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The X-Files – Je Souhaite (Review)

This September, 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.

The late seventh season has something of a twilight quality to it.

Even the show’s production staff are unsure whether the show will be coming back for an eighth season, so every episode takes on a special significance. Could this episode be “the last time that…”? Is Brand X the last time that the show does a traditional monster of the week? Is Hollywood A.D. the last time that David Duchovny writes and/or directs? Is Fight Club the last time that Chris Carter writes a non-mythology episode? Is Je Souhaite the last time that Mulder and Scully just investigate a weird standalone case together? There is a weight to it all.

"I'll drink to that."

“I’ll drink to that.”

Of course, the show would come back for an eighth season. There would be lots of traditional monster of the week stories after Brand X. David Duchovny would enjoy another story and directorial credit after Hollywood A.D. Chris Carter would get to write non-mythology episodes after Fight Club, and even get to direct a much more successful whimsical adventure. Mulder and Scully would get to hang out together in the late eighth season and even at the very end of the ninth. In a very real way, this is not the end.

However, in an equally real way, this is the end. It has become hyperbole to suggest that something “… will never be the same again.” Even The X-Files has reinvented itself at least twice by this point, at the start of the third and sixth seasons. However, it is also perfectly reasonable to argue that The X-Files actually will never be the same again. The show changes on a very fundamental level after this point, with Je Souhaite serving as the very last glimpse of the show as it was. In many ways, this is the end of the road.

"So... meet up in about fifteen years?"

“So… meet up in about fifteen years?”

Gilligan would get to write and direct another episode of The X-Files before the show finally came to an end. In fact, there are a few thematic similarities between Je Souhaite and Sunshine Days, with both stories serving as affectionate and romantic finalés to Vince Gilligan’s version of The X-Files. There are still two full seasons ahead. Indeed, it is interesting to wonder what it would be like had Je Souhaite come earlier in the season, or even during the sixth season; it would be a light and fun episode, but would have the same heft and weight?

However, there is something different about Je Souhaite. In hindsight, it feels like a snapshot of an extended (seven-year-long) moment coming to end; it is a picture in an photo album that captures Mulder and Scully right on the edge of a transition. It is innocuous, yet profound. It is a picture of college friends sharing a drink at the end of the last term, unaware (or silently aware) of how things will change in the coming months. It is a picture of friends just hanging out before one gets married or has children.

"I am outta here!"

“I am outta here!”

Of course, Mulder and Scully see each other after this point; there is the second half of season eight and the revival hanging in the future. (To say nothing of The X-Files: I Want to Believe or the comics.) College buddies still hang out. People with families maintain friendships. Still, those dynamics change. They are never quite the same. Not better, not worse. Just different. As weird as it is to describe an episode where Mulder encounters a genie as “the point before things got weird”, that’s exactly what Je Souhaite feels like.

What is most striking about Je Souhaite is how much the episode accepts that reality. It is not morose or melancholy; it is practically celebratory. Instead of eulogising the good times, it decides to have a good time. There is something very sweet about that.

"I'm still here for two seasons..."

“I’m still here for two seasons…”

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The X-Files (Topps) #7 – Trepanning Opera (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

Trepanning Opera is something of a one-shot story, albeit the story where Stefan Petrucha begins to concede that his first year writing The X-Files tie-in comic is really one single long-form story. Initially, Trepanning Opera looks like a standard monster-of-the-week (or perhaps that should be “monster-of-the-month”) story, only to eventually reveal that the connections to the rest of Petrucha’s run are more than simply thematic in nature. “Everything is connected, Mulder,” his contact assures him. “Everything.”

Head's up...

Head’s up…

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The X-Files – Little Green Men (Review)

This August (and a little of September), we’re taking a trip back in time to review the second season of The X-Files. In November, we’ll be looking at the third season. And maybe more.

“We wanted to believe,” Mulder’s opening monologue explains. In a way, The X-Files works best as a profound meditation on faith. Not just Scully’s traditional religious faith, but Mulder’s belief that the world must make sense – even a crazy conspiratorial sort of sense. While Scully is a practising Roman Catholic, Mulder’s officer poster proclaims “I want to believe.” It’s a show about faith in humanity. A show about two people with unshakeable faith in each other.

“Trust no one,” a dying Deep Throat advised Scully in The Erlenmeyer Flask, words impossible to live by. Unsurprisingly, while treated as a mantra and motto for the show, the agents seem to freely ignore that last warning. Mulder and Scully trust each other. Mulder trusts the Lone Gunmen, and Senator Matheson, along with just about everything he reads or is told that reinforces his faith. It’s telling that – despite his cynicism about the government and her religious faith – the show casts Scully (rather than Mulder) in the role of skeptic.

His darkest hour...

His darkest hour…

Little Green Men is effectively a second pilot for the show. While set in the new status quo established during the closing scene of The Erlenmeyer Flask, the episode is very much structured as a “jumping on” point for those who might want to start watching the series. After all, the first season had been a cult hit, but hadn’t quite set the world on fire. Offering an introduction to those attracted by the growing buzz surrounding the show over the summer hiatus makes sense.

And so Little Green Men is built around Mulder’s crisis of faith and his attempts to vindicate that faith, offering a thoughtful examination of a man who wants to believe. While Little Green Men doesn’t offer any large steps forward in the show’s mythology or story arcs, it is a moving and introspective piece.

Samantha gets carried away...

Samantha gets carried away…

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