. It’s possible that Mulder’s sweet dream of being a father faced this contrast, adding his own conflicted father-son relationship, among other things involved in parenthood.

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