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The X-Files – Quagmire (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

Quagmire is a delightful little episode, one of third season episodes that most effectively embodies what casual fans (or even those who have never seen the show) think of when they hear the words The X-Files.” In Wanting to Believe, author Robert Shearman describes Quagmire as something akin to a “live action Scooby Doo, and he’s not far wrong. This is Mulder and Scully searching together in the darkness, looking for a monster that may or may not be there. You don’t get more archetypical X-Files than that.

One of the defining features of the third season of The X-Files has been a sense of consolidation. It feels like the show experimented a great deal in its first two years, but the third season is very much about cementing and solidifying its identity. It is no wonder, then, that the third season has such a high concentration of archetypal episode – episodes you can show an interested viewer and say this is The X-Files in a forty-five minute nutshell.” In that respect, Quagmire ranks with D.P.O. or Pusher or Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose as a great introduction to the show.

There's something in the water!

There’s something in the water!

Of course, Quagmire is a very good introduction to The X-Files for new viewers, but it is also something of a farewell. It is Kim Newton’s last script for the show. Newton had joined the writing staff at the start of the third season. Her other major credit was Revelations. Like Revelations, there is a sense that Quagmire was heavily re-written before it made it in front of the cameras. In this case, it is something of an open secret that Quagmire received a fairly significant polish from departing story editor Darin Morgan, whose fingerprints are all over the finished draft.

If Darin Morgan bid farewell to The X-Files with Jose Chung’s “From Outer Space”, then Quagmire serves as something of a coda to his time on the show. If that is the case, it makes for an uncharacteristically upbeat postscript to Morgan’s work on the show.

They really collared the bad guy...

They really collared the bad guy…

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The X-Files – Revelations (Review)

This November (and a little of December), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the third season of The X-Files and the first (and only) season of Space: Above and Beyond.

Religion, eh?

In the mid-nineties, religion was a very difficult subject to navigate on network television. The so-called “culture wars” were in full swing at the middle of the decade, with religious values serving as a particularly brutal battleground. Religion is a very thorny and contentious subject. As recently as 2012, more than 40% of polled Americans stated they would not vote for an atheist candidate in a presidential election. Pete Stark would admit to being an atheist in 2007, becoming the first self-identified atheist in the United States Congress.

Mulder's got a taste for adventure...

Mulder’s got a taste for adventure…

As a result, it is very difficult to have a meaningful and thoughtful conversation about it. “There’s a man that I work with – a friend – and usually I’m able to discuss these things with him… but not this,” Scully confesses at the end of the episode. While undoubtedly a comment on Mulder’s stubborn refusal to engage with Scully on the topic, it also feels like a commentary on the awkwardness of any public discussion about religious beliefs or values, which was prone to become highly charged and contentious.

The conventional wisdom was that you didn’t talk about religion at the dinner table. It wasn’t much easier on television. This puts Revelations in a very awkward position.

A bloody business...

A bloody business…

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